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Jonathan Swift, one of the most remarkable men of his age, was descended from a very ancient family, and was born in the city of Dublin on the thirtieth of November, 1667. His father was steward to the society of the King's Inns, but died in abject poverty before the birth of his distinguished son. His mother, a lady of Leicestershire, possessed no other fortune than a trifling annuity of twenty pounds a year; and the future poet was, therefore, from his infancy, thrown upon the bounty of his uncle, who, though kind and benevolent, had little to bestow upon his destitute nephew. The circumstances of want and dependence with which Swift was early familiar, seemed to have sunk deep into his haughty soul, and contributed much toward the formation of his future character. 'Born a posthumous child,' says Sir Walter Scott, and bred up an object of charity, he early adopted the custom of observing his birthday as a term, not of joy, but of sorrow, and of reading, when it annually occurred, the striking passage of Scripture in which Job laments and execrates the day upon which it was said in his father's house that a man child was born."

When six years of age Swift was sent to the grammar-school of Kilkenney, and in his fourteenth year was admitted a student of Trinity College, Dublin. His mind had now become somewhat awakened to the beauties of history and poetry, and to those objects he devoted himself to the neglect of academic learning, in consequence of which he was, at the expiration of four years, refused his bachelor's degree. Stung with this disgrace, he resolved from that time to study eight hours a day, and he persevered in this resolution for seven years. In 1688, when in the twenty-first year of his age,

Swift was, by the death of his uncle Godwin, deprived of the meagre support which that kind uncle had been able to extend to him; in consequence of which he repaired to Leicester, where his mother then resided, to consult her respecting the future course of his life. She recommended him to seek the advice and patronage of Sir William Temple, as that nobleman had married one of her distant relatives. Temple received him with much kindness, and ultimately became so much pleased with his conversation that he detained him in his house two years. Here Swift met King William, and from the kindness and familiarity of the monarch's treatment of him, he was led to indulge hopes of preferment; the fulfillment of which, however, was never realized.

In 1692, Swift repaired to Oxford for the purpose of taking his master's degree ; and having obtained this distinction, he resolved to quit the establishment of Sir William, and take orders in the Irish Church. He procured the prebend of Kilroot, in the diocess of Connor, but soon became disgusted with the life of an obscure country clergyman with an income of a hundred pounds a year. He therefore relinquished his living at Kilroot, and returned to the residence of Sir William Temple, at Moor-park. Temple died in 1699, and Swift embraced an opportunity which soon after offered, of accompany. ing Lord Berkeley into Ireland in the capacity of chaplain. From this nobleman he obtained the rectory of Aghar, and the vicarages of Laracor and Rathveggan; to which was afterward added the prebend of Dunlavin ; all of which however, made his income only about two hundred pounds per annum. In 1701, Swift became a political writer on the side of the Whigs; and on his subsequent visit to England, he associated intimately with Addison, Steele, and Arbuthnot. In 1710, conceiving, and perhaps justly that he was neglected by the ministry, he quarrelled with the Whigs, and united with Harley and the Tory administration. He was, of course, received with open arms; for he carried with him strong weapons for party warfare—irresistible and unscrupulous satire, steady hate, and a dauntless spirit. From his new allies, he received, in 1713, the deanery of St. Patrick's, in Ireland, which was the highest point in church dignity that he ever attained.

With the return of Swift to Ireland is connected the development of some of the most extraordinary events of his life. During his residence at Moorpark, he had contracted an intimacy with Hester Johnson, daughter of Sir William Temple's steward; and on his settlement in Ireland, that lady, accompanied by another female of middle age, went to reside in his neighborhood. Her future life became, from that period, intimately connected with that of Swift, and he has immortalized her under the name of Stella. All this is poetic, and so far pardonable ; but, unfortunately, while residing in London, he had engaged the affections of another young lady, Esther Vanhomrigh, who, under the name of Vanessa, rivalled Stella in poetical celebrity, and in personal misfortune. After the death of her father, this young lady and her sister retired to Ireland where they possessed a small property near Dublin. Human nature has, perhaps, never before or since presented the spectacle of a man of such transcendant powers involved in such a pitiable labyrinth of the affections. His pride or ambition led him to postpone indefinitely his marriage with Stella, to whom he was early and ardently attached ; and he dared not afterward, with manly sincerity, declare his situation to Vanessa, when this second victim avowed her passion. He was flattered that a girl of eighteen, of beauty and accomplishments, sighed for “a gown of forty-four,' and he did not stop to weigh the consequences. The removal of Vanessa to Ireland, as Stella had done before, to be near the presence of Swift—her irrepressible passion, which no coldness or neglect could extinguish-her life of deep seclusion, only chequered by his occasional visits, each of which she commemorated by planting, with her own hand, a laurel in the garden where they met—her agonizing remonstrances, when all her devotion and offerings had failed, are touching beyond expression. The reason I write to you,' she says, “is because I can not tell it to you, should I see you. For when I begin to complain, then you are angry; and there is something in your looks so awful, that it strikes me dumb. 0! that you may have so much regard for me left, that this complaint may touch your soul with pity. I say as little as ever I can. Did


but know what I thought, I am sure it would move you to forgive me, and believe that I can not help telling you this, and live.'

To a lady thus agitated and engrossed with the strongest passion, how cruel must have seemed the following return of Swift :

Cadenus, common forms apart,
In every scene had kept his heart;
Had sighed and languished, vowed and writ
For pastime, or to show his wit;
But books, and time, and state affairs,
Had spoiled his fashionable airs;
He now could praise, esteem, approve,
But understood not what was love:
His conduct might have made him styled
A father, and the nymph his child.
That innocent delight he took
To see the virgin mind her book,
Was but the master's secret joy
In school to hear the finest boy.

