Imatges de pÓgina

Next year, he returned to England; and, when the news of the King's death arrived, he attended at court, and killed the hands of the new King and Queen three days after their acceslion.

By the Queen, when she was Princess, he had been treated with some distinction, and was well received by her on her exaltation; but whether she gave hopes which she never took care to satisfy, or he formed expectations which she never meant, the event was, that he always afterwards thought on her with resentment, and particularly charged her with breaking her promise of some medals which Me engaged to send him.

He had likewise gained the kindness of Mrs. Howard, the Queen's favourite, with whom he kept up a correspondence; and was favourably noticed, at that time, by Walpole; to whom, it is said, he offered the service of his pen, which was rejected. The story originated with Chesterfield, or rather it can be traced no farther, and seems without sufficient foundation.

His last short visit to his friends revived the desire which he had of settling in England; and this, he hoped, might be accomplished, by an exchange of his preferments for something like an equivalent in England; but he soon found that all expectations of an exchange were at an end.

It was generally supposed, on the accession of the late King, that the Tories would be no longer proscribed as formerly; more flattering prospects were opened to him than any he could have in vicw during the late reign.“ We have now done with repining," he writes his friend Dr. Sheridan, “ if we be used well and not baited as formerly; we all agree in it; and if things do not mend, it is not our faults; we have made our offers; if otherwise, we are as we werc."

But he was foon obliged to alter his measures; for, being seized with a fit of giddiness, and at the same time, receiving alarming accounts from Ireland, that Miss Johnson had relapsed, with little hopes of her recovery, he took leave of the Queen, in a polite letter to Mrs. Howard, and set out for that kingdom on the first abatement of his illness.

On his arrival in Dublin, lie found Miss Johnson in the last stage of a decay. He had the misery of attending her in that state, and of daily seeing the gradual advances of death during four or five months. As she found her diffolution approach, a few days before it happened, in the presence of Dr. Sheridan, she adjured Swift by their friendship, to let her have the fatisfaction of dying at least, though he had not lived his acknowledged wise. He made no reply, but, turning on his heel, walked filently out of the room, nor ever saw her afterwards during the few days ibe lived. His behaviour threw Mils Johnson into unspeakable agonies, and, for a time, the sunk under the weight of so cruel a disappointment. But soon after, roused by indignation, she inveighed against his cruelty in the bitterest terms; and, sending for a lawyer, made her will, bequeathing her fortune, in her own name, to charitable uses. This scene seems to bear more hard on his humanity than any other part of his conduct in life. She died, January 28. 1728, in the 44th year of her age.

How much he wished her life his papers show; nor can it be doubted that he dreaded the death of her whom he loved most, aggravated by the consciousness that himself had hastened it.

Swift's unjustifiable treatment of Miss Johnson and Miss Vanhomrigh have been attributed, by Dr. Delany and Mr. Berkeley, “ to that love of singularity which, in a greater or less degree, is inseparable from genius.” This may be reasonably doubted. His connection with Miss Waryng was probably the immediate cause of his mysterious conduct towards Miss Johnson; and Miss Vanhomrigh, for a time, had power to captivate him, and make Miss Johnson experience that mortification which she herself had occasioned to Miss Maryng. His condud towards Miss Johnson and Miss Vanhomrigh is examined very minutely by Mr. Sheridan; and though not positively justified, yet so anxious is he to place it in the most favourable point of view, that he appears more like a vindicator than an apologist. But the partialities of friendship cannot overcome the power of truth; and it would be more for the credit of Swift, if that part of his conduct which respected Miss Vanhomrigh, not as aggravated by his enemies, but as related by Mr. Sheridan himself, were consigned to oblivion. It will not admit of a de fence : it scarcely merits an apology.

