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The reasonableness of a Test is not hard to be proved; but 32 perhaps it must be allowed that the proper test has not been chosen 1.
The attention paid to the papers published under the name of 33 Bickerstaff induced Steele, when he projected The Tatler, to assume an appellation which had already gained possession of the reader's notice 2.
In the year following he wrote A Project for the Advancement 34 of Religion3, addressed to Lady Berkeley, by whose kindness it is not unlikely that he was advanced to his benefices. To this project, which is formed with great purity of intention, and displayed with spriteliness and elegance, it can only be objected that, like many projects, it is, if not generally impracticable, yet evidently hopeless, as it supposes more zeal, concord, and perseverance than a view of mankind gives reason for expecting 5.
1 Lord Eldon said much the same in 1828, when in vain he opposed the abolition of the test. 'He had never desired to retain the sacramental test, if any other equivalent security could be substituted.' Twiss's Eldon, 1846, ii. 206.
By this Act all officers, civil and military, had to receive the sacrament according to the Church of England within six months after their admission. Blackstone's Commentaries, ed. 1775, iv. 58.
In a debate in the House of Commons in 1736, it was stated that on account of the terrible indecencies some have been guilty of upon such occasions, it is the common practice for the curate to desire the legal communicants to divide themselves from those who come for the sake of devotion.' Parl. Hist. ix. 1050.
Swift wrote on Nov. 25, 1711: 'I was early with the Secretary to-day, but he was gone to his devotions, and to receive the sacrament; several rakes did the same; it was not for piety, but employments; according to act of parliament.' Works, ii. 412. The Secretary was St. John (Bolingbroke), Johnson's scoundrel, who charged a blunderbuss against religion and morality.' Boswell's Johnson, i. 268. Hume and Gibbon must have taken the test for the offices they held. Swift opposed its abolition
in Ireland. Works, viii. 345. For Dryden's exclusion by it see ante, DRYDEN, 136.
2 In the Preface to vol. iv Steele writes:-'I have in the Dedication of the first volume made my acknowledgments to Dr. Swift, whose pleasant writings, in the name of Bickerstaff, created an inclination in the town towards anything that could appear in the same disguise.' For Swift's Bickerstaff papers see Works, viii. 437-end. Pope addresses him in The Dunciad, i. 19:
'O Thou! whatever title please thine ear,
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver!'
3 Works, viii. 78. Swift begins his Project with a mystification, for he describes it as 'By a Person of Quality.'
Ante, SWIFT, 22. In his Dedication he says that she has been 'grafted into a family, which the unmeasurable profusion of ancestors for many generations had too much eclipsed.' Works, viii. 80.
5 The great Reformer was to be the Queen. She should begin with her domestics of the middle and lower sort,' and 'oblige them to a constant weekly attendance, at least, on the service of the Church . . . and to the appearance, at least, of temperance and chastity.' She should next re
He wrote likewise this year A Vindication of Bickerstaff1, and an explanation of an Ancient Prophecy, part written after the facts, and the rest never completed, but well planned to excite amazement.
Soon after began the busy and important part of Swift's life. He was employed (1710) by the primate of Ireland3 to solicit the Queen for a remission of the First Fruits and Twentieth parts to the Irish Clergy. With this purpose he had recourse to Mr. Harley, to whom he was mentioned as a man neglected and oppressed by the last ministry, because he had refused to cooperate with some of their schemes. What he had refused has
form 'those of higher rank. Morality and religion would soon become fashionable Court virtues.' Works, viii. p. 85. Hypocrisy would, no doubt, be increased, but 'hypocrisy is much more eligible than open infidelity and vice.' lb. p. 97. He attacks the London magistrates who often enrich themselves by encouraging the grossest immoralities; to whom all the bawds of the ward pay contribution for shelter and protection from the laws.' Ib. p. 94. All taverns should be cleared at midnight; 'no woman should be suffered to enter them upon any pretence whatsoever,' and the landlords should be 'obliged, upon the severest penalties,' to limit the quantity of drink. Ib. p. 100. See also post, SWIFT, 138 n.
Steele praised this pamphlet in The Tatler for April 21, 1709. He quoted this Tatler in his Apology occasioned by his Expulsion from the House of Commons. Parl. Hist. vi.
was not altogether devoid of wit, till it was extruded from his head to make room for other men's thoughts.' Works, ix. 269.
