The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 1/Life of Dr. Swift, Section IV

SECTION IV.


AS the brightest and most important part of Swift's life passed during the four last years of queen Anne, when his faculties were all in full vigour, and occasions for displaying them arose adequate to their greatness; I shall omit no circumstance, which may serve to delineate the features and limbs of his mind (if I may be allowed the expression) before disease and age had impaired the bloom of the one, and the strength and agility of the other. To have a perfect portrait and just likeness of a friend, had we our choice of time, we should certainly prefer that period of his life, when he was in his prime, to that of his decay. There have been already given many instances of such a nobleness of mind, such a disinterested spirit in Swift, as are rarely to be found in the annals of history. Yet the part which he acted by his friend Oxford, about the time of the queen's death, exhibits those qualities in a higher point of view, than ever they had appeared in before. It has been already mentioned, that, finding all his endeavours to reconcile his great friends useless, he had retired to Letcomb, in order to make one effort more to compel them to unite for their common interest, by the publication of his "Free Thoughts," &c. Lord Bolingbroke, to whom this piece was shown by Barber, contrived to have the printing of it deferred, as he was then just upon the point of accomplishing his long concerted plan, of turning out lord Oxford, and stepping into his place. This was effected just four days before the queen's death, on the 27th of July, 1714. One of lord Bolingbroke's first objects, upon getting into power, was to secure Swift to his interest. He got lady Masham to write to him, in the most pressing terms, on the 29th, to return immediately to town. And on the 30th, he meant to dispatch Barber to him, with letters from himself and lady Masham for the same purpose. Which is thus related by Barber, in his letter of July 31, past six at night. "I am heartily sorry I should be the messenger of so ill news, as to tell you the queen is dead or dying: if alive, 'tis said she can't live till morning. You may easily imagine the confusion we are all in on this sad occasion. I had set out yesterday to wait on you, but for this sad accident; and should have brought letters from lord Bolingbroke and lady Masham, to have prevented your going. — He said twenty things in your favour, and commanded me to bring you up, whatever was the consequence." It was chiefly through the influence of lady Masham, who was then at the height of favour with the queen, and had openly quarrelled with the treasurer, that he was turned out of his employment, and Bolingbroke appointed minister in his room. Nothing can show, in a stronger light, the great consequence of Swift in all state affairs at that time, than lady Masham's letter to him on this occasion. Which, on that account, I shall here present entire to the reader.


"My good friend,

July 29, 1714.


"I own it looks unkind in me, not to thank you all this time, for your sincere kind letter; but I was resolved to stay till I could tell you, the queen had so far got the better of the Dragon[1], as to take her power out of his hands. He has been the most ungrateful man to her, and to all his best friends, that ever was born. I cannot have so much time now to write all my mind, because my dear mistress is not well; and I think I may lay her illness to the charge of the treasurer, who, for three weeks together, was teasing and vexing her without intermission, and she could not get rid of him till Tuesday last. I must put you in mind of one passage in your letter to me, which is, I pray God to send you wise and faithful friends to advise you at this time, when there are so great difficulties to struggle with. That is very plain and true; therefore will you, who have gone through so much, and taken more pains than any body, and given wise advice (if that wretched man had had sense enough, and honesty to have taken it) I say will you leave us, and go into Ireland? No, it is impossible; your goodness is still the same, your charity and compassion for this poor lady[2], who has been barbarously used, won't let you do it. I know you take delight to help the distressed; and there cannot be a greater object than this good lady, who deserves pity. Pray, dear friend, stay here, and don't believe us all alike, to throw away good advice, and despise every body's understanding but their own. I could say a great deal upon the subject, but I must go to her, for she is not well. This comes to you by a safe hand, so that neither of us need be in any pain about it.

"My lord and brother are in the country. My sister and girls are your humble servants."

So warm and pressing a letter, from one who made, and unmade ministers (for it was to her lord Oxford owed his advancement, as well as his disgrace) intreating, nay, in a manner imploring him to come and be their chief counsellor and director, in their new plan of administration; might have opened the most inviting prospects to Swift, of gratifying his utmost ambition with regard to his own interests; and at the same time, of accomplishing the plan which he had invariably pursued, with respect to those of the publick. But to a man of his delicate sense of honour, there was an insuperable bar in the way to prevent his embracing so flattering an offer. He had two days before received the following letter from lord Oxford, upon his losing the staff.



"If I tell my dear friend the value I put upon his undeserved friendship, it will look like suspecting you or myself. Though I have had no power since the twenty-fifth of July 1713, I believe now, as a private man, I may prevail to renew your licence of absence, conditionally you will be present with me; for to morrow morning I shall be a private person. When I have settled my domestick affairs here, I go to Wimple; thence, alone, to Herefordshire. If I have not tired you tête à tête, fling away so much time upon one, who loves you. And I believe, in the mass of souls, ours were placed near each other. I send you an imitation of Dryden, as I went to Kensington.


"To serve with love,
And shed your blood,
Approved is above:
But here below,
Th' examples show,
Tis fatal to be good."


In these two letters, there were two roads opened to Swift. One, leading to preferment, power, and all that his most ambitious hopes could aspire after. The other to the melancholy cell of a disgraced minister, abandoned by an ungrateful world. Where he might have the satisfaction of affording him in his distress, that sovereign balm of consolation, which can only be administered by a sincere friend. Swift hesitated not a moment in his choice of the alternative, as may be seen by his letter to miss Vanhomrigh, written soon after his receipt of the other two.



"Who told you I was going to Bath? No such thing. But poor lord Oxford desires I will go with him to Herefordshire; and I only expect his answer, whether I shall go there before, or meet him hereabouts, or go to Wimple (his son's house) and so with him down: and I expect to leave this place in two or three days, one way or other. I will stay with him till the parliament meets again, if he desires it. I am written to earnestly by somebody, to come to town, and join with those people now in power; but I will not do it. Say nothing of this, but guess the person. I told lord Oxford I would go with him when he was out; and now he begs it of me, I cannot refuse him. I meddle not with his faults, as he was minister of state; but you know his personal kindness to me was excessive. He distinguished and chose me, above all other men, while he was great, and his letter to me, the other day, was the most moving imaginable," &c.[3]

There is one expression in lord Oxford's letter, which is indeed very affecting, where he says, "I go to Wimple, thence alone to Herefordshire." What! this great minister, who had conferred so many obligations, and made the fortunes of such numbers, not to find one companion to attend him in his reverse of fortune! Methinks I see Swift reading this passage, and exclaiming, "What, alone! No, while I exist, my friend shall not go alone into Herefordshire."

