« PreviousContinue »
Strangers were not permitted to approach him, and his friends found it neceffary to have guardians appointed of his perfon and eftate. [vol. 4. P. 346.]. Early in the year 1742, his reafon was wholly fubverted, and his rage became abfolute madness. The last perfon whom he knew was Mrs Whiteway; and the fight of her, when he knew her no more, threw him into fits of rage fo violent and dreadful, that he was forced to leave him; and the only act of kindness that remained in her power was, to call once or twice a week at the deanery, inquire after his health, and fee that proper care was taken of him. Sometimes fhe would fteal a look at him when his back was towards her, but did not dare to venture into his fight. He would neither eat nor drink while the fervant who brought him his provifions ftaid in the room: his meat which was ferved up ready cut, he would fometimes fuffer to ftand an hour on the table before he would touch it, and at last he would eat it walking; for, during this deplorable ftate of his mind, it was his conftant cuftom to walk ten hours aday. [vol. 4. p. 343.].
IN October 1742, after this frenzy had continued feveral months, his left eye fwelled to the fize of an egg; and the lid appeared to be fo much inflamed and difcoloured, that the furgeon expected it to mortify: feveral large boils alfo broke out on his arms and his body. The extreme pain of this tumour kept him waking near a month; and, during one week, it was with difficulty that five perfons kept him, by mere force, from tearing out his own eyes. [vol. 4. p. 343, 4.]
Ir has been obferved, that corporal pain, whether by forcing the mind from that object which has ingroffed it, or by whatever means, has restored lunatics to the ufe of reafon; and this effect, in a great degree, it produced upon the Dean: for just before the tumor perfectly fubfided, and the pain left him, he knew Mrs Whiteway, took her by the hand, and fpoke to her with his former kindness. That day, and the following, he knew his phyfician and furgeon, and all his family, and appeared to have fo far recovered his understanding and temper, that the furgeon was not without hopes he might once more enjoy fociety, and be amufed by the
company of his old friends. This hope, however, was but of fhort duration; for a few days afterwards he funk into a state of total infenfibility, flept much, and could not, without great difficulty, be prevailed upon to walk cross the room. [vol. 4. p. 344.] This was the effect of another bodily disease, his brain being loaded with water. Mr Stevens, an ingenious clergyman of Dublin, pronounced this to be the cafe during his illnefs; and upon opening his body, it appeared that he was not mistaken: but tho' he often intreated the Dean's friends and phyficians that his head might be trepanned, and the water discharged, no regard was paid to his opinion or his intreaty. [7. R. p. 149.]
AFTER the Dean had continued filent a whole year in this ftate of helplefs idiocy, his houfekeeper went into his room on the 30th of November, in the morning, and told him that it was his birth-day, and that bonfires and illuminations were preparing to celebrate it as ufual To this he immediately replied; It is all folly, they had better let it alone.
SOME other inftances of fhort intervals of fenfibility and reason, after his madnefs had ended in ftupor, feem to prove, that his diforder, whatever it was, had not deftroyed, but only fufpended the powers of his mind.
He was fometimes vifited by Mr Deane Swift, a relation; and about Christmas 1743 he seemed defirous to fpeak to him. Mr Swift then told him he came to dine with him; and Mrs Ridgeway, the housekeeper, immediately faid," Won't you give Mr Swift a glass of wine, "Sir " To this he made no answer, but fhewed that he understood the question, by fhrugging up his fhoulders, as he had been used to do when he had a mind a friend fhould spend the evening with him; and which was as much as to fay, You will ruin me in wine. Soon after he again endeavoured, with a good deal of pain, to find words; but at laft, after many efforts, not being able, he fetched a deep figh, and was afterwards filent. A few months afterwards, upon his houfekeeper's removing a knife as he was going to catch at it, he fhrugged up his fhoulders, and faid, "I am what I am, I am what I am ;" and in about fix minutes repeated the fame words two or three times. [vol. 4. p. 345.]
In the year 1744, he now and then called his fervant, by his name; and once attempting to fpeak to him, but not being able to exprefs his meaning, he fhewed figns of much uneafinefs, and at laft faid, “I am a fool." Once, afterwards, as his fervant was taking away his watch, he said, Bring it here; and when the fame fervant was breaking a large hard coal, he faid, "That is a ftone, you blockhead." [vol. 4. P. 345.1.
FROM this time he was perfectly filent till the latter end of October 1745; and then died, without the leaft. pang or convulfion, in the 78th year of his age. [vol. 4.. P. 347.]
By his will, which is dated in May 1740, juft before he ceased to be a reasonable being, he left about 1200 1. in fpecific legacies, and the reft of his fortune, which amounted to about 11,000l. to erect and endow an hofpital for idiots and lunatics.
