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“ of Lords against Lord Blaney:" and on the inside : “ To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and · Temporal, in Parliament assembled.”
“ The humble PETITION of JONATHAN SWI'T,
D.D. and Dean of the Cathedral of St. PATRICK's,
“ Most humbly showeth, “That your petitioner is advised by his physicians, on account of his health, to go often on horseback; and there being no place, in winter, so convenient for riding, as the strand toward Howth, your petitioner takes all opportunities that his business or the weather will permit, to take that road. That in the last session of parliament, in the midst of winter, as your petitioner was returning from Howth with his two servants, one before, and the other behind him, he was pursued by two gentlemen in a chaise, drawn by two high mettled horses, in so violent a manner, that his servant, who rode behind him, was forced to give way, with the utmost peril of his life : whereupon your petitioner made what speed he could, riding to the right and left above fifty yards to the full extent of the said road; but the two gentlemen driving a light chaise, drawn by fleet horses, and intent upon mischief, turned faster than your petitioner, endeavouring to overthrow him. That by great accident your petitioner got safe to the side of a ditch, where the chaise could not safely pursue ; and the two gentlemen stopping their career, your petitioner mildly expostulated with them; whereupon one of the gen
tlemen said, Damn you, is rot the road as free for us as for you ? and calling to his servant who rode behind him, said, Tom (or some such name) is the pistol loaden with ball ? To which the servant answered, yes, my lord, and gave him the pistol. Your petitioner often said to the gentleman, pray, sir, do not shoot, for my horse is apt to start, by
be endangered. The chaise went forward, and your petitioner took the opportunity to stay behind. Your petitioner is informed, that the person who spoke the words above-mentioned, is of your lordships house, under the style and title of lord Blaney; whom your petitioner remembers to have introduced to Mr. secretary Addison, in the earl of Wharton's government, and to have done him other good offices at that time, be. cause he was represented as a young man of some hopes, and a broken fortune. That the said lord Blaney, as your petitioner is informed, is now in Dublin, and sometimes attends your lordships house. And your petitioner's health still requiring that he should ride, and being confined in winter to go on the same strand, he is forced to inquire from every one he meets, whether the said lord be on the same strand; and to order his servants to carry arms to defend him against the like, or a worse insult, from the said lord, for the consequences of which your petitioner cannot answer.
“ Your petitioner is informed by his learned council, that there is no law now in being, which can justify the said lord, under colour of his peerage, to assault any of his majesty's subjects on the king's highway, and put them in fear of their lives, without provocation, which he humbly conceives, that
by by only happening to ride before the said lord, he could not possibly give.
“ Your petitioner, therefore, doth humbly implore your lordships in your great prudlence and justice, to provide that he may be permitted to ride with safety on the said strand, or any other of the king's highways, for the recovery of his health, so long as he shall demean himself in a peaceable manner, without being put into continual fears of his life by the force and arms of the said lord Blaney."
But nothing hurt Swift so much, as the many instances of ingratitude he experienced in those who were highly indebted to him, while he was in power. It has been already shown, that he made it a point with the ministry in England, that no man of genius or merit, should be turned out of employment on account of party : the same maxim he extended to Ireland, where he preserved several in their places, who, but for his interposition, would infallibly have lost them. Of this many instances occur in the course of his letters. In one to the archbishop of Dublin, written in 1713, when his influence was at the highest, he says, “ I have “ suffered very much for my tenderness to some per“ sons of that party, which I still preserve ; it would “ be endless to recount to your grace the reproaches " that have been made me, on account of your
neighbour.” And in another, « Neither did I “ ever fail to interpose in any case of merit or com
passion, by which means several persons in Eng“ land, and some in this kingdom, kept their employments ; for I cannot remember my lord Ox
« ford ever refused me a request of that kind.” He therefore thought it extremely hard, that after such instances of favour shown to numbers of that party, he should be particularly marked out as the chief object of their resentment : or, as he himself expresses it in the same letter, “ If my friendship " and conversation were equally shown among those “ who liked or disapproved the proceedings then at “ court, and that I was known to be a common
friend of all deserving persons of the latter sort, “ when they were in distress; I cannot but think “it hard, that I am not suffered to run quietly
among the herd of people, whose opinions unfor
tunately differ from those which lead to favour “and preferment.” But Swift, by his great abilities exerted in the cause of the late ministry, had rendered himself so obnoxious to the new men in power, that even to be of his acquaintance, would, in those days, have been a sure bar to promotion. Of this, there is a singular instance communicated to me among other anecdotes taken down at that time by a friend of the dean's. Swift, in the height of party ferment, having some occasion to apply to sir Thomas Southwell, who was one of the commissioners of the revenue, and with whom he had lived on the footing of the greatest intimacy, was much shocked by an answer he made him : “ I'll
lay you a groat (a usual cant expression of sir Thomas’s) “ Mr. dean, I don't know you.” Some years after, when the spirit of party was a good deal abated, sir Thomas, who was then lord Southwell, riding on the strand, and observing the dean on horseback a little before him, lamented to one of his company the ill effects of party; among which he VOL. I.
reckoned the loss of that worthy man's acquaintance, meaning the dean: but I'll try, said he, to recover it. When he overtook the dean, he asked him how he did. “I'll lay you a groat, my lord,” says Swift, “ I don't know you."
In such a situation of affairs, Swift chose the most prudent part, that of retiring wholly from the world, and employing himself chiefly in the care of his deanery, in the discharge of his duty as a clergyman, and arranging his domestick affairs, without once casting his eye toward the publick. In a letter to Pope, dated January 10, 1721, he gives this account of himself: “ In a few weeks after the loss of “ that excellent princess, I came to my station here, " where I have continued ever since in the greatest
privacy, and utter ignorance of those events which
are most commonly talked of in the world. I nei“ther know the names nor number of the family “ which now reigneth, farther than the prayer “ book informeth me. I cannot tell who is chan“ cellor, who are secretaries, nor with what nations
we are in peace or war. And this manner of life
was not taken up out of any sort of affectation, “ but merely to avoid giving offence, and for fear of “provoking party zeal *.” But though in this
• The following anecdote taken down at the time by the same gentleman who communicated the former to me, will show how cautious Swift was in his behaviour at that juncture, for fear of provoking party zeal, and at the same time afford an instance of his peculiar vein of humour. Among other tyrannical acts of the whigs, in the first parliament of George I, such members of the house of commons as had voted for an address in favour of sir Constantine Phipps, were ordered to beg pardon of the house. 'This order was generally complied with. Three who refused were