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Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
The veriest hermit in the nation
Behold the place, where if a poet
Our courtier walks from dish to dish,
"An't please your honor," quoth the peasant, "This same dessert is not so pleasant: Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread, and liberty!"
ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD AND EARL MORTIMER.
Sent to the Earl of Oxford, with Dr. Parnell's Poems published by our Author, after the said Earl's imprisonment in the Tower, and Retreat into the Country, in the Year 1721.
SUCH were the notes thy once-lov'd poet sud
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear,
And sure, if aught below the seats divine
In vain to deserts thy retreat is made;
Through Fortune's cloud one truly great can see, Nor fears to tell, that Mortimer is he.
JONATHAN SWIFT, a person who has carried one brought him under the heavy imputation, from species of poetry, that of humorous satire, to a de- which he was never able entirely to free himself, gree never before attained, was, by his parentage, of being a scoffer against revealed religion. of English descent, but probably born in Ireland. His prospects of advancement in the political It is known that his father, also called Jonathan, career were abortive, till 1710, when the Tories having married a Leicestershire lady, died at an came into power. His connexion with this party early age, leaving a daughter, and a posthumous son. began in an acquaintance with Harley, afterwards His widow, being left in narrow circumstances, Earl of Oxford, who introduced him to secretary was invited by her husband's brother, Godwin, St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke; and, he who resided in Dublin, to his house; and there, it engaged the confidence of these leaders to such a is supposed, Jonathan was born, on November 30th, degree, that he was admitted to their most secret 1667. After passing some time at a school in Kil- consultations. In all his transactions with them, bɔ kenny, he was removed to Trinity College, Dublin, was most scrupulously attentive to preserve every in his 15th year; in which university he spent seven appearance of being on an equality, and to repress years, and then obtained with difficulty the degree every thing that looked like slight or neglect on of bachelor of arts, conferred speciali gratia. The their parts; and there probably is not another excircumstance affords sufficient proof of the misapplication of his talents to mathematical pursuits; but he is said to have been at this period engaged eight hours a day in more congenial studies.
ample of a man of letters who has held his head so high in his association with men in power. This was undoubtedly owing to that constitutional pride and unsubmitting nature which governed all his actions.
So profuse are the materials for the life of Swift, that it has become almost a vain attempt to give, in A bishopric in England was the object at which a moderate compass, the events by which he was he aimed, and a vacancy on the bench occurring, distinguished from ordinary mortals; and it will he was recommended by his friends in the ministry therefore be chiefly in his character of a poetical to the Queen; but suspicions of his faith, and other composer that we shall now consider him. He was prejudices, being raised against him, he was passed early domesticated with the celebrated statesman, over; and the highest preferment which his patrons Sir William Temple, who now lived in retirement could venture to bestow upon him was the deanery at Moor Park; but having made choice of the of St. Patrick's, in Dublin; to which he was prechurch as his future destination, on parting in sented in 1713, and in which he continued for life. some disagreement from Temple, he went to Ire- The death of the Queen put an end to all contests land, with very moderate expectations, and took among the Tory ministers; and the change termiorders. A reconciliation with his patron brought nated Swift's prospects, and condemned him to an him back to Moor Park, where he passed his time unwilling residence in a country which he always in harmony till the death of Sir William, who left disliked. On his return to Dublin, his temper was him a legacy and his papers. He then accepted severely tried by the triumph of the Whigs, who an invitation from the earl of Berkeley, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, to accompany him thither as chaplain and private secretary; and he continued in the family as long as his lordship remained in that kingdom. Here Swift began to distinguish himself by an incomparable talent of writing humorous verses in the true familiar style, His conduct with respect to the female sex was several specimens of which he produced for the not less unaccountable than singular, and certainly amusement of the house. After Lord Berkeley's does no honor to his memory. Early in life he return to England, Swift went to reside at his attached himself to his celebrated Stella, whose real living at Laracor, in the diocese of Meath; and name was Johnson, the daughter of Sir William here it was that ambition began to take possession Temple's steward. Soon after his settlement at of his mind. He thought it proper to increase his Laracor, he invited her to Ireland. She came, acconsequence by taking the degree of doctor of companied by a Mrs. Dingley, and resided near divinity in an English university; and, for the pur-the parsonage when he was at home, and in it when pose of forming connexions, he paid annual visits he was absent; nor were they ever known to lodge to that country. In 1701, he first engaged as a in the same house, or to see each other without a political writer; and, in 1704, he published, though witness. In 1716, he was privately married to her, anonymously, his celebrated "Tale of a Tub," which, while it placed him high as a writer, distinguished by wit and humor of a peculiar cast,
treated him with great indignity; but in length of time, by a proper exercise of his clerical office, by reforms introduced into the chapter of St. Patrick's, and by his bold and able exposures of the abuses practised in the government of Ireland, he rose to the title of King of the Mob in that capital.
