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Born in Dublin of English Parents—Educated at Dublin and Oxford-Enters the service of Sir
William Temple-Becomes acquainted with Stella-Is introduced to William III.--Is left Sir William Temple's Literary Executor-His unpromising appearance as a Poet-Dryden's Criticism on his Odes--Publishes . The Tale of a Tub'-Sides with the Whigs under Somers and Godolphia--Seeks the patronage of Halifax-Introduced to Harley and St. John—Sides with the Tories--Ilis Political Influence-Is made Dean of St. Patrick's-His Church Pros. pects ruined by the Death of Queen Anne-His Two Visits to England-Publishes . Gulliver's Travels '-Supposed to bave been married to Stella-Stella and Vanessa-His Services to Ireland-Disappointments and Idiotcy-Death and Burial in St. Patrick's Cathedral-Works and Character.
An account of Dr. Swift has been already collected, with great diligence and acuteness, by Dr. Hawkesworth, according to a scheme which I laid before him in the intimacy of our friendship. I cannot therefore be expected to say much of a life concerning which I had long since communicated my thoughts to a man capable of dignifying his narrations with so much elegance of language and force of sentiment.
Jonathan Swift was, according to an account said to be written by himself,' the son of Jonathan Swift, an attorney, and was born at Dublin on St. Andrew's Day, 1667 : according to his own report, as delivered by Pope to Spence,” he was born at Leicester, the son of a clergyman, who was minister of a parish in Herefordshire." During bis life the place of his birth was undetermined. He was contented to be called an Irishman by the Irish ; but would occasionally call himself an Englishman. The question may, without much regret, be left in the obscurity in which he delighted to involve it.
1 This account, the original MS, of which, in his own hand, was presented to the University Library of Dublin by Deane Swift, was first Printed in Deane Swift's Essay, &c., 8vo. 1755.
3 Spence by Singer, p. 161. $ Goodrich.
• As to my native country, I happened indeed by a perfect accident to be born here, my mother being left here from returning to her house at Leicester; and I was a year old before YOL. II.
Whatever was his birth, his education was Irish. He was sent at the age of six to the school at Kilkenny, and in his fifteenth year (1682) was admitted into the University of Dublin.
In his academical studies he was either not diligent or not happy. It must disappoint every reader's expectation, that when at the usual time he claimed the Bachelorship of Arts, he was found by the examiners too conspicuously deficient for regular admission, and obtained his degree at last by special favour ;' a term used in that university to denote want of merit.
of this disgrace it may be easily supposed that he was much ashamed, and shame had its proper effect in producing reformation. He resolved from that time to study eight hours a day, and continned his industry for seven years, with what improvement is sufficiently known. This part of his story well deserves to be remembered ; it may afford useful admonition and powerful encouragement to men whose abilities have been made for a time useless by their passions or pleasures, and who, having lost one part of life in idleness, are tempted to throw away the remainder in despair.
In this course of daily application he continued three years longer at Dublin ; and in this time, if the observation of an old companion may be trusted, he drew the first sketch of his Tale of a Tub.''
When he was about one-and-twenty (1688), being by the death of Godwin Swift, his uncle, who had supported him, left without subsistence, he went to consult his mother, who then lived at Leices.
I was sent to England; and thus I am a Teague, or an Irishman, or what people please, although the best part of my life was in England.-SWIFT to Mr. Grant, Dublin, March 28, 1783-4 (Scott, xvili 203).
I loved my Lord your father better than any other man in the world, although I had do obligation to him on the score of preferment, having been driven to this wretched kingdom, to which I was almost a stranger, by his want of power to keep me in what I ought to call my own country, although I happened to be dropped here, and was a year old before I left it; and
I to my sorrow did not die before I came back to it again.-SWIFT to Edward Earl of Oxford, June 14, 1787. (Scott, xix. 76.)
In 'An Examination of certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities in the City of Dublin,' written in 1732, Swift observes that he had always been watchful over the interests of the City of Dublin-"that renowned city where (absit invidia) I had the honour to draw my first breath."-swiftWorks by Scott, 2nd ed vil. 887.)
His mother was Abigail Erick, of a good family in Leicestershire. She died at Leicester, 24th April, 1710, and is affectionately remembered by Swift. (Scott, xv. 855, 2nd ed.)
3 Speciali gratia is the entry in the Register.
ter, about the fature course of his life, and by her direction solicited the advice and patronage of Sir William Temple, who had married one of Mrs. Swift's relations, and whose father, Sir John Temple, Master of the Rolls in Ireland, had lived in great familiarity of friendship with Godwin Swift, by whom Jonathan had been to that time maintained.
Temple received with sufficient kindness the nephew of his father's friend, with whom he was, when they conversed together, so much pleased, that he detained him two years in his house. Here' he became known to King William, who sometimes visited Temple when he was disabled by the gout, and, being attended by Swift in the garden, showed him how to cut asparagus in the Dutch way.'
King William's notions were all military; and he expressed his kindness to Swift by offering to make him a captain of horse."
When Temple removed to Moor Park," he took Swift with him ; and when he was consulted by the Earl of Portland about the expedience of complying with a bill then depending for making parliaments triennial, against which King William was strongly prejudiced, after having in vain tried to show the Earl that the proposal involved nothing dangerous to royal power, he sent Swift for the same purpose to the King. Swift, who probably was proud of his employment, and went with all the confidence of a young man, found his arguments, and his art of displaying them, made totally ineffectnal by the predetermination of the King ; and used to mention this disappointment as bis first antidote against vanity.