This conduct was the more noble in Swift, as during the whole course of their intimacy, he never received one personal favour from the minister, though treated with the most unreserved kindness by the man. Nay, whether it were owing to his procrastinating temper, or, as Swift calls it in another place, his unmeasurable publick thrift, he had neglected to procure for him an order for a thousand pound on the treasury, to pay the debt contracted by him upon his introduction to the deanery, which was all the reward Swift ever asked for his services[4]. And there is reason to believe, from a passage in a letter of Dr. Arbuthnot to him, dated July 14, that Swift was distressed for money at that time, on account of that neglect. The passage is this, "Do not think I make you a bare compliment in what I am going to say, for I can assure you I am in earnest. I am in hopes to have two hundred pounds before I go out of town, and you may command all, or any part of it you please, as long as you have occasion for it." And in the same letter it appears, that the doctor had been desired by Swift to apply to lord Bolingbroke for fifty pounds due to him from that lord, where he says, "As to the fifty pounds, he (lord Bolingbroke) was ready to pay it, and if he had had it about him, would have given it to me." But it is highly probable, from the great delicacy of Swift's sentiments, that this very circumstance of his lying under no obligation to lord Oxford, was what rendered his attachment to him the stronger, as it must proceed wholly from pure disinterested friendship. That this was his way of thinking, may be seen from several of his letters. In that of July 1, 1714, on his retiring to Letcombe, he thus expresses himself.



"My Lord,


"When I was with you, I have said more than once, that I would never allow quality or station made any real difference between men. Being now absent and forgotten, I have changed my mind: you have a thousand people who can pretend they love you, with as much appearance of sincerity as I; so that, according to common justice, I can have but a thousandth part in return of what I give. And this difference is wholly owing to your station. And the misfortune is still the greater, because I loved you so much the less for your station: for, in your publick capacity, you have often angered me to the heart; but as a private man, never once[5]. So that, if I only look toward myself, I could wish you a private man to morrow: for I have nothing to ask; at least nothing that you will give, which is the same thing: and then you would see, whether I should not with much more willingness attend you in a retirement, whenever you please to give me leave, than ever I did at London or Windsor[6]. From these sentiments, I will never write to you, if I can help it, otherwise than as to a private man, or allow myself to have been obliged by you in any other capacity, &c."

And in one, many years after, dated October 11, 1722, expostulating with him in a friendly manner on his long silence, he says, "I never courted your acquaintance when you governed Europe, but you courted mine; and now you neglect me, when I use all my insinuations to keep myself in your memory. I am very sensible, that next to your receiving thanks and compliments, there is nothing you more hate than writing letters: but since I never gave you thanks, nor made you compliments, I have so much more merit than any of those thousands whom you have less obliged, by only making their fortunes, without taking them into your friendship, as you did me; whom you always countenanced in too publick and particular a manner, to be forgotten either by the world or myself." The merit of Swift, in thus adhering to his friend at this juncture, was the more extraordinary, because he not only sacrificed to it all regard to his own interest, but that of the publick also. It appears, that the queen in the last six months of her life, had changed her whole system with regard to parties, and came entirely round to that which had been the great object of all Swift's politicks, by making a general sweep of the whigs from all their employments, both civil and military: and the only obstacles thrown in the way were by lord Oxford; who from private motives of his own, set forth by Swift at large in his Inquiry, &c.[7], refused to fall into the measure; and notwithstanding every effort used by Swift, continued inflexible in his resolution. He might therefore have had the strongest plea, from motives of a superiour nature, his duty to the publick, for deserting him on this occasion, and joining all his other friends in promoting his favourite plan, so essentially necessary to the support of the common cause. Nor could he have been liable to the least censure or reproach for such conduct. But his high notions of friendship, and delicate sense of honour, outweighed all other considerations, and would not let him hesitate a moment what part he should take.

It appears, in the course of the Journal, that there grew up between the lord treasurer and Swift, a mutual friendship of the most cordial and purest kind. He mentions dining with him sometimes four, sometimes five and six days together; and if he chanced to absent himself two successive days, he was sure of a friendly chiding for it. He seems to have been adopted into the Harley family, and considered on the footing of a near relation. As an instance of this, he says, in his Journal of March 1713, "I have now dined six days successively with lord treasurer. He had invited a good many of his relations; and, of a dozen at table, they were all of the Harley family but myself." He was of all his private parties, and constantly accompanied him in his visits to Windsor. In short, lord Oxford never seemed to have any enjoyment in which he was not a partaker. When we consider, that he had found in one and the same man, the clearest and ablest head to give advice; the most open and candid heart in communicating his sentiments upon all occasions, without the smallest selfish view; joined to the most uncommon talents to support his interests, and the most ardent zeal to promote them; we need not wonder that the minister should use his best endeavours, to attach such a man closely to him. But when in the same person he found the most delightful companion, possessed of an inexhaustible fund of the most original vein of wit and humour, for which he had a perfect relish; and who could at times descend to the bagatelle, and all the sportive plays of fancy, in the unrestrained hour of social mirth and good humour, of which it appears lord Oxford was equally fond; we need not wonder that an old courtier, hackneyed in the ways of men, who perhaps had never found any of these qualities, in an equal degree, in any other mortal, should take him to his bosom, and at once bestow his whole stock of friendship upon a subject so worthy of it. And indeed it does not appear, that out of his own family, there was any other person to whom he showed much attachment, or whose friendship he cultivated to any great degree. This circumstance Swift has touched upon in drawing his character, and considers it as a blameless part of it, where he says, "It may be likewise said of him, that he certainly did not value, or did not understand the art of acquiring friends; having made very few during the time of his power, and contracted a great number of enemies."

On the other hand, lord Oxford, in his private capacity, seems to have possessed a great number of qualities, which were the most likely to endear him to Swift, and secure him the first place in his friendship. By whom he is represented as a person of great virtue, abounding in good nature and good humour. As a great favourer of men of wit and learning, particularly the former, whom he caressed, without distinction of party, and could not endure to think that any of them should be his enemies. He says farther of him, "He had the greatest variety of knowledge that I have any where met; was a perfect master of the learned languages, and well skilled in divinity. He had a prodigious memory, and a most exact judgment. He was utterly a stranger to fear, and consequently had a presence of mind upon all emergencies. His liberality, and contempt of money, were such, that he almost ruined his estate while he was in employment; yet his avarice for the publick was so great, that it neither consisted with the present corruptions of the age, nor the circumstances of the time. He was affable and courteous, extremely easy and agreeable in conversation, and altogether disengaged; regular in his life, with great appearance of piety; nor ever guilty of any expressions, which could possibly tend to what was indecent or prophane." Such a character, even in private life, could not fail of attracting Swift's regard; but when these qualities, so congenial with his own, were found united in a man of the highest station in this country, and one of the most considerable personages of his time in the eyes of all Europe; when such a man, contrary to the usual bent of his nature, eagerly embraced every opportunity of ingratiating himself with Swift, and soliciting his friendship upon his own terms, that of a perfect equality; it is no wonder if these rare qualities were much enhanced in their value by such circumstances; or that Swift, after repeated proofs of his sincerity, should make him a suitable return, and give him the first place in his friendship[8]. But though he justly stood the foremost in this rank, yet were there many others who shared it with him in different proportions. The large heart of Swift had an inexhaustible fund of benevolence, to be apportioned out to the several claimants, according to their several degrees of merit. Among those who vied with lord Oxford for the possession of his friendship, no one seems to have been more assiduous than the second man in the state, though perhaps, in point of abilities, the first in Europe, lord Bolingbroke. But though Swift held his talents in the highest admiration, and made suitable returns for all his personal kindness and attention to him, yet he never seems to have had that cordial regard for him that he showed for lord Oxford. The excellence of whose moral character, established that confidence in him, which is so necessary to a firm friendship; while a notorious deficiency in the other, with regard to some points, created a doubt of his principles with respect to all. And symptoms of this doubt have broken out from Swift on more than one occasion, with regard to his sincerity, though there are good reasons to believe his suspicions were unjust, as his attachment to him continued equally strong to the very last, and his friendship for him glows with uncommon ardour throughout his whole epistolary correspondence, in the decline, of life, when there could have been no use for dissimulation. The zeal which he showed for Swift's service, may be estimated by the following note which he sent him, at the time that the affair of his promotion was depending. "Though I have not seen you, I did not fail to write to lord treasurer. Non tua res agitur[9], dear Jonathan; it is the treasurer's cause; it is my cause; 'tis every man's cause, who is embarked on our bottom. Depend upon it, that I will never neglect any opportunity of showing that true esteem, that sincere affection, and honest friendship for you, which fills the breast of your faithful servant,


