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« families in credit. The dean," added she, “has «s found out a new method of being charitable, in “ which, however, I believe, he will have but few « followers, which is, to debar himself of what he “ calls superfluities of life, in order to administer to “ the necessities of the distressed. You just now saw “ an instance of it; the money a coach would have * cost him, he gave to a poor man unable to walk. “ When he dines alone, he drinks a pint of beer, and
gives away the price of a pint of wine. And thus “ he acts in numberless instances."
The dean came to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Pil. kington at their Lilliputian palace, as he called it; and who could have thought it? He just looked into the parlour, and ran up into the garret, then into Mrs. Pilkington's bedchamber and library, and from thence down to the kitchen ; and the house being very clean, he complimented her upon it, and told her, that was his custom ; and that it was from the cleanliness of the garret and kitchen, he judged of the good housewifery of the mistress of the house for no doubt but a slut may have the room clean where the guests are to be entertained.
He was sometimes very free, even to his superiours ; of which the following story, related to Mrs. Pilkington by himself, may serve as one instance among a thousand others.
The last time he was in London, he went to dine with the earl of Burlington, who was then but newly married. The earl being willing, it is supposed, to have some diversion, did not introduce him to his lady, nor mention his name. After dinner, said the dean, “ Lady Burlington, I hear you can sing ; sing me a song. The lady looked on this uncere
FROM the foregoing memoirs may be drawn the true character of Swift ; not on the slender ground of opinion, but the solid foundation of facts.
He was, from his earliest days, as he describes himself in one of his poems,
Addicted to no sort of vice. Wine, women, and gaming, the three great seducers of youth, had never the least influence over him. He has been often heard to say, that he never was drunk in his life : there have been strong reasons assigned for supposing that he never had any criminal commerce with the fair sex: and though for a short time, during his residence in London, he fell in with the fashion of playing for trifles, yet he wholly left it off when he appeared in Ireland in the character of the dean of St. Patrick's.
Virtus est vitium fugereis an old adage; and the bosom that is free from vice, is finely prepared for the reception of virtue. The soil in which no weeds sprout up, will reward the cultivator with plenteous crops of useful grain. Accordingly we find, from his first appearance in the world, he was possessed of three of the cardinal virtues, justice, temperance, and fortitude, in an eminent degree. His prudence, indeed, with regard to worldly views, might often be called in question; and sometimes he might be hurried away from listening to her sober dictates, by the impetuosity of a warm imagination, or allured by the sportiveness of fancy:
yet on all important occasions, he showed that he had no common share of that virtue, so necessary to the right direction of all the others. In the practice of these higher virtues, did he constantly live, even with a stoical severity; and none of the great characters of antiquity, were, on that account, more entitled to our esteem and admiration.
But to conciliate the good will and love of mankind, qualities of a gentler sort are necessary, the virtues of humanity, such as friendship, liberality, charity, good nature, &c. all which he was known to possess in a high degree by his intimate friends, though an opposite character of him prevailed in the world. I have already accounted for this in the preface, from a peculiar cast of his mind, which made him not only conceal these qualities from the publick eye, but often disguise them under the appearance of their contraries. I shall now show how this peculiarity first grew upon him. We have already seen during what a length of years his proud spirit groaned under a state of dependance on his relations for a scanty and precarious support. Upon inquiring into the history of his progenitors, he found that his grandfather had been reduced from a state of affluence, to extreme poverty, by the most cruel persecution of the fanaticks in the time of Cromwell. To this he imputed all his own sufferings, as well as those of his family; which fixed such a rooted hatred in him to them and their principles, as he took every opportunity of manifesting by his writings, whenever occasion offered, during the whole course of his life. This it was which gave him such a detestation of hypocrisy, a vice generally laid to their charge, as to make him run into the opposite extreme. In which 112
respect he was certainly highly Blamable, as he was himself a teacher of that religion, which enjoins its professors to Let their light so shine before men, that they might see their good works, &c. Especially as he stood in so conspicuous a point of view, from the superiority of his talents, that his example might have been of the greatest benefit, toward supporting the cause of religion and virtue; as, on the other hand, infidelity and vice gloried not a little, on the supposed enlistment of so great a name under their banner. It was this strangely assumed character, this new species of hypocrisy reversed, as lord Bolingbroke justly termed it, which prevented his appearing in that amiable light, to which he was entitled from the benevolence of his heart, except to a chosen few. In his friendships he was warm, zealous, constant: and perhaps no man ever contracted such a number with so judi. cious and happy a selection. We find him every where extolled for his preeminence in this first and rarest of virtues, by his numerous correspondents ; among whom were many the most distinguished of that age for talents and worth. Mr. Pope, in his preface to Homer, acknowledges in the strongest terms his obligation to him for his uncommon zeal in promoting the subscription to that work : and well he might, as there is good reason to believe that the suin procured by his solicitation was not less than a thousand pounds. We have seen with what ardour he engaged in a similar office for his friend Prior ; for though he had at that time little interest in Ireland, yet, by the utmost exertion of that little, he remitted to him between two and three hundred pounds, collected by him for subscriptions to his works; as appears by receipts in my possession. Many instances
of a similar kind have been casually brought to light, in spite of his endeavours to conceal them. His constancy in friendship was such, that he was never known to break any connexion of that sort, till his faculties were impaired in the decline of life, except in the case of Steele; wherein he was perfectly justified from the ingratitude and insolence of his behaviour toward him. Indeed his notions of friendship were so exalted, that he wished it might not be confined to the present life; for he says in one of his letters to Pope—“ I have often wished that God Al
mighty would be so easy to the weakness of man
kind, as to let old friends be acquainted in an« other state ; and if I were to write a Utopia for “ Heaven, that would be one of my schemes."
To his good nature and tenderness of heart, many testimonies have been given by those who best knew him, in the several quotations already made from the letters of Addison, Pope, Arbuthnot, Gay, and many others. Addison in particular says, that he honoured him more for that one good quality, than all his more shining talents. Captain Charlton, in his letter to him, says, “ I am sensible how intruding “it may appear in me to trouble you with what I " think; but you have an unlucky quality, which
exposes you to the forwardness of those that love
you; I mean good nature. From which, though I “ did not always suspect you guilty of it, I now promise “myself an easy pardon.” I have here quoted this passage, the rather, because the latter part of it is a confirmation of what I have advanced with regard to the pains he took to hide those good qualities he possessed, which were discoverable only on a closer