He was buried in the great ifle of St Patrick's cathedral, under a ftone of black marble, infcribed with an epitaph in Latin, written by himself, [vol. 4. p. 334.]
FROM this narrative of his life, and from his works, to which it is prefixed, the ftriking peculiarities of his character may eafily be collected; but there are some incidents which relate to his converfation, and fome which refpect his perfon and private œconomy, which fhould by no means be omitted.
IN company he neither wrapped himfelf up in his own. importance without deigning to communicate his knowledge, or exert his wit; nor did he ingrofs the converfation by perpetual and overbearing loquacity. His rule was, never to fpeak more than a minute at a time, and then to wait at leaft as long for others to take up the conversation; after which he had a right to speak again. His colloquial ftyle, like that of his writings, was clear, forcible, and concife. [D. S. p. 366. J. R.. p. 203.]. He greatly excelled in punning; a talent which, he faid, no man affected to defpife, but those that were without it; and his converfation would have furnished a more excellent compendium of this fpecies of wit, than was ever yet compiled, or perhaps ever will. Some of these fallies of his imagination are still remem
bered; and among others the following, which may, ferve for examples.
He happened to be at the caftle, in the lieutenancy of the Earl of Pembroke, when a learned phyfician was haranguing his Excellency upon the nature and qualities of bees, which he was perpetually calling a nation and commonwealth: "Yes, my Lord," fays Swift, they
are a nation, and of great antiquity; you know, my "Lord, Mofes takes notice of them; he numbers the "Hivites among the nations which Joshua was appoint"ed to conquer."
He was another time in company with a lady, whofe long train happened to fweep down a fine fiddle, and break it upon which he immediately cried out,
Mantua væ miferæ nimium vicina Cremona.
BUT his converfation abounded with turns of wit of an higher kind. Being one day at a fheriff's feaft, who, after feveral other toafts had been drank, called out to him," Mr Dean, The trade of Ireland:" the Dean turned about, and immediately anfwered, " Sir, I "drink no memories*." [7. R. p. 214.].
HE greatly admired the talents of the late Duke of Wharton; and hearing him, one day, recount many of his frolics, "Ay, my Lord," faid he, you have had many frolics; but let me recommend one more to you, take a frolic to be virtuous. I affure you it will "do you more honour than all the reft." [J. R. p. 216.]
THE Dean alfo greatly excelled in telling a story: and tho' in the latter part of his life he was very apt to tell his ftories too often, yet his wit, as well as his virtue, was always fuperior to the wretched expedients of those defpicable babblers, who are perpetually attempting to put off double entendre and profanenefs for humour and wit. His converfation was in the higheft degree chaste, and wholly free from the leaft tin&ture of irreligion. [J. R. p. 218.]
Dr. Brown, Bishop of Cork, had just then printed two pamphets and preached feveral fermons, in which drinking to memories Iwas zealously condemned. Hawkef.
As he was zealous to preserve all the delicacies of conversation, he was always best pleased when fome of the company were ladies. And in a letter to Lord Oxford, he fays, " Since women have been left out of all meetings, except parties at play, or where worfe defigns are carried on, our conversation has very much degenerated+." And in this inftance, his example is a reproof to those pedants, who "fuppofe that women are never in their proper fphere, but in the dreffing r or the nursery.
If the converfation turned upon ferious fubjects, he was neither petulant in the debate, nor negligent of the illue. He would liften with great attention to the arguments of others; and whether he was or was not engaged as a difputant himself, he would recapitulate what had been faid, state the question with great clearness and precision, point out the controverted particular, and appeal to the opinion either of fome neutral person, or of the majority. [D. 8. p. 368.]
Ir is, however. true, that he kept his friends in fome degree of awe and yet he was more open to admonition than flattery, if it was offered without arrogance, and by perfons of whofe ability and honefty he had no doubt. R. p. 19.]. In his poem of Baucis and Philemon [vol. 6 p. 45.], which does not confift of quite two hundred verfes, Mr Addison made him blot out fourfcore, add fourfcore, and alter fourscore. It was customary with his friends to make him fome little annual prefent on his birth-day; fomething, according to his own definition of a prefent, which was of no great value, but which could not be bought: and Dr Delany, foon after he was admitted to fome degree of intimacy, fent him, with fuch a memorial of his esteem, fome verfes in which he upbraids him, tho' with great delicacy, for mifapplying his talents; and admonishes him to turn the force of ridicule, of which he was fo great a mafter, upon those who had laboured to employ it againft the facred doctrines of Chriftianity. The Dean, as he had fuffered Addifon's correction with approbation, received this admonition with kindness: he fighed, and VOL. I. faid,
+ Propofal for correcting the English tongue, in vol. 2. p. 354.