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Account of the LIFE of Dr JONATHAN
Swift, Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin.
LATE writer justly observes, that “there
“ has rarely passed a life, of which a ju• dicious and faithful narrative would not be “ useful. For” (adds he) “ not only every man “ has, in the mighty mass of the world, great “ numbers in the same condition with him“ felf, to whom his mistakes and miscarriages, “ escapes and expedients, would be of immedi
ate and apparent use; but there is such an uni
formity in the state of man, if it be considered “ apart from adventitious and feparable decora“ tions and disguises, that there is scarce any " poslibility of good or ill, but is common to « human-kind. A great part of the time of “ those who are placed at the greatest distance by “ fortune, or by temper, must unavoidably pass “ in the same manner : And though, when the “ claims of nature are satisfied, caprice, and va" nity, and accident begin to produce discrimni“ nations and peculiarities; yet the eye is not
very heedful or quick, which cannot discover " the same causes still terminating their influence “ in the fame effects, though fometimes accele“ rated, sometimes retarded, or perplexed by
“ multiplied combinations. We are all prompted “ by the same motives, all deceived by the same
fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by
danger, intangled by desire, and seduced by “ pleasure *.”
If a faithful and judicious narrative of an ordinary life would be so apparently useful ; ftill greater utility may be expected to arife, from that of the life of one who has made an illustrious figure on the stage of the world, and employed his talents in the service of mankind and his country. Dr Swift was certainly a man of that distinguished character. He was eminent for his genius, his learning, his charities, and many virtues : And tho’ he had faults, yet his faults were out-numbered by his virtues : And as the failings of great men are to be carefully avoided, their virtues command respect, and are proper objects of imitation. An account, therefore, of the life and character of the celebrated Dr Swift, cannot but be highly agreeable to the reader, and will, it is hoped, afford both delight and instruction.
DR JONATHAN SWIFT was descended from a younger branch of an ancient family of that name in Yorkshire. But the account of his family shall be as fhort as poffible ; fince, as Lord Orrery observes), though his ancestors were perfons of very decent and reputable characters, [and the elder branch of the family ennobled,] he himself has been the herald to blazon the dignity of their coat. Bernam Swift, Esq; otherwise called Cavaliero Swift, a gentleman of great wit and humour, who, in the reign of K. James I. pofleffed the paternal estate, was, on the 20th of March 1627, by K. Charles I. created a peer of Ireland, by the title of Lord Viscount Carlingford, tho’ it is said he never went into that kingdom. He died without male issue; and the family inheritance descended to the daughters; one of whom married Robert Fielding, commonly called Handfome Fielding, and the other the Earl of Eglinton. Fielding soon dissipated his wife's patrimony; and that of her fifter being transferred to the family of Lord Eglinton, the principal estate of the Swifts was divided from the name for ever. [Sketch, § 1.]
nity * The Rambler, No. 60.
One of the younger branches from the same ftem, was Sir Edward Swift, who distinguished himfelf by his attachment to the royal cause, in the war between King Charles I. and his parliament, from whom there is no descendent of the name. [Sketch, $ 2.]
Another of the younger branches, was the Rev. Mr Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, HerefordThire, with which he also held another ecclesiaftical living.
His father William Swift, rector of St Andrew's in Canterbury, married the heiress of Philpot; who contrived to keep her estate, which was very confiderable, in her own hands. She is said to have been extremely capricious and ill-na
tured, and to have disinherited her son Thomas, an only child, merely for robbing an orchard when he was a boy. But however this be, it is certain, that except a church or chapter lease, which was not renewed, Thomas never poffeffed more than 100 l. a-year. [Sketch, $4.] This little estate, which lay at Goodrich, in Herefordshire, he mortgaged for 300 broad pieces; and having quilted them into his waistcoat, he set out for Ragland castle, whither King Charles I. had retired after the battle of Naseby, in 1645. The governor, who well knew him, asked what was his errand ? “ I am come,” said Swift, to
give his Majesty my coat ;” at the same time pulling it off, and presenting it. The governor told him pleasantly, that his coat was worth little, « Why then,” said Swift, “take my waistcoat.” This was soon found to be an useful garment by its weight; and it is remarked by Lord Clarendon, that the King received no supply more seasonable or acceptable than these 300 broad pieces during the whole war, his distress being then very great, and his resources cut off. The zeal and activity of this gentleman for the royal cause, exposed him to much danger, and many sufferings. He was plundered more than thirty times by the parliament's army, and was ejected from his church-livings ; his estate was sequestered, and he was himfelf thrown into prison. His estate, however, was afterwards recovered, and part of it fold to
fome other debts; the remainder, being about one half, descended to his heir, and is now porsessed by his great-grandfon, Deane Swift, Esq; *. [Sketch, 8.]
This Mr Thomas Swift married Mrs Elizabeth Dryden, of an ancient family in Huntingdonshire, fifter to the father of the famous John Dryden the poet ; by whom he had ten fons and four daughters. He died in 1658; and of his fons, fix survived him, Godwin, Thomas, Dryden, William, Jonathan, and Adam. [Sk.
[Sk. Ø 14. 15. 16.] Thomas was bred at Oxford, and took orders. He married the eldest daughter of Sir William D'Avenant; but dying young, he left only one fon, whose name also was Thomas, and who died in May 1752, in the 87th year of his age, rector of Puttenham in Surrey, a benefice which he had poffeffed fixty years. [Sketch, 9 5.] Godwin was a barrister of Gray's Inn; and William, Dryden, Jonathan, and Adam, were attorneys.
Godwin having married a relation of the old Marchioness of Ormond, the old Duke of Ormond made him his attorney-general in the palatinate of Tipperary in Ireland. Ireland was at this time almost without lawyers, the rebellion having made almost every man, of whatever con
* The grandmother of this gentleman, one of the wives of Godwin Swift, was heiress to Admiral Deane, one of the Regicides ; whence Dcane became a Christian name in the family.. [Sketch. $ 14.]