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Swift's Journey to England, in 1710-His quarrel with
the Whigs, and union with Harley and the Administration-He writes the Examiner-The character of Lord Wharton-And other political tracts — Obtains the FirstFruits and Twentieth-Parts for the Irish Clergy-His correspondence with Archbishop King-His intimacy with the Ministers—The services which he renders to them Project for improving the English Language -His
protection of Literary Characters-Difficulties attending his church preferment—He is made Dean of St Patrick's And returns to Ireland.
Swift had now become more than doubtful of those well-grounded views of preferment, which his interest with the great Whig leaders naturally offered. He resided at Laracor during the greater part of Lord Wharton's administration; saw the lieutenant very seldom when he came to Dublin, and entered into no degree of intimacy with him or his friends, excepting only with Addison. Such is his own account of his conduct, which he prepared for publication at a time when hundreds were alive and upon the watch to confute any inaccuracy in his state
ment.* He adds, that upon an approaching change in the political administration, Lord Wharton affected of a sudden greatly to caress him, which he imputes to a wish of rendering him odious to the church party.
The fall of that ministry, which had conducted with so much glory the war upon the Continent, was caused, or at least greatly accelerated, by one of those explosions of popular feeling peculiar to the English nation. Swift, with all his genius, had in vain taught the doctrine of moderation ; but Sacheverell, with as little talent as principle, at once roused the whole nation, and became himself elevated into a saint and a martyr, by a single inflammatory sermon. He was carried in procession through the land,
Per Graium populos, mediæque per Elidis urbem
and wherever the doctor appeared, arose a popular spirit of aversion to the Whig administration, and all who favoured the dissenters. Swift was probably no indifferent spectator, while the interests of the
Memoirs relating to the change in the Queen's ministry, Vol. III. p. 190. There is also an appeal to Stella on this subject, in the Journal, Vol. II. p. 254. “I am resolved, when I come, (to Ireland, namely,) to keep no other company, but M.D. You know I kept my resolution last time ; and, except Mr Addison, conversed with none but
club of Deans and Stoytes.” VOL. I.
high-church party began to predominate over the power of those whose opinions in state policy had been avowedly his own. He did not, however, interfere in the controversy ; and we learn from a passage in his Journal, that although he afterwards interceded for Sacheverell with Harley's administration, it was without esteem for the man, or favour to' those principles of which the doctor was the champion.* The following letter,f which was writ
See an account of his solicitation in behalf of Sacheverell's brother, Vol. III. p. 20, 21; and the following characteristic story told by Sheridan :- -“ Afterwards, in the year 1713, soon after the three
silence imposed upon the doctor by the House of Lords, in consequence of his impeachment, had expired, Swift procured for him the Rectory of St Andrew's, Holborn, in the following whimsical manner :-Upon that living's becoming vacant, he applied for it in behalf of Sacheverell, to Lord Bolingbroke ; who seemed not at all disposed in his favour, calling him a busy, meddling, factious fellow, one who had set the kingdom in a flame.' To which Swift replied, It is all true, my lord; but let me tell you a story. In a sea-fight, in the reign of Charles II., there was a very bloody engagement between the English and Dutch fleets; in the heat of which, a Scotch seaman was very severely bit by a louse on his neck, which he caught, and stooping down to crack it, just as he had put himself in that posture, a chain-shot came and took off the heads of several sailors that were about him ; on which he had compassion on the poor louse, returned him to his place, and bid him live there at discretion ; for, said he, as thou hast been the means of saving my life, it is but just I should save yours.' Lord Bolingbroke laughed heartily, and said, 'Well then, the louse shall have the living for your story' And accordingly he was soon after presented to it.”-Sheridan's Life of Swift.
+ The original is among Mr Tickell's manuscripts. The words in Italics are filled up from conjecture.
ten by Swift to Addison, upon the impending change of administration, seems to indicate that his slight expectations of promotion still rested upon the Whigs, and upon Lord Somers in particular. There is, however, to use a phrase of his own, some refinement in the epistle ; for while Swift asks Addison's advice whether he should come to London, he had, in all probability, already determined on his journey, as he set out upon the first day of September following:
“ Dublin, August 22, 1710. “ I looked long enough at the wind to set you safe at the other side, and then ***** our conduct, very unwilling for fear you [about two lines are effaced] up to a post-horse, and hazard your limbs to be made a member. I believe you had the displeasure of much ill news almost as soon as you landed. Even the moderate Tories here are in pain at these revolutions, being what will certainly affect the Duke of Marlborough, and consequently the success of the war. My lord-lieutenant asked me yesterday, when I intended for England ? I said I had no business there now, since I suppose in a little time I should not have one friend left that had any credit; and his excellency was of my opinion. * I never once began your (task]
Yet Swift must have then expected the commission from the bishops, which was granted a week afterwards. His answer to Lord Wharton must therefore be considered as evasive.
since you [left this,] being perpetually prevented by all the company I kept, and especially Captain Pratt, to whom I am almost a domestic upon your account. I am convinced that, whatever Government come over, you will find all marks of kindness from any Parliament here, with respect to your employment;* the Tories contending with the Whigs which should speak best of you. Mr Pratt says, he has received such marks of your sincerity and friendship, as he never can forget; and, in short, if you will come over again, when you are at leisure, we will raise an army, and make you King of Ireland. † Can you think so meanly of a kingdom, as not to be pleased that every creature in it, who hath one grain of worth, has a veneration for you? I know there is nothing in this to make you add any value to yourself; but it ought to put you on valuing them, and to convince you that they are not an undistinguishing people. On Thursday, the Bishop of Clogher, the two Pratts, and I, are to be as happy as Ireland will now give us leave; we are to dine with Mr Paget at the Castle, and drink your health. The bishop shewed me the first volume
* Addison had been recently made keeper of the records in Ireland, with an augmented salary.
+ This reminds us of an expression in the Journal to Stella. “ Mr Addison's election has past easy and undisputed ; and I believe, if he had a mind to be chosen king, he would hardly be refused.”