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have spared at least one of his victims. But ¡il' haa not the apology of any such passion: and. desirous apparently of saving nimsel/ the shock of any unpleasant disclosure, or wishing to secure to himself the gratification of both their attachments, he endeavoured basely to conceal from each the share which the other had in his affections, and sacrificed the peace of both to the indulgence of this mean and cold-blooded duplicity. The same disgusting selfishness is, if possible, still more apparent, in the mortifying and degrading conditions he annexed to nis nominal marriage with Stella, for the concealment of which no reason can be assigned, to which it is possible to listen with patience,—at least alter the death of Vanessa had removed all fear of its aiiLcting or irritating that unhappy rival. This tragical event, of which Swift was as directly arid as guiltily the cause, as if he had plunged a dagger into her heart, is described with much feeling by Mr. Scott, who has added a iuller account of her previous retirement than «ny former editor.
"About the year 1717, she retired from Dublin, to her house and property near Celbridge, to nurse her hopeless passion in seclusion from the world. .Swift seems to have foreseen and warned her .uramst the consequences of this step. His letters uniformly exhort her to seek general society, to take exercise, and to divert, as much as possible, ihe current of her thoughts from the unfortunate .subject which was preying upon her spirits. He tve n exhorts her to leave Ireland. Until the year 17Л). be never appears to have visited her at Celiirirlge; they only met when she was occasionally m Dublin. But in that year, and down to the time of her death, Swift came repeatedly to Celbridge; and, from the information of a most obliging correspondent, I am enabled to give account of some minute particulars attending them.
• Marley Abbey, near Celbridge, where Miss Vanhomrigh resided, is built much iu the form of a real cloister, especially in its external appearance. An aged man (upwards of ninety by his own ac••uunt) showed the grounds to my correspondent. He was the son of Mrs. Vanhomrigh's gardener, 2nd used to work with his father in the garden when «boy. He remembered the unfortunate Vanessa well, and Ыэ account of her corresponded with the usual description of her person, especially as to her m&mpoinl. He said she went seldom abroad, and -•saw little company: her constant amusement was readin», or walking in the garden. Yet, according 'o this authority, her society was courted by several tamiiifs in the neighbourhood, who visited her, notwithstanding her seldom returning that attention.—and he added, that her manners interested t very one who knew her. But she avoided company, and was always melancholy save when Dean .Swift was there, and then she seemed happy.— The garden was to an uncommon degree crowded with marels. The old man said, that when Miss Vanhornrigh expected the Dean, she always planted, with her own hand, a laurel or two against his arrival. He showed her favourite seat, still called Vanessa's Bower. Three or four trees, and some laurel», indicate the spot. They had formerly, according to the old man's information, been trained into a close arbour. There were two seats and and a rude table within the bower, the opening of which commanded a view of the Liffy, which riad « romantic effect; and there was a small cascade tb»t murmured at eome distance. In this sequestered spot, according to the old gardener's account, tbe Dean and Vanessa used often to sit, with books and writing-materials on the table before them.
