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nerosity, it should be remembered that he was never rich. The revenue of his deanery was not much more than seven hundred a year.
His beneficence was not graced with tenderness or civility; he relieved without pity, and assisted without kindness; so that those who were fed by him could hardly love him.
He made a rule to himself to give but one piece at a time, and therefore always stored his pocket with coins of different value.
Whatever he did, he seemed willing to do in a manner peculiar to himself, without sufficiently considering that singularity, as it implies a contempt of the general practice, is a kind of defiance which justly provokes the hostility of ridicule; he, therefore, who indulges peculiar habits is worse than others, if he be not better. Of his humour, a story told by Pope* may afford a specimen.
- The suspicions of his irreligion proceeded in a great measure fron his dread of hypocrisy; "Dr. Swift has an odd blunt way, that is misinstead of wishing to seem better, he delighted taken by strangers for ill-nature. 'Tis so odd, in seeming worse than he was. He went in that there is no describing it but by facts. I'll London to early prayers, lest he should be seen tell you one that first comes into my head. One at church: he read prayers to his servants every evening, Gay and I went to see him: you know morning with such dexterous secrecy, that Dr. how intimately we were all acquainted. On our Delany was six months in his house before he coming in, Heydey, gentlemen, (says the Doeknew it. He was not only careful to hide the tor,' what's the meaning of this visit? How good which he did, but willingly incurred the came you to leave the great lords that you are so suspicion of evil which he did not. He forgot fond of, to come hither to see a poor Dean ?"— what himself had formerly asserted, that hypo-Because we would rather see you than any of crisy is less mischievous than open impiety. Dr. them.'-Ay, any one that did not know so well Delany, with all his zeal for his honour, has as I do might believe you. But since you are justly condemned this part of his character. come, I must get some supper for you, I suppose.'No, Doctor, we have supped already.'
The person of Swift had not many recommendations. He had a kind of muddy complexion, which, though he washed himself with oriental scrupulosity, did not look clear. He had a countenance sour and severe, which he seldom softened by any appearance of gayety. He stubbornly resisted any tendency to laughter.
To his domestics he was naturally rough; and a man of rigorous temper, with that vigilance of minute attention which his works discover, must have been a master that few could bear. That he was disposed to do his servants good on important occasions, is no great mitigation; benefaction can be but rare, and tyrannic peevishness is perpetual. He did not spare the servants of others. Once when he dined alone with the Earl of Orrery, he said of one that waited in the room, "That man has, since we sat at table, committed fifteen faults." What the faults were, Lord Orrery, from whom I heard the story, had not been attentive enough to discover. My number may perhaps not be exact.
Supped already! that's impossible! why 'tis not eight o'clock yet. That's very strange; but if you had not supped, I must have got something for you. Let me see, what should I have had 7 A couple of lobsters; ay, that would have done very well; two shillings-tarts, a shilling; but you will drink a glass of wine with me, though you supped so much before your usual time only to spare my pocket?-No, we had rather talk with you than drink with you.'-'But if you had supped with me, as in all reason you ought to have done, you must then have drank with me.-A bottle of wine, two shillings-two and two is four, and one is five; just two and sixpence a-piece. There, Pope, there's half-acrown for you, and there's another for you, Sir; for I won't save any thing by you I am deter mined.'-This was all said and done with his usual seriousness on such occasions; and in spite of every thing we could say to the contrary, he actually obliged us to take the money."
In his economy he practised a peculiar and offensive parsimony, without disguise or apology. The practice of saving being once necessary, became habitual, and grew first ridiculous, and at last detestable. But his avarice, though it might exclude pleasure, was never suffered to encroach upon his virtue. He was frugal by inclination, but liberal by principle; and if the purpose to which he destined his little accumulations be remembered, with his distribution of occasional charity, it will perhaps appear, that he only liked one mode of expense better than another, and saved merely that he might have something to give. He did not grow rich by injuring his successors, but left both Laracor and the deanery more valuable than he found them. With all this talk of his covetousness and ge
In the intercourse of familiar life, he indulged his disposition to petulance and sarcasm, and thought himself injured if the licentiousness of his raillery, the freedom of his censures, or the petulance of his frolics, was resented or repressed. He predominated over his companions with very high ascendency, and probably would bear none over whom he could not predominate. To give him advice, was, in the style of his friend Delany, "to venture to speak to him." This customary superiority soon grew too deli cate for truth; and Swift, with all his penetration, allowed himself to be delighted with low flattery.