But the light in which he considered lord Bolingbroke, will best appear from his own account of him, in a piece written in the year 1715, entitled, "An Inquiry into the Behaviour of the Queen's last Ministry, &c." "It happens to very few men, in any age or country, to come into the world with so many advantages of nature and fortune, as the late secretary Bolingbroke: descended from the best families in England, heir to a great patrimonial estate, of a sound constitution, and a most graceful, amiable person. But all these, had they been of equal value, were infinitely inferiour in degree to the accomplishments of his mind, which was adorned with the choicest gifts that God hath yet thought fit to bestow on the children of men: a strong memory, a clear judgment, a vast range of wit and fancy, a thorough comprehension, an invincible eloquence, with a most agreeable elocution. He had well cultivated all these talents by travel and study; the latter of which he seldom omitted, even in the midst of his pleasures, of which he had indeed been too great and criminal a pursuer. For, although he was persuaded to leave off intemperance in wine, which he did for some time to such a degree, that he seemed rather abstemious; yet he was said to allow himself other liberties, which can by no means be reconciled to religion or morals, whereof, I have reason to believe, he began to be sensible. But he was fond of mixing pleasure and business, and of being esteemed excellent at both: upon which account he had a great respect for the characters of Alcibiades and Petronius, especially the latter, whom he would be gladly thought to resemble."[10]

But an Alcibiades, or a Petronius, was not likely to be the bosom friend of a Swift, however he might admire his talents, or delight in his society, as a companion. In his political character indeed, Swift was very closely connected with him, as lord Bolingbroke adopted all his ideas, and strenuously supported the measures he proposed: and that they were not pursued. Swift lays the whole blame, in many places, on his friend Oxford, entirely acquitting lord Bolingbroke of being in the wrong, in any of the differences subsisting between them on that score. In his first letter to lord Bolingbroke, after the queen's death, dated August 7, 1714, he says, "I will swear for no man's sincerity, much less that of a minister of state: but thus much I have said, whereever it was proper, that your lordship's proposals were always the fairest in the world, and I faithfully delivered them as I was empowered: and although I am no very skilful man at intrigue, yet I durst forfeit my head, that if the case were mine, I could either have agreed with you, or put you dans vôtre tort[11]."

We have already seen in his pamphlet of Free Thoughts, &c. intended to be published before the death of the queen, that he throws the whole blame of the desperate state to which affairs were brought at that time, on the lord treasurer.

After lord Oxford, the persons among the great, who seemed to have had the principal share of his affection, were lord Peterborow, and the duke of Ormond, to which he had the amplest returns from both. Of the great degree of mutual friendship which subsisted between the former and him, among many other proofs, the following short abstract from his Journal, affords a striking instance.

January 10, 1712-13, "At seven this evening, as we sat after dinner at lord treasurer's, a servant said, lord Peterborow was at the door. Lord treasurer and lord Bolingbroke went out to meet him, and brought him in. He was just returned from abroad, where he has been above a year. As soon as he saw me, he left the duke of Ormond, and other lords, and ran and kissed me before he spoke to them; but chid me terribly for not writing to him, which I never did this last time he was abroad, not knowing where he was; and he changed places so often, it was impossible a letter should overtake him. I do love the hangdog dearly." The circumstance of lord Peterborow's breaking from the duke of Ormond, and the other lords, to embrace Swift first, shows the warmth of his affection; which could make him forget all rules of decorum on the occasion; and Swift's homely expression of "loving the hangdog dearly," shows more clearly, than the choicest phrases could, that fondness in friendship, which nothing but the most intimate familiarity can excite[12].

As to the duke of Ormond, he always speaks of him with that tenderness, which only the warmest affection can inspire; and it appears, that he was equally beloved by the duke, and had more influence with him than any man living. Beside these, he lived in the greatest intimacy with almost all the distinguished men of rank at that time; among which number were, the duke of Hamilton, lord keeper Harcourt, lord Pembroke, lord Rivers, lord Bathurst, lord Carteret, lord Lansdown, sir Thomas Hanmer (speaker), sir William Wyndham, and many others. Nor were his friendships confined only to the great, all men of genius he looked upon, and treated as his brethren. Of this number were Addison, Congreve, Arbuthnot, Prior, Pope, Gay, Parnell, Garth, Berkeley, and others of inferiour note. To promote whose interests, he chiefly used the influence he had with the great, to the utter neglect of his own, and to raise whose character and reputation in the world, he used all the means which his own high credit gave him. And he had still a sufficient stock of amity for several in the more private walks of life, whom he selected as the companions of his disengaged hours, on account of their good sense, integrity, and complaisance of behaviour. Among the foremost of these, were, Lewis, Ford, sir Andrew Fountain, Dr. Friend, colonel Disney, captain Charlton, Domville, and many others: all men of excellent characters. Added to these, there was a considerable number in an humbler sphere, whose sole patron he was, and for whom he made ample provision, merely on account of their merit or distress, without being influenced by ties of consanguinity, or partial recommendations.

His behaviour to these different classes, showed an uncommon greatness of soul. He studiously cultivated the acquaintance of all men of genius, whom he treated with a brotherly affection; and never let them feel the superiority which his right of eldership gave him over them, but, on the contrary, either endeavoured to raise them to his own height, or placed himself on a level with them.

With his friends in private life, he was easy, familiar, indulgent, and kind.

Such as were under his protection, never felt the weight of dependence. There was no occasion for dancing attendance, or frequent importunities, he always had them in mind, and served them the instant it was in his power: nor did he expect any returns for his favours, though he was pleased when he saw marks of a grateful mind.

