Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

way for this, and to be charged wholly to his account, the ministry certainly cannot be taxed with a want of a due sense of his merits, and a suitable desire of rewarding them. And however out of humour he might be, where he says, “ This affair was carried with great difficulty, which vexes me:" yet he

very justly adds, “ But they say here, it is much to my reputation, that I have made a bishop in spite of all the world, and to get the best deanery in Ireland.”. He afterward shows how entirely this was his work, against all opposition, where he says, “ I shall write next post to bishop Sterne. Never man had so many enemies in Ireland as he; I carried it with the strongest hand possible. If he does not use me well, and gently, in what dealings I shall have with him, he will be the most ungrateful of mankind."

In his whole account of this transaction, which exhibits a lively picture of his state of mind to the moment, he seems to have been inuch under the influence of humour. Though he was conscious that the queen herself was the chief bar to his promotion, yet he speaks as peevishly of the treasurer, as if the sole blame lay with him. At one time he seems earnest about obtaining St. Patrick's, and is angry with the treasures for putting any rub in the way, though in favour of another measure, which would certainly have pleased him more.

When he mentions the queen's having consented to Swift's arrangement of the bishoprick and deanery, he adds, much out of humour, " but then out came lord treasurer, and said he would not be satisfied, but that I must be a prebendary of Windsor. Thus he perplexes things. I expect neither ; but I con, fess, as much as I love England, I am so angry at

this treatment, that if I had my choice I would rather have St. Patrick's.” And yet in his Journal of the 18th, the day but one after this, when he learns from the treasurer, that the queen was at last resolved upon the

arrangement proposed, he says, “ Neither can I feel joy at passing my days 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, to the exclusion of all future prospects in England, where all his wishes centered. But I am persuaded, that the chief motive to his 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 tena

. 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 all to the dean, and none to the doctor. He retired to the parsonage of Laracor, preferring a field bed and an earthen Aoor to the large deaneryhouse which belonged to him in Dublin. N.

cious of his word, he was determined to keep it oft this occasion, though he seems, 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 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,

* The cause of his resentinent is thus set forth in a letter to Sterne, then bishop of Clogher, dated July 1733. 66 When I first came acquainted with you, we were both private clergymen in a neighbourhood: you were afterwards 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 (a) of St. Nicholas Without: you thought fit, in con cert 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 fraukly, · That I would always respect you, but never hopa for the least friendship from you.' S.

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

and

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.”

While the matter was in agitation, he thus writes to Stella, on the 7th of the March following: " 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 before 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, 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 living3 to my disposal. I shall write this post to him, to let him know how itf I take it *."

shall

SECTION IV.

S the brightest and most important part of Swift's life passed during the four last years of queen Anne, when his faculties were all 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

* Swift had afterward cause to complain farther of his ingratitude, where he says to him in a letter, dated 1753 : “ But trying to forget all former treatments, I came, like others, to your house, and since you were a bishop, have once or twice recommended persons to yo'l, 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.

been

« AnteriorContinua »