The Pope had claimed the firstfruits of all benefices,-'the first year's whole profits'-and the tenths-'the tenth part of the annual profit.' On the Reformation this revenue was annexed to the Crown. 'In Charles II's time it went chiefly among his women and his natural children.' As the valuation had not been raised, the amount paid 'was in most places not above the fifth part of the true value.' In England the whole amounted to about £16,000 a year. By statute 2 Anne, c. II, it was applied to the augmentation of poor livings, under the title of Queen Anne's Bounty. Blackstone, 1775, i. 284; Burnet's Hist. iv. 32.
A like indulgence was sought for the Irish Church. The twentieth
parts,' writes Swift, 'are twelve pence in the pound, paid annually out of all benefices, as they were valued at the Reformation.' The total yearly revenue paid to the Crown amounted to £3,000. Works, xv. 362. In his Change in the Queen's Ministry he says that it was 'the first fruits and tenths that he solicited.' Ib. iii. 184. In July, 1711, the twentieth parts were remitted, and the first-fruits granted for buying impropriations ('church land in the hands of a layman'). Ib. xv. 437.
5 'I got myself represented as one extremely ill-used by the last ministry after some obligations, because I re
never been told; what he had suffered was, I suppose, the exclusion from a bishoprick by the remonstrances of Sharpe, whom he describes as 'the harmless tool of others' hate,' and whom he represents as afterwards 'suing for pardon '.'
Harley's designs and situation were such as made him glad of 37 an auxiliary so well qualified for his service; he therefore soon admitted him to familiarity, whether ever to confidence some have made a doubt 3; but it would have been difficult to excite his zeal without persuading him that he was trusted, and not very easy to delude him by false persuasions.
He was certainly admitted to those meetings in which the first 38 hints and original plan of action are supposed to have been formed, and was one of the sixteen Ministers, or agents of the Ministry, who met weekly at each other's houses, and were united by the name of Brother".
Being not immediately considered as an obdurate Tory 5, he 39 conversed indiscriminately with all the wits, and was yet the friend of Steele, who in The Tatler, which began in 1710, confesses the advantages of his conversation', and mentions something contributed by him to his paper. But he was now im
fused to go certain lengths they would have me. This happened to be in some sort Mr. Harley's own case.' Works, xv. 364. See also ib. ii. 29. For his gross flattery of Halifax in 1709 with a view to preferment see his two letters to him in Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 201. For Harley, Earl of Oxford, see ante, PRIOR, 21, 35; CONGREVE, 28.
'Ante, SWIFT, 26 n.
He told me that their great difficulty lay in the want of some good pen to keep up the spirit raised in the people.' Works, iii. 185.
Orrery, p. 44. Swift wrote on Nov. 11, 1710:-'Mr. St. John told me that Mr. Harley complained he could keep nothing from me, I had the way so much of getting into him. I knew that was a refinement.' Works, ii. 77. (Refinement, in this sense, is defined by Johnson as 'artificial practice.') Lewis (ante, GAY, 13) wrote to Swift on Aug. 6, 1713 of Harley :-'His mind has been communicated more freely to you than any other.' Ib. xvi. 58.
5 In 1716 Swift wrote that he was always a Whig in politics.' Works, xvi. 267. He always defended the Revolution. In 1724 he wrote:-'All government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.' Ib. vi. 422. See also ib. iii. 255, vii. 477, viii. 266, xvi. 345; Letters to Chetwode, p. 88; post, SWIFT, 115.
"It began on April 12, 1709.
7'A certain uncommon way of thinking, and a turn in conversation peculiar to that agreeable gentleman, rendered his company very advantageous to one whose imagination was to be continually employed upon obvious and common subjects, though at the same time obliged to treat of them in a new and unbeaten method.' The Tatler, Preface to vol. iv. On Dec. 14, 1710, Swift wrote:-'The ministry hate to think that I should help Steele; ... and I frankly told them I would do it no more.' Works, ii. 107.
Description of the Morning in
merging into political controversy; for the same year produced The Examiner, of which Swift wrote thirty-three papers1. In argument he may be allowed to have the advantage; for where a wide system of conduct and the whole of a publick character is laid open to enquiry, the accuser having the choice of facts must be very unskilful if he does not prevail; but with regard to wit, I am afraid none of Swift's papers will be found equal to those by which Addison opposed him 2.
