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admit him into the company of poets, receives the famous Irishman, and takes off his hat to him with a bow of surly recognition, scans him from head to foot, and passes over to the other side of the street. Dr. Wilde of Dublin,' who has written a most interesting volume on the closing years of Swift's life, calls Johnson “the most malignant of his biographers :" it is not easy for an English critic to please Irishmen-perhaps to try and please them. And yet Johnson truly admires Swift: Johnson does not quarrel with Swift's change of politics, or doubt his sincerity of religion: about the famous Stella and Vanessa controversy the Doctor does not bear very hardly on Swift. But he could not give the Dean that honest hand of his; the stout old man puts it into his breast, and moves off from him.'
Would we have liked to live with him? That is a question which, in dealing with these people's works, and thinking of their lives and peculiarities, every reader of biographies must put to himself. Would you have liked to be a
voked a good deal of controversy, calling out, among other brochures, the interesting “Observations on Lord Orrery's Remarks,” &c. of Dr. Delany.
· Dr. Wilde's book was written on the occasion of the remains of Swift and Stella being brought to the light of day-a thing which happened in 1835, when certain works going on in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, afforded an opportunity of their being examined. One hears with surprise of these skulls "going the rounds” of houses, and being made the objects of dilettante curiosity. The larynx of Swift was actually carried off! Phrenologists had a low opinion of his intellect, from the observations they took.
Dr. Wilde traces the symptoms of ill health in Swift, as detailed in his writings from time to time. He observes, likewise, that the skull gave evidence of “diseased action" of the brain during life-such as would be produced by an increasing tendency to "cerebral congestion.”
3 “He [Dr. Johnson) seemed to me to have an unaccountable prejudice against Swift; for I once took the liberty to ask him if Swift had personally offended him, and he told me he had not."-BOSWELL'S Tour to the Hebrides.
friend of the great Dean? I should like to have been Shakspeare's shoeblack-just to have lived in his house, just to have worshipped him—to have run on his errands, and seen that sweet serene face. I should like, as a young man, to have lived on Fielding's stair-case in the Temple, and after helping him up to bed perhaps, and opening his door with his latch-key, to have shaken hands with him in the morning, and heard him talk and crack jokes over his breakfast and his mug of small beer. Who would not give something to pass a night at the club with Johnson, and Goldsmith, and James Boswell, Esq., of Auchinleck? The charm of Addison's companionship and conversation has passed to us by fond tradition-but Swift? If
had been his inferior in parts (and that, with a great respect for all persons present, I fear is only very likely), his equal in mere social station, he would have bullied, scorned, and insulted you; if, undeterred by his great reputation, you had met him like a man, he would have quailed before you,
1 Few men, to be sure, dared this experiment, but yet their success was encouraging. One gentleman made a point of asking the Dean, whether his uncle Godwin had not given him his education. Swift, who hated that subject cordially, and, indeed, cared little for his kindred, said, sternly, “Yes; he gave me the education of a dog.” “Then, sir,” cried the other, striking his fist on the table, "you have not the gratitude of a dog !"
Other occasions there were when a bold face gave the Dean pause, even after his Irish almost-royal position was established. But he brought himself into greater danger on a certain occasion, and the amusing circumstances may be once more repeated here. He had unsparingly lashed the notable Dublin lawyer, Mr. Serjeant Bettesworth
“So, at the bar, the booby Bettesworth,
Though half-a-crown out-pays his sweat's worth,
Calls Singleton his brother-serjeant !" The Serjeant, it is said, swore to have his life. He presented himself at the dean. ery. The Dean asked his name. “Sir, I am Serjeant Bett-es-worth.”
and not had the pluck to reply, and gone home, and years after written a foul epigram about you—watched for you in a sewer, and come out to assail you with a coward's blow and a dirty bludgeon. If you had been a lord with a blue riband, who flattered his vanity, or could help his ambition, he would have been the most delightful company in the world. He would have been so manly, so sarcastic, so bright, odd, and original, that you might think he had no object in view but the indulgence of his humour, and that he was the most reckless, simple creature in the world. How he would have torn your enemies to pieces for you! and made fun of the Opposition! His servility was so boisterous that it looked like independence;' he would have done your errands, but with the air of patronising you, and after fighting your battles masked in the street or the press, would have kept on his hat before your wife and daughters in the drawing-room, content to take that sort of pay for his tremendous services as a bravo.”
“In what regiment, pray ?" asked Swift.
But, my Hamilton, I will never hide the freedom of my sentiments from you. I am much inclined to believe that the temper of my friend Swift might occasion his English friends to wish him happily and properly promoted at a distance. His spirit, for I would give it the proper name, was ever untractable. The motions of his genius were often irregular. He assumed more the air of a patron than of a friend. He affected rather to dictate than advise.”—ORRERY.