but the parties were brought no nearer than before and the act was attended with no acknowledgment that could gratify the feelings of a woman who
had so long devoted herself to him. About the humorous and sarcastic was his habitual taste, year 1712, he became acquainted, in London, with which he frequently indulged beyond the bounds of Miss Esther Vanhomrigh, a young lady of fortune, decorum; a circumstance which renders the task with a taste for literature, which Swift was fond of of selection from his works somewhat perplexing. cultivating. To her he wrote the longest and most In wit, both in verse and prose, he stands foremost finished of his poems, entitled Cadenus and in grave irony, maintained with the most plausible Vanessa; and her attachment acquired so much air of serious simplicity, and supported by great strength, that she made him the offer of her hand. minuteness of detail. His "Gulliver's Travels" Even after his marriage to Stella, Swift kept are a remarkable exemplification of his powers in Miss Vanhomrigh in ignorance of this connexion; this kind, which have rendered the work wonderbut a report of it having at length reached her, she fully amusing, even to childish readers, whilst the took the step of writing a note to Stella, requesting keen satire with which it abounds may gratify the to know if the marriage were real. Stella assured most splenetic misanthropist. In general, however, her of the affirmative in her answer, which she his style in prose, though held up as a model of inclosed to Swift, and went into the country without clearness, purity, and simplicity, has only the merit seeing him. Swift went immediately to the house of expressing the author's meaning with perfect of Miss Vanhomrigh, threw Stella's letter on the table, and departed, without speaking a word. She never recovered the shock, and died in 1723. Stella, with her health entirely ruined, languished on till 1728, when she expired. Such was the fate which he prepared for both.
Late in life, Swift fell under the fate which he dreaded: the faculties of his mind decayed before those of his body, and he gradually settled into absolute idiocy. A total silence for some months preceded his decease, which took place in October, Of the poems of Swift, some of the most striking 1744, when he was in his 78th year. He was inwere composed in mature life, after his attainment terred in St. Patrick's cathedral, under a monuof his deanery of St. Patrick; and it will be ad- ment, for which he wrote a Latin epitaph, in which mitted that no one ever gave a more perfect ex- one clause most energetically displays the state of ample of the easy familiarity attainable in the his feelings:-"Ubi sæva indignatio ulterius cor English language. His readiness in rhyme is lacerare nequit." He bequeathed the greatest part truly astonishing; the most uncommon associations of his property to an hospital for lunatics and of sounds coming to him as it were spontaneously, idiots, in words seemingly the best adapted to the occasion. That he was capable of high polish and elegance, some of his works sufficiently prove; but the
To show, by one satiric touch,
CADENUS AND VANESSA.*
WRITTEN AT WINDSOR, 1713.
THE shepherds and the nymphs were seen
The brief with weighty crimes was charg'd,
* Founded on an offer of marriage made by Miss Von. homrigh to Dr. Swift, who was occasionally her precep. tor. The lady's unhappy story is well known.
Against our sovereign lady's peace,
The few soft moments they can spare,
From visits to receive and pay;
In a dull stream, which moving slow,
Stops thus, and turns with every wind;
The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,
The pleader, having spoke his best,
Nor further these deponents knew :-
But, since the case appear'd so nice,
They never pass'd for law in courts:
For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
There was on both sides much to say:
In a glad hour Lucina's aid
She threw her law-books on the shelf,
"Since men allege, they ne'er can find
This said, she plucks in heaven's high bowers A sprig of amaranthine flowers,
In nectar thrice infuses bays,
And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid:
The Graces next would act their part,
Her name on Earth shall not be told."
But still the work was not complete; When Venus thought on a deceit : Drawn by her doves, away she flies, And finds out Pallas in the skies. "Dear Pallas, I have been this morn To see a lovely infant born; A boy in yonder isle below, So like my own without his bow, By beauty could your heart be won, You'd swear it is Apollo's son: But it shall ne'er be said a child So hopeful has by me been spoil'd; I have enough besides to spare, And give him wholly to your care."
Wisdom's above suspecting wiles: The queen of learning gravely smiles, Down from Olympus comes with joy, Mistakes Vanessa for a boy; Then sows within her tender mind Seeds long unknown to woman-kind; For manly bosoms chiefly fit, The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit. Her soul was suddenly endued With justice, truth, and fortitude; With honor, which no breath can stain, Which malice must attack in vain; With open heart and bounteous hand. But Pallas here was at a stand; She knew, in our degenerate days, Bare virtue could not live on praise; That meat must be with money bought: She therefore, upon second thought, Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth, Some small regard for state and wealth; Of which, as she grew up, there staid A tincture in the prudent maid: She manag'd her estate with care, Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair. But lest he should neglect his studies Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess (For fear young master should be spoil'd) Would use him like a younger child; And, after long computing, found "Twould come to just five thousand pound. The queen of love was pleas'd, and proud, To see Vanessa thus endow'd: She doubted not but such a dame Through every breast would dart a flame; That every rich and lordly swain With pride would drag about her chain; That scholars would forsake their books, To study bright Vanessa's looks; As she advanc'd, that woman-kind Would by her model form their mind, And all their conduct would be tried By her, as an unerring guide; Offending daughters oft would hear Vanessa's praise rung in their ear: Miss Betty, when she does a fault, Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt, Will thus be by her mother chid, ""Tis what Vanessa never did!" "Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd, My power shall be again restor'd, And happy lovers bless my reign-" So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.
For when in time the martial maid Found out the trick that Venus play'd, She shakes her helm, she knits her brows, And, fir'd with indignation, vows,
To-morrow, ere the setting sun,
But in the poets we may find
A goddess of unspotted fame.
In proper season Pallas meets
Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
To manage thy abortive scheme:
To know the converse of mankind.