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lence, which every day increased, and which Bolingbroke appeared to retain in his last years. Swift contrived an interview, from which they both departed discontented; he procured a second, which only convinced him that the feud was irreconcileable: he told them his opinion, that all was lost. This denunciation was contradicted by Oxford; but Bolingbroke whispered that he was right.
Before this violent dissension had shattered the ministry, Swift had published, the beginning of the year, (1714,) "The public Spirit of the Whigs," in answer to "The Crisis," a pamphlet for which Steele was expelled from the House of Commons. Swift was now so far alienated from Steele, as to think him no longer entitled to decency, and therefore treats him sometimes with contempt, and sometimes with abhorrence. In this pamphlet, the Scotch were mentioned in terms so provoking to that irritable nation, that, resolving "not to be offended with impunity," the Scotch Lords, in a body, demanded an audience of the Queen, and solicited reparation. A proclamation was issued, in which three hundred pounds were offered for the discovery of the author. From this storm he was, as he relates, "secured by a sleight;" of what kind, or by whose prudence, is not known; and such was the increase of his reputation, that the Scottish "nation applied again that he would be their friend."
He was become so formidable to the whigs, that his familiarity with the ministers was clamoured at in parliament, particularly by two men, afterwards of great note, Aislabie and Walpole.
But, by the disunion of his great friends, his importance and designs were now at an end; and seeing his services at last useless, he retired about June (1714) into Berkshire, where, in the house of a friend, he wrote, what was then suppressed, but has since appeared under the title of "Free Thoughts on the present State of Affairs."
While he was waiting in this retirement for events which time or chance might bring to pass, the death of the Queen broke down at once the whole system of tory politics: and nothing remained but to withdraw from the implacability of triumphant whiggism, and shelter himself in unenvied obscurity.
The accounts of his reception in Ireland given by Lord Orrery and Dr. Delany are so different, that the credit of the writers, both undoubtedly veracious, cannot be saved, but by supposing, what I think is true, that they speak of different times. When Delany says that he was received with respect, he means for the first fortnight, when he came to take legal possession; and when Lord Orrery tells that he was pelted by the populace, he is to be understood of the time when, after the Queen's death, he became a settled resident.
awhile when the storm has ceased. He therefore filled his hours with some historical attempts, relating to the "Change of the Ministers," and "the Conduct of the Ministry." He likewise is said to have written a "History of the Four last Years of Queen Anne," which he began in her lifetime, and afterwards laboured with great attention, but never published. It was after his death in the hands of Lord Orrery and Dr. King. A book under that title was published, with Swift's name, by Dr. Lucas; of which I can only say, that it seemed by no means to correspond with the notions that I had formed of it, from a conversation which I once heard between the Earl of Orrery and old Mr. Lewis.
Swift now, much against his will, commenced Irishman for life, and was to contrive how he might be best accommodated in a country where he considered himself as in a state of exile. It seems that his first recourse was to piety. The thoughts of death rushed upon him at this time, with such incessant importunity, that they took possession of his mind, when he first waked, for many years together.
He opened his house by a public table two days a week, and found his entertainments gradually frequented by more and more visitants of learning, among the men, and of elegance among the women. Mrs. Johnson had left the country, and lived in lodgings not far from the On his public days she regulated the table, but appeared at it as a mere guest, like other ladies.
On other days he often dined, at a stated price, with Mr. Worral, a clergyman of his cathedral, whose house was recommended by the peculiar neatness and pleasantry of his wife. To this frugal mode of living, he was first disposed by care to pay some debts which he had contracted, and he continued it for the pleasure of accumulating money. His avarice, however, was not suffered to obstruct the claims of his dignity; he was served in plate, and used to say that he was the poorest gentleman in Ireland that ate upon plate, and the richest that lived without a coach.
How he spent the rest of his time, and how he employed his hours of study, has been in quired with hopeless curiosity. For who can give an account of another's studies? Swift was not likely to admit any to his privacies, or to impart a minute account of his business or his leisure.
