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contributions raised by them to relieve indigent merit, which were distributed by Swift *.
He had so far endeavoured to diffuse this spirit of benevolence among all his connexions, that lord Peterborow rallies him upon it thus in one of his letters. “ You were returning me to ages past for “ some expressions in my letter. I find matter in
yours to send you as far back as the golden age. “ How came you to frame a system, in the times we “ live in, to govern the world by love ??”
He did not show at that tiine any of that acrimony, which he contracted afterward from disappointment, illness, and a thousand vexations multiplying on him, and increasing with his years. On the contrary, he seems by his Journal and letters to have had an uncommon flow of spirits, and a cheerfulness of temper not easily affected. Accordingly his company was eagerly sought after by all who could get access to him; and his conversation was
• Of this, among many others, take the following instances, Journal, February 12, 1712. “I dined to day with our society, “the greatest dinner I have ever seen. It was at Jack Hill's, the
governor of Dunkirk. I gave an account of sixty guineas I had " collected, and am to give them away to two authors to morrow. « And lord treasurer has promised me one hundred pounds to re“ ward some others. 13th. I was to see a poor poet, one Mr. * Diaper, in a nasty garret, very sick. I gave him twenty guineas a from lord Bolingbroke, and disposed the other sixty to two other " authors.” In that of March 30, “ I was naming some time ago, " to a certain person, another certain person, that was very de" serving, and poor, and sickly; and the other, that first certain " person, gave me one hundred pounds to give the other. The “person who is to have it, never saw the giver, nor expects one " farthing, nor has the least knowledge or imagination of it; so I « believe it will be a very agreeable surprise; for I think it a hand“ some present enough. I paid the 100l. this evening, and it was " a great surprise to the receiver,”
the delight not only of those who had a relish for wit and humour, but of those who took pleasure in the unrestrained social hour of good humour and mirth. So that he seems to have had every requisite that could excite at once the admiration and love of his friends. And indeed no man ever possessed both in a more eminent degree, and that from a large group of characters, distinguished for their rank, talents, and worth; such as are hardly to be paralleled, as coexistent at the same period, either in the history of our own country, or perhaps in that of any other. It must be allowed, that Swift was very fortunate to have lived at such a juncture, and that he was judicious in his choice; but surely it is a proof of his extraordinary merit, that they were all united in the same sentiments toward him, however they differed among each other; and that their attachment to him continued invariably the same ever after, not seeming to have suffered any diminution either from absence, length of time, or loss of power. It is from the accounts of those who knew him intimately at that period, that we are to form an idea of his real character, not from the reports or surmises of others, or such as only saw him in his decline, when little of his former self remained; there have already been many quotations given for that purpose. To close bis character, I shall only add two more, from two of his most intimate friends; one from Dr. Arbuthnot, a man as remarkable for the goodness of his heart, as his fine talents; the other from Pope. The first is part of a letter written soon after the queen's death. “ Dear friend, “ the last sentence of your letter quite kills me. “ Never repeat that melancholy tender word, that
you will endeavour to forget me. I am sure I never can forget you till I meet with (what is
impossible) another, whose conversation I can de“ light so much in, as Dr. Swift's, and yet that is * the smallest thing I ought to value you for. “ That hearty sincere friendship, that plain and
open ingenuity in all your commerce, is what I
am sure I can never find in another man. I shall “ want often a faithful monitor, one that would « vindicate me behind my back, and tell me my “ faults to my face. God knows I write this with “ tears in niy eyes.”
The other is in a letter from Pope to lord Orrery, where, speaking of Swift, he says, “My sin
cere love for this valuable, indeed incomparable “ man, will accompany him through life, and pur“ sue his memory, were I to live a hundred lives, as many
as his works will live; which are absolutely original, unequalled, unexampled. His humanity, * his charity, his condescension, his candour, are “ equal to his wit, and require as good and true a “ taste to be equally valued.”
But Pope wrote this to a man who had no such true taste. To one, who in all his remarks on Swift's life, has endeavoured to depreciate the memory of that great man, and place all his actions in the worst light. Not content with attacking his private character, and often with the malice of an lago (so much worse indeed as being utterly unprovoked) turning his very virtue into pitch, he has endeavoured to reduce his political one to the lowest line; as may be seen in the following passage. “ He was elated with the appearance of enjoying “ ministerial confidence. He enjoyed the shadow, VOL. I.
" the substance was kept from him. He was em: “ployed, not trusted ; and at the same time that “he imagined himself a subtle diver, who dexte
rously shot down into the profoundest regions of “ politicks, he was suffered only to sound the shal“ lows nearest the shore, and was scarce admitted to “ descend below the froth at the top. Perhaps the “ deeper bottoms were too muddy for his inspec« tion*." I dare say his lordship, when he had finished this paragraph, looked it over with great selfcomplacency, and admired it as a beautiful and well turned period. But unfortunately there was not one syllable of truth in it, of which there have been already sufficient proofs given. Yet as this opinion, even upon so weak an authority, has, from the general spirit of envy, been adopted by numbers; and as some of the noblest points of Swift's character, depend upon the consideration of the high rank which he then held in the political state, I shall here adduce farther proofs of his great importance, and show, that though he was without office or rank, he was the man the most trusted, and the most employed in all political and state affairs, of any of that time.
We have already seen with what rapidity and eagerness, contrary to his usual procrastinating and reserved disposition, Harley rushed into his acquaintance, and besought his friendship. That soon after their first conversing together, he told St. John he could keep nothing from him, Swift had so much the way of getting into him. That after a closer
Lord Orrery's Remarks on the Life and Writings of Swift. + Vide Journal, Nov. 11, 1710.
intimacy, though the most reserved man alive, and the least apt to despond, he confessed, that uttering his mind to Swift, gave him ease *. And that he continued ever after to repose this trust in him, may be seen in a letter from Lewis in the year 1713, supposed by the world to be the most confidential man with lord Oxford, where he says, “ His mind has been communicated more freely “ to you than to any other.” In two months after their first acquaintance, he was admitted of the Saturday's private party, or minister's cabinet council, consisting of the lord keeper Harcourt, the earl Rivers, the earl of Peterborow, and Mr. secretary St. John ; where, after dinner, they used to discourse, and settle matters of great importance, and Swift was always one of the number of. It has been shown that he stood in an equal degree of confidence with lord Bolingbroke: and no man living, no not of the ministry, stood so high in the opinion of lady Masham, the second greatest favourite of the queen, and latterly the first; of which the most unequivocal proofs have been produced, in her shedding tears openly, upon the talk of sending him to Ireland, and her last earnest letter to him before the queen's death. All the great officers of state connected with the ministry, followed their example in paying him homage. Lord keeper Harcourt told a placeman of inferiour rank, who had treated Swift with some incivility, to take care of what he did, for the doctor was not only the favourite of all the ministry, but their governor also.
We have seen that lord Rivers told the • Journal, March 4, 1710-11. + Memoirs relating to the Change, &c, and Journal paffim. P 2