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would have been d'oïcult to excite his zeal without persuading him that he was trusted, and not easy to delude him by false persuasions. He was certainly admitted to those meetings in which the first hints and original plan of acorn are supposed to have been formed; and was one of 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 Tory, he conversed indiscriminately with all the wits, and was yet the friend of Steele; who, in the “Tatler,” which began in April 1709, confesses the advantages of his conversation, and mentions something contributed by him to his paper. But he was now immerging into political controversy, for the year 1710 produced the “Examiner,” of which Swift wrote thirty-three papers. In argument he may be allowed to have the advantage; for where a wide system of conduct, and the whole of a public character, is laid open to enquiry, the accuser having the choice of facts must be very unskilful if he does not prevail; but with regard to wit, I am afraid none of Swift's papers will be found equal to those by which Addison opposed him". He wrote in the year 1711 a “Letter to the October Club,” a number of Tory Gentlemen sent from the country to Parliament, who formed themselves into a club, to the number of about a hundred, and met to animate the zeal and raise the expectations of each other. They thought, with great reason, that the Ministers were losing opportunities; that sufficient use was not made of the ardour of the nation; they called loudly for more changes, and stronger efforts; and demanded the punishment of part, and the disinission of the rest, of those whom they considered as publick robbers. - . Their eagerness was not gratified by the Queen, or by Harley. The 9:1een was probably slow because she was afraid; and Harley was slow because he was doubtful; he was a Tory only by necessity, or for convenience; and, when he had power in his hands, had no settled purpose for which he should employ it; forced to gratify to a certain degree the Tories who supported him, but unwilling to make his reconcilement to the Whigs utterly de-perate, he corresponded at once with the two expectants of the Crown, and kept, as has been observed, the succession undetermined. Not knowing what to do, he did not sing: and, with the fate of a double dealer, at last he lost his power, but kept his enemies. Swift seems to have concurred in opinion with the “October Club;" but it was not in his power to quicken the tardiness of Harley, whom he stimulated as much as he could, but with little effect. He that knows not whither to go, is in no haste to move. ‘Harley, who was perhaps, not quick by nature, became yet more slow by irresolution: and was content
* Mr. Sheridan however says that Addison's last Whig Examiner was published Oct, 12, 1711; *Swift's first Examiner on the 10th of the following November, E.
to hear that dilatoriness lamented as natural, which he applauded in himself as politick. Without the Tories, however, nothing could be done; and as they were not to be gratified, they must be appeased; and the conduct of the Minister, if it could not be vindicated, was to be plausibly excused. Early in the next year he published a “Proposal for correcting, in“proving, and ascertaining the English Tongue,” in a Letter to the Earl of Oxford; written without much knowledge of the general nature of language, and without any accurate enquiry into the history of other tongues. The certainty and stability which, contrary to all experience, he thinks attainable, he proposes to secure by instituting an academy; the decrees of which every man would have been willing, and many would have been proud, to disobey, and which, being renewed by successive elections, would in a short time have differed from itself. Swift now attained the zenith of his political importance: he published (1712) the “Conduct of the Allies,” ten days before the Parliament assembled. The purpose was to persuade the nation to a peace; and never had any writer more success. The people, who had been amused with bonfires and triumphal processions, and looked with idolatry on the general and his friends, and who, as they thought, had made England the arbitress of nations, were confounded between shame and rage, when they found “that mines had been exhausted, and millions destroyed,” to secure the Dutch or aggrandize the emperor, without any advantage to ourselves; that we had been bribing our neighbours to fight their own quarrel; and that amongst our enemies we might number our allies. That is now no longer doubted, of which the nation was then first informed, that the war was unnecessarily, protracted to fill the pockets of Marlborough ; and that it would have been continued without end, if he could have continued his annual plunder. But Swift, I suppose, did not yet know what he has since written, that a cenmission was drawn which would have appointed him General for life, had it not become ineffectual by the resolution of Lord Cowper who refused the seal. “Whatever is received,” say the schools, “is received in proportion to “the recipient.” The power of a political treatise depends much upon the disposition of the people; the nation was then combustible, and a spark set it on fire. It is boasted, that between November and January eleven thousand were sold ; a great number at that time, when we were not yet a nation of readers. To its propagation certainly no agency of power or influence was wanting. It furnished arguments for conversation, speeches for debate, and materials for parliamentary resolutions. Yet surely, whoever surveys this wonder-working pamphlet with cool perusal, will confess that its efficacy was supplied by the passions of its readers; that it operates by the mere weight of facts, with very little assistance from the hand that produced then. - 3 P 2. This This year (1712) he published his “Reflections on the Barrier Treaty," which carries on this design of his “Conduct of the Allies,” and shews how little regard in that negociation had been shewn to the interest of England, and how much of the conquered country had been demanded by the Dutch. This was followed by “Remarks on the Bishop of Sarum's Introduc“tion to his third Volume of the History of the Reformation;” a pamphlet which Burnet published as an alarm, to warn the nation of the approach of Popery. Swift, who seems to have disliked the Bishop with something more than political aversion, treats him like one whom he is glad of an opportunity to insult, Swift being now the declared favourite and supposed confidant of the Tory Ministry, was treated by all that depended on the Court with the respect which dependants know how to pay. He soon began to feel part of the misery of greatness; he that could say that he knew him, considered himself as having fortune in his power. Conmissions, solicitations, remonstrances, crowded about him; he was expected to do every man's business, to procure employment for one, and to retain it for another. In assisting those who addressed him, he represents himself as sufficiently diligent; and desires to have others believe, what he probably believed himself, that by his interposition many. Whigs