Soon after, (1716,) in his forty-ninth year, he was privately married to Mrs. Johnson, by Dr. Ashe, bishop of Clogher, as Dr. Madden told me, in the garden. The marriage made no change in their mode of life; they lived in different houses, as before; nor did she ever lodge in the deanery but when Swift was seized with a fit of giddiness. "It would be difficult," says Lord Orrery, "to prove that they were ever afterwards together without a third person."
The Dean of St. Patrick's lived in a private manner, known and regarded only by his friends; till, about the year 1720, he, by a pamphlet, recommended to the Irish the use, and consequently the improvement, of their manufacture. For a man to use the productions of his own labour is surely a natural right, and to like best what he makes himself is a natural passion.But to excite this passion, and enforce this right,
pence and farthings for the kingdom of Ireland, in which there was a very inconvenient and embarrassing scarcity of copper coin; so that it was possible to run in debt upon the credit of a piece of money; for the cook or keeper of an alehouse could not refuse to supply a man that had silver in his hand, and the buyer would not leave his money without change.
The project was therefore plausible. The scarcity, which was already great, Wood took care to make greater, by agents who gathered up the old halfpence; and was about to turn his brass into gold, by pouring the treasures of his new mint upon Ireland; when Swift, finding that the metal was debased to an enormous degree, wrote letters, under the name of M. B. Drapier, to show the folly of receiving, and the mischief that must ensue by giving, gold and silver for coin worth perhaps not a third part of its nominal value.
appeared so criminal to those who had an interest in the English trade, that the printer was imprisoned; and, as Hawkesworth justly observes, the attention of the public being by this outrageous resentment turned upon the proposal, the author was by consequence made popular.
In 1723 died Mrs. Van Homrigh, a woman made unhappy by her admiration of wit, and ignominiously distinguished by the name of Vanessa, whose conduct has been already sufficiently discussed, and whose history is too well known to be minutely repeated. She was a young woman fond of literature, whom Decanus the dean, called Cadenus by transposition of the letters, took pleasure in directing and instructing; till, from being proud of his praise, she grew fond of his person. Swift was then about forty-seven, at an age when vanity is strongly excited by the amorous attention of a young woman. If it be said that Swift should have checked a passion which he never meant to gratify, recourse must be had to that extenuation which he so much despised, "men are but men :" perhaps, however, he did not at first know his own mind, and, as he represents himself, was undetermined. For his admission of her courtship, and his indulgence of her hopes after his marriage to Stella, no other honest plea can be found than that he delayed a disagreeable dis-jury to find the bill, covery from time to time, dreading the immediate bursts of distress, and watching for a favourable moment. She thought herself neglected, and died of disappointment; having ordered by her will the poem to be published, in which Cadenus had proclaimed her excellence, and confessed his love. The effect of the publication upon the Dean and Stella is thus related by Delany:
"I have good reason to believe that they both were greatly shocked and distressed (though it may be differently) upon this occasion. The Dean made a tour to the south of Ireland, for about two months, at this time, to dissipate his thoughts, and give place to obloquy. And Stella retired (upon the earnest invitation of the owner) to the house of a cheerful, generous, good-natured friend of the Dean's, whom she always much loved and honoured. There my informer often saw her; and I have reason to believe, used his utmost endeavours to relieve, support, and amuse her, in this sad situation.
