Imatges de pÓgina


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 * 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 ruputre 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 motions of the presbyterians, the intention of this piece was, not only tó frustrate their attempt to get the test act repealed in Ireland, but also to alarm the people in England, by showing that their design was deeper laid, and that the carrying of it first in that country, was only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 year those admirable papers on Partridge the almanack 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

*“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 Letter to Col. Hunter, Jan, 12, 1708-9.



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 prog. nosticks, 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 nearly taken place then, in the manner they did two years afterward. No solicitations or promises were wanting, on their parts, to engage

* It appears from a memorandum in Swift's hendwriting on the back of a letter directed to him, in October 1708, at lord Peinbroke's house in Leicester-fields, that he had an intention this year to publi:h a volume of bis works, consisting of the following articles :

Discourse on Athens and Essay on Conversation.

Conjectures on the Thoughts Bickerscaff's Predictions.

of Posterity about me. Elegy on Partridge.

On the present Taste of ReadLetter to Bishop of K[illala.] ing, Harris's Petition.

Apology for the Tale, &c. Baucis and Philenzion.

Part of an Answer to Tindal. Vanbrugh's House.

History of Van's House. The Salamander.

Apollo outwilled. To ArEpigram on Mrs. Floyd.

delia. Meditation on a Broomstick. Project for Reformation of Sentiments of a Church of Manners. England Man,

A Lady's Table-book, Reasons against abolishing Tritical Essay. Christianity.


Swift on their side ; but they found him a man of stubborn integrity; nor could any temptation preFail 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 inake him bishop of Virginia, with a power to ordain priests and deacons, and a general authority over all the clergy in the American culonies. 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 Adfancement 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. Though at first view this pamphlet seemed to have no other drift, but to lay down a very rational scheme for a general reformation of manners, yet upon a closer examination it will appear to have been a very strong, though covert attack, upon the power of the whigs. It could not

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have escaped a man of Swift's penetration, that the queen had been a long time wavering in her sentiments, and that she was then meditating that change in the ministry, which some time afterward took place. To confirm her in this intention, and to hasten the execution of it, appears, from the whole tenour of the pamphlet, to have been the main object he had in view, in publishing it at that time. For though it seems designed for the use of the world in general, and is particularly addressed to the countess of Berkeley, yet that it was chiefly calculated for the queen's perusal, appears from this ; that the whole execution of his project depended upon the impression which it might make upon her mind; and the only means of reformation proposed, were such as were altogether in her own power. At setting out, he says; “Now, as universal and deep rooted as these corruptions appear to be, I am utterly deceived, if an effectual remedy might not be applied to most of them ; neither am I now upon a wild speculative project, but such a one as may be easily put in execution. For, while the prerogative of giving all employments continues in the crown, either immediately, or by subordination; it is in the power of the prince to make piety and virtue become the fashion of the age, if, at the same time, he would make them necessary qualifications for favour and preferment." He then proceeds to show the necessity of her majesty's exerting her authority in this way, by a very free observation, couched under one of the finest compliments that ever was penned :

" It is clear from present experience, that the bare example of the best prince, will not have any mighty influence . where the age is very corrupt. For, when was there ever a better prince on the throne than the present queen? I do not talk of her talent for government, her love of the people, or any other

qualities that are purely regal; but her piety, charity, temperance, conjugal love, and whatever other virtues do best adorn a private life; wherein, without question, or flattery, she has no superiour : yet, neither will it be satire or peevish invective to affirm, that infidelity and vice are not much dininished since her coming to the crowni; nor will, in all probability, until more effectual remedies be pro-. Fided."

The chief remedy he proposes, is, “ To bring religion into countenance, and encourage those who, from the hope of future reward, and dread of future, punishment, will be moved to act with justice and integrity. This is not to be accomplished in any other way than by introducing religion as much as possible, to be the turn and fassion of the age, which only lies in the power of the administration; the prince, with utmost strictness, regulating the court, the ministry, and other persons in great employment; and these, by their example and authority, reforming, all who have dependence on them.”

Having expatiated on this topick, and shown how easily such a design might be carried into execution, if the queen would only form such a determination, be proceeds to enforce his arguments by conscientious motives; which were likely to have the strongest effects upon one of such a truly religious turn as the queen was. After having just mentioned some points of reformation, in which the aid of the legis-, lature might be found necessary, he says, this is beside my present design, which was only to, show what degree of reformation is in the power of the queen, without interposition of the legislature; and which her majesty is, without question, obliged in conscience to endeavour by her authority, as much as she does by her practice.'

And in another place he still more forcibly urges arguments of the same nature': “ The present queen

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