After the death of Miss Johnson, his benevolence was contracted, and his severity exasperated; he drove his acquaintance from his table, and wondered why he was deserted. In this forlorn state, his spirit was too great to give way to despondence, and, deprived as he was of all his domestic com. forts, he turned his views wholly to the good and happiness of others. He wrote, from time to time, such directions, admonitions, or censures, as the exigency of affairs, in his opinion, made proper; and nothing fell from his pen in vain. By the acknowledged superiority of his talents, his in

lexible integrity, and his unwearied endeavours in serving the public, he obtained such an ascendency over his countrymen, as perhaps no private citizen obtained in any age or country. He was £20wa over the whole kingdom by the title of the Dean, given to him by way of pre-eminence, as it were by common consent; and when the Dean was meutioned, it always carried with it the idea of the first and greatest man in the kingdom.

In a variety of publications, he laid open the chief sources of the miseries of the poor infatuated eople of Ireland; at the same time, pointing out the means by which they might be alleviated. While he pleaded their cause with others, he constantly disposed of the third part of his own reveque in charities to the poor, and liberalities to the distressed. Soon after he was out of debt, he lent out the first sool. which he could call his own, in small sums of sl. and 10l. to diligent and Decellious tradesmen, to be repaid weekly, at 2 s. or 4 s. without interest. This charity was ate tended with the greatest benefit to numbers of the lowest class of tradesmen.

During this period, his faculties do not seem to have been at all impaired by the near approaches of cd age. One of his last pieces, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, is perhaps one of the best of his com positions in that way: nor are two of his other productions, written about the same time, intituled 4x Epifle to a Lady, and A Rbapsody on Poetry; inferior to any of his former pieces.

The two laft were written chiefly with a view to gratify his resentment against Walpole, to whom he attributed the ill offices done him by the Queen, who proinised him some medals, which te never sent, and affected to believe him to be the author of three forged letters, written in a very unbecoming style, to recommend a subscription to Mrs. Barber's poems. Walpole was exasperated to the highest degree, and threatened a prosecution; but dropped the design.

His severe reflection on Counsellor Bettesworth, in a short pacm on the Words, Brother Proteftants and Fdlew Cbriftians, in 1733, is generally known. The provocation given by Swist was certainly very great, but not fo great as the lawyer's indiscretion in his manner of resenting it.

After all, Bettesworth’s great fault, and what rendered him particularly obnoxious to Swift, was, his being a zealous Whig, and an active man among the leaders of that party, at a time when party animofities ran high in Ireland, and indeed in both kingdoms.

He wrote, from time to time, various trifes in verse or profe, and paffed much of his time with Dr. Sheridan, who greatly contributed to his amusement, by little sprightly pieces of the inferior kind of poetry which he was always writing; and yet more to his employment, by hints and materials which he was every moment throwing out.

As his years increased, his fits of giddiness and deafness grew more frequent, and his deafness made conversation difficult; they grew likewise more fevere, till, in 1736, as he was writing a poem, called The Legion Club, he was seized with a fit so painful, and so long continued, that he never after tbought it proper to attempt any work of thought or labour.

He, however, permitted one book to be published, which had been the production of former years, Pulitz Conversation, which appeared in 1738. The Directions for Servants was printed soon after his death. These two performances now a mind incesantly attentive; and, when it was not employed upon great things, busy with minute occurrences.

His mental powers at length deciincd, and his irascible pasions, which at all times he had found difficult to be kept within due bounds, now raged without controul, and made him a torment to himself, and to all who were about him.

Conscious of his situation, he was little desirous of seeing any of his old friends and companions, and they were as little solicitous to visit him in that deplorable state. He could now no longer amuse him:if with writing, and a resolution he had formed of never wearing spectacles, to which he obftinately adhered, presented him from reading. Without employment, without amusement of any kid, kis ideas wore gradually away, and left his mind vacant to the vexations of the hour.

