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JONATHAN Swift, a person who has carried one brought him under the heavy imputation, from species of poetry, that of humorous satire, to a de- which he was never able entirely to free himself, of gree never before attained, was, by his parentage, being a scoffer against revealed religion. of English descent, but probably born in Ireland. His prospects of advancement in the political It is known that his father, also called Jonathan, career were abortive, till 1710, when the Tories having married a Leicestershire lady, died at an came into power. His connection with this party early age, leaving a daughter, and a posthumous son. began an acquaintance with Harley, afterwards His widow, being left in narrow circumstances, Earl of Oxford, who introduced him to secretary was invited by her husband's brother, Godwin, St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke; and he who resided in Dublin, to his house; and there, it engaged the confidence of these leaders to such a is supposed, Jonathan was born, on November 30th, degree, that he was admitted to their most secret 1667. After passing some time at a school in Kilo consultations. In all his transactions with them he kenny, he was removed to Trinity College, Dublin, was most scrupulously attentive to preserve every in his 15th year; in which university he spent seven appearance of being on an equality, and to repress years, and then obtained with difficulty the degree every thing that looked like slight or neglect on of bachelor of arts, conferred speciali gratia. The their parts ; and there probably is not another excircumstance affords sufficient proof of the misap- ample of a man of letters who has held his head so plication of his talents to mathematical pursuits ; high in his association with men in power. This but he is said to have been at this period engaged was undoubtedly owing to that constitutional pride eight hours a day in more congenial studies. and unsubmitting nature which governed all his
So profuse are the materials for the life of Swift, actions. that it has become almost a vain attempt to give, in A bishopric in England was the object at which a moderate compass, the events by which he was he aimed, and a vacancy on the bench occurring, distinguished from ordinary mortals ; and it will he was recommended by his friends in the ministry therefore be chiefly in his character of a poetical to the Queen ; but suspicions of his faith, and other composer that we shall now consider him. He was prejudices, being raised against him, he was passed early domesticated with the celebrated statesman, over; and the highest preferment which his patrons Sir William Temple, who now lived in retirement could venture to bestow upon him was the deanery at Moor Park; but having made choice of the of St. Patrick's, in Dublin ; to which he was prechurch as his future destination, on parting in sented in 1713, and in which he continued for life. sone disagreement from Temple, he went to Ire- | The death of the Queen put an end to all contests Land, with very moderate expectations, and took among the Tory ministers; and the change termi. orders. A reconciliation with his patron brought nated Swift's prospects, and condemned him to an him back to Moor Park, where he passed his time unwilling residence in a country which he always in harmony till the death of Sir William, who left disliked. On his return to Dublin his temper was him a legacy and his papers. He then accepted severely tried by the triumph of the Whigs, who an invitation from the Earl of Berkeley, one of the treated him with great indignity; but in length of Lords Justices of Ireland, to accompany him time, by a proper exercise of his clerical office, by thither as chaplain and private secretary; and he reforms introduced into the chapter of St. Patrick's, continued in the family as long as his lordship re and by his bold and able exposures of the abuses mained in that kingdom. Here Swift began to practised in the government of Ireland, he rose to distinguish himself by an incomparable talent of the title of King of the Mob in that capital. writing humorous verses in the true familiar style, His conduct with respect to the female sex was several specimens of which he produced for the not less unaccountable than singular, and certainly arnusement of the house. After Lord Berkeley's does no honour to his memory. Early in life he return to England, Swift went to reside at his attached himself to his celebrated Stella, whose real Living at Laracor, in the diocese of Meath; and name was Johnson, the daughter of Sir Williain bere it was that ambition began to take possession Temple's steward. Soon after his settlement at of his mind.' He thought it proper to increase his Laracor he invited her to Ireland. She came, ac consequence by taking the degree of doctor of companied by a Mrs. Dingley, and resided near divinity in an English university; and, for the pur parsonage when he was at home, and in it when pose of forming connections, he paid annual visits he was absent; nor were they ever known to lodge to that country. In 1701, he first engaged as a in the same house, or to see each other without a political writer; and, in 1704, he published, though witness. In 1716, he was privately married to her, anonymously, his celebrated “ Tale of a Tub," but the parties were brought no nearer than before, which, while it placed him high as a writer dis- and the act was attended with no acknowledgment tinguished by wit and humour of a peculiar cast, that could gratify the feelings of a woman who
