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at least, became the settled temper of all the middle and latter portion of his life. No sneaking kindness for his victim is to be detected in his crucifying raillery; he is not a mere admirer of the comic picturesque, who will sometimes rack or gibbet an unhappy individual for the sake of the fantastic grimaces he may make, or the capers he may cut in the air; he has the true spirit of an executioner, and only loves his joke as sauce and seasoning to more serious work. Few men have been more perversely prejudiced and self-willed than Swift, and therefore of absolute truth his works may probably contain less than many others not so earnestly written; but of what was truth to the mind of the writer, of what he actually believed and desired, no works contain more. Here, again, as well as in the other respect noticed some pages back, Swift is in the middle class of writers ; far above those whose whole truth is truth of expression—that is, correspondence between the words and the thoughts (possibly without any between the thoughts and the writer's belief); but below those who both write what they think, and whose thoughts are pre-eminently valuable for their intrinsic beauty or profoundness. Yet in setting honestly and effectively before us even his own passions and prejudices a writer also tells us the truth—the truth, at least, respecting himself, if not respecting anything else. This much Swift does always; and this is his great distinction among the masters of wit and humour ;—the merriest of his jests is an utterance of some real feeling of his heart at the moment, as much as the fiercest of his invectives. Alas! with all his jesting and merriment, he did not know what it was to have a mind at ease, or free from the burden and torment of dark, devouring passions, till, in his own words, the cruel indignation that tore continually at his heart was laid at rest in the grave. In truth, the insanity which ultimately fell down upon and laid prostrate his fine faculties had cast something of its black shadow athwart their vision from the first-as he himself probably felt or suspected when he determined to bequeath his fortune to build an hospital in his native country for persons afflicted with that calamity; and sad enough, we may be sure, he was at heart, when he gaily wrote that he did so merely
To show, by one satiric touch,
No nation wanted it so much.* * "I have often" says Lord Orrery, "heard him lament the state of childhood and idiotism to which some of the greatest men of this nation were
Yet the madness, or predisposition to madness, was also part and parcel of the man, and possibly an element of his genius-which might have had less earnestness and force, as well as less activity, productiveness, and originality, if it had not been excited and impelled by that perilous fervour. Nay, something of their power and peculiar character Swift's writings may owe to the exertions called forth in curbing and keeping down the demon which, like a proud steed under a stout rider, would have mastered him, if he had not mastered it, and, although support and strength to him so long as it was held in subjection, would, dominant over him, have rent him in pieces, as in the end it did. Few could have maintained the struggle so toughly and so long.
Swift's later style cannot be better illustrated than by a few passages from his famous series of Letters, written in 1724, under the signature of M. B., Drapier, against Wood's halfpence and farthings. Wood was an extensive proprietor of iron works in Staffordshire, who had obtained a patent for coining copper money to the extent of 108,0001. sterling, to circulate in Ireland, where the want of such small coin for change was confessedly much felt and had been long complained of. It is difficult to get at what were really the facts of the matter; very plausible explanations and answers were produced by Wood and the government upon the various points as to which the project was attacked; and there was undoubtedly much exaggeration in many of Swift's representations. But the circumstances were by no means free from suspicion. Swift, in his second Letter, sums up his leading objections in a short statement, which he proposed should be circulated for signature throughout the country, to the following purport :-“Whereas one William Wood, hardwareman, now or lately sojourning in the City of London, has, by many misrepresentations, procured a grant for coining 108,0001. in copper halfpence for this kingdom, which is a sum five times greater than our occasions require; and whereas it is notorious that the said Wood has coined his halfpence of such base metal and false weight that they are at least six times in seven below the real value ; and whereas we have reason to apprehend that the said Wood may at any time hereafter clandestinely coin as many more halfpence as he pleases; and whereas the said patent neither does nor can oblige his majesty's subjects to receive the said halfpence in any payment, but leaves it to their voluntary choice, because by law the subject cannot be obliged to take any money except gold or silver; and whereas, contrary to the letter and meaning of the said patent, the said Wood has declared that every person shall be obliged to take 53d. of his coin in every payment; and whereas the House of Commons and Privy Council have severally addressed his most sacred Majesty, representing the ill consequences which the said coinage may have upon this kingdom ; and, lastly, whereas it is universally agreed that the whole nation to a man (except Mr. Wood and his confederates) are in the utmost apprehensions of the ruinous consequences that must follow from the said coinage ; therefore we whose names are underwritten, being persons of considerable estates in this kingdom, do unanimously resolve and declare that we will never receive one farthing or halfpenny of the said Wood's coining, and that we will direct all our tenants to refuse the said coin from any person whatsoever.” Some of these allegations, certainly, were never very well made out. That about the lightness of the pieces and the base quality of the metal, in particular, seems to have been without foundation, in so far at