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 improyement, of their manufacture. For a man to use the productions of his own labour is surely a natutal right, and to like best what he makes himself is a natural passion. But to excite this passion, and enforce this right, appeared fo 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 publick being by this outrageous resentinent turned „pon 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 Vanesa, 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 Cadenues by transposition of the letters, took pleasure in dire&ting and instructing ; till, from being proud of his praise, the 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 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 despised, men are but men : perhaps however he did not at first know his own mind, and, as he represents himself, was undetermined. For his admission of her courtship, and his indulgence of her hopes after his marriage to Stella, no other honcst plea can be found, than that he delayed a disagreeable discovery from time to time, dreading





the immediate bursts of distress, and watching for a favourable moment. She thought herself neglected, and died of disappointment; having ordered by her will the poem to be published, in which Cadenus had proclaimed her excellence, and confessed his love. The effect of the publication upon the Dean and Stella is thus related by Delany :

" I have good reason to believe, that they both were greatly shocked and distressed (though it may

be dif" ferently) upon

this occasion. The Dean made a tour so to the South of Ireland, for about two months, at this s time, to dissipate his thoughts, and give place to ob

loquy, And Stella retired (upon the earnest invitaso tion of the owner) to the house of a cheerful, gener

ous, good-natured friend of the Dean's, whom she also 5 much loved and honoured. There my informer of

saw her; and, I have reason to believe, used his sutmost endeavours to relieve, support, and amuse “ her, in this sad situation,

One little incident he told me of, on that occasion, " I think I Thall never forget. As her friend was an

hospitable, open-hearted man, well-beloved, and “ largely acquainted, it happened one day that some “gentlemen dropt in to dinner, who were strangers to “ Stella's situation; and as the poem of Cadenus and Vanesia was then the general topic of conversation, “one of them faid, 'Surely that Vanessa must be an " extraordinary woman, that could inspire the Dean “ to write so finely upon her.' Mrs. Johnson siniled, $c and answered, that she thought that point not quite

fo clear; for it was well known the Dean could "write finely upon a brooinstick."

The great acquisition of esteem and influence was made by the Drapier's Letters in 1724. One Wood of


[ocr errors]

Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, a man enterprising and rapcio us, had, as is said, by a present to the Du: chess of Munster, obtained a patent, empowering him to coin one hundred and eighty thousand pounds of halfpence and farthings for the kingdom of Ireland, in which there was a very inconvenient and embarrassing scarcity of copper coin; so that it was possible to run in debt upon the credit of a piece of money; for the cook or keeper of an alehouse could not refuse to supply a man that had silver in his hand, and the buyer would not leave his money without change.

The project was therefore plausible. The scarcity, which was already great, Wood took care to make greater, by agents who gathered up the old half-pence; and was about to turn his brass into gold, by pouring the treasures of his new mint upon Ireland, when Swift, finding that the metal was debased to an enormous degree, wrote Letters, under the name of M. B: Drapier, to shew the folly of receiving, and the mischief that must ensue, by giving gold and silver for coin worth perhaps not a third part of its nominal yalue.

The nation was alarmed; the new coin was universally refused : but the governors of Ireland considered resistance to the King's patent as highly criminal ; and one Whitshed, then Chief Justice, who had tried the printer of the former pamphlet, and sent out the Jury nine times, till by clamour and menaces they were frighted into a special verdict, now presented the Drac pier, 1 at could not prevail on the Grand Jury to find the bill.

Lord Carteret and the Privy Council published a proclamation, offering three hundred pounds for discovering the author of the Fourth Letter. Swift had concealed


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

himself from his printers, and trusted only his butler, who transcribed the paper. The man, immediately after the appearance of the proclamation, strolled from the house, and staid out all night, and part of the next day. There was reason enough to fear that he had betrayed his master for the reward; but he came home, and the Dean ordered him to put off his livery, and leave the house; “ for,” says he, “ I know that my life is in your power, and I will not bear, out of fear, “

either your infolence or negligence.” The man excused his fault with great submission, and begged that he might be confined in the house while it was in his power to endanger his master; but the Dean resolutely turned him out, without taking farther notice of him, till the term of information had expired, and then received him again. Soon afterwards he ordered him and the rest of the servants into his presence, without telling his intentions, and bade them take notice chat their fellow-servant was no longer Robert the butler; but that his integrity had made him Mr. Blakeney, verger of St. Patrick's; an officer whose income was between thirty and forty pounds a year : yet he still continued for some years to serve his old master as his butler.

Swift was known from this time by the appellation of The Dean. He was honoured by the populace, the champion, patron, and instructor of Ireland; and gained such power as, considered both in its extent and duration, scarcely any man has ever enjoyed without greater wealth or higher station.

He was from this important year the oracle of the traders, and the idol of the rabble, and by consequence was feared and courted by all to whom the kindness of


the traders or the populace was necessary. The Dra: pier was a sign; the Drapier was a health ; and which way foever the eye or the ear was turned, fome tokens were found of the nation's gratitude to the Drapier.

· The benefit was indeed great; he had reseued Ireland from a very oppressive and predatory invasion; and the popularity which he had gained he was diligent to keep, by appearing forward and zealous on every occafion where the publick interest was supposed to be involved. Nor did he much scruple to boast his influence; for when, upon some attempts to regulate the coin, Archbishop Boulter, then one of the Justices, accused him of exasperating the people, he exculpated himself by saying, “ If I had lifted up my finger, they so would have torn you to pieces.”

But the pleasure of popularity was foon interrupted by domestic misery. Mrs. Johnson, whose converfation was to him the great softener of the ills of life, began in the year of the Drapier's triumph to decline; and two years afterwards was so wasted with fickness, that þer recovery was considered as hopeless,

Swift was then in England, and had been invited by Lord Bolingbroke to pass the winter with him in France; but this call of calamity hastened him to IreJand, where perhaps his presence contributed to restore her to imperfect and tottering health.

He was now so much at ease, that (1727) he returns ed to England; where he collected three volumes of Miscellanies in conjunction with Pope, who prefixed a querulous and apologetical Preface,

This important year sent likewise into the world Gulliver's Travels, a production so new and strange, that it filled the reader with a mingled emotion of mer

« 前へ次へ »