Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/321

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ii s. XL APRIL IT, 1915.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


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somewhere near the Cordilleras (Mendoza, if I recollect rightly), and was supposed to purify all germ-bearing water. How far the alleged efficiency was supported by scientific experiment I am unable to say.

E. STAFFORD.

These " drip -stones," as they are called locally, are still fairly common throughout the West Indies. They are not so often seen in Barbados, because that island enjoys a very extensive pipe supply of water from copious subterranean sources. In plantation houses, where the inhabitants are dependent more especially on rain- water storage, these stones are still useful. While staying last year in Dominica, we daily drank water from one of these filters, which stood in a shady corner of the veran- dah, cased in, as described by your corre- spondent.

Col. B wrote from St. John's, Antigua, in 1826-9 :

"The town's-people trust for their supplies to their tanks and cisterns of rain water, which is very sweet and cool when passed through a drip- stone." ' Four Years' Residence in the West Indies,' 3rd ed., p. 308.

V. L. OLIVER.

Sunninghill.

I left Barbados in 1903. These stones were still in use then. I remember them as described ; they were of limestone.

A. McCoNNEY.

Newick, Sussex.


The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift. Edited by F. Elrington Ball. Vols. V. and VI. (Bell & Sons, 10s. Qd. net each.)

THE two volumes before us complete the issue of Swift's letters begun in 1910, and the whole collection is now available, constituting a monu- ment of patience and research which is a worthy tribute by the editor, Dr. Ball, to the memory of his friend Csesar Litton Falkiner, and which puts all serious students of eighteenth-century letters under a great obligation. Every page shows the wide knowledge and unwearied in- dustry of the editor, and there can be few col- lections of any author's letters which reveal a similar completeness of annotation. Here is our nearest approach to understanding the mys- terious life of a compelling genius, and in such books as these, edited by a master hand, we get nearer to the " form and pressure " of the time than a dozen glib handbooks of literary epochs can bring us.

The times had begun to press hardly on Swift by 1733, the date of the first letter in vol. v. He speaks of his " old disorder of giddiness," and of " the printing of my things going on here "


as "an evil I cannot prevent." Stella and' Vanessa were long dead ; Pope would not risk crossing the sea to Ireland ; Arbuthnot, the only other survivor of the wits of the " Scriblerus Club," was dying ; and the Dean was increasingly solitary so far as intercourse with the best in- tellects he once knew was concerned. He out- lived most of them, for the end did not come tilli 1745 ; but as early as 1737 his mind began to- give way. Such is the date provided by good, authority, but we are inclined to think that Swift had his reasonable wits till later. Occasional! lapses of memory are not sufficient evidence. A man of his immense pride, independence, and originality may easily be credited with mental decay before the accusation is justified. The commission de lunatico inquirendo came when Swift's case was hopeless in 1742, and the last letter of his given here belongs to June, 1741. It is an effort to help one of his young relations, and such help for all deserving persons is characteristic- of Swift in these declining days, as is a certain stinginess in regard to his own expenses. The letters show his keenness to arrange his money to the best advantage in view of his hospital for lunatics. Always clear and dignified where dignity is required, they show, too, occasionally Swift's gift for sarcasm, concealed, like Gibbon's, in an apparently ingenuous phrase, but they are Seldom vivid, being good examples of that solid eighteenth- century diction which often hides real feeling.. Once indeed, in rebuking the folly of Lord Orrery,, he writes with unmistakable, brief vigour as one who knows his power and means to use it. His relations with this nobleman and with Lord Castle-Durrow reveal him in a pleasing light. as a mentor who has no need to indulge in sar- casm and bitterness. Lord Castle-Durrow writes in 1736 as a lover of Virgil and Horace somewhat, out of practice, and encloses a classical render- ing, though he knows it is " death " to Swift to- see either Virgil or Horace " mangled." Oddly enough, in the preceding letter to Pope Swift does mangle Horace, for he quotes the last line of the eighteenth of Horace's First Book of Epistles in a way that will not scan, giving " animam. mihi " for " aequum mi anirnum." Here and in a few other places Dr. Ball does not supply the* reference.

The letters from women such as Lady Eliza- beth Germain and Mrs. Pendarves are of de- cided interest. For them, at least, Swift remains the great man to be adroitly flattered when he- is not feared. It is a pity that we have not his letters to them, for he wrote better, we think,, to women when he liked them than to men. With Mrs. Whiteway he remains on free and affectionate^ terms to the end, but much of her correspondence- is mixed up with that of the Rev. Thomas Sheridan, a gay dog who is determined to be funny, and', descends to expedients long since ranked with' obsolete humour, such as the separating of English words into fragments that look like bits of Latin. A jovial and sensual creature, Sheridan*, was no fit correspondent for such a man as Swift,, and we can well imagine that his humour served because there was none other to hand. Swift' speaks in a letter to Pope (1730) of a long list of men of great distinction of his acquaintance who- were all dead within twenty years past.

Pope, the chief representative of literature of" the period, went on living, indeed, and wrote with elaborate enthusiasm and much affectation of: