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weather, or time of the day; so that I enter on a storm is raging within him; he is toe the work with more cheerfulness, because I am proud to make a show of his passion; sure neither to make him angry, nor any way he does not take the public into his con hurt his reputation; a pitch of happiness and security to which his excellency has arrived, fidence; he elects to be solitary in his and which no philosopher before him could soul; he would be ashamed to conreach. Thomas Earl of Wharton, lord-lieu- fide in any man; he means and knows tenant of Ireland, by the force of a wonderful constitution, has some years passed his grand how to keep absolute possession of climacteric without any visible effects of old himself. Thus collected, he underage, either on his body or his mind; and in stands better and suffers more; no fit spite of a continual prostitution to those vices of passion relieves his wrath or draws which usually wear out both.. Whether he walks or whistles, or swears, or talks bawdy, or away his attention; he feels all the calls names, he acquits himself in each, beyond points and penetrates to the depths of a templar of three years' standing. With the the opinion which he detests; he mulsame grace, and in the same style, he will rattle his coachman in the midst of the street, where tiplies his pain and his knowledge, and he is governor of the kingdom; and all this is spares himself neither wound nor re without consequence, because it is in his char-flection. We must see Swift in this acter, and what everybody expects. ends he has gained by lying, appear to be more with stiffening muscles, a heart scorch The attitude, impassive in appearance, but owing to the frequency, than the art of them; his lies being sometimes detected in an hour, ed with hatred, writing with a terribls often in a day, and always in a week.... He smile such pamphlets as this: swears solemnly he loves and will serve you; and your back is no sooner turned, but he tells those about him, you are a dog and a rascal. He goes constantly to prayers in the forms of his place, and will talk bawdy and blasphemy at the chapel door. He is a presbyterian in politics, and an atheist in religion; but ne choses at present to whore with a papist. In his commerce with mankind, his general rule is, to endeavour to impose on their understandings, for which he has but one receipt, a composition of lies and oaths.... He bears the gallantries of his lady with the indifference of a stoick; and thinks them well recompensed, by a return of children to support his family, without the fatigues of being a father. . . . He was never yet known to refuse or keep a promise, as I remember he told a lady, but with an exception to the promise he then made (which was to get her a pension), yet he broke even that, and I confess, deceived us both. But here I desire to distinguish between a promise and a bargain; for he will be sure to keep the latter, when he has the fairest offer.. But here I must desire the reader's pardon, if I cannot digest the following facts in so good a manner as I intended; because it is thought expedient, for some reasons, that the world should be informed of his excellency's merits as soon as possible. As they are, they may serve for hints to any person who may hereafter have a mind to write memoirs of his excellency's life." *
Throughout this piece Swift's voice has remained calm; not a muscle of his face has moved; we perceive neither smile, flash of the eye, or gesture; he speaks like a statue; but his anger grows by constraint, and burns the more that it shines the less.
This is why his ordinary style is grave irony. It is the weapon of pride, meditation, and force. The man who employs it is self-contained whilst
* Swift's Works, iv. 148.
"It may perhaps be neither safe nor prudent, to argue against the abolishing of Christianity, at a juncture, when all parties appear so unani mously determined upon the point. ever, I know not how, whether from the affec tation of singularity, or the perverseness of hu man nature, but so it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this opinion. Nay, though I were sure an order were issued for my immediate prosecution by the attorney-general,
should still confess, that in the present pos ture of our affairs, at home or abroad, I do not yet see the absolute necessity of extirpating the Christian religion from among us. This perhaps may appear too great a paradox, even for our wise and paradoxical age to endure, therefore I shall handle it with all tenderness, and with the utmost deference to that great and profound majority, which is of another sentiment. ... I hope no reader imagines me so weak to stand up in the defence of real Christianity, such as used, in primitive times (if we may be lieve the authors of those ages), to have an influence upon men's belief and actions; to offer at the restoring of that, would indeed be a wild project; it would be to dig up foundations; to destroy at one blow all the wit, and half the learning of the kingdom... Every candid be intended only in defence of nominal Chris reader will easily understand my discourse to tianity; the other having been for some time wholly laid aside by general consent, as utter. inconsistent with our present schemes of wealth and power." *
Let us then examine the advantages which this abolition of the title and name of Christian might have:
"It is likewise urged, that there are, by com putation, in this kingdom above ten tho isand parsons, whose revenues, added to those of my
*An Argument to prove that the Abolishing of Christianity might be attended with some Inconveniences, viii. 184. The Whigs were herein attacked as the friends of free thinkers.
lords the bishops, would suffie to maintain at is a pamphleteer as Hannibal was a least two hundred young gentlemen of wit and condottiere. pleasure, and free thinking, enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices, who might be an ornament to the court and town.
