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WHATEVER excellence we poffefs, or whatever honours we obtain, the pleasure which they produce, is all relative to fome particular favourite, with whom we are tenderly connected, either by friendship or by love; or, at most, it terminates, like rays collected by a burningglafs, in a very fmall circle, which is fcarce more than a point, and, like light, becomes fenfible only by reflection. Thus Swift, while he was courted and careffed by those whom others were making intereft to approach, feems to have enjoyed his diftinction, only in proportion as it was participated with Stella; for amidst all the bufinefs, 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 thefe unreftrained effufions of his heart, many particulars are known, which could have been known no other way. And by these it appears inconteftably, that he was not only employed, but trufted; and that Harley, who is univerfally allowed to have been one of the most reserved and myfterious of all politicians, was to him, in affairs of the utmoft moment, open and explicit *. The result of one
expreffions. A man always appears of more confequence to himself, than he is in reality to any other perfon. Such perhaps was the cafe of Dr Swift. He found himself much indulged by the fmiles and converfation of the Earl of Oxford. He knew how useful he was to the administration in general: and in the aforementioned letter, he fays, that the place of historiographer was intended for him [vol. 4. P. 23.] But I am apt to fufpe&t that he flattered 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, fuch a deanery might be efteemed no inconfiderable promotion; but to an ambitious mind, whose perpetual aim was a fettlement in England, a dignity in any other kingdom must ap pear (as perhaps it was defigned) only an honourable and profitable banishment. O. 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 ftrong, if not stronger indications of our love and efteem for particular perfons, than what is called advan cing them in the grande monde, whether to honours or preferment.
of their conferences, fo 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 abfolutely neceffary; that the confederacy muft foon break, and factions increafe; and that the miniftry was upon too narrow a bottom, and stood like an ifthmus, between the Whigs on one fide, and the violent Tories on the other; a fituation in which they could not fubfift *. These violent Tories were formed into a fociety 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 parlia"ment-houfe, to drive things on to extremes against "the Whigs, to call the old miniftry to account, and VOL. I.
Of this nature I take fome prefents to have been which the Earl made to the Doctor, particularly his own picture enamelled by Zink, the feal of Julius Cæfar, and efpecially the feal of the young Hercules, which were both given to the Farl by his royal miftrefs, and afterwards by the Earl prefented to the Doctor; alluding perhaps, in the prefent of the young Hercules, to the character of Alcides in the poem called Atlas, the Earl being confcious to himself how much the Doctor had fupported the conftitution, the Queen, and the miniftry. But what, I think, fhewed more kindness and affection than any of the former, was the prefent of that penknife wherewith the Earl himself had been ftabbed by Guifcard. It was a common ordinary penknife, with a tortoife shell handle; and when it was fhut, was just about the length of a man's little finger. But as the blade was broken within half an inch of the handle, by the violence of the blow against one of the Earl's ribs, the Doctor had a hole drilled thro' that part of the blade which was broken off, and another hole thro' that piece which remained in the handle, and by that contrivance they were both held together by a little filver chain. D. S. p.
*Dr Swift's own account of this is as follows. « 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 foon break to pieces; and our factions at home increase. The ministry is upon a narrow bottom; and stands like an ifthmus between the "Whigs on one fide, and violent Tories on the other. They are "able fea-men; but the tempeft 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 flow; and he once told him fo in a manner that thews both his integrity, and the freedom of his converfation with those who have a prefcriptive right to fervility and adulation. He had received (from Col. Hill, a gentleman of worth, who had commanded with great bravery in the battle of Almanza, soon after his promotion to a regiment) a prefent of a fine tortoife-fhell fnuff-box, richly lined with gold, with the prospect of the rialto of Venice, feveral gondalos playing on the canals, and other figures to the number of 150, reprefenting the pleafures of a carnival, painted on the infide of the lid. This present he fhewed one day to Harley; who having admired the painting
"and the crew all against them. Lord Sommers has been twice "in the Queen's clofet, once very lately; and the Duchess of "St, who now has the key, is a most infinuating woman; "and I believe they will endeavour to play the fame 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 Quecen fo 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 obferve, that lately after much converfation with Mr Harley, tho he is the most fearless man alive, and the leaft apt to defpond, he confeffed to me, that uttering his mind to me gave him case." [Let. to Stella, March 4. 1710.] D. S. p. 318.