But to all men of rank and station, he asserted that noble independence of spirit which becomes the freeborn mind. He made no allowance for the casual superiority, which birth, or fortune, or human institutions had given them, but valued them in proportion only to that higher nobility of soul derived from God and nature. He had long beheld with indignation the mean condescensions and homage paid by men of genius, to scoundrels in power, and titled fools, and was determined to afford a striking example in himself of a contrary conduct, by reclaiming the rights due to superiority of talents over those of birth or fortune. In one of his Tatlers, he says, "If those who possess great endowments of the mind, would set a just value on themselves, they would think no man's acquaintance whatsoever a condescension, nor accept it from the greatest, upon unworthy or ignominious terms." But Swift was not content with this negative virtue, of not seeking their acquaintance upon improper terms, but resolved to dispute their right to that superiority over his brethren, which they had so long possessed, and put in his claim to receive that homage from them, which had always been paid them by others. Accordingly he laid it down as a rule, that he never would solicit the acquaintance of any man, let his quality or station be what it would; but that all who were desirous of the honour of being ranked among the number of his friends, should make the first advances to him. Of this we have a remarkable instance in his Journal, May 19, 1711. " Mr. secretary told me, the duke of Buckingham had been talking much to him about me, and desired my acquaintance. I answered it could not be, for he had not made sufficient advances. Then the duke of Shrewsbury said he thought that duke was not used to make advances. I said, I could not help that; for I always expected advances in proportion to men's quality, and more from a duke than any other man. The duke replied, that he did not mean any thing of his quality, which was handsomely said enough, for he meant his pride." In another place, July 29, 1711, he says, "I was at court and church to day, as I was this day sennight; I generally am acquainted with about thirty in the drawingroom, and I am so proud I make all the lords come up to me."

Nor was this rule confined to the men only; he demanded and received the same homage from the vainer sex also, in order to render the empire of genius and talents universal. In his Journal, October 7, 1711, he has this passage. "I saw lord Halifax at court, and we joined and talked, and the duchess of Shrewsbury came up and reproached me for not dining with her: I said, that was not so soon done, for I expected more advances from ladies, especially duchesses: she promised to comply with any demands I pleased; and I agreed to dine with her to morrow, &c. Lady Oglethorp brought me and the duchess of Hamilton together to day in the drawingroom, and I have given her some encouragement, but not much." In a letter to the duchess of Queensbury, many years after, he says, "I am glad you know your duty; for it has been a known and established rule above twenty years in England, that the first advances have been constantly made me by all ladies, who aspired to my acquaintance, and the greater their quality, the greater were their advances." Nor was it for himself only that he demanded this privilege, but as far as lay in his power, would have it extended to all his brethren. When lord Oxford had desired Swift to introduce Dr. Parnell to him, he refused to do it, upon this principle, that a man of genius was a character superiour to that of a lord in high station, and therefore obliged my lord to introduce himself: which he did in the most courteous manner. On which occasion Swift in his Journal boastingly says, "I value myself upon making the ministry desire to be acquainted with Parnell, and not Parnell with the ministry." His contemporary authors all received the benefit of this, and by following his example, in placing a proper value on themselves, were treated with more respect than ever fell to the share of their predecessors, or those who have since succeeded them. Pope acknowledges his obligation to him on this score, where he says, "The top pleasure of my life is one I learned from you, both how to gain, and how to use the freedom of friendship with men much my superiours."

Nothing but the extraordinary talents of Swift, and uncommon degree of merit in a variety of ways, could possibly have made the great ones of the world descend so far from their pride, as to admit this new claim, and pay him that homage which they had always considered as due only to themselves. And indeed he seems to have been looked up to by all the world, as one of a superiour race of beings, or, like the phenix, as one who formed a class in the individual, standing alone, without a rival or competitor[13]. And though encompassed by a cluster of the brightest geniuses that this island ever produced at any given era, yet he stood distinguished in the circle, and as the acknowledged monarch of wit, received the voluntary homage of his peers. And indeed among all that class of eminent writers, generally not the most humble of the human race, there was not one found vain enough to dispute his title, and all on different occasions have born testimony to the superiority of his genius. Of which many instances may be produced, both in their works, and in the course of letters which passed between them.

Having raised himself to this high rank among men, merely by his personal merit, he took care to guard it with the same jealous attention, that a monarch shows to the preservation of his prerogative. The least slight shown him, or any unbecoming treatment of him, was not to be pardoned without a due submission from the person so offending. We have already seen that he refused to be reconciled to his friend lord Oxford, upon a quarrel of that nature, in which he considered as an insult, what was intended by the other as a favour, and threatened to cast him off, if he did not make a proper apology.

He broke off with lady Giffard, one of his oldest acquaintances in life, on a similar account, and declared he would never see her again, unless she asked his pardon. In his Journal of March 27, 1711, he gives the following account of his resentment to lord Lansdown: "Society day, you know. We were never merrier nor better company, and did not part till after eleven. I did not summon lord Lansdown: he and I are fallen out. There was something in an Examiner a fortnight ago, that he thought reflected on the abuses in his office; (he is secretary at war) and he writ to the secretary, that he heard I had inserted that paragraph. This I resented highly, that he should complain of me, before he spoke to me. I sent him a peppering letter, and would not summon him by a note, as I did the rest; nor ever will have any thing to say to him, till he begs my pardon." Nay even with regard to his dear friend Addison, merely on account of his showing some suspicion of him, in a conversation relative to Steele, his conduct was the same; as may be seen in the following passage of his Journal. "I went to the coffeehouse, where I behaved myself coldly enough to Mr. Addison, and so came home to scribble. We dine together to morrow and next day, by invitation; but I shall not alter my behaviour to him, till he begs my pardon, or else we shall grow bare acquaintance."

I find an unwillingness to part with Swift at this period of his life, without showing him in all the various lights in which he then appeared. It is from his meridian height that we are to judge of the splendour and powerful influence of the sun; not from his feeble setting ray, obscured by mists, or intercepted by clouds. Yet it is in this last state only, he has hitherto been represented to the world, in the several memoirs published of him, by those who never saw him but in his decline, and therefore have given a very unfair representation of the man. To judge of his real character, we must have recourse to the testimony of such of his contemporaries, as knew him in his most perfect state. From, the accounts given by the former, the world in general have been taught to consider him in the light of a severe, morose, intractable man, abounding in spleen and ill nature. And in this opinion they were confirmed by the severity of his satire in many of his writings. But how will they be surprised to find, that by those who best knew him at the era I have been speaking of, he was as much celebrated for his good nature as his wit. Of which, among a number of others, I shall produce a few instances. Mr. Addison, in one of his letters, has the following passage: "I know you have so much zeal and pleasure, in doing kind offices for those you wish well to, that I hope you represent the hardship of the case, in the strongest colours that it can possibly bear. However, as I always honoured you for your good nature, which is a very odd quality to celebrate in a man, who has talents so much more shining in the eyes of the world, I should be glad if I could any way concur with you, in putting a stop to what you say is now in agitation." And in another place, "I am sure a zealous friendly behaviour, distinguishes you as much, as your many more shining talents; and as I have received particular instances of it, you must have a very bad opinion of me, if you do not think I heartily love and respect you." Lady Betty Germain, daughter of lord Berkeley, who, knew him thoroughly from her earliest days, says to him, in a very frank letter, wherein she attacks him with a good deal of spirit on lady Suffolk's account — "It is you ought to be angry, and never forgive her, because you have been so much in the wrong, as to condemn her without show of justice; and I wish with all my heart, as a judgment upon you, that you had seen her as I did, when the news of your friend's death[14] came; for though you are a proud person, yet give you devil your due, you are a sincere, good natured honest one." But this quality of his was discoverable only on a nearer acquaintance; for on this, as on all other occasions, he was at more pains to conceal his virtues, than others are to display them; and to effect this, often put on the appearance of qualities directly contrary to those he possessed. One of his intimates[15], writes thus to him: "You have an unlucky quality, which exposes you to the forwardness of those that love you, I mean good nature. From which, though I did not always suspect you guilty of it, I now promise myself an easy pardon."

