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LIFE of Dr JONATHAN SWIFT, Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin.
HE lives of eminent men have always been e fteemed the most valuable part of history, both
for entertainment and inftruction. Accounts of fuch perfons efpecially, as befides their merit, have been diftinguished by any remarkable peculiarities of character or genius, justly command the public attention. There is a pleafure in feeing human nature displayed in a beautiful, but fingular and uncommon view. We are fond of being introduced into a fort of acquaintance with fuch perfons, which may compenfate the lofs of our not having been of the number of their contemporaries of friends. We perufe their works with much greater fatisfaction when we know the man as well as the author.
FOR these reafons, no wonder that the public have fhown fo much defire to be inftructed in all the particulars that relate to Dr Swift, and have received fo readily every performance that promifed them information of this kind. His character and manners, fingular in every respect, awakened general curiofity. By his good fenfe and penetration, his public fpirit, and his charities, eminent and eftimable in a very high degree: by his peculiar and amazing genius for wit and ridicule, the wonder of the age in which he lived; by his caprices and oddnesses, 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 philofophers or heroes.
HAPPILY for the public, the materials for their informations as to Dr Swift's life and character are not inconfiderable. Lord Orrery's letters, and the effay on
waistcoat, he fet out for Ragland caftle, whither King Charles I. had retired after the battle of Naseby, in 1645. The Governor, who well knew him, asked what was his errand ? "I am come," faid Swift, "to give his Majesty my coat;" at the fame time pulling it off, and prefenting 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 refources cut off. The zeal and activity of this gentleman for the royal caufe expo- ( fed him to much danger, and many fufferings. He was plundered more than thirty times by the parliament's army, was ejected from his church-livings, his estate 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, defcended to his heir, and is now poffeffed by his greatgrandfon, Deane Swift, Efq; *
THIS Mr Thomas Swift married Mrs Elifabeth 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 fons, fix furvived him, Godwin, Thomas, Dryden, William, Jonathan, and Adam.
THOMAS was bred at Oxford, and took orders. He married the eldest daughter of Sir William D'Avenant but dying young, he left only one fon, whose name al fo was Thomas, and who died in May 1752, in the 87th year of his age, rector of Puttenham, in Surrey, a benefice which he had poffeffed fixty years.
• The grandmother of this gentleman, one of the wives of Godwin Swift, was heiress to Adm. Deane, one of the Regicides; whence Deane became a Christian name in the family.
GODWIN was a barrifter of Gray's inn; and William, Dryden, Jonathan, and Adam, were attorneys.
GODWIN having married a relation of the old Marchioness of Ormond, the old Duke of Ormond made him his attorney-general in the palatinate of Tipperary in Ireland. Ireland was at this time almoft without lawyers, the rebellion having made almost every man, of whatever condition, a foldier. Godwin therefore determined to attempt the acquifition of a fortune în that kingdom; and the fame motives induced his four brothers to go with him. Godwin foon became wealthy; and the reft obtained fomething more than a genteel competence; though Dryden and Jonathan, who died > foon after their arrival, had little to bequeath.
JONATHAN at the age of about three and twenty, and before he went to Ireland, married Mrs Abigail Erick, of Leicestershire +. The family of this lady was descended from Erick the Forefter, who raised an army to opi pofe William the Conqueror; by whom he was vanquifhed, and afterwards made commander of his forces. But whatever was the honour of her lineage, her fortune was fmall; and about two years after her marriage, fhe was left a widow with one child, a daughter, and pregnant with another; having no means of fubfiftence but an annuity of 20 1. which her husband had purchafed for her in England, immediately after his mar riage.
In this diftrefs fhe was taken with her daughter into the family of Godwin, her husband's eldest brother; and, on the 30th of November 1667, about seven months after her husband's death, fhe was in Hoy's alley, in
This lady was greatly beloved and esteemed by all the family of the Swifts. Her converfation was extremely polite, chearful, and agreeable. She was of a generous and hofpitable nature, very exact in all the duties of religion, attended the public worship generally twice a-day, was a very early riser, and was always dressed for the whole day at about fix o'clock in the morning. Her chief amusements were needle-work and reading. She was equally fond of both her children, notwithstanding some disagreements that fubfifted between them. D. S. p. 22. 23.
the life, writings and character of Dr Swift, by Deane Swift, Efq; furnish a variety of facts fupported in general by good authority. The former writes with the feverity, and fometimes the fournefs, of a critic; the latter with the attachment of a near relation. A volume of letters figned J. R. generally fuppofed to be written by Dr Delany, fupplies fome new materials. We have also preferved to us by Deane Swift, Efq; a begun sketch of the Doctor's life, compofed by himself; but containing little more than an account of the family of the Swifts, and fome few transactions of his younger years. From a comparison of all these with each other; Mr Hawkefworth 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 beft digefted account we have feen, we have given it entire to our readers. Some omiffions in it are supplied, and a variety of notes added, containing fuch anecdotes, or different relations of the fame fact as were worth preferving. The whole of the sketch compofed by the Doctor himself, fo far as it is in the least interesting, is inferted in Mr. Hawkefworth's relation. As Mrs Pilkington in her Memoirs has tranfmitted to us fome little incidents in the Doctor's converfation and domeftic life, not unentertaining, an abridgement of these iş annexed. On the whole, nothing has been omitted that might serve to make our readers acquainted with all the characteristical peculiarities of this extraordinary perfonage.
N. B. In the references to be found in the life, D. S. ftands for Mr Deane Swift's Effay on the life, writings, and character of Dr Jonathan Swift; O. for Orrery's remarks on the life and writings of Dr Jonathan Swift; 7. R. for J. R.'s Obfervations on Lord Orrery's Re marks, generally fuppofed 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,