Page images
[ocr errors]

not been the custom; and accordingly the bell was rung, and he afcended the defk. But, having fat fome time with no other auditor than his clerk Roger, he began, "Dear"ly beloved Roger, the feripture moveth you and me in fundry places," and fo proceeded to the end of the fervice. Of the fame kind was his race with Dr. Raymond, vicar of Trim, foon after he was made dean of St. Patrick's, Swift had dined one Sunday with Raymond, and when the bells had done ringing for evening prayers, 166 Ray

mond," fays Swift, I will lay you a crown, that I will begin prayers before (6 you this afternoon." Dr. Raymond accepted the wager, and immediately both run as faft as they could to the church. Raymond, the nimbler of the two, arrived firft at the door, and when he entered the church, walked decently towards the reading defk: Swift never flackened his pace, but running up the ifle, left Raymond behind him; and ftepping into the defk, without putting on the furplice, or opening the book, began the fervice in an audible voice."

During Swift's refidence at Laracor, he invited to Ireland a lady, whom he has cèlebrated by the name of Stella. With this la dy he became acquainted while he lived with Sir William Temple: She was the daughter of his fteward, whofe name was Johnfon; and Sir William, when he died, left her 1000 1..

1000 1. in confideration of her father's faithful fervices. At the death of Sir William, which happened in 1699, the was in the 16th year of her age; and it was aboutt wo years afterwards, that at Swift's invitation, the left England, accompanied by Mrs. Dingley, a lady who was fifteen years older, and whofe whole fortune, though he was related to Sir William Temple, was no more than an annuity of 27 1. Whether Swift at this time defired the company of Stella as a wife, or a friend, is not certain; but the reafon which The and her companion then gave for their leaving England was, that in Ireland the intereft of money was high, and provifions were cheap. But whatever was Swift's attachment to Mrs. Johnson, every poffible precaution was taken to prevent fcandal: they never lived in the fame houfe; when Swift was abfent, Mrs. Johnston and her friend refided at the parfonage; when he returned, they removed either to his friend Dr. Raymond's, or to a lodging; neither were they ever known to meet, but in the prefence of a third perfon. Swift made frequent excurLions to Dublin, and fome to London, but Mrs. Johnfon was buried in folitude and obfcurity; fhe was known only to a few of

* The Doctor gave her fifty guineas a year, and left her by his will an annuity of twenty pounds..


Swift's most intimate acquaintance, and had no female companion except Mrs. Dingley. In 1701, Swift took his doctor's degree, and in 1702, foon after the death of King Wil liam, he went into England for the first time after his fettling at Laracor, journey which he frequently repeated during the reign of Queen Anne. Mrs. Johnfon was once in England in 1705, but returned in a few months, and never croffed the channel afterwards. He foon became eminent as a writer, and in that character was known at least to both Whigs and Tories. He had been educated among the former, but at length attached himself to the latter: because the Whigs, as he said, had renounced their old principles, and received others, which their forefathers abhorred. He published, in 1701, “A difcourse of the contefts and diffentions between the nobles and commons in Athens and Rome, with the confequences they had upon both those states :" This was in behalf of King William and his minifters, against the violent proceedings of the House of Commons; but from that year to 1708, he did not write any political pamphlet *.

* In the year 1708, he published several political works under the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, Efq;' which name was afterwards affumed by Sir Richard Steel, to recommend his Tatlers to the world, Biographia Britannica.

In 1710, bing then in England, he was impowered by the Primate of Ireland, to folicit the Queen to releale the clergy from paying the twentieth part and firft fruits; and upon this occafion his acquaintance with Mr. Harley commenced. As foon as he had received the Primate's inftructions, he refolved to apply to Mr. Harley: and, before he waited on him, got himself reprefented as a perfon who had been ill used by the laft miniftry, because he would not go fuch lengths as they would have had him. Mr. Harley received him with the utmost kindness and refpect, kept him with him two hours alone; engaged in, and foon after accomplished, his bufinefs; bid him come often to fee him privately; and told him, that he must bring him to the knowledge of Mr. St. John. Swift prefently became acquainted with the reft of the minifters, who appear to have courted and carreffed him with uncommon affiduity. He dined every Saturday at Mr. Harley's with the Lord Keeper, Mr. Secretary St. John, and Lord Rivers: on that day no other perfon was for fome time admitted; but this felect company was at length inlarged to fixteen, all men of the firft clafs, Swift included. From this time he fupported the intereft of his new friends with all his power, in pamphlets, poems, and periodical papers: his intimacy with them was fo remarkable, that he was thought not only to defend, but in


fome degree to direct their measures; and fuch was his importance in the opinion of the oppofite party, that many speeches were made against him in both houfes of parliament; a reward was also offered, for discovering the author of the Public Spirit of the Whigs.

Amidst all the business and honours that crowded upon him, he wrote every day an account of what occurred to Stella; and fent her a journal regularly, dated every fortnight, during the whole time of his connection with Queen Anne's miniftry. From thefe unrestrained effufions of his heart many particulars are known, which would otherwife have lain hid; and by thefe it appears, that he was not only employed, but trusted, even by Harley himfelf, who, to all others, was referved and myfterious. In the mean time, Swift had no expectations of advantage from his connections with thefe perfons: he knew they could not long preferve their power; and he did not honour it while it lafted, on account of the violent measures which were pursued by both fides. "I ufe the mi"niftry," fays he, "like dogs, because I


expect they will ufe me fo.---I never knew "a miniftry do any thing for thofe whom they "make companions of their pleasures; but I "care not." In the fummer of 1711, he forefaw the ruin of the miniftry by thofe mif. understandings among themfelves, which at laft effected it, and it was not only his opinion, VOL. I.



« PreviousContinue »