Nor was his good nature merely of the common, kind; he had a tenderness of heart which made him feel with unusual sensibility the sufferings, misfortunes, or loss of friends, and sympathize with them in their afflictions. Nor were these feelings afterward diminished or blunted by years, till the faculties of his mind were impaired, and in a great degree they outlived even those; as may be seen in many instances during his latter correspondence, upon the death of any of his old friends. In what agonies of mind does he give to Stella a distracted account of the stabbing Mr. Harley by Guiscard! March 1, 1711. "O dear M. D. my heart is almost broken. You will hear the thing before this comes to you; I writ a full account of it this night to the archbishop of Dublin. I was in a sorry way to write, but thought it might be proper to send a true account of the fact, for you will hear a thousand lying circumstances. 'Tis of Mr. Harley's being stabbed this afternoon at three o'clock at a committee of the council. I am in mortal pain for him. That desperate French villain, marquis de Guiscard, stabbed Mr. Harley. Pray pardon my distraction. I now think of all his kindness to me. The poor creature now lies stabbed in his bed, by a desperate French popish villain. Good night, and God preserve you both, and pity me, I want it."

His behaviour to the duchess of Hamilton, on the unfortunate death of the duke, killed in a duel by lord Mohun, affords a striking instance of a warm feeling heart. He flew to her the instant the news reached him, to administer every assistance and consolation in his power. Of which take the following account in his Journal, November 15, 1712. "They have removed the poor duchess to a lodging in the neighbourhood, where I have been with her two hours, and am just come away. I never saw so melancholy a scene. She has moved my very soul. 16th. I thought to have finished this yesterday, but was too much disturbed. I sent a letter early this morning to lady Masham, to beg her to write some comforting words to the poor duchess. She has promised me to get the queen to write to the duchess kindly on this occasion; and to morrow I will beg lord treasurer to visit and comfort her. I have been with her two hours again, and find her worse. Her violences not so frequent, but her melancholy more formal and settled. Lady Orkney, her sister in law, is come to town on the occasion, and has been to see her, and behaved herself with great humanity. They have been always very ill together; and the poor duchess could not have patience when people told her I went often to lady Orkney's. But I am resolved to make them friends; for the duchess is now no more the object of envy, and must learn humility from the severest master, affliction." Here we see that not content with what friendly offices he could do in his own person, he immediately applies to higher powers, even to royalty itself, to administer richer cordials to raise her sinking soul, and pour a more sovereign balm on her afflicted spirit. And at the same time forms a plan for her future ease and comfort, by endeavouring to make up a family breach.

The accounts he gives of the illness and death of poor Harrison, for whom he had made so noble a provision[16], are manifestly the effusions of a tender heart. February 12, 1722. "I found a letter on my table last night, to tell me that poor little Harrison, the queen's secretary, that came lately from Utrecht with the barrier treaty, was ill, and desired to see me at night: but it was late, and I could not go till to day. I went in the morning and found him mighty ill, and got thirty guineas for him from lord Bolingbroke, and an order for one hundred pounds from the treasury to be paid him to morrow; and I have got him removed to Knightsbridge for air. 13th. I sent to see how he did, and he is extremely ill; and I am very much afflicted for him, as he is my own creature in a very honourable post, and very worthy of it. His mother and sister attend him, and he wants nothing. 14th. I took Parnell this morning, and we walked to see poor Harrison. I had the one hundred pounds in my pocket. I told Parnell I was afraid to knock at the door; my mind misgave me. I did knock, and his man in tears told me his master was dead an hour before. Think what grief this is to me! I could not dine with lord treasurer, nor any where else, but got a bit of meat toward evening. No loss ever grieved me so much: poor creature! Pray God Almighty bless you. Adieu. I send this away to night, and I am sorry it must go while I am in so much grief[17]."

Indeed, during that whole period, his breast seems to have contained a perpetual spring of the purest benevolence, always flowing, and always full: and the chief delight of his life arose from doing acts of humanity, chanty, generosity, and friendship. Nor content with what he could perform in that way himself, his utmost endeavours were used to diffuse the same spirit of benevolence into all with whom he was connected. He was the life and soul of that famous society of sixteen, consisting of some of the first men of the age, in point of talents, rank, and virtue. To tie them closer to each other, he made them adopt the endearing name of brothers; and to spread the circle still wider, the ladies of the several members, called sisters, and even their children were nephews and nieces. Happy were the envied few who stood in this adopted relationship to Swift, and they never failed afterward boastingly to use that title; as may be seen in several of their letters. Great was the canvassing to be admitted into that number; and the duke of Ormond looked upon it as a high honour that he was elected a member without any application on his part. "The end of our club" (says Swift) "is to advance conversation and friendship, and to reward deserving persons with our interest and recommendation. We take in none but men of wit, or men of interest; and if we go on as we begin, no other club of the town will be worth talking of." To keep them steady to these points, and to prevent their degenerating into political meetings, Swift early opposed the admission of lord treasurer and lord keeper, who had been proposed, and they were accordingly excluded; but their sons were received in their room. There are several instances mentioned of contributions raised by them to relieve indigent merit, which were distributed by Swift[18].

He had so far endeavoured to diffuse this spirit of benevolence among all his connexions, that lord Peterborow rallies him upon it thus in one of his letters. "You were returning me to ages past for some expressions in my letter. I find matter in yours to send you as far back as the golden age. How came you to frame a system, in the times we live in, to govern the world by love?"