On all common occasions, he habitually affects
a style of arrogance, and dictates rather than persuades. This authoritative and magisterial language he expected to be received as his pe culiar mode of jocularity; but he apparently flattered his own arrogance by an assumed imperiousness, in which he was ironical only to the resentful, and to the submissive sufficiently serious.
He told stories with great felicity, and delighted in doing what he knew himself to do well; he was therefore captivated by the respectful silence of a steady listener, and told the same tales too often.
He did not, however, claim the right of talking alone; for it was his rule, when he had spoken a minute, to give room by a pause for any other speaker. Of time, on all occasions, he was an exact computer, and knew the minutes required to every common operation.
Of Swift's general habits of thinking, if his letters can be supposed to afford any evidence, he was not a man to be either loved or envied. He seems to have wasted life in discontent, by the rage of neglected pride and the languishment of unsatisfied desire. He is querulous and fastidious, arrogant and malignant; he scarcely speaks of himself but with indignant lamentations, or of others but with insolent superiority when he is gay, and with angry contempt when he is gloomy. From the letters that passed between him and Pope it might be inferred, that they, with Arbuthnot and Gay, had engrossed all the understanding and virtue of mankind; that their merits filled the world, or that there was no hope of more. They show the age volved in darkness, and shade the picture with sullen emulation.
"My Lord, when you consider Swift's singuIt may be justly supposed that there was in lar, peculiar, and most variegated vein of wit, alhis conversation what appears so frequently in ways intended rightly, although not always so his letters, an affectation of familiarity with the rightly directed; delightful in many instances, great, and ambition of momentary equality and salutary even where it is most offensive; sought and enjoyed by the neglect of those cere- when you consider his strict truth, his fortitude monies which custom has established as the bar-in resisting oppression and arbitrary power; his riers between one order of society and another. fidelity in friendship; his sincere love and zeal This transgression of regularity was by himself for religion; his uprightness in making right reand his admirers termed greatness of soul. But solutions, and his steadiness in adhering to a great mind disdains to hold any thing by cour- them: his care of his church, its choir, its ecotesy, and therefore never usurps what a lawful nomy, and its income; his attention to all those claimant may take away. He that encroaches that preached in his cathedral, in order to their on another's dignity puts himself in his power; amendment in pronunciation and style; as also he is either repelled with helpless indignity or his remarkable attention to the interest of his endured by clemency and condescension. successors, preferably to his own present emoluments; his invincible patriotism, even to a country which he did not love; his very various, well-devised, well-judged, and extensive charities, throughout his life; and his whole fortune (to say nothing of his wife's) conveyed to the same Christian purposes at his death; charities, from which he could enjoy no honour, advantage, or satisfaction, of any kind in this world: when you consider his ironical and humorous, as well as his serious schemes for the promotion of true religion and virtue; his success in soliciting for the first-fruits and twentieths, to the unspeakable benefit of the established church of Ireland; and his felicity (to rate it no higher) in giving occasion to the building of fifty new in-churches in London—
"All this considered, the character of his life will appear like that of his writings: they will both bear to be re-considered and re-examined with the utmost attention, and always discover new beauties and excellences upon every examination.
When the Queen's death drove him into Ireland, he might be allowed to regret for a time the interception of his views, the extinction of his hopes, and his ejection from gay scenes, important employment, and splendid friendships; but when time had enabled reason to prevail over vexation, the complaints which at first were natural became ridiculous because they were useless. But querulousness was now grown habitual, and he cried out when he probably had ceased to feel. His reiterated wailings persuaded Bolingbroke that he was really willing to quit his deanery for an English parish; and Bolingbroke procured an exchange, which was rejected; and Swift still retained the pleasure of complaining.
with disgust. The ideas of pleasure, even when criminal, may solicit the imagination; but what has disease, deformity, and filth, upon which the thoughts can be allured to dwell? Delany is willing to think that Swift's mind was not much tainted with this gross corruption before his long visit to Pope. He does not consider how he de grades his hero, by making him at fifty-nine the pupil of turpitude, and liable to the malignant influence of an ascendant mind. But the truth is, that Gulliver had described his Yahoos before the visit; and he that had formed those images had nothing filthy to learn.
The greatest difficulty that occurs, in analysing his character, is to discover by what depravity of intellect he took delight in revolving ideas from which almost every other mind shrinks
I have here given the character of Swift as he exhibits himself to my perception; but now let another be heard who knew him better. Dr. Delany, after long acquaintance, describes him to Lord Orrery in these terms:
"They will bear to be considered as the sun, in which the brightness will hide the blemishes; and whenever petulant ignorance, pride, malice, malignity, or envy, interposes to cloud or sully his fame, I take upon me to pronounce, that the eclipse will not last long.