"It is likewise proposed as a great advar tage to the public that if we once discard the sys em of the gospel, all religion will of course be banished for ever; and consequently along with it, those grievous prejudices of education, which under the names of virtue, conscience, honour, justice, and the like, are so apt to disturb the peace of human minds, and the notions whereof are so hard to be eradicated, by right reason, or free-thinking." t
On the night after the battle we usually unbend'; we sport, we make fun, we talk in prose and verse; bu with Swift this nig.at is a continuation of the day, and the mind which leaves its trace in matters of business ieaves also its trace in amusements.
What is gayer than Voltaire's soirées) He rails; but do we find any murder
Then he concludes by doubling the in- ous intention in his railleries? sult:
gets angry; but do we perceive a ma
"I am very sensible how much the gentle-lignant or evil character in his pasmen of wit and pleasure are apt to murmur, and be choked at the sight of so many daggled tail parsons, who happen to fall in their way, and offend their eyes; but at the same time, these wise reformers do not consider what an advantage and felicity it is for great wits to be always provided with objects of scorn and contempt, in order to exercise and improve their talents, and divert their spleen from falling on each other, or on themselves; especially when all this may be done, without the least imaginable danger to their persons. And to urge another argument of a parallel nature: if Christianity were once abolished, how could the free-thinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning, be able to find another subject, so calculated in all points where on to display their abilities? what wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of, from those, whose genius, by continual practice, has been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives, against religion, and would, there fore, 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 we take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left?"
I do very much apprehend, that in six months time after the act is passed for the extirpation of the gospel, the Bank and East India stock may fall at least one per cent. And since that is fifty times more than ever the wisdom of our age thought fit to venture, for the preservation of Christianity, there is no reason we should be at so great a loss, merely for the sake of destroying it." }
sions? In him all is amiable. In an instant, through the necessity of action, he strikes, caresses, changes a hundred times his tone, his face, with abrupt movements, impetuous sallies, some times as a child, always as a man of the world, of taste and conversation He wishes to entertain us; he conducts us at once through a thousand ideas, without effort, to amuse himself, to amuse us. What an agreeable host is this Voltaire, who desires to please and who knows how to please, who only dreads ennui, who does not distrust us, who is not constrained, who is always himself, who is brimful of ideas, naturalness, liveliness! If we were with him, and he rallied us, we should not be angry; we should adopt his style, we should laugh at ourselves, we should feel that he only wished to pass an agreeable hour, that he was not angry with us, that he treated us as equals and guests, that he broke out into pleasantries as a winter fire into sparks, and that he was none the less pleasant, wholesome, amusing.
Heaven grant that Swift may never jest at our expense. The positive Swift is only a combatant, I admit; mind is too solid and too cold to be but when we glance at this common gay and amiable. When such a mind sense and this pride, this empire over takes to ridicule, it does not sport with the passions of others, and this empire it superficially, but studies it, goes into over himself; this force and this em- it gravely, masters it, knows all its sub ployment of hatred, we judge that there divisions and its proofs. This pro have rarely been such combatants. He found knowledge can only produce a *An Argument to prove that the Abolish- withering pleasantry. Swift's, at bcting of Christianity might be attended with tom, is but a reductio ad absurdum, al· some Inconveniences, viii. 188. The Whigs together scientific. For instance, The were herein attacked as the friends of free-art of Political Lying is a di lactic
↑ Ibid. 192.
+ Ibid. 196. ♦ Ibid, 200; final words of the Argument.
