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Jonathan Swift Autograph Letter Signed Re Irish Church For Sale
Jonathan Swift autograph letter signed as Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral to Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset. Datelined Dublin, 14 January 1734, it reads in full: ''My Lord, I am well assured that Your Grace will soon receive severall Representations of an Affair relating to the University here, from some very considerable Persons. However, I could not refuse the application made to me by a very worthy Gentleman who is a Fellow of the College, and commissioned by some principal Members of the Body to desire my poor good Officer to Your Grace, because they believed you thought me an honest man, and because they heard I had the honor to be known to you from your early youth. The Matter of their request related wholly to a dreadfull apprehension they lye under of Doctor Whitcomb's endeavor to procure a Dispensation for holding his Fellowship together with that Church Preferment bestowed on him by Your Grace - The Person sent to me on this message gave me a written Paper, containing Reasons why the hope Your Grace will not be prevayled upon to grant such a Dispensation I presume to send you as short an extract as I can, of those Reasons, because I may boldly assure Your Grace, that Party or Faction have not the least Concern in the whole Affair. And, as to my self, I am an entire Stranger to the Doctor. It is asserted that this Preferment given to the Doctor consists of a very large Parish in a very fine country, thirty miles from Dublin. That, it abounds very much with the Papists, and is consequently a most important Case requiring the Rector's Residence, and perhaps that of some Assistant which it can well afford, being worth near six hundred pounds a year. That, as to such dispensations, they find in their College books but three or four Instances since the Revolution, and these in cases very different from the present. For, those few Livings which obtained Dispensations to be held with a Fellowship, were Sinecures of small value, not sufficient to induce a Fellow to leave his Colledge, and in the Body of those Dipensations, it is inserted as a Reason for granting them, that they were such Livings as could be no hindrance in the Discharge of their Duty as a Fellow. That, Dispensations are very hurtfull to such a society, because they put a stop to the succession of Fellowships, and thereby give a check to that emulation Industry, and desire of Improvement in Learning, which the hope of obtaining a Fellowship will probably incite men to. That, if the Dispensation now attempted should take place, it may be used as a precedent for the like practice hereafter, which will be very injurious to the society by encouraging Fellows to apply for such Dispensations when they have Interest to get Preferment, by which the Senior Felllows will be settled in the Colledge for life And thus, for want of succession by any other way than Death or Marriage all Encouragements to the young and most deserving students will be wholly lost. That, the Fellows at their admittance into their Fellowships take a solemn oath never to accept of any Church Preferment, above a certain value and distance from Dublin, as long as they continue Fellows, to which Oath the accepting a Dispensation by D'Whitcomb, is directly contrary in both Particulars of Value and Distance. That, at this time there is a Set of very hopefull young men who have been in long and close study to stand for the first vacant Fellowship, who will be altogether discouraged, and drop their endeavors in pursuit of learning by being disappointed in their hopes of Doctor Whitcomb's leaving the College, and opening a way for one of them to succeed in a Felllowship. I shall onely trouble Your Grace with a few remarks of my own upon this subject. You will please my Lord to know, that a Fellowship in this University differs much in some very important Circumstances from most of those in Oxford and Cambridge. My Lord George will tell your Grace that a Fellowship here is got with much difficulty, by the strict examination they undergo in almost every branch of Learning, to which must be added the Reputation of Regularity in their conduct. It is also disposed of with much solemnity. For the Examiners, and all the senior Fellows take an Oath at the Altar to dispose of the Vacant Fellowship to the person who they think deserves it best. I must here by the way take notice, that not onely the University but even the whole Kingdom are full of Acknowledgements for the honor Your Grace hath done them, in brushing the Care of educating one of your sons in Dublin Colledge, which hope to continue always under Your Grace Favor and Protection. This University is Patron of some Church Preferments, which are offered to the severall Fellows according to their Seniority, and so downwards to the lowest of them in holy Orders. I desire Your Grace further to consider that by the want of Trade here, there is no Encouragement for Gentlemen to breed their sons to Merchandise. That not many great Employments in Church or Law or The Revenue fall to the Share of Persons born in Ireland; and consequently that the last resource of younger Brothers is to the Church, where if well befriended they may possibly rise to some reasonable maintenance. Your Grace will not want Opportunities during your continuance in this Government or afterwards by the favor you have with his Majesty, to make Dr. Whitcomb easyer in his Preferment by some addition, and in such a manner that no Person or Society can have the least pretence to complain of. And therefore, I humbly beg Your Grace out of the high Veneration I bear to your Person and Virtues, that you will please to let Dr. Whitcomb content himself a while with that rich Preferment (one of the best of the Kingdom, till it shall lye in your way further to promote him to his own content. If upon admittance to his Fellowship he took the usuall Oath never to accept a Church living, but with the two usuall Limitations of distance and value to hold with his Fellowship, it will be thought - hardly reconcilable to accept a Dispensation where the Case is so vastly different. I humbly entreat Your Grace to pardon this long Trouble I have given You, wherein I have no sort of Interest, except that which proceeds from an earnest desire that you may continue as you began from your youth without incurring the least censure from the World, or giving the least cause of discontent to any deserving Person...Jonath: Swift / PS I desire to present my most humble respects to My Lady Dutchess. Being loth to give your grace further trouble, I desire you will commend My Lady E. Germain to let me know that you do not disapprove of this Letter.'' Swift's name and date are handwritten to verso panel. Runs 3pp. on card-style stationery. Measures 7.25'' x 9''. Toning, creasing, and light foxing, else near fine.
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Jonathan Swift Autograph Letter Signed Re Irish Church: $22,500