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wit or beauty would have compelled affection, efteem, and reverence.
Her stature was tall, her hair and eyes. black, her complexion fair and delicate, her features regular, foft, and animated, her shape easy and elegant, and her manner feminine, polite, and graceful; there was a natural music in her voice, and a pleasing complacency in her aspect when she spoke.
As to her wit, it was confessed by all her acquaintance, and particularly by the Dean, that she never failed to say the beit thing that was faid whenever she was in company, tho' her companions were usually persons of the best understanding in the kingdom, (vol. 4. p. 295.).
But this dangerous power was under the direction of such sweetness of temper, such general kindness, and reluctance to give pain, that she never indulged it at the expence of another.
Neither was her wit merely of the colloquial kind. She had great force of poetical fancy could range her thoughts in a regular compofition, and express them in correct and harmonious verse. Of her wit in conversa. tion some instances will be found in vol. 4. p. 295 under the name of Bons mots; and cwo specimens of her poetry are to be found in vol. 6. p. 186. 270. Her vir. tue was founded upon humanity, and her religion upon reason. Her morals were uniform, but not rigid ; and her devotion was habitual, but not oftentatious.
Why the Dean did not sooner marry this most excel. lent person ; why he married her at all ; hy his marri. age was so cautiously concealed ; and why he was never known to meet her but in the presence of a third person, are inquiries which no man can answer, or has attempted to answer without absurdity, and are therefore unprofitable objects of speculation *.
* If any one hould ask, why this renunciation of marriage-rites? I Mall answer that question by asking another. Why did not Swift marry this adorable creature in or about the year 1702? was he not exactly at that æra thirty-five, just rising into the meridian of his abilities; and Mrs Johnson nineteen, in the full splendor of the most attractive beauty, surrounded with every grace, and blessed with every virtue, that could allure the affections and captivate th
DR SWIFT. 1xxi His peculiar connection with Mrs Johnson does indeed appear to have been suspected, if not known, by his particular acquaintance: one of whom had the courage indire&tly to blame his conduct several times, by letting before him the example of a clergyman of distinguished merit, who married nearly in the same circumstances ; but, instead of concealing his marriage, retired into thrifty lodgings till he had made a provision for his wife, and then returned to the world, and became eminent for his hofpitality and charity. [7. R. p. 63.)
The Dean, whether moved by these representations, or whether by any other motive, did at length earneitly defire, that she might be publicly owned as his wife : but as her health was then declining, and his ceconomy become more severe, she said it was too late : and infifted that they fhould continue to live as they had lived before. To this the Dean, in his turn, consented ; and suffered her to dispose entirely of her own fortune, by her own name, to a public charity when the died. [7. R. p. 36. 288.)
soul of the most stubborn philofopher? And without dispute, if the meanness of her birth, like an evil genius, had not stood in the way to oppose her felicity, not all the Dr Swifts upon earth could have refifted the force of her inchantments. — As the prime intention of Mrs Johnson's going over to Ireland was to captivate the affections of Dr Swift, in all probability the secretly hoped, from time to time, to complete her conquest. But finding upon the Queen's demise, when all the Doctor's hopes to gratify his ambition were totally at an end, that altho’her Platonic lover had quitted the noise and tumult of a political world, and had retired, like a sober honest clergyman, within the precincts of his deanery, he thought no more upon the subject of wedlock than lie had done. for the preceding fourteen years; her spirits migbt have become dejected, by her frequent revolving in her mind the oddness of her situation. If we suppose this to have been the cale, it is not unreasonable to imagine, that Swift, thoroughly and sincerely her friend, and almost her lover, was unable to endure the least abatement in her chearfulness and vivacity: and therefore, to raise her spirits, and to secure the fame of her innocence from all possibility of reproach, resolved to gratify her with the consciousness of be.. ing his legal wife. And this indeed, or fomewhat very like it, how strange foever and chimerical it may found in the ears of the world, was certainly the reason that he ever married her at all. D. S. p. 93. 94. 95.
It appears by several little incidents, that Stella regretted and disapproved the Dean's conduct, and that The sometimes reproached him with unkindness ; for to fuch regret and reproach he certainly alludes in the fol. lowing verses on her birth-day, in 1726.
O then, whatever heaven intends,
Who gladly would your fuff'rings share. [Vol. 6. p. 137.] It seems indeed to be generally agreed, that Stella was destroyed by the peculiarity of her circumstances ; and that the fabrick, however weak by the delicacy of its compofition, would not have fallen so soon, if the foundation had not been injured by the flow minings of regret and vexation.