had so long devoted herself to him. About the humorous and sarcastic was his habitual taste, year 1712, he became acquainted, in London, with which he frequently indulged beyond the bounds of Miss Esther Vanhomrigh, a young lady of fortune, decorum; a circumstance which renders the task of with a taste for literature, which Swift was fond of selection from his works somewhat perplexing. In cultivating. To her he wrote the longest and most wit, both in verse and prose, he stands foremost in finished of his poems, entitled Cadenus and grave irony, maintained with the most plausible air Vanessa ; and her attachment acquired so much of serious simplicity, and supported by great strength, that she made him the offer of her hand. minuteness of detail. His “ Gulliver's Travels" Even after his marriage to Stella, Swift kept are a remarkable exemplification of his powers in Miss Vanhomrigh in ignorance of this connection; this kind, which have rendered the work wonderbut a report of it having at length reached her, she fully amusing, even to childish readers, whilst the took the step of writing a note to Stella, requesting keen satire with which it abounds may gratify the to know if the marriage were real. Stella assured most splenetic misanthropist. In general, bow. her of the affirmative in her answer, which she ever, his style in prose, though held up as a model enclosed to Swift, and went into the country without of clearness, purity, and simplicity, has only the seeing him. Swift went immediately to the house merit of expressing the author's meaning with perof Miss Vanhomrigh, threw Stella's letter on the fect precision. table, and departed, without speaking a word. She Late in life, Swift fell under the fate which be never recovered the shock, and died in 1723. dreaded : the faculties of his mind decayed before Stella, with her health entirely ruined, languished those of his body, and he gradually settled into abon till 1728, when she expired. Such was the solute idiocy. A total silence for some months fate which he prepared for both.
preceded his decease, which took place in October, Of the poems of Swift, some of the most striking 1744, when he was in his 78th year. He was inwere composed in mature life, after his attainment terred in St. Patrick's cathedral, under a monuof his deanery of St. Patrick ; and it will be ad- ment, for which he wrote a Latin epitaph, in which mitted that no one ever gave a more perfect ex one clause most energetically displays the state of ample of the easy familiarity attainable in the his feelings: .“ Ubi sæva indignatio ulterius cor English language. His readiness in rhyme is lacerare nequit." He bequeathed the greatest part truly astonishing ; the most uncommon associations of his property to an hospital for lunatics and of sounds coming to him as it were spontaneously, idiots, in words seemingly the best adapted to the occasion.
To show, by one satiric touch, That he was capable of high polish and elegance,
No nation wanted it so much. some of his works sufficiently prove; but the
CADENUS AND VANESSA. •
WRITTEN AT WINDSOR, 1713.
Tur shepherds and the nymphs were seen
Founded on an offer of marriage made by Miss Vanhomrigh to Dr. Swift, who was occasionally her preceptor. Thu lady's unhappy story is well known.
Against our sovereign lady's peace,
The nymphs with scorn beheld their foes:
From visits to receive and pay;
For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller, From scandal, politics, and play;
Still their authority was smaller. From fans, and flounces, and brocades,
There was on both sides much to say : From equipage and park-parades,
She 'd hear the cause another day. From all the thousand female toys,
And so she did ; and then a third From every trifle that employs
She heard it — there, she kept her word: The out or inside of their heads,
But, with rejoinders or replies, Between their toilets and their beds.
Long bills, and answers stuff'd with lies, In a dull stream, which moving slow,
Demur, imparlance, and essoign, You hardly see the current flow;
The parties ne'er could issue join : If a small breeze obstruct the course,
For sixteen years the cause was spun, It whirls about, for want of force,
And then stood where it first begun. And in its narrow circle gathers
Now, gentle Clio, sing or say, Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers. What Venus meant by this delay. The current of a female mind
The goddess, much perplex'd in mind Stops thus, and turns with every wind;
To see her empire thus declin'd, Thus whirling round together draws
When first this grand debate arose, Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.
