« AnteriorContinua »
early in June, 1713, to take possession of a preferment, which he always professed to consider as at best an honourable exile. It must have been indeed unexpected, that his unexampled court favour should all terminate in his obtaining a deanery in a kingdom remote from those statesmen who equally needed his assistance, and delighted in his society. Nor can we doubt that he was disappointed, as well as surprised, since at one time he held his services too essential to the administration, to allow them even to create him a bishop in Ireland.*
To the very last, he confesses he thought the ministry would not have parted with him, and could only conclude, that they had not the option of making a suitable provision for him in England.f
* Journal, May 29, 1711. “We hear your Bishop Hickman is dead; but nobody here will do anything for me in Ireland, so they may die as fast or slow as they please.” Vol. II. p. 278. Hickman, Bishop of Derry, was succeeded by Dr Hartstonge, translated from the See of Ossory.
† Journal, 18th April, 1713. “ 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.” Vol. III.
Swift takes possession of his Deanery-Is recalled to Eng
land to reconcile Harley and St John-Increases in favour with Oxford-Engages again in Political controversy-Writes the Public Spirit of the Whigs—A reward offered for discovery of the Author_The dissensions of the Ministers increase-Swift retires to the Country Writes Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs-Writes to Lord Oxford on his being Displaced— And retires to Ireland on the Queen's Death-His reception-His Society—The interest he displayed in the misfortunes of his Friends.
The biographers of Swift have differed in their account of Swift's reception as Dean of St Patrick's. According to Lord Orrery, it was unfavourable in the extreme. He was shunned by the better class, hissed, hooted, and even pelted by the rabble. This is contradicted by Delany and Sheridan, who argue on the improbability of his experiencing such affronts, when the high-church interest, which he had so ardently
served, was still in its zenith. Indeed, there is no doubt, that Lord Orrery's account is greatly exaggerated, or rather that his lordship has confounded the circumstances which attended Swift's first reception, with those of his final retirement to his deanery after the death of the queen. Yet, even on his first arrival, his reception was far from cordial. Many, even among his own order, beheld with envy the Vicar of Laracor elevated by mere force of talents to a degree of power and consequence seldom attained by the highest dignitaries of the church ; and they scarce forgave him for his success, even in the very negotiation of which they reaped the benefit. “I remit them,” says Swift, with indignant contempt, “ their first fruits of ingratitude, as freely as I got the others remitted to them.”* He had also more legitimate enemies. The violent Whigs detested him as an apostate from their party; the dissenters regarded his high-church principles with dread and aversion; and both had at that time considerable influence in the city of Dublin.t
* Vol. II. 390.
+ The following copy of verses occur in the Works of Jonathan Smedley, and are said to have been tixed on the door of St Patrick's Cathedral on the day of Swift's instalment :
To-day, this temple gets a Dean,
Of parts and fame uncommon;
To serve both God and Mammon.
The temper and manners of Swift were ill qualified to allay these prejudices. In assuming his new offices, with perhaps too much an air of authority, he soon provoked opposition from the Archbishop of
Dublin, and from his own chapter; and he was thwarted and disappointed both in his arrangements with his predecessor, and in the personal promotions which he wished to carry through for his friends. Besides, he had returned to Ireland a dissatisfied, if not a disappointed man, neither hoping to give nor receive pleasure, and such unhappy expectations are usually the means of realizing themselves. His intimate friendship with Vanessa already embittered the pleasure of rejoining Stella ; and it was therefore no wonder, that, after hurrying from Dublin to his retirement at Laracor, he should write to the former in the following strain of despondency.
“ I staid but a fortnight in Dublin, very sick, and returned not one visit of a hundred that were made me; but all to the Dean, and none to the Doctor. I am riding here for life ; and I think I am something better. I hate the thoughts of Dublin, and prefer a field-bed, and an earthen-floor, before the great house there, which they say is mine.”—" At my first coming, I thought I should have died with discontent, and was horribly melancholy while they were installing me, but it begins to wear off, and change to dul
He writes Archbishop King in the same
* The letter is dated Laracor, 8th July, 1713. Vol. XIX. p. 334.