"One little incident he told me on that occasion, I think, I shall never forget. As her friend was an hospitable, open-hearted man, well beloved and largely acquainted, it happened one day that some gentlemen dropped in to dinner, who were strangers to Stella's situation; and as the poem of Cadenus and Vanessa' was then the general topic of conversation, one of them said, 'Surely that Vanessa must be an extraordinary woman, that could inspire the Dean to write so finely upon her.' Mrs. Johnson smiled, and answered, 'that she thought that point not quite so clear; for it was well known the Dean could write finely upon a broomstick."" The great acquisition of esteem and influence was made by the "Drapier's Letters" in 1724. One Wood, of Wolverhampton, in Staffordshire, a man enterprising and rapacious, had, as is said, by a present to the Dutchess of Munster, obtained a patent, empowering him to coin one hundred and eighty thousand pounds of half
The nation was alarmed; the new coin was universally refused; but the governors of Ireland considered resistance to the King's patent as highly criminal; and one Whitshed, then Chief Justice, who had tried the printer of the former pamphlet, and sent out the jury nine times, till by clamour and menaces they were frightened into a special verdict, now presented the Drapier, but could not prevail on the grand
Lord Carteret and the privy-council published a proclamation, offering three hundred pounds for discovering the author of the Fourth Letter. Swift had concealed himself from his printers, and trusted only his butler, who transcribed the paper. The man, immediately after the appearance of the proclamation, strolled from the house, and stayed out all night, and part of the next day. There was reason enough to fear that he had betrayed his master for the reward; but he came home, and the Dean ordered him to put off his livery, and leave the house; "for," said he, "I know that my life is in your power, and I will not bear, out of fear, either your insolence or negligence." The man excused his fault with great submission, and begged that he might be confined in the house while it was in his power to endanger his master: but the Dean resolutely turned him out, without taking farther notice of him, till the term of the information had expired, and then received him again. Soon afterwards he ordered him and the rest of his servants into his presence, without telling his intention, and bade them take notice that their fellow-servant was no longer Robert the butler; but that his integrity had made him Mr. Blakeney, verger of St. Patrick's; an officer whose income was between thirty and forty pounds a year: yet he still continued for some years to serve his old master as his butler.*
Swift was known from this time by the appel lation of "The Dean." He was honoured by the populace as the champion, patron, and instructor of Ireland; and gained such power as, considered both in its extent and duration, scarcely any man has ever enjoyed without greater wealth or higher station.
He was from this important year the oracle of the traders, and the idol of the rabble, and by
An account somewhat different from this is given by Mr. Sheridan in his Life of Swift, p. 211.-R.
consequence was feared and courted by all to whom the kindness of the traders or the populace was necessary. The Drapier was a sign; the Drapier was a health; and which way soever the eye or the ear was turned, some tokens were found of the nation's gratitude to the Drapier.
The benefit was indeed great; he had rescued Ireland from a very oppressive and predatory invasion; and the popularity which he had gained he was diligent to keep, by appearing forward and zealous on every occasion where the public interest was supposed to be involved. Nor did he much scruple to boast his influence; for when, upon some attempts to regulate the coin, Archbishop Boulter, then one of the justices, accused him of exasperating the people, he exculpated himself by saying, "If I had lifted up my finger, they would have torn you to pieces."
But the pleasure of popularity was soon terrupted by domestic misery. Mrs. Johnson, whose conversation was to him the great softener of the ills of life, began in the year of the Drapier's triumph to decline; and two years afterwards was so wasted with sickness, that her recovery was considered as hopeless.
Swift was then in England, and had been invited by Lord Bolingbroke to pass the winter with him in France, but this call of calamity hastened him to Ireland, where perhaps his presence contributed to restore her to imperfect and tottering health.
He was now so much at ease, that (1727) he returned to England; where he collected three volumes of Miscellanies in conjunction with Pope, who prefixed a querulous and apologetical Preface.
name of Swift, and it has all the appearances of his diction and sentiments: but it was not written in his hand, and had some little improprieties. When he was charged with this letter, he laid hold of the inaccuracies, and urged the improbability of the accusation, but never denied it: he shuffles between cowardice and veracity, and talks big when he says nothing.*
He seems desirous enough of recommencing courtier, and endeavoured to gain the kindness of Mrs. Howard, remembering what Mrs. Masham had performed in former times: but his flatteries were, like those of other wits, unsuccessful; the lady either wanted power, or had no ambition of poetical immortality.
He was seized, not long afterwards, by a fit of giddiness, and again heard of the sickness and danger of Mrs. Johnson. He then left the in-house of Pope, as it seems, with very little ceremony, finding "that two sick friends cannot live together;" and did not write to him till he found himself at Chester.
He returned to a home of sorrow: poor Stella was sinking into the grave, and, after a languishing decay of about two months, died in her forty-fourth year, on January 28, 1728. How much he wished her life, his papers show; nor can it be doubted that he dreaded the death of her whom he loved most, aggravated by the consciousness that himself had hastened it.