In 1:41, he became more violent, and it was found necessary that legal guardians should be appointed of his person ar.d fortune. He now loit distinction. His madnefs was compounded of rage and fatuity. The last face he knew was that of Mrs. Whiteway, a relatio:9, that lived with him since the death of Mifs Johnfon; and her he ceased to know in a little time. His mcat was brought him cut into mouthfuls; but he would never touch it while the servant staid; and at last, after it had food perhaps an hour, would eat it walking ; før he continued his old habit, and șas on his feet yen kours a-day,

1 a

In 1942, he had an inflammation in his left eye, which swelled it to the size of an egg, with boils in other parts; he was kept long waking with the pain, and was not easily restrained by five at. tendants from tearing out his eye.

The tumour at last subsided, and a short interval of reason ensuing, in which he knew his physician and family, gave hopes of his recovery; but he sunk into lethargic stupidity, motionless, heeda less, and speechless; the effect, as it was suspected, of water in the brain.

He afterwards fpoke now and then to Mrs. Ridgeway the house-keeper, or gave some intimation of a meaning, but at last funk into a perfect silence, which continued till the 19th of October, 1745, when he expired without a struggle, in the 78th year of his age.

He was buried in the great aisle of St. Patrick's Cathedral, under a stone of black marble, og which was engraved the following epitaph, written by himself:


Hic depositum est corpus
Hujus Ecclefiæ Cathedralis

Ubi fæva indignatio
Ulterius cor conlacerare nequit.

Abi, viator,

Et imitare, fi poteris
Strenuum pro virili libertatis vindicem.

Obiit Anno (1745)
Mensis (Octobris) die (19)

Ætatis Anno (78).

By his will, which is dated May 3. 1740, just before he ceased to be a reasonable being, he less about 12001 in specific legacies, and the rest of his fortune, which amounted to about 11,000 ). ta erect and endow an hospital for idiots and lunatics. His lister, Mrs. Fenton, had disobliged him by an iniprudent marriage.

His works have been printed often, and in various forms; first by Pope, in 1726, in some vos lumes of Miscellanies; next by George Faulkener, 1765; afterwards by Dr. Hawkesworth, in 8 vols. 4to. 1775.; three additional volumes 4to. by Deane Swift, Esq.; and three more by Mr. Nichols. These have been reprinted in 25 vols. large 8vo, and in 27 vols. small 8vo. with the life of Swift by Mr. Sheridan, in 1784. A volume of Miscellaneous Pieces, in Profe and Verse, not inserted in Mr. Sheridan's edition, was printed in 1789, and may be considered either as an 18th volume of Mr. Sheridan's edition, or as a 26th of that of Dr. Hawkesworth and Mr. Nichols.

On the charader and writings of Swift, it is the less necessary for the present writer to enlarge, as they have been so accurately illustrated by Lord Orrery, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Sheridan.

“ His capacity and strength of mind,” says Lord Orrery, “ were undoubtedly equal to any task whatever. His pride, his spirit, or his ambition, call it by what name you please, was boundless; but his views were checked in his younger years, and the anxiety of that disappointment had a via fible effect upon all his actions. He was four and severe, but not absolutely illnaiured. He was sociable only to particular friends, and to them only at particular hours. He knew politeness more than he practised it. He was a mixture of avarice and generosity; the former was frequently pre valent, the latter seldom appeared unless excited by compassion. He was open to adulation, and could not, or would not distinguish between flattery and just applause. His abilities rendered him superior to envy. He was undisguised, and perfectly fincere. I am induced to think that he entered into orders more from some private and fixed resolution than absolute choice. Be that as it may, he performed the duties of the church with great punctuality, and a decent degree of devotion. He read prayers rather in a strong nervous voice than in a graceful manner; and although he has been often accused of irreligion, nothing of that kind appeared in his conversation and behaviour. His caft of mind induced him to think and speak more of politics than religion. His perpetual views were directed towards power, and his chief aim was to be removed into England; but when he found himself entirely disappointed, he turned his thoughts to opposition, and became the patron of Ireland: From the gifts of nature, he had great powers, and from the imperfection of hunianity, he had


many failings. I always considered him as an abstract and brief chronicle of the times, no man being better acquainted with human nature, both in the highest and lowest scenes. His friends and correspondents were the greatest and most eminent men of the age; and the fages of antiquity were often the companions of his closet; and although he avoided an ostentation of learning, and generally chose to draw his materials from his own store, yet his knowledge of the ancient authors evie dertly appears from the strength of his sentiments, and the clasic correctness of his style.

