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many talk of the you know what, but Gad, if it had not been for that, I should never have been able to get the success I have had ; and if that helped me to succeed, then that same thing will be serviceable to the church.”
TRACTS, 1708-1709. During these years, Swift published several tracts. An Argument against abolishing Christianity is a piece of grave irony; A Project for the Advancement of Religion was dedicated to Lady Berkeley, who was a woman of strict piety, and highly respected by Swift ; this is the only work to which he ever put his name. QUEEN ANNE'S FIFTY NEW CHURCHES IN LONDON
SUGGESTED BY SWIFT, In the Dean's Project for the Advancement of Religion, which treatise may, in some respects, be considered a sequel to the humorous Argument against abolishing Christianity, the main argument for taking away the wicked from before the throne, that it might be established in righteousness, is obviously more laudable than capable of application to practical use. Swift's plan proposed censors or inspectors, who should annually make circuits of the kingdom, and report, upon oath, to the court or ministry, the state of public morals. With better chance of practical and effectual reform, the author recommends to the Court to discourage characters of marked and notorious impiety; to revise, with more attention to moral and religious qualifications, the lists of justices of peace; to suppress the gross in. decency and profaneness of the stage ; and to increase the number of churches in the city of London. The last of these useful and practical hints alone was attended to; for, in the subsequent administration of Harley, fifty new churches were erected in the city of London, almost avowedly upon the suggestion of this pamphlet. The treatise was dedicated to Lady Berkeley, and appears to have been laid before Queen Anne by the Archbishop of York, the very prelate who had denounced to her private ear the author of the Tale of a Tub, as a divine unworthy of church-preferment. The work was also commended in the Tatler, as that of a man whose virtues sit easy about him, and to whom vice is thoroughly contemptible, -who writes very much like a gentleman, and goes to heaven with a very good mien.
SWIFT GOES OVER TO THE TORIES. The Doctor was dissatisfied with his Whig patrons, because his livings were not in England; and having been sent over on the affairs of the Irish clergy, in 1710, when he found the Whig ministry in a tottering condition, he temporized for a few months, till he saw their downfall was inevitable; and then, without even the pretext of any public motive, but on the avowed ground of not having been sufficiently rewarded for his former services, he went over in the most violent and decided manner to the prevailing party. For their gratification he abused his former friends and benefactors with a degree of virulence and rancour, to which it would be not too much to apply the term of brutality; and in the end, when the approaching death of the Queen, and their internal dissensions made his services of more im. portance to his new friends, he openly threatened to desert them also, and retire altogether from the scene, unless they made a suitable provision for him; and in this way he obtained the deanery of St. Patrick's, which, however, he always complained of as quite inadequate to his merits.
It is a singular fact, we believe, in the history of this sort of conversion, that Swift nowhere pretends to say that he had become aware of any danger to the country from the continuance of the Whig ministry-nor ever presumes to call in question the patriotism or penetration of Addison, and the rest of his former associates, who remained faithful to their first professions. His only apology for this sudden dereliction of principle was a pretence of ill usage from the party, but of which no mention is made till that same party is overthrown. He temporized for some months, kept on fair terms with his old friends, and did not give way to his well-considered resentment, till it was quite apparent that his interest must gain by its indulgence. He says, in his Journal to Stella, a few days after his arrival in London, in 1710:—"The Whigs would gladly lay hold on me, as a twig while they are drowning, and their great men are making me their clumsy apologies. But my Lord Treasurer [Godolphin] received me with a great deal of coldness, which has enraged me so, that I am almost sowing revenge.' In a few weeks after,—the change being by this time complete,-he takes his part definitively, and makes his approaches to Harley, in a manner which we should really imagine no rat of the present day would have confidence enough to imitate. In mentioning his first interview with that eminent person,
:-“I had prepared him before by another hand, where he was very intimate, and got myself represented (which I might justly do) as one extremely illused by the last ministry, after some obligation, because I refused to go certain lengths they would have me.” From the following passages of the Journal we gain these further sights into the conduct of this memorable conversation :
“Oct. 7. He [Harley) told me he must bring Mr. St. John and me acquainted ; and spoke so many things of personal kindness and esteem, that I am inclined to believe what some friends had told me, that he would do everything to bring me over. He desired me to dine with him on Tuesday; and after four hours being with him, set me down at St. James's coffee-house in a hackney-coach.
“I must tell you a great piece of refinement in Harley. He charged me to come and see him often ; I told him I was loath to trouble him, in so much business as he had, and desired I might have leave to come at his levee; which he immediately refused, and said, “That was no place for friends.'
“I believe, never was anything compassed so soon: and purely done by my personal credit with Mr. Harley ; who is so excessively obliging that I know not what to make of it, unless to show the rascals of the other party, that they used a man unworthily who had deserved better. He speaks all the kind things to me in the world. Oct. 14th. I stand with the new people ten times better than ever I did with the old, and forty times more caressed.