Beauty and the power of pleasing, the greatest external advantages that woman can desire or possess, were fatal to the unfortunate Stella. The man whom she had the misfortune to love was, as Delany observes, fond of singularity, and desirous to make a mode of happiness for himself, different from the general course of things and order of Providence. From the time of her arrival in Ireland he seems resolved to keep her in his power, and therefore hindered a match sufficiently advantageous, by accumulating unreasonable demands, and prescribing conditions that could not be performed. While she was at her own disposal he did not consider his possession as secure; resentment, ambition, or caprice, might separate them; he was therefore resolved to make 26 assurance
double sure," and to appropriate her by a private marriage, to which he had annexed the expectation of all the pleasures of perfect friendship without the uneasiness of conjugal restraint. But with this state poor Stella was not satisfied; she never was treated as a wife, and to the world she had the appearance of a mistress. She lived sullenly on, in hope that in time he would own and receive her; but the time did not come till the change of his manners and deprivation of his mind made her tell him, when he offered to acknowledge her, that "it was too late." She then gave up herself to sorrow ful resentment, and died under the tyranny of him, by whom she was in the highest degree loved and honoured.
This important year sent likewise into the world "Gulliver's Travels;" a production so new and strange, that it filled the reader with a mingled emotion of merriment and amazement. It was received with such avidity, that the price of the first edition was raised before the second could be made; it was read by the high and the low, the learned and illiterate. Criticism was for a while lost in wonder: no rules of judgment were applied to a book written in open defiance of truth and regularity.— But when distinctions came to be made, the part which gave the least pleasure was that which describes the Flying Island, and that which gave most disgust must be the history of the Houyhnhnms.
While Swift was enjoying the reputation of his new work, the news of the King's death arrived; and he kissed the hands of the new King and Queen three days after their accession.
By the Queen, when she was princess, he had been treated with some distinction, and was well received by her in her exaltation; but whether she gave hopes which she never took care to satisfy, or he formed expectations which she never meant to raise, the event was, that he always afterwards thought on her with malevolence, and particularly charged her with breaking her promise of some medals which she gaged to send him.
I know not whether she had not, in her turn, some reason for complaint. A letter was sent her, not so much entreating, as requiring, her patronage of Mrs. Barber, an ingenious Irishwoman, who was then begging subscriptions for her poems. To this letter was subscribed the
What were her claims to this eccentric tenen-derness, by which the laws of nature were violated to retain her, curiosity will inquire; but how shall it be gratified? Swift was a lover; his testimony may be suspected. Delany and the Irish saw with Swift's eyes, and therefore
Sheridan's defence of him from this charge. See the It is but justice to the Dean's memory to refer to Mr. "Life of Swift," p. 468.-R.
add little confirmation. That she was virtuous, beautiful, and elegant, in a very high degree, such admiration from such a lover makes it very probable; but she had not much literature, for she could not spell her own language; and of her wit so loudly vaunted, the smart sayings which Swift himself has collected, afford no splendid specimen.
terest, and only required that, at repayment, a small fee should be given to the accomptant: but he required that the day of promised payment should be exactly kept. A severe and punctilious temper is ill qualified for transactions with the poor; the day was often broken, and the loan was not repaid. This might have been easily foreseen; but for this Swift had The reader of Swift's "Letter to a Lady on made no provision of patience or pity. He or her Marriage," may be allowed to doubt whe-dered his debtors to be sued. A severe creditor ther his opinion of female excellence ought im- has no popular character; what then was likely plicitly to be admitted; for, if his general to be said of him who employs the catchpoll thoughts on women were such as he exhibits, under the appearance of charity? The clamour a very little sense in a lady would enrapture, against him was loud, and the resentment of and a very little virtue would astonish him. the populace outrageous; he was therefore Stella's supremacy, therefore, was perhaps only forced to drop his scheme, and own the folly of local; she was great, because her associates were expecting punctuality from the poor.* little.
In some Remarks lately published on the Life of Swift, his marriage is mentioned as fabulous, or doubtful; but, alas! poor Stella, as Dr. Madden told me, related her melancholy story to Dr. Sheridan, when he attended her as a clergyman to prepare her for death; and Delany mentions it not with doubt, but only with regret. Swift never mentioned her without a sigh. The rest of his life was spent in Ireland, in a country to which not even power almost despotic, nor flattery almost idolatrous, could reconcile him. He sometimes wished to visit England, but always found some reason of delay. He tells Pope, in the decline of life, that he hopes once more to see him; "but if not," says he, we must part, as all human beings have parted."