* His attendance upon the public service of the church was regular and uninterrupted; and, indeed, regularity was peculiar to him in all his actions, even in the greatest trifles. His hours of walking and reading never varied: his motions were guided by his watch, which was fo constantly held in his hand, or placed before him upon his table, that he feldom deviated many minutes in the daży revolution of his exercises and employments.

* The Dean kept company with many of the fair sex, but they were rather his amusement than his admiration; he trified away many hours in their conversation, he filled many pages in their fraise, and, by the powers of his head, he gained the character of a lover, without the least aflistance from his heart. To this particular kind of pride, supported by the heat of his genius, and joined by the excessive coldness of his nature, Vanessa owed the ruin of her reputation; and from the same cause, Stella remained an unacknowledged wife. If you review his several poems to Stella, you will find them fuller of affection than desire, and more expressive of friendship than love.

* Upon a general view of his poetry, we shall find him, as in his other performances, an uncommon, surprising, heteroclite genius, luxurious in his fancy, lively in his ideas, humorous in his description, and bitter, exceedingly bitter, in his fatire. The restlessness of his imagination, and the disappointment of his ambition, have both contributed to hinder him from undertaking any poetical work of length or importance. His wit was sufficient to every labour; no flight could have wearied the Atrength of his powers; perhaps if the extensive views of his nature had been fully satisfied, his airy motions had been more regular and less sudden; but he now appears like an eagle that is sometimes chained, and at that particular time, for want of nobler and more proper food, diverts his confinement, and appeases his hunger, by destroying the gnats, butterflies, and other wretched infe&s that unluckily happen to buz or flutter within her reach.

“ The subjects of his poems are often nauseous, and the performances beautifully disagreeable. The Ladies Dresing-room has been universally condemned, as deficient in point of delicacy, even to the highest degree. The two poems, entitled The Life and genuine Character of Dr. Swift, and Verses on the Deatb of Dr. Swift, &c. are poems of grea: wit and humour. In the last, he has summoned the whole powers of satire and poetry; it is a parting blow, the legacy of anger and disappointment. One ofhis strideft rules in poetry was to avoid tripletş. He had the nicest car, and is remarkably chalte and delicate in his rhymes: a bad rhyme appeared to him one of the capital fins in poetry.”

Mr. Sheridan produces fome friking instances of Swift's tenderness of heart, his great humanity, and his universal benevolence, and closes his account of him with laying open one leading part of his chara&er," which," says he, “ may serve as a clue to the whole."

“ He was perhaps the most disinterested man that ever lived. No felfish motive ever influenced any part of his conduct. He loved virtue for its own sake, and was content it should be its own reward. The means to arrive at rank, fortune, and fame, the three great objects of pursuit in other men, though thrown in his way, he utterly despised, satisfied with having deserved them. The same principle operated equally on the author as on the man, as he never put his name to his works, nor

had any solicitude about them after they had once made their appearance in the world. The * laft ad of his life howed how far he made this a rule of condu&, in his choice of the charity to

which he bequeathed his fortune, leaving it for the support of idiots and lunatics, beings that could never know their benefa&or.

" Upon the whole, when we consider his character as a man perfely free from vice, with few frailties, and such exalted virtues, and as an author possessed of such uncommon talents, such an unexhaustible fund of wit, joined to so clear and folid an understanding; when we behold these two characters united in one and the same person, perhaps it will not be thought too bold an a?..tion to say, that his parallel is not to be found either in the history of ancient or modern tiries."

