« AnteriorContinua »
not less than England. As it was, be saved her by his courage-improved her by his authority adorned her by his talents and exalted ber by his fame. His mission was but of •ten years; and for ten years only did his personal power mitigate the government; but though no longer feared by the great, he was not for. gotten by the wise; his influence, like his writings, has survived a century; and the foundations of whatever prosperity we have since erected, are laid in the disinterested and magnanimous patriotism of Swift.
Swift retires to Quilca-His friendship for Sheridan--He
visits England—Has an audience of Walpole-Becomes known at the Prince of Wales's Court-Returns to Ireland and publishes Gulliver's Travels—He revisits England—And lis recalled by Stella's indisposition-Her death-Swift breaks with the Court and Minister-His writings on Irish affairs-He quarrels with Lord AllenIs intimate with Carteret—A Letter is forged in his name to the Queen-His Miscellaneous Prose Writings about this period—His Poems-His residence at Gossford with Sir Arthur Acheson, and the Verses which were written there.
WHEN Wood's project appeared to be on the verge of being abandoned, Swift, as if desirous of escaping from the popular applause which hailed him from every quarter, retreated with Mrs. Dingley and Mrs. Johnson to Quilca, a small country-house belonging to his intimate friend Dr. Sheridan, in a wild and sequestered situation, about seven miles from the town of Kells. In this retirement, where the want of accommodation became the subject of one or two of those pieces of humour, which he has called family trifles, he remained for several months. He seems to have meditated a final blow at Wood and his half-pence; but hearing the patent was resigned, he stopped the publication of the intended treatise. This was probably the seventh letter, which did not appear until the Dean's works were collected, in 1735. Meanwhile, the inadvertence of his friend Sheridan engaged him in a very troublesome affair, in which Swift laboured hard to protect and assist him.
Dr. Sheridan, highly respectable for wit, learning, and an uncommon talent for the education of youth,
and no less distinguished by his habits of abstraction and absence, and by a simplicity of character which ill suited with his wordly interest, had been Swift's friend of every mood and of all hours, since the Dean's final retirement into Ireland. A happy art of meeting and answering the raillery of his friend, and of writing with facility verses upon domestic jests or occasional incidents, amused Swift's lighter moments, while Sheridan's sound and extensive erudition enlightened those which were more serious. It was in his society that Swift renewed his acquaintance with classical learning, and perused the works which amused his retirement. In the invitations sent to the Dean, Sheridan was always included; nor was Swift to be seen in perfect good humour, unless when he made part of the company. Indeed, Sheridan understood the Dean's temper so well, and knew so happily how to arrest, by some sudden stroke of humour, those fits of violent irritability to which Swift's mind was liable, as bis outward frame was to those of vertigo, that he was termed, among their common friends, the David who alone could play the evil spirit out of Saul. Swift was not insensible of the value of such a friend, nor unwilling to repay his services by every means in his power. His high rank and character enabled him to promote the flourishing state of Sheridan's school, which was then the first in the kingdom. But the improvidence of the generous but imprudent teacher, frustrated the kind intentions of his patron ; for with a wife and increasing family, his ex
But the spe
penses kept pace with his income ; and Swift saw with regret that nothing but a removal from the capital would prevent his being ultimately in distressed circumstances. With this friendly purpose, the Dean obtained from the Lord-Primate Lindsay, an offer of the richly endowed school of Armagh for Sheridan. cious arguments of some persons who pretended to be the well-wishers of this unsuspicious and single-hearted character, prevailed upon him to decline this offer. He had leisure to reflect upon his folly, when, some years afterwards, the same individuals countenanced another school in opposition to his, and at length compelled him to abandon Dublin.* But before this event took place, Swift had availed himself of another opportunity to serve him.
Lord Carteret, notwithstanding the prosecution of Harding, and the proclamation offering a reward for the discovery of the Drapier, was a friend of Swift, and so far coincided in his political opinions, as to be a secret enemy of Walpole. Thus it was twice Swift's singular fortune to have proclamations sent forth against him, under the authority of ministers, who were not only his personal friends, but who approved in secret of the very treatises against which their public manifestoes were fulminated. Besides, Carteret felt that he 'had been sent to Ireland only to exercise a nominal vice-sovereignty, while the real power was lodged with the primate Boulter, and he was not averse to form a sort of independent party to balance, in some degree, those violent ministerialists by whom he was watched and surrounded. Accordingly, Swift had afterwards occasion, in one of his most happy ironical compositions, to
In answer to a letter (Swift's Works, Vol. XVIII. p. 446.) in which Sheridan complains of his insidious friends, who lulled him asleep until they stole his school into the hands of a blockhead, Swift says, “I own you have too much reason to complain of some friends, who, next to yourself, have done you most hurt; whom I still esteem and frequent, although I confess I cannot heartily forgive. Yet certainly the case was not merely personal malice to you (although it had the same effects) but a kind of I know not what job, which one of them has heartily repented.” I suspect Delany to be the person here indicated. He had no good-will to Sheridan,
vindicate the lord-lieutenant from the charge of confer. ring favours and preferments upon persons disaffected to the king's government.