But it is also generally allowed, that in this instance, as in every other, the Dean's intention was upright, tho' his judgment might be erroneous; and, whatever censure his behaviour to‘Stella may draw upon him, it must infure him fome praise, and secure him againft some calumny: for it is a demonstration, that he was the absolute master of those passions by which the greatest have been enslaved, and the best sometimes corrupted; and if he could abfiain from gratifying these pas. fions with a lady whom he most admired, after the gratification was become lawful, he cannot, with any appearance of reason, be supposed to have indulged the same passion where there was less beauty to attract, and less affection to urge, where it would have been attended with guilt and infamy, where the motives were less and the obstacles more. [above, p. Ixi.]
From the death of Stella, his life became much more retired, and the auferity of his temper naturally increased. He could not join in the social chearfulness of his public days, or bear such an intrusion upon his own melancholy as the chearfulness of others.
These entertainments therefore were discontinued ; and he sometimes avoided the company of his moit intimate
friends *. But when the lenient hand of time had allayed the anguish of his mind, he seems to have regretted the effects of its first violence, and to wish for the return of those whom his impatience had banished. [D. S. p. 307, 8.] In the year 1732, he complains, in a letter to Mr Gay, (vol. 4. p. 136.] that he had a large house, and should hardly find one visitor, if he was not able to hire them with a bottle of wine. “ I generally,” says he, “dine alone; and am thankful if a friend will país. " the evening with me.” He complains also about the fame time, in a letter to Mr Pope, that he was in danger of dying poor and friendless, even his female friends hav. ing forsaken him ; which, as he says, was what vexed him most. (vol. 4. p. 178.] These complaints were afterwards repeated in a strain of yet greater sensibility and felf-pity.
"All my friends," says he,“ have for: s faken me.” (vol. 4. p. 275.]
Vertiginofus, inops, surdus, malé gratus amicis.
'To all my friends a burden grown. (vol. 7. p. 154.] Yet he confesses, that, tho' he was less patient in folitude, he was harder to be pleased with company; so that even now perhaps his behaviour did not much g?
* Dr Swift generally spent his time from noon till he went to bed, which was usually about eleven o'clock, in the pleasures of conversation among a set of companions either select or mixed : a course of life in which he continued for about thirteen years after the change of times, uutil the decease of Mrs Johnson in 1727-8. But when he lost that companion, whose genius he himself had been improving and cultivating for at least five and twenty years, he could no longer endure those pleasures and amulements which on his public days were conducted, under the eyes and direction of his beloved Stella, with the greatest elegance and decorum. And accordingly, having facrificed to her manes these polite and rational entertainments, he renounced his public days, and lived during the whole remainder of his life abundantly more retired. D. $.
invite those whom before it had driven
Tis complaint of being forsaken by his female friends, shews, that at this time his house was not a constant seraglio of very virtuous women, who attended him from morning till night, as my Lord Orrery has asserted (vol. 6. p. 4.]; and it seems to imply, that the Obfervator is also mistaken, when he fays, that females were rarely admitted into his house, and never came but upon very particular invitations. The absence of persons whom he kept at such distance, and so rarely admitted, could scarce be supposed to vex bim meft: nor is it easy to conceive, in what sense they could be said to forsake him, who never came but upon particular invitation. However, as to the seraglio, the Obfervator affirms, in the most folemn manner, and from frequent intercourse with the Dean, and long intimacy with his most intimate friends, that Lord Orrery was grossly misinformed, and that no such ever subsifted ; Mrs Whiteway, a near relation, who came to live with him fome time after Stella's death, being the only female in his family, except fervants.
As he lived much in folitude, he frequently amused himself with writing; as appears by the dates of many of his pieces, which are fubfequent to this time: And it is very remarkable, that altho' his mind. was certainly greatly depressed, and his principal enjoyment at an end, when Mrs Johnson died; yet there is an air of trilling and levity in some of the pieces which he wrote afterwards, that is not to be found in any other. Such, in partiću. lar, are his directions to servants (vol. 7.), and several of his lecters to Dr Sheridan (vol. 4.]..
• Thefe several causes, added to the death of fome, the difperfion of others, and the ingratitude of those who forfook the Doc: tor's acquaintance, after they had made their fortune's under the fhelter of his patronage, gave occahon to these melancholy, those tender complaints, of that once great and admired perfon; whose conversation, even in his latter days, after the vigour and Sprightliness of his genius had greatly lublided, had somewhat in it Itrangely uncommon, which was not to be remarked in the rest of lua man kind. D. $. p. 309.