Page images
PDF
EPUB

-sister-in-law, but Godwin, who was supposed to be wealthy, was her chief support; and, upon the

which she is noways able to get in without your hopours assistance: That your petitioner hath desired her late husband's brother, William Swift, to help her in getting in her said money, who hath manifested himself very willing to assist her, but hath been denied by several persons, upon pretence that he had no authority to receive the same.

"Now, for as much as your petitioner hath no friend next your honours, but her said brother to rely upon, and that he, your petitioner's said brother, cannot befriend her without he be authorised by your honours' orders to the purpose,

be

"May it therefore please your honours to grant your petitioner an order, wherein the said William Swift may authorised and appointed to gather in your petitioner's said money,

"And your petitioner shall ever pray." [The prayer of which petition was fully granted upon the same day, and her brother-in-law appointed to receive the monies due.]

(Extracted from the Black-book of the King's Inns, Dublin, page 248.) I also compared the above,

B. T. DUHIGG.

I have seen another original petition from Mrs Abigail Swift, presented in council to the Society of King's Inns, in the month of January, less than two months after the birth of her son, which was on the 30th of November 1667. I am thus irresistibly convinced, and entirely concur in opinion with Mr Duhigg, (see his history of the King's Inns, page 248,) that the illustrious Jonathan Swift, the Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, was undoubtedly born in Ireland. This latter petition, here noticed, is in the Black-book of the King's

30th of November 1667, being St Andrew's day, she was delivered of the celebrated Jonathan Swift. The place of his birth was a small house, now called No. 7. in Hoey's Court, Dublin, which is still pointed out by the inhabitants of that quarter*. His infancy was marked by a chance as singular as that of his father, whose cradle had been plundered of the bedding by Kirle's troopers. The nurse to whom he was committed was a native of Whitehaven, to which town she was recalled, by the commands of a dying relation, from whom she expected a legacy. She actually stole away her charge, out of mere affection, and carried him to Whitehaven, where he resided three years; for his health was so delicate, that, rather than hazard a second voyage, his mother chose to fix his residence for a time with the female who had given

Inns, Dublin, p. 276, which states her poverty, and her desire to pay the funeral expences of her late husband, and praying that the society do pay her the arrears due, &c.

MATTHEW WELD HARTSTOnge.

I compared the above with Mr Hartstonge,

B. T. DUHIGG.

Entry on the King's Inns Roll.

"On the 26th of January 1665, Jonathan Swift was admitted into this Society."

[Black-book of the King's Inns, p. 197.]

* The antiquity of its appearance seems to vindicate the truth of the tradition. In 1809 it was occupied by Mrs Jackson, a dealer in earthen-ware.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The

such a singular proof of her attachment. nurse was so careful of the child's education, that when he returned to Dublin he was able to spell, and when five years old he could read any chapter of the Bible.

Swift was now to share the indigence of a mother, whom he tenderly loved, and to subsist upon the support afforded by his uncle Godwin. It seems probable, that these irritating and degrading circumstances sunk deep into his haughty temper, even at an early period of life, and that even then commenced that war of his spirit with the world, which only ended when his faculties were utterly subdued by disease. Born a posthumous child, and bred up as an object of charity, he early adopted the custom of observing his birth-day, as a term, not of joy, but of sorrow, and of reading, when it annually recurred, the striking passage of Scripture, in which Job laments and execrates the day upon which it was said in his father's house, " that a man-child was born." The narrowness of the allowance afforded for his maintenance and education, added to his unhappiness, and was naturally imputed to the sordid parsimony of his uncle. It is true, that subsequent events showed that Godwin Swift was under the necessity of regulating this allowance by the real state of his embarrassed circumstances, rather than by the opinion which his nephew, in common with the rest of the world, entertained of

his wealth. But although it was afterwards discovered, that his liberality had borne full proportion to the former criterion, Swift appears never to have lost the unfavourable impression which had once been made, and certainly held Godwin Swift's remembrance neither in love nor veneration *. Meanwhile his education proceeded apace. At the age of six years, he was sent to the school of Kilkenny, endowed and maintained by the Or

*He mentions him with disrespect in the anecdotes of the family, and elsewhere; and I have the following remarkable anecdote from Theophilus Swift, Esq. the grandson of Godwin, and grand-nephew of the Dean, to whom it was often related by Mrs Whiteway. The reverend Dr Whittingham, Archdeacon of Dublin, a bold and ready talker, used to be forward to show his colloquial courage where few would have chosen to exercise it, by attacking Dean Swift, and that with great rudeness and severity. At a visitation dinner, they chanced to be placed nearly opposite to each other at table, when Dr Whittingham suddenly asked, "Pray Mr Dean, was it not your uncle Godwin who educated you ?" Swift affected not to hear this insulting question. At length it was twice repeated, with a loud and bitter accent, when the Dean answered abruptly, "Yes! He gave me the education of a dog."-" Then" answered Whittingham, grinning, and clenching his hand, "You have not the gratitude of a dog." The instant interposition of the Bishop prevented the personal violence which was likely to follow on this colloquy. This story is alluded to by Dr Delany, in his sixteenth letter to Lord Orrery, but the circumstances are concealed and altered. Notwithstanding the violence of this altercation, the Dean and Archdeacon Whittingham were reconciled by the interference of the bishop, and became afterwards good friends.

[ocr errors]

mond family, where his name, cut in schoolboy fashion, upon his desk or form, is still shewn to strangers. Here he learned to say, latino-anIglicè, the words Mi dux et amasti lux, the first germ of the numerous jeux d'esprit which passed between him and Sheridan, during his declining years.

From Kilkenny, Swift was removed, at the age of 14, and admitted into Trinity College, Dublin, where, as appears from the book of the senior lecturers, he was received as a pensioner under the tuition of St George Ashe, on 24th April 1682. His cousin, Thomas Swift *, was admitted at the same time; and the mention of the two names throughout the College records, without the Christian appellative, has thrown uncertainty upon soine minute points of the Dean's biography.

When Swift was entered at the University, the usual studies of the period were required of him, and of these, some were very ill-suited to his genius. Logic, then deemed a principal object of learning, was in vain presented to his notice; for his disposition altogether rejected the

* Son to his uncle Thomas, who had been bred at Oxford. Swift's college-companion afterwards became rector of Puttenham in Surrey, and affected to have a share in the original concoction of the Tale of a Tub. Swift used to call him in contempt his "parson.cousin."

W

« EelmineJätka »