... “An anecdote which, though only told by Mrs. Pilkington, is well attested, bears, that the last time he was in London he went to dine with the Earl of Burlington, who was but newly married. The Earl, it is supposed, being willing to have a little diversion, did not introduce him to his lady, nor mention his name. After dinner, said the Dean, ‘Lady Burlington, I hear you can sing ; sing me a song.' The lady looked on this unceremonious manner of asking a favour with distaste, and positively refused. He said “She should sing, or he would make her. Why, madam, I suppose you take me for one of your poor English hedge-parsons ; sing when I bid you. As the Earl did nothing but laugh at this freedom, the lady was so vexed that
He says as much himself in one of his letters to Bolingbroke :-"All my endeavours to distinguish myself were only for want of a great title and fortune, that I might be used like a lord by those who have an opinion of my parts; whether right or wrong is no great matter. And so the reputation of wit and great learning does the office of a blue riband or a coach and six."
Could there be a greater candour ? It is an outlaw, who says, “ These are my brains; with these I'll win titles and compete with fortune. These are my bullets ; these I'll turn into gold ;” and he hears the sound of coaches and six, takes the road like Macheath, and makes society stand and deliver. They are all on their knees before him. Down go my lord bishop's apron, and his Grace's blue riband, and my lady's brocade petticoat in the mud. He eases the one of a living, the other of a patent place, the third of a little snug post about the Court, and gives them over to followers
she burst into tears and retired. His first compliment to her when he saw her again was, “Pray, madam, are you as proud and ill-natured now as when I saw you last ? To which she answered with great good-humour, No, Mr. Dean, I'll sing for you if you please.' From which time he conceived a great esteem for her.” Scott's Life.
“ He had not the least tincture of vanity in his conversation. He was, perhaps, as he said himself, too proud to be vain. When he was polite, it was in a manner entirely his own. In his friendships he was constant and undisguised. He was the same in his enmities."--ORRERY.
1 “I make no figure but at court, where I affect to turn from a lord to the meanest of my acquaintances." Journal to Stella.
“ I am plagued with bad authors, verse and prose, who send me their books and poems, the vilest I ever saw; but I have given their names to my man, never to let them see me."-Journal to Stella.
The following curious paragraph illustrates the life of a courtier :-
I dare not tell him that I am so, sir; for fear he should think that I counterfeited to make my court !"-Journal to Stella.
of his own. The great prize has not come yet. The coach with the mitre and crozier in it, which he intends to have for his share, has been delayed on the way from St. James's; and he waits and waits until nightfall, when his runners come and tell him that the coach has taken a different road, and escaped him. So he fires his pistols into the air with a curse, and rides away into his country.'
· The war of pamphlets was carried on fiercely on one side and the other; and the Whig attacks made the ministry Swift served very sore. Bolingbroke laid hold of several of the Opposition pamphleteers, and bewails their “ factiousness” in the following letter: “ BOLINGBROKE TO THE EARL OF STRAFFORD.
“Whitehall, July 23rd, 1712. “ It is a melancholy consideration that the laws of our country are too weak to punish effectually those factious scribblers, who presume to blacken the brightest characters, and to give even scurrilous language to those who are in the first degrees of honour. This, my lord, among others, is a symptom of the decayed condition of our government, and serves to show how fatally we mistake licentiousness for liberty. All I could do was to take up Hart, the printer, to send him to Newgate, and to bind him over upon bail to be prosecuted; this I have done, and if I can arrive at legal proof against the author Ridpath, he shall have the same treatment.”
Swift was not behind his illustrious friend in this virtuous indignation. In the history of the four last years of the Queen, the Dean speaks in the most edifying manner of the licentiousness of the press and the abusive language of the other party :
“It must be acknowledged that the bad practices of printers have been such as to deserve the severest animadversion from the public. . . . . . The adverse party, full of rage and leisure since their fall, and unanimous in their cause, employ a set of writers by subscription who are well versed in all the topics of defamation and have a style and genius levelled to the generality of their readers..... However, the mischiefs of the press were too exorbitant to be cured by such a remedy as a tax upon small papers, and a bill for a much more effectual regulation of it was brought into the House of Commons, but so late in the session that there was no time to pass it, for there always appeared an unwillingness to cramp overniuch the liberty of the press."
But to a clause in the proposed bill, that the names of authors should be set to every printed book, pamphlet, or paper, his reverence objects altogether, for, says he, “beside the objection to this clause from the practice of pious men, who, in publishing excellent writings for the service of religion, have chosen, out of an hum