"To conclude-No man ever deserved better of any country than Swift did of his; a steady, persevering, inflexible friend; a wise, a watchful, and a faithful counsellor; under many se vere trials and bitter persecutions, to the manifest hazard both of his liberty and fortune. **
"He lived a blessing, he died a benefactor, and his name will ever live an honour to Ire land."
In the poetical works of Dr. Swift there is not
much upon which the critic can exercise his powers. They are often humorous, almost always light, and have the qualities which recommend such compositions, easiness and gayety. They are, for the most part, what their author intended. The diction is correct, the numbers are smooth, and the rhymes exact. There seldom occurs a hard-laboured expression or a redundant epithet; all his verses exemplify his own definition of a good style; they consist of "proper words in proper places."
To divide this collection into classes, and show how some pieces are gross and some are trifling,
WILLIAM BROOME was born in Cheshire, as | is said, of very mean parents. Of the place of his birth or the first part of his life, I have not been able to gain any intelligence. He was educated upon the foundation at Eton, and was captain of the school a whole year, without any vacancy by which he might have obtained a scholarship at King's College: being by this delay, such as is said to have happened very rarely, perannuated, he was sent to St. John's College by the contributions of his friends, where he obtained a small exhibition.
Broome fell the second, sixth, eighth, eleventh, twelfth, sixteenth, eighteenth, and twenty-third, together with the burden of writing all the notes.
As this translation is a very important event in poetical history, the reader has a right to know upon what grounds I establish my narration. That the version was not wholly Pope's was always known; he had mentioned the assu-sistance of two friends in his proposals, and at the end of the work some account is given by Broome of their different parts, which however mentions only five books as written by the coadjutors; the fourth and twentieth by Fenton; the sixth, the eleventh, and the eighteenth, by himself; though Pope, in an advertisement prefixed afterwards to a new volume of his works, claimed only twelve. A natural curiosity after the real conduct of so great an undertaking incited me once to inquire of Dr. Warburton, who told me, in his warm language, that he thought the relation given in the note a lie;" but that he was not able to ascertain the several shares. The intelligence which Dr. Warburton could not afford me I obtained from Mr. Langton, to whom Mr. Spence had imparted it.
would be to tell the reader what he knows already, and to find faults of which the author could not be ignorant, who certainly wrote often not to his judgment, but his humour.
It was said, in a preface to one of the Irish editions, that Swift had never been known to take a single thought from any writer, ancient or modern. This is not literally true; but perhaps no writer can easily be found that has borrowed so little, or that in all his excellences and all his defects has so well maintained his claim to be considered as original.
At this college he lived for some time in the same chamber with the well-known Ford, by whom I have formerly heard him described as a contracted scholar and a mere versifier, unacquainted with life and unskilful in conversation. His addiction to metre was then such, that his companions familiarly called him Poet. When he had opportunities of mingling with mankind, he cleared himself, as Ford likewise owned, from the great part of his scholastic rust.
The price at which Pope purchased this as
He appeared early in the world as a translator of the "Iliads" into prose, in conjunction with Ozell and Oldisworth. How the several parts were distributed is not known. This is the translation of which Ozell boasted as supe-sistance was three hundred pounds paid to Fenrior, in Toland's opinion, to that of Pope: it has ton, and five hundred to Broome, with as many long since vanished, and is now in no danger copies as he wanted for his friends, which amounted to one hundred more. The payment made to Fenton I know not but by hearsay; Broome's is very distinctly told by Pope, in the notes to the "Dunciad."
from the critics.
He was introduced to Mr. Pope, who was then visiting Sir John Cotton at Madingley near Cambridge, and gained so much of his esteem, that he was employed, I believe, to make extracts from Eustathius for the notes to the translation of the "Iliad;" and in the volumes of poetry published by Lintot, commonly called "Pope's Miscellanies," many of his early pieces were inserted.
Pore and Broome were to be yet more closely connected. When the success of the "Iliad" gave encouragement to a version of the "Odyssey," Pope, weary of the toil, called Fenton and Broome to his assistance; and, taking only half the work upon himself, divided the other half between his partners, giving four books to Fenton and sight to Broome. Fenton's books I have enumerated in his life: to the lot of
It is evident, that, according to Pope's own estimate, Broome was unkindly treated. If four books could merit three hundred pounds, eight and all the notes, equivalent at least to four, had certainly a right to more than six.
