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ruptions of human-kind, as frequently, the predomi.
He was by nature of a spirit wonderfully exalted. His pride, if pride it must be called, was of a turn peculiar to himself. His whole deportment was of a piece. He would not have stooped to converse with the greatest monarch in Europe, upon any terms lower than equality.
He knew to a point the respect that was due to him; which he took care to exact without any fort of abate
It will appear from the following instance, with what quickness he resented any failure in good manners. An English clergyman, appointed a Bishop in Ireland, fent his servant one morning to the Dean, to beg the favour of him to order. St Patrick's cathedral to be got ready against the next Sunday for his consecration. The Doctor would by no means grant his request; but faid, he would order the church to be in readiness againft the Sunday following. When the servant was gone, the Doctor told a friend, then with him, that he could as well have had the church ready against the next, as against the following Sunday : but, faid he, my reason for refusing to grant that gentleman's request was, because he ought to have come himself, and not fent his. servant to me upon such a message. Nerther could he endure to be treated with any
fort of familiarity, or that any man living (his three or four old acquaintances in England only excepted) should rank himself in the number of his friends. A young person of quality, upon some occasion or other, once ventured to address Dr Swift in the style of Dear Swift, and call himself the Doctor's friend. When the Dean opened his letter, which was designed as a compliment, his indignation took instant fire. Dear Swift! said he; what monitrous familiarity is here! But when he found the letter-writer had called himself his friend, he was out of all patience. “My friend ! my friend !” faid he; “ pish, pfha ; my friend! But—" (said he, recol. lecting himself)- he is a Lord, and fo let it pafs.” :
Swift's spirit was formed with a strong reluctance to submission of any kind ; and particularly he paid no regard to the monitions of his friends and physicians, who
had frequently admonished him of his over-exercise. This was not owing to his being weary of life. from an old settled principle, confirined and rivetted in his mind, when he was in the height of his glory, and the meridian of his life: A principle indeed, which he maintains, or at least endeavours to maintain, with infinite wit and humour, in a letter to Mrs Johnson, Nov. 3. 1711, who had advised him to take phyfic upon the fall of the leaf. “ A fig,” (faith he), “ Madam, for your
physician. If I grow worse, I will ; otherwise I will “ trust to temperance and exercise. Your fall of a " leaf? What care I when the leaves fall ? I am sorry “ to see them fall with all my heart; but why should “ I take physic because leaves fall off from trees? That “ went hinder them from falling. If a man falls off a
horse, must I take physic for that? This arguing “ makes you mad; but it is true right reason, not to “ be disputed.”
He was not only above all tincture of envy in his compofition; but his talents were so great, that he was totally superior to the emulation of all inferior wits. They every one of them bowed down to him as to the viceroy of Apollo.
The dæmon of malice was also a stranger to his heart: and well it might; for if at any time he was attacked with injurious treatment, he never sinothered his revenge, like a way-laying coward, until a fafer opportunity; but, like a brave and generous fpirit, knocked down his. adversary directly on the spot.
The common vices and foibles of human-kind he lashed with great severity, in order to restrain their infuence, and, if it were possible, to hinder the conta. gion from spreading in the community; yet still without making examples of particular persons. But flaves to party, and traitors to the public intereft, he exposed without mercy to the derision of the world. It may
be thought perhaps that private animosity frequently gave an edge to his fatire. I cannot tell but in some cases it might. But then it should be considered, that Dr Swift never looked upon himself in the character of a private person. He knew, that a patriot, like an Afiatic prince, muit'make himself dreaded. If he be once foiled, his 13
power is at an end. And without controversy, domini on, absolute dominion, he had resolved to poliefs over the minds of men, especially over the minds of his countrymen ; and accordingly he did poffefs it. Swift was certainly a man of great
ambition, tho he denies it in his writings. But his ambition, ever directed by the rules of honour, was of a noble, exalted strain, worthy to be cherished in the breast of an angel. [vol. 4. p. 119.]
