Imatges de pàgina

quiesced in the change, without making the slightest objection, though he must have been conscious it was wrong

Sir," said Swift, “ I considered that « the passages were of no great consequence, and I “ made the alterations you desired without hesitation,

lest, had I stood up in their defence, you might have

imputed it to the vanity of an author unwilling to “ hear of his errours; and by this ready compliance, I

hoped you would, at all times hereafter, be the more “ free in your remarks.” Though he had no skill in musick, nor ear for its beauties, yet he had sufficient for a most ridiculous and droll imitation of it; of which doctor Delany gives the following instance in a scene at which he was present one evening, together with some others of the dean's friends.

Tom Rosingrave was just returned from Italy; and doctor Pratt, then provost of the college, who was not long come back from the same place, and was far gone in the Italian taste of musick, had been that morning at St. Patrick's, to hear him play a voluntary, and was in high rapture in praise of it. Cpon which some of the company wished they had been present to have heard it.

“ Do you?” said Swift; “ then you shall hear it still :” and immediately he sung out so lively, and yet so ridiculous an imitation of it, that all the company were kept in continual laughter till it was over; except one old gentleman, who sat with great composure, and though he listened, yet it seemed to make little or no impression on him; and being asked how he could hear such a fine piece of musick without being at all affected by it, made answer, “ that he had heard Mr. Rosingrave “ himself play it before.” An answer which, it may well be imagined, did not lessen the mirth.

Swift had a peculiar knack of conveying fine praise under cover of very rough words. When lord Carteret was lord lieutenant of Ireland, Swift happened to have a little dispute with him about the grievances that kingdom suffered from England, and the folly, nonsense, and injustice of their government in that respect; for he spared no hard words on that subject. The lord lieutenant replied with a mastery and strength of reasoning, for which he was so remarkable, and which Swift not well liking at that time, cried out in a violent passion—“ What the

vengeance brought you among us? Get you back “ –Get you back-Pray God Almighty send us our « boobies again."

Being one day at a sheriff's feast, who, among other toasts, called out to him, “ Mr. dean, The trade of Ireland :” he answered quick,-“Sir, I drink 120 « memories *."

He greatly admired the talents of the late duke of Wharton, as the duke did his; who one day dining with the dean, and recounting several wild frolicks he had run through ; My lord,” said Swift, “ let me recommend one more to you“ Take a frolick to be good-rely upon it, you will “ find it the pleasantest frolick you ever was engaged

[ocr errors]

• To take the force of this answer, it is necessary to observe, that it was made soon after bishop Brown's book had come out against Drinking the Memories of the Dead ;' which at that time made some noise.

+ Doctor Delany has wonderfully marred this tale in the telling, as he has entirely missed the point, concluding it thus" Take my “ word for it, that one will do you more honour than all the other “ frolicks of your life." To annex the idea of honour to frolicks, is nonsense; they can be only considered as pleasant.


Happening to be in company with a petulant young man, who prided himself in saying pert things to the dean, and at last getting up with some conceited gesticulations, said, with a confident air _“You

must know, Mr. dean, I set up for a wit.” « Do

you so,” says the dean, “ then take my advice, « and sit down again."

Being one day at a visitation dinner, a clergyman, who valued himself more upon his wit than he ought, and often mistook a rough kind of abuse for keen raillery; took it into his head to exercise his talents upon the dean, and that very licentiously. Swift sat with all the composure of a deaf man, not seeming to hear a word that he had said, nor making any kind of answer. At length the bishop interposed, and checked the petulance of the snarl ; which was the name he went by. The dean immediately got up, and begged that no restraint might be laid on the gentleman—" Momus, my lord, was always admitted “ to the feasts of the gods, and privileged to say

what“ ever he pleased there.” From that time, instead of Snarl, the gentleman was called by no other name but that of Momus.

Sitting one evening with Mr. Addison, the conversation happened to turn upon the most distinguished characters in the history of the Old Testament; in which Swift preferred and supported that of Joseph; and Addison that of Jonathan ; and after they had urged their reasons on both sides, with much zeal for a considerable time ; Mr. Addison smiled, and said, “ he was glad no third person was “ witness to their dispute;" just recollecting that he was asserting the hero of Swift's name, Jonathan ; and Swift the hero of his, Joseph ; which might have been interpreted by a standerby, as an intended compliment of each to the other.


A young clergyman, the son of a bishop in Ireland, having married without the knowledge of his friends, it

gave umbrage to his family, and his father refused to see him. The dean being in company with him some time after, said he would tell him a story. “ When I was a schoolboy at Kilkenny, and in the " lower form, I longed very much to have a horse of my own to ride on.

One day I saw a poor man leading a very mangy lean horse out of the town “ to kill him for the skin. I asked the man if he « would sell him, which he readily consented to upon

my offering him somewhat more than the price of “ the hide, which was all the money I had in the “ world. I immediately got on him, to the great

envy of some of my schoolfellows, and to the ri“ dicule of others, and rode him about the town. “ The horse soon tired and lay down. As I had no « stable to put him into, nor any money to pay “ his sustenance, I began to find out what a foolish " bargain I had made, and cried heartily for the loss “ of my cash ; but the horse dying soon after upon “ the spot, gave me some relief." To this the young clergy man answered—“Sir, your story is very good, “ and applicable to my case ; I own I deserve such “ rebukes,"--and then burst into a flood of tears. The dean made no reply, but went the next day to the lord lieutenant, and prevailed on him to give the young gentleman a small living then vacant, for his immediate support; and not long after brought about a reconciliation between his father and him.

The following anecdote is given by Dr. Goldsmith, in his Life of Parnell. The Scriblerus Club, when the members were in town, were seldom asunder



[ocr errors]


and they often made excursions together into the country, and generally on foot. Swift was usually the butt of the company, and if a trick was played, he was always the sufferer. The whole party once set out to walk down to the house of lord B- - about twelve miles from town. As every one agreed to make the best of his way, Swift, who was remarkable for walking, soon left all the rest behind ; fully resolved, upon his arrival, to choose the very best bed for himself, as was his custom. In the mean time, Parnell was determined to prevent his intentions; and taking horse, arrived at lord B-'s by another way, long before him. Having apprised his lordship of Swift's design, it was resolved at any rate to keep him out of the house; but how to do this was the question. Swift never had the smallpox, and was much afraid of catching it; as soon, therefore, as he appeared striding along at some distance from the house, one of his lordship's servants was dispatched, to inform him that the smallpox was then making great ravage in the family ; but that there was a summerhouse at the end of the garden, with a fieldbed at his service. There the disappointed dean was obliged to retire, and take a cold supper that was sent him, while the rest were feasting within, However, at last they took compassion on him; and upon his promising never to choose the best bed again, they permitted him to make one of the company.

During his last deplorable state, the following circumstances are all that are recorded. In the beginning of the year 1741, his understanding was so much impaired, and his passions so greatly increased, that he was utterly incapable of conversation. Strangers were not permitted to approach him, and his friends found it necessary to have guardians appointed of Vol. I. Hн


« AnteriorContinua »