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With all those moderns, men of steady sense,
I'd have a clear and competent estate,
Would bounteous Heaven once more indulge, I'd choose
I'd have her reason all her passion sway:
Quick to advise, by an emergence prest,
To this fair creature I'd sometimes retire;
I'd be concern'd in no litigious jar;
If Heaven a date of many years would give, Thus I'd in pleasure, ease, and plenty live. And as I near approach'd the verge of life,
Should take upon him all my worldly care,
TO HIS FRIEND INCLINED TO MARRY.
I would not have you, Strephon, choose a mate,
JONATHAN Swift, a kinsman of John Dryden, was born on the 30th of November, 1667. He was of an English family. The place of his birth has not been correctly ascertained, but he was educated in Ireland. He passed his youth in poverty and dependance, under the care of a rich relation. This is a hard school, and of the many bitter lessons which are taught in it, Jonathan Swift was fated by temperament to learn one more deeply than the rest, -the habit of severe indignation. This should be the commentary to his history. Up to the period when he had passed his fortieth year, Swift, in the possession of extraordinary talents, saw himself at every turn thrust down beneath the most ordinary men. His life was simply the alternation of patient and impatient suffering. Wearied with playing the humble companion to his relative, Sir William Temple, he entered the church, where hard-won patronage procured him an Irish living of a hundred a year. Soon wearied equally with this, he returned to England, to wait again upon the infirmities of Temple, on the faith of his offered influence for a better living in England. Temple died, and Swift was left, in 1699, after many years of galling expectation, with the worthless legacy of a king's promise. The disappointments which now crowded upon him would form a long and painful catalogue. He found himself, at last, settled as a poor and hardworking parson, in the county of Meath. His melancholy and his spleen had vented themselves before this in various witty and severe verses, but nothing was yet published in his name. His literary life, however, now began. He published a work on Athens and Rome, which was instantly attributed to Bishop Burnet. Exertion made him still more conscious of his ill-rewarded strength, and in a fit of restless impatience he went to London. He returned to his poor parishioners precisely as he had left them.
It was not until nine years after this,-years which had given some immortal writings to the world, (the Tale of a Tub, the Battle of the Books, the Essays of Isaac Bickerstaff, among them,) but which had seen the best portion of their author's life wear away in poverty, in mortified ambition, and disappointed hopes,-years which had irredeemably soured his temper, and during which a painful and lasting sickness had fixed itself upon him; - it was not until their lapse that an entrusted mission from the Irish Lord Primate to the celebrated Harley, opened to Dr. Jonathan Swift the avenues to distinction and public fame. He speedily mastered them, and his extraordinary talents became the subject of conversation and curiosity wherever he went. Beyond this we cannot follow the details of his life. From the honourable exile of his deanery, where the remainder of it was chiefly spent, most formidable thunderbolts continued to be cast at the Whigs; the immortal Travels of Gulliver, and his best poems appeared; and the publication of the Drapier's Letters won for him the adoration of an entire people ;-while these public glories were darkened by strange private afflictions. Ultimately, the still surviving restlessness of his life was vexed by impatient fits of anger, till it rose to madness. In this miserable state the great Dean Swift died, in October 1744, " a driveller and a show!"
The poems of Swift form only the smallest item in the account of his wonderful genius. They are remarkable, however, in a high degree, for their power of versification. Their ease and vivacity have never been excelled. We think them also, in conversational humour, in homely but powerful satire, and in a witty accuracy and exactness of description, unquestionably first rate. Nor are they wanting, as the poems to Stella and Vanessa prove, in tender and graceful poetical fancies. It is impossible to pass, however, without the strongest terms of reprobation and shame, certain descriptions, which frequently and shockingly disfigure these poems of Swift. It is but a poor excuse to say, that they were not written with a view to publication. We may suggest, with perhaps as slight an available ground of defence, that they were the product of his moments of spleen and indignation, when he desired to exhibit humanity at a level below itself, correspondent with that to which, from the higher aspirations of his genius, its treatment had reduced him. One thing, at least, is certain and consolatory: Swift could not degrade, as he assisted, humanity. As, while he was doing wonderful services to Ireland, he protested he did not love her; so upon that human nature which he would have us believe he loved as little,
In a glad hour Lucina's aid
“ Since men allege, they ne'er can find