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He refused, indeed, fifty pounds from lord Oxford
but he accepted afterwards a draught of a thousand upon the exchequer, which was intercepted by the queen's death, and which he resigned, as he says himself, “multagemens, with many a groan.” In the midst of his power and his politics, he kept a journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with ministers, and quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befel him was interesting, and no accounts could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the presence of the dean, may be reasonably doubted: they have, however, some odd attraction; the reader, finding frequent mention of names which he has been used to consider as important, goes on in hope of information; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention, if he is disappointed he can hardly complain. It is easy to perceive, from every page, that though ambition pressed Swift into a life of bustle, the wish for a life of ease was always returning. He went to take possession of his deanery as soon as he had obtained it; but he was not suffered to stay in Ireland more than a fortnight before he was recalled to England, that he might reconcile lord Oxford and lord Bolingbroke, who began to look on one another with
malevolence, which every day increased, and which .
Bolingbroke appeared to retain in his last years. Swift contrived an interview, from which they both departed discontented; he procured a second, which only convinced him that the feud was irreconcileable: ... he told them his opinion, that all was lost. This denunsiation was contradicted by Oxford; but Bolingbroke whispered that he was right.
Before this violent dissention had shattered the ministry, Swift had published, in the beginning of the year (1714), “The public Spirit of the Whigs,” in answer to “The Crisis,” a pamphlet for which Steele was expelled from the house of commons. Swift was now so far alienated from Steele, as to think him no longer entitled to decency, and therefore treats him sometimes with contempt, and sometimes with abhorrence. In this pamphlet the Scotch were mentioned in terms so provoking to that irritable nation, that, resolving “not to be offended with impunity,” the Scotch lords, in a body, demanded an audience of the queen, and solicited reparation. A proclamation was issued, in which three hundred pounds were offered for the discovery of the author. From this storm he was, as he relates, “secured by a sleight;" of what kind, or by whose prudence, isnot known; and such was the increaseofhis reputation, that the Scottish “Nation applied again that he would be their friend.” He was become so formidable to the whigs, that his familiarity with the ministers was clamoured at in parliament, particularly by two men, afterward of great note, Aislabie and Walpole. But, by the disunion of his great friends, his importance and designs were now at an end ; and seeing his services at last useless, he retired about June, 1714, into Berkshire, where, in the house of a friend, he wrote what was then suppressed, but has since appeared under the title of “Free Thoughts on the present State of Affairs.” While he was waiting in this retirement for events which time or chance might bring to pass, the death of the queen broke down at once the whole system of tory politics; and nothing remained but to withdraw from the implacability of triumphant whiggism, and shelter himself in unenvied obscurity.
The accounts of his reception in Ireland, given by lord Orrery and Dr. Delany, are so different, that the credit of the writers, both undoubtedly veracious, cannot be saved, but by supposing, what I think is true, that they speak of different times. When Delany says, that he was received with respect, he means for the first fortnight, when he came to take legal possession; and when lord Orrery tells that he was pelted by the populace, he is to be understood of the time when, after the queen's death, he became a settled resident.
The archbishop of Dublin gave him at first some disturbance in the exercise of his jurisdiction; but it was soon discovered, that between prudence and integrity he was seldom in the wrong; and that, when he was right, his spirit did not easily yield to opposition.
Having so lately quitted the tumults cf a party, and the intrigues of a court, they still kept his thoughts in agitation, as the sea fluctuates a while when the storm has ceased. He therefore filled his hours with some historical attempts, relating to the “Change of the Ministers,” and “ the Conduct of the Ministry.” He likewise is said to have written a “ History of the Four last Years of Queen Anne,” which he began in her lifetime, and afterwards laboured with great attention, but never published. It was after his death in the hands of lord Orrery and Dr. King. A book under that title was published, with Swift's name, by Dr. Lucas; of which I can only say, that it seemed by no means to correspond with the notions that I had formed of it, from a conversation which I once heard between the earl of Grrery and old Mr, Lewis,
Swift now, much against his will, commenced Irishman for life, and was to contrive how he might be best accommodated in a country where he considered himself as in a state of exile. It seems that his first recourse was to piety. The thoughts of death rushed upon him, at this time, with such incessant importunity, that they took possession of his mind, when he first waked, for many years together. He opened his house by a public table two days a week, and found his entertainments gradually frequented by more and more visitants of learning among the men, and of elegance among the women. Mrs. Johnson had left the country, and lived in lodgings not far from the deanery. On his public days she regulated the table, but appeared at it as a mere guest, like other ladies. * On other days he often dined, at a stated price, with Mr. Worral, a clergyman of his cathedral, whose house was recommended by the peculiar neatness and pleasantry of his wife. To this frugal mode of living, he was first disposed by care to pay some debts which he had contracted, and he continued it for the pleasure of accumulating money. His avarice, however, was not suffered to obstruct the claims of his dignity; he was served in plate, and used to say that he was the poorest gentleman in Ireland that ate upon plate, and the richest that lived without a coach. How he spent the rest of his time, and how he employed his hours of study, has been inquired with hopeless curiosity. For who can give an account of another’s studies? Swift was not likely to admit any to his privacies, or to impart a minute account of his business or his leisure. Soon after, 1716, in his forty-ninth year, he was privately married to Mrs. Johnson, by Dr. Ashe, bishop of Clogher, as Dr. Madden told me, in the garden. The marriage made no change in their mode of life; they lived in different houses, as before; nor did she ever lodge in the deanery but when Swift was seized with a fit of giddiness. “It would be difficult,” says lord Orrery, “to prove that they were ever afterwards together without a third person.” The dean of St. Patrick’s lived in a private manner, known and regarded only by his friends; till, about the year 1720, he, by a pamphlet, recommended to the Irish the use, and consequently the improvement, of their manufacture. For a man to use the productions of his own labour is surely a natural right, and to like best what he makes himself is a natural passion. But to excite this passion, and enforce this right, appeared so criminal to those who had an interest in the English trade, that the printer was imprisoned; and, as Hawkesworth justly observes, the attention of the public being by this outrageous resentment turned upon the proposal, the author was by consequence made popular. In 1723 died Mrs. Van Homrigh, a woman made unhappy by her admiration of wit, and ignominiously distinguished by the name of Vanessa, whose conduct has been already sufficiently discussed, and whose history is too well known to be minutely repeated. She was a young woman fond of literature, whom Decanus, the Dean, called Cadenus by transposition of the letters, took pleasure in directing and instructing; till, from being proud of his praise, she grew fond of his person, Swift was then about forty-seven, at an age when vanity is strongly excited by the amorous attention of a young woman. If it be said that Swift should have checked a passion which he never meant to gratify, recourse must be had to that extenuation which he so much.