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attorney; but he was born in Dublin, and was a posthumous child. By the kindness of an uncle, he was edu. cated at the celebrated school of Kilkenny, and was afterwards sent to Trinity College, Dublin. On the death of his uncle, Swift found a patron in Sir William Temple, with whom he resided at Moor Park for two years, when some coldness arising he returned to Ireland, took orders, and obtained the prebend of Kilroot, in the diocese of Connor. Sir William soon missed his intelligent companion; and Swift, who never liked to reside in Ireland, was easily induced to return to Moor Park, on the promise of more lucrative English preferment. The accomplishment of this promise depended on King William, and was never fulfilled. On the death of his patron, Swift again returned to Ireland with Earl Berkeley, as his chaplain and private secretary. He had been promised a deanery ; but received in its stead the living of Rathbeggin and Laracor in Meath. At this time came over from England, the lady whose history is so closely connected with his future life, the celebrated and unfortunate Stella. The name of this lady was Johnson; she was the daughter of the steward of Sir William Temple, and possessed a small independence. The conduct of Swift to this lady, who, according to his own showing, was handsome and amiable, and to whom he was through life strongly attached, is an anomaly in human affairs. She remained for her whole life in habits of the strictest intimacy and confidence with Swift, who jealously guarded her from every other connexion ; yet it is affirmed that they never met save in the presence of a third person ; and though he at last acceded to her wish for marriage, their marriage was never made public. One account states, that she declined the tardy justice of an acknowledgment offered only to sooth her deathbed; and another, that, even while this idol of his affections lay at the point of death, he refused her request of being acknowledged as a wife. Swift, naturally ambi.
tious, and possessed of great and ready talents as a partywriter, became closely connected with Mr Harley (afterwards Earl of Oxford) the Tory minister of Queen Anne. This occasioned long visits to London, during which he became intimate with Bolingbroke, Pope, Ar. buthnot, Addison, Gay, and that knot of illustrious men known under the general name of “The wits of Queen Anne's time.” During one of these residences in London, a young Irish lady of the name of Van Homrigh formed a violent passion for the Dean of St Patrick's, and ultimately became its victim. His indulgence or sufferance of her ill-placed tenderness is the more to be blamed, as he had not even the excuse of sharing it. “If," says Johnson, " it be said that Swift should have checked a passion he never meant to gratify, recourse must be had to that extenuation which he so much despised, - Men are but men."" This young lady, on coming to her fortune, pressed the Dean to marry her, ignorant or unwilling to believe in his attachment to Stella; or hoping that a passion for a younger, wealthier, and more beautiful rival might have effaced that early affection. When the truth burst upon her, she cancelled a will made in favour of Swift, left her money to a mere stranger, whom she ordered to publish a poem, in which the Dean, “for pastime, or to show his wit,” had paid her many poetical compliments, and vowed a strong poetical attachment. She died immediately afterwards. This affair occasioned, it may well be believed, deep distress to Stella, and also to the greater offender, Swift made a long distant tour; and his friends, who were all admirers of the pleasing and elegant woman who was the object of his eccentric tenderness, did what they could to comfort Stella under this singular calamity. From the death of Stella, or Mrs Johnson, which took place in 1724, Swift gradually declined. His life had lost its charm : “ he never,” says Johnson,"mentioned her without a sigh." His temper,
naturally not good, became violent and irascible, and his friends were driven from him by his avarice and ill nature, He finally sunk, as he had long anticipated, into madness of a most unhappy character, and literally “ expired a driveller and a shew." His fortune, which was considerable, he left to build an hospital for lunatics. In his own time, Swift was in Ireland placed by his party and patriotic writings on the very pinnacle of popularity, and incurred in England, what is next to fame, violent persecution. He is now better known as the author of the TALE OF A TUB, and of the inimitable TRAVELS OF GULLIVER. His prose style is considered a model of simplicity, force, and perspicuity. Passing over his well-known works, and his sermons and pamphlets, we find an unspeakable charm in his nonsensical, kindly, and familiar journals, kept for Mrs Johnson and her female friend, and written in what he calls “the little language;" and in such effusions as “ Mary the Cook-Maid's Petition,” and “ Hamilton Bawn.” This severe, stern, and ambitious politician and vindictive party-writer, who was not apt to forgive, and who was never known to smile, appears in this easy undress of his mind in a light so engaging, and almost soft, that we cease to wonder at the attachments he inspired, and at the singular power which he held over two accomplished women, and a wide circle of devoted and even enthusiastic admirers and friends.
VERSES ON HIS OWN DEATH. Occasioned by reading the following Maxim in Rochefou.
cault, Dans l'adversité de nos meilleurs amis, nous
trouvons toujours quelque chose qui ne nous deplait pas." In the adversity of our best friends, we always find some
thing that doth not displease us.
As Rochefoucault his maxims drew
This maxim more than all the rest
To all my foes, dear Fortune, send
Thus much may serve by way of proem ;
The time is not remote when I
That old vertigo in his head
“ For poetry, he's past his prime:
And then their tenderness appears