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WHATEVER excellence we possess, or whatever honours we obtain, the pleasure which they produce, is all relative to some particular favourite, with whom we are tenderly connected, either by friendship or by love ; or, at most, it terminates, like rays collected by a burningglass, in a very small circle, which is scarce more than a point, and, like light, becomes sensible only by reflection. Thus Swift, while he was courted and carefied by those whom others were making interest to approach, seems to have enjoyed his diftinction, only in proportion as it was participated with Stella ; for amidst all the bufiness, and all the honours that crouded upon him, he wrote every day an account of whatever occurred, and fent her a journal, regularly dated, every fortnight, during the whole time of his connection with Q. Anne's miniftry: [D. S. p. 258.] From these unrestrained effufions of his heart, many particulars are known, which could have been known no other way. And by these it appears incontestably, that he was not only employed, but trusted ; and that Harley, who is universally allowed to have been one of the moft reserved and mysterious of all politicians, was to him, in affairs of the ut. most moment, open and explicit *. The result of one
of expressions.--A man always appears of more consequence to himself, than he is in reality to any other person. Such perhaps was the case of Dr Swift. He found himself much indulged by the (miles and conversation of the Earl of Oxford. He knew how useful he was to the administration in general: and in the aforementioned letter, he says, that the place of historiographer was intended for him (vol. 4. p. 23.) But I am apt to suspect that he Aattered himself too highly : at least it is very evident, that he remained without any preferment till the year 1713, when he was made Dean of St Patrick's. In point of power and re. venue, such a deanery might be esteemed no inconsiderable promotion ; but to an ambitious mind, whose perpetual aim was a settlement in England, a dignity in any other kingdom must ap
pear (as perhaps it was designed) only an honourable and profitable banishment. 0. let. 4.
• The Earl of Oxford had a real friendship for Dr Swift. And there are some little gratifications in the commerce of friendship, which appear to be as strong, if not stronger indications of our love and esteem for particular persons, than what is called advan. cing them in the grande monde, whether to honours or preferment.
Dr SWIFT. xxxvii of their conferences, so early as the year 1710, was to this effect, That the kingdom was as certainly ruined as a bankrupt merchant; that a peace, whether bad or good, was absolutely necessary; that the confederacy must soon break, and factions increase, and that the ministry was upon too narrow a bottom, and itood like an isthmus, between the Whigs on one side, and the violent Tories on the other; a situation in which they could not fubfift *. These violent Tories were formed into a society called the October club, of whom Swift fays, They are about a hundred parliament men of “ the country, who drink October beer at home, and “ meet every evening at a tavern near the parliaó ment-house, to drive things on to extremes against “ the Whigs, to call the old miniftry to account, and Vol. I.
of this nature I take some presents to have been which the Earl
“ This king* dom is certainly ruined as much as was ever any bankrupt mer« chant. We must have peace, let it be a bad or a good one; tho' “ no body dares talk of it. The nearer I look upon things, the “ worse i like them. I believe the confederacy will soon break to " pieces; and our factions at home increase. The ministry is
upon a narrow bottom; and stands like an isthmus between the
Whigs on one side, and violent Tories on the other. They are “ able sea-men; but the tempest is too great, the ship too is rotten,
get off five or fix heads *.” Let. to S. Feb. 18. 1710. [D. S.P. 319. 320.)
But, if Swift thought this party too precipitant, it is certain he thought Lord Oxford too now; and he once told him so in a manner tr.at thews both his integrity, and the freedom of his conversation with those who have a prescriptive right to fervility and adulation. He had received (from Col. Hill, a gentleman of worth, who had coromanded with great bravery in the battle of Al. manza, scop after his promotion to a regiment) a present of a fine tortoise. Thell snuff-box, richly lined with gold, with the prospect of the rialto of Venice, several gondalos playing on the canals, and other figures to the number of 150, representing the pleasures of a carnival, painted on the inside of the lid. This present he shewed one day to Harley ; who having admired the painting
" and the crew all against them. Lord Sommers has been twice
in the Queen's closet, once very lately; and the Duchess of “S----t, who now has the key, is a most insinuating woman; " and I believe they will endeavour to play the same game that " has been played against them. I have told them all this, which
they know already ; but they cannot help it: they have cau* tioned the Qucen so much against being governed, that the ob. “ ferves it too much. I could talk till to-morrow upon these " things; but they make me melancholy. I could not but ob* serve, that lately after much conversation with Mr Harley, tho' “ he is the mot fearless man alive, and the least apt to despond, “ he confessed to me, that uttering his mind to me gave him case.” (Let. to Stella, March 4. 1710.] D. S. p. 318.
