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of paradox, but was possible to one whose view of human nature was the most genial, whose grasp of character was the most catholic.
But Scott had not time to do all that was required. He professed himself satisfied “to condense the information afforded by Mr. Sheridan, Lord Orrery, Dr. Delany, Deane Swift, Dr. Johnson, and others, into one distinct and comprehensible narrative." He has, indeed, done much more than this : but a book written on such a plan, could not, even in Scott's hands, supply all that was wanted in a biography of Swift. From the earlier biographers there had grown up a traditional formality of manner in apology, in defence, and even in eulogy, adopted by timid advocates, to suit a timid public. When, for instance, Dr. Delany asks us to admire Swift because he gained the First Fruits for the Irish Church : or because he suggested the building of fifty churches in London : or because he administered the revenues of his cathedral with economy, and paid much attention to the pronunciation of those who officiated there—we feel that, however estimable in their way, these are scarcely the acts that have contributed to keep alive a vivid interest in Swift, and that those with whom such pleas were likely to have much weight, were scarcely fit to judge of the wayward and often morbid genius of Swift. Yet Scott, perhaps unconsciously, perhaps from haste, has adopted much of this conventional manner in his biography. He claims admiration for Swift,“ in spite of the antiquated and unpopular nature of his politics”: “in spite of the misanthropical tone of some of his writings:” and, elsewhere, because of “ his sincere and devout belief in the truths of Christianity.” But before we begin to make allowances for Swift's politics, as antiquated and unpopular, we must be sure that we have found out the true
key to their adoption by one very considerably in advance of the current opinion of his own or of any other time. If we look upon his misanthropy as only an occasional blemish which mars his genius, and which we must endeavour either to forgive or to forget, the chances are that, in our apology, we may miss an essential trait in Swift's character, whose origin we should rather seek to explain, and whose influence in his work it is our business to trace. As to his acceptance of religious dogma, without denying or doubting its sincerity, may we not doubt whether we have described it rightly, in labelling it with the mark of conventional and respectable orthodoxy?
Scott has not thought it necessary to enter much more fully than previous biographers into questions like these. He has given us a clear, succinct, and graphic narrative : but on the difficult passages in Swift's life he has scarcely thrown fresh light. Of his new matter, some was derived from authorities scarcely deserving the regard which Scott was induced to give them.
In his History 'of St. Patrick's, published in 1820, Mr. Monck Mason devoted a long chapter to the life of Swift: but it consists chiefly of tedious controversy on a few doubtful points, and neither attempts to gauge his character from any broad point of view, nor has appreciably affected the current judgment on his life.
Scott's Life, while it revived the interest in Swift, produced at the same time a renewal of that adverse criticism which had never wanted its representatives. Jeffrey wrote a fierce diatribe in 1816, outdoing the usual narrowness of the clique to which he belonged, in the complacency with which he triumphs over the "cold, timid, and superficial genius” of the age of Swift, , and Addison, and Pope: and in the bitterness with which he
attacks the honesty, the morals, and the humanity of Swift. All that was wayward and morbid in the genius of Swift : all that bore hardly on him in the record of his life : all the melancholy that overcast him, was dragged before the bar of an unsympathetic criticism, by one whose political creed taught him, as its first article, the absolute rectitude of all Swift's political opponents, the absolute turpitude of all his friends.
This view of Swift gained further prevalence by the help of a greater than Jeffrey. The genius of Macaulay cast a lurid gloom over the memory of Swift, even though it made the impression of Swift's power more vivid. Macaulay's picture has been a lasting one. The world has not lost sight of the tragic interest that gathers about Swift's life : but it has left unnoticed or forgotten how keenly sensitive was the heart buried under all that weight of misanthropy and cynicism; how much his pride was rooted in earnestness, his anger in hatred of oppression.
It was the object of the late Mr. Forster to apply a clearer light and a more sympathetic criticism to the intricacies of Swift's career. His unstinted enthusiasm may, at times, have impaired his judgment in regard to Swift, but even its exaggeration was no bad quality in a biographer. Death arrested his task; but not before Mr. Forster had accomplished enough to lay any fresh biographer under a heavy debt. Not only did he gather much new material, but he entered so minutely into the earlier part of Swift's career, as to leave but few points undiscussed, -we might even say, undecided.
In taking up the task, thus fallen from more competent hands, it was necessary to reconsider the plan of the book. Mr. Forster intended his Life to be in three volumes : and it is clear that if told throughout with the copiousness of annotation and illustration to be found in the first volume, the story of Swift could not have been completed in less space. But whether so long a biography is either wanted, or necessary to make the picture clear and true, may well be doubted. It is impossible, in any consecutive narrative, to state, to discuss, to adopt, or to repudiate, each opposing view: or to refer in detail to the mass of miscellaneous trifles which have crowded about the name of Swift, and have been made to do duty in his biography. We are embarrassed with the mass of such material, and it becomes a first necessity, in order to bring the narrative within fair compass, and even to give to it clearness and consistency, to strip off much of the redundant matter, to lay aside much of the endless miscellaneous gossip, and to arrange, in their due proportions, the greater and the lesser actions of Swift's life.
The present biography is therefore confined to one volume : and where possible, the controversial matter has been relegated to Appendices, so as to prevent the interruption of the narrative by argument too much detailed. However doubtful we may continue to be as to some points, it is as much for the advantage of biography as of the State, that there should be some " end of litigation," and that we should, sooner or later, strike a balance between contending views, as fairly as we may.
In my task I have had the advantage of access to all the important material gathered by Mr. Forster, including what is now in South Kensington Museum, and the unpublished letters from Swift to Archdeacon Walls, belonging to Mr. Murray. The kindness of others has enabled me to add to this. In the first place, I have been entrusted by the Earl of Cork with the MSS. belonging to him, as left by Lord Orrery. These include not only several unpublished letters from Swift to Lord Orrery during the later years of his life, but also the commonplace books of Lord Orrery containing his own memoranda on Swift, and careful transcripts of several letters from Deane Swift relating to the closing years of the Dean. Mr. Frederick Locker has given me access to certain MSS. in his possession, which were in Scott's hands, but the importance of one of which, at least, he overlooked. From Major Stopford, I have obtained letters from Swift to Dr. Stopford : and through Mr. Elwin, I have obtained transcripts of some letters now at Longleat. The Sundon and Suffolk MSS. in the British Museum have thrown some light on Swift's later life, and have enabled me to correct some mistakes arising from errors in the printed copies. To Mr. Reynell I owe transcripts of certain letters from the Records at Armagh : and the Historical MSS. Commissioners have recently published some letters that help us to facts of Swift's life.
I have to thank others for assistance of a different kind : and, first and chiefly, Mr. Elwin, whose learning, great as it is, is not greater than the generosity with which he comes to the help of others working in the same field. Not only has he placed at my disposal results of his own research, but he has given me invaluable advice and aid in regard to some of the most serious difficulties of Swift's life. My thanks are also due to Dr. Ingram, Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin, and to others amongst the Fellows of that Society for assistance during my visits to their Library : to Dr. Norman Moore, for the help he has afforded me from a large knowledge at once of Irish affairs and of literature: to those in charge of the Forster and Dyce collection at South Kensington ; and to the officials of the Royal Irish Academy, for assistance in consulting the rich