Imatges de pÓgina

adorned with all the graces of the comick muse, she became a welcome guest in all companies. The beauty of the church of England, by a plain and well eonducted allegory, adapted to all capacities, was shown, in the most obvious light, by the characters of simplicity and moderation, which are the tue marks of christianity, ' in opposition to the pageantry, superstition, and tyranny of the church of Rome, on the one hand ; and the spleen, hypocrisy, and enthusiasm of Calvinism, on the other, This had been often done before in a serious way, but it was the new manner of treating the subject that produced the great effect. While the English divines had for more than a century been engaged in a constant state of warfare with their antagonists, and attacked them with serious reasoning, and vehemence of argumentation, their antagonists were always considered as powerful and formidable; and though often foiled, were never looked upon as subdued. While these different religions were rendered odious or terrible to the imaginations of people, the very feelings of that hatred and fear, were accompanied with the ideas of danger and power in the objects which excited them, and of course gave them a consequence. But the instant they were rendered ridiculous, they became contemptible, and their whole power vanished ; nor: was there ever a stronger instance of the truth of Horace's rule,

Ridiculuni acri Fortius és melius magnas' plerumque secat res*, than in the effects produced by the “ Tale of a Tub," with regard to the weakening of the powers of popery and fanaticism in this country. Effects

* Well-season'd Ironry will oft prevail,
When stern rebukes and strongest seasonings fail.


not merely temporary, but which, with their cause, are likely to last, as long as the English language shall be read.

After the publication of this work, Swift wrote nothing of consequence for three or four years * ; during which time his acquaintance was much sought after by all persons of taste and genius.

There was, particularly, a very close connexion formed between Mr. Addison f and him, which ended in a sincere and lasting friendship, at least on Swift's. part. Addison's companionable qualities were known but to a few, as an invincible bashfulness kept him for the most part silent in mixed companies ; but Swift used to say of him, that his conversation in a tête à tête, was the most agreeable he had ever known in any one; and that in the many hours which he had passed with him in that way, neither of them ever wished for the coming in: of a third person.

In the beginning of the year 1708, Swift started forth from his state of inactivity, and published several pieces upon religious and political subjects, as also in the humourous way. That which regarded religion chiefly, was,

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* He was appointed prector for the dean and chapter of St. Patrick's, in the Irish convocation, July 24, 1707 , and was very active in it, as appears by his protest, Oct. 30, 1707, signed singly by himself, in the presence of Tho. Trotter, notary public. N.

+ 1o 1705, Mr. Addison made a present of his book of Travels to Dr. Swift; in the blank leaf of which he wrote the : following words:

The most agreeable companion,

The truest friend,
And the greatest genius of his age,

This Book is presented by his
Most humable servant,


against abolishing Christianity;" in which he pursues the same humourous method, which was so successfully followed in the “ Tale of a Tub." Perhaps there never was a richer vein of irony than runs through that whole piece; nor could any thing be better calculated to second the general impression made by the “ Tale of a Tub.” It is certain, that Swift thought the state of the church in great danger, notwithstanding any vote of parJiament to the contrary; and this chiefly from a sort of lethargick disorder, which had in general seized those who ought to have been its watchful guardians. To rouse them from this state, he found tickling to be more effectual than lashing; and that the best way to keep them wakeful, was to make them laugh.

It was at this juncture too he chose to publish his political principles. Swift had been hitherto always classed among the whigs, as the only political tract of his which had been published was in their favour, and as his chief connexions were among that body. And he himself had adopted the name in a Copy of Verses to the Honourable Mrs. Finch *, And indeed with respect to government, there could not be a stauncher whig than he was upon the old principles of whiggism, as set forth by him; but he was an utter enemy to some new ones adopted by that party, in order to enlarge their bottom, and which evidently tended to republicanismu. And as to their maxims with regard to religion, he widely differed from them. As these were made an essential part of the character of a whig at that time, he could not be said to be of their body. The truth is, that Swift was a man of too much integrity to belong to either party, while they were both so much in the wrong. This he himself declared in the opening of the political tract printed at this time, entitled, “ The Sentiments of a Church of England Man, with respect to Religion and Government;" which begins with these words: “ Whoever has examined the conduct and proceedings of both parties for some years past, whether in or out of power, cannot well conceive it possible to go far toward the extremes of either, without offering some violence to his integrity or understanding."

* And last, my vengeance to complete,

May you descend to take renown, Prevailid on by the thing you hate,

A wbig, and one who wears a gown. $.

His motive for publishing this tract at that juncture, he has given in the following words : “ When the two parties, that divide the whole commonwealth, 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 pretences 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 between 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

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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 odigus 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 cona stitution could have listed; whereas under the vague names of whig and tory, persons of all deno. minations and principles were enrolled without

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