Above her wisdom to compose, Hence we conclude, no women's hearts
Conceiv'd a project in her head Are won by virtue, wit, and parts :
To work her ends; which, if it sped, Nor are the men of sense to blame,
Would show the merits of the cause For breasts incapable of flame;
Far better than consulting laws. The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,
In a glad hour Lucina's aid Grown so corrupted in their taste.
Produc'd on Earth a wondrous maid, The pleader, having spoke his best,
On whom the queen of love was bent Had witness ready to attest,
To try a new experiment. Who fairly could on oath depose,
She threw her law-books on the shelf, When questions on the fact arose,
And thus debated with herself. That every article was true;
“ Since men allege, they ne'er can find Nor further these deponents knew :
Those beauties in a female mind, Therefore he humbly would insist,
Which raise a flame that will endure The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.
For ever uncorrupt and pure; The cause appear’d of so much weight,
If 'tis with reason they complain, That Venus, from her judgment-seat,
This infant shall restore my reign. Desir'd them not to talk so loud,
I'll search where eyery virtue dwells, Else she must interpose a cloud :
From courts inclusive down to cells : For, if the heavenly folk should know
What preachers talk, or sages write'; These pleadings in the courts below,
These I will gather and unite, That mortals here disdain to love,
And represent them to mankind She ne'er could show her face above;
Collected in that infant's mind.” For gods, their betters, are too wise
This said, she plucks in Heaven's high bowers To value that which men despise.
A sprig of amaranthine flowers, “ And then," said she, “ my son and I
In nectar thrice infuses bays, Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;
Three times refin'd in Titan's rays; Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,
Then calls the Graces to her aid, Fly to the sea, my place of birth;
And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid: There live, with daggled mermaids pent,
From whence the tender skin assumes And keep on fish perpetual Lent.”
A sweetness above all perfumes : But, since the case appear'd so nice,
From whence a cleanliness remains She thought it best to take advice.
Incapable of outward stains : The Muses, by their king's permission,
From whence that decency of mind, Though foes to love, attend the session,
So lovely in the female kind, And on the right hand took their places
Where not one careless thought intrudes, In order; on the left, the Graces :
Less modest than the speech of prudes; To whom she might her doubts propose
Where never blush was call’d in aid, On all emergencies that rose.
That spurious virtue in a maid, The Muses oft' were seen to frown;
A virtue but at second-hand; The Graces half-asham'd look down;
They blush because they understand. And 'twas observ'd there were but few
The Graces next would act their party Of either sex among the crew,
And show'd but little of their art; Whom she or her assessors knew.
Their work was half already done, The goddess soon began to see,
The child with native beauty shone; Things were not ripe for a decree ;
The outward form no help requir’d: And said she must consult her books,
Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.
That gentle, soft, engaging air, First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd,
Which in old times adorn'd the fair : To turn to Ovid, book the second;
And said, “ Vanessa be the name She then referr'd them to a place
By which thou shalt be known to fame; In Virgil (vide Dido's case :)
Vanessa, by the gods inrollid: As for Tibullus's reports,
Her name on Earth shall not be told." They never pass'd for law in courts :
But still the work was not complete;
To-morrow, ere the setting sun, When Venus thought on a deceit,
She 'd all undo that she had done. Drawn by her doves, away she flies,
But in the poets we may find And finds out Pallas in the skies.
A wholesome law, time out of mind, “ Dear Pallas, I have been this morn
Had been confirm'd by fate's decree, To see a lovely infant born;
That gods, of whatso'er degree, A boy in yonder isle below,
Resume not what themselves have given, So like my own without his bow,
Or any brother-god in Heaven ; By beauty could your heart be won,
Which keeps the peace among the gods, You 'd swear it is Apollo's son:
Or they must always be at odds : But it shall ne'er be said a child
And Pallas, if she broke the laws, So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;
Must yield her foe the stronger cause; I have enough besides to spare,
A shame to one so much ador'd And give him wholly to your care.
