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years afterwards that he became a professed author, and then one year (1708) produced The Sentiments of a Church-ofEngland Man"; the ridicule of Astrology, under the name of Bickerstaff"; the Argument against abolishing Christianity 3;
and the defence of the Sacramental Test *. 31 The Sentiments of a Church-of-England Man is written with
great coolness, moderation, ease, and perspicuity. The Argument against abolishing Christianity is a very happy and judicious irony. One passage in it deserves to be selected.
'If Christianity were once abolished, how could the freethinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning be able to find another subject so calculated, in all points, whereon to display their abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of from those whose genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would therefore never be able to shine, or distinguish themselves, upon any other subject ? We are daily complaining of the great decline of wit among us, and would take away the greatest, perhaps the only, topick we have left. Who would ever have suspected Asgills for a wit, or Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them with materials? What other subject, through all art or nature, could have produced Tindal' for a profound author, or furnished him with readers? It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorns and distinguishes the writer. For had an hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would have immediately sunk into silence and oblivion.'
• Works, viii. 239; Craik, p. 168. writers in 'The Pert Style' in The
Predictions for the Year 1708. Art of Sinking. Pope's Works (Elwin By Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., Works, and Courthope), x. 391. viii. 437 ; Craik, p. 170. For astro- 'I know no genuine Saxon English logy see ante, BUTLER, 47; DRYDEN, superior to Asgill's. I think his and 191.
Defoe's irony often finer than Swift's.' An Argument to prove that the COLERIDGE, Table-Talk, 1884, p. Abolishing of Christianity in England 161. . may, as things now stand, be attended Ante, MILTON, 117. with some Inconveniences, and per- ? But art thou one whom new haps not produce those many good opinions sway, Effects proposed thereby, Works, viii. One who believes as Tindal leads
Craik, p. 162.
Works, viii. 339; Craik, p. 167. Who virtue and a church alike Swift wrote of it to Archbishop disowns, King :—Some parts of it are very Thinks that but words, and this well, and others puerile.' Works, xv. but brick and stones ?' 307.
POPE, Imit. Hor., Epis. i. 6. 63. John Asgill is placed among the
The reasonableness of a Test is not hard to be proved; but 32 perhaps it must be allowed that the proper test has not been chosen
The attention paid to the papers published under the name of 33 Bickerstaff induced Steele, when he projected The Tatler, to assume an appellation which had already gained possession of the reader's notice?.
In the year following he wrote A Project for the Advancement 34 of Religion?, addressed to Lady Berkeley, by whose kindness it is not unlikely that he was advanced to his benefices. To this project, which is formed with great purity of intention, and displayed with spriteliness and elegance, it can only be objected that, like many projects, it is, if not generally impracticable, yet evidently hopeless, as it supposes more zeal, concord, and perseverance than a view of mankind gives reason for expecting 5.
* Lord Eldon said much the same in Ireland. Works, viii. 345. For in 1828, when in vain he opposed the Dryden's exclusion by it see ante, abolition of the test. 'He had never DRYDEN, 136. desired to retain the sacramental test, ? In the Preface to vol. iv Steele if any other equivalent security could writes :-'I have in the Dedication of be substituted. Twiss's Eldon, 1846, the first volume made my acknowii. 206.
ledgments to Dr. Swift, whose pleaBy this Act all officers, civil and sant writings, in the name of Bickermilitary, had to receive the sacrament staff, created an inclination in the according to the Church of England town towards anything that could within six months after their admis- appear in the same disguise.' For sion. Blackstone's Commentaries, Swift's Bickerstaff papers see Works, ed. 1775, iv. 58.
viii. 437-end. Pope addresses him In a debate in the House of Com- in The Dunciad, i. 19:mons in 1736, it was stated that on O Thou! whatever title please thine account of the terrible indecencies
ear, some have been guilty of upon such Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Guloccasions, it is the common practice liver!' for the curate to desire the legal Works, viii. 78. Swift begins his communicants to divide themselves Project with a mystification, for he from those who come for the sake of describes it as 'By a Person of devotion. Parl. Hist. ix. 1050. Quality.'
Swift wrote on Nov. 25, 1711:-'I Ante, SWIFT, 22. In his Dedicawas early with the Secretary to-day, tion he says that she has been 'grafted but he was gone to his devotions, and into a family, which the unmeasurable to receive the sacrament; several profusion of ancestors for many generakes did the same ; it was not for rations had too much eclipsed.' piety, but employments; according Works, viii. 8o.
. to act of parliament.' Works, ii. 412. 5 The great Reformer was to be the The Secretary was St. John (Boling- Queen. She should begin with her broke), Johnson's scoundrel, who domestics of the middle and lower charged a blunderbuss against re- sort,' and 'oblige them to a constant ligion and morality.' Boswell's John. weekly attendance, at least, on the son, i. 268. Hume and Gibbon must service of the Church ... and to the have taken the test for the offices appearance, at least, of temperance they held. Swift opposed its abolition and chastity.' She should next re
35 He wrote likewise this year A Vindication of Bickerstaff, and
an explanation of an Ancient Prophecy’, part written after the facts, and the rest never completed, but well planned to excite
amazement. 36 Soon after began the busy and important part of Swift's life.
