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LIFE of Dr JONATHAN SWIFT, Dean
of St Patrick's, Dublin.
HE lives of eminent men have always been es
steemed the most valuable part of hittory, both
for entertainment and instruction, Accounts of such perfons especially, as besides their merit, have been diftinguifhed by any remarkable peculiarities of character or genius, juftly command the public attention. There is a pleasure in seeing human nature displayed in a beautiful, but fingular and uncommon view. We are fond of being introduced into a fort of acquaintance with such persons, which may compensate the loss of our not having been of the number of their contemporaries or friends. We perase their works with much greater satisfaction when we know the man as well as the author..
For these reasons, no wonder that the public have shown so much desire to be instructed in all the particulars that relate to Dr Swift, and have received fo readily every performance that promised them information of this kind. His character and manners, fingular in every respect, awakened general curiosity. By his. good sense and penetration, his
public spirit, and his charities, eminent and estimable in a very high degree: by his peculiar and amazing genius for wit and sidicule, the wonder of the age in which he lived ; by his caprices and odd. nesses, 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 philosophers or heroes.
Happily for the public, the materials for their informations as to Dr Swift's life and character are not inconsiderable. Lord Orrery's letters, and the essay on
the life, writings and character of Dr Swift, by Deane Swift, Esq; furnish a variety of facts supported in general by good authority. The former writes with the feverity, and sometimes the sournels, of a critic; the latter with the attachment of a near relation. A volume of letters signed 7. R. generally supposed to be written by Dr Delany, supplies some new materials. We have also preserved to us by Deane Swift, Efq; a begun sketch of the Doctor's life, composed by himfelf; but containing little more than an account of the family of the Swifts, and some few transactions of his younger years. From a comparison of all these with each other; Mr Hawkesworth 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 seen, we have given it entire to our readers. Some omissions in it are supplied, and a variety of notes added, containing such anecdotes, or different relations of the fame fact as were worth preserving. The whole of the ketch composed by the Doctor himself, fo far as it is in the least interesting, is inserted in Mr. Hawkesworth's relation. As Mrs Pilkington in her Memoirs has transmitted to us fome little incidents in the Doctor's converfation and domestic life, not unentertaining, an abridgement of these is annexed. On the whole, nothing has been omitted that might serve 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. stands for Mr Deane Swift's Essay on the life, writings, and character of Dr. Jonathan Swift; O. for Qrrery's remarks on the life and writings of Dr Jonathan Swift;
J. R. for. J. R.'s Observations on Lord Orrery's Remarks, generally supposed 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 descended from a younger branch of an antient family of that name in Yorkshire. But the account of his family shall be as short as porble; fince, (as Lord Orrery observes), though his anr cestors were persons of very decent and reputable characters, and the elder branch of the family ennobled), he him felf has been: the herald to blazon the dignity of their coat.
Bernam. Swift, Esq; otherwise called Cava liero Swift, a gentleman of great wit and humour, who, in the reign of K. James 1. possessed the paternal estate, was on the 20th of March 1627, by K. Charles I. created a Peer of Ireland, by the title of Lord Vifcount Carlingford, though it is said he never went into that kingdom. He died without male issue; and the family-inheritance defcended to his daughters ; one of whom married Robert Fielding, Esq; commonly called Handfome Fielding, and the other the Earl of Eglington. Fielding foon diftipated his wife's patrimony; and that of her fifter being transferred to the family of Lord Eglington, the principal estate of the Swifts was divided from the name for
One of the younger branches from the fame stem was Sir Edward Swift, who distinguished himself by his attachment to the royal cause in the war between King Charles la and his parliament, from whom there is no defcendent of the name.
ANOTHER of the younger branches was the Rey. Mr Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, Herefordshire, with which he also held another ecclefiaftical living.
His father William Swift, rector of St Andrew's in Canterbury, married the heiress of Philpot; who contrived to keep her estate, which was very confiderable, in her own hands. She is faid to have been ex. tremely capricious and ill-natured, and to have disinherited 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 lease, which was not renewed, Thomas never possessed more than 100 l. a-year. This little estate, which lay at Goodrich, in Herefordshire, he mortgaged for 300 broad pieces; and having quilted them into his
waistcoat, he set out for Ragland castle, whither King Charles 1. had retired after the battle of Naseby, in 1645. The Governor, who well knew him, asked what was his errand? " I am come,” said Swift, “ to
give bis Majesty: my coat ;" at the same time pulling it off, and presenting 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 useful garment by its weight, and it is remarked by Lord Clarendon, that the King received .no fupply more seasonable or acceptable than thefe 300 broad pieces during the whole war, his distress being then very great, and his resources cut off. The zeal and activity of this gentleman for the royal cause expofed him to much danger, and many sufferings. 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 prison. 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, descended to his heir, and is now pofíeffed by his greatgrandson, Deane Swift, Efq; *
Thys Mr Thomas Swift married Mrs Elsabeth 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 sons, fix survived him, Godwin, Thomas, Dryden, William, Jonathan, and Adam.
THOMAS was bred at Oxford, and took orders. i He married the eldest daughter of Sir William D'Avenant; but dying young, he left only one son, whose name also was Thomas, and who died in May 1752; in the 85th year of his age, rector of Puttenham, in Surrey, a benefice which he had pofíeffed fixty years.
The grandmother of this gentleman, one of the wives of God. win Swift, was heiress to Adm. Deane, one of the Regicides; whence Deane became a Christian name in the family.