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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 of his own. The great prize has not come yet. The coach with the mitre and crosier 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 curso,
and rides away into his own 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
Swift's seems to me to be as good a name to point a moral or adorn a tale of ambition, as any hero's that
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, ploy 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 overmuch 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 humble
Christian spirit, to conceal their names; it is certain that all persons of true genius or knowledge have an invincible modesty and suspicion of themselves
upon their first sending their thoughts into the world.”
This “invincible modesty” was no doubt the sole reason which induced the Dean to keep the secret of the “Drapier's Letters,” and a hundred humble Christian works of which he was the author. As for the Opposition, the Doctor was for dealing severely with them: he writes to Stella:
JOURNAL. LETTER XIX.
“London, March 25th, 1710-11. "...... We have let Guiscard be buried at last, after showing him pickled in a trough this fortnight for twopence
ever lived and failed. But we must remember that the morality was lax, - that other gentlemen besides himself took the road in his day, — that public society was in a strange disordered condition, and the State was ravaged by other condottieri. The Boyne was being fought and won, and lost — the bells rung in William's victory, in the very same tone with which they would have pealed for James's. Men were loose upon politics, and to shift for themselves. They, as well as old beliefs and institutions, had lost their moorings and gone adrift in the storm. As in the South Sea Bubble almost everybody gambled; as in the Railway mania
not many centuries ago almost every one took his unlucky share; a man of that time, of the vast talents and ambition of Swift, could scarce do otherwise than grasp at his prize, and make his spring at his oppor
a piece; and the fellow that showed would point to his body and say, See, gentlemen, this is the wound that was given him by his Grace the Duke of Ormond;' and, “This is the wound, &c.; and then the show was over, and another set of rabble came in. 'Tis hard that our laws would not suffer us to hang his body in chains, because he was not tried; and in the eye of the law every man is innocent till then."
JOURNAL. LETTER XXVII.
“ London, July 25th, 1711. “I was this afternoon with Mr. Secretary at his office, and helped to hinder a man of his pardon, who is condemned for a rape. The Under Secretary, was willing to save him; but I told the Secretary he could not pardon him without a favourable report from the Judge; besides, he was a fiddler, and consequently a rogue, and deserved hanging for something else, and so he shall swing."
tunity. His bitterness, his scorn, his rage, his subsequent misanthropy, are ascribed by some panegyrists to a deliberate conviction of mankind's unworthiness, and a desire to amend them by castigating. His youth was bitter, as that of a great genius bound down by ignoble ties, and powerless in a mean dependence; his age was bitter, * like that of a great genius that had fought the battle and nearly won it, and lost it, and thought of it afterwards writhing in a lonely exile. A man may attribute to the gods, if he likes, what is caused by his own fury, or disappointment, or self-will. What public man—what statesman projecting a coupwhat king determined on an invasion of his neighbour-what satirist meditating an onslaught on society or an individual, can't give a pretext for his move? There was a French general the other day who proposed to march into this country and put it to sack and pillage, in revenge for humanity outraged by our conduct at Copenhagen, there is always some excuse for men of the aggressive turn. They are of their nature warlike, predatory, eager for fight, plunder, dominion.**
As fierce a beak and talon as ever struck strong a wing as ever beat, belonged to Swift. I am glad, for one, that fate wrested the prey out of his
* It was his constant practice to keep his birth-day as a day of mourning.
** “ These devils of Grub-street rogues, that write the Flying-Post and Medley in one paper, will not be quiet. They are always mauling Lord Î'reasurer, Lord Bolingbroke, and me. We have the dog under prosecution, but Bolingbroke is not active enough; but I hope to swinge him. He is a Scotch rogue, one Ridpath. They get out upon bail, and write on. We take them again, and get fresh bail; so it goes round." - Journal to Stella.
claws, and cut his wings and chained him. gaze, and not without awe and pity, at the lonely eagle chained behind the bars.
That Swift was born at No. 7, Hoey's-court, Dublin, on the 30th November, 1667, is a certain fact, of which nobody will deny the sister island the honour and glory; but, it seems to me, he was no more an Irishman than a man born of English parents at Calcutta is a Hindoo.* Goldsmith was an Irishman and always
* Swift was by no means inclined to forget such considerations; and his English birth makes its mark, strikingly enough, every now and then in his writings. Thus in a letter to Pope (Scott's Swift, vol. xix. p. 97), he says
“We have had your volume of letters Some of those who highly value you, and a few who knew you personally, are grieved to find you make no distinction between the English gentry of this kingdom, and the savage old Irish (who are only the vulgar, and some gentlemen who live in the Irish parts of the kingdom); but the English colonies, who are three parts in four, are much more civilized than many counties in England, and speak better English, and are much better bred."
And again, in the fourth Drapier's Letter, we have the following:
“A short paper, printed at Bristol, and reprinted here, reports Mr. Wood to say that he wonders at the impudence and insolence of the Irish, in refusing his coin. When by the way, it is the true English people of Ireland who refuse it, although we take it for granted that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked.” - Scott's Swift, vol. iv.
He goes further, in a good-humoured satirical paper, “On Barbarous Denominations in Ireland," where (after abusing, as he was wont, the Scotch cadence, as well as expression) he advances to the “Irish brogue,” and speaking of the “censure” which it brings down, says:
“And what is yet worse, it is too well known that the bad