At the end of his " Jatroduction,” these blazing encomiums are collected into one froi.g point i

w It is of moment to the general cause of religion and morality, that the grcatest genius of the age was a man of the truest piety and most exalted virtue."

The character of Swift as given by Dr. Johnson, is less favourable; and though it may be allowed to be, in some instances, uncandid and unjust, it will by no means warrant the fevere and rancorous recrimination of Mr. Sheridan.

“ When Swift is considered as an author, it is just to estimate his powers by their effects. In the reign of Queen Anne, he turned the stream of popularity against the Whigs, and must be confessed to have dictated for a time the political opinions of the English nation. In the succeeding reign, he delivered Ireland from plunder and oppression; and showed that wit, confederated with truth, had such force as authority was unable to resist. He said truly of himself, that Ireland “ was his debtor.” It was from the time when he first began to patronize the Irish, that they may date their riches and prosperity. He taught them first to know their own interest, their weight, and their frength, and gave them spirit to assert that equality with their fellow-subjects to which they have ever since been making vigorous advances, and to claim those rights which they have at last eftalished. Nor can they be charged with ingratitude to their benefactor; for they reverenced him as a guardian, and obeyed him as a dictator.

“ In his works, he has given very different specimens, both of sentiments and expression. His Tale of a Tub has little resemblance to his other pieces. It exhibits a vehemence and rapidity of mind, a copiousness of images, and vivacity of diction, such as he afterwards never poffeffed, or never exerted. It is of a mode so distinct and peculiar, that it must be considered by itself: What is true of that, is not true of any thing else which he has written.

“ In his other works, is found an equable tenour of easy language, which rather trickles than flows. His delight was in fimplicity. That he has in his works no mctaphor, as has been said, is not true; but his few metaphors seem to be received rather by necessity than choice. He studied purity; and though perhaps all his strictures are not exact, yet it is not often that folecisms can be found; and whoever depends on his authority may generally conclude himself safe. His sentences are never t30 much dilated or contracted; and it will not be easy to find any embarralment in the complication of his clauses, any inconsequence in bis connections, or abruptness in his transitions.

His style was well suited to his thoughts, which are never subtilized by nice disquisitions, decorated by sparkling conceits, elevated by ambitious fentences, or variegated by far-sought learning. He pays no court to the passions; he excites neither surprise nor admiration ; he always understands Jimself, and his readers always understand him. The peruser of Swift wants little previous knowledge; it will be sufficient that he is acquainted with common words and common things; he is neither required to mount elevations, nor to explore profundities; his passage is always on a level, along solid ground, without afperities, without obstruction.

“ This easy and safe conveyance of meaning it was Swift's desire to attain, and for having obtained it he deserves praise, though perhaps not the highest praise. For purposes merely didactic, when something is to be told that was not known before, it is the best mode, but against that inattention by which known truths are suffered to lie neglected, it makes no provision: it inftruds, but does not persuade.

“ By his political education, he was associated with the Whigs; but he deserted them when they deserted their principles, yet without running into the contrary extreme; he continued throughout his life to retain the disposition which he aßigns to the Chureb-of-England Man, of thinking commonly with the Whigs of the state, and with the Tories of the church.

“ He was a churchman rationally zealous; he desired the prosperity, and maintained the honour of the ciergy; of the diffenters he did not wish to infringe the coleration, but he opposed their en. croachments.

-“ To his duty as Dean he was very attentive. He managed the revenues of his church with exact cconomy; and it is said by Delany, that more money was, under his direction, laid out in repairs than had ever been in the same time since its first ere&tion. Of his choir he was eminently careful; and, though he neither loved nor understood music, took care that all the singers were well qualified, admitting none without the testimony of skilful judges.

" lo lais church he rc&ored the practice of weekly communion, and distributed the facramental ele

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