"Vanessa, besides musing over her unhappy attachment, had, during her residence in this solitude, the care of nursing the declining health of her younger sister, who at length died about 1720. This event, as it left her alone in the world, seetns to have increased the energy of her faial passion for Swift, while he, on the contrary, saw room forstili greater reserve, when her situation became that of a solitary female, without the society or countenance of a fem,ale relation. But Miss Vanhomrigh, irritated at the situation in which she found herself, determined on bringing to a crisis those expectations of an union with the object of her affections, to the hope of which she had clung amid every vicissitude of his conduct towards her. The most probable bar was his undefined connection with Mrs. Johnson, which, as it must have been perfectly known to her, had, doubtless, long excited her secret jealousy: although only a single hint to that purpose is to be found in their correspondence, and thai so early as 1713, when she writes to him, then in Ireland, " If you are very happy, it is illnatured of you not to tell me so, except 'tu what it inconsittcnt with mine.' Her silence and1 patience under this state of uncertainty, for no lese than eight years, must have been partly owing to her awe for Swift, and partly perhaps to the weak state of her rival's health, which from year to year, seemed to announce speedy dissolution. At length, however, Vanessa's impatience prevailed; and she ventured on the decisive step of writing to Mrs. Johnson herself, requesting to know the nature of that connection. Stella, in reply, informed her of her marriage with the Dean; and, full of the highest resentment against Swift for having given another female such a right in him as Miss Vanhomrigh's inquiries implied, she sent to him her rival's letter of interrogation, and, without seeing him, or awaiting his reply, retired to th« house of Mr. Ford, near Dublin. Every reader knows the consequence. Swift, in one of those paroxysms of fury to which he was liable, both from temper and disease, rode instantly to Marley Abbey. As he entered the apartment, the sternness of his countenance, which was peculiarly formed to express the fiercer passions, struck the unfortunate Vanessa with such terror, that she could scarce ask whether he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a letter on the table: and, instantly leaving the house, mounted his horse, and returned to Dublin. When Vanessa opened the packet, she only found her own letter to Stella. It was her death warrant. She sunk at once under the disappointment of the delayed, yet cherished hopes, wh:ch had so long sickened her heart, and beneath the unrestrained wrath of him for whose sake she had indulged them. How long she survived this last interview, is uncertain, but the time does not seem to have exceeded a few weeks."—Life, vol. i. pp. 248—253.
Among the novelties of the present edition, is what is called a complete copy of the correspondence betwixt Swift and this unfortunate lady. To us it is manifest, that it is by no means a complete copy;—and. on the whole, the parts that are now published for the first time, are of less moment than thoso that had been formerly printed. But it is altogether a very interesting and painful collection; and there is something to us inexpressibly touching in the innocent fondness, and almost childish gaiety, of Vanessa at it» commencement, contrasted with the deep gloom into which she sinks in its later stages; while the ardour of affection which breathes through the whole, and the tone of devoted innocence and simplicity of character which are every where preserved, make us both hate and wonder at the man who could deliberalely break a heart so made lo be cherished. We cannot resist the temptation of extracting a little of the only part of this whole publication in which any thing like heart or tenderness is to be discovered. His first letter is written immediately after their first separation, and while she yet believed that his slowness in returning her passion arose, as he liad given her ample warrant to suppose, (see the whole of the poem of Cadenus and Vanessa, vol. xiv.) from nothing but a sense of ihe unsuitableness of their years and habits, which would give way to the continued proofs of its constancy and ardour. He had written her a cold note on his journey, to which she thus rapturously answers:—
"Now you are good beyond expression, in sending me that dear voluntary from Si. Alban's. It gives rne more happiness than you can imagine, or I de»cribe, to find that your head is so mucn better already. I do assure you all my wishes are employed for the continuance of it. I hope the next will tell me they have been of force: Pray, why did not you remember me at Dunstable, as well as Moll I Lord! what a monster is Moll grown since. Bui nothing of poor Hess; except that the mark will be in the same place of Davilla where you left il. Indeed, it is not much advanced yet, for I have been studying of Rochefoucault to see if he described as much of love as I found in myself a Sunday, and I find he falls very short of it. I am very impaiient lo hear from you at Chester. It is impossible to tell you how often I have wished you a cup of coffee and an orange at your inn."—Vol. xix, pp. 403, 404.
Upon hearing of his arrival in Ireland, she writes again in the same spirit.
*' Неге is now three long weeks passed since you wrote to me. Oh! happy Dublin, that can employ all your thoughts, and happy Mrs. Emerson, that could henr from you the moment you landed. Had it not been for her. I should be yet more uneasy than I cm. I really believe, beiore you leave Ireland, I shall give you just reason to wish I did not know my letters, or at least that I could not wrile: and I had rather you should wish so, than entirely forget me. Mr. Lewis has given me 'Lt* Dialogues Dey Mortes,1 and I am so charmed with them, that 1 am resolved to quit my body, let the consequence be what it will, except you will talk to me, for I find no conversation on earth comparable to yours; so, if you care I should stay, do but talk, and you will keep me with pleasure."—Vol. xix, pp. 407—409.
