Imatges de pÓgina

which, Lord Orrery has informed us, was solely owing to his ambition being outraged at her matching with a tradesman. This, however, was by no means the case. Fenton was a worthless character, and, upon the eve of bankruptcy, when Swift's sister, against his warm remonstrances, chose to unite her fate to his. And although he retained his resentment against her imprudence, Lord Orrery ought not to have omitted, that, out of his own moderate income, Swift allowed Mrs Fenton what was adequate to her comfortable support, amid the ruin in which that imprudence had involved her*.

Having now taken leave of Lord Berkeley's family, at least as resident chaplain, Swift, in the year 1700, took possession of his living at Laracor, and resumed the habits of a country clergyman. He is said to have walked down, incognito, to the place of his future residence; and tradition has recorded various anecdotes † of his journey.

* These particulars concerning Fenton are on the authority of Mr Theophilus Swift.

+ Among those may be reckoned the doggrel lines, in which he is said to have commemorated various towns and villages through which he past in his way to Laracor.

Dublin a city, Dunshaughlin for a plow,

Navan for a market, Ardbracken for a cow;

Kells for an old town, Virginia poor,
Cavan dirt, and Belturbet for a whore.


Swift was very much addicted to this sort of proverb-making,

He walked straight to the curate's house, demanded his name, and announced himself bluntly

as it may be called. In the following couplet on Carlow, I understand the first line is highly descriptive; but that the town and inhabitants do not now merit the reproach contained in the second:

High church and low steeple,
Dirty town and proud people.

Many instances of this humour may be observed in the Journal to Stella.

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Another anecdote of this journey is preserved by Mr Wilson. "There were three inns in Navan, each of which claim, to this day, the honour of having entertained Dr Swift. It is probable that he dined at one of them, for it is certain that he slept at Kells, in the house of Jonathan Belcher, a Leicestershire man, who had built the inn of that town on the English model, which still exists; and, in point of capaciousness and convenience, would not disgrace the first road in England. The host, whether struck by the commanding sternness of Swift's appearance, or from natural civility, shewed him into the best room, and waited himself at table. The attention of Belcher seems so far to have won upon Swift as to have produced some conversation. You're an Englishman, Sir?' said Swift. Yes, Sir.' What is your name?' Jonathan Belcher, Sir.' An Englishman and Jonathan too, in the town of Kells,-Who would have thought it What brought you to this country?' I came with Sir Thomas Taylor, Sir; and I believe I could reckon fifty Jonathans in my family.' Then you are a man of family?' 'Yes, Sir; and I have four sons and three daughters by one mother, Have you long been out




Thirty years, Sir.' 'Do you ever
Never.' Can you say that with-




a good woman of true Irish mould.'
of your native country?'
expect to visit it again?


"as his master." All was bustle to receive a person of such consequence, and who, apparently, was determined to make his importance felt*. The curate's wife was ordered to lay aside the doctor's only clean shirt and stockings, which he

' out a sigh? I can, Sir; my family is my country.' C Why, Sir, you are a better philosopher than those who have written volumes on the subject: Then you are reconciled to your fate?' "I ought to be so; I am very happy; I like the people, and though I was not born in Ireland, I'll die in it, and that's the same thing.' Swift paused in deep thought for a minute, and then, with much energy, repeated the first line of the preamble of the noted Irish statute-Ipsis Hibernis Hiberniores! (The English settlers) are more Irish than the Irish themselves."-Swiftiana, London, 1804, Vol. I. 58.

* His mode of introducing himself was often whimsical and alarming. The widow of Mr Watson, a miniature-painter in Dublin, who, herself, followed the same profession, used to mention, that, while a girl in her father's house, (a Mr Hoy, of the county of Wicklow,) a gentleman rode up to the door, was admitted to the parlour where the family were sitting, and held some conversation with Mr Hoy, probably upon a literary topic, as her father left the room to seek a book referred to. During his absence, the stranger, stealing softly behind her, gave her a smart and unexpected slap on the cheek, saying, at the same time, to the astonished girl, "You will now remember Dean Swift as long as you live;" in which he prophesied very truly. Even in hiring servants, it was his custom to begin by asking them their qualifications for discharging the lowest and most mortifying offices. If they answered saucily, or expressed themselves affronted, the treaty was ended; if not, he set their submissive replies to the account of their good sense, and usually engaged them.

carried in his pocket; nor did Swift relax his airs of domination until he had excited much alarm, which his subsequent kind and friendly conduct to the worthy couple, turned into respectful attachment. This was the ruling trait of Swift's conduct to others; his praise assumed the appearance and language of complaint; his benefits were often prefaced by a prologue of a threatening nature; his most grave themes were blended with ironical pleasantry, and, in those of a lighter nature, deep and bitter satire is often couched under the most trifling levity.

Swift's life at Laracor was regular and clerical. He read prayers twice a-week, and regularly preached upon the Sunday. Upon the former occasions the church was thinly attended; and it is said, that the ludicrous and irreverend anecdote of his addressing the church service to his parish clerk, occurred when he found the rest of the congregation absent upon such an occasion. The truth of the story has been, however, disputed, although the friends of Swift allow that it had much of the peculiarity of his vein of humour. The reader will find beneath, the reasoning of Mr Theophilus Swift upon this curious anecdote, to which there can be but one objection, that Swift, namely, was more likely to do such a thing, than Orerry to invent it; and that to Swift, notwithstanding his sincere piety, a jest was irresistibly

seductive*. On Sundays the church at Laracor was well attended by the neighbouring families; and Swift, far from having reason to complain of want of an audience, attained that reputation which he pronounced to be the height of his ambition, since inquiries were frequently made at his faithful clerk, Roger Coxe†, whether the Doctor was to preach that Sunday.

While resident at Laracor, it was Swift's principal care to repair the dilapidations which the


* "I perfectly recollect, that neither my father or Mrs Whiteway had ever heard the story of Dearly beloved Roger,' till Orrery's book made its appearance. I have frequently heard them say so. They allowed it was possible, and not unlike the Dean; but they believed it an invention of Orrery's, to discredit the Dean's respect for religion. They thought it very singular that such a circumstance, had it been true, should not have been known to them; especially as my father had a considerable estate near Laracor, and resided very much upon it. For myself, I give no credit to the story. I verily believe that Orrery applied a story he had found, to discredit the piety of the Dean."

+ Roger was a man of humour, and merited a master like Swift. When the Doctor remarked that he wore a scarlet waistcoat, he defended himself as being of the church-militant. "Will you not bid for these poultry?" said Swift to his humble dependent, at a sale of farm-stock. "No, Sir," said Roger, "they're just a-going to Hatch." They were, in fact, on the point of being knocked down to a farmer called Hatch. This humourist was originally a hatter, and died at the age of 90, at Bruky, in the county of Cavan. See Swiftiana. Vol. I. p. 9.

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