For wisdom at Jove's council-board. Wisdom 's above suspecting wiles :
Besides, she fear'd the queen of love The queen of learning gravely smiles,
Would meet with better friends above. Down from Olympus comes with joy,
And though she must with grief reflect, Mistakes Vanessa for a boy;
To see a mortal virgin deck'd Then sows within her tender mind
With graces hitherto unknown Seeds long unknown to woman-kind;
To fernale breasts, except her own; For manly bosoms chiefly fit,
Yet she would act as best became The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit,
A goddess of unspotted fame. Her soul was suddenly endued
She knew, by augury divine, With justice, truth, and fortitude ;
Venus would fail in her design : With honour, which no breath can stain,
She study'd well the point, and found Which malice must attack in vain;
Her foe's conclusions were not sound, With open heart and bounteous hand.
From premises erroneous brought ; But Pallas here was at a stand;
And therefore the deduction 's nought, She knew, in our degenerate days,
And must have contrary effects Bare virtue could not live on praise ;
To what her treacherous foe expects. That meat must be with money bought :
In proper season Pallas meets She therefore, upon second thought,
The queen of love, whom thus she greets: Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth,
(For gods, we are by Homer told, Some small regard for state and wealth ;
Can in celestial language scold :) Of which, as she grew up, there staid
“ Perfidious goddess ! but in vain A tincture in the prudent maid :
You form’d this project in your brain; She manag'd her estate with care,
A project for thy talents fit, Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.
With much deceit and little wit. But lest he should neglect his studies
Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see, Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess
Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me: (For fear young master should be spoila)
For how can heavenly wisdom prove Would use him like a younger child ;
An instrument to earthly love? And, after long computing, found
Know'st thou not yet, that men commence 'Twould come to just five thousand pound.
Thy votaries, for want of sense? The queen of love was pleas'd, and proud, Nor shall Vanessa be the theme To see Vanessa thus endow'd :
To manage thy abortive scheme: She doubted not but such a dame
She 'll prove the greatest of thy foes; Through every breast would dart a flame;
And yet I scorn to interpose, That every rich and lordly swain
But, using neither skill nor force, With pride would drag about her chain ;
Leave all things to their natural course." That scholars would forsake their books,
The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom: To study bright Vanessa's looks ;
When lo! Vanessa in her bloom As she advanc'd, that woman-kind
Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star, Would by her model form their mind,
But rarely seen, and seen from far: And all their conduct would be try'd
In a new world with caution stept, By her, as an unerring guide;
Watchi'd all the company she kept, Offending daughters oft' would hear
Well knowing, from the books she read, Vanessa's praise rung in their ear :
What dangerous paths young virgins tread: Miss Betty, when she does a fault,
Would seldom at the park appear, Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,
Nor saw the play-house twice a year ; Will thus be by her mother chid,
Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd “ 'Tis what Vanessa never did !"
To know the converse of mankinde “ Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd,
First issued from perfumers' shops, My power shall be again restor’d,
A crowd of fashionable fops : And happy lovers bless my reign
They ask'd her, how she lik'd the play? So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.
Then told the tattle of the day; For when in time the martial maid
A duel fought last night at two, Found out the trick that Venus play'd,
About a lady - you know who; She shakes her helm, she knits ber brows,
Mention'd a new Italian come And, fir’d with indignation, vows,
Either from Muscovy or Rome;
Gave hints of who and who's together;
I saw coquetting t' other night Then fell a talking of the weather ;
In public with that odious knight !” Last night was so extremely fine,
They rally'd next Vanessa's dress : The ladies walk'd till after nine;
“ That gown was made for old queen Bess. Then, in soft voice and speech absurd,
Dear madam, let me see your head : With nonsense every second word,
Don't you intend to put on red ? With fustian from exploded plays,
A petticoat without a hoop! They celebrate her beauty's praise ;
Sure, you are not asham'd to stoop! Run o'er their cant of stupid lies,
With handsome garters at your knees, And tell the murders of her eyes.