He did not show at that time any of that acrimony, which he contracted afterward from disappointment, illness, and a thousand vexations multiplying on him, and increasing with his years. On the contrary, he seems by his Journal and letters to have had an uncommon flow of spirits, and a cheerfulness of temper not easily affected. Accordingly his company was eagerly sought after by all who could get access to him; and his conversation was the delight not only of those who had a relish for wit and humour, but of those who took pleasure in the unrestrained social hour of good humour and mirth. So that he seems to have had every requisite that could excite at once the admiration and love of his friends. And indeed no man ever possessed both in a more eminent degree, and that from a large group of characters, distinguished for their rank, talents, and worth; such as are hardly to be paralleled, as coexistent at the same period, either in the history of our own country, or perhaps in that of any other. It must be allowed, that Swift was very fortunate to have lived at such a juncture, and that he was judicious in his choice; but surely it is a proof of his extraordinary merit, that they were all united in the same sentiments toward him, however they differed among each other; and that their attachment to him continued invariably the same ever after, not seeming to have suffered any diminution either from absence, length of time, or loss of power. It is from the accounts of those who knew him intimately at that period, that we are to form an idea of his real character, not from the reports or surmises of others, or such as only saw him in his decline, when little of his former self remained; there have already been many quotations given for that purpose. To close his character, I shall only add two more, from two of his most intimate friends; one from Dr. Arbuthnot, a man as remarkable for the goodness of his heart, as his fine talents; the other from Pope. The first is part of a letter written soon after the queen's death. "Dear friend, the last sentence of your letter quite kills me. Never repeat that melancholy tender word, that you will endeavour to forget me. I am sure I never can forget you till I meet with (what is impossible) another, whose conversation I can delight so much in, as Dr. Swift's, and yet that is the smallest thing I ought to value you for. That hearty sincere friendship, that plain and open ingenuity in all your commerce, is what I am sure I can never find in another man. I shall want often a faithful monitor, one that would vindicate me behind my back, and tell me my faults to my face. God knows I write this with tears in my eyes."

The other is in a letter from Pope to lord Orrery, where, speaking of Swift, he says, "My sincere love for this valuable, indeed incomparable man, will accompany him through life, and pursue his memory, were I to live a hundred lives, as many as his works will live; which are absolutely original, unequalled, unexampled. His humanity, his charity, his condescension, his candour, are equal to his wit, and require as good and true a taste to be equally valued."

But Pope wrote this to a man who had no such true taste. To one, who in all his remarks on Swift's life, has endeavoured to depreciate the memory of that great man, and place all his actions in the worst light. Not content with attacking his private character, and often with the malice of an Iago (so much worse indeed as being utterly unprovoked) turning his very virtue into pitch, he has endeavoured to reduce his political one to the lowest line; as may be seen in the following passage. "He was elated with the appearance of enjoying ministerial confidence. He enjoyed the shadow, the substance was kept from him. He was employed, not trusted; and at the same time that he imagined himself a subtle diver, who dexterously shot down into the profoundest regions of politicks, he was suffered only to sound the shallows nearest the shore, and was scarce admitted to descend below the froth at the top. Perhaps the deeper bottoms were too muddy for his inspection[19]." I dare say his lordship, when he had finished this paragraph, looked it over with great self-complacency, and admired it as a beautiful and well turned period. But unfortunately there was not one syllable of truth in it, of which there have been already sufficient proofs given. Yet as this opinion, even upon so weak an authority, has, from the general spirit of envy, been adopted by numbers; and as some of the noblest points of Swift's character, depend upon the consideration of the high rank which he then held in the political state, I shall here adduce farther proofs of his great importance, and show, that though he was without office or rank, he was the man the most trusted, and the most employed in all political and state affairs, of any of that time.

We have already seen with what rapidity and eagerness, contrary to his usual procrastinating and reserved disposition, Harley rushed into his acquaintance, and besought his friendship. That soon after their first conversing together, he told St. John he could keep nothing from him. Swift had so much the way of getting into him[20]. That after a closer intimacy, though the most reserved man alive, and the least apt to despond, he confessed, that uttering his mind to Swift, gave him ease[21]. And that he continued ever after to repose this trust in him, may be seen in a letter from Lewis in the year 1713, supposed by the world to be the most confidential man with lord Oxford, where he says, "His mind has been communicated more freely to you than to any other." In two months after their first acquaintance, he was admitted of the Saturday's private party, or minister's cabinet council, consisting of the lord keeper Harcourt, the earl Rivers, the earl of Peterborow, and Mr. secretary St. John; where, after dinner, they used to discourse, and settle matters of great importance, and Swift was always one of the number[22]. It has been shown that he stood in an equal degree of confidence with lord Bolingbroke: and no man living, no not of the ministry, stood so high in the opinion of lady Masham, the second greatest favourite of the queen, and latterly the first; of which the most unequivocal proofs have been produced, in her shedding tears openly, upon the talk of sending him to Ireland, and her last earnest letter to him before the queen's death. All the great officers of state connected with the ministry, followed their example in paying him homage. Lord keeper Harcourt told a placeman of inferiour rank, who had treated Swift with some incivility, to take care of what he did, for the doctor was not only the favourite of all the ministry, but their governor also. We have seen that lord Rivers told the printers, for whom Swift had demanded several places in his department, of considerable value, that the doctor commanded, and he must obey. We find too, that when any of the ministry themselves had a favour to ask of lord Oxford, it was through him they made their application[23]. It was the same too with regard to the foreign ministers[24]. In what light he stood with the Spanish ambassador, may be seen from the following extract from his Journal, December 21, 1712: "This day se'nnight, after I had been talking at court with sir William Wyndham, the Spanish ambassador came to him, and said he heard that was doctor Swift, and desired him to tell me, that his master, and the king of France, and the queen, were obliged to me more than to any man in Europe. So we bowed, and shook hands, &c. I took it very well of him." All state writings, the queen's speeches, addresses upon them, &c. were either entirely drawn up by him, or submitted to his correction. He had a considerable share in the famous representation of the speaker's, sir Thomas Hanmer, which made such a noise at that time, and was considered as the finest that ever was penned. In short, there was not a move made of any kind with relation either to publick affairs, or party matters, in which he was not consulted, and the greatest share of labour in the executive part was thrown upon his shoulders. In all this plenitude of power, he was so far from being elated with the appearance of enjoying ministerial confidence, that he used his best endeavours to conceal it from the world in general, though it could not be a secret to those of his own party. With this view he absented himself from lord treasurer's levees, having never appeared there but twice during their whole acquaintance. And at court he always avoided him whenever he made toward him, nor would ever be seen speaking to him there[25]. But it was impossible long to conceal that superiour degree of favour in which he stood with the minister. His writings, in the cause he espoused, had rendered him too conspicuous, and the adverse party were too much galled by them not to make them watchful of all his motions. He was accordingly considered by the leaders of the opposite party, as the first mover in all the ministerial measures; and many virulent speeches were made against him by name, both in the house of lords and commons, as one who was in the secret of all affairs, and without whose advice or privity nothing was done, or employment disposed of[26]. O lord Orrery! how little did you know of the true state of affairs at that time, when you wrote that false envious paragraph! and how utterly unacquainted must you have been with the real character of the man, whose memoirs you undertook to write, when you could suppose him so mean spirited as to be the mere tool of a ministry; and so blinded by vanity (a fault of which he had not one particle in his composition, for, as he himself has often observed, he was too proud to be vain) as not to discover whether he was only employed, not trusted!