The miniftry feem not to regard them; yet one of them in confidence told me, that there must be fomething thought on to fettle things better. I'll tell you one great state-fecret. The Queen, fenfible how much fhe was governed by the late miniftry, 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 miniftry is for gentler measures, and the other Tories for more violent. Lord Rivers talking to me the other day, curfed the paper called the Examiner, for fpeaking civilly of the Duke of Marlborough. This I happened to talk of to the Secretary; who blamed the warmth of that Lord and fome others, and fwore, that if their advice were followed, they would be blown up in twenty-four hours. And I have reafon to think that they will endeavour to prevail on the Queen to put her affairs more in the hands of a ministry than fhe does at prefent: and there are, I believe, two men thought on, &c. [Let. to S.] D. S. p. 320.
and the workmanship, at laft fpied a figure ftudded on the outfide of the bottom, which he thought resembled a goofe; upon which, turning to the Doctor, “Jona"than," fays he, "I think the Colonel has made a goofe of you." Yes, "my Lord," fays the Doctor; "but, if your Lordship will look a little farther, you "will fee that I am driving a fnail before me; which indeed happened to be the device. To this the Earl coolly replied, “ That is fevere enough, Jonathan; but "I deferve 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 perfons; that he knew they could not long preferve their power; that he did not honour it while it lafted, and that he difdained pecuniary obligations *.
"THE miniftry" (faith he)" are good honeft hear66 ty fellows. I use them like dogs, because I expec "they will use me so. 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 miniftry 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 fummer of 1711, he forefaw the ruin of the ministry, by those misunderstandings among themfelves which at last affected it; and it was not only his opinion,
* Swift, conscious of his great abilities, and that he was not obliged to the ministry, for any the leaft favour, how much foe> ver they had been obliged to him for his care and protection, treated every one of them round, just in what style and manner he thought convenient. The miniftry, who were themselves men of wit and penetration, bore with his temper, and foothed him in his greatest irregularities. Had they ventured to have acted otherwise, they knew in their fouls, that he would have taken horfe the next morning, and, careless of their fate, expofed them to the fury of their enemies. But this fpirit of dominion, which more or lefs gave a tincture to all his converfation and behaviour throughout his whole life, was fuffered freely to pafs under the foft 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 66 noon, and fent Mr Harley into the houfe to call the Secretary, CL to let him know I would not dine with him if he dined late." [Let. 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 fhould 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 confeffes coft him much pains, and which fucceeded 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 fold, seven editions having been printed in England, and three in Ireland. [D. S. p. 335. The Tory members in both houfes who fpoke, drew all their arguments from it; and the refolutions which were printed in the votes, and which would never have paffed but for The conduct of the allies, were little more than quotations from it *. [D. S. p. 337. Let. to S.]
*The Whigs, encouraged, fupported, and abetted, by the Dutch, the Emperor, and all the princes in the grand alliance, were furious against a peace In fummer 1711 they had been extremely active in muftering up their forces, and collecting their whole ftrength against the next meeting of the parliament; and with fuch dexterity their affairs were managed, that actually they had got the Queen herself to be fecretly 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 fhe fat to hear the debate, Shrewsbury, Lord "Chamberlain, asked her Majefty, whether he, or the Great "Chamberlain Lindsay, ought to lead her out? fhe answered short, "Neither of you; and gave her hand to the Duke of Somerset, "who was louder than any in the house against the peace." [Let. to S. Dec. 8. 1711.] And Dr Swift "having afked Lord Oxford, "whether fome particular Lords would have voted against the court, "if the Duke of Somerfet had not aflured them it would please "the Queen? Lord Oxford plainly told him, his conjectures were "true, and that my Lord Duke of Somerfet had fo affured them."[Ib. Dec. 11.] And this behaviour of the Queen was in fact the original caufe of her making twelve Peers at once, "after she had at laft been perfuaded to her own interest and security. Yet, after all,” adds Swift, “it is a strange unhappy neceffity 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 affurance of fuccefs in defeating the ministry, and quafhing the preliminaries of a peace, ftocks fell, and all difficulties feemed to vanish before them. "We have no quiet" (faith the Doctor) "with the Whigs, they