There is a great deal more of this trifling of a heart at ease, and supported by enchanting hopes. It is miserable to think how sadly the style is changed, when she comes to know better the object on whom she had thus irretrievably lavished her affections. The following ¡6 the first letter that appears after she followed him to Ireland in 1714; and it appears to us infinitely more touching and pathetic, in the truth and simplicity of the wretchedness it expresses, than all the eloquent despair of all the heroines of romance. No man, with a heart, we think, could receive such letters and live.
"You bid me be easy, and you'd see me as often at you could . you had belter have said as often as you could get the belter of your inclinations so much; or as often as you remembered there was euch a person in the world. If you continue to
treat me as you do, you will not be made uneasy by me long. 'Tis impossible to describe what I have suffered since I saw you last; I am sure I could have borne the rack much better than those killing, killing words ot yours. Sometimes I have resolved to die without seeing you more, but those resolves, to your misfortune, did not last long: tor there is something in human nature that prompts one so to find relict in this world: I must five way to it, and beg you'd see me, and speak kindly to me! for I am sure you would nol condemn any one to suffer what I have done, could you but know it. The reason 1 write 10 you is, because I cannot tell it you, should I see you; lor when I begin to complain, ihen you are angry, and there is something in your look so awful, that it strikes me dumb. Oh! that you may but have so much regard for me left, that this complaint may touch your soul with pity. I say as little as ever I can. Did you but know what I thought, I am sure it fvould move you. Forgive me, and believe I cannot help telling you this, and live."—Vol. xix. p. 421. And a little after,
"I am, and cannot avoid being in the spleen to the last degree. Every thing combines ю make me so. Yet this and all other disappointments in life I can bear with ease, but that of being neglected by .... Spleen I cannot help, so you must excuse it. I do all I can to get the better of it; bat it is too strong for me. I have read more since I saw Cad, than I did in a great while passed, and chose those books that required most attention, on purpose to engage my thoughts, but I find the more I think the more unhappy f am.
"I had once a mind not to have wrote to топ, for fear of making\ou uneasy tq find me so dull; but I could not keep to that resolution, for li:e pleasure of writing to you. The satisfaction I have in your remembering me, when you read my !etu r«. and the delight 1 have in expecting one from Cod. makes me raiher choose to give you some uneasiness, than add to my own."—Vol. xix. pp. 431,432.
As the correspondence draws to a close, her despair becomes more eloquent and agonizing. The following two letters are dated in 1720.
"Believe me, it is with the utmost regret that I now complain to you ;—yet what can I do? 1 must cither unload my heart, and tell you all ils griefs, or sink under the inexpressible distress 1 now suffer by your prodigious neglect of me. 'Tie now ten long weeks since I saw you, and in all that time 1 have never received but one letter from you, and a little nole with an excuse. Oh, how have you forgot me! You endeavour by severities to force me from you: Nor can I blame you; for with the utmost distress and confusion, I behold nivsell ihe cause of uneasy reflections to you, yet 1 cannot comfort you, but here declare, that 'lis not in the power of lime or accident to lessen the inexpressible passion which I have for
"Put my passion under the utmost restraint,— send me as distant from you as the earth will allow, —yet you cannot banish those charming ideas which will ever stick by me whilst I have the use of niemory. Nor is the love I hear you only seated in my soul, for there is not a single atom of my frame that is not blended wiih it. Theretore, doif: flauer yourself that separation will ever change my sentiments; for I find myself unquiet in the miiist of silence, and my heart ¡3 at once pierced with sorrow and love. For Heaven's sake, tell me v\ !:nt has caused this prodigious change on you. v\ hirh I have found of late. If you have the least remain? of pily for me left, tell me tenderly. No: don't : tell it iK) that it may cause my present dretl, and don't suffer me to live a life ¡ike a laneuifhing death, which is the only life I can lead, ii 'you have In»: any of your tenderness for me."—Vol.iix. pp.441, 442.
"Tell me sincerely, if you have once wished with earnestness to sec me, since I wrote last to yon. No, so far from thai, you have not once pi'ied me, though I told you how I was distressed. Solitude is insupportable lo a mind which is not at ea*e. I have worn on my davs in sighing, and my Dighu wiih watching and thinking of. ... who ¡ thinks not of me. How many Inters must I send you before 1 shall receive an answer? Con you deny me in my misery the only comfort which I m expect at »resent f Oh! that I could hope to •ее you here, or that 1 could go to you! I wae born wall violent passions, which terminate all in one, that inexpressible passion I have for you. Consider the killing emotions which I feel Irom your neglect, and show some tenderness for me, or 1 =ЬаЛ lose my senses. Sure you cannot possibly be so much taken up, but you might command a moment to write to me, and force your inclinations !o do so great a charily. I firmly believe, could I kn.iw your thoughts which no human creature is capable of guessing at, (because never any one Bring thought like you,) I should find you have often io a rage wished me religious, hoping then I •honld have paid my devotions to Heaven: but ihr wjuld not spare you,—for was I an enthusiast, still you'd be the deity 1 should worship. What rmrks are there of a deity, but what you are to be known by I—you are present everywhere: your dear image is always before mine eyes. Sometime« you strike me with that prodigious awe, I tremble with, fear, at other times a charming compinion chines through your countenance, which revives my soul. Is it not more reasonable to adore a radiant form one has seen, than one only described »"—Vol. xix. pp. 442, 443.
From this heart-breaking scene we turn to another, if possible, still more deplorable. Vanessa was now dead. The grave had biipttl its tranquillizing mould on her agitated heart, and given her tormentor assurance, that he should no more suffer from her rejiroaehfs on earth : and yet. though with her tip' last pretext was extinguished for refusing to acknowledge the wife he had so infamously abased, we and him, with this dreadful example before his oyes, persisting to withhold from his remaining victim, that late and imperfect justice to which her claim was so apparent, and from the denial of which she v;i- ¿inking before his eyes in sickness and sorrow to the grave. It is utterly impossible | to surest any excuse or palliation for such! cold-blooded barbarity. Even though we '.••en: to believe with Mr. Scott, that he had cea«ed to be a man, this would afford no ?.,ю1огу for his acting like a beast! He might still have acknowledged his wife in public; and restored to her the comfort and th!» honour, of which he had robbed her without the excuse of violent passion, or thoughtless precipitation. He was rich, far beyond what either of them could have expected when their anión was first contemplated ; and had attained a name and a station in society •vii:rh made him independent of riches. Yet, i'T the sake of avoiding some small awkwardness or inconvenience to himself—to be se'•'jTi"| trom the idle talking of those who m¡L'ht wonder why, since they were to marry, they "id not marry before—or perhaps mnrelv to retain the object of his regard in more complete subjection and dependence, he could Wr to see her pining, year after year, in tolimde and degradation, and sinking at last oto an untimely grave, prepared by his hard
and unrelenting refusal to clear her honour to the world, even at her dying hour. There are two editions of this dying scene — one on the authority of Mr. Sheridan, the other on that of Mr. Theophilus Swift, who ie said to have received it Irom Mrs. White way. Mr. Scott, who is unable to discredit the former, and is inclined at the same time to prefer the least disreputable for his author, is reduced to the necessity of supposing, that both may be true, and that Mr. Sheridan's story may have related to an earlier period than that reported by Mrs. Whiteway. We shall lay both before our readers. Mr. Sheridan says,
"* A short time before her death, a scene passed between the Dean and her, an account of which I had from my father, and which I shall relate with reluctance, as it seems to bear more hard on Swift's humanity than any other part ot his conduct in life. As she found her final dissolution approach, a few days before it happened, in the presence of Dr. Sheridan, she addressed Swift in the most earnest and pathetic terms to grant her dying request; "That, as the ceremony of marriage had passed between them, though lor sundry considerations they had not cohabited in that state, in order to put it out of the power of slander to be busy with her fame after death, she adjured him by their friend
"' Swift made no reply, but, turning on his heel, walked silently out of the room, nor ever saw her afterward, during the few days she lived. This behaviour threw Mrs. Johnson into unspeakable agonies, and for a time she sunk under ihe weight of so cruel a disappointment. But soon alter, roused by indignation, she inveighed against his cruelly in the bitterest terms; and, sending for a lawyer, made her will, bequeathing her fortune by her own name to charitable uses. This was done in the presence of Dr. Sheridan, whom *he appointed one of her executors.' "— Vol. i. p. 357.
If this be true, Swift must have had the heart of a monster: and it is of little consequence, whether, when her death was nearer. he pretended to consent to what his unhappy victim herself then pathetically declared to be 'too late;' and to what, at all events, certainly never was done. Mrs. Whiteway's statement is as follows :—
"' When Stella was in her last wenk slate, and one dnv hnd conic in a chair to the Drnnery. she was with difficulty brought into the parlour. The Denn had prepared some mulled wine, and kept it by the tire tor her refreshment. After tns'iiii: it, she ht'came very faint, but having recovered a hule by decrees, when her breath (for she was asthmatic), was allowed her, she desired to lie down. She wns carried up stnirs, and Inid on a bed; the Denn H.ttini; by her, held her hand, and addressed her in the most affectionate manner. She drooped, however, very much. Mrs. Whiteway was the only third person present. After a short time, her politeness induced her to withdraw to the adjoining room, but it was necessary, on account of nir. that the door should not be closed, — it was half shut: the roniTis were close adjoining. Mrs. Whiteway hnd too much honour to listen, but could not avoid observing, thai the Dean and Mrs. Johnson conversed together in a low tone; the latter, indeed, was too weak to raise her voice. Mrs. Whiteway paid no iittetttion, having no idle curiosity, but at length she licnrd the Dean say, in an audible voice, "Well, my (liar, if t/im visit it, it shall be owned," to which S'ella answered with a sigh, "It is ton late."— Vol. i. pp. 355, 356.
With the consciousness of having thus barbarously destroyed all the women for whom he had ever professed affection, it is not wonderful that his latter days should have been overshadowed with gloom and dejection: but it was not the depression of late regret, or unavailing self-condemnation, that darkened his closing scene. It was but the rancour of disappointed ambition, and the bitterness of proud misanthropy: and we verily believe, that if his party had got again into power, and given him the preferment he expected, the pride and joy of his vindictive triumph would nave been but little alloyed by the remembrance of the innocent and accomplished women of whom we have no hesitation to pronounce him the murderer. In the whole of his later writings, indeed, we shall look in vain for any traces of that penitential regret, which was due to the misery he had occasioned, even if it had arisen without his guilt, or even of that humble and solemn self-reproach, which is apt to beset thoughtful men in the decline of life and animation, even when their conduct has been generally blameless, and the judgment of the candid finds nothing in them to condemn: on the contrary, there is nowhere to be met with, a tone of more insolent reproach, and intolerant contempt to the rest of the world, or so direct a claim to the possession of sense and virtue, which that world was no longer worthy to employ. Of women, too, it is very remarkable, that he speaks with unvaried rudeness and contempt, and rails indeed at the whole human race, as wretches with whom he thinks it an indignity to share a common nature. All this, we confess, appears to us intolerable; for, whether we look to the fortune, or the conduct of this extraordinary person, we really recollect no individual who was less entitled to be either discontented or misanthropical—to complain of men or of accidents. Born almost a beggar, and neither very industrious nor very engaging in his early habits, he attained, almost with his first efforts, the very height of distinction, and was rewarded by appointments, which placed him in a state of independence and respectability for life. He was honoured with the acquahit"nnce of all that was distinguished for rank, literature, or reputation;—and, if not very generally beloved, wag, what he probably valued far more, admired and feared by most of those with whom he was acquainted. When his party was overthrown, neither his person nor his fortune suffered ;—but he was indulged, through the whole of his life, in a licence of scurrility and abuse, which has never been permitted to any other writer,— and possessed the exclusive and devoted affection of the only two women to whom he wished to appear interesting. In this history, we confess, we see but little apology for discontent and lamentation ;—and, in his conduct, there is assuredly still less for misanthropy. In public life, we do not know where we could have found any body half so profligate and unprincipled as himself, and the friends to whom he finally attached himself;—nor can we conceive that complaints of venality,
and want of patriotism, could ever come with БО ill a grace from any quarter, as from him who had openly deserted and libelled hn original party, without the pretext of any other cause than the insufficiency of the rewards they bestowed upon him,—and joined himself with men, who were treacherous not only to their first professions, but to their country and to each other, to all of whom he adhered, after their mutual hatred and villames were detected. In private life, a;.TiNo. with what face could he erect himself into a rigid censor of morals, or pretend to complain of men in general, as unworthy of his notice, after breaking the hearts of two, if not ihre*-, amiable women, whose affections he had engaged by the most constant assiduities.—alte: savagely libelling almost all his early friends and benefactors, and exhibiting, in his dailj life and conversation, a picture of domineering insolence and dogmatism, to which no j:arall«-i could be found, we believe, in the history of any other individual, and which rendered his society intolerable to all who were not subdued by their awe of him. or inured to it by loii<; use? He had some right, perhaps, to look with disdain upon men of ordinary understandings: but for all that is the proper object of reproach, he should have looked only within: and whatever may be his merits as a writer, we do not hesitate to say. that he was despicable as a politician, and hateful as a man.
With these impressions of his personal character, perhaps it is not easy for us to judge quite fairly of his works. Yet we are far from being insensible to their great and verv peculiar merits. Their chief peculiarity is, that they were almost all what may be called occasional productions—not written for fame or for posterity—from the fulness of the mind, or the desire of instructing mankind—but on the spur of the occasion—for promoting some temporary and immediate object, and producing a practical cflect, in the attainment of which their whole importance centered. With the exception of The Tale of a Tub. (Ji:lliver, the Polite Conversation, and about halt a volume of poetry, this description will apply to almost all that is now bt lore us :—am} it is no small proof of the vigour and vivacity of his genius, that posterity should have been so anxious to preserve these careless and hasty productions, upon which their author appears to have set no other value than as means for the attainment of an end. The truth is. accordingly, that tlicy are ven- extraordinär) performances: And, considered with a view to the purposes for which they were intended, have probably never been equalled in any period of the world. They are written with great plainness, force, and intrepidity —advance at once to the matter in disputegive battle to the strength of the enemy, and never seek any kind of advantage from darkness or obscurity. Their distinguishing feature, however, is the force and the vehemence of the invective in which they abound, —the copiousness, the steadiness, the perseverance^ and the dexterity with which abuse and ridicule are showered upo i the adverery. This, we think, was, beyond all doubt, Swift's ¡ireat talent, and the weapon by which he made himself formidable. He was, without exception, the greatest and most efficient liMler that ever exercised the trade; and possessed, in an eminent degree, all the qualifications which it requires :—a clear head—a cold heart—a vindictive temper—no admiration of noble qualities—no sympathy with suffering—not much conscience—not much consistency—a ready wit—a sarcastic humour— a thorough knowledge of the baser parts of human nature—and a complete familiarity \vith every thing that is low, homely, and familiar in language. These were his gifts;— and he soon felt for what ends they were given. Almost all his works are libels; generally upon individuals, sometimes upon sects and parties, sometimes upon human nature. Whatever be his end, nowever, personal abuse, direct, vehement, unsparing invective, is his means. It is his sword and his shield, his panoply and his chariot of war. In all his writings, accordingly, there is nothing to raise or exalt our notions of human nature,—but every thing to vilify and degrade. We may learn from them, perhaps, to dread the consequences of base actions, but never to love the feelings that lead to generous ones. There is no spirit, indeed, of love or of honour in any part of them; but an unvaried and harassing display of insolence and animosity in the writer, and villany and folly in those of whom he is writing. Though a great polemic, he