« AnteriorContinua »
was it in the power of the unfortunate author to conceal his disgrace, as his friend, from whom I had the story, thought it too good a joke to be lost.
Swift, whatever mastery he had gained over the greater passions, had no command of his temper. He was of a very irritable make, prone to sudden starts of passion, in which his expressions of course were not very guarded. His friends made all due allowance for this, knowing it to be an infirmity often attendant on the best natures, and never took any thing amiss that he said or did on such occasions. But Dr. Sheridan, when he saw one of these fits coming on him, used to divert its course, by some whimsical stroke of fancy that would set him a laughing, and give his humour another bent. And in this he was so successful, that one of their common friends used to say, that he was the David, who alone could play the evil spirit out of Saul. Among the many off-hand poems, which they daily writ to each other, there was one come to my hands, which, though negligently written, is so descriptive of the mode of their living together, and so characteristick of Swift's manner, that I am tempted to lay it before the publick. When he was disengaged, the dean used often to call in at the doctor's about the hour of dining, and their custom was to sit in a small back parlour têre à tête, and have slices sent them upon plates from the common room of whatever was for the family dinner. The furniture of this room was not in the best repair, being often frequented by the boarders, of which the house was seldom without twenty; but was preferred by the dean as being more snug than the state parlour, which was used only when there was company. The
subject subject of the poem, is an account of one of these Casual visits.
When to my house you come, dear dean,
Out go its legs, and down you come
Stay, sir-I'll run and call the maid;
They can't even puff the smoke away." “ And is your reverence vext at that? “ Get up in God's name, take your hat;
Hang them, say I, that have no shift ; « Come blow the fire, good doctor Swift. “ If trifles such as these can tease you, “ Plague take those fools that strive to please you. “ Therefore no longer be a quarr'ler * Either with me, sir, or my parlour.
“ If you can relish ought of mine,
MEMOIRS and ANECDOTES of Swift, extracted
from the former Publications by DOCTOR DELANY and others.
As Swift had been charged by many with want of religion, Voltaire, and other freethinkers, wishing to have a man of his genius enrolled in their class; doctor Delany enters into a justification of him in that respect. Among other passages to this effect, are the following: As to his religion, I myself have observed many strong indications and proofs of his sincerity in it, beside those now mentioned. His saying grace, both before and after meat, was very remarkable. It was always in the fewest words that could be uttered on the occasion, but with an emphasis and fervour which every one around him saw and felt, and with his hands clasped into one another, and lifted up to his breast, but never higher. The religious and christian form of his last will, and the many prayers composed, and constantly offered up by him in Mrs. Johnson's sickness, are strong proofs to the same purpose.
There was no vice in the world he so much abhorred as hypocrisy ; and of consequence nothing he dreaded so much as to be suspected of it. This naturally led to make him verge sometimes too much to the other extreme; and made him often conceal bis piety with more care, than others take io conceal their vices. I have been assured by ccto: Delany, who lived for a considerable time in la borse, that he resided with him for more than