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The CONTENT S.
A Tale of a Tub.
15 16 29 21
The battle of the books,
140 A discourfe concerning the mechanical operation of the Spirit,
170 An argument against abolishing Christianity 192. A project for the advancement of religion, 206 The sentiments of a church of England-man with respect to religion and government,
I. On the Trinity,
265 Ili, On the teitimony of confcicnce, IV. On brotherly love,
V. The difficulty of knowing one's felf, 242 A proposal to the parliament for preventing the growth of Popery,
A CRITICISM on SWIFT'S PROSE
By the Earl of ORRERY.
25 205 =74 38;
certain masterly conciseness in their style, that hath never been equalled by any other writer. The truth of this assertion will more evidently appear; by comparing him with some of the authors of his own time, Of these Dr. Tillotson and Mr, Addison are to be pumbered among the most eminent, Addison hath all the powers that can captivate and improve : his di&tion is easy, his periods are well turned, his expreßions are flowing, and his humour is delicate. Tillotson is nervous, grave, majestic, and perspicuous. We must join both these characters together to form a true idea of Dr. Swift : yet as he outdoes Addison in humour, he ex. cels Tillotson in perspicuity. The archbishop indeed confined himself to subjects relative to his profession : but Addison and Swift are more diffusive writers.
They continually vary in their manner, and treat different topics in a different style. When the writings of Addison terminate in party, he loses himself extremely, and from a delicate and just comedian, de. viates into one of the lowest kind *. Not fo Dr. Swift. He appears like a masterly gladiator. He wields the fword of party with ease, justnefs, and dexterity: and while he entertains the ignorant and the vulgar, he draws an equal attention from the learned and the great. When he is serious, his gravity becomes him,
. when he laughs, his readers must laugh with him, But what shall be said for his love of trifles, and his want of delicacy and decorum errors, that if he did not contract, at least he increased in Ireland. They are without a parallel. I hope they will ever remain fo.
See the papers called the Freebilder,
The first of them arose merely from his love of flattery, with which he was daily fed in that kingdom : the secret proceeded from the misanthropy of his difposition, which induced him peevishly to debase mankind, and even to ridicule human nature itfelf. Politics were his favourite topic, as they gave him an op-* portunity of gratifying his ambition, and thirst of power : yet in this road he has feldom continued long in one path. He has written miscellaneously, and has chosen rather to appear a wandering comet, than a fixed star. Had he applied the faculties of his mind to one great and useful work, he must have shined more gloriously, and might have enligtened a whole planetary system in the political world.
There are fome few pieces in his works that I despise, others that I loath, but many more that delight and improve me. The former are not worthy of notice. They are of no further use than to shew us, in general, the errors of human nature; and to convince us, that neither the height of wit nor genius can bring a man to such a degree of perfection, as vanity would often prompt him to believe.
In a disquisition of this fort, I shall avoid as much as possible any annotations upon that kind of satire in which the Dean indulged himself against particular persons : most of whom it is probable provoked his rage by their own misconduct, and consequently owed to their own rashness the wounds which they received from his pen.
But I have no delight in those kind of writings, except for the sake of the wit, which, either in general or in particular satire, is equally to be admired. 'The edge of wit will always remain keen, and its blade will be bright and shining, when the stone upon which it has been whetted, is worn out, or thrown afide and forgotten. Personal fatire against evil magistrates, corrupt ministers, and those giants of power,
themselves with the entrails of their country, is different from that personal satire, which too often proceeds merely from self-love or ill nature. The one is written in defence of the public, the other in defence of ourselves. The one is armed by the sword of justice, and encouraged not only by the voice of the
people, but by the principles of morality; the other is dictated by pallion, supported by pride, and applauded by flattery. At the same time that I say this, I think every man of wit has a right to laugh at fools, who give offence, and at coxcombs, who are public nuisances. Swift indeed has left no weapon of farcasm untried, no branch of satire uncultivated ; but while he has maintained a perpetual war against the mighty men in power, he has remained invulnerable, if not victorious.