"Nov. 8th. Why should the Whigs think I came to England to leave them ? But who the devil cares what they think ? Am I under obligation in the least to any of them all? Rot them, ungrateful dogs. I will make them repent their usage of me before I leave this place. They say the same thing here of my leaving the Whigs ; but they own they cannot blame me, considering the treatment I have had,” &c.
Again, in the Examiner, as he himself expresses it of his former friends and benefactors, he “libelled them all round.” In his Journal to Stella he with triumph states things he was writing or saying to the people about Harley, in direct contradiction to his real sentiments. Thus he says:
“I desired my Lord Radnor's brother to let my Lord know I would call on him at six, which I did ; and was arguing with him three hours to bring him over to us; and I spoke so closely, that I believe he will be tractable. But he is a scoundrel ; and though I said I only talked from my love to him, I told a lie; for I did not care if he were hanged : but every one gained over is of consequence.”
SWIFT AND PARTRIDGE THE ASTROLOGER. Among the pretenders to astrology in the last centuryand whose Almanack was published to our time-was John Partridge, who had the fortune to procure a ludicrous immortality by attracting the satire of Swift. The Dean, in ridicule of the whole class of astrological impostors, and of this man in particular, published his celebrated “ Predictions for the Year 1708, by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.," which, amongst other prognostications, announced an event of no less importance than the death of John Partridge himself, which he fixed to the 29th of March, about eleven at night. The wrathful astrologer in his almanack for 1709 was at great pains to inform his loving countrymen, that Squire Bickerstaff was a sham name, assumed by a lying, impudent fellow, and that, “ blessed be God, John Partridge was still living, and in health, and all were knaves who reported otherwise.' This round denial did not save him from further molestation
; and The Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff, and several other treatises, appeared, greatly to the amusement of the public. At length poor Partridge, in an evil hour, had recourse to his neighbour, Dr. Yalden, who, in Bickerstaff Detected, or the Astrological Impostor Convicted, under Partridge's name, so burlesqued his sufferings, through Bickerstaff's prediction, as to make one of the most humorous tracts in this memorable controversy. In 1710, Swift published a famous prediction of Merlin, the British wizard, giving, in a happy imitation of the style of Lily, a commentary on some blackletter verses, most ingeniously composed in enigmatical references to the occurrences of the time. There were two inci. dental circumstances worthy of note in this ludicrous debate : 1st. The Inquisition of the Kingdom of Portugal took the matter as seriously as John Partridge, and gravely condemned to the flames the predictions of the imaginary Isaac Bickerstaff. 2ndly. By an odd coincidence, the Company of Stationers obtained, in 1709, an injunction against any Almanack published under the name of John Partridge,
* The secret of Bickerstaff's real name was probably for a time well kept, for poor Partridge, unwilling, as an astrologer, to appear ignorant of anything, opens manfully on a false scent, in a letter, dated London, 2nd April, 1708, addressed to Isaac Manley, postmaster of Ireland, who, to add to the jest, was a particular friend of Swift, his real tormentor.
as if the poor man had been dead in sad earnest. Swift appears to have been the inventor of the jest; but Prior, Rowe, Steele, and other wits of the time, were in the confederacy, under whose attacks Partridge suffered for about two years.
Swift, in his Grub-street Elegy on the supposed Death of Partridge, after telling us that he was a cobbler, with much humour shows
what analogy There is 'twixt cobbling and astrology, How Partridge made his optics rise
From a shoe-sole to reach the skies. If the 'reader should ever be strolling through the quiet village of Mortlake, on the southern bank of the Thames, and turns aside into the churchyard, he will find a black marble slab denoting in pompous Latin the styles of Partridge, physician to two kings (Charles II. and William III.), and one queen- Mary. Here also Partridge's birthplace is set down “apud East Sheen,” but his name is not in the parish, register. According to one Parker, his adversary, Partridge's real name was Hewson, a shoemaker by trade, but by choice a confederate and dependent of Old Gadbury, the knavish astrologer. In 1679, Partridge commenced business for himself; but in King James's time, his almanacks grew so smart on Popery, that England became too hot to hold Partridge, and he fled to Holland. He returned at the Revolution, and married the widow of the Duke of Monmouth's tailor, who finally deposited him in the grave, and in 1715 adorned his monument at Mortlake. His Almanack (Merlinus Liberatus) was, however, con. tinued ; and in 1723, advertised “Dr. Partridge's Night Drops, Nightpills, &c., sold as before, by his widow, at the Blue Ball, in Salisbury. street, Strand.”
“THE TATLER” ESTABLISHED. The most remarkable consequence of the predictions of Isaac Bickerstaff was the establishment of the Tatler. Swift is said to have taken the name of Bickerstaff from a smith's sign, and added that of Isaac as an uncommon Christian appellation. Yet it was said that a living person was actually found who owned both names. Swift was in the secret of Steele's undertaking from the beginning, though Addison only discovered it after the publication of the sixth number. Its wit and humour insured it instant success: Swift contributed several papers, and numerous hints in carrying on the work, until politics disturbed his friendship with the editor.
DEATH OF SWIFTS MOTHER. The Doctor returned to Ireland in the summer of 1709, dissatisfied with the broken promises of his ministerial friends.