Imatges de pÓgina

a great noise in Dublin. It was occasioned by the following verses in one of Swift's Poems :

So at the bar the booby Bettesworth,
Though half a crown outpays his sweat's worth,
Who knows in law, nor text, nor margent,

Calls Singleton his brother sergeant. The animosity of the dean against the sergeant, did not arise from any personal pique, but on account of his being an avowed enemy of the clergy, and taking the lead in the house of commons in procuring one of the most unjust and arbitrary votes ever made by that body, by which the clergy were deprived of a considerable part of their tithes, which they had enjoyed time immemorial.

The poem was sent to Bettesworth when he was in company with some of his friends, from one of whom then present, I had the following account: He read it aloud till he had finished the lines rela. tive to himself. He then Aung it down with great violence, he trembled and turned pale ; and after some pause, his rage for a while depriving him of utterance, he took out his penknife, and opening it, vehemently swore, with this very penknife, by G-d, will I cut off his ears. Soon after he went to seek the dean at his house, and not finding him at home, followed him to Mr. Worrail's, where he had an interview with him, which has been described by Swift in a letter to the duke of Dorset, then lord lieutenant of Ireland. But as there are some passages onitted in that narrative, which he related to Dr. Sheridan, immediately after the scene had passed, I shall here insert such part of them as I recollect. Upon inquiring for Swift, the sergeant


?” says

was shown into the street parlour, and the dean called out to him from the back room, where he was sitting after dinner with Worrall and his wife. Upon entering the room, Swift desired to know his commands. “ Sir,” says he, “ I am sergeant Bet-tes“ worth,” (which was always his pompous way of pronouncing his own name in three distinct syllables). “ Of what regiment, pray

Swift. “O, “ Mr. Dean, we know your powers of raillery ; you “ know me well enough, that I am one of his ma“ jesty's sergeants at law.” “What then, Sir?” “Why " then, Sir, I am come to demand of


whe“ther you are the author of this poem (producing it) « and these villanous lines on me?” At the same time reading them aloud with great vehemence of emphasis, and much gesticulation. “ Sir," said Swift, “ it was a piece of advice given nie in my

early days by lord Somers, never to own or disown

any writing laid to my charge; because if I did this, “in some cases, whatever I did not disown after“ ward, would infallibly be imputed to me as mine. “ Now, Sir, I take this to have been a very wise “ maxim, and as such have followed it ever since ; “ and I believe it will hardly be in the power of all “ your rhetoric, as great a master as you are of it, to « make me swerve from that rule.” Many other things passed as related in the above-mentioned letter. But when Bettesworth was going away, he said, « ,

Well, since you will give me no satisfaction in this

affair, let me tell you, your gown is your protec« tion; under the sanction of which, like one of your “ own Yahoos who had climbed up to the top of a high “ tree, you sit secure, and squirt your filth round “ on all mankind.” Swift had candour enough not


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to conceal this last circumstance, at the same time saying, “ that the fellow showed more wit in this “ than he thought him possessed of.” After this, as Bettesworth still continued to utter furious threats against the dean, there was an association formed and signed by all the principal inhabitants of that quarter, to stand by one another with their lives and fortunes, in support of their general benefactor, against any one who should attempt to offer the least injury to his person or fortune. Beside which, the publick indignation was kindled against him for this treatment of their great favourite, and the resentment of all the wits was poured out upon him in a vast effusion of libels, pointed with ridicule, or edged with satire, which placed his character in a contemptible, or an odious light; so that the unfortunate sergeant, who had before made a considerable figure at the bar, in a short time lost his business, and was seldom employed in any suit afterward; so dangerous was it to attack this idol of the people.

He was always attended by two servants when he rode out, but he walked through the streets, and did not put on his spatterdashes (which he always wore instead of boots) and spurs, till he came to the place of mounting. One day, being detained longer than usual, and inquiring into the cause, he found it was owing to a dispute between the two servants, to which of their offices it belonged to carry the spatterdashes and spurs. Swift soon settled the matter, by making each of them carry one of each, and in that manner walk behind him through the streets. The blackguards of Dublin, who are remarkable for low humour, soon smoked the de8


sign, and ridiculed the fellows as they passed along in such a way as made them quite ashamed of themselves, and willing to come to a compromise. But Swift, to punish them, made them continue their progress in the same way, enjoying the low jokes of the mob as they passed; till at their earnest entreaty afterward they were allowed to take it turn about.

He had always some whimsical contrivance to punish his servants for any neglect of his orders, so as to make them more attentive for the future. The hiring of the maidservants he left to his housekeeper; and when that ceremony was over, he used to send for them, saying, he had but two commands to give them ; one was, to shut the door after them whenever they came into a room; the other, to shut the door after them when they went out of a room; and bade them be very punctual in executing these orders. One of these maids went to him on a particular occasion, to request that she might be allowed to go to her sister's wedding, which was to be on that day, at a place distant about ten miles from Dublin. Swift not only consented, but said he would lend her one of his horses, with a servant to ride before her; and gave his directions accordingly. The maid in the midst of her joy for this favour, forgot to shut the door after her when she left the room. In about a quarter of an hour after she was gone, the dean ordered a servant to saddle another horse, and make what speed he could after them, and wherever he overtook them, to oblige them to return immediately. They had not got much above half way, when he came up with them, and told them it was the dean's positive commands, that they F F 4


should return instantly; with which, however reluctantly, the poor girl was obliged to comply. When she came into Swift's presence, with a most mortified countenance, she begged to know his reverence's commands: “ Nothing, child,” said he, “ only you forgot to shut the door after you.” But not to carry the punishment too far, he then permitted her to pursue her journey.

There was nothing Swift disliked more than applications from witlings and poetasters to look over their pieces, and he generally had some whimsical contrivance to make them repent of this, which, being told, might also deter others from the like. Among these, there was a poor author of my acquaintance, who had written a very indifferent tragedy, and got himself introduced to the dean, in order to have his opinion of it. In about a fortnight after the delivery, he called at the deanery to know how he approved of it. Swift returned the play carefully folded up, telling him he had read it, and taken some pains with it; and he believed the author would not find above half the number of faults in it, that it had when it came into his hands. Poor Davy, after a thousand acknowledgments to the dean for the trouble he had taken, retired in company with the gentleman who had first introduced him, and was so impatient to see what corrections Swift had made, that he would not wait till he got home, but got under a gateway in the next street, and, to his utter astonishment and confusion, saw that the dean had taken the pains to blot out every second line throughout the whole play, so carefully, as to render them utterly illegible. Nor


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