of merit, and among them Addison and Congreve, were continued in their places. But every man of known influence has so many petitions which he cannot grant, that he must necessarily offend more than he gratifies, because the preference given to one affords all the rest reason for complaint. “When I give away a “ place," said Lewis XIV. “I make an hundred discontented, and one “ ungrateful.” Much has been said of the equality and independence which he preserved in his conversation with the Ministers, of the frankness of his remon-strances, and the familiarity of his friendship. In accounts of this kind a few single incidents are set against the general tenour of behaviour. No man, however, can pay a more servile tribute to the Great, than by suffering his liberty in their presence to aggrandize him in his own esteem. Between different ranks of the community there is necessarily some distance: he who is called by his superior to pass the interval, may properly accept the invitation ; but petulance and obtrusion are rarely produced by magnanimity; nor have often any nobler cause than the pride of importance, and the malice of inferiority. He who knows himself necessary may set, while that necessity lasts, a high value upon himself; as, in a low condition, a servant eminently skilful nay be saucy; but he is saucy only because he is servile. Swift appears to have preserved the kindness of the great when they wanted him no longer; and therefore it must be allowed, that the childish freedom, to which he seems enough inclined, was overpowered by his better qualities. - t
His disinterestedness has been likewise mentioned; a strain of heroism, which would have been in his condition romantic and superfluous. Ec-, clesiastical benefices, when they become vacant, must be given away; and the friends of Power may, if there be no inherent disqualifications, reasonably expect them. Swift accepted (1713) the deanery of St. Patrick, the best preferment that his friends could venture to give him. That Ministry was in a great degree supported by the Clergy, who were not yet reconciled to the author of the “Tale of a Tub,” and would not without much discontent and indignation have borne to see him installed in an English Cathedral. He refused, indeed, fifty pounds from Lord Oxford; but he accepted afterwards a draught of a thousand upon the Exchequer, which was intercepted by the Queen's death, and which he resigned, as he says himself, “multagemens, with many a groan.” In the midst of his power and his politicks, he kept a journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with Ministers, and quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befel him was interesting, and no accounts could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the presence of the Dean, may be reasonably doubted: they have, however, some odd attraction; the reader, finding frequent mention of names which he has been used to consider as important goes on in hope of information; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention if he is disappointed he can hardly complain. It is easy to perceive, from every page, that though ambition prest Swift into a life of bustle, the wish for a life of ease was always returning. He went to take possession of his deanery, as soon as he had obtained it; but he was not suffered to stay in Ireland more than a fortnight before he was recalled to England, that he might reconcile Lord Oxford and Lord Bolingbroke, who began to look on one another with malevolence, which every day increased, and which Bolingbroke appeared to retain in his last . years. Swift contrived an interview, from which they both departed discontented: he procured a second, which only convinced him that the feud was irreconcileabie: he told them his opinion, that all was lost. This denunciation was contradicted by Oxford; but Bolingbroke whispered that he was right. Before this violent dissention had shattered the Ministry, Swift had published, in the beginning of the year (1714), “The public Spirit of the “Whigs,” in answer to “The Crisis,” a pamphlet for which Steele was expelled from the House of Commons. Swift was now so far alienated from Steele, as to think him no longer entitled to decency, and therefore
treats him sometimes with contempt, and sometimes with abhorence. I Il
In this pamphlet the Scotch were mentioned in terms so provoking to that irritable nation, that, resolving “not to be offended with impunity,” the Scotch Lords in a body demanded an audience of the Queen, and solicited reparation. A proclamation was issued, in which three hundred pounds was offered for discovery of the author. From this storm he was, as he relates, “secured by a sleight;" of what kind, or by whose prudence, is not known ; and such was the increase of his reputation, that the Scottish “Nation applied again that he would be their friend.”
He was become so formidable to the Whigs, that his familiarity with the Ministers was clamoured at in Parliament, particularly by two men, afterwards of great note, Aislabie and Walpole.
But by the disunion of his great friends, his importance and designs were
now at an end; and seeing his services at last useless, he retired about June (1714) into Berkshire, where, in the house of a friend, he wrote what was then suppressed, but has since appeared under the title of “Free thoughts on the present state of Affairs.” While he was waiting in this retirement for events which time or chance might bring to pass, the death of the Queen broke down at once the whole system of Tory Politicks; and nothing remained but to withdraw from the implacability of triumphant Whiggism, and shelter himself in unenvied obscurity. The accounts of his reception in Ireland, given by Lord Orrery, and Dr. Delany, are so different that the credit of the writers, both undoubtedly veracious, cannot be saved but by supposing, what I think is true, that they speak of different times. When Delany says that he was received with respect, he means for the first fortnight, when he came to take legal possession ; and when Lord Orrery tells that he was pelted by the populace, he is to be understood of the time when, after the Queen's death, he became a settled resident. The Archbishop of Dublin gave him at first some disturbance in the exercise of his jurisdiction; but it was soon discovered, that between prudence and integrity he was seldom-in the wrong; and that, when he was right, his spirit did not easily yield to opposition. Having so lately quitted the tumults of a party, and the intrigues of a court, they still kept his thoughts in agitation, as the sea fluctuates a while when the storm is ceased. He therefore filled his hours with some historical attempts, relating to the “Change of the ministers,” and, “the “Conduct of the Ministry.” He likewise is said to have written a “History “ of the Four last Years of Queen Anne,” which he began in her life-time, and afterwards laboured with great attention, but never published. It was after his death in the hands of Lord Orrery and Dr. King. A book under that title was published, with Swift's name, by Dr. Lucas; of which I can only say, that it seemed by no means to correspond with the notions that I had