No matter what a fellow sees. With silent scorn Vanessa sat,
Fill'd with disdain, with rage inflam'd, Scarce listening to their idle chat;
Both of herself and sex asham'd, Further than sometimes by a frown,
The nymph stood silent out of spite, When they grew pert, to pull them down.
Nor would vouchsafe to set them right. At last she spitefully was bent
Away the fair detractors went, To try their wisdom's full extent;
And gave by turns their censures vent. And said she valued nothing less
She 's not so handsome in my eyes : Than titles, figure, shape, and dress;
For wit, I wonder, where it lies! That merit should be chiefly plac'd
“ She 's fair and clean, and that 's the most : In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste ;
But why proclaim her for a toast ? And these, she offer'd to dispute,
A baby face: no life, no airs, Alone disti uish'd man from brute :
But what she learn'd at country-fairs : That present times have no pretence
Scarce knows what difference is between To virtue, in the noble sense
Rich Flanders lace and colberteen. By Greeks and Romans understood,
I'll undertake, my little Nancy To perish for our country's good.
In flounces hath a better fancy! She nam'd the ancient heroes round,
With all her wit, I would not ask Explain'd for what they were renown'd;
Her judgment, how to buy a mask. Then spoke with censure or applause
We begg'd her but to patch her face, Of foreign customs, rites, and laws;
She never hit one proper place; Through nature and through art she rang'd, Which every girl at five years old And gracefully her subject chang'd;
Can do as soon as she is told. In vain ! her hearers had no share
I own, that out-of-fashion stuff In all she spoke, except to stare.
Becomes the creature well enough. Their judgment was, upon the whole,
The girl might pass, if we could get her -“ That lady is the dullest soul!
To know the world a little better. Then tipt their forehead in a jeer,
(To know the world! a modern phrase, As who should say — “ She wants it here !
For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.) She may be handsome, young, and rich,
Thus, to the world's perpetual shame, But none will burn her for a witch !”
The queen of beauty lost her aim; A party next of glittering dames,
Too late with grief she understood, From round the purlieus of St. James,
Pallas had done more harm than good; Carne early, out of pure good-will,
For great examples are but vain, To see the girl in dishabille.
Where ignorance begets disdain. Their clamour, 'lighting from their chairs,
Both sexes, arm’d with guilt and spite, Grew louder all the way up stairs ;
Against Vanessa's power unite : At entrance loudest, where they found
To copy her few nymphs aspir'd; The room with volumes litter'd round,
Her virtues fewer swains admir'd. Vanessa held Montaigne, and read,
So stars beyond a certain height Whilst Mrs. Susan comb'd her head.
Give mortals neither heat nor light. They called for tea and chocolate,
Yet some of either sex, endow'd And fell into their usual chat,
With gifts superior to the crowd, Discoursing, with important face,
With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit, On ribbons, fans, and gloves, and lace;
She condescended to admit : Show'd patterns just from India brought,
With pleasing arts she could reduce And gravely ask'd her what she thoughi,
Men's talents to their proper use : Whether the red or green were best,
And with address each genius held And what they cost ? Vanessa guess'd,
To that wherein it most excell'd; As came into her fancy first ;
Thus making others' wisdom known, Nam'd half the rates, and lik'd the worst.
Could please them, and improve her own. To scandal next-“ What awkward thing
A modest youth said something new; Was that last Sunday in the ring?
She plac'd it in the strongest view. I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast;
All humble worth she strove to raise ; I said, her face would never last.
Would not be prais’d, yet lov'd to praise. Corinna, with that youthful air,
The learned met with free approach, Is thirty, and a bit to spare :
Although they came not in a coach : Her fondness for a certain earl
Some clergy too she would allow, Began when I was but a girl!
Nor quarrellid at their awkward bow; Phyllis, who but a month ago
But this was for Cadenus' sake, Was marry'd to the Tunbridge-beau,
A gownman of a different make;