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plimenting me. And as to that of my great profpects of making my fortune, on which, as your kindness only looks on the beft fide, fo my own cold temper and unconfined humour is much greater hindrance than any fear of that which is the subject of your letter. fpeak plainly to you, that the very ordinary obfervations I made with going half a mile beyond the univerfity, have taught me experience enough, not to think of marriage, till I fettle my fortune in the world; which I am fure will not be in fome years. And even then itself, I am so hard to please, that I suppose I shall put it off to the other world. How all this fuits with my behaviour to the woman in hand, you may easily imagine, when you know that there is fomething in me which must be employed; and, when I am alone, turns all, for want of practife, into fpeculation and thought; infomuch, that, in these seven weeks I have been here, I have writ and burnt, and writ again, upon almost all manner of fubjects, more than perhaps any man in England. And this is it, which a perfon of great honour in Ireland (who was pleafed to stoop fo low as to look into my mind) used to tell me, that my mind was like a conjured fpirit, that would do mifchiet if I would not give it employment. It is this humour that makes me fo bufy when I am in company, to turn all that way: and fince it commonly ends in talk, whether it be love or common converfation, it is all alike. This is fo common, that I could remember twenty women in my life, to whom I have behaved myself just the fame way, and, I profefs, without any other defign, than of entertaining myfelf when I am very id!, or when fomething goes amifs in my affairs. This .ways have done, as a man of the world, when I had defign for any thing grave in it, and what I thought worst) a harmless impertinence But whenever I jan to take fober refolu. tions, or (as now) to think of entering into the church, I never found it would be hard to put off this kind of folly at the porch. Befides, perhaps in fo general a converfation among that fex, I might pretend a little to understand where I am, when I go to chufe for a wife; and think, that though the cunningeft fharper of the town may have a cheat put upon him, yet it must VOL. VIII.
think I am go.
be cleanlier carried than this, which you ing to top upon myself, And truly, if you know how metaphyfical I am that way, you would little fear I fhould venture on one, who has given fo much occafion to tongues. For though the people is a lying fort of beast, (and, I think, in Leicester above all parts that I ever was in); yet they feldom talk without fome glimpfe of a reafon; which I declare fo unpardonably jealous I am) to be a fufficient caufe for me to hate any woman, any farther than a bare acquaintance, except all things elfe were agreeable, and that I had mathematical demonstrations for the falfehood of the first, which, if it be not impoffible, I am fure is very like it. Among all the young gentlemen that I have known, who have ruined themfelves by marrying, (which, I affure you, is a great number) I have made this general rule, That they are either young, raw, and ignorant fcholars, who, for want of knowing company, believe every filk petticoat includes an angel; or else they have been a fort of honeft young men, who perhaps are too literal, in rather marrying than burning, and fo entail miferies on themselves and poflerity, by an over-acting modefty. I think I am very far excluded from lighting under either of thefe heads. I confefs I have known one or two men of fenfe enough, who, inclined to frolics, have married, and ruined themselves out of a maggot. But a thousand houfe-hold thoughts, which always drive matrimony out of my mind, whenever it chances to come there, will, I am fure, fright me from that. Befides, I am naturally temperate, and never engaged in the contrary, which ufually produces thofe effects. Your hints at particular tories I do not understand, having never heard them, but juft fo hinted. I thought it proper to give you this, to fhew you how I thank you for your regard of me: and I hope my carriage will be so, as my friends need not be ashamed of the name. I fhould not have behaved myfelf after the manner I did in Leicester, if I had not valued my own entertainment beyond the obloquy of a parcel of very wretched fools, which I folemnly pronounce the inhabitants of Leicester to be; and fo I content my felf with retaliation. I hope you
you will forgive this trouble; and fo, with my fervice to your good wife, I am,
Your very friend and fervant,
A prayer ufed by the Dean for Mrs JoHNSON in her laft ficknefs, written O. 17. 1727 t.
Oft merciful Father, accept our humblest prayers in behalf of this thy languishing fervant. give the fins, the frailties, and infirmities of her life past. Accept the good deeds fhe hath done, in fuch a manner,
* There feems to have been a word omitted here through hafte.
Mrs Johnfon was the daughter of Sir William Temple's fteward, and the concealed, but undoubted wife of Dr Swift. Sir William Temple bequeathed her in his will 1000 1. as an acknowledgment of her father's faithful fervices. I cannot tell how long the remained in England, or whether the made more journeys than one to Ireland, after Sir William Temple's death; but, if my informations are right, fhe was married to Dr Swift in the year 1716, by Dr Athe, then Bishop of Clogher.
Stella was a moft amiable woman in mind and perfon. She had an elevated understanding, with all the delicacy and foftnefs of his fx. Her voice, however fweet in itfelf, was ftill rendered more harmonious by what fhe faid. Her wit was poignant without feverity. Her manners were humane, polite, eafy, and unreferved. Whereever fhe came, he attracted attention and efteem. As virtue was her guide in morality, fincerity was her guide in religion. She was con ftant, but not oftentatious, in her devotions. She was remarkably prudent in her converfation. She had great skill in mufic, and was perfectly well versed in all the leffer arts that employ a lady's leifure. Her wit allowed her a fund of perpetual chearfulness: her prudence kept that chearfulness within proper limits. She exactly answered the defrciption of Penelope in Homer:
A woman lovelieft of the lovely kind,
In body perfect, and complete in mind.
