Imatges de pÓgina

confound you both for a couple of scoundrels.” With these words he immediately quitted the room, and turned his back on the castle, determined to appear there no more. But Lord Berkeley was too conscious of the ill treatment he had given him, and too fearful of the resentment of an exasperated genius, not to endeavour to pacify him. He therefore immediately presented him with the rectory of Agher, and the vicarages of Laracor, and Rath-beggan, then vacant, in the diocese of Meath.* Though these livings united did not make up a third of the deanery in value ;t and though from the large promises, which had been made him, he had reason to expect much greater preferment, yet, considering the specimens already given of the performance of those promises, Swist thought it most prudent to accept of those livings, dropping all future expectations from that quarter. Nor did he afterward estrange himself from Lord Berkeley's family, but continued still in his office of chaplain; to which he seems to have been chiefly induced, from the great honour and respect which he had for his excellent lady ; whose virtues he has celebrated in so masterly a manner, in the Introduction to the “ Project for the Advancement of Religion.”

From this behaviour to Lord Berkeley, we may judge how little Swift was qualified to rise at court, in the usual way of obtaining preferment; and we may estimate the greatness of his spirit, by the degree of resentment shown to the man, in consequence of ill treatment, upon whom all his hopes of preferment then rested.

* He was instituted March 22, 1699-1700. N. † Not even after his purchase (for 2601.) of the rectorial tithes of one part of the parish, called Effernock, which he gave by his last will to his successors for ever. In his account-book he reckons the annual value of the said union about 2301. ; and within the first year, from March, 1699, to Nov. 1, 1700, the expense of his titles, rent, curate, &c. amounted to 1171. He got the prebend of Dunlavan, in the chapter of St. Patrick, Sept. 23, 1700. Being in actual attendance as domestic chaplain to the Earl of Berkeley, he had a dispensation from the bishop of Meath, that year, in May, for not reading his assent and consent at Laracor and Rath-beggan until the month of June, at which time he went through the necessary form. N

It was at this time that Swift's true humorous vein in poetry began to display itself, in several little pieces, written for the private entertainment of Lord Berkeley's family; among which was that incomparable piece of low humour, called “The humble petition of Mrs. Frances Harris, " &c.

When Lord Berkeley quitted the government of Ireland, Swist went to reside on his living at Laracor; where he lived for some time in the constant and strict discharge of his duty.

It was about this time that Mrs. Johnson (the afterward celebrated Stella) arrived in Ireland, accompanied by another lady of the name of Dingley, who was related to the family of the Temples. Sir William Temple had bequeathed to Mrs. Johnson a legacy of a thousand pounds, in consideration of her father's faithful services, and her own rising merits. After Sir William's death, she lived for some time with Mrs. Dingley, a lady who had but a small annuity to support her. In this situation Swift advised his lovely pupil to settle in Ireland, the interest of money was at that time ten per cent. in that kingdom; and considering the cheapness of provisions, her income there would afford her a genteel support, instead of a mere subsistence in England : for the same reason also he recommended it to Mrs. Dingley to accompany her. This proposal was very agreeable to both the ladies. To the latter, as she had scarce a sufficient income to subsist on in England, though managed with the utmost frugality; to the former, that she might be near her tutor, whose lessons, however they might dwell on her memory, had sunk still deeper into her heart. These ladies, soon after their arrival, took a lodging at Trim,

a village near Laracor, which was the place of Swift's residence. The conversation of this amiable woman, who, by his own account, had the most and finest accomplishments of any person he had ever known of either sex, contributed not a little to sweeten his retirement, which otherwise must soon have become burthensome to so active a spirit. But though Stella's beauty was at that time arrayed in all the pride of blooming eighteen, * yet it is certain that he never dropped the least hint that might induce her to consider him in the light of a lover. In his whole deportment he still maintained the character of a tutor, a guardian, and a friend; but he so studiously avoided the appearance of any other attachment to her, that he never saw, or conversed with her, but in the presence of some third person. The truth is, that Swift at that time knew not what the passion of love was; his fondness for Stella was only that of an affectionate parent to a favourite child; and he had long entertained a dislike to matrimony. He seems to have been under the dominion of a still more powerful passion, that of ambition ; a passion which, from his boyish days, had taken strong hold of his mind, and never afterward forsook him, till all hopes of its being farther gratified had failed.