His asperity continually increasing, condemned him to solitude; and his resentment of solitude sharpened his asperity. He was not, however, totally deserted; some men of learning, and some women of elegance, often visited him; and he wrote from time to time either verse or prose: of his verses he willingly gave copies, and is supposed to have felt no discontent when he saw them printed. His favourite maxim was, "Vive la Bagatelle:" he thought trifles a necessary part of life, and perhaps found them necessary to himself. It seems impossible to him to be idle, and his disorders made it difficult or dangerous to be long seriously studious or laboriously diligent. The love of ease is always gaining upon age, and he had one temptation to petty amusements peculiar to himself; whatever he did he was sure to After the death of Stella, his benevolence was hear applauded; and such was his predomicontracted, and his severity exasperated; he nance over all that approached that all their drove his acquaintance from his table, and won-applauses were probably sincere. He that is dered why he was deserted. But he continued much flattered soon learns to flatter himself; his attention to the public, and wrote, from we are commonly taught our duty by fear or time to time, such directions, admonitions, or shame, and how can they act upon the man who censures, as the exigency of affairs, in his hears nothing but his own praises? opinion, made proper; and nothing fell from his pen in vain.
As his years increased, his fits of giddiness and deafness grew more frequent, and his deafness made conversation difficult: they grew like
In a short poem on the Presbyterians, whom he always regarded with detestation, he be-wise more severe, till, in 1736, as he was writing stowed one stricture upon Bettesworth, a lawyer a poem called "The Legion Club," he was eminent for his insolence to the clergy, which, seized with a fit so painful and so long continued, from very considerable reputation brought him that he never after thought it proper to attempt into immediate and universal contempt. Bettes- any work of thought or labour. worth, enraged at his disgrace and loss, went to Swift and demanded whether he was the author of that poem? "Mr. Bettesworth," answered he, "I was in my youth acquainted with great lawyers, who, knowing my disposition to satire, advised me, that if any scoundrel or blockhead whom I had lampooned should ask, 'Are you the author of this paper ?' I should tell him that I was not the author; and therefore I tell you, Mr. Bettesworth, that I am not the author of these lines."
He was always careful of his money, and was therefore no liberal entertainer; but was less frugal of his wine than of his meat. When his friends of either sex came to him in expectation of a dinner, his custom was to give every one a shilling, that they might please themselves with their provision. At last his avarice grew too powerful for his kindness; he would refuse a bottle of wine, and in Ireland no man visits where he cannot drink.
Having thus excluded conversation and desisted from study, he had neither business nor amusement; for having by some ridiculous resolution or mad vow determined never to wear spectacles, he could make little use of books in his later years; his ideas, therefore, being nei
Bettesworth was so little satisfied with this account, that he publicly professed his resolution of a violent and corporal revenge; but the inhabitants of St. Patrick's district imbodied themselves in the Dean's defence. Bettesworth declared in parliament, that Swift had deprived him of twelve hundred pounds a year.
Swift was popular awhile by another mode of beneficence. He set aside some hundreds to be lent in small sums to the poor, from five shillings, I think, to five pounds. He took no
*This account is contradicted by Mr. Sheridan, who with great warmth asserts, from his own knowledge, that there was not one syllable of truth in this whole account from the beginning to the end. See "Life of Swift," in-edit. 1794, p. 532.-R.
ther renovated by discourse nor increased by reading, wore gradually away, and left his mind vacant to the vexations of the hour, till at last
In his works he has given very different specimens both of sentiments and expression. His
his anger was heightened into madness. be put
He however permitted one book to be pub-"Tale of a Tub" has little resemblance to his lished, which had been the production of for- other pieces. It exhibits a vehemence and rapidmer years; "Polite Conversation," which ap-ity of mind, a copiousness of images and vivapeared in 1738. The "Directions for Servants" city of diction, such as he afterwards never poswas printed soon after his death. These two sessed or never exerted. It is of a mode so disperformances show a mind incessantly attentive, tinct and peculiar that it must be considered by and, when it was not employed upon great itself; what is true of that, is not true of any things, busy with minute occurrences. It is thing else which he has written. apparent that he must have had the habit of noting whatever he observed; for such a number of particulars could never have been assembled by the power of recollection.
