Page images

ħad contracted fome debts in their own right, which it was not in their power immediately to pay : aud therefore to avoid an arreft, they followed the Dean into Ireland I.

Upon his arrival to take poffeffion of his deanery, and his return after the Queen's death, he was received, according to the account of Lord Orrery (vol. 6. p. 58. note) and Mr Deane Swift, with every possible mark of contempt and indignation, especially by the populace, who not only reviled and cursed him, but pelted him with stones and dirt as he passed along the streets. [D. S. p. 178. 183.] The author of the Observations, on the contrary, affirms, that he was received by all ranks of men, not only with kindness, but honour; the Tories being then in full power, as well in Ireland as in England, and Swift's service to the church and credit at court being well known, [7. R. p. 87.] This indeed was true when he went to take poffeffion : but when he returned to his deanery, the power of the Tories and the Dean's credit at court were at an end ; circumftances which might well cause the rabble at least to forget his services to the church, It is certain, that great clamour was then raised by the new men against the late ministry, with whom Swift had been closely connected : they were charged with a design to bring in the pretender; and the fame defign was consequently imputed


After the death of her husband and sons, with this increase of wealth, and with heads and hearts 'elated by afluence, and unreftrained by forefight or discretion, the widow Vanhomrigh and her two daughters quitted the luxurious foil of their native country, for the more elegant pleafures of the English court. During their refidence at London, they lived in a course of prodigality that Atretched itself far beyond the limits of their income, and reduced them to great distress; in the midft of which the mother died, and the two daughters hastened in all secrecy back to Ireland, beginning their journey on a Sunday, to avoid the interruption and importunities of a certain fierce kind of animals called bailiffs,

who are not only sworn foes to wit and gaiety, but whose tyranny, altho' it could not have reached the deified Vanessa, might have been very fatal' to Enher Vanhomrigh. Within two years after their 'arrival in Ireland, Mary the youngest lister died, and the small remains of the shipwrecked fortune centered in Vaneffa.

See Orrery's account of Vanessa's character, and of Swife's conduct with her, in vol. 6. p. 10. et seqq. in the notes.

0. let.9.

De SWIFT. to Swift, whom it was therefore considered by some as a qualification for preferment to revile and oppose : which party the mob took, whose fault it has never been to coincide implicitly with a court, pofterity must judge for themselves. But it seems probable, that these accounts, however contradictory, may both be true; and that Swift at this time might be the Sacheverel of Ireland, followed by the mob of one faction with execrations, and by the other with shouts of applause *.

It is however agreed, that the Archbishop of Dublin, and some of his old friends in the chapter, set themselves against his meafures with all their force, and laboured to disappoint him in the exercise of his power by every arte; of opposition and delay. But whatever prejudice they had conceived against him was soon removed by the disinterested integrity of his conduct, which was so apparent and striking, that they soon regarded him with respect and veneration, and almost implicitly acquiefced in whatever he proposed.

This removal from England to Ireland was the great event which determined the colour of his life, bounded his views, and shewed him at once what he might polsess, and for what he might hope.

There is a time when every man is struck with a sense of his mortality, and feels the force of a truth to which he has consented merely from custom, without considering its certainty or importance. This time seldom happens in the chearful fimplicity of infancy, or in the first impatience of youth, when“ the world is all before us;""

when * We are now no longer to behold Dr Swift of any importance in England : his hopes there are crushed for ever ; his ministerial friends are degraded, banilhed, or imprisoned. Indecent rage, fanguinary zeal, and ill tempered loyalty, revelled at large throughout the three kingdoms, especially in Ireland, where duels were fought almost every week, and where the pet was so universal, that the ladies were as violent as the gentlemen. Even children at school quarrelled for kings, inftead of fighting for apples.As Swift was known to have been attached to the Queen's last ministry, to have written against the Whigs, and. “ to have oiled

many a spring which Harley moved,? he met with frequent indignities from the populace, and indeed was equally abufed by perfons of all ranks and denominations. Such a treatment loured his temper, confined his acquaintance, and added bitterness to his Atyle, 0. let. 6. See vol. 6. p. 58. in the potes.

e 3

when every object has the force of novelty, and every defire of pleasure receives auxiliar strength from curiofity: but after the first heat of the race, when we stop to recover from our fatigue, we naturally consider the ground before us, and then perceive that at the end of the course are clouds and darkness; that the grave willfoon intercept our pursuit of temporal felicity; and that, if we cannot stretch to the goal that is beyond it, we run in vain, and spend our strength for nought. Great disappointments which change our general plan, and make it necessary to enter the world as it were a second time, feldom fail to alarm us with the brevity of life, and repress our alacrity, by precluding our hopes.

The Dean, whether by the vigour and activity of his imagination, the multitude of his ideas, or the ardour of his pursuits, escaped the force of this thought, till his retreat to Ireland on the death of the Queen : and then indeed it came upon him with such influence, that, after fifteen years, it constantly recurred when he first awaked in the morning, and was not dismissed till he again began to fleep. (vol. 4. p. 100.)

