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the new settlement was, during many troubled years, successfully defended against foreign and domestic enemies ; how, under that settlement, the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual actica never before known ; how, from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example; how one country, from a stage of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European Powers ; how her opulence and her martial glory grew together; how, by wise and resolute good faith, was gradually established a public credit fruitful of marvels, &c.
Here is Swift:
I propose to give the public an account of the most important affairs at home, during the last session of Parliament, as well as of our negotiations of peace abroad—not only during that period, but some time before and since. I shall narrate the chief matters transacted by both houses in that session, and discover the designs carried on by the heads of a discontented party-not only against the Ministry, but, in some manner, against the Crown itself. I likewise shall state the debts of the nation; show by what mismanagement, and to serve what purposes, they were at first contracted ; by what negligence or corruption they have so prodigiously grown ; and what methods, &c.
We are not, we are told, to mistake resemblances for thefts; but here the marks of imitation are too great to be accidental. Perhaps Swift's opening paragraph was ringing, unconsciously, in Macaulay's ears whilst he was framing and elaborating his own well-turned sentences.- Peter Cunningham, F.S.A.
Lord Macaulay, it will be seen by referring to p. 54, did not scruple to suspect the Dean of having borrowed the happiest touches” in Gulliver's Travels.
CHARACTER OF LORD OXFORD. Swift said of this truly great statesman :
“ The Lord Treasurer is the greatest minister I ever knew : regular in life, with a true sense of religion, an excellent scholar, and a good divine, of a very mild and affable disposition, intrepid in his notions, and indefatigable in business, an utter despiser of money for himself, yet frugal (perhaps to an extremity) for the public. In private company, he is wholly disengaged, and very facetious, like one who had no business at all." Yet Swift knew the great foible of his friend, and in his frank and familiar manner occasionally told him of his fault, which appears to have been a sort of indolent procrastination, rather than negligence.
On somebody's saying of a measure proposed, that the people would never bear it, Lord Oxford's answer was, “ You don't know how far the good people of England will bear"a reply as applicable at the present moment as on the day Lord Oxford uttered it.
Swift's intimacy with Lord Oxford commenced in October, 1709; in a poem, 1713, he says:
'Tis (let me see) three years and more
And chose me for an humble friend.
My Lord would carry on the jest,
No, Doctor, you shall be a Dean. Swift's political service to Lord Oxford is well expressed in the saying that “ he oiled many a spring which Harley moved."
THE DEAN AND MISS BARTON. Among the admirers of the beautiful Miss Barton, the niece of Sir Isaac Newton, was Swift, who frequently visited her, and on one occasion “at her lodgings.” She resided in the house of her uncle, until her marriage with Mr. John Conduitt, M.P., of Cranbury, in Hampshire.
Miss Barton, (or Mrs. Barton, as she is called,) is often mentioned in Swift's Letters to Stella, with the same disregard for her affection that suffered the Dean to mention other of his female friends. Thus we find :
“1710, Sept. 28. I dined to-day with Mrs. Barton alone at her lodgings."
[This is the only place where Swift speaks of Mrs. Barton's lodgings, and it is important to observe that Newton was at that very time removing from Chelsea to St. Martin's-street, so that Mrs. Barton was, probably, occupying lodgings for a short time while the house was preparing for her uncle. It is quite clear, also, from the extracts dated October 9, 25, and November 28, 1711, that Mrs. Barton was living at Newton's house, in Leicester Fields. —Note: Appendix to Sir David Brewster's Life of Sir Isaac Newton, vol. ii. p. 492.]
Next, we find the following entries :
1711. Jan. 23.-I called at Mrs. Barton's, and we went to Lady Worsley's, where we were to dine by apppointment.
1711. March 7.—Mrs. Barton sent this morning to invite me to dinner, and there I dined, just in that genteel manner that S. & D. [Stella and Dingley) used, when they would treat some better sort of body than usual.
1711. April 3.—I was this morning to see Mrs. Barton. I love her better than anybody here, and see her seldomer. Why really now, so it often happens in the world that when one loves a body best-psha, psba, you are so silly with your moral observations.
1711. May 29.-Pr’ythee, don't you observe how strangely I have changed my company and manner of living? I never go to a coffeehouse; you hear no more of Addison, Steele, Harley, Lady Lucy, Mrs. Finch, Lord Somers, Lord Halifax, &c.
1711. July 6.-An ugly rainy day; I was to visit Mrs. Barton.
1711. Oct. 14.-I sat this evening with Mrs. Barton : it is the first day of her seeing company; but I made her merry enough, and we were three hours disputing upon Whig and Tory. She grieved for her brother (who had been drowned) only for form, and he was a sad dog.
1711. Oct. 25.—I sat this evening with Mrs. Barton, who is my near neighbour.
1711. Nov. 20.- I have been so teased with Whiggish discourse by Mrs. Barton and Lady Betty Germaine ; never saw the like. They turn all this affair of pope-burning into ridicule, and indeed they have made too great clatter about it, if they had no real reason to apprehend some tumults.
1711. Nov. 28.—I am turned out of my lodging by my landlady, but I have taken another lodging hard by in Leicester Fields.
