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of Cork, for that of Dunboyne, within a few miles of Dublin; in which he was egregiously outwitted, as the latter fell very short of the income of the former. In this declining state of his affairs, his residence in Dublin grew extremely irksome to him, and being determined to change the scene, he again exchanged his living for the freeschool of Cavan, though to another diminution of his income. All this was done without once consulting the dean, who had long been weary of offering fruitless advice.
When the doctor was preparing to remove to Cavan, a little incident happened which at once showed Swift's great affection for him, and the uncommon tenderness of his heart. He happened to call in just at the time that the workmen were taking down the pictures and other furniture in the parlour: that parlour where for such a number of years he had passed so many happy hours ; struck with the sight, he burst into tears, and rushed into a dark closet, where he continued a quarter of an hour before he could compose himself. When it is considered that he was at that time verging on seventy, an age
in which the heart generally is callous, and almost dead to the fine affections, there cannot be a stronger confutation of the charge made against him of his want of feeling; as I believe the instances are very rare of persons at that time of life, capable of being so much moyed by such an incident.
The doctor had not been long settled at Cavan, when Swift, who at that time knew little comfort in life out of his society, followed, in order to pass the winter with him. I was there at his arrival,
and during the whole time of his continuance there. It grieved me much to see such a change in him. His person was quite emaciated, and bore the marks of
many more years than had passed over his head. His memory greatly impaired, and his other faculties much on the decline. His temper peevish, fretful, morose, and prone to sudden fits of passion; and yet to me his behaviour was gentle, as it always had been from my early childhood, treating me with partial kindness and attention, as being his godson; often giving me instruction, attended with frequent presents and rewards when I did well. I loved him from my boyish days, and never stood in the least awe before him, as I do not remember ever to have had a cross look, or harsh expression from him. I read to him two or three hours every day during this visit, and often received both pleasure and improvement from the observations he made. His intention was to have passed the whole winter there ; but as the doctor was called up to town upon business during the Christmas vacation, Swift found the place desolate without him, and followed him in a few days. During this visit, it appeared by many instances that avarice had then taken possession of him to a great degree. Doctor Sheridan had prevailed on the burgesses of Cavan to meet the dean, in a body, at a place four miles distant from the town to compliment him on his arrival. The doctor told him, in return, he ought to invite them to an entertainment; with which the dean, after some time, though not without manifest reluctance, complied. He gave them a very shabby dinner at the inn, and called for the bill, before the guests had got half enough of wine. He disputed several articles, said there were two bottles of wine
more charged than were ased, flew into a violent passion, and abused his servants grossly for not keeping better count. The servants ran away, and doctor Sheridan, without speaking a word, went off 'and left him to himself. This was the manner in which they always treated him, at that time, when he was in one of those fits, for the least opposition, or even the presence of those with whom he was angry, served but to increase his passion almost to frenzy. But when he had time to cool, he always expressed deep concern at his infirmity.
Of the peevishness of his temper at that time, among many other instances, lie gave a remarkable one, at the inn of Virginy, his last stage before his arrival at Cavan. In passing to his chamber, he saw the maid employed in scraping a piece of beef, and stopped to ask her, how many maggots she had got out of it. The wench smartly answered, “ Not so many as there are in your head.” This repartee, which, at another period of his life would have pleased him much, and probably produced half a crown to the maid for her wit, now threw him into a passion, in which he was so weak as to complain of her to her mistress, and insist on her being discharged for her sauciness.
When the burgesses of Cavan went out to meet him, one of them addressed him in a complimentary speech on the occasion, which was but ill delivered, as he had a remarkable thickness of utterance. When he had done, Swift asked him, “ Pray, sir, " are you the town serjeant ?” (a low office, and scarcely above the rank of a common constabie) No, Mr. Dean,” answered doctor Sheridan, “ that
" is Mr. Brooks the apothecary, our eldest burgess.” “ I thought so,” said Swift, “ for he spoke as if his “ mouth was full of drugs.” How must his disposition have been changed, when the highest civilities that could be shown him, and which formerly were received with the greatest pleasure, and returned with the utmost politeness, now produced nothing but marks of disgust.
From this time all his infirmities increased fast upon him, particularly his avarice, to a high degree. Doctor Sheridan, who still continued to pass great part of his vacations at the deanery, saw many flagrant instances of this, whereof he thought himself bound both by friendship, and a solemn engagement he had entered into, to give him information. This alludes to a conversation that had passed between Swift and doctor Sheridan, as they were riding together on the strand, some years before the doctor left Dublin. The topick happened to be that of old age, which Swift said he found coming fast upon him, and he supposed he should not be exempt from its attendant infirmities. “ there is one vice its usual concomitant, the most “ detestable of all others, and which therefore I would “ most endeavour to guard against, I mean avarice : “ I do not know any way so effectual for this purpose,
as to engage some true friend to give ine warning “ when he sees any approaches of that sort, and thus
put me upon my guard. This office I expect from
you, and hope you will give me a solcmn assurance " that you will most punctually fulfil it.” The doctor very readily entered into the engagement ; and now thought himself bound to discharge it. With this view, in one of his vacations passed at the
deanery, he set down daily in a journal kept for that purpose, all the instances he could perceive of the dean's parsimony; which in a fortnight arose to a considerable amount. Armed with these proofs, he one day took an opportunity of asking the dean, whether he recollected a discourse which had passed between them on the strand, relative to old age and avarice, and the solemn engagement he had made him enter into upon that occasion. Swift, as one suddenly alarmed, answered with precipitation, Yes, I “ remember it very well-Why-do you perceive
any thing of that sort in me ?" You sliall be judge yourself, said the doctor--read over that paper, and see whether it is not high time I should now perform my promise. The dean read over the articles with a countenance in which shame and despondency were blended. When he had done, he leaned his head upon his hand, with his eyes cast on the ground, and remained for some time buried in profound thought; at last he just lifted up his eyes, without changing his posture, and casting a side glance at the doctor, with a most significant look, asked him—“Doctor“ did you never read Gilblas ?" alluding to the famous story of a similar conduct of his toward the archbishop, when he was his secretary, which lost him his post. After such a scene, the reader will easily conclude, that the disease was past remedy; and that the doctor, like poor Gilblas, would probably not continue long in favour. Thus was lord Bolingbroke's observation upon a passage in one of Swift's letters fully verified ; where he says, he had made a muxim which ought to be written in letters of diamond, “ That a wise man should have money « in his head, but not in his heart.” To which his