Imatges de pÓgina

little progress

returned to Moor Park; where, upon the abatement of his illness, he renewed his application to his studies.

It does not appear that sir William Temple knew any thing of the value of his young guest, till about this time ; and Swift himself says that it was then he began to grow into some confidence with him. The

Swift had made in learning at his first arrival at Shene, must have given sir William but a mean opinion of his capacity ; and the few things which he wrote during his first two years residence with him, could have given him no very high idea of his genius. For Swift had at that time so far mistaken his talents, that he tried his strength only in Pindarick odes; in which, though there appeared some vigour of mind, and efforts of an uncommon genius, yet it was apparent that it was vigour improperly exerted, and the efforts of a genius misapplied. The sentiments were strained and crowded ; and the numbers irregular and harsh *. How then shall we account for the sudden change of sir Wil. liam's sentiments toward him ? It could not be on account of his progress in literature, for he had not had time enough to stand highly in the opinion of so distinguished a scholar as sir William was on that score. And indeed, with all his assiduity, it is probable that he had not then so far recovered lost time as to be inaster of the learning which his standing required. The most probable conjecture is, that Swift had, at his leisure, revised and corrected his Tale of a Tub, which was sketched out by him in the col

• Two of these odes, as being the first that have appeared of his poetical writings, are placed, on that account only, at the head of the first volume of his poems in this edition.

lege, lege, as was before mentioned, and now first showed it to sir William. A work, bearing such a stamp of original genius, must, in a man of sir William Temple's delicate taste, and nice discernment, have at once raised the author into a high place in his esteem, and made him look upon him afterward with very different eyes. Accordingly we find that, about this period, he trusted him with matters of great importance. He introduced him to king William, and suffered him to be present at some of their conferences *.

He employed him in a commission of consequence to the king, when he was unable to attend him himself, which required dexterity, and knowledge in the history of England. And above all, he consulted him constantly, and employed him in the revisal and correction of his own works.

In this situation Swift continued, still applying closely to his studies till the year 1692, when he went to Oxford in order to take his master's degree: to which he was admitted on the 5th of July 1692.


• Sir William had been ambassador and mediator of a general peace at Nimeguen before the Revolution. In this character he contracted a close intimacy with the prince of Orange; who, after he had ascended the English throne, frequently visited him at Shene, and took his advice in affairs of the utmost importance. Sir William being then lame of the gout, substituted Swift to attend his majesty in his walks round the gardens; who admitted him to such familiarity, that he showed him how to cut asparagus in the Dutch fashion ; and once offered to make him a captain of horse. But

appears to have fixed his mind very early on an ecclesiastical life ; and it is therefore probable, that upon declining this offer, he obtained a promise of preferment in the church; for in a letter to his uncle William, dated 1692, he says, “ I am not to take orders till the king gives me a prebend." VOL. I.



From his deating so ! 3 to take this degree, it may be concluded that Sift was determined to prepare himself for it in such a way, as might co him credit in the eyes of the uaire:siis, ia order to wipe off the disgrace of the former. And we may judge that his progress in academick studies had been very small, when it required four years application before he thought himself qualified to appear at Oxford with that view. Nor can there be any other reason assigned for his not having done it sooner, as he was of sufficient standing to have applied for his master's degree in the first year of his residence at Moor Park. From the satisfaction he expresses at the behaviour of the university of Oxford, and the civilities he met with there, it is probable that he was not undistinguished as a scholar; and that he found the first end he proposed by his studies, fully answered.

From Oxford he paid a visit to his mother, and then returned to Moor Park. Not with a design of continuing there, for he now wanted to enter into the world; but in expectation of getting some preferment by means of sir William's interest with the king, which he had promised to exert in his behalf, and had already indeed obtained an assurance of that sort from his majesty. But Swift at this time entertained soine suspicion, that sir William was not so forward on the occasion as he could wish; and the reason he assigned for it was, that sir William was apprehensive Swift would leave him, and upon some accounts, he thought him a little necessary to him Swift was indeed by this time become very necessary to a man in the decline of life, generally in an ill

state Thus Swift expresses himself in a letter to his uncle William, dated Moor Park, November 29, 1692.

state of health, and often tortured with the most excruciating disorders. The loss of such a companion as Swift, after such a long domestick intimacy, would have been like the loss of a limb. Besides, as he seems to have had nothing so much at heart in the latter part of his life, as the leaving behind him a corrected copy of all his writings, done under his own inspection, he could not bear the thought that Swift should leave him, till that point was accomplished. He had already experienced the use that he was of to him in that respect, and knew that his place was not easily to be supplied. And his ill state of health occasioned the work to advance but flowly, as it was only during the more lucid intervals he applied to it. On these accounts, sir William was in no haste to procure any preferment for his young friend, to the great mortification of Swift. In this uneasy state he continued at Moor Park two years longer, and then, quite. wearied out with fruitless expectation, he determined at all events to leave sir William, and take his chance in the world *. When this his resolution was made known to sir William, he received it with evident marks of disa pleasure; but that he might seem to fulfil his promise to Swift, of making some provision for him, he coldly told him, that since he was so impatient, it was not at that time in his power to do any thing more for him, than to give him an employment, then vacant in the office of the Rolls in Ireland, to the value of somewhat more than a hundred pounds a year. Swift immediately replied, “that, since he “had now an opportunity of living, without being

driven • See bis account of this, in his letter to his cousin dean Swift, dated June 3, 1694,

“ driven into the church for a maintenance, he was “ resolved to go to Ireland to take holy orders.” To comprehend the full force of this reply, it will be necessary to know that sir William was well acquainted with Swift's intention of going into the church, from which he had been hitherto restrained only by a scruple of appearing to enter upon that holy office, rather from motives of necessity, than choice. He therefore saw. through sir William's design, in making him the offer of an employment which he was sure would not be accepted by Swift. With great readiness and spirit therefore, he made use of this circumstance, at once to show a proper resentment of the indelicacy of sir William's behaviour toward him; and to assign an unanswerable motive for immediately carrying his long formed resolution into act. Their parting on this occasion was not without manifest displeasure on the side of sir William, and some degree of resentment, not illfounded, on the part of Swift.

He procured a recommendation to lord Capel, then lord deputy of Ireland, from whom is uncertain, but it may be presumed, from the smallness of the provision made for him in consequence of it, that it was not a powerful one ; and therefore, that sir William Temple had no share in it. He went over to Ireland, and was ordained in September 1694, being then almost 27 years old. Soon after this, lord Capel gave him the prebend of Kilroot in the diocese of Connor, worth about one hundred pounds a year. To this place Swift immediately repaired, in order to reside there, and discharge the duties of his office. He now for the first time enjoyed the sweets of independence ; but these sweets


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