Broome probably considered himself as injured, and there was for some time more than coldness between him and his employer. He always spoke of Pope as too much a lover of money; and Pope pursued him with avowed hostility; for he not only named him disrespectfully in the "Dunciad," but quoted him more than once in the "Bathos," as a proficient in the "Art of Sinking ;" and in his enumeration of the different kinds of poets distinguished for
and elegant. His rhymes are sometimes un suitable; in his "Melancholy," he makes breath rhyme to birth in one place, and to earth in another. Those faults occur but seldom; and he had such power of words and numbers as fitted him for translation; but in his original works, recollection seems to have been his business more than invention. His imitations are so apparent, that it is a part of his reader's employment to recall the verses of some former poet. Sometimes he copies the most popular writers, for he seems scarcely to endeavour at Cam-concealment; and sometimes he picks up frag ments in obscure corners. His lines to Fenton,
the profound, he reckons Broome among "the parrots who repeat another's words in such a hoarse odd tone as makes them seem their own." I have been told that they were afterwards reconciled; but I am afraid their peace was without friendship.
He afterwards published a Miscellany of Poems, which is inserted, with corrections, in the late compilation.
He never rose to a very high dignity in the church. He was some time rector of Sturston in Suffolk, where he married a wealthy widow; and afterwards, when the king visited bridge (1728) became doctor of laws. He was (in August 1728) presented by the crown to the rectory of Pulham in Norfolk, which he held with Oakley Magna in Suffolk, given him by the Lord Cornwallis, to whom he was chaplain, who added the vicarage of Eye in Suffolk; he then resigned Pulham, and retained the other two. Towards the close of his life he grew again poetical, and amused himself with translating Odes of Anacreon, which he published in the "Gentleman's Magazine" under the name of Chester.
He died at Bath, November 16,1745, and was buried in the Abbey Church.
Of Broome, though it cannot be said that he was a great poet, it would be unjust to deny that he was an excellent versifier; his lines are smooth and sonorous, and his diction is select
Serene, the sting of pain thy thoughts beguile,
To detect his imitations were tedious and useless. What he takes he seldom makes worse; whom Pope chose for an associate, and whose and he cannot be justly thought a mean man co-operation was considered by Pope's enemies as so important, that he was attacked by Henley with this ludicrous distich:
Pope came off clean with Homer; but they say
In Lombard-street, according to Dr. Warton.-C. t This weakness was so great, that he constantly wore
ALEXANDER POPE was born in London,* May | 22, 1688, of parents whose rank or station was never ascertained; we are informed that they were of "gentle blood;" that his father was of a family of which the Earl of Downe was the head; and that his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esquire, of York, who had likewise three sons, one of whom had the honour of being killed, and the other of dying in the service of Charles the First; the third was made a general officer in Spain, from whom the sister inherited what sequestrations and forfeitures had left in the family.
Being not sent early to school, he was taught to read by an aunt; and when he was seven or eight years old became a lover of books. He first learned to write by imitating printed books; a species of penmanship in which he retained great excellence through his whole life, though his ordinary hand was not elegant.
When he was about eight, he was placed in Hampshire, under Taverner, a Romish priest, who, by a method very rarely practised, taught This, and this only, is told by Pope, who is him the Greek and Latin rudiments together. more willing, as I have heard observed, to show He was now first regularly initiated in poetry what his father was not, than what he was. by the perusal of "Ogilby's Homer" and It is allowed that he grew rich by trade; but "Sandys' Ovid." Ogilby's assistance he never whether in a shop or on the exchange, was ne- repaid with any praise; but of Sandys, he dever discovered till Mr. Tyres told, on the au-clared, in his notes to the " Iliad," that English thority of Mrs. Racket, that he was a linen- poetry owed much of its beauty to his transladraper in the Strand. Both parents were tion. Sandys very rarely attempted original papists. composition.
Pope was from his birth of a constitution tender and delicate; but is said to have shown remarkable gentleness and sweetness of disposi-to tion. The weakness of his body continued through his life; but the mildness of his mind
From the care of Taverner, under whom his proficiency was considerable, he was removed a school at Twyford, near Winchester, and stays, as I have been assured by a waterman at Twickenham, who, in lifting him into his boat, had often felt them. His method of taking the air on the water was to have a sedan chair in the boat, in which he sat the glasses down.--H
perhaps ended with his childhood. His voice, when he was young, was so pleasing, that he was called in fondness "the little Nightingale."
| paid him, and foreseen the greatness of his young admirer?
again to another school, about Hyde-park Corner; from which he used sometimes to stroll to the playhouse, and was so delighted with thea- The earliest of Pope's productions is his "Ode trical exhibition, that he formed a kind of play on Solitude," written before he was twelve, in from "Ogilby's Iliad," with some verses of his which there is nothing more than other forward own intermixed, which he persuaded his school-boys have attained, and which is not equal to fellows to act, with the addition of his master's Cowley's performances at the same age. gardener, who personated Ajax.
