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LIFE of Dr JONATHAN SWIFT, Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin.
HE lives of eminent men have always been e fteemed the most valuable part of history, both for entertainment and inftruction. Accounts of fuch perfons especially, as befides their merit, have been diftinguished by any remarkable peculiarities of character or genius, juftly command the public attention. There is a pleasure in feeing human nature displayed in a beautiful, but fingular and uncommon view. We are fond of being introduced into a fort of acquaintance with fuch perfons, which may compenfate the lofs of our not having been of the number of their contemporaries or friends. We peruse their works with much greater fatisfaction when we know the man as well as the author.
FOR thefe reafons, no wonder that the public have shown so much defire to be inftructed in all the particulars that relate to Dr Swift, and have received fo readily every performance that promifed them information of this kind. His character and manners, fingular in every respect, awakened general curiofity. By his good fenfe and penetration, his public fpirit, and his charities, eminent and estimable in a very high degree: by his peculiar and amazing genius for wit and ridicule, the wonder of the age in which he lived; by his caprices and oddneffes, reduced to the common level of mankind. A character of this kind, is more eagerly enquired into, and to the bulk of mankind more interefting than that of philofophers or heroes.
HAPPILY for the public, the materials for their informations as to Dr Swift's life and character are not inconfiderable. Lord Orrery's letters, and the effay on
the life, writings and character of Dr Swift, by Deane Swift, Efq; furnish a variety of facts fupported in general by good authority. The former writes with the feverity, and fometimes the fournefs, of a critic; the latter with the attachment of a near relation. A volume of letters figned 7. R. generally fuppofed to be written by Dr Delany, fupplies fome new materials. We have alfo preferved to us by Deane Swift, Efq; a begun fketch of the Doctor's life, compofed by himfelf; but containing little more than an account of the family of the Swifts, and fome few transactions of his younger years. From a comparison of all these with each other; Mr Hawkefworth has compiled that life of the Doctor which is prefixed to his late edition of his works in 1755. As this is the most accurate and best digested account we have feen, we have given it entire to our readers. Some omiffions in it are supplied, and a variety of notes added, containing fuch anecdotes, or different relations of the fame fact as were worth preferving. The whole of the fketch composed by the Doctor himself, fo far as it is in the leaft interefting, is inferted in Mr. Hawkefworth's relation. As Mrs Pilkington in her Memoirs has tranfmitted to us fome little incidents in the Doctor's converfation and domeftic life, not unentertaining, an abridgement of these is annexed. On the whole, nothing has been omitted that might ferve to make our readers acquainted with all the characteristical peculiarities of this extraordinary personage..
N. B. In the references to be found in the life, D. S. ftands for Mr Deane Swift's Effay on, the life, writings, and character of Dr Jonathan Swift; O. for Orrery's remarks on the life and writings of Dr Jonathan Swift; J. R. for J. R.'s Obfervations on Lord Orrery's Remarks, generally fuppofed to have been written by Dr Delany; and Letter to S. Letters from the Dean to Stella, mentioned by Mr Swift, but not published. The other references relate to the volumes of this edition,
DR JONATHAN SWIFT was defcended from a younger branch of an antient family of that name in Yorkshire. But the account of his family fhall be as fhort as pofble; fince, (as Lord Orrery obferves), though his ancestors were perfons of very decent and reputable characters, [and the elder branch of the family ennobled], he himself has been the herald to blazon the dignity of their coat. Bernam Swift, Efq; otherwife called Cava liero Swift, a gentleman of great wit and humour, who, in the reign of K. James I. poffeffed the paternal eftate, was on the 20th of March 1627, by K. Charles I. created a Peer of Ireland, by the title of Lord Vifcount Carlingiford, though it is faid he never went into that kingdom. He died without male iffue; and the family-inheritance defcended to his daughters; one of whom married Robert Fielding, Efq; commonly called Handfome Fielding, and the other the Earl of Eglington. Fielding foon diffipated his wife's patrimony; and that of her fifter being transferred to the family of Lord Eglington, the principal eftate of the Swifts was divided from the name for
ONE of the younger branches from the fame stem was Sir Edward Swift, who diftinguifhed himself by his attachment to the royal caufe in the war between King Charles I. and his parliament, from whom there is no defcendent of the name.
ANOTHER of the younger branches was the Rev. Mr Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, Herefordshire, with which he alfo held another ecclefiaftical living.
His father William Swift, rector of St Andrew's in Canterbury, married the heirefs of Philpot; who contrived to keep her eftate, which was very confiderable, in her own hands. She is faid to have been extremely capricious and ill-natured, and to have difinherited her fon Thomas, an only child, merely for robbing an orchard when he was a boy. But however this be, it is certain, that except a church or chapter leafe, which was not renewed, Thomas never poffeffed more than 100 1. a-year. This little eftate, which lay at Goodrich, in Herefordshire, he mortgaged for 300 broad pieces; and having quilted them into his
waistcoat, he fet out for Ragland caftle, whither King Charles I. had retired after the battle of Nafeby, in 1645. The Governor, who well knew him, asked what was his errand? "I am come," faid Swift, "to give his Majefty my coat ;" at the fame time pulling it off, and prefenting it. The Governor told him pleafantly, that his coat was worth little. Why then," faid Swift," take my waistcoat." This was foon found to be an ufeful garment by its weight; and it is remarked by Lord Clarendon, that the King received no fupply more feasonable or acceptable than thefe 300 broad pieces during the whole war, his diftrefs being then very great, and his refources cut off. The zeal and activity of this gentleman for the royal cause expofed him to much danger, and many fufferings. He was plundered more than thirty times by the parliament's army, was ejected from his church-livings, his eftate was fequeftered, and he was himself thrown into prifon. His eftate however was afterwards recovered, and part of it fold to pay the money due on the mortgage, and fome other debts; the remainder, being about one half, defcended to his heir, and is now poffeffed by his greatgrandfon, Deane Swift, Efq; *
THIS Mr Thomas Swift married Mrs Elifabeth Dryden, of an antient family in Huntingdonshire, fifter to the father of the famous John Dryden the poet; by whom he had ten fons and four daughters. He died in 1658; and of his fons, fix survived him, Godwin, Thomas, Dryden, William, Jonathan, and Adam.
THOMAS was bred at Oxford, and took orders. He married the eldest daughter of Sir William D'Avenant; but dying young, he left only one fon, whofe name alfo was Thomas, and who died in May 1752, in the 87th year of his age, rector of Puttenham, in Surrey, a benefice which he had poffeffed fixty years.
The grandmother of this gentleman, one of the wives of Godwin Swift, was heiress to Adm. Deane, one of the Regicides; whence Deane became a Chriftian name in the family.