Imatges de pÓgina

nothing; and, with the fate of a double-dealer, at last he lost his power, but kept his enemies.

Swift seems to have concurred in opinion with the October Club; but it was not in his power to quicken the tardiness of Harley, whom he stimulated as much as he could, but with little effect. He that knows not whither to go is in no haste to move. Harley, who was perhaps not quick by nature, became yet more slow by irresolution; and was content to hear that dilatoriness lamented as natural, which he applauded in himself as politic.

Without the Tories, however, nothing could be done; and as they were not to be gratified, they must be appeased; and the conduct of the Minister, if it could not be vindicated, was to be plausibly excused.

Swift now attained the zenith of his political importance: he published (1712) the Conduct of the Allies, ten days before the Parliament assembled.

The purpose was to persuade the nation to a peace; and never had any writer more success. The people, who had been amused with bonfires and triumphal processions, and looked with idolatry on the General and his friends, who, as they thought, had made England the arbitress of nations, were confounded between shame and rage, when they found that mines had been exhausted, and millions destroyed, to secure the Dutch or aggrandise the emperor, without any advantage to ourselves; that we had been bribing our neighbours to fight their own quarrel; and that amongst our enemies we might number our allies.

That is now no longer doubted, of which the nation was then first informed, that the war was unnecessarily protracted to fill the pockets of Marlborough; and that it would have been continued without end, if he could have continued his annual plunder, but Swift, I suppose, did not yet know what he has since written, that a commission was drawn which would have appointed him general for life, had it not become ineffectual by the resolution of Lord Cowper, who refused the seal.

Whatever is received,' say the schools, “is received in proportion to the recipient. The power of a political treatise depends much

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upon the disposition of the people; the nation was then combustible, and a spark set it on fire. It is boasted that between November and January eleven thousand were sold ; a great number at that time, when we were not yet a nation of readers. To its propagation certainly no agency of power or influence was wanting. It furnished arguments for conversation, speeches for debate, and materials for parliamentary resolutions.

Yet, surely, whoever surveys this wonder-working pamphlet with cool perusal, will confess that its efficacy was supplied by the passions of its readers; that it operates by the mere weight of facts, with very little assistance from the hand that produced them.

This year (1712) he published his Reflections on the Barrier Treaty, which carries on the design of his Conduct of the Allies, and shows how little regard in that negotiation had been shown to the interest of England, and how much of the conquered country had been demanded by the Dutch.

This was followed by Remarks on the Bishop of Sarum's Introduction to his third volume of the History of the Reformation ; a pamphlet which Burnet published as an alarm, to warn the nation of the approach of Popery. Swift, who seems to have disliked the Bishop with something more than political aversion, treats him like one whom he is glad of an opportunity to insult.

Swift, being now the declared favourite and supposed confidant of the Tory Ministry, was treated by all that depended on the Court with the respect which dependants know how to pay. He soon began to feel part of the misery of greatness; he that could say he knew him, considered himself as having fortune in his power. Commissions, solicitations, remonstrances, crowded about him; he was expected to do every man's business, to procure employment for one, and to retain it for another. In assisting those who addressed him, he represents himself as sufficiently diligent; and desires to have others believe, what he probably believed himself, that by his interposition many Whigs of merit, and among them Addison and Congreve, were continued in their places. But every man of known influence has so many petitions which he cannot grant,

that he must necessarily offend more than he gratifies, because
the preference given to one affords all the rest a reason for
complaint. When I give away a place, said Louis xiv., I make
a hundred discontented and one ungrateful.

Much has been said of the equality and independence which
he preserved in his conversation with the Ministers, of the
frankness of his remonstrances, and the familiarity of his
friendship. In accounts of this kind a few single incidents are
set against the general tenor of behaviour. No man, however,
can pay a more servile tribute to the great, than by suffering
his liberty in their presence to aggrandise him in his own
esteem. Between different ranks of the community there is
necessarily some distance: he who is called by his superior to
pass the interval, may properly accept the invitation; but
petulance and obtrusion are rarely produced by magnanimity,
nor have often any nobler cause than the pride of importance
and the malice of inferiority. He who knows himself necessary
may set, while that necessity lasts, a high value upon himself ;
as, in a lower condition, a servant eminently skilful may be
saucy; but he is saucy only because he is servile. Swift appears
to have preserved the kindness of the great when they wanted
him no longer; and therefore it must be allowed that the
childish freedom, to which he seems enough inclined, was
overpowered by his better qualities.