Through the recommendation of Swift, and from Carteret's own disposition to encourage learning, of which he was a perfect judge, Dr. Sheridan was named one of the lord-lieutenant's chaplains, and presented with a small living near Cork. But, alas ! while thus mounted on the first round of the ladder of preferment, he had the inadvertence to kick it from beneath him. When he went to Cork to be inducted in his living, Sheridan undertook to preach for Archdeacon Russel of that city, and, without considering that it was the anniversary of the accession of the House of Hanover, he selected a sermon, which had for the text, “ Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." It proved, at least, an evil day for Sheridan, who, as Swift expressed it, shot his fortune dead by chance-medley with this single text. Richard Tighe, a man, according to the Dean, of no great dimensions, either of body or mind, but mighty in zeal for the House of Hanover and Protestant succession, carried the report full speed to the Castle of Dublin, exaggerating the offence, by alluding to Sheridan's suspected disaffection. Swift, on the other hand, exerted every effort to save his friend from the too probable consequences of this inadvertence. He applied the lord-lieutepant himself, and to Mr. Tickell, distinguished by his poems, whose friendship was a legacy from Addison to Swift, and who was now secretary to the lords-justices.* But Carteret durst not adventure to give such scandal to the ruling party, as the overlooking this important misdemeanour might have implied. Sheridan was therefore disgraced at the viceregal court, and struck from the list of chaplains. He was in part consoled by the generosity of Archdeacon Russel, who, considering himself as having given occasion to his misfortune, had the munificence to present him with the manor of Drumlane, worth one hundred and fifty pounds yearly. But the demerits of the in
* See Swift's Works, Vol. XVI. p. 488, Vol. XIX. p. 284.
former were never pardoned or forgotten by Swift, who made a vow, and kept it well, to persecute Tighe with satire, and never to quit him living or dead.*
This misfortune of Sheridan embittered the Dean's residence at Quilca, which was otherwise agreeable. His time was chiefly spent in acting as Sheridan's bailiff, overseeing his labourers, and executing plans of improvement for the pleasure of surprising him when vacation permitted him to visit the country. His literary
* Ibid. Vol. VII. p. 289, and the various satires against Tighe, entitled Mad Mullinix and Timothy, Tim and the Fables, Tom and Dick, Dick a Maggot, Clad all in Brown, Dick's Variety, Vol. XII, p. 402. et sequen. ; besides repeated mention of him under the title of Dick Fitz-Baker and Pistorides, epithets bestowed on Tighe because he was descended from a contractor who supplied Oliver Crom, well's army with bread.
+ Of this the younger Sheridan has recorded a whimsical instance. The Dean had a mind to surprise the Doctor, on his next visit, with some improvements made at his own expense. Accordingly he had a canal cut of some extent, and at the end of it, by transplanting some young trecs, formed an arbour, which he called Stella’s bower, and surrounded some acres of land about it with a dry-stone wall, (for the country afforded no lime,) the materials of which were taken from the ground, which was very stony. The Dean had given strict charge to all about him to keep this secret, in order to surprise the Doctor on his arrival; but he had in the meantime received intelligence of all that was going forward. On his coming to Quilca, the Dean took an early opportunity of walking with him carelessly toward this new seene, The Doctor seemed not to take the least notice of any alteration, and, with a most inflexible countenance, continued to talk of indifferent matters. 66 Confound your stupidity,” said Swift in a rage, " why, you blockhead, don't you see the great improvements I have been making here?”—“Improvements ! Mr. Dean; why, I see a long bog-hole out of which I suppose you have cut the turf; you have removed some of the young trees, I think, to a worse situation; as to taking the stones from the surface of the ground, I allow that is a useful work, as the grass will grow the better for it; and placing them about the field in that form, will make it more easy to carry them off.”—“Plague on your Irish taste,” says Swift; “this is just what I ought to have expected from you; but neither you nor your forefathers ever made such an improvement ; nor will you be able, while you live, to do any thing like it.”
The Doctor was resolved to retaliate on the Dean the first opportunity. It happened when he was down there in one of his vacations, that the Dean was absent for a few days on a visit elsewhere. He took this opportunity of employing a great number of hands to make an island in the middle of the lake, where the water was twenty feet deep; an arduous work in appearance, but not hard to be executed