Imatges de pÓgina
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reply, Swift charges Varina with want of affec tion and indifference, states his own income in a most dismal point of view, yet intimates he might well pretend to a better fortune than she was possessed of. He is so far from retaining his former opinion as to the effects of a happy union, that he inquires whether the physicians had got over some scruples they appeared to entertain on the subject of her health. Lastly, He demands peremptorily to know whether she could undertake to manage their domestic affairs, with an income of rather less than three hundred pounds a-year; whether she would engage to follow the methods he should point out for the improvement of her mind; whether she could bend all her affections to the same direction which he should give his own, and so govern her passions, however justly provoked, as at all times to resume her good humour at his approach; and, finally, whether she could account the place where he resided more welcome than courts and cities without him. These premises agreed, (as indispensable to please those, who, like himself, were "deeply read in the world,") he intimates his willingness to wed her, though without personal beauty or large fortune. It must remain uncertain whether the positive requisites, or the proffered abatements were least acceptable to the lady; but, under all circumstances, she must have been totally divested of pride and delicacy, if she could, upon such terms, have

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exacted from her reluctant lover the faith which he seemed so unwilling to plight. Thus separated Swift and Varina. Much, as we have already noticed, may no doubt have happened, in the course of their correspondence, to alter his opinion of that lady, or lead him to imagine that, in delaying a positive answer to his proposals, she was trifling with his passion. But ere she was dismissed from the scene, he had learned to know one with whom much of the good and evil of his future life was to be inseparably blended.

Esther Johnson, who purchased, by a life of prolonged hopes and disappointed affection, a poetical immortality under the name of Stella, because first known to Swift during his second residence with Sir William Temple. The birth of Stella has been carefully investigated, with the hopes of discovering something that might render a mysterious and romantic history yet more romantic. But there are no sound reasons for supposing that she had other parents than her imputed father and mother, the former the younger brother of a good family in Nottinghamshire, and by profession a merchant in London, the latter a woman of acute and pene

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trating talents, the friend and companion of Lady Gifford, Temple's favourite sister, and cherished by her with particular respect and regard until the end of her life. Johnson, the father, died soon after Stella's birth, but Mrs

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Johnson and her two daughters were inmates of Moorpark for several years. General interest was taken by all the inhabitants of this mansion in the progress which little Hetty made in her education. And much of the task of instruction devolved upon Swift, now a man of thirty, who seems to have, for some time, regarded his lovely pupil with the friendship of an elder brother*. But the constant and habitual intercourse of affectionate confidence between the master and

* He taught her even the most ordinary parts of education, and, in particular, instructed her in the art of writing. Their hands resemble each other in some peculiarities. But though he instructed her in the necessary branches of education, there is evidence he went no farther, and that Stella, far from being a learned lady, was really deficient in many of the most ordi• mary points of information. The editor is possessed of an exact transcript of marginal notes, written by Swift for elucidation of an edition of Milton, 1669, which is inscribed, “The gift of Dr Jonathan Swift to Mrs Dingley and Mrs Johnson, May 1703." The notes are numerous, but the information which they convey is such, as could only be useful to persons of a very indifferent education. Thus, Palestine is explained to be the Holy-Land, Rhene and Danau, two German rivers, Pilasters are rendered pillars, Alcides, Hercules; Columbus is designated as he "who discovered America," and Xerxes as having made a bridge with ships over the Hellespont." It does not seem likely that Swift would have taken all this trouble merely for the illumination of Mrs Dingley, and the inference plainly must be, that Stella was neither well informed nor well educated.

the pupil, by degrees assumed a more tender complexion; and it will be presently seen, that when fortune appeared disposed to separate them, they were both unwilling to submit to her dictates. There is little doubt, that the feelings which attended this new connection, must have had weight in disposing Swift to break off the lingering and cold courtship which he had maintained with Mrs Jane Waryng. And from this period, the fates of Swift and Stella were so implicated together, as to produce the most remarkable incidents of both their lives.

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Four years of quiet and happy residence at Moorpark were terminated by the death of Sir William Temple, in 1698-9. He was not unmindful of Swift's generous and disinterested friendship, which he rewarded by a pecuniary legacy, and with what he, doubtless, regarded as of much greater consequence, the bequest of his literary remains. These, considering the author's high reputation and numerous friends, held forth to his literary executor an opportunity of coming before the public, in a manner that should excite And when it is at once interest and respect. considered, that all Swift's plans revolved upon making himself eminent as an author, the value of such an occasion to distinguish himself could scarcely be too highly estimated.

The experiment, however, appeared at first to have in a great measure disappointed these rea

The works of Temple

sonable expectations. were carefully edited, with a dedication to King William; and at the same time a petition was presented for Swift, reminding his Majesty of a promise made to Sir William Temple, to bestow on him a prebend of Canterbury or Westminster. Swift has expressed his belief, that the Earl of Romney, who promised to second this petition, did in reality suppress it. And William, when he ceased to reap the benefit of Temple's political experience, was not likely to interest himself deeply in his posthumous literary labours. After long attendance upon court, therefore, Swift's hopes of promotion disappeared, and the revolution principles, which he certainly strongly professed, did not prevent his regarding King William, and his memory, with very little compla

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