Nor was his influence confined to England only, he was the chief person consulted in the affairs of Ireland, particularly during the duke of Ormond's administration, and few preferments passed, especially in the church, without his approbation. Of this there are many proofs to be found in his correspondence with the archbishop of Dublin, primate Lindsay, lord chancellor Phipps, and his own Journal[27].

Having now, past all controversy, established the high degree of power and influence which he then enjoyed, beyond any that perhaps ever fell to the lot of a private person, must not the disinterested spirit of Swift strike us with astonishment, when we reflect that he made no other use of these great advantages, but to promote the publick cause in which he was engaged, or to make ample provision for persons of merit, while he was utterly negligent with regard to his own fortune? It must be obvious to every one, who considers the light in which he stood, that had he been a man of intrigue, or could he have made his principles bend to the reigning policy of the court; had he not incurred the queen's displeasure, by endeavouring to counteract her adopted system of government, and treating her bosom favourite with a severity never to be forgiven; nay had he only followed the lead of the minister, by acquiescing in measures which he found it vain to oppose; it must be allowed, I say, considering the immensity of his talents, the close connexion he stood in with all the leading men, the great importance he was of to their cause, and the almost sisterly affection shown him by lady Masham, that he might have aspired to the highest dignities in the church, or even, if his bent lay that way, in the state. For in those days the gown was not considered as a disqualification to ministerial offices, as we find the bishop of Bristol was made lord privy seal, and ambassador plenipotentiary. But as it was a maxim with Swift, that while the queen pursued her trimming plan, the interests of the church and state were on a sandy foundation, and that there could be no solid establishment for them, till the whigs were all turned out of their employments, and a total end put to their power; he determined not only never to fall in with the queen's measures, but on the contrary openly to oppose them. Though at the same time he must have been conscious that this was the most certain way to bar his own preferment.

The only employment that Swift ever asked for during all that time, was that of historiographer; and his reasons for desiring it are thus set forth, in his memorial to the queen, April 1, 1714.

"The change of ministry about four years ago, the fall of the duke of Marlborough, and the proceedings since, in relation to the peace and treaties, are all capable of being very maliciously represented to posterity, if they should fall under the pen of some writer of the opposite party, as they probably may.

"Upon these reasons it is necessary, for the honour of the queen, and in justice to her servants, that some able hand should be immediately employed, to write the history of her majesty's reign, that the truth of things may be transmitted to future ages, and bear down the falsehood of malicious pens.

The dean of St. Patrick's is ready to undertake this work, humbly desiring her majesty will please to appoint him her historiographer; not from any view of the profit, (which is so inconsiderable, that it will hardly serve to pay the expense of searching offices) but from an earnest desire to serve his queen and country: for which that employment will qualify him, by an opportunity of access to those places, where papers and records are kept, which will be necessary to any who undertake such a history."

We see upon what disinterested principles Swift desired this office; and he seems to have been highly provoked at his not obtaining it, laying the blame very unjustly on lord Bolingbroke, as may be seen in his letter to miss Vanhomrigh, August 1, 1714. "I am not of your opinion about lord Bolingbroke, perhaps he may get the staff, but I cannot rely on his love to me. He knew I had a mind to be historiographer, though I valued it not but for the publick service; yet it is gone to a worthless rogue, that nobody knows." But it appears from a letter of Dr. Arbuthnot's, July 17, 1714, that lord Bolingbroke was most hearty in his cause; where he says, "I gave your letter, with the enclosed memorial, cavalièrement to lord Bolingbroke. He read it, and seemed concerned at some part of it, expressing himself thus: 'That it would be among the eternal scandals of the government, to suffer a man of your character, that had so well deserved of them, to have the least uneasy thoughts about those matters.'" But the truth is, that it was out of my lord's power to have served him in this point, as the memorial was not put into his hands till a fortnight after the place had been disposed of[28]. So that it is probable it never was presented to the queen. And his friend Ford, to whom he had also communicated his suspicions of Bolingbroke, vindicates him from the charge in a letter written five days after the queen's death, where he says, "I really believe lord Bolingbroke was very sincere in the professions he made of you, and he could have done any thing. No minister was ever in that height of favour, and lady Masham was at least in as much credit, as she been in any time of her life. But these are melancholy reflections."

There is a passage in a letter from Swift to Pope, January 10, 1721, relative to this office, which at first view seems to contradict what he himself had said about it, as related above. "I had indeed written some memorials of the four last years of the queen's reign, with some other informations which I received, as necessary materials to qualify me for doing something in an employment then designed for me; but, as it was at the disposal of a person who had not the smallest share of steadiness or sincerity, I disdained to accept it." But this apparent contradiction may easily be thus solved. Swift scorned to accept the employment as a favour, from the officer in whose department it was, for the reason he assigns, and would receive it only from her majesty's own appointment, to whom he therefore personally applied by memorial[29].

I shall take leave of this period of Swift's life, by observing that he was thrown into the world at a most fortunate era to gratify the ruling passions of his heart. The chief pleasures of his life seem to have arisen from friendship contracted with men of worth and talents, and the society of persons of wit and genius; and never was there an era in which he could be so amply indulged with regard to both. I know there are numbers who laugh at those who speak with admiration of past times, and lament the degeneracy of the present, as idle declaimers, laudatores temporis acti; with which the world has constantly been furnished in all nations, from age to age; but that in reality all times have been much alike. In order that a fair comparison may be made between the period I have been speaking of, and that which followed to the present time, I shall here set down a list of the extraordinary men who then flourished together.



Beside many others that might be mentioned, of no small note. When they who are advocates for the above opinion, shall attempt to draw out a list of names in the present times, to be put in competition with these, they will soon be obliged to confess and retract their errour.

