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zens of which have become so real for us and which has supplied so many images familiar to every educated mind. But the apparent ease is due to the extreme consistency and sound judgment of Swift's realization. The conclusions follow so inevitably from the primary data, that when they are once drawn we agree that they could not be otherwise, and infer, rashly, that anybody else could have drawn them. It is as easy as lying ; but everybody who has seriously tried the experiment knows that even lying is by no means so easy as it appears at first sight. In fact, Swift's success is something unique. The charming plausibility of every incident throughout the two first parts, commends itself to children, who enjoy definite concrete images, and are fascinated by a world which is at once full of marvels surpassing Jack the Giant Killer and the wonders seen by Sindbad, and yet as obviously and undeniably true as the adventures of Robinson Crusoe himself.” This is, of course, more even than the edge of the satire, the true cause of Gulliver's popularity, and not among children only.
In arranging the present selection, I have sought to give especial prominence to this peculiar power of realization, which lends a unique charm to Swift's narrative. Of the extracts from Gulliver, which fill a third of this volume, half were chosen on account of the microscopic realism of the pictures they present of purely imaginary states of existence. Such extracts are the “Reception in Lilliput,” perhaps the most successful example of the logical expansion of a fanciful hypothesis in English literature; the “Inventory,” where the same idea is consistently developed; the “Capture of the Fleet"; and the meeting with the
Gray Houyhnhnm, which to my mind possesses a grace
and charm which cannot be matched in all the rest of the wonderful book. The other extracts from Gulliver show Swift's vein of cynical satire in its most sober and restrained dignity. We feel, as Hazlitt said, that we are reading the measured judgments of some inhabitant of a higher sphere, who looks down with sovereign contempt upon the hollow pretences, the puny rivalries, the gratuitous falsehoods, which go to help out the “ridiculous tragedy” called life. The King of Brobdingnag's “ Inquiry” reads as coldly and judicially as a state paper. The passion and scorn that underlie the calmest irony in Swift is here so subdued that it might almost pass unsuspected. There is little of the exuberant slashing ridicule of the Tub or the Books ; it is rather the expression of the contemptuous despair of one who has seen through life, and pronounces it altogether vanity. The quiet hopelessness of the satire reaches its most gloomy stage in the picture of the Struldbrugs, where Swift turns the Tithonus myth into a horrible reality, ard shows us old age in its most revolting and dismal aspect.
I have drawn less freely than some will perhaps approve from the voyage to Laputa ; but when it was necessary to exclude even some of the most celebrated passages in Lilliput and Brobdingnag, it was inevitable that the inferior work of the third voyage should be represented very briefly. The hitherto unpublished addition to Laputa, however, printed in the Notes, will make some amends for the omissions in the text.
The studiously restrained contempt of the satire and the extraordinary lifelike quality of the narrative make Gulliver Swift's greatest work; but there are many who would give a nearly equal rank to the Tale of a Tub. Swift himself, in the dreary decline of his powers, was observed to turn over the pages of his earliest work, and exclaim, “Good God, what a genius I had when I wrote that book !”-and genius is written on every page of it. The vigorous young intellect rejoices in its strength, and wantons and riots in its work of destruction. He has already found out that all is vanity and hypocrisy, and he tears the mask from the solemn shams and decorums of the world with shouts of derisive laughter. He is divesting himself of “prejudices,” he says, and is confident that he, and he alone, is free from the conventional impostures and plausible formulas of the world. He exposes the cant of religion and the pretensions of letters and the unrealities of every established form of putative virtue or genius with a keen enjoyment of the ruin he lays bare. He anticipates the philosophy of clothes when he shows that it is the robe makes the difference between the mayor and the bishop ; and he works out the dominant idea of the relativity and accidental character of all so-called greatness, when he draws his famous parallel between madness and genius, and explains the common attributes of Curtius and Empedocles.
In style, and as an artistic whole, the Tale of a Tub is Swift's masterpiece. The satire is more pointed and concise than in Gulliver, the thought more full and vigorous, the ideas and language more sustained and nervous. But to our modern taste there is much in the story of the three brothers that is painful and repellent. Without intending to do more than expose religious shams, Swift deals with what, to
many people, are very sacred things, with a rude and coarse brutality that make the Tale hateful to sensitive readers. Fortunately the introduction into it of “Digressions ” (a satire upon the "padding” of Grub Street) affords an opportunity for selection. While the religious part of the satire must necessarily be omitted from a volume which everyone should be able to read without offence, the digressions, which deal chiefly with the literary forms of imposture, are capable of being reproduced here with hardly any omissions, and though they do not adequately represent the almost boisterous humour of the work, they show Swift's style in its utmost perfection. As English, the “ Epistle Dedicatory to Prince Posterity,” complaining of the unfairness of his governor, Time, towards the literary productions of the age, is unsurpassed in all Swift's works.
The Battle of the Books is represented by the “ Apologue of the Spider and the Bee,” which gives the moral of the whole dispute, and by the Homeric combats which end it. The work cannot rank with the Tub, but it is a remarkable example of Swift's early mood, when he loved to run a-tilt against any. thing, for the mere enjoyment of sound knocks, and did not trouble himself about the merits of the case. The Argument against abolishing Christianity is introduced, partly because it is a singularly fine specimen of Swift's lighter satire, and is capable of being given in its entirety ; and partly because it gives some hints of his opinions as a Churchman, which form the key to many difficulties in his political career. Swift was before all things a churchman, but his thorough contempt for abstract thought,
as for abstract politics, made him rather a believer in a practically efficient church, the guardian of order and morals, than in any very spiritual institution. He was a staunch upholder of church and state, because his general contempt for mankind at large convinced him that they were about as good for flying as for thinking, and therefore needed authorized and qualified divines to do their theology for them. He detested sectarianism, not so much for its doctrinal differences as for its political dangers. A good deal of this may be read between the lines of the Abolishing of Christianity, but it is impossible in a limited space to give an adequate representation of the ecclesiastical views which formed so important a part of the convictions of the Dean of St. Patrick's; and although such tracts as the Sentiments of a Church of England Man are interesting from the biographer's point of view, as literature they must take a quite subordinate position in the works of Swift.
The same criticism applies to his political papers, which are chiefly occupied with questions that have long passed out of our horizon, and which need some historical preparation for their due understanding. Swift's pamphlets cannot indeed be ignored in the record of his work, for they formed the main support of a weak administration, and for ever established the press in the powerful position it has since held. Following Defoe's Review, Swift may be said to have created the “ leading article” by his weekly Examiners, which supplied the Tory ministry with the arguments they would have used if they had had wit to think of them ; and the long series of these articles, with the culminating triumph of the Conduct