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Swift goes to Ireland with Lord Berkeley-His differences with that nobleman-Obtains the living of Laracor-He is displeased with his sister's marriage-His mode of life at Laracor-Mrs Dingley and Stella come to Ireland -Tisdal makes proposals of marriage to Stella-Swift embarks in politics-His opinion of the affairs of church and state-Tale of a Tub.
SWIFT, now in the prime of life, and well-known both to the great and learned, could not long want an honourable provision, and, accordingly, received and accepted an invitation to attend the Earl of Berkeley, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, to that country, in the capacity of chaplain and private secretary. But these plurality of offices gave umbrage to a Mr Bushe, who had pitched upon the latter situation for himself, and who contrived, under pretence of its incompatibility with the character of a clergyman, to have Swift superseded in his own favour. Lord Berkeley, "with a poor apology," promised to make his chaplain amends, by giving him the first good
church-living that should become vacant. neither in this did he keep his word, for when the rich deanery of Derry was in his gift, Bushe entered into a negotiation to sell it for a bribe of a thousand pounds, and would only consent to give Swift the preference, upon his paying a like sum. Incensed alike at the secretary and his principal, whom he supposed to be accessary to this unworthy conduct, Swift returned the succinct answer, "God confound you both for a couple of scoundrels," and instantly left Lord Berkeley's lodgings in the castle*. He had al
* Lord Orrery intimates, that, notwithstanding what is above stated, Swift would actually have obtained this preferment, but for the interference of the learned Dr King. "The rich Deanery of Derry became vacant at this time, and was intended for him by Lord Berkeley, if Dr King, then Bishop of Derry, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, had not interposed: entreating that the deanery might be given to some grave and elderly divine, rather than to so young a man; because, added the bishop, the situation of Derry is in the midst of presbyterians, and I should be glad of a clergyman who could be of assistance to me. I have no objection to Mr Swift. I know him to be a sprightly ingenious young man; but, instead of residing, I dare say he will be eternally flying backwards and forwards to London; and therefore I entreat that he may be provided for in some other place." Lord Orrery's Life of Swift, London, 1752, p. 22. Archbishop King was afterwards himself disappointed of preferment on account of his age. When Dr Boulter was preferred to be primate of Ireland, in spite of his claims, as Archbishop of Dublin, King
ready given vent to his resentment in one or two keen personal satires; and his patron, alarmed for the consequences of an absolute breach with a man of his temper and talents, was glad to reconcile, or, at least to pacify him, by presenting him with the rectory of Agher, and the vicarages of Laracor and Rathbeggan. These livings united, though far inferior in value to the deanery of Derry, formed yet a certain and competent fund of subsistence, amounting to about L. 230 yearly. The prebend of Dunlavin being added in the year 1700, raised Swift's income to betwixt L. 350 and L. 400, which was its amount, until he was preferred to the deanery of St Patrick's. These facts are ascertained from his account-books for the years 1701 and 1702, which evince, on the one hand, the remarkable economy with which Swift managed this moderate income, and on the other, that, of the expences which he permitted himself, more than one-tenth part was incurred in acts of liberality and benevolence *.
received him seated in his chair, with the sarcastic apology, "My Lord, I am certain your grace will forgive me, because you know I am too old to rise."
Account of expences from Nov. 1, 1700 to Nov. 1, 1701.
s. d. 300 700
Shoes and books,
Swift's quarrel with Lord Berkeley did not disturb his intercourse with the rest of the family, in which he retained his situation of chaplain. Lady Berkeley stood high in his opinion as an amiable and virtuous woman, in whom the most easy and polite conversation, joined with the truest piety, might be observed united to as much advantage as ever they were seen apart in any other persons*. The company also, of two amiable and lively young ladies of fashion, daughters of the earl †, must have rendered the society still more
Gifts and charity extraordinary,
L.10 0 0 400
5 0 0
13 0 0 10 0 0 5 0 0
5 0 0 12 0 0 1 10
5 0 0
10 0 0
17 0 0
L. 100 0 0
*This excellent lady was daughter of Baptist Noel, Viscount Campden, and sister to Edward, first Earl of Gainsborough. She died 30th July 1719.
+ Ladies Mary and Elizabeth Berkeley. The former married Thomas Chambers of Hanworth, in the county of Middlesex; the latter Sir John Germaine of Drayton, in the
fascinating; and, accordingly, it is during his residence with Lord Berkeley, that Swift appears first to have given way to the playfulness of his disposition in numerous poetical jeux d'esprit, which no poet ever composed with the same felicity and spirit. Of this class are the inimitable petition of Mrs Frances Harris, the verses on Miss Floyd, a young lady of beauty and spirit, who was also an inmate of the family, and some other pieces, written during this period. But the most solemn waggery was the Meditation on a Broomstick, composed and read with infinite gravity, as an existing portion of the Honourable Mr Boyle's Meditations, which, it seems, Lady Berkeley used to request Swift to read aloud more frequently than was agreeable to him. In such company, and with such amusements, his time glided happily away, and he retained a high regard for the ladies of the family during the rest of his life. Lady Betty Berkeley, in particular, afterwards Lady Betty Germaine, was, to the end of his career, one of his most valuable and most valued correspondents.
During this period of Swift's life, his sister contracted an imprudent marriage with a person called Fenton, to his very high and avowed displeasure,
county of Northampton. A third daughter of the Earl, Lady Penelope, died during his residence at Dublin.