As foon as he was settled at Dublin, Mrs Johnson removed from the country to be near him; but they still "lived in separate houses: his residence was at the deaneTy, and hers in lodgings on the other side of the river Liffy.

The Dean kept two public days every week; and though the circle of his visitors is faid at first to have been small, yet it soon increased, and always confifted of the beft company. [D. S. p. 91. 180.) Thofe who were more particularly the companions of his choice, were such as would have done honour to any character. They were the Grattons, seven brothers, the sons of Dr Gratton, a venerable and hospitable clergyman, who gave

them all a liberal education. The eldest was a justice of peace, and lived reputably on his patrimony in the country; another was a physician, and another a merchant, both eminent in their professions ; three others were clergymen, who had a competent provision in the church ; and the youngest was fellow of Dublin college, and master of the great free school at Ennikilling. They were all persons of great merit, as general



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ly acquainted, and as much beloved as any in the kingdom. The Jacksons, a family of which both men and women were genteel, agreeable, and well bred, such companions as no wise man ever wanted, if they could be had; George Rochford, and Peter Ludlow, men of fortune, learning, wit, humour, and virtue ; and Mr Matthew Lord, deemed the best lay fcholar of his time : Thefe, with the fellows of the college, Dr Walmesley, Dr Heltham, Dr Delany, Dr Stopford, now Bishop of Cloyne, and Dr Sheridan ; Lady Eustace, Mrs Moore, Lady Betty Rochford, and Mrs Ludlow, with Mrs Johnfon, and her friends, were the persons with whom Swift spent his leisure-hours, from the year 1714 to the year 1720, (7. R. P. 90. &c.]; a period in which it has been injuriously said, that his choice of companions fhewed him of a depraved taste *. There was indeed among his companions one person who could derive no honour from his lineage, a foundling, whom Swift therefore used to call Melchisedek, because Melchisedek is faid to have had neither father por mother. This gentleman's name was Worral; he was a clergyman, a master of arts, a reader, and a vicar of his cathedral, and mafter of the song. He was nearly of the Dean's own ftanding in the college, had good fenfe, and much humour. He was married to a woman of great sprightliness, good-nature, and generosity ; remarkably cleanly and elegant in her perfon, in her house, and at her table. But there is another particular in Mr Worral's character which greatly contributed to his intimacy with the Dean: he was a good walker. The Dean used this exercise in an immoderate degree, under the notion of its being absolutely neceffary, not to health only, but to cleanliness, by keeping the pores of the skin clear, and throwing off impurities by perfpiration. Mr Worral's situation in the church naturally engaged his frequent attendance upon the Dean. This attendance commonly ended in a walk; and the walk in their di

ning * It is matter of astonishment to find the same person, who had enjoyed the highest and the best conversation, equally delighted with the lowest and the worl: and yet it is certain, that from Swift's settlement in Dublin as Dean of St Patrick's, his choice of compánions in general shewed him of a very depraved taste. 0. let. 6.

ning together, either at Mr Worral's, or at the deanery. The Dean, being a fingle man, was oftner a gueft to Mr Worral, than Mr Worral was a guest to him. And this brought on an agreement, that the Dean should dine with him whenever he would at a certain rate, and invite as many friends as he pleased upon the same 'terms. This gentleman is lately dead, and left a large sum of money to be disposed of to public charities, at the difcretion of his executors ; 500 l. of which was appropriated to the Dean's hospital. [D. S. p. 299. 9. R. p. 92. vol. 4. 340, 1.]

The Dean, when he first settled at Dublin, was in debt ; a situation which ill suited his fpirit, and determined him to a severe æconomy, with which this agreement with Worral well suited. (J. R. p. 92. On his public days, however, the dignity of his ftation was sustained with the utmost elegance and decorum, under the direction of Mrs Johnson, who yet appeared in the circle without


character diftinct from the reft of the company. She was however frequently invited with the Dean, whether to entertainments, or parties of pleasures, though not fo generally as if she had been his wife. She visited, and received visits, as far as the prac. tice is a mere ritual of good breeding. Her friendships seem to have been still among the men, but she was treated with great politeness by the ladies. [D. S. p.92.]

The Dean's mind had been now fo filled with politics, that he found it impracticable to excel as a preacher, his first and moft laudable ambition ; and frequently declared, that though he fometimes attempted to exert himself in the pulpit, yet he could never rise higher than preaching pamphlets. (7. R. p. 42.] He was however still a good dean, and a good priest: He applied himself to the care of his deanery, his cathedral, its regulations, its income and economy, with great diligence ; he renewed the primitive practice of celebrating the holy communion every Sunday; and at this facrament he was not only constantly present, but he consecrated and administrated it with his own hands, in a manner equally graceful and devout; he attended at church every morning, and generally preached in his turn; he also conftantly attended the performance of the anthem on a


« PreviousContinue »