Such was Stella: yet, with all these accomplishments, she never could prevail upon Dr Swift to acknowledge her openly as his wife. A great genius must tread in unbeaten paths, and deviate from the common road of life; otherwife furely a diamond of fo much luftre might Bb 2
that at whatever time thou shalt please to call her, fhe may be received into everlafting habitations. Give her grace to continue fincerely thankful to thee for the many favours thou haft bestowed on her, the ability, and inclination, and practice, to do good, and those vir
have been publicly produced, although it had been fixed within the collet of matrimony. But the flaw which in Dr Swift's eye reduced the value of fuch a jewel, was the fervile state of her father, who, as has been faid before, was a menial fer vant to Sir William Temple. Ambition and pride will, at any time, conquer reason and juice; and each larger degree of pride, Ike the larger fishes of prey, will devour all the lefs. Thus the vanity of boasting fuch a wife, was fuppreffed by the greater vanity of keeping free from a low alliance.
Dr Swift and Mrs Johnfon continued the fame ceconomy of life after marriage, which they had purfued before it. They lived in fe parate houfes; he remaining at the deanery, the in lodgings at a di• itance from him, and on the other fide of the river Liffy. Nothing appeared in their behaviour inconfiftent with decorum, or beyond the limits of Platonic love. They converfed like friends; but they induftrioufly took care to fummon witneffes of their converfation: A rule to which they adhered fo ftrictly, that it would be difficult, if not impoffible, to prove they had ever been together without fome third perfon.
A conduct fo extraordinary in itself always gives room for various comments and reflections. But however unaccountable this renunciation of marriage-rights might appear to the world, it certainly rofe not from any confcicufness of too near a confanguinity between him and Mrs Johnfon, although the general voice of fame was willing to make them both the natural children of Sir William Temple. I am perfuaded, that Dr Swift was not of that opinion; because the fame falfe pride that induced him to deny the legitimate daughter of an obfcure fervant, might have prompted him to own the natural daugh ter of fo eminent a man as Sir William Temple.
There are actions of which the true fources will never be difcovered. This perhaps is one. I have told you the fact, in the manner I have received it from several of Swift's friends and relations; and I must leave you to make your own obfervations upon it.
You may imagine, that a woman of Stella's delicacy must repine at fuch an extraordinary fituation. The outward honours which the received, are as frequently beftowed upon a mistress, as upon a wife. She was abfolutely virtuous; and yet was obliged to fubmit to all the appearances of vice, except in the prefence of thofe few people who were witneffes of the cautious manner in which he lived with her husband, who fcorned even to be married like any other man. Inward anxiety affected by degrees the calmness of her mind, and the ftrength of her body. She began to decline in her health, in the year 1724; and from the first symptoms of decay, the rather haftened
tues which have procured the efteem and love of her friends, and a moft unspotted name in the world. O God, thou difpenfeft thy bleffings and thy punishments as it becometh infinite juftice and mercy; and fince it was thy pleasure to afflict her with a long, conftant, weakly state of health, make her truly fenfible, that it was for very wife ends, and was largely made up to her in other bleffings more valuable and lefs common. Continue to her, O Lord, that firmnefs and conftancy of mind, wherewith thou haft moft graciously endued her, together with that contempt of worldly things and vanities, that the hath fhewn in the whole conduct of her life. O all powerful Being, the least motion of whofe will can create or deftroy a world; pity us, the mourn. ful friends of thy diftreffed fervant, who fink under the weight of her prefent condition, and the fear of lofing the most valuable of our friends: reftore her to us, O Lord, if it be thy gracious will, or infpire us with conftancy and refignation, to fupport ourselves under fo heavy an affliction. Reftore her, O Lord, for the fake of those poor, who, by losing her, will be defolate; and thofe fick, who will not only want her bounty, but her care and tending; or elfe, in thy mercy, raife up fome other in her place, with equal difpofition, and better abilities. Leffen, O Lord, we beseech thee, her bodily pains, or give her a double strength of mind to fupport them. And if thou wilt foon take her to thyfelf, turn our thoughts rather upon that felicity which we hope the fhall enjoy, than upon that unspeakable lofs we shall endure. Let her memory be ever dear unto us; and the example of her many virtues, as far as human infirmity will admit, our conftant imitation. Accept, O Lord, thefe prayers, poured from the very bottom of our hearts, in thy mercy, and for the merits of our bleffed Saviour. Amen.
than fhrunk back in the defcent; tacitly pleafed to find her foot. fteps tending to that place where they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. She died towards the end of January 1727-8, abfolutely deftroyed by the peculiarity of her fate; a fate which perhaps the could not have incurred by an alliance with any other perfon in the world. Orrery.
See a further account of Stella in Dr Swift's life, prefixed to vol. i. Another,