He grew more violent, and his mental powers declined, till (1741) it was found necessary that legal guardians should be appointed of his person and fortune. He now lost distinction. His madness was compounded of rage and fatuity. The last face that he knew was that of Mrs. Whiteway; and her he ceased to know in a little time. His meat was brought him cut into mouthfuls; but he would never touch it while the servant stayed, and at last, after it had stood perhaps an hour, would eat it walking; for he continued his old habit, and was on his feet ten hours a day.
In his other works is found an equable tenor of easy language, which rather trickles than flows. His delight was in simplicity. That he has in his works no metaphor, as has been said, is not true; but his few metaphors seem to be received rather by necessity than choice. He studied purity; and though perhaps all his strictures are not exact, yet it is not often that solecisms can be found; and whoever depends on his authority may generally conclude himself safe. His sentences are never too much dilated or contracted; and it will not be easy to find any embarrassment in the complication of his clauses, any inconsequence in his connexions, or abruptness in his transitions.
Next year (1742) he had an inflammation in his left ye, which swelled it to the size of an egg, with biles in other parts: he was kept long waking with the pain, and was not easily restrained by five attendants from tearing out his eye.
His style was well suited to his thoughts, which are never subtilized by nice disquisitions, decorated by sparkling conceits, elevated by ambitious sentences, or variegated by far-sought learning. He pays no court to the passions; he excites neither surprise nor admiration; he always understands himself, and his reader always understands him; the peruser of Swift wants little previous knowledge; it will be sufficient that he is acquainted with common words and common things; he is neither required to mount elevations, nor to explore profundities; his passage is always on a level, along solid ground, without asperities, without obstruction,
This easy and safe conveyance of meaning it was Swift's desire to attain, and for having attained he deserves praise. For purposes merely didactic, when something is to be told that was not known before, it is the best mode; but against that inattention by which known truths are suffered to lie neglected it makes no provision; it instructs, but does not persuade.
By his political education he was associated with the whigs; but he deserted them when they deserted their principles, yet without running into the contrary extreme; he continued throughout his life to retain the disposition which he assigns to the "Church-of-England Man," of thinking commonly with the whigs of the state and with the tories of the church.
The tumour at last subsided, and a short interval of reason ensuing, in which he knew his physician and his family, gave hopes of his recovery; but in a few days he sunk into a lethargic stupidity, motionless, heedless, and speechless. But it is said, that, after a year of total silence, when his housekeeper, on the 30th of November, told him that the usual bonfires and illuminations were preparing to celebrate his birth day, he answered "It is all folly; they had better let it alone."
It is remembered, that he afterwards spoke now and then, or gave some intimation of a meaning; but at last sunk into perfect silence, which continued till about the end of October, 1744, when, in his seventy-eighth year, he expired without a struggle.
When Swift is considered as an author, it is just to estimate his powers by their effects. In the reign of Queen Anne he turned the stream of popularity against the whigs, and must be confessed to have dictated for a time the political opinions of the English nation. In the succeeding reign he delivered Ireland from plunder and oppression; and showed that wit, confederated with truth, had such force as authority was unable to resist. He said truly of himself, that Ireland "was his debtor." It was from the time when he first began to patronize the Irish that they may date their riches and prosperity. He taught them first to know their own interest, their weight, and their strength, and gave them spirit to assert that equality with their fellowsubjects, to which they have ever since been making vigorous advances, and to claim those rights which they have at last established. Nor can they be charged with ingratitude to their be
nefactor; for they reverenced him as a guardian and obeyed him as a dictator.
He was a churchman rationally zealous; he desired the prosperity, and maintained the honour, of the clergy; of the dissenters he did not wish to infringe the toleration, but he opposed their encroachments.
To his duty as dean he was very attentive He managed the revenues of his church with exact economy; and it is said by Delany, that more money was, under his direction, laid out in repairs, than had ever been in the same time since its first erection. Of his choir he was eminently careful; and, though he neither loved nor understood music, took care that all the singers were well qualified, admitting none without the testimony of skilful judges.