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to him, that he had no hope left but in a speedy dis. solution, which was the object of his daily prayer to the Almighty.
About the year 1736, his memory was greatly impaired and his other faculties of imagination and intellect decayed, in proportion as the stores from which they were supplied diminished. When the understanding was shaken from its seat, and reason had given up the reins, the irascible passions, which at all times he had found difficult to be kept within due bounds, now raged without control, and made him a torment to himself, and to all who were about him. An unusually long fit of deafness, attended with giddiness, which lasted almost a year, had disqualified him wholly for conversation, and made him lose all relish for society. Conscious of his situation, he was little desirous of seeing any of his old friends and companions, and they were as little solicitous to visit him in that deplorable state. He could now no longer amuse himself with writing; and a resolution he had formed of never wearing spectacles, to which he obstinately adhered, prevented him from reading. Without employment, without amusements of any kind, thus did his time pass heavily along; not one white day in the calendar, not one hour of comfort, nor did even a ray of hope pierce through the gloom. The state of his mind is strongly pictured in a letter to Mrs. Whiteway. “ I have been very miserable
Dublin, he suddenly missed the dean, who had staid behind the rest of the company. He turned back in order to know the occasion of it; and found Swist at some distance gazing intently at the top of a lofty elm, whose head had been blasted; upon Young's approach he pointed to it, saying, " I shall be like that tree, I shall die first “all night, and to day extremely deaf and full of “ pain. I am so stupid and confounded, that I can
at the top.".
not express the mortification I am under both in
body and mind. All I can say is, that I am not in « torture ; but I daily and hourly expect it. Pray « let me know how your health is, and your family. “ I hardly understand one word I write. I am sure
my days will be very few ; few and miserable they
must be. I am for those few days, “ If I do not blunder, it is Saturday, “ Yours entirely, “ July 26, 1740.
J. SWIFT." Not long after the date of this letter, his understanding failed to such a degree, that it was found necessary to have guardians legally appointed to take care of his person and estate. This was followed by a fit of lunacy, which continued some months, and then he sunk into a state of idiocy, which lasted to his death. He died October 29, 1745.
The behaviour of the citizens on this occasion, gare the strongest proof of the deep impression he had made on their minds. Though he had been, for so many years, to all intents and purposes dead to the world, and his departure from that state seemed a thing rather to be wished than deplored, yet no sooner was his death announced, than the citizens gathered from all quarters, and forced their way in crowds into the house, to pay the last tribute of grief to their departed benefactor. Nothing but lamentations were heard all around the quarter where he lived, as if he had been cut off in the vigour of his years. Happy were they who first got into the chamber where he lay, to procure, by bribes to the servants, locks of his hair, to be handed down as sacred
relicks to their posterity*. And so eager were numbers to obtain at any price this precious memorial, that in less than an hour, his venerable head was entirely stripped of all its silver ornaments, so that not a hair remained. He was buried in the most private manner, according to directions in his will, in the great aisle of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and by way of monument, a slab of black marble was placed against the wall, on which was engraved the following Latin Epitaph, written by himself:
Hic depositum est corpus
Et imitare, si poteris,
Obiit anno (1745)
Ætatis anno (78.)
PRIVATE MEMOIRS of SwIFT.
HAVING now conducted Swift from his cradle to his grave, and presented to view, in a regular series, the most remarkable scenes of his publick life ; I
• Yea beg a hair of him for memory,
And dying mention it within their wills,
have purposely reserved to this place the greater part of such private memoirs, as were not meant to meet the publick eye, in order that I might arrange them also in an uninterrupted train. Nothing has more excited the curiosity of mankind at all times, than that desire which prevails of prying into the secret actions of great and illustrious characters; arising in some, from a too general spirit of envy, which hopes to find something in their private conduct that may sully the lustre of their publick fame, and so bring them down more to a level with themselves : and in others, of a more candid disposition, that they might form right judgments of their real characters; as too many, like actors in a theatre, only assume one when they afpear on the stage of the world, which they put off, together with their robes and plumes, when retired to the dressing room. But as the readers of the former sort, are infinitely more numerous, in order to gratify their taste, as well, perhaps, as their own congenial disposition, the writers of such memoirs are too apt to lean to the malevolent side, and deal rather in the more saleable commodity of obloquy and scandal, high-seasoned to the taste of vitiated palates, than in the milder and more insipid food of truth and panegyrick. Many have been the milrepresentations made of Swift, from this uncharitable spirit, and though most of them have been proved to be such by his defenders, yet there are several still left in a state of doubt and uncertainty, through the want of proper information. Among these there is no article about which the world is still left so much in the dark, as bis amours. A subject, which, in one of his singular character, is
more likely to excite curiosity than any other. We know there were two ladics, represented by him as the most accomplished of their sex, adorned with all the charms and graces, both of person and mind, that might penetrate the most obdurate breast, whose hearts were wholly devoted to liim. We know too that he had a just sense of their value, that he lived on terms of the closest friendship with both, but it does not appear that he ever made a suitable return of love to either.
As his conduct toward these two celebrated ladies, Stella and Vanessa, seems to be wrapped up in the darkest shades of any part of his history, and has given rise to various conjectures, which yet have produced no satisfactory solution of the doubts which it has occasioned; I shall endeavour, by collecting some scattered rays from different parts of his Works, and adding other lights which have come to my knowledge, to disperse the mysterious gloom with which this subject seems to have been enveloped, and put the whole in a clear point of view. In order to this, it will be necessary, in the first place, to form a judgment how Swift stood affected toward the female sex, either from constitution, or reflection. With regard to the former, he seems to have been of a very cold habit, and little spurred on by any impulse of desire : and as to the latter, he appears in the early part of his life to have had little inclination to enter into the married state, and afterward to have had a fixed dislike to it.
His sentiments on this bead are fully displayed in the following letter to a kinsman of his, written in the 24th year of his age :