In his private character he was a man of fine address, and perfeāly well bred. He knew to a point all the modes and variations of complaisance and politeness. And
yet his manners were not framed like those of any other mortal; but, corrected by general observation, and adapted to his own peculiar turn of genius, they fhone forth, always enlivened more or lefs with fome fpirit of dominion, in a blaze of politeness, fo inimitably and fo determinately his own, that in effect they seemed to be the refult of pure nature, uncopied from any the brightest or the fairelt original.
Swift talked a great deal in all companies, without ingrosing the conversation to himself, [above, p. lxxxiv.] In the character of a tete à tete companion, he rather excelled himself. Few that are equal to him in that respect, perhaps none that are his superiors, can be found upon earth. He was by no means in the class with those who
pour down their eloquence like a torrent, driving all before it. Far from any desires of that fort, he equally loved to speak, and loved to hearken. Like Falstaff
, he not only had wit himself, but frequendy was. the cause of wit in others. However, that universal reverence which was paid to his great abilities, frequently ftruck a damp on the spirits of those who were not per. fectly well acquainted with him : an effect of modely, which however did not always happen to be construed to their advantage, unless in the case of very young people. For when such persons were gone, if none but his intimates were present, he would express himself with some degree of emotion, and cry, Such a one, I have heard, is a very great man ; or, Such a one, they say, has abundance of learning; or, Such a one, I have been
told, has an excellent understanding ; but God deliver me from such companions !
If we consider Swift as a divine and a Christian, we shall find him, altho' not fo grave, yet at least as perfect, as the most famous of his contemporaries. His first setting out in the world may be thought somewhat fingular, in this profane, hypocritical, corrupted age. We are assured from his own accounts, that his ideas of religion were so extremely delicate, that he could not but entertain some fcruple, notwithstanding his fortune was very finall, of entering into the church merely for support; altho it is plain, that he had early separated himself to the work of the ministry. He was of a genius thoroughly well adapted for the improvement of any congregation whatever, his arguments being always clear, cogent, and satisfactory. But surely those improved, extensive abilities, whieh rendered him at once the delight and the admiration of the world, were never designed by his Creator to be confined within the narrow limits of any parish or diocese.
In his private character as a man of religion, he appears to have been a great and shining example of Chrifian faith and morals. In himfelf, he was chaste, sober, and temperate. I remember he once told me occasionally, that he never had been drunk in his life. In his general behaviour, he was open, free, disengaged, and cheerful. In his dealings with the world, he was honest and sincere. In relieving the poor and the distressed, he was liberal to profufion; if denying himself, and throwing upon the waters above a third part of his ina come, will iniitle him to the character of being exceedingly generous. With regard to his faith, he was truly orthodox. Moreover, he was regular, exceedingly regular, in all his duties to God, especially in attending the public worship; yet fill without any parade, or colour of ostentation. But to crown his whole character as a man of religion, and to thew how much he deteft. ed that satanical vice of hypocrify, I Mall transcribe a paragraph from a sermon of his, not yet published, On the excellency of the Chriflian religion, oppoled to Heathen philofopby. “ Chriftian wisdom (faith he) is without
partiality. It is not calculated for this or that nation
“ or people, but the whole race of mankind; not to " the philosophical schemes, which were narrow and “ confined, adapted to their peculiar towns, govern
ments, or fects; but in every nation, he that feareth “ God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with “ him. Lastly, It is without hypocrify: it appears to “ be what it really is ; it is all of a piece. By the doc“ trines of the gospel, we are so far from being allowed “ to publish to the world those virtues we have not, “ that we are commanded to hide even from ourselves “ those we really have, and not to let our right hand « know what our left hand does ; unlike several “ branches of the Heathen wisdom, which pretended u to teach insensibility and indifference, magnanimity “ and contempt of life, while at the fame time in other
parts it belied its own doctrines.”
Several other particulars in Swift's character, and various anecdotes concerning him, will be found in the notes throughout all the eight volumes, particularly in the Criticisms prefixed to vols 1. 6. & 4.