Page images

but their own, that if they could not carry a peace, they must foon be sent to the Tower, even though they fhould agree. In order therefore to facilitate this great event, Swift wrote the conduct of the Allies: a piece, which he confeffes coft him much pains, and which fucceeded even beyond his expectations. It was published on the 27th of November 1711; and in two months time above 11,000 were fold off, feven editions having been printed in England, and three in Ireland. The Tory members in both houses, who fpoke, drew all their arguments from it; and the refolutions, which were printed in the votes, and which would never have paffed but for this pamphlet, were little more than quotations from it. From this time to 1713, he exerted himself with unwearied diligence in the fervice of the miniftry; and while he was at Windfor, juft at the conclufion of the peace of Utrecht, he drew the first sketch of An Hiftory of the four last years of Queen Anne. This he afterwards finifhed, and came into England to publish, but was diffuaded from it by Lord Bolingbroke, who told him, the whole was fo much in the spirit of party-writing, that though it might have made a feafonable pamphlet in the time of their adminiftration, it would be a difhonour to juft hiftory. Swift feems to have been extremely fond of this work, by declaring, as he did, that it was the best thing he had

ever written: but fince his friend did not. approve it, he would caft it into the fire. However, it did not undergo this fate, but was lately published in octavo, to the difappointment of all thofe who expected any thing great from it.

During all this time he received no gratui ty or reward, till the year 1713; and then he accepted the deanry of St. Patrick's, Dublin*. A bishopric had been some time before intended for him by the Queen; but Archbishop Sharpe having reprefented him to her Majefty as a man whofe Chriftianitywas very queftionable, and being fupported in this by a certain very great lady, it was given to another. He immediately croffed the channel to take poffeffion of his new dignity, but did not stay in Ireland more than a fortnight, being urged by an hundred letters to haften back, and reconcile the Lords Oxford and Bolingbroke. When he returned, he found their animofity increased; and, baving predicted their ruin from this very caufe, he laboured to bring about a reconci-, liation, as that upon which the whole inte-, reft of their party depended. Having attempt-.

*This promotion was thought to be a disappointment to him, as he expected a bishopric in England; but the Earl of Oxford did not think it proper to offend the oppofite party, by bringing him into the House of Lords, where he would, no doubt, have made a figure as a fpeaker.

[blocks in formation]

ed this by various methods in vain, he went to a friend's houfe in Berkshire, where he continued till the Queen's death; and, while he was at this place, wrote a discourse, called, "Free thoughts on the prefent ftate of affairs," which, however, was not published. till fome time after.

Before we attend Swift to Ireland, itis neceffary to give a little hiftory of his Vaneffa, because his connections with her were made in England. Among other perfons, with whom he was intimately acquainted during the gay part of his life, was Mrs. Vanhomrigh. She was a lady of good family in Ire-land, and became the wife of Mr. Vanhomrigh, first a merchant of Amsterdam, then of Dublin, where he was raised by King William, upon his expedition into Ireland, to very great places. Dying in 1703, he left two fons and two daughters; but the fons foon after dying, his whole fortune, which was confiderable, fell to the daughters. In 1709, the widow and the two young ladies came to England, where they were vifited by perfons of the first quality; and Swift, lodging near them, ufed to be much there, coming and going without any ceremony, as if he had been one of the family. During this familiarity, he became infenfibly a kind of preceptor to the young ladies, particularly the eldeft, who was then about twenty years old, was much addicted to reading, and a


great admirer of poetry. Hence admiring, as was natural, fuch a character as that of Swift, fhe foon paffed from admiration to love; and urged a little perhaps by vanity, which would have been highly gratified by. an alliance with the firft wit of the age, the ventured to make the Doctor a propofal of marriage. He affected firft to believe her in jeft, then to rally her on fo whimsical a choice, and at laft to put her off without an abfolute refufal; and, while he was in this fituation, he wrote the poem, called, "Cadenus and "Vaneffa." It was written in 1713, a fhort time before he left Vaneffa, and the reft of his friends in England, and returned to the place of his exile, as he ufed frequently to call it. In 1714, Mrs. Vanhomrigh died, and having lived very high, left fome debts, which it not being convenient for her daughters, who had alfo debts of their own, to pay at prefent, to avoid an arreft, they followed the Dean into Ireland.

Upon his arrival to take poffeflion of his deanry, he had been received with great kindness and honour; but now, upon his return after the Queen's death, he experienced every poffible mark of contempt and indignation. The tables were turned; the power of the Tories and the Dean's credit were at an end; and as a defign to bring in the Pretender had been imputed to the Queen's ministry, fo Swift lay now under much odiс з


[ocr errors]

um, as being fuppofed to have been a wellwifher in that cause. As foon as he was fettled at Dublin, Mrs. Johnfon removed from the country to be near him, but they still lived in feparate houses; his refidence being at the Deanry, and hers in lodgings, on the other fide of the river Liffy. The Dean kept two public days every week, on which the dignity of his ftation was fuftained with the utmost elegance and decorum, under the direction of Mrs. Johnfon. As to his employment at home, he feems to have had no heart to apply himself to study of any kind, but to have refigned himself wholly to fuch amufements, and fuch company as offered; that he might not think of his fituation, the misfortunes of his friends, and his disappointments. "I was three years," fay he to Gay, "reconciling myfelf to the feene and bufinefs. "to which fortune hath condemned me; "and ftupidity was what I had recourfe to."

The first remarkable event of his life, after his fettlement at the deanery, was his marriage to Mrs. Johnfon, after a moft intimate friendship of more than sixteen years. This was in the year 1716; and the ceremony was performed by Dr. Afhe, then Bishop of Clogher, to whom the Dean had been a pupil in Trinity-college, Dublin. But whatever were the motives to this marriage, the Dean and the lady continued to live afterwards, juft in the fame manner as they


« PreviousContinue »