His disinterestedness has been likewise mentioned; a strain of heroism, which would have been in his condition romantic and superfluous. Ecclesiastical benefices, when they become vacant, must be given away; and the friends of power may, if there be no inherent disqualification, reasonably expect them. Swift accepted (1713) the deanery of St. Patrick, the best preferment that his friends could venture to give him. That Ministry was in a great degree supported by the clergy, who were not yet reconciled to the author of the Tale of a Tub, and would not without much discontent and indignation have borne to see him installed in an English cathedral.

He refused, indeed, fifty pounds from Lord Oxford; but he accepted afterwards a draft of a thousand upon the Exchequer,

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which was intercepted by the Queen's death, and which he resigned, as he says himself, multa gemens, with many a groan.

In the midst of his power and his politics, he kept a journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with Ministers, and quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befell him was interesting, and no accounts could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the presence of the Dean, may be reasonably doubted: they have, however, some odd attraction; the reader, finding frequent mention of names which he has been used to consider as important, goes on in hope of information ; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention, if he is disappointed he can hardly complain. It is easy to perceive, from every page, that though ambition pressed Swift into a life of bustle, the wish for a life of ease was always returning

He went to take possession of his deanery as soon as he had obtained it; but he was not suffered to stay in Ireland more than a fortnight before he was recalled to England, that he might reconcile Lord Oxford and Lord Bolingbroke, who began to look on one another with malevolence, which every day increased, and which Bolingbroke appeared to retain in his last years.

Swift contrived an interview, from which they both departed discontented: he procured a second, which only convinced him that the feud was irreconcilable; he told them his opinion, that all was lost. This denunciation was contradicted by Oxford, but Bolingbroke whispered that he was right.

Before this violent dissension had shattered the Ministry, Swift had published, in the beginning of the year (1714), The Public Spirit of the Whigs, in answer to The Crisis, a pamphlet for which Steele was expelled from the House of Commons. Swift was now so far alienated from Steele as to think him no longer entitled to decency, and therefore treats him sometimes with contempt, and sometimes with abhorrence.

In this pamphlet the Scotch were mentioned in terms so

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provoking to that irritable nation, that, resolving not to be offended with impunity, the Scotch Lords in a body demanded an audience of the Queen, and solicited reparation. A proclamation was issued, in which three hundred pounds was offered for discovery of the author. From this storm he was, as he relates, secured by a sleight ; of what kind, or by whose prudence is not known; and such was the increase of his reputation, that the Scottish Nation applied again that he would be their friend.

He was become so formidable to the Whigs that his familiarity with the Ministers was clamoured at in Parliament, particularly by two men, afterwards of great note, Aislabie and Walpole.

But, by the disunion of his great friends, his importance and his designs were now at an end; and seeing his services at last useless, he retired about June (1714) into Berkshire, where, in the house of a friend, he wrote what was then suppressed, but has since appeared under the title of Free Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs.

While he was waiting in this retirement for events which time or chance might bring to pass, the death of the Queen broke down at once the whole system of Tory politics; and nothing remained but to withdraw from the implacability of triumphant Whiggism, and shelter himself in unenvied obscurity.

The accounts of his reception in Ireland, given by Lord Orrery and Dr. Delany, are so different, that the credit of the writers, both undoubtedly veracious, cannot be saved, but by supposing, what I think is true, that they speak of different times. When Delany says that he was received with respect, he means for the first fortnight, when he came to take legal possession; and when Lord Orrery tells that he was pelted by the populace, he is to be understood of the time when, after the Queen's death, he became a settled resident.

The Archbishop of Dublin gave him at first some disturbance in the exercise of his jurisdiction; but it was soon discovered, that between prudence and integrity he was seldom in the wrong; and that when he was right, his spirit did not easily yield to opposition.

Having so lately quitted the tumults of a party and the

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