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reward, yet he refused payment with disdain. Impatient of advancement, he preferred to the highest honours the state could confer, the obscurity and ignominy of the political associates with whom he had affectionately laboured until they fell disgraced. None knew better than he the stinging force of a successful lampoon, yet such missiles were hurled by hundreds at his head without in any way disturbing his bodily tranquillity. Sincerely religious, scrupulously attentive to the duties of his holy office, vigorously defending the position and privileges of his order, he positively played into the hands of infidelity by the steps he took, both in his conduct and writings, to expose the cant and hypocrisy which he detested as heartily as he admired and practised unaffected piety. To say that Swift lacked tenderness, would be to forget many passages of his unaccountable history that overflow with gentleness of spirit and mild humanity; but to deny that he exhibited inexcusable brutality where the softness of his nature ought chiefly to have been evoked—where the want of tenderness, indeed, left him a naked and irreclaimable savage-is equally impossible. If we decline to pursue the contradictory series further, it is in pity to the reader, not for want of materials at command. There is, in truth, no end to such materials.
Swift was born in the year 1667. His father, who was steward to the Society of the King's Inn, Dublin, died before his birth and left his widow penniless. The child, named Jonathan, after his father, was brought up on charity. The obligation due to an uncle was one that Swift would never forget, or
RESIDES WITH SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
remember without inexcusable indignation. Because he had not been left to starve by his relatives, or because his uncle would not do more than he could, Swift conceived an eternal dislike to all who bore his name, and a haughty contempt for all who partook of his nature. He struggled into active life, and presented himself to his fellow men in the temper of a foe. At the age of fourteen, he was admitted into Trinity College, Dublin, and four years afterwards, as a special grace—for his acquisitions apparently failed to earn the distinction—the degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred upon him. In 1682, the year in which the war broke out in Ireland, Swift, in his twenty-first year, and without a sixpence in his pocket, left college. Fortunately for him, the wife of Sir William Temple was related to his mother, and upon her application to that statesman the friendless youth was provided with a home. He took up his abode with Sir William in England, and for the space of two years laboured hard at his own improvement, and at the amusement of his patron. How far Swift succeeded in winning the good opinion of Sir William may be learnt from the fact that when King William honoured Moor Park with his presence, he was permitted to take part in the interviews, and that when Sir William was unable to visit the King, his protégé was commissioned to wait upon his Majesty, and to speak on the patron's authority and behalf. The lad's future promised better things than his beginning. He resolved to go into the church, since preferment stared him in the face. In 1692 he proceeded to Oxford, where he obtained his Master's degree, and in 1694, quarrelling
his proiews, and his protes to speades futursolved to
with Sir William Temple, who .coldly offered him a situation worth 1001. a year, he quitted his patron in disgust, and went at once to Ireland to take holy orders. He was ordained, and almost immediately afterwards received the living of Kilroot, in the diocese of Connor, the value of the living being about equal to that of the appointment offered by Sir William Temple.
Swift, miserable in his exile, sighed for the advantages he had abandoned. Sir William Temple, lonely without his clever and keen-witted companion, pined for his return. The prebend of Kilroot was speedily resigned in favour of a poor curate, for whom Swift had taken great pains to procure the presentation; and with 801. in his purse, the independent clergyman proceeded once more to Moor Park. Sir William received him with open arms. They resided together until 1699, when the great statesman died, leaving to Swift, in testimony of his regard, the sum of 1001. and his literary remains. The remains were duly published and dedicated to the King. They might have been inscribed to his Majesty's cook, for any advantage that accrued to the editor. Swift was a Whig, but his politics suffered severely by the neglect of his Majesty, who derived no particular advantage from Sir William Temple's “ remains.”
Weary with long and vain attendance upon Court, Swift finally accepted at the hands of Lord Berkeley, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, the rectory of Agher and the vicarages of Laracor and Rathbeggan. In the year 1700 he took possession of the living at Laracor, and his mode of entering upon his duty
ACQUAINTANCE WITH ESTHER JOHNSON. 219
was thoroughly characteristic of the man. He walked down to Laracor, entered the curate's house, and announced himself “as his master.” In his usual style, he affected brutality, and having sufficiently alarmed his victims, gradually soothed and consoled them by evidences of undoubted friendliness and good will. “This," says Sir Walter Scott, “was the ruling trait of Swift's character to others; his praise assumed the appearance and language of complaint; his benefits were often prefaced by a prologue of a threatening nature.” “The ruling trait” of Swift's character was morbid eccentricity. Much less eccentricity has saved many a murderer in our days from the gallows. We approach a period of Swift's history when we must accept this conclusion, or revolt from the cold blooded doings of a monster.
During Swift's second residence with Sir William Temple, he had become acquainted with an inmate of Moor Park very different to the accomplished man to whose intellectual pleasures he so largely ministered. A young and lovely girl-half ward, half dependent in the establishment—engaged the attention and commanded the untiring services of the newly-made minister. Esther Johnson had need of education, and Swift became her tutor. He entered upon his task with avidity, condescended to the humblest instruction, and inspired his pupil with unbounded gratitude and regard. Swift was not more insensible to the simplicity and beauty of the lady, than she to the kind offices of her master; but Swift would not have been Swift had he, like other men, returned everyday love with ordinary affection. Swift had felt tender impressions in his own fashion before. Once in
pressions in any affection men, returned 10t have Leicestershire he was accused by a friend of having formed an imprudent attachment, on which occasion he returned for answer, that “his cold temper and unconfined humour” would prevent all serious consequences, even if it were not true that the conduct which his friend had mistaken for gallantry had been merely the evidence “of an active and restless temper, incapable of enduring idleness, and catching at such opportunities of amusement as most readily occurred.” Upon another occasion, and within four years of the Leicestershire pastime, Swift made an absolute offer of his hand to one Miss Waryng, vowing in his declaratory epistle, that he would forego every prospect of interest for the sake of his “ Varina," and that “the lady's love was far more fatal than her cruelty.” After much and long consideration, Varina consented to the suit. That was enough for Swift. He met the capitulation by charging his Varina with want of affection, by stipulating for unheard-of sacrifices, and concluding, with an expression of his willingness to wed, “though she had neither fortune nor beauty,” provided every article of his letter was ungrudgingly agreed to. We may well tremble for Esther Johnson, with her young heart given into such wild keeping.
As soon as Swift was established at Laracor, it was arranged that Esther, who possessed a small property in Ireland, should take up her abode near to her old preceptor. She came, and scandal was silenced by a stipulation insisted on by Swift, that his lovely charge should have a matron for a constant companion, and never see him except in the presence of a. third party. Esther was in her seventeenth year