The tragedy continued to deepen as it approached its close. Eight years had Vanessa nursed in solitude the hopeless attachment. At length she wrote to Stella, to ascertain the nature of the connection between her and Swift; and the latter, obtaining the fatal letter, rode instantly over to Marley abbey, the residence of the unhappy Vanessa. "As he entered the apartment,' to adopt the picturesque language of Scott used in recording the scene, “the sternness of his countenance, which was peculiarly formed to express the stronger passions, struck the unfortunate Vanessa with such terror that she could scarce ask whether he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a letter on the table; and instantly leaving the house, mounted his horse, and returned to Dublin. When Vanessa opened the packet, she only found her own letter to Stella. It was her death-warrant. She sunk at once under the disappointment of the delayed yet cherished hopes which had so long sickened her heart, and beneath the unrestrained wrath of him for whose sake she had indulged them. How long she survived this last interview is uncertain, but the time does not seem to have exceeded a few weeks. Even Stella, though ultimately united to Swift, dropped into the grave without any public recognition of the tie, the marriage being secretly performed in the garden of the deanery, when on her part all but life had faded away. In the subsequent life and melancholy death of Swift, the fair sufferers were deeply avenged.

To interpret Swift's conduct toward Stella and Vanessa, is extremely difficult. The only charitable---perhaps the just—interpretation is, that the malady which at length overwhelmed his reason might then have been lurking in his frame: the heart might have felt its ravages before they reached the intellect. From the time of Stella's death, which occurred in January, 1727, Swift habituated himself much to retirement, and the austerity of his temper increased : he would no more participate in public entertainments, and he sometimes avoided the company of his most intimate friends. At length, even retirement itself wearied him, and the absence


of former associates and associations preyed upon his restless spirit till it produced intensest anguish. In a letter to Gay, written in 1732, he says,

he had a large house, and should hardly find one visitor, if he was not able to hire him with a bottle of wine;' and in another to Pope he exclaims, “all my friends have forsaken me. He realized, when too late, that he who spurns the world, will invariably find the world quite ready to spurn him in return. Old age was now rapidly approaching, deafness and giddiness his constant attendants, his temper ungovernable, and his reason giving way. Truly and beautifully has Scott said, “the stage darkened ere the curtain fell. The almost total silence that pervaded the last three years of his life absolutely appals and overawes the imagination. His death occurred on the nineteenth of October, 1745, and he was buried in St. Patrick's cathedral, amid the tears and prayers of his countrymen.

Notwithstanding all Swift's moral delinquencies, he was still a devoted patriot. When he first settled in Ireland he was greatly disliked, but the Drapier's Letters, and other similar works soon gave him unbounded popularity. His wish to serve his country was one of his ruling passions ; yet it was something like the instinct of inferior animals toward their offspring—waywardness, contempt, and abuse were strangely mingled with affectionate attachment and ardent zeal. Kisses and curses were alternately on his lips. Ireland, however, gave him her whole heart—of the rabble he was more than king; hence the tears and prayers that attended his death. His fortune, which amounted to nearly twelve thousand pounds, he left chiefly to found a hospital for lunatics in Dublin.

Swift's poetry is a perfect model of its kind. He never attempted to rise above the visible earth. He was content to lash the frivolities of the age, and to depict its absurdities. In his too faithful representations, there is much to condemn and much to admire. Who has not felt the truth and humor of his City Shower, and his description of Morning. Or the liveliness of his Grand Question Debated, in which the knight, his lady, and the chambermaid, are so admirably drawn. His most ambitious flight is his Rhapsody on Poetry; and even this is pitched on a rather low key. The best lines in it are the following :

Not empire to the rising sun,
By valour, conduct, fortune won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round,
Such heavenly influence require,
As how to strike the muses' lyre.

Swift's verses on his own death are the finest example of his peculiar poetical vein that his poems afford. He predicts what his friends will say of his illness, his death, and his reputation; varying the style and the topics to

suit each of the parties. The versification is easy and flowing, with nothing but the most familiar and common-place expressions. There are some little touches of homely pathos, which are felt like trickling tears, and the effect of the piece altogether, is electrical : it carries with it the strongest conviction of its sincerity and truth; and we see and feel how faithful a delineator of human nature, in its frailty and weakness, was the misanthropic dean of St. Patrick's. From this poem we select the following extract:



Suppose me dead; and then suppose
A club assembled at the Rose,
Where, from discourse of this and that,
I grew the subject of their chat.

• The dean, if we believe report
Was never ill-received at court.
Although ironically grave,
He shamed the fool, and lashed the knave.
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own.'

Sir, I have heard another story;
He was a most confounded Tory,
And grew, or he is much belied,
Extremely dull, before he died.'

"Can we the Drapier then forget ?
Is not our nation in his debt?
'T was he that writ the Drapier's letters !!

'He should have left them for his betters;
We had a hundred abler men,
Nor need depend upon his pen.
Say what you will about his reading,
You never can defend his breeding;
Who, in his satires running riot,
Could never leave the world in quiet;
Attacking, when he took the whim,
Court, city, camp—all one to him.
But why would he, except he slobbered,
Offend our patriot, great Sir Robert,
Whose counsels aid the sovereign power
To save the nation every hour ?
What scenes of evil he unravels,
In satires, libels, lying travels!
Not sparing his own clergy-cloth,
But eats into it like a moth !'

Perhaps I may allow, the dean
Had too much satire in his vein,
And seemed determined not to starve it
Because no age could more deserve it.
Vice, if it e'er can be abashed,
Must be or ridiculed or lashed.
If you resent it who is to blame?
He neither knew you, nor your name:

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