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He resumed his wonted life at Laracor ; and set about correcting his Tale of a Tub for a new edition ; but his literary occupations were broken in upon by domestic affliction ; for in May, 1710, he received the news of his affectionate mother's death, after long illness. “I have now," he pathetically remarks,“ lost every barrier between me and death. God grant I may live to be as well prepared for it as I confidently believe her to have been! If the way to heaven be through piety, truth, justice, and charity, she is there !"
SWIFT AT CHELSEA.
In 1710, when Swift came to London, he had a country lodging in Church-lane, Chelsea, over against Bishop Atter. bury: Swift has left this curious record of his walk from town : May 15, 1710. My way is this: I leave my best
gown and periwig at Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s [in Suffolk-street], then walk up the Pall Mall, through the Park, out at Buckingham House, and so to Chelsea, a little beyond the church. I set out about sunset, and get here in something less than an hour: it is two good miles, and just 5748 steps.”— Journal to Stella.
In the same Journal he thus records the fame of Chelsea buns : “ Pray are not the fine buns sold here in our town; was it not r-r-r-r-r-r-rare Chelsea Buns ?"
From Chelsea he walked to Bury [Berry] street, St. James's, his town lodging, which he thus details :
“I lodge in Bury-street, where I have the first-floor, a dining-room, and bedchamber, at eight shillings a-week, plaguy deep, but I spend nothing for eating, never go to a tavern, and very seldom in a coach; yet, after all, it will be expensive.”-Journal to Stella.
We now hear of him in connexion with the Westminster election of this year. He writes to Stella : “October 5.This morning Delaval came to see me, and we went to Kneller's, who was not in town. In the way we met the electors for parliament-men; and the rabble came about our coach crying 'A Colt! a Stanhope!' &c. We were afraid of a dead cat or our glasses broken, and so were always of their side.”
The Dean wrote a ballad full of puns on this Westminster election; it would be curious, if it could be recovered, to be preserved among those of Hanbury Williams, Burns, and Moore, as an example of an election-squib written by a distinguished man-(Hannay.)
During the time that Swift remained in England on this occasion, he commenced the Journal to Stella which was addressed in a series of letters to Miss Johnson and Mrs. Dingley, but obviously intended for the former. The Journal, written: as it is, chiefly in the morning and evening of each successive day of the most busy part of Swift's life, affords a picture as minute as it is evidently trustworthy of the events in which he was concerned, and the thoughts which arose out of them.
"SID HAMET'S ROD.” This was a lampoon written by Swift on the occasion of Lord Godolphin's breaking his treasurer's staff, in a manner not very respectful to the Queen, his mistress. The Dean was now very vigilant in avenging the neglect with which he had been treated by the Whigs. He had resolved to stand by, an unconcerned spectator of the struggles of party. But let no man promise on his own neutrality. By ist October, he had written a lampoon on Lord Godolphin, and on the 4th, he was for the first time presented to Harley; and it is remarkable, that on the very same day, he refused an invitation from Lord Halifax, thus making his option between those distinguished statesmen.
In the same paragraph which acquaints Stella with this first interview with the new prime minister, Swift announces that he has given his lampoon against Godolphin to the press, and already threatens “to go round with them all.” By Harley Swift was introduced to St. John, (afterwards Lord Bolingbroke,) and the intercourse which he enjoyed with these ministers approached to intimacy with a progress more rapid than can well be conceived in such circumstances.
Swift pressed the government, after he had received his Deanery, for one thousand pounds, to meet the expenses of his induction, and clear off his debts, and Bolingbroke got the Queen's warrant for the payment of this sum, in order to secure the Dean's attachment, after he had turned out Harley; yet Her Majesty's immediate death rendered the gift unavailing
THE "EXAMINER” ESTABLISHED.
The first and most urgent point in which the Tories required Swift's assistance, was the conduct of the Examiner, a periodical paper, which St. John himself, Prior, Dr. Freind, King, and other Tory writers, had already commenced. Their attacks were replied to by the Whig Examiner, the avowed purpose of which was “to censure the writings of others, and to give all persons a re-hearing, who had suffered under any unjust sentence of the Examiner ;" and during the existence of the work, the task was accomplished with great energy and
Not only Sacheverell, but Prior, and St. John himself , were attacked, and severely satirized.