At the two last schools he used to represent himself as having lost part of what Taverner had taught him; and on his master at Twyford he had already exercised his poetry in a lampoon. Yet under those masters he translated more than a fourth part of the "Metamorphoses." If he kept the same proportion in his other exercises, it cannot be thought that his loss was great.
His time was now wholly spent in reading and writing. As he read the classics, he amused himself with translating them; and at fourteen made a version of the first book of "The Thebais," which, with some revision, he afterwards published. He must have been at this time, if he had no help, a considerable proficient in the Latin tongue.
By Dryden's Fables, which had then been not long published, and were much in the hands of poetical readers, he was tempted to try his own skill in giving Chaucer a more fashionable appearance, and put "January and May," and the "Prologue of the Wife of Bath," into modern English. He translated likewise the epistle of "Sappho to Phaon," from Ovid, to complete the version which was before imperfect; and wrote some other small pieces, which he afterwards printed.
He sometimes imitated the English poets, and professed to have written at fourteen his poem upon "Silence," after Rochester's "Nothing." He had now formed his versification, and the smoothness of his numbers surpassed his original; but this is a small part of his praise; he discovers such acquaintance both with human life and public affairs, as is not easily conceived to have been attainable by a boy of fourteen in Windsor Forest.
He tells of himself, in his poems, that "he lisped in numbers;" and used to say that he could not remember the time when he began to make verses. In the style of fiction it might have been said of him as of Pindar, that, when he lay in his cradle, "the bees swarmed about
About the time of the Revolution, his father, who was undoubtedly disappointed by the sudden blast of popish prosperity, quitted his trade, and retired to Binfield in Windsor Forest, with about twenty thousand pounds; for which, being conscientiously determined not to entrust it to the government, he found no better use than that of locking it up in a chest, and taking from it what his expenses required: and his life was long enough to consume a great part of it before his son came to the inheritance.
To Binfield, Pope was called by his father when he was about twelve years old; and there he had, for a few months, the assistance of one Deane, another priest, of whom he learned only to construe a little of "Tully's Offices." How Mr. Deane could spend, with a boy who had translated so much of Ovid, some months over a small part of "Tully's Offices," it is now vain to inquire.
Of a youth so successfully employed, and so conspicuously improved, a minute account must be naturally desired; but curiosity must be contented with confused, imperfect, and sometimes improbable intelligence. Pope, finding little advantage from external help, resolved thenceforward to direct himself, and at twelve formed a plan of study, which he completed with little other incitement than the desire of excellence.
His primary and principal purpose was to be a poet, with which his father accidentally concurred by proposing subjects, and obliging him to correct his performances by many revisals; after which, the old gentleman, when he was satisfied, would say, "these are good rhymes." In his perusal of the English poets he soon distinguished the versification of Dryden, which he considered as the model to be studied, and was impressed with such veneration for his instructor, that he persuaded some friends to take him to the coffee-house which Dryden frequented, and pleased himself with having seen him.
Dryden died May 1, 1701, some days before Pope was twelve; so early must he therefore have felt the power of harmony and the zeal of genius. Who does not wish that Dryden could have known the value of the homage that was
Next year he was desirous of opening to himself new sources of knowledge, by making himself acquainted with modern languages; and removed for a time to London, that he might study French and Italian, which, as he desired nothing more than to read them, were by diligent application soon despatched. Of Italian learning he does not appear to have ever made much use in his subsequent studies.
He then returned to Binfield, and delighted himself with his own poetry. He tried all styles and many subjects. He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, an epic poem, with panegyrics on all the princes of Europe; and, as he confesses, "thought himself the greatest genius that ever was." Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. He, indeed, who forms his opinion of himself in solitude without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to error; but it was the felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value.
Most of his puerile productions were, by his maturer judgment, afterwards destroyed. "Alcander," the Epic poem, was burned by the persuasion of Atterbury. The tragedy was founded on the legend of St. Genevieve. Of the comedy there is no account.
Concerning his studies it is related, that he translated "Tully on Old Age;" and that besides his books of poetry and criticism, he read "Temple's Essays" and "Locke on Human Understanding." His reading, though his favourite authors are not known, appears to have been sufficiently extensive and multifarious; for his early pieces show, with sufficient evidence, his knowledge of books.