The ministry seem not to regard them ; yet one of them in confidence told me, that there must be fomething thought on to 'Tettle things better. I'll tell you one great state-secret. The Queen, sensible how much she was governed by the late ministry, runs a little into the other extreme, and is jealous in that point even of those who got her out of the other's hands. The ministry is for gentler measures, and the other Tories for more violent. Lord Rivers talking to me the other day, cursed the paper called the Examiner, for speaking civilly of the Duke of Marlborough This I happened to talk of to the Secretary; who blamed the warmth of that Lord and some others, and fwore, that if their advice were followed, they would be blown up in twenty-four hours. And I have reason to think that they will endeavour to prevail on the Queen to put her affairs more in the hands of a ministry than she does at present : and there are, I believe, two men thought on, &c. (Let. to s.] D. S. P. 320.
Dr SWIFT. xxxix and the workmanship, at laft fpied a figure ftudded on the outside of the bottom, which he thought resembled a goose ; upon which, turning to the Doctor, “ Jona“ than,” says he, “ I think the Colonel has made a
goose of you." Yes, “ my Lord,” says the Doctor; “ but, if your Lordship will look a little farther, you so will fee that I am driving a snail before me; which indeed happened to
the device. To this the Earl coolly replied, " That is severe enough, Jonathan; bat -- I deserve it.” [D. S. p. 163, 4.]
It is equally true, and equally evident, that Swift had no expectations of advantage from his connection with these persons; that he knew they could not long preserve their power; that he did not honour it while it lafted, and that he disdained pecuniary obligations
• The ministry” (saith he) are good honest hear“ ty fellows. I use them like dogs, because I expect " they will use me fo. They call me nothing but Jo« nathan ; and I said I believed they would leave me “ Jonathan as they found me ; and that I never knew
a ministry do any thing for those whom they make “ companions of their pleasures ; but I care not." [Let. to S. Feb. 17. 1710. D. S. p. 322.)"
In the summer of 1711, he forefaw the rain of the ministry, by those misunderstandings among themselves which at last affected it, and it was not only his opi
* Swift, conscious of his great abilities, and that he was not obliged to the ministry, for any the least favour, how much foes ver they had been obliged to him for his care and protection, treats ed every one of them round, just in what style and manner he thought convenient. The ministry, who were themselves men of wit and penetration, bore with his temper, and soothed him in his greatest irregularities. Had they ventured to have acted otherwise, they knew in their souls, that be would have taken horse the next morning, and, careless of their fate, exposed them to the fury of their enemies. But this fpirit of dominion, which more or less gave a tincture to all his conversation and behaviour throughout his whole life, was suffered freely to pass under the soft and gentle appellation of wit and humour.' "I dined to-day" (faith he) with Mr Secretary St John. I went to the court of requests at noon, and sent Mr Harley into the house to call the Secretary,
to let him know I would not dine with him if he dined late." [Last. to S. Feb. 12. 1710.]
nion, but their own, that if they could not carry a peace, they would not be able to keep them felves out of the Tower, even though they should agree. [D. S. p. 331. Let. to Stella.) In order therefore to facilitate this great event, Swift wrote, The conduct of the aliies ; a piece which he confesses cost him much pains, and which succeeded even beyond his expectation. [D. S. P. 332. Let to S] It was published Nov. 27. 1711, just ten days before the parliament met ; and, before the 28th of January, above eleven thousand were sold, seven editions having been printed in England, and three in Ireland. [D. S. p. 335.] The Tory members in both houses who spoke, drew all their arguments from it; and the resolutions which were printed in the votes, and which would never have passed but for The condiast of the allies, were little more than quotations from it *. [D. S. p. 337. Let. to s.)
FROM * The Whigs, encouraged, supported, and abetted, by the Dutch, the Einperor, and all the princes in the grand alliance, were fuious aga.nst a peace In fummer 1711 they had been extremely active in mustering up their forces, and collecting their whole strength against the
next meeting of the parliament ; and with such dexterity their affairs were managed, that actually they had got the Queen herself to be secretly on their fide, as appeared to a demonstration from her behaviour to the Duke of Shrewsbury, Dec. 7. 1711. For, “ when the Queen was going from the house “ of Lords, where she sat to hear the debate, Shrewsbury, Lord " Chamberlain, asked her Majesty, whether he, or the Great “ Chamberlain Lindsay, ought to lead her out? Me answered short, “ Neither of you; and gave her hand to the Duke of Somerset, ", who was lovder than any in the house against the peace." (Let. 10 S. Dec. 8. 1711.) And Dr Swift “ having asked Lord Oxford, “ whether some particular Lords would have voted against the court, * if the Duke of Somerset had not aflured them it would please " the Queen? Lord Oxford plainly told him, his conjectures were “ true, and that my Lord Duke of Somerset had fo affured them." [Ib. Dec. 11.) And this behaviour of the Queen was in fact the original cause of her making twelve Peers at once,“ after Mae had at Iaft been persuaded to her own interest and security. Yet, after all,” adds Swift, “ it is a strange unhappy necessity of making so
many Peers together; but the Queen has drawn it upon herself,
by her trimming and moderation." [Ib. Dec. 29.) The Whigs thus elated with hope, and with a full assurance of success in defeating the ministry, and qualhing the preliminaries of a peace, stocks fell, and all difficulties seemed to vanifh before them. “We have no quict” (faith the Doctor) “ with the Whigs, they