Urged by this restless spirit, he every year paid a visit to England, absenting himself for some months from the duties of his parish, and the charming conversation of the amiable Stella, in hopes of finding some favourable opportunity of distinguishing himself, and pushing his fortune in the world.

* Stella is said by most writers to have been in her 16th year when she first went to Ireland in 1699; but Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Deane Swift both say she was 18. As her name is not to be found in the parish register, which begins in 1682, they probably are right. In 1683 is an entry of Anne, the daughter of Edward Johnson, baptised ; but Mrs. Johnson's name was Esther. See Lysons, 11. 453. N.

f In April, 1701, Swift went to London ; returned to Ireland in September following; took his doctor's degree on 16 Feb. aster, which cost him in fees and treat 441. and upwards. In April, 1702, he went to Leicester, to see his mother; in May, to London ; in July, to Moor Park; in October, to Ireland. The next year, in November, 1703, he went to Leicester; thence to London; and May 30, 1704, return ed to Dublin, whence he went directly to Laracor. This he calls, in his accompt book, "his sixteenth voyage." N.

His first visit to London, from the time he had taken possession of his living, was in the year 1701. At which time he found the public in a ferment, occasioned by the impeachment of the Earls of Portland and Orford, Lord Somers, and Lord Halifax, by the house of commons. Upon this occasion Swist wrote and published his first political tract, entitled, “ A Discourse of the Contests and Dissentions in Athens and Rome,” in which he displayed great knowledge in ancient history, as well as skill in the English constitution, and the state of parties. The author of this piece concealed his name with the greatest precaution, nor was he at that time personally known to any of the nobles, in whose favour it seems to have been written ; and indeed, from the spirit of the piece itself, we may see that Swift was induced to write it from other motives than such as were private and personal. As no one understood the English constitution better, so no one loved it more, or would have gone greater lengths to preserve it, than Swift. He saw clearly that the balance, upon the due preservation of which the very life of our constitution depends, had been for some time in a fluctuating state, and that the popular scale was likely to preponderate. All the horrors of anarchy, and the detested times of a Cromwell, came fresh into his mind. He therefore thought it his duty to lay before the public the fatal consequences of the encroachments then making by the commons upon the other two branches of the legislature; which he executed in a most masterly manner, with great force of argument, as

sisted by the most striking examples of other states in similar circumstances; and at the same time in a style and method so perspicuous, as to render the whole clear to common capacities. Another reason for supposing that Swift wrote this wholly from a principle of duty, is, that the author deals throughout in generals, excepting only one oblique compliment to the four lords who were impeached by the commons, which at the same time served to strengthen his general argument. The truth is, Swift, at that time, was of no party ; he sided with the whigs merely because he thought the tories were carrying matters too far, and by the violence of their proceedings were likely to overturn that happy balance in our state, so lately settled by the glorious revolution; to wbich there was not a faster friend in England than himself. However, it is certain that it remained for some time a profound secret to the world, who the author of that admirable piece was. And the first discovery made of it was by Swift himself, upon the following occasion. After his return to Ireland, he happened to fall into company with Bishop Sheridan,* where this much talked of pamphlet became the topic of conversation. The bishop insisted, “ that it was written by Bishop Burnet, and that there was not another man living equal to it.”+ Swift maintained the contrary; at first by arguments drawn from difference of style, manner, &c. and afterward, upon being urged, said, that to his certain knowledge it was not written by Burnet." Then pray," said the bishop, “ who writ it?” Swift answered, “ My lord, I writ it.”

As this was the only instance in his life

* Dr. William Sheridan, bishop of Kilmore, 1681; deprived 1691 ; died Oct. 1, 1711. N.

+ When Swift seemed to doubt Burnet's right to the work, he was told by the bishop that he “ was a young man;" and still persisting to doubt, that he was

a very young man.” JOHNSON.


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