Thus we see how Swift esteemed and loved Mrs. Barton : yet, there is a scandalous story that she resided with Lord Halifax as his mistress.-(See Brewster's Life of Newton,
GENIUS AND CHARACTER OF SWIFT. Mr. Hannay, in his Satire and Satirists, shrewdly notes : “ I doubt if even Swift's writings give us a fair notion of his powers; and incline to lay more stress on the personal impression made by him.” “You best understand what a magnetism of force, of intellect, and of character, was about Swift, when you see how people wrote to him.” Compare the following: “Sir, That you may enjoy the continuance of all happiness, is my wish; as for futurity, I know your name will be remembered when the names of kings, Lord-lieutenants, archbishops, and parliament-politicians, will be forgotten.”—Carteret, in 1735.) “ Adieu! no man living preserves a higher esteem, or a more warm and sincere friendship for you than I do." —Bolingbroke, (1734.) “You have overturned and supported ministers, you have set kingdoms in a flame with your pen."-Bathurst, (1730.) By-the-bye, good Lord Bathurst seems to have understood the humour of Swift's Modest Proposal, &c., (for roasting children, see p. 105, ante) perfectly; and in a letter to the Dean, says that Lady Bathurst and he thought of beginning with their youngest boy. It was not a satire on matrimony, but on English government of Ireland. Swift has been unfairly suspected of paying court to the Duchess of Queensberry; the court was on the side of the Duchess.
There are so many points of Swift's history upon which we are not yet satisfactorily informed, that it is hard to make up one's mind upon the precise character of the man. Books, and tracts, essays and reviews, innumerable, have been written upon the Dean's shortcomings and excellences; yet in the multitude of books there is not always most truth; and it is a wicked practice of the world—when they do not know anything to think the worst. But, we are improving in these matters, and one of the latest views of Swift's character appears, to our thinking, the fairest : it has neither the
savage scorn of the assailant who gets up his case for working upon the passions of his readers or his audience, like a piece of stage-effect; nor has it the prudery and nicety which seek to over-estimate trifles, and magnify specks of character into huge transgressions; but it has the manliness and straightforwardness of a writer who has not taken for granted, but has conscientiously examined his subject, and employed honest means for arriving at the truth. Such is the merit of the following brief summary of Swift's character, by Mr. James Hannay, in his very able volume of lectures, Satire and Satirists :
His [Swift's] "misanthropy," and the endless “Stella and Vanessa" controversy, are the two features about Swift which have most affected his reputation with posterity. He is the fiercest, and, take him all in all, the greatest of all the satirists :--and as for his scorn for the world, it did not prevent him loving and honouring his friends, from Pope down to Gay; it did not hinder him from being loved by the poor, whose gratitude may be set against whatever ill effect the story of his freaks of rudeness may have upon your opinion. I have not presumed to speak of him without making myself acquainted with these stories, and the other stories about him. I read him first years ago, when I had no possible interest in believing on one side or the other, and long before I dreamt that I should lecture upon him ; and all I can say is, that an image of his general greatness of mind and character impressed itself upon me ; upon which there might be specks, perhaps, the result of disease and misfortune, but not such as to warrant any one in maintaining that Swift was, taken all in all, a bad and unlovable man.
SIR RICHARD STEELE.
BIRTH OF STEELE-HIS ANCESTRY. RICHARD STEELE, the humourist, whose family on his father's side were English, but he had an Irish mother, was born on the 12th of March, 1671, in Dublin, where his father held the office of private secretary to the first Duke of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Mrs. Steele was a Miss Devereux, of the county of Wexford ;* who is described by her son, in the Tatler, No. 181, as a very beautiful woman, and of a very noble spirit."
Steele was the grandson of William Steele, who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland under the Cromwells, and who was born at Sandbach, in Cheshire, in a moated house called Giddy Hall, long since removed. He was the eldest son of Richard Steele, of Sandbach, who was himself the second son of Thomas Steele, of Weston, in the same county. William was early removed by his father to Finchley, in Middlesex, where he resided in 1631, the year of his admission into Gray's Inn. He was called to the Bar in 1637, and was returned Member of Parliament for the port of Romney in 1640. In consequence of the zeal he displayed in all the proceedings against the king, he early secured the favour of Cromwell and the Parliament, by whom he was appointed Attorney-General for the Commonwealth ; Recorder of London ; Chief Baron of the Exchequer in England; and, lastly, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, which post he filled until the Restoration. He married Elizabeth Godfrey, by whom he had one son, Richard. According to another authority (Noble's Cromwells), he was married (probably a second time) to the widow of Michael Harvey, youngest brother of Dr. William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood. He died in Dublin, and was buried in St. Werburgh's churchyard in that city. His son Richard, also a member of the bar, was admitted into the King's Inns, Dublin, on the 11th June, 1667 ; was secretary to the Duke of Ormond, and the father of Sir Richard Steele, as above stated. Sir Richard was twice married : by his first wife he had no issue ; by his second wife he had two sons, Richard and Eugene, both of whom died before their father; and two daughters-one of whom, Elizabeth, was married to Baron Trevor, who left but one daughter named Diana. Hence this branch of the family became extinct. The second brother of Lord Chancellor Steele was
* Nichols, however, infers the lady's name to have been Gascoigne.