Swift conducted the Examiner for seven months, during which time, in the language of Homer, he bore the battle upon his single shield, and by the vigour of his attack, and dexterity of his defence, inspired his own party with courage, and terrified or discomfited those champions who stept from the enemy's ranks for the purpose of assailing him. Unrestrained by those considerations which probably influenced the gentler mind of Addison, he engaged in direct personal controversy, and, not satisfied with directing his artillery on the main body of the enemy, he singled out for his aim particular and wellknown individuals. Wharton, whose character laid him too open to such an attack, was the first of those victims; and Oldmixon goes so far as to say that Jonathan Swift was actually preferred by Lord Wharton to be one of his chaplains, which he repaid by libelling his benefactor in the Ec. aminer, under the character of Verres. But his resentment against Lord Wharton was still more strongly indulged, in his Short Character of that nobleman, drawn in the keenest strokes of satire.
Sunderland, Godolphin, Cowper, Walpole, Somers, and Marlborough himself, successively became the butts of Swift's bitter satire in the Examiner.
A MODEL COURT LETTER.
Swift, writing to Addison upon his expectations of prefer. ment, gives a memorial of what he had in his thoughts upon Dr. South's prebend and sinecure, upon which Lord Halifax had written to him as follows:
“ October 6, 1709. “SIR, -Our friend Mr. Addison telling me that he was to write to you to-night, I could not let bis packet go away without letting you know how much I am concerned to find them returned without you. I am quite ashamed for myself and my friends, to see you left in a place so incapable of tasting you ; and to see so much merit, and so great qualities unrewarded by those who are sensible of them. Mr. Addison and I are entered into a new confederacy, never to give over the pursuit, nor to cease reminding those who can serve you, till your worth is placed in that light it ought to shine in. Dr. South holds out still, but he cannot be immortal. The situation of his prebend would make me doubly concerned in serving you, and upon all occasions that shall offer I will be your constant solicitor, your sincere admirer, and your unalterable friend. I am your most humble and obedient servant,
“ HALIFAX.” Sir Walter Scott's note on the above is : “ This letter from Lord Halifax, the celebrated and almost professed patron of learning, is a curiosity in its way, being a perfect model of a courtier's correspondence with a man of letterscondescending, obliging, and probably utterly unmeaning. Swift wrote thus on the back of the letter, I kept this letter as a true original of courtiers and court promises ; and, on the first leaf of a small printed book, entitled, Poësies Chrétiennes de Mons. Jollivet, he wrote these words, ' Given me by my Lord Halifax, May 3, 1709. I begged it of him, and desired him to remember, it was the only favour I ever received from him or his party.'
Dr. South, Prebendary of Westminster, was then very infirm, and far advanced in years. He survived, however, until 1716, and died aged 83.
THE WINDSOR PROPHECY.
Every one familiar with the romantic history of the streets of London will remember the startling episode of the assassination of Mr. Thynne in the Haymarket by foreigners, at the instigation of Count Köningsmark, with the view of securing the Lady Ogle, to whom Thynne had recently been married, and to her was imputed privity to the murder. This lady, Elizabeth, daughter of Joceline, second Earl of Northumberland, and who was married three times, and twice a widow, before she was sixteen years old, was married within four months after the murder of Thynne, to Charles Seymour, Duke of Somerset. Thus early practised in matrimonial intrigue, we find her thirty years afterwards the accomplished organ of political intrigue; the favourite and friend of Queen Anne, and the zealous partisan of the Whig party. In that character she became the object of Swift's pasquinade, “The Windsor Prophecy,” which, though aimed at the Duchess of Somerset, and the destruction of her influence at Court, re. coiled upon the head of the author, prevented the Queen from making him a bishop, and banished him from her favour for the remainder of her reign. The meaning of the
Prophecy,” and the keenness of its sarcasm, were of course readily understood and appreciated by contemporaries. Swift himself seems to have been highly pleased with it. He says, in one of his letters to Stella, « The Prophecy' is an admirable good one, and the people are mad for it." The above recital of the early history of the Duchess of Somerset will render it fully intelligible at the present day. Here is a specimen of Swift's virulence :
“Now angry Somerset her vengeance vows,
On Swift's reproaches for her murder'd spouse :
And thence into the royal ear distils.”
“And dear England, if aught I understand,
Beware of Carrots* from Northumberland !
Bury those Carrots under a Hill."S An opportunity occurred of appointing Swift to the vacant see of Hereford, and he was recommended by the ministry : but the Duchess went in person to the queen, and, throwing herself on her knees, entreated, with tears in her eyes, that she would not give the bishopric to Swift; at the same time presenting to her that excessively bitter copy of verses, The
Alluding to the Duchess of Somerset's red hair. + Anna Regina.
I Lady Masbam. § Lady Masham's maiden name. Communicated by Mr. D. Jardine, to Notes and Queries, No. 125.