*vi. 415.-Arbuthnot is said to have writtes the whole or at least part of it.-TR.
treatise, whose plan might serve for a model. In the first chapter of this excellent treatise he (the author) reasons philosophically concerning the nature of the soul of man, and those qualities which render it susceptible of lies. He supposes the soul to be of the nature of a plano-cylindrical speculum, or looking-glass. The plain side represents objects just as they are; ind the cylindrical side, by the rules of atoptrics, must needs represent true bjects false, and false objects true. In his second chapter he treats of the nasure of political lying; in the third of the lawfulness of political lying. The fourth chapter is wholly employed in this question, Whether the right of coinage of political lies be wholly in the government.' Again, nothing could be stranger, more worthy of an archæological society, than the argument in which he proves that a humorous piece of Pope's is an insidious pamphlet against the religion of the state. His Art of Sinking in Poetry has all the appearance of good rhetoric; the principles are laid down, the divisions justified; the examples chosen with extraordinary precision and method; it is perfect reason employed in the service of folly.
His passions, like his mind, were too strong. If he wishes to scratch, he tears; his pleasantry is gloomy; by way of a joke, he drags his reader through all the disgusting details of sickness and death. Partridge, formerly a shoemaker, had turned astrologer; Swift, imperturbably cool, assumes an astrologer's title, writes maxims on the duties of the profession, and to inspire confidence, begins to predict:
The 29th of March being past, he re lates how the undertaker came to hang Partridge's rooms "in close mourn ing;" then Ned, the sexton, asking "whether the grave is to be plain or bricked;" then Mr. White, the carpenter, to screw down the coffin; then the stone-cutter with his monument. Lastly, a successor comes and sets up in the neighborhood, saying in his printed directions, "that he lives in the house of the late ingenious Mr. John Par tridge, an eminent practitioner in leath er, physic, and astrology.” * We car tell beforehand the protestations of poor Partridge. Swift in his reply proves that he is dead, and is astonish ed at his hard words:
"To call a man a fool and villain, an impu. dent fellow, only for differing from him in a point merely speculative, is, in my humble opinion, a very improper style for a person of tridge himself, whether it be probable I could his education. . . . I will appeal to Mr. Parhave been so indiscreet, to begin my predic tions, with the only falsehood that ever was pretended to be in them? and this in an affair
at home, where I had so many opportunities to be exact." †
Mr. Partridge is mistaken, or deceives the public, or would cheat his heirs.
This gloomy pleasantry becomes elsewhere still more gloomy. Swift pretends that his enemy, the bookseller Curll, has just been poisoned, and relates his agony. A house-surgeon of a hospital would not write a more repulsive diary more coldly. The details, worked out with the completeness of a Hogarth, are admirably minute, but disgusting. We laugh, or rather we grin, as before the vagaries of a madman in an asylum, but in reality we feel sick at heart. Swift in his gayety is always tragical; nothing unbends him; even when he serves he pains you. In his Journal to Stella there is a sort of imperious austerity; his condescension is that of a master to a child. The charm and happiness of a young girl of sixteen cannot soften him She has just married him, and he tells her that love is a "ridiculous passion, which has no being but in playbooks and
These quotations are taken from a humor ous pamphlet, Squire Bickerstaff Derected written by Dr. Yalden. See Swift's Works, is 176.-TR.
A Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff. in
"I never yet knew a tolerable woman to be fond of her sex ; . . . your sex employ more thought, memory, and application to be fools than would serve to make them wise and useful.... When I reflect on this, I cannot conceive you to be human creatures, but a sort of species hardly a degree above a monkey; who has more diverting tricks than any of you, is an animal less mischievous and expensive, might in time be a tolerable critic in velvet and brocads, and, for aught I know, would equally
become them." *
447 " then he adds, with perfect | Swift: what is wanting most in his verses is poetry. The positive mind can neither love nor understand it; it sees therein only a kind of mechanism or a fashior, and employs it only for vanity and convertionality. When in his youth Swift attempted Pindaric odes, he failed lamentably. I cannot remember a line of his which indicates a genuine sentiment of nature: he saw in the forests only logs of wood, and in the fields only sacks of corn. ployed mythology, as we put on a wig, best piece, Cadenus and Vanessa, * is a ill-timed, wearily and scornfully. His poor threadbare allegory. To praise Vanessa, he supposes that the nymphs and shepherds pleaded before Venus, the first against men, the second against end the debates, made in Vanessa a women; and that Venus, wishing to model of perfection. What can such a conception furnish but flat apostrophes and pedantic comparisons? Swift, who elsewhere gives a recipe for an epic poem, is here the first to make use tear this Greek frippery at every turn. of it. And even his rude prosaic freaks He puts a legal procedure into hear. en; he makes Venus use all kinds of technical terms. He introduces witwith costs dismiss'd," etc. They talk nesses, questions on the fact, bil! her influence, to be driven from Olymso loud that the goddess fears to lose
Will poetry calm such a mind? Here, as elsewhere, he is most unfortunate. He is excluded from great transports of imagination, as well as from the lively digressions of conversation. He can attain neither the sublime nor the agreeable; he has neither the artist's rapture, nor the entertainment of the man of the world. Two similar sounds at the end of two equal lines have always consoled the greatest troubles : the old muse, after three thousand years, is a young and divine nurse; and her song lulls the sickly nations whom she still visits, as well as the young, flourishing races amongst whom she has appeared. The involuntary music, in which thought wraps itself, hides ugliness and unveils beauty. Feverish after the labors of the evening and the anguish of the night, sees at morning the beaming whiteness of the opening heaven; he gets rid of himself, and the joy of nature from all sides enters with oblivion into his heart. If misery pursues him, the poetic afflatus, unable to wipe it out, transforms it; it becomes ennobled, he loves, and thenceforth he bears it; for the only thing to which he cannot resign himself is littleness. Neither Faust nor Manfred have exhausted human grief; they drank from the cruel cupa generous wine, they did not reach the dregs. They enjoyed themselves, and nature; they tasted the greatness which was in them, and the beauty of creation; they pressed with their bruised hands all the thorns with which necessity has made our way thorny but they saw them blossom with roses, fostered by the purest of their noble There is nothing of the sort in
* Letter to a very young lady on her marriage, ix, 420′′ 432.
pus, or else
"Shut out from heaven and earth.
There live with daggled mermaids peut,
"His talk was now of tithes and dues;
He smoked his pipe and read the news...
And stood up firm for 'right divine.'"
Wit luxuriates, incisive, in little com
Buucis and Philemon, xiv. 83.
treme conciseness, facility, precision; | ness crushes the affected elegance and but compared to La Fontaine, it is wine artificial poetry of Addison and Pope turned into vinegar. Even when he There are no epithets; he leaves his comes to the charming Vanessa, his thought as he conceived it,valuing it for vein is still the same: to praise her and by itself, needing neither ornaments childhood, he puts her name first on nor preparation, nor extension; above the list, as a little model girl, just like the tricks of the profession, scholastic schoolmaster: conventionalisms, the vanity of the rhymester, the difficulties of the art master of his subject and of himself This simplicity and naturalness aston ish us in verse. Here, as elsewhere his originality is entire, and his genius creative; he surpasses his classical and timid age; he tyrannizes over form, breaks it, dare utter any thing, spares himself no strong word. Acknowledge the greatness of this invention and audacity; he alone is a superior being, who finds every thing and copies noth
And all their conduct would be tried
A strange way of admiring Vanessa,
could praise, esteem, approve, but un-
"Stella, this day is thirty-four
(We shan't dispute a year or more).
And he insists with exquisite taste:
O, would it please the gods to split
Of nymphs so graceful, wise, and fair." ↑
Decidedly this man is an artisan, strong of arm, terrible at his work and in a fray, But narrow of soul, treating a woman as if she were a log of wood. Rhyme and rhythm are only business-like tools, which have served him to press and launca his thought; he has put nothing but prose into them: poetry was too fine to be grasped by those coarse hands.
But in prosaic subjects, what truth and force ! How this masculine naked
* Cadenus and Vanessa, xiv. 448.
+ Verses on Stella's Birthday, March 13, 718-19, xiv. 469.
What a biting comicality in
And Molly and I have thrust in our nose
Do but hear on the clergy how glib his
'And madam,' says he, if such dinners yea
You'll ne'er want for parsons as long as you
I ne'er knew a parson without a good nose;
G-d-n me! they bid us reform and repent
Mister curate, for all your grave looks, I'm
You cast a sheep's eye on her ladyship maid:
I wish she would lend you her pretty white