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To oblige a good friend she will trace every market,
SWIFTS MEMORY. Mrs. Pilkington tells us that Swift took down a Hudibras one day, and ordered her to examine him in the book, when, to her great surprise, she found he remembered every line, from beginning to end of it. (Memoirs, vol. i.) Mrs. Pilkington is a lady, whose word is to be taken cum multis granis ; nor is it very likely she would ever have heard the. Dean repeat a whole volume through ; but if Swift knew any author entire, Butler is likely to have been the man. His style of writing is evidently the origin of Swift's.-Leigh Hunt.
SWIFTIANA. One argument to prove that the common relations of ghosts and spectres are generally false, may be drawn from the opinion held, that spirits are never seen by more than one person at a time ; that is to say, it seldom happens to above one person in a company to be possessed with any high degree of spleen or melancholy.
As universal a practice as lying is, and as easy a one as it seems, I do not remember to have heard three good lies in all my conversation, even from those who were most celebrated in that faculty.
How is it possible to expect that mankind will take advice, when they will not so much as take warning.
I forget whether advice be among bad things which Ariosto says are to be found in the moon : that and time ought to have been there.
It is pleasant to observe how free the present age is in laying taxes on the next : "future ages shall talk of this ; this shall be famous to all posterity;" whereas their time and thoughts will be taken up about present things, as ours are now.
It is a miserable thing to live in suspense : it is the life of a spider.
The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.
Satire is reckoned the easiest of all wit; but I take it to be otherwise in very bad times ; for it is as hard to satirize well a man of distinguished vices, as to praise well a man of distinguished virtues. It is easy enough to do either to people of moderate characters.
Anthony Henley's farmer, dying of an asthma, said, “Well, if I can get this breath once out, I will take care it shall never get in again.”
If a man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is, he keeps his at the same time.
Apollo was held the god of physic, and sender of diseases. Both were originally the same trade, and still continue.
The common fluency of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to a scarcity of matter, and a scarcity of words ; for whoever is a master of language, and has a mind full of ideas, will be apt in speaking to hesitate upon the choice of both ; whereas common speakers have only one set of ideas, and one set of words to clothe them in : and these are always at the mouth ; as people come faster out of a church when it is almost empty, than when a crowd is at the door.
Old men and comets have been reverenced for the same reason ; their long beards and pretences to foretel events.
A person was asked at Court, what he thought of an ambassador and his train, who were all embroidery and lace, full of bows, cringes, and gestures; he said, it was Solomon's importation, gold and apes.
It is with religion as with paternal affection: some profligate wretches may forget it, and some, through perverse thinking, may not see any reason for it; but the bulk of mankind will love their children.
It is with men as with beauties : if they pass the flower, they lie neglected for ever.
Courtiers resemble gamesters; the latter finding new arts unknown to the older,
Monday is parson's holiday.
We were to do more business after dinner ; but after dinner is after dinner; an old saying and a true, much drinking, little thinking.
Swift, in the Examiner, defends aristocracy on its true grounds, but with a fierceness quite equal to his brilliant wit. “A pearl," says he, writing of the positions from which great men have come, “holds its value though it be found on a dunghill; only that is not the most probable place to look for it.”
That was excellently observed, say I, when I read a passage in an author where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.
Men of great parts are often unfortunate in the management of public business, because they are apt to go out of the common road by the quickness of their imagination. This Swift once said to Lord Bolingbroke, and desired he would observe, that the clerk in his office used a sort of ivory knife with a blunt edge, to divide a sheet of paper, which never failed to cut it even, only requiring a steady hand; whereas, if they should make use of a sharp penknife, the sharpness would make it
go often out of the crease, and disfigure the paper.
Dr. Young relates : “I'll send you my bill of fare," said Lord B., when trying to persuade Dr. Swift to dine with him.—“Send me your bill of company,” was Swift's answer to him.
I dined with Dr. Arbuthnot, [says Swift,] and had a true Lenten dinner, not in point of victuals, but spleen ; for his wife and child or two were sick in the house, and that was full as mortifying as fish.
Lord Masham made me go home with him to eat boiled oysters. Take oysters, wash them clean ; that is, wash their shells clean; then put your oysters into an earthen pot with their hollow sides down, then
put this pot covered into a great kettle with water, and so let them boil. Your oysters are thus boiled in their own liquor, and not mixed with
THE DEAN'S LAST ILLNESS.
“ It is remarkable that several of Swift's friends suffered from symptoms somewhat similar to his own, although none of them are said to have been insane.
Thus Harley, Gay, Mrs. Barber, Pope, Mrs. Howard, Lady Germaine, Arbuthnot, and others, all suffered from what is popularly termed a “fulness of blood to the head.”
It is also remarkable that the last sufferings of Sir Walter Scott present a striking parallel to the case of Swift in nearly every particular except in point of duration. When Scott was in his fifty-eighth year, he first began to feel those premonitory symptoms of incipient disease of the brain under which Swift laboured from the time he was twenty-three. Many of Sir Walter's symptoms, in the two closing years of his life, resemble those of Swift; and the post mortem symptoms were very much alike.— Wilde's Closing Years, &c.
