Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

in Ireland *, and I confess I thought the ministry would not let me go; but perhaps they cannot help it.” How contrary is this to his former declaration! But in the whole of this affair, Swift seems to have been deserted by his usual firmness of mind, and to have acted with the frowardness of an humoursome child, who either does not know his own mind, or will not tell it; and yet expects that others should find it out, and do what he wants.

Another reason for his not desiring to procure the bishoprick for himself, might perhaps arise from his supposing, that this might be considered as a full equivalent for his services, and the ne plus ultra of his preferment, tỏ the exclusion of all' future prospects in England, where al} his Wishes centred: But I am persuaded, that the chief motive to liso extraordinary conduct on this occasion, and his so pertinaciously adhering to that particular mode, and no other, of providing for him in opposition to the desire of his best friends, and particularly of the duke of Ormond, was, that he had promised to make Sterne a bishop the: first opportunity. As he was remarkably tenacious of his word, he was determined to keep it on this occasion, though he seeins, by some expressions, not to have looked upon Sterne as his friend, but rather to have resentment against him, on account of some ill treatment received at his

* When he went to take possession of the deanery he did not stay in Dublin more than a fortnight, where he did not return one visit of a hundred, which, as he said, were ali 10 the Dean, and none to the Doctor. He retired to the para sonage of Laracor, preferring a field bed and an earthen Anor to the large. Deanery-hcuse which belonged to him in Dublin." N.

hands *. In his Journal to Stella, October 28, 1712, he says, “ I had a letter to day from Dr. Coghill, desiring me to get Raphoe for dean Sterne, and the deanery for myself. I shall indeed, I have such obligations to Sterne. But, however, if I am asked who will make a good bishop, I shall name him before any body.

In the February following, he says, in the same Journal, “ I did not write to Dr. Coghill, that I would have nothing in Ireland, but that I was soliciting nothing any where, and this is true. I have named Dr. Sterne to lord treasurer, lord Bolingbroke, and the duke of Ormond, for a bishoprick, and I did it heartily. I know not what will come of it; but I tell you, as a great secret, that I have made the duke of Ormond promise me to recommend no body till he tells me, and this for some reasons, too long to mention.”

* The cause of his resentment is thus set forth, in a letter to Sterne, then bishop of Clogher, dated July 1733.

« When I first came acquainted with you, we were both private clergymen in a neighbourhood: you were afterward chancellor of St. Patrick's, then was chosen dean; in which election, I was the most busy of all your solicitors. When the compromise was made between the government and you, to make you easy, and Dr. Synge chancellor, you absolutely and frequently promised to give me the curacy t of St. Nicholas Without : you thought fit, by concert with the archbishop, to hold it. yourself, and apply the revenue to build another church. Upon the queen's death, when I had done for ever with courts, I returned to reside at my post, yet with some kind of hopes of getting some credit with you, very unwisely; because upon the affair of St. Nicholas, I had told you frankly, That I would always respect you, but never hope for the least friendship from you.” S..

+ Though this be called a curacy, yet it is in reality a living of considerable value. S.

While the matter was in agitation, he thus writes to Stella, on the 7th of the March follow. ing: I write by this post to the dean, but it is not above two lines; and one enclosed to you is not above three lines; and in that one enclosed to the dean, which he must not have, but on condition of burning it immediately after reading, and that be. fore your eyes; for there are some things in it I would not have liable to accidents. You shall only know in general, that it is an account of what I have done to serve him, in his pretensions on these vacancies, &c. but he must not know that you know so much."

It is evident, from some of the above quotations, that Swift was far from having any cordial regard for Sterne, and that he had thought himself, on some occasions, to have been ill treated by him. Nothing therefore can, in my opinion, account for his obstinate perseverance in making him a bishop, in spite of all the world, as he himself expresses it, but the sacredness of an engagement.

Whatever ill opinion Swift had formed of Sterne before, was thoroughly confirmed by his very ungrateful behaviour to him, immediately after he had made him a bishop. In his Journal of May 16, he writes thus : “ Your new bishop acts very ungratefully. I cannot say so bad of him as he deserves, I begged, by the same post his warrant and mine went over, that he would leave those livings to my disposal. I shall write this post to him, to let him know how ill I take it *.".

* Swift had afterward cause to complain further of his ingra. titude, where he says to him in a létter, dated 1753: trying to forget all former treatments, I came, like others, to your house, and since you were a bishop, bave once or twice recommended persons to you, who were no relations or friends of mine, but merely for their general good character ; which availed so little, that those very persons had the greatest share of your neglect.” S.

is But

SECTION IV.

As the brightest and most important part of Swift's life passed during the four last years of queen Anne, when his faculties were ali in full vigour, and occasions for displaying them arose adequate to their greatness ; I shall omit no circumstance, which may serve to delineate the features and limbs of his mind (if I may be allowed the expression) before disease and age had impaired the bloom of the one, and the strength and agility of the other. To have a perfect portrait and just likeness of a friend, had we our choice of time, we should certainly prefer that period of his life, when he was in his prime, to that of his decay. There have been already given many instances of such a nobleness of mind, such a disinterested spirit in Swift, as are rarely to be found in the annals of history. Yet the part which he acted by his friend Oxford, about the time of the queen's death, exhibits those qualities in a higher point of view, than ever they had appeared in before. It has been already mentioned, that, finding all his endeavours to reconcile his great friends useless, he had retired to Letcomb, in order to make onc effort more to compel them to unite for their common interest, by the publication of his “ Free Thoughts," &c. Lord Bolingbroke, to whom this piece was shown by Barber *, contrived to have the printing of it deferred, as he was then just upon the point of accomplishing his long-concerted plan, of turning out lord Oxford, and stepping into his place. This was effected just four days before the queen's death,

* From whom it came into the possession of Mr. Fauls. Qer. N.

on the 27th of July, 1714. One of lord Bolingbroke's first objects, upon getting into power, was to secure Swift to his interest. He got lady Masa ham to write to him, in the most pressing terms, on the 29th, to return immediately to town. And on the 30th, he meant to dispatch Barber to him, with letters from himself and lady Masham for the same purpose. Which is thus related by Barber, in his letter of July 31, past six at night. “ I am heartily sorry I should be the messenger of so ill news, as to tell you the queen is dead or dying: if alive, 'tis said she can't live till morning. You may easily imagine the confusion we are all in on this sad occasion. I had set out yetserday to wait on you, but for this sad accident; and should have brought letters to lord Bolingbroke and lady Masham, to have prevented your going.--He said twenty things in your favour, and coinmanded me to bring ýou up, whatever was the consequence."

It was chiefly through the influence of lady Masham, who was then at the height of favour with the

queen, and had openly quarrelled with the treasurer, that he was turned out of his employment, and Bolingbroke appointed minister in his room. Nothing can show, in a stronger light, the great consequence

of Swift in all state affairs at that time, than lady Masham's letter to him on this occasion ; which, on that account, I shall here present entire to the reader. " My good friend,

July 29, 1714. « I own it looks unkind in me, not to thank

you

all this time, for your sincere kind letter ; but I was resolved to stay till I could tell

you,
the

queen far got the better of the Dragon *, as to take her power out of his hands. He has been the most un. grateful man to her, and to all his best friends, that ever was born. I cannot have so much time now to

had so

* A nickname for lord Oxford. S.

« AnteriorContinua »