40 Early in the next year he published A Proposal for correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English Tongue, in a Letter to the Earl of Oxford3, written without much knowledge of the general nature of language, and without any accurate enquiry into the history of other tongues. The certainty and stability which, contrary to all experience, he thinks attainable, he proposes to secure by instituting an academy; the decrees of which every man would have been willing, and many would have been proud to disobey, and which, being renewed by successive elections, would in a short time have differed from itself.
41 He wrote the same year A Letter to the October Club 5, a number of Tory gentlemen sent from the country to Parliament, who formed themselves into a club, to the number of about a hundred,
Town, No. 9, and Description of a
Ante, SMITH, 2 n.; KING, 13; PRIOR, 22. Swift wrote all the numbers from 13 to 45. Works, iii. 252. On July 17, 1711, he wrote to Stella:'No, I don't like anything in The Examiner after the 45th, except the first part of the 46th; all the rest is trash.' Ib. ii. 303. See also ib. p. 393.
2 The last Whig Examiner was on Oct. 12, 1710. Addison's Works, iv. 390. Swift's first Examiner appeared on Nov. 2.
3 Ante, ROSCOMMON, 14; PRIOR, 15; Works, ix. 133. It was published, not the next year, but in 1712. In Johnson's Works, 1825, viii. 202, the mistake is corrected by a silent transposition of paragraphs. Swift wrote on May 10, 1712:-'My letter is now printing, and I suffer my name to be put at the end of it, which I never did before in my life.' Works, iii. 26. See also ib. ii. 282, 486, xv. 435, 492, xvi. 5, and post, SWIFT, 75 n. 2.
'Les membres de ce corps auraient
and met to animate the zeal and raise the expectations of each other. They thought, with great reason, that the ministers were losing opportunities; that sufficient use was not made of the ardour of the nation; they called loudly for more changes and stronger efforts, and demanded the punishment of part, and the dismission of the rest, of those whom they considered as publick robbers.
Their eagerness was not gratified by the Queen or by Harley. 42 The Queen was probably slow because she was afraid, and Harley was slow because he was doubtful: he was a Tory only by necessity or for convenience, and when he had power in his hands had no settled purpose for which he should employ it; forced to gratify to a certain degree the Tories who supported him, but unwilling to make his reconcilement to the Whigs utterly desperate, he corresponded at once with the two expectants of the Crown3, and kept, as has been observed, the succession undetermined. Not knowing what to do he did nothing; and with the fate of a double-dealer at last he lost his power, but kept his enemies *.
Swift seems to have concurred in opinion with the October 43 Club; but it was not in his power to quicken the tardiness of Harley, whom he stimulated as much as he could, but with little effect. He that knows not whither to go, is in no haste to move. Harley, who was perhaps not quick by nature, became yet more slow by irresolution, and was content to hear that
'On Feb. 18, 1710-11, Swift wrote: -'We are plagued here with an October Club; that is, a set of above a hundred parliamentmen of the country, who drink October beer at home, and meet every evening at a tavern near the parliament . . . to drive things on to extremes against the Whigs... and get off five or six heads.' Works, ii. 177. On April 13 he wrote:-'The Club is about 150.' Ib. ii. 226. See also ib. iii. 188, v. 141, xv. 384, 400.
Coxe describes him as 'a Whig in his heart and a Tory from ambition.' Memoirs of Walpole, 1798, i. 198.
Bolingbroke accused him before the Queen of 'maintaining a private correspondence with the House of
Hanover.' Smollett's Hist. of Eng. ii. 289. In Article iv of his impeachment he is charged with corresponding with the Pretender's mother. Parl. Hist. vii. 120. For his correspondence with the Pretender in 1716, see Dict. Nat. Biog. xxiv. 404. Of earlier correspondence there is no mention in the article.
4 'He was a greater object of the hatred of the Whigs than all the rest of the ministry together.' SWIFT, Works, v. 259.
5 Swift mentions that incurable disease, either of negligence or procrastination, which influenced every action both of the Queen and the Earl of Oxford.' Ib. iii. 165. See also ib. v. 275.