On the Wednesday after Swift expired, there appeared in No. 157 of the Dublin Courant, the Dean's memorable Verses on his own Death, wherein is this passage on account of the complaints of our neighbours :
“ Yet should some neighbour feel a pain,
THE SKULLS OF SWIFT AND STELLA. In 1835, in making some alterations in the aisle of St. Patrick's Cathedral, several coffins were exposed, and amongst others, those of Swift and Stella, which lay side by side. The British Association for the Advancement of Science was then holding its meeting in Dublin, and the skulls of Swift and Stella were removed from their coffins, and were carried to most of the learned Societies in the city. “ The University, where Swift had so often toiled, again beheld him, but in another place; the Cathedral which heard his preaching, the Chapter-house which heard his sarcasm,—the Deanery which resounded with his sparkling wit, and where he gossiped with Sheridan and Delany,—the lanes and alleys which knew his charity,—the squares and streets where the people shouted his name in the days of his unexampled popularity,—the mansions where he was the honoured and muchsought guest,-perhaps the very rooms he had often visited,were again occupied by the dust of Swift!”—Wilde’s Closing Years of Dean Swift's Life.
Casts and drawings were made of the skulls; and that of Swift was carefully examined by Mr. Hamilton, of Dublin,
On looking at Swift's skull, the first thing that struck me was the extreme lowness of the forehead, those parts which the phrenologists have marked out as the organs of wit, causality, and comparison, being scarcely developed at all ; but the head rose gradually, and was high from benevolence backwards. The portion of the occipital bone assigned to the animal propensities, philo-progenitiveness, amativeness, &c., appeared excessive.
Although the skull, phrenologically considered, might be thought deficient, yet its capacity was, in reality, very great, capable of containing such a brain as we might expect in so remarkable a genius ; a section of it exceeding that of an ordinary skull in a very remarkable manner, particularly in its transverse diameter."
Mr. Hamilton adds, that “the cranium, in its great length in the anteroposterior diameter, its low anterior development, prominent frontal sinuses, comparative lowness at the vertex, projecting nasal bones, and large posterior projection-resembles, in a most extraordinary manner, those skulls of the so-called Celtic aborigines of North-Western Europe which are found in the early tumuli of this people throughout Ireland.”
A cast was taken of the interior of the cranium, which is of exceeding interest, inasinuch as it accurately represents the enormous development of the vessels within the cranium, resembling the cast of a recent brain much more than that of the interior of a skull.
Prior to the above date (1835,) Swift's skull had been pronounced by a phrenologist to be very common-place indeed, nay, from the low frontal development, almost that of a fool; and in the measurements of the cranium given in the Phrenological Journal, we find amativeness large and wit small! with similar contradictions to the well-known character of his genius. But all these discrepancies were endeavoured to be accounted for by the fact, that the skull then presented was not that of Swift, the wit, the caustic writer, and the patriot,but that of Swift, the madman and the fool; and to explain this it has been asserted, that the skull had collapsed or fallen in some places! No such change exists; and Èsquirol, one of the highest authorities on the subject, has found, from long observation, that the skull previously normal, does not alter its form or capacity from long-continued insanity or imbecility.
Thus, concludes Mr. Wilde, the circumstance of Dean Swift's head exhibiting small intellectual and large animal propensities-little wit and great amativeness—has not yet been accounted for by the votaries of phrenology.
THE DEAN SHAVING. The quality or talent of humour is often, as Pope remarked in the case of Wycherley, the last to leave a man. At the time Swift was writing to Pope in a strain of gloom and despondency, we find this characteristic note to his cousin, Mrs. Whiteway, concerning a box of soap and a brush which had been sent to him by his cousin, Mr. D. Swift:
“Mr. Swift's gimcracks of cups and balls, in order to my convenient shaving with ease and dispatch, together with the prescription on half a sheet of paper, was exactly followed, but some inconveniences attended : for I cut my face once or twice, was just twice as long in the performance, and left twice as much hair behind as I have done this twelvemonth past. I return him, therefore, all his implements, and my own compliments, with abundance of thanks, because he hath fixed me during life in my old humdrum way. Give me a full and true account of all your healths, and so adieu.
“I am ever, &c.
“ Jon. SWIFT. “Oct. 3rd or 4th, or rather, as the butler says, the 2nd, on Tuesday, 1738."
The Dean was then in his seventy-first year.
SWIFT AND MACAULAY-A PARALLEL. The opening of Lord Macaulay's History of England has too great a resemblance to the opening paragraph of Swift's Four Last Years of Queen Anne. Let our readers judge. Here is Macaulay :
I purpose to write the History of England from the accession of King James II. down to a time which is within the memory of men still living. I shall recount the errors which, in a few months, alienated a loyal gentry and priesthood from the House of Stuart. I shall trace the course of that revolution which terminated the long struggle between our Sovereigns and their Parliaments, and bound up together the rights of the people and the title of the reigning dynasty. I shall narrate how