Before he left Ireland he contracted a disorder, as he thought, by eating too much fruit. The original of diseases is commonly obscure. Almost every boy eats as much fruit as be can get, without any great inconvenience. The disease of Swift was giddiness with deafness, which attacked him from time to time, began very
"At Sheen, near Richmond, in Surrey.
& lo their evening conversations, among other bagatelles, the King, as I have heard from the Doctor's own inouth, offered to make him a captain of horse, and gave him instructions, so great was the freedom of their conversation, how to cut asparagus (a vigetable which his Majesty was extremely fond of) in the Dutch manner.-Dean Swirt: Essuy, 8vo. 1755
Orrery's 'Remarks,' 12mo. 1753, p. 18. 10 Moor Park, near Farnham, in Surrey.
early, pursued him through life, and at last sent him to the grave, deprived of reason.
Being much oppressed at Moor Park by this grievous malady, he was advised to try his native air, and went to Ireland ; but, finding no benefit, returned to Sir William, at whose house he continued his studies, and is known to have read, among other books, Cyprian' and ‘Irenæus.' He thought exercise of great necessity, and used to run half a mile up and down a hill every two hours."
It is easy to imagine that the mode in which his first degree was conferred left him no great fondness for the University of Dublin, and therefore he resolved to become a Master of Arts at Oxford. In the testimonial which he produced, the words of disgrace were omitted : and he took his Master's degree (July 5, 1692) with such reception and regard as fully contented him.
While he lived with Temple, he used to pay his mother at Leicester a yearly visit. He travelled on foot, unless some violence of weather drove him into a waggon, and at night be would go to a penny lodging, where he purchased clean sheets for sixpence. This
11 The original of the following letter is in the rich collection of John YouLg, Esq., of Van brugh Fields, Blackheath, and is now published for the first time by his kind permission :
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE TO SIR ROBERT SOUTHWELL. 81,-I was lately acquainted by Mr Hanbury with the favor of yr remembrance and inquirys after mee and my family, by wb wee are all obliged, and returne you all our wishes for yr good health and good fortunes wch way soever you turne them. This afternoon I hear, though by a common hande, that you are going over into Irelande, Secretary of State for that King. dome, upon wch I venture to make you the offer of a servant, in case you may have occasion for such a one as this bearer. Hee was borne and bred there (though of a good family in Herefordshire), was neer seven years in the college of Dublyn, and ready to take his degree of Master of Arts, when hee was forced away by the desertion of that colledge upon the calamitys of the country. Since that time hee has lived in my house, read to mee, writt for mee, and kept all accounts as farr as my small occasions required. Hee has latine and greek, some french, writes a very good and current hand, is very honest and diligent, and has good friends, though they have for the present lost their fortunes, in Irelande, and his whole family having been long known to mee obliged mee thus farr to take care of him. If you please to accept him into your service, either as a Gentleman to waite on you, or as a Clarke to write under you, and either lo use him so if you like his service, or upon any establishment of the Colledge, to recommend him to a fellowship there, wch hee has a just pretence to, I shall acknowledge it as a great obligation to mee, as well as to him, and endeavour to deserve it by the constany of my being alwaies, 8r, yr most faithfull and most humble servant,
W. TEMPLE Moor Parke, neer Farnhar, May 29, 1690. Addressed
For Sr Robert Southwell,
practice Lord Orrery imputes to his innate love of grossness and vulgarity : some may ascribe it to his desire of surveying buman life through all its varieties; and others, perhaps with equal probability, to a passion which seems to have been deep fixed in his heart, the love of a shilling."
In time he began to think that his attendance at Moor Park deserved some other recompense than the pleasure, however mingled with improvement, of Temple's conversation ;” and grew so impatient, that (1694) he went away in discontent.
Temple, conscious of having given reason for complaint, is said to have made him Deputy Master of the Rolls in Ireland ; which, ac
; cording to his kinsman's ' account, was an office which he knew bim not able to discharge. Swift therefore resolved to enter into the Church, in which he had at first no higher hopes than of the chaplainship to the Factory at Lisbon ; but being recommended to Lord Capel (then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), he obtained the prebend of Kilroot in Connor, of about a hundred pounds a year.
But the infirmities of Temple made a companion like Swift so necessary, that he invited bim back, with a promise to procure him English preferment in exchange for the prebend, which he desired him to resign. With this request Swift complied, having perhaps equally repented their separation, and they lived on together with mutual satisfaction ; and, in the four years that passed between his return and Temple’s death, it is probable that he wrote The Tale of a Tub' and The Battle of the Books." 18
il Orrery's 'Remarks,' ed. 1753, p. 21.
13 If he walked an hour or two on any occasion, instead of taking a coach or a chair, ho then cried out that he had earned a shilling or eighteenpence.-DELANY, p. 13.
I persuade myself that it is sbilling weather as seldom as possible; and have found out that there are few court visits that are worth a shilling.–GAY to Swift, March 20, 1730-1.
14 I am not to take orders till the King (William III) gives me a prebend, and Sir William Temple, though he promises me the certainty of it, yet is less forward than I could wish, because (I suppose) he believes I sliall leave him, and, upon some accounts, he thinks me a little necessary to him.-Swift to Mr. William Swift, (Moor Park, Nov. 29, 1692). Scott, xv. 257
18 Deane Swift in his Essay, 8vo. 1755, Appendix, p. 49.
16 Mr. Temple, Nephew to Sir William Temple, and brother to Lord Palmerston, who lately died at Bath, declared to a friend of mine, that Sir William hired Swift, at his first entrance Into the world, to read to him, and sometimes to be his amanuensis, at the rate of 201. a year and his board, which was then high preferment to him; but that Sir William never favoured