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feems to have been written; and indeed, from the fpi rit of the piece itself, we may fee that Swift was indu ced to write it from other motives than fuch as were private and perfonal. As no one understood the English conftitution better, fo no one loved it more, or would have gone greater lengths to preferve it, than Swift. He faw clearly that the balance, upon the due prefervation of which the very life of our conftitution depends, had been for fome time in a fluctuating state; and that the popular feale was likely to preponderate. All the horrors of anarchy, and the detefted times of a Cromwell, came fresh into his mind. He therefore thought it his duty to lay before the publie the fatal confequences of the encroachments then making by the Commons upon the other two branches of the Legiflature; which he executed in a moft masterly manner, with great force of argument, affifted by the most ftriking examples of other ftates, in fimilar circumftances; and at the fame time in a ftyle and method for perfpicuous, as to render the whole clear to common capacities. Another reafon for fuppofing 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 fame time ferved to strengthen his general argument. The truth is, Swift, at that time, was of no party; he fided 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 ftate, fo lately fettled by the glorious Revolution; to which there was not a fafter friend in England than himself. However it is certain that it remained for fome time a profound fecret to the world, who the author of that admirable piece was. And the first dif D


covery made of it, was by Swift himself, upon the following occafion. After his return to Ireland, he happened to fall into company with Bifhop Sheridan, where this much-talked of pamphlet became the topic of converfation. The Bishop infifted 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 flyle, manner, &c. and afterwards upon being urged, faid, that to his certain knowledge it was not written by Burnet. Then pray, faid the Bishop, who writ it? Swift anfwered, my Lord, I writ it. As this was the only inftance in his life that Swift was ever known to have. owned directly any piece as his, it is to be fuppofed that the confeffion was drawn from him by the heat of argument.


Early in the enfuing fpring, King William died; and Swift, on his next visit to London, found Queen Anne upon the throne. It was generally thought, upon this event, that the Tory party would have had the afcendant; but, contrary to all expectation, the Whigs had managed matters fo well, as to get entirely into the Queen's confidence, and to have the whole adminiftration of affairs in their hands. Swift's friends were now in power, and the Whigs in general, knowing him to be the author of the Difcourfe on the Contests, &c. confidered themselves as much obliged to him, and looked upon him as faft to their party. The chiefs accordingly applied to him for his affiftance in the meafures which they were taking; and there is no doubt that he had now a fair opening for gratifying his ambition to the utmoft, only by joining heartily with them, and exerting his talents on their fide. But great as his ambition was, he would not have purchafed its highest gratifications at the expence of his principles; nor would

would all the wealth and honours of the realm, accumulated, have tempted him to act contrary to the conviction of his mind. Upon examining into their new political fyftem, which varied in many points from that of the old Whigs, he confidered feveral of their measures as of a dangerous tendency to the conflitution. Notwithstanding, therefore, both his interefts and perfonal attachments were of their fide, he declined all overtures made to him by the heads of the Whiggifh party, and after fome time determined to have no concern in their affairs. This conduct in Swift was fo unexpected, for they had all along counted upon him as a fure man, that it met with the fame fort of refentment from the Whigs, as if he had deferted their party, and gone over to the enemy; though Swift, in reality, fo little. liked the proceedings of either, that for feveral years he kept himself entirely a neutral, without meddling in any shape in politicks.


The chief reason that made him decline any connection with the Whigs at that time, was, their open. profeffion of Low-church principles; and under the fpecious name of toleration, their encouragement of Fanaticks and Sectarists of all kinds to join them. But what above all most shocked him, was, their inviting all Deifts, Freethinkers, Atheifts, Jews, and Infidels, to be of their party, under pretence of moderation, and allowing a general liberty of confcience. Swift was in his heart a man of true religion, he could not have borne, even in his private character, to have. mixed with fuch a motley crew. But when we confider his principles in his political capacity, that he looked upon the Church of England, as by law established, to be the main pillar of our newly erected conftitution, he could not, confiftently with the character of a good citizen, join with thofe who confidered it more as an

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ornament, than a fupport to the edifice; who could. therefore look on with compofure while they faw it undermining, or even open the gate to a blind multitude, to try, like Samfon, their ftrength against it, and confider it only as fport. With fuch a party, neither his religious nor political principles would fuffer him to join; and with regard to the Tories, as is ufual in the violence of factions, they had run into oppofite extremes, equally dangerous to the ftate. He has fully given us his own fentiments upon the state of parties in thofe times, in these words: "Now, becaufe it is a point of difficulty to choose an exact middle between two ill extremes; it may be worth enquiring in the prefent cafe, which of these a wife and good man would rather feem to avoid taking therefore their own good and ill characters of each other, with due abatements, and allowances for partiality and paffion; I should think, that in order to preferve the conftitution entire in the Church and State, whoever has a true value for both, would be fure to avoid the extremes of Whig, for the fake of the former; and the extremes of Tory, on account of the latter."

This was a maxim, which, however well founded, was not likely to influence the opinion of many, amid the violence of party-rage; however, as Swift was firmly perfuaded of the truth of it, it was by that principle he governed his conduct, though on that account he ftood almost alone.

Finding therefore that he could be of no ufe to the public in his political capacity, while things remained in the fame ftate, he turned his thoughts wholly to other matters. He refided for the greatest part of the year at his living, in the performance of his parochial duties, in which no one could be more exact; and once a year he paid a visit to his mother at Leices


ter, paffing fome time alfo in London, to take a view of the state of things, and watching fome favourable crifis.

During this period, Swift's pen was hardly ever employed, except in writing fermons; and he does not feem to have indulged himself even in any fallies of fancy, for fome years, excepting only the Meditation on a Broom-ftick, and the Tritical Effay on the Faculties of the Mind, both written in the year 1703. As Swift has been much cenfured for writing the former of thefe pieces, on account of the ridicule contained in it of the ftyle and manner of fo great and pious a man as Mr. Boyle, it may not be improper here to relate an * anecdote which I had from undoubtedly good authority, with regard to the occafion of writing that piece, and which will in a great measure exonerate Swift from the charge brought against him on that account. In the yearly visits which he made to London, during his stay there, he passed much of his time at Lord Berkeley's, officiating as Chaplain to the family, and attend. ing Lady Berkeley in her private devotions. After which the Doctor, by her defire, used to read to her fome moral or religious difcourfe. The Countefs had at this time taken a great liking to Mr. Boyle's Meditations, and was determined to go through them in that manner; but as Swift had by no means the fame relish for that kind of writing which her Ladyfhip had, he foon grew weary of the tafk; and a whim coming into his head, refolved to get rid of it in a way which might occafion fome fport in the family; for which they had as high a relish as himself. The next time he was employed in reading one of thefe Meditations, he took

* This anecdote came from Lady Betty Germaine, daughter of Lady Berkeley, and was communicated to me by the late Lady Lambert, an Intimate of Lady Betty's.

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