« PreviousContinue »
had lived before. Mrs. Dingley was still the inseparable companion of Stella, wherever she went; and she never resided at the Deanry, except when the Dean had his fits of giddiness and deafness. Till this time he had continued his visits to Vanessa, who preserved her reputation and friends, and was visited by many persons of rank, character, and fortune, of both sexes : but now his visits were less frequent. ln 1717, her Gfter died; and the whole remains of the family-fortune centering in Vaneffa, she retired to Selbridge, a small house and estate about twelve miles from Dublin, which had been purchased by her father. From this place me wrote frequently to the Dean, and he answered her letters: She pressed him to marry her, but he rallied, and still avoided a positive denial. She pressed him ftill more, either to accept or refuse her as a wife; upon which he wrote an answer, and delivered it with his own hand. The receipt of this, which probably communicated the fatal fecret of his marriage with Stella, the unhappy lady did not survive many weeks ; however, she was sufficiently composed to cancel a will she had made in the Dean's favour, and to make an! other, in which she left her fortune to her two executors, Dr. Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, and Mr. Marshall, one of the King's serjeants at law.. From 1715 to 1720, is a chasm in the
Dean's life, which it has been difficult to fill up: Lord Orrery thinks, with great reason, that he employed this time upon Gulliver's Travels. This work is a moral political romance, in which Swift has exerted the strongest efforts of a fine irregular genius : but while his imagination and wit delight, it is hardly possible not to be sometimes offended with his satire, which sets not only all human actions, but human nature itself, in the worst light. The truth is, Swift's disappointments had rendered him fplenetic and angry with the whole world, and he frequently indulged himself in a misanthropy that is intolerable ; he has done so particularly in some parts of this work. About this time the Dean, who had already acquired the character of a humorist and wit, was first regarded with general kindness, as the patriot of Ireland. He writ a proposal for the Irish manufactures, which made him very popular; the more so, as it immediately raised a violent flame, so that a prosecution was commenced against the printer. In 1724, he writ the Drapier's Letters; those brazen momonuments of his fame, as Lord Orrery calls them. A patent having been iniquitously procured by one Wood, to coin 180,000 i. in copper, for the use of Ireland, by which he would have acquired exorbitant gain, and proportionably impoverished the nation; the Dean, in the character of a draper, wrote a series
of letters to the people, urging them not to receive this copper-money.
These letters united the whole nation in his praise, filled every street with his effigy, and every voice with acclainations; and Wood, though supported for fome time, was at length compelled to withdraw his patent, and his money was totally suppressed. From this time the Dean's influence in Ireland was almost without bounds : He was consulted in whatever related to domestic policy, and particularly to trade. The weavers always considered him as their patron and legislator, after his proposal for the use of Irish manufactures; and when elections were depending for the city of Dublin, many corporations refused to declare themselves, till they knew his sentiments and inclinations. Over the populace he was the most absolute monarch that ever governed men ; and he was regarded by persons of every rank with veneration and esteem.
He was several times in England on a visit to Mr. Pope, after his settlement at the deanry, particularly in 1726 and 1727. On the 28th of January 1727, died his beloved Stela la, in the 44th year of her age, regretted by the Dean, with such excess of affection, as the keenest sensibility only could feel, and the most excellent character excite; she had. been declining from the year 1724. Stella was a most amiable woman, both in person
and mind. Her stature was tall, her hair and eyes black, her complexion fair and delicate, her features regular, soft, and animated, her shape easy and elegant, and her manner feminine, polite, and graceful : There was natural music in her voice, and complacency in her aspect : she abounded with wit, which was always accompanied with good nature; her virtue was founded upon bumanity, and her religion upon reason; her morals were uniform, but not rigid, and her devotion was habitual, but not oftentatious. " Why the Dean did not sooner marry this “ most excellent person; why he married " her at all; why his marriage was so cau-, “ tiously concealed; and why he was never “ known to meet her but in the presence of
a third person, are inquiries which no man “ can answer," says the writer of his life, “ without absurdity.” Nor so far at least, if not something farther, we think, may be. answered, and without absurdity too. “ did not inarry her sooner," we say, because his original intention was not to marry her at all: he never suffered his behaviour towards females to exceed the limits of Platonic love; and the innocence of his commerce with Vanella seems now to be acknowledged by eve. ry body, as well as by this writer. “He did
marry her at length," probably to cure and put an end to those constant uneasinesses and. jealousies, which his frequent visits to Vanes.
Ya muft naturally raise in her. “His 'marss riage was cautiously concealed,” because he never intended to acknowledge her as his wife; and "he was cautious never to meet “ her but in the presence of a third person," because, by reason of his known intimacy and connection with Stella above all other women, her character was greatly exposed to unfavourable suspicions, and therefore to be guarded with all possible care and tenderness against them. Thus, this author's inquiries may manifestly be answered without absurdity: but the main, and, indeed, sole difficulty is, why Swift should not defire a nearer commerce with such a woman as Stella, and consequently acknowledge and receive her publicly as his wife. Yet the answer has been made a thousand times, though no body seems to acquiesce in it; namely, that “ he was not made like other men." Add to this, that Swift was a man of great pride, and could not have borne to be despifed, however secretly ; that he loved female converse, and to be courted and admired by wits of that sex, of which Stella was at the head; that he despaired of supporting that dignity and credit, even with the delicate Stella, in a state of nearer commerce, which he was always sure of preserving at some distance : Add all these considerations together, and the solution of this mighty mystery, may probably not appear impollible. Supposing