« PreviousContinue »
used the fewest words that could be uttered 'on the occasion ; but he pronounced them with an emphasis and fervour which every one around him faw and felt, and with his hands clasped in each other, and fifted to "his breaft. "And it is hoped, that those who can ‘no otherwise emulate the character of Swift, will attempt it in this act of religious decorum, and no longer affect either to be wits or fine gentlemen, by a conduct directly contrary to so great an example,
Bu'r Swift, with all this piety in his heart, could not resist the temptation to indulge the peculiarity of his humour when an opportunity offered, whatever might be the impropriety of time and place.
On the first Wednesday after he had summoned his congregation at Laracor, he ascended his desk, and having sat some time with no other auditor than his clerk Roger, he rose up, and, with a composure and gravity that upon this occasion was irresistibly ridiculous, he be: gan, Dearly beloved Roger, the scripture moveth you
and me in fundry, places;” and fo proceeded to the end of the service * 10. let. 3.]
DURING Swift's residence at Laracor, he invited to Ireland a lady whom he has celebrated by the name of Stella. With this Lady he became acquainted while he lived with Sir William Temple. She was the daughter of his steward, whose name was Johnson; and Sir Wil. liam, when he died, left her 1000 l. in consideration of her father's' faithful services. At the death of Sir William, which happened in January 1698-9, she was in the fixteenth year of her age t; and it was about two years afterwards, that, at Swift's invitation. The left Eng. land, accompanied by her friend Mrs Dingley, a Lady
What a glorious priest would he have been, to reform the young and sprightly from the extravagance of their ways. But, alas! that amazing capacity, so continually rolling over with torrents of wit and humour, was by no means adapted to the folemnity of a country-parilh, or to the consolation of old women. D, S. p. 117, 2:1 Mr Deané Swift says 18; but it appears by the poem on her birth-day in 1718, that she was then but 34. The Dean says lhc was in Ireland from 18, in lis introduction to Bons Mais de Stella, iu vol. 4. p. 295. Hawkef.
OF DR ś w Í FT. xxvii who was fifteen years older, and whose whole fortune, though she was related to Sit William, was no than an annuity of 27 1. [D. S. p. 85. 86. 90.) Whe ther Swift at this time desired the company of Stella as á wife or a friend, is not certain ; but the reafon which she and her companion then gave for their leaving Eng. land, was, that in Ireland the intereit of money, was high, and provifions were cheap. It appears, however that other reasons were fufpected in the neighbourhood of Moorpark: for Mr Thomas Swift, the rector of Puttenham, in a letter, dated Feb. 5. 1706, inquires * whether Jonathan was married, or whether he had
been able to resist the charms of both those gentledi women who marched from Moorpark to Dublin, with
a resolution to engagé him +?" [D. S. p. 86. 87.1 It appears too, that Swift, if he did not address her himself, yet contrived to break off a treaty of marriage with another, by perfuading her to infist upon terms with which the gentleman could not comply 1. But
whatd + The beauty and gracefulness of Mis Johnson's person had been remarked by Swift about two years before Sir William Temple’s death, but never, we may be fure, had be made her the least advances. "I am inclined however to think that having ob served her to be a delightful girl, and of a genius quick and lively, he had given her some instructions for the improvement of here mind in those happy years of ductility, when the soul is ceive all the finest impressions; which, like seed thrown upon rich and fertile fuil, "might have prejudiced her inclinations to have å tenderness for him. D. S. P. 85. 86.
Dr Swift made no addresses to this charming fair upon her first arrival in Ireland, when she was in the prime of her life, and splendor of her beauty. However, the gracefulness of her perfon, and the politeness of her conversation, were not to be refifted by a gentleman of wit and learning, who was an intimate friend of the Doctor, and with whom he had frequently conversed. This gentleman declared his passion, and made her proposals of marriage! -Mrs Johnson discovered no repugnancy to the match; but Nill she would be advised by Dr Swift. The Doctor, perhaps loth to be leparated from so delightful a companion, threw an obstacle in the way that was not to be surmounted. The gentleman had a bene fice in the church of a considerable value about 100 miles from Dublin, which required his attendance. Dr Swift, in crder to bring matters to a final issue, made him an overture, that he should fettle upon his wife 1ool. a-year for pin-money. The løver i
whatever was Swift's attachment to Mrs Johnson, every poffible precaution was taken to prevent scandal. They never lived in the same house. When Swift was absent from Laracor, Mrs Johnson and her friend resided at the parsonage ; when he returned, they removed either to the house of Dr Raymond, vicar of Trim, a gentleman of great hospitality, and Swift's intimate friend, or to a lodging provided for them in the neighbourhood : neither were they ever known to meet but in the prefence of a third person. [D. S. P. 90.] Swift made frequent excursions to Dublin, and some to London : but Mrs. Johnson was buried in solitude and obscurity ; she was known only to a few of Swift's most intimate acquaintance, and had no female companion except her friend Mrs Dingley, who was by all accounts a very infipid companion
In 1701, Swift took his Doctor's degree ; and in 1702, Loon after the death of King William, he went to England, for the first time after his settlement at Laracor; a journey which he frequently repeated during the reign of Queen Anne. Mrs Johnson was once also in Eng
deed, though extremely captivated with the charms of his mistress, was by no means delighted with this proposal; he desired, however, that he might have a night's time to consider of it. And the next morning, contrary to expectation, he agreed to the terms, Swift, never at a loss for some uncommon flight of imagination, Inlisted further, that he should live in Dublin, and keep a coach for his wife. The gentleman had more honour than to promise what he could not perform; and so the match was broken off. D. S. p. 87.89.–See Lord Orrery's account of this lady, and of Dr Swift's correspondence with her, in vol. 4. p. 291. in the notes,
This course of life, so very fingular in a fine woman, abstracted Mrs Johnson in a great measure
from the converse of her own sex. She lived, I cannot absolutely say by her own choice, wholly in the circle of books and men: a life so unnatural to the sweet. ness and delicacy of a tender female constitution, that I cannot fuppose it, with all its glittering advantages in the way of science, to have been near fo eligible to the lovely Mrs Johnson, as that open free converse with the world, which is totally unacquainted with every colour and species of involuntary confinement. However, that greatness of mind, which inspires, like the demon of Socrates, courage and resolution into the souls of the innocent, comforted and supported the religious and virtuous Mrs Johnson, under all the bitterness and pressures of her restraint. D. S. p. 90.gr. land in 1705 ; but returned in a few months, and net ver afterwards croiled the channel. [D. S. f. 90..]