makes no use of general principles, nor ever enlarges his views to a wide or comprehensive conclusion. Every thing is particular with him, and, for the most part, strictly personal. To make amends, however, we do think him quite without a competitor in personalities. With a quick and sagacious spirit, and a bold and popular manner, he join« an exact knowledge of all the strong and the weak parts of every cause he has to manage; and, without the least restraint from delicacy, either of taste or of feeling, he seems always to think the most effectual blows the most advisable, and no advantage unlawful that is likely to be successful for the moment. Disregarding all the laws of polished hostility, he uses, at one and the same moment, his sword and his poisoned dagger—hie hands and his teeth, and his enrenomed breath;—and does not even scruple, upon occasion, to imitate his own yahoos, by discharging on his unhappy victims a shower of filth, from which neither courage nor dexterity can afford any protection. —Against snch an antagonist, it was, of course, at .no time very easy to make head: and accordingly his invective seems, for the most part, to have been as much dreaded, and as tremendous as the personal ridiculo of Voltaire. Вы h -.veré inexhaustible, well-directed, and cr.jparins: but even when Voltaire drew blood. he did not mangle the victim, and was only mischievous when Swift was brutal. Any one who will compare the epigrams on M. Franc 'le Pompignan with those en Tighe orBettesworth, wfll easily understand the distinction.
Of the few works which he wrote in the capacity of an author, and not of a party zealot or personal enemy, The Tale of a Tub was by far the earliest in point of time, and has, by many, been considered as the first in point of merit. We confess we are not of that opinion. It is by far too long and elaborate for a piece of pleasantry ;—the humour sinks, in many places, into mere buffoonery and nonsense;—and there is a real and extreme tediousness arising from the too successful mimicry of tediousness and pedantry. All these defects are apparent enough even in the main story, in which the incidents are without the shadow of verisimilitude or interest, and by far too thinly scattered; but they become insufferable in the interludes or digressions, the greater part of which are to us utterly illegible, and seem to consist almost entirely of cold and forced conceits, and exaggerated representations of long exploded whims and absurdities. The style of this work, which appears to us greatly inferior to the History of John Bull or even of Martinus Scriblerus, is evidently more elaborate than that of Swift's other writings,—but has all its substantial characteristics. Its great merit seems to consist in the author's perfect familiarity with all sorts of common and idiomatical expressions, his unlimited command of established phrases, both solemn and familiar, and the unrivalled profusion and propriety with which he heaps them up and applies them to the exposition of the most fantastic conceptions. To deliver absurd notions or incredible tales in the most authentic, honest, and direct terms, that have been used for the communication of truth and reason, and to luxuriate in all the variations of that grave, plain, and perspicuous phraseology, which dull men use to express their homely opinions, seems to be the great art of this extraordinary humorist, and that which gives their character and their edge to his sly strokes of satire, his keen sarcasms and bitter personalities.
The voyages of Captain Lemuel Gulliver is indisputably his greatest work. The idea of making fictitious travels the vehicle of satire as well as of amusement, is at least as old as Lucian; but has never been carried into execution with such success, spirit, and originality, as in this celebrated performance. The brevity, the minuteness, the homeliness, the unbroken seriousness of the narrative, all give a character of truth and simplicity to the work, which at once palliates the extravagance of the fiction, and enhances the effect of those weighty reflections and cutting severities in which it abounds. Yet though it is probable enough, that without those touches of satire and observation the work would have appeared childish and preposterous, we are persuaded that it pleases chiefly by the novelty and vivacity of the extraordinary pictures it presents, and the entertainment we receive from following the fortunes of the traveller in his several extraordinary adventures. The greater part of the wisdom and satire at least appears to us to be extremely vulgar and common-place; and we have nc