  1. A nickname for lord Oxford.
  2. The queen.
  3. This resolution of Swift's is fully confirmed in a letter to archdeacon Wall, dated August 8, 1714. "Upon the earl of Oxford's removal, he desired I would go with him into Herefordshire, which I consented to, and wote you word of it, desiring you would renew my licence of absence at the end of this month, for I think it then expires. I had earnest invitations from those in power to go to town, and assist them in their new ministry, which I resolved to excuse; but before I could write, news came of the queen's death, and all our schemes broke to shatters."
  4. Nothing can show more the strong desire which lord Bolingbroke had to attach Swift to his interest upon his getting into power, than his taking care, during his short ministry of three days only, to have an order signed by the queen on the treasury, to pay that sum to Swift, though by her sudden death he reaped no advantage from it. It appears, that Swift had this order in his possession when he visited London in the year 1726; for he says, in a letter to Dr. Sheridan, "Tell the archdeacon that I never asked for my thousand pounds, which he hears I have got, though I mentioned it to the princess the last time I saw her; but I bid her tell Walpole, I scorned to ask him for it."
  5. In the several accounts given of lord Oxford by Swift in different parts of his writing, there seems to be something contradictory; as in some places he extols him to the skies, and in others, imputes great weakness and faults to him. But this arises from the view he gives of him in two different characters. As a publick minister, he represents him to have been one of the wisest, the ablest, and the most disinterested that ever lived; and he confirms this character by enumerating the many great services he had done to the state, without reaping the least advantage to himself, but rather injuring his private fortune. At the same time he shows that he was utterly unqualified to be the leader of a party, or to manage the private intrigues of a court; in which respects, partly from his natural disposition, and partly through want of true policy, he committed numberless errours; to which Swift alludes here, where he says, "In your publick capacity you have often angered me to the heart; but as a private man, never once."
  6. Lord Oxford had too soon reason to put this declaration of Swift's to the test, and found it nobly answered.
  7. Vid. Inquiry into the Behaviour of the Queen's last ministry.
  8. That this was the case, may be seen by a passage in a letter of Swift's to lord Oxford, the son, many years after the treasurer's death, dated June 1737, where he says, "I loved my lord, your father, better than any other man in the world; although I had no obligation to him on the score of preferment, having been driven to this wretched kingdom, to which I was almost a stranger, by his want of power to keep me, in what I ought to call my own country, although I happened to be dropped here, and was a year old before I left it."
  9. It is not your affair that is in agitation.
  10. The same character is given of him, in a more compendious way, in his Journal, November 3, 1711. "I think Mr. secretary St. John the greatest young man I ever knew: wit, capacity, beauty, quickness of apprehension, good learning, and an excellent taste; the best orator in the house of commons, admirable conversation, good nature, and good manners; generous, and a despiser of money. His only fault is, talking to his friends in way of complaint of too great load of business, which looks a little like affectation; and he endeavours too much to mix the fine gentleman, and the man of pleasure, with the man of business. What truth and sincerity he may have, I know not."
  11. In the wrong.
  12. Swift, in a former part of his Journal, October 18, 1711, had said of lord Peterborow, "He has abundance of excellent qualities, and we love one another mightily."
  13. A letter from Thomas Harley, esq., to Swift, begins thus: "Your letter gave me a great deal of pleasure: I do not mean only the satisfaction one must always find in hearing from so good a friend, who has distinguished himself in the world, and formed a new character, which nobody is vain enough to pretend to imitate; but, &c. —

    And the earl of Stafford, one of the proudest men of the age, addresses him in this manner:

    SIR,

    "To honour, and esteem, and admire you, is general to all that know or have heard of you; but to be pleased with your commands, and glad and diligent to obey them, is peculiar to your true friends; of which number I am very desirous to be reckoned."
  14. Mr. Gay. On whose account Swift had accused lady Suffolk.
  15. Chiverton Charlton, captain of the yeomen of the guards.
  16. That of queen's secretary at the Hague, a post which lord Bolingbroke afterward bestowed on his own brother.
  17. Lord Bolingbroke bears strong testimony to this quality in Swift, in his letter of March 17, 1719 : "I have not these several years tasted so sensible a pleasure, as your letters of the 16th of January and 16th of February gave me; and I know enough of the tenderness of your heart, to be assured, that the letter I am writing will produce much the same effect on you. I feel my own pleasure, and I feel yours. The truest reflection, and at the same time the bitterest satire, which can be made on the present age, is this, that to think as you think, will make a man pass for romantick. Sincerity, constancy, tenderness, are rarely to be found."
  18. Of this, among many others, take the following instances, Journal, February 12, 1712. "I dined to day with our society, the greatest dinner I have ever seen. It was at Jack Hill's, the governor of Dunkirk. I gave an account of sixty guineas I had collected, and am to give them away to two authors to morrow. And lord treasurer has promised me one hundred pounds to reward some others. 13th. I was to see a poor poet, one Mr. Diaper, in a nasty garret, very sick. I gave him twenty guineas from lord Bolingbroke, and disposed the other sixty to two other authors." In that of March 30, "I was naming some time ago, to a certain person, another certain person, that was very deserving, and poor, and sickly; and the other, that first certain person, gave me one hundred pounds to give the other. The person who is to have it, never saw the giver, nor expects one farthing, nor has the least knowledge or imagination of it; so I believe it will be a very agreeable surprise; for I think it a handsome present enough. I paid the 100l. this evening, and it was a great surprise to the receiver."
  19. Lord Orrery's Remarks on the Life and Writings of Swift.
  20. Vide Journal, Nov. 11, 1710.
  21. Journal, March 4, 1710-11.
  22. Memoirs relating to the Change, &c, and Journal passim.
  23. Journal, January 8, 1712-13. "I tell you a good thing; there is not one of the ministry, but what will employ me as gravely to speak for them to lord treasurer, as if I were their brother, or his, and I do it as gravely, though I know they do it only because they will not make themselves uneasy, or had rather I should be denied than they."
  24. March 9, 1712-13. "I was at court to day, and the foreign ministers have got a trick of employing me to speak for them to lord treasurer, and lord Bolingbroke, which I do when the case is reasonable."
  25. January 15, 1712-13. "I was at court to day, and as lord treasurer came toward me I avoided him, and he hunted me thrice about the room. I affect never to take notice of him at church or court. He knows it, for I have told him so, and to night at lord Masham's he gave an account of it to the company; but my reasons are, that people seeing me speak to him, causes a great deal of teasing."
  26. Vide Swift's Memoirs relating to the Change, &c.
  27. Vide his letter to the archbishop, September 31, 1713. His Journal, February 1, 1712-13.

    Lord primate Lindsay writes thus to him, in his letter of January 5, 1713-14. "There is a gentleman, whom I believe you must have heard of, Dr. Andrew Hamilton, archdeacon of Raphoe, a man of good learning and abilities, and one of great interest in that country, whom I could wish you would move for to succeed me in Raphoe, as one that is most likely to do good in that part of the country, of any man I know."

    And now be pleased to accept my thanks for the great services you have done me, and as you have contributed much to my advancement, so I must desire you, upon occasion, to give me your farther assistance for the service of the church."
  28. In a letter from Charles Ford, esq., to Dr. Swift, July 20, 1714, is the following passage. "I thought you had heard the historiographer's place had been disposed of this fortnight. I know no more of him who has it, than that his name is Maddocks."
  29. The circumstance of the disposal of this post from Swift, has afforded lord Orrery an opportunity of exposing his ignorance, and invidious disposition to lower Swift's consequence to the utmost. He says, "He (Swift) knew how useful he was to administration in general; and in one of his letters he mentions, that the place of historiographer was intended for him, but I am apt to suspect that he flattered himself too highly." Surely his lordship must have been either so ill informed, as to suppose this post to be a very considerable one, or that Swift was without any degree of credit. He flatured himself too highly. Good Heaven! that such a man as Swift, should be accused of flattering himself too highly, in expecting an employment, attended with much trouble, and without any degree either of honour or profit!