He soon became eminent as a writer, and in that cha. racter at least was known to the great men in both the factions, which were distinguished by the names of Ibig and Tory *. He had been educated among the Whigs ; but he at length attached himself to the Tories, because; as he said, the Whigs had renounced their old principles, and received others, which their forefathers held in utter abhorrence. t. [0 let. 4.] He did not
* Two creatures, says a modern author, who are' born with a fecret antipathy to each other, and engage as naturally when they. meet, as the elephant and rhinoceros. In a mixture of these twa jarring animals confifted the first ministry of Q. Anne'; but the greater share of the administration was committed to the Whigs, who, with indefatigable industry, foon ingrossed the whole; inglofing their lovereign within their own fortifications, and keeping her captive within their own walls. The Queen, whofe heart was naturally inclined towards the Tories, remained an unwilling prifoner several years to the Whigs; till Mr Harley, with a Tory ara my; undermined all the Whiggith fortreffes, levelled their works to the ground, feized the princess, and, during the remainder of her life; surrounded and defended her with a new set of troops under the command of the Duke of Ormond. 0. let. 4.
+ The effects of power and ambition are extraordinary and boundless.' They blind our faculies, they stagger our refolutiorr, and they fubyert our nature. Not all the metamorphoses of Ovid can 'prodace a parallei equal to the change that a pears in the fame man, when froin a patriot he becomes a courtier: Yet it may be afferted, and will redound to the honour of Dr Swift, that when he rofe into the confidence and efteem of these great men who sat at the helm of affairs during the last years of Q. Anne's reign, he scarce ever loft himself, or grew giddy by the plenitudo of power, and the exalted station of frequently appearing in the confidence and favour of the reigning minister. 'He may have been carried away by inconsiderate pattion, but he was not to be fwayed by deliberate evil. He may have erred in judgment, but he was upright in intention.. The welfare and prosperity of these kingdoms were the constant aim of his polities, and the immediate fubject of his thoughts and writings. Oi leti-4.
however write any political pamphlet from the year 1701 * to the year 1708 +, [D. S. p. 148.]
But though, by his frequent excursions to England, and a long absence from his cures, he appears to have
In 1701 Dr Swift having wrote the piece intitled, A discourse of the contests and diffenfions in Athens and Rome (in vol. s. p. 8.) returned from England to Ireland; where having met with old Bp Sheridan, at his uncle William Swift's in Dublin, the Bishop, after some conversation with him about afairs in England, asked him if he had read that pamphlet, and what reputation it carried at London The Doctor told him modestly, that he had read it, and that, as far as he had observed, it was very well liked at London. Very well liked! said the Bishop, with some emotion ; yes, Sir, it is one of the finest tracts that ever was written. Well, furely Bishop Burnet is one of the best writers in the whole world! Bishop Burnet, my Lord! said the Doctor: Why, my Lord, BiShop Burnet was not the author of that discourse. Not the author of it? said the Bishop, Why, Sir, there is never a man in England except the Bishop capable of writing it. I can assure your Lordship, replied the Doctor, Bishop Burnet was not the author of it. Not the author of it? said the Bishop : Pray, Sir, give me your reason for thinking so. Because, my Lord, said Swift, that discourse is not written in the Bishop's style. Not in the Bishop's Atyle? replied old Sheridan, with some degree of contempt. No, my Lord, the style of that pamphlet is, I think, wholly different from the style of the Bishop. Oh, Mr Swift, replied Sheridan, I have had a long acquaintance with your uncles, and an old friends thip for all your family, and really I have a great regard for you in particular. But let me advise
you, for you are Nill a very young man; I know you have a good Thare of abilities, and are a good fcholar; however, let me assure you notwithstanding, that you are fill a great deal too young to pronounce your judgment on the Style of authors. I am greatly obliged to your Lordship, replied Şwift, for the good opinion you are pleased to entertain of me; but Nill I am to affure your Lordship, that Bishop Burnet was not the author of that discourse. Well, Sir, said the Bishop, let me know who it was that did write it. Why, really, my Lord, re, plied Swift, I writ it myself. And this was the first time that ever he acknowledged himself to be the author of that famous tract, D. S. p. 122, 3.
During this interval, Dr Swift had worked hard within those subterraneous passages, where, as has been hinted in a former note the mine was formed that blew up the Whiggish ramparts, and opened a way for the Tories to the Queen. Swift was to the Tories what Cæfar was to the Romans, at once a leader of their armies, and an historiographer of their triumphs. He resided very much in England: his inclinations were always there. 0. let. 4.