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Yet he preserved ftrict temperance: for he never drank above half a pint of wine, in every glass of which he mixed water and sugar : yet, if he liked his company, would fit many hours over it, unlocking all the springs of policy, learning, true humour, and inimitable wit.
The following story the Dean told to Mrs Pilkington.
A clergyman, who was a most learned fine gentleman, but under the softest and politest appearance, concealed the most turbulent ambition, having made his merit as a preacher too eminent to be overlooked, had it early rewarded with a mitre. Dr Swift went to congratulate him on it; but told him, he hoped, as his Lordship was a native of Ireland, and had now a seat in the house of Peers, he would employ his powerful elocution in the service of his distressed country. The prelate told him, the bishoprick was but a very small one, and he could not hope for a better, if he did not oblige the court. “ Very well,” says Swift, “ then it is to be hoped, “ when you have a better, you will become an honest
Ay, that I will, Mr Dean,” says he. « Till then, my Lord, farewel,” answered Swift, This prelate was twice translated to richer fees; and, on every translation, Dr Swift waited on him to remind him of his promise ; but to no purpose; there was now an archbishoprick in view, and till that was obtained, nothing could be done. Having in a short time likewise got this, he then sent for the Dean, and told him, “ I am now at the top of my preferment; for I well “ know no Irishman will ever be made primate ; there“ fore, as I can rise no higher in fortune or station, I “ will zealously promote the good of my country. And from that time he commenced a most outrageous patriot.
A Tale of a Tev.
3 17 19 23 1
The battle of the books
125 A discourse concerning the mechanical operation of the Spirit
159 An argument against abolifhing Christianity A project for the advancement of religion
196 The sentiments of a church of England man with
respect to religion and government A proposal to the parliament, for preventing the growth of Popery
244 Sermons. I. On the Trinity
253 IF. On mutual subjection
264 III. On the testimony of conscience IV. On brotherly love
283 V. The difficulty of knowing one's felf 291
F we consider Swift's prose works, we shall find a cer
been equalled by any other writer. The truth of this as. sertion will more evidently appear, by comparing him with some of the authors of his own time. Of these Dr Tillotson and Mr Addison are to be numbered among the most eminent. Addison hath all the powers that can captivate and improve: his diction is eafy, his periods are well turned, his expressions are filowing, and his hu. mour is delicate. Tillotson is nervous, grave, majestic; and perspicuous. We must join both these characters together to form a true idea of Dr Swift: yet as he outdoes Addison in humour, he excels Tillotson in perspicuity. The Archbishop indeed confined himself to subjects relative to his profession : but Addison and Swift are more diffufive writers. They continually vary in their manner, and treat different topics in a different style. When the writings of Addison terminate in party, he loses himself extremely, and from a delicate and just comedian, deviates into one of the lowest kind*.. Not so Dr Swift. He appears like a masterly gladiator. He wields the sword of party with ease, juftness, and dexterity: and while he entertains the ignorant and the vulgar, he draws an equal attention from the learned and the great. When he is serious, his gravity becomes him ; when he laughs, his readers must laugh with him. But what shall be said for his love of trifles, and his want of delicacy and decorum ? errors that if he did not contract, at least he increased in Ireland. They are without a pa. rallel, I hope they will ever remain fo. The first of them arose merely from his love of flattery, with which he
Sce the papers called the Freeholder.
was daily fed in that kingdom : the second proceeded from the misanthropy of his difpofition, which induced bim peevishly to debase mankind, and even to ridicule human nature itself. Politics were his favoorite topic, as they gave him an opportunity of gratifying his ambition, and thirft of power: yet in this road he has seldom continued long in one path. He has written miscellaneously, and has chosen rather to appear a wandering comet, than a fixed ftar. Had he applied the faculties of his mind to one great and useful work, he must have shined more gloriously, and might have enlightened a whole planetary system in the political world.
There are some pieces in his works that I despise, others that I loath, but many more that delight and improve me. The former are not worthy of notice. They are of no further use than to thew us, in general, the errors of human nature; and to convince us, that neither the height of wit nor genius can bring a man to such a degree of perfection, as vanity would often prompt him to believe.
In a disquisition of this fort, I shall avoid as much as possible
that kind of satire in which the Dean indulged himself against particular persons : most of whom it is probable provoked his rage by their own misconduct, and consequently owed to their own rashness the wounds which they received from his pen. But I have no delight in those kind of writings, except for the sake of the wit, which, either in general or in particular satire, is equally to be admired. The edge of wit will always remain keen, and its blade will be bright and fining, when the stone upon which it has been whetted, is worn out, or thrown aside and forgotten. Personal satire against evil magistrates, corrupt ministers, and those giants of power, who gorge themselves with the intrails of their country, is different from that personal satire, which too often proceeds merely from selflove, or ill-nature. The one is written in defence of the public, the other in defence of ourselves. The one is armed by the sword of justice, and encouraged not only by the voice of the people, but by the principles of
morality; the other is dictated by passion, supported by pride, and applauded by flattery. At the same time that I say this, I think every man of wit has a right to laugh at fools, who give offence, or at coxcombs, who are public nusances. Swift indeed has left no weapon of sarcasm untried, no branch of satire uncultivated : but while he has maintained a perpetual war against the mighty men in power, he has remained invulnerable, if not victorious.
See the criticisms prefixed to vols 6. & 4.