He was employed (1710) by the primate of Ireland 3 to solicit the Queen for a remission of the First Fruits and Twentieth parts to the Irish Clergy“. With this purpose he had recourse to Mr. Harley, to whom he was mentioned as a man neglected and oppressed by the last ministry, because he had refused to cooperate with some of their schemes. What he had refused has
form those of higher rank. Morality was not altogether devoid of wit, till and religion would soon become it was extruded from his head to fashionable Court virtues.' Works, make room for other men's thoughts.' viii. p. 85: Hypocrisy would, no p
Works, ix. 269. doubt, be increased, but 'hypocrisy The Pope had claimed the firstis much more eligible than open fruits of all benefices,-'the first year's infidelity and vice. 16. p. 97. He whole profits'-and the tenths—the attacks the London magistrates who tenth part of the annual profit.' On often 'enrich themselves by encou- the Reformation this revenue was raging the grossest immoralities; to annexed to the Crown. "In Charles whom all the bawds of the ward pay II's time it went chiefly among his contribution for shelter and protection women and his natural children.' As from the laws.' 16. p. 94. All taverns the valuation had not been raised, the should be cleared at midnight ; ‘no amount paid 'was in most places not woman should be suffered to enter above the fifth part of the true value.' them upon any pretence whatsoever,' In England the whole amounted to and the landlords should be 'obliged, about £16,000 a year. By statute upon the severest penalties,' to limit 2 Anne, c. 11, it was applied to the the quantity of drink. Ib. p. 100. See augmentation of poor livings, under also post, SWIFT, 138 n.
the title of Queen Anne's Bounty. Steele praised this pamphlet in Blackstone, 1775, i. 284; Burnet's The Tatler for April 21, 1709. He
Hist. iv. 32. quoted this Tatler in his Apology A like indulgence was sought for occasioned by his Expulsion from the the Irish Church. The twentieth House of Commons. Parl. Hist. vi. parts,' writes Swift, are twelve pence 1300.
in the pound, paid annually out of all John Wesley, who was to begin his benefices, as they were valued at the reformation, not with the Sovereign Reformation. The total yearly rebut the people, was a boy of six when venue paid to the Crown amounted Swift published his Project.
to £3,000. Works, xv. 362. In his * Works, viii. 472.
Change in the Queen's Ministry he ? A Famous Prediction of Merlin, says that it was the first fruits and the British Wizard, ib. p. 480. One tenths that he solicited.' Ib. iii. 184. of the prophecies never completed In July, 1711, the twentieth parts was that 'Norway's
Pryd again shall were remitted, and the first-fruits marry.' 'Norway's Pryd 'was Queen granted for buying impropriations Anne, the widow of Prince George of (church land in the hands of a layDenmark.
man'). Ib. xv. 437. 3 Narcissus Marsh, Archbishop of S'I got myself represented as one Armagh. Swift wrote of him : - It extremely ill-used by the last ministry has been affirmed that originally he after some obligations, because I re
never been told; what he had suffered was, I suppose, the exclusion from a bishoprick by the remonstrances of Sharpe, whom he describes as 'the harmless tool of others' hate,' and whom he represents as afterwards 'suing for pardon !!
Harley's designs and situation were such as made him glad of 37 an auxiliary so well qualified for his service ?; he therefore soon admitted him to familiarity, whether ever to confidence some have made a doubt 3; but it would have been difficult to excite his zeal without persuading him that he was trusted, and not very easy to delude him by false persuasions.
He was certainly admitted to those meetings in which the first 38 hints and original plan of action are supposed to have been formed, and was one of the sixteen Ministers, or agents of the Ministry, who met weekly at each other's houses, and were united by the name of Brother".
Being not immediately considered as an obdurate Torys, he 39 conversed indiscriminately with all the wits, and was yet the friend of Steele, who in The Tatler, which began in 1710, confesses the advantages of his conversation, and mentions something contributed by him to his paper 8. But he was now im
fused to go certain lengths they would have me.
This happened to be in some sort Mr. Harley's own case.' Works, xv. 364. See also ib. ii. 29. For his gross flattery of Halifax in 1709 with a view to preferment see his two letters to him in Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 201. For Harley, Earl of Oxford, see ante, PRIOR, 21, 35; CONGREVE, 28.
Ante, SWIFT, 26 n. 3.He told me that their great difficulty lay in the want of some good pen to keep up the spirit raised in the people. Works, iii. 185.
Orrery, p. 44. Swift wrote on Nov. 11, 1710 :- Mr. St. John told me that Mr. Harley complained be could keep nothing from me, I had the way so much of getting into him. I knew that was a refinement.' Works, ii. 77. (Refinement, in this sense, is defined by Johnson as 'artificial practice.') Lewis (ante, GAY, 13) wrote to Swift on Aug. 6, 1713 of Harley :-'His mind has been communicated more freely to you than any other. 16. xvi. 58.
* Ante, PRIOR, 45. 5 In 1716 Swift wrote that he was always a Whig in politics.' Works, xvi. 267. He always defended the Revolution. In 1724 he wrote :-'All government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.' 16. vi. 422. See also ib. iii. 255, vii. 477, viii. 266, xvi. 345; Letters to Chetwode, p. 88; post, SWIFT, 115.
It began on April 12, 1709. 2.A certain uncommon way of thinking, and a tum in conversation peculiar to that agreeable gentleman, rendered his company very advantageous to one whose imagination was to be continually employed upon obvious and common subjects, though at the same time obliged to treat of them in a new and unbeaten method.' The Tatler, Preface to vol. iv. On Dec. 14, 1710, Swift wrote: -'The ministry hate to think that I should help Steele; ... and I frankly told them I would do it no more.' Works,
* Description of the Morning in
merging into political controversy; for the same year produced
those by which Addison opposed him ?.
improving, and ascertaining the English Tongue, in a Letter to
in a short time have differed from itself.
Town, No. 9, and Description of a eu un grand avantage sur les premiers
qui composèrent l'Académie fran-
2 The last Whig Examiner was on before Swift published his Proposal.
trivance, if the public had any regard
he added :-'It begins now to sell.'
Ib. ii. 468, 471.