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* Man, with respect to Religion and Government ;" which begins with these words : “ Whoever has ex" amined the conduct and proceedings of both par" ties for some years past, whether in or out of
power, cannot well conceive it possible to go far " toward the extremnes of either, without offer
ing some violence to his integrity or understand
ing.” His motive for publishing this tract at that juncture, he has given in the following words : " When the two parties, that divide the whole com« monwealth, come once to a rupture, without any
hopes left of forming a third with better principles to balance the others; it seems every man's duty to choose one of the two sides, although he
cannot entirely approve of either ; and all pre“ tences to neutrality are justly exploded by both,
being too stale and obvious ; only intending the safety and ease of a few individuals, while the publick is embroiled. This was the opinion and
practice of the latter Cato, whom I esteem to have “ been the wisest and the best of all the Romans. " But before things proceed to open violence, the “ truest service a private man may hope to do his
country, is, by unbiassing his mind as much as possible, and then endeavouring to moderate be
tween the rival powers; which must needs be " owned a fair proceeding with the world; because “it is, of all others, the least consistent with the
common design of making a fortune, by the merit of an opinion.”
Swift, from several circumstances at that time, apprehended that the parties would speedily come to an open rupture; he therefore thought it the duty of a good citizen to endeavour to form a third party
out of the more moderate of each, that should serve as a check upon the violence of both. With this view, he represents the extremes of both parties, and the evil consequences likely to ensue from each, in the strongest light; at the same time he clearly shows that the moderate of both hardly differed in any material point, and were kept asunder only by the odious distinction of a name. He set down in this piece such a just, political, and religious creed, so far as related to any connexion between church and state, as every honest subject of the church of England must at once assent to. And indeed if it were in the nature of things, that a party could have been formed upon principles of moderation, good sense, and publick spirit, his scheme would have taken place, from the masterly manner in which it was proposed. His design was, to engage all those of both parties, who wished well to the established church, to unite together under the denomination of church of England men, instead of the odious terms of high and low church, calculated to keep up animosity; and by so doing, to leave the more violent of both parties, whose numbers would in that case be much reduced, exposed to the world in their true colours, merely by being singled out in the different herds of their associates. In that case, there were few whigs, so lost to all sense of shame, as would choose to be one of a handful of English protestants, at the head of a numerous body of sectaries of all kinds, infidels and atheists; as there would be few tories who would wish to appear leaders of papists and jacobites only. Under the name of church of England man, none of those enemies to our constitution could have listed; whereas under the vague
hames of whig and tory, persons of all denominations and principles were enrolled without scruple by both, merely to increase their numbers, and swell the cry. This project, for the uniting of parties, seems to have taken strong possession of- Swift, and not to have quitted him for some time, as we find he mentions it in a * letter to colonel Hunter, in the beginning of the following year. However, if this design failed, he was determined, whenever matters should come to an open rupture between the parties, not to remain neutral ; but to choose that side, which, upon the whole, should appear to him the best, acCording to the maxim before laid down. In order therefore to render himself of the greater consequence, he seems to have exerted himself this
year in the display of his various talents. Beside the two admirable tracts before mentioned, he published, " A Letter from a Member of the House of Commons « in Ireland, to a Member of the House of Commons “ in England, concerning the Sacramental Test.” As he always kept a watchful eye upon the inotions of the presbyterians, the intention of this piece was, not only to frustrate their attempt to get the test act repealed in Ireland, but also to alarm the people in England, by showing that their design was deeper laid, and that the carrying of it first in that country, was only intended as a precedent for doing the same here. In the humourous way, he wrote also in this
. I amuse myself sometimes with writing verses to Mrs. Finch, and sometimes with projects for the uniting of parties, which I perfect over night, and burn in the morning.
SWIFT's first letter to col. Hunter,
year those admirable papers on Partridge the alma. nack maker, which appeared under the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, esq.; and in poetry, An Elegy on the supposed Death of Partridge; the Story of Baucis and Philemon; and two copies of verses on Vanbrugh's house *. So wide a display of such different talents; such knowledge in political affairs ; so much good sense and strength of reasoning, joined to so pure and masterly a style ; and above all, so much wit, and such uncommon powers of ridicule, could not fail of raising prognosticks, that he would prove the most able and formidable champion living, of that party whose cause he should espouse. The whigs therefore, who had hitherto neglected him, as considering him in the light of a half brother, began now to dread, and consequently to pay him great court. Their apprehensions were quickened by the narrow escape which they just then had of being turned out of power, by the intrigues of Mr. Harley; which had very ncarly taken place then, in the manner they did
• It appears from a memorandum in Swift's handwriting, that he had an intention this year to publish a volume of his works, corsisting of the following articles: October, 1708.
SUBJECTS for a Volume, Discourse on Athens and Rome. Essay on Conversation. Bickerstaff's Predictions. Conjectures on the Thoughts of Elcgy on Partridge.
Posterity about me. Letter to Bishop of K.
On the present Taste of Reading, Harris's Petition.
Apology for the Tale, &c. Baucis and Philemon.
Part of an Answer to Tindal. Vanbrugh's House.
History of Van's House. The Salamander.
Apollo outwitted. To Ardelia. Epigram on Mrs. Floyd. Project for Reformation of ManMeditation on a Broomstick. Sentiments of a Church of Eng- A Lady's Tablebook. land Man.
Tritical Essay. Reasons against abolishing Christianity
two years afterward. No solicitations or promises were wanting, on their parts, to engage Swift on their side ; but they found him a man of stubborn integrity; nor could any temptation prevail on him to go the lengths which they wanted. Failing in this, their next wish was to send him out of the way, in some honourable post. That of secretary to an intended embassy to the court of Vienna, was first designed for him ; but that project going off, there was a scheme on foot to make him bishop of Virginia, with a power to ordain priests and deacons, and a general authority over all the clergy in the American colonies. There could not have been a stronger bait thrown out to Swift than this ; as it would gratify his ambition, by a most extensive power, in the very sphere where he most wished to have it, in the church ; as religion was always nearest his heart. Accordingly we find that he was very earnest in the pursuit of that point; but, unfortunately for the interests of religion in America, and as unfortunately for the whiggish ministry, notwithstanding their promises, that it should be done, the design fell to the ground, and Swift remained in the same state : remained on the spot, filled with resentment at their treatment of him, and determined to wreak his vengeance on them, when opportunity should serve, which was not now far distant.
Early in the following year, Swift published that admirable piece, called, A Project for the Advancement of Religion. In which, after enumerating all the corruptions and depravities of the age, he shows that the chief source of them was the neglect, or contempt of religion, which so generally prevailed.