least as regarded the portion of the coinage actually fabricated. But, on the other hand, some facts and surmises, which could not be so openly stated, had a large share in exciting the public indignation. It was believed that the profits of the patent were to be shared by Wood with the royal mistress, the Duchess of Munster (or Countess of Kendal, as she was commonly called in England), by whose influence it had been obtained; and various irritating expressions, in regard to the attempt made to defeat the project, were attributed not only to Wood himself, but also to Walpole, the minister, and other persons high in authority and power in England. Feelings and principles thus came to be involved in the contest, going far beyond the mere economical and material considerations that appeared on the surface. The stand was felt to be for the dignity and liberties of the nation; and Swift was universally regarded by his countrymen as the champion of the independence of Ireland—the preserver of whatever they had most to value or to be proud of as a people. And perhaps, the birth of political and patriotic spirit in Ireland as a general sentiment, may be traced with some truth to this affair of Wood's halfpence and to these letters of Swift's. No agitation that has since been got up in that country has been so immediately and completely successful. The whole power of the English government was found ineffectual to cope with the opposition that had been aroused and marshalled by one man; and Wood soon found there was nothing for him but to resign his patent. No other of Swift's writings brought him anything like the fame and influence that he acquired by his Drapier's Letters. At first pains were taken to conceal the authorship, and for a short time, it would appear, successfully. It was desirable to withhold at any rate such legal proof as might have enabled the government to lay their hands upon him. A proclamation was early issued, offering a reward of 3001. for the discovery of the writer; but, after the printer had been indicted for some passages in the fourth letter, and the grand jury had thrown out the bill, concealment was probably no longer attempted ; and even from the first it must have been generally suspected, as soon as people began to speculate on the matter, that the Drapier could be nobody but Swift. From this date to the end of his life, or at least till the extinction of his faculties, Swift, or the Dean, as he was universally called, continued to be the most popular and most powerful individual in Ireland, his voice, in Dublin at least, being in every election, or other occasion on which the citizens had any public part to act, obeyed like the fiat of an oracle. That warm-hearted race are not apt to forget their benefactors, or to change their idols; but neither did Swift abuse his ascendancy; he never sought to turn his popularity to account in the promotion of any private interest or object: he asked nothing for himself from any government; he never obtained any higher preferment, but lived and died Dean of St. Patrick's, and nothing more. As for the Letters themselves, much forgotten as they are now, they have been described as the most Demosthenic compositions since the time of Demosthenes; and it would perhaps be difficult to produce any modern writing in which the most remarkable qualities of the old Greek orator are so happily exemplified-his force, his rapidity, his directness, his alertness and dexterity, his luminousness of statement and apparent homeliness or plainness, the naturalness and at the same time aptness of his figures, his wonderful logic (whether for fair reasoning or sophistry and misrepresentation), his ever present life and power of interesting, his occasional fire and passion, his bursts of scorn, indignation, and withering invective, and the other resources of his supreme art. The measure, such as it is, in which all this is found in Swift can only, however, of course, be fully gathered from the entire Letters.
reduced before their death. He mentioned, as examples within his own time, the Duke of Marlborough and Lord Somers; and, when he cited these melancholy instances, it was always with a heavy sigh, and with gestures that showed great uneasiness, as if he felt an impulse of what was to bappen to him before he died."—Remarks, p. 188.
The following passages are from the second Letter :
But your newsletter says that an assay was made of the coin. How impudent and insupportable is this! Wood takes care to coin a dozen or two halfpence of good metal, sends them to the Tower, and they are approved ; and these must answer all that he has already coined or shall coin for the future. It is true, indeed, that a gentleman often sends to my shop for a pattern of stuff ; I cut it fairly off, and, if he likes it, he comes or sends, and compares the pattern with the whole piece, and probably we come to a bargain. But if I were to buy a hundred sheep, andthe grazier should bring me one single wether, fat and well fleeced, by way of pattern, and expect the same price round for the whole hundred, without suffering me to see them before he was paid, or giving me good security to restore my money for those that were lean, or shorn, or scabby, I would be none of his customers. I have heard of a man who had a mind to sell his house, and therefore carried a piece of brick in his pocket, which he showed as a pattern to encourage customers; and this is directly the case in point with Mr. Wood's assay.
The paragraph concludes thus: “N.B.” (that is to say, nota bene or mark well) “No evidence appeared from Ireland, or elsewhere, to prove the mischiefs complained of, or any abuses whatsoever committed, in the execution of the said grant."
The impudence of this remark exceeds all that went before. First, the House of Commons in Ireland, which represents the whole people of the kingdom, and, secondly, the Privy Council, addressed his Majesty against these halfpence. What could be done more to express the universal sense of the nation? If his copper were diamonds, and the kingdom were
ntirely against it, would not that be sufficient to reject it? Must a committee of the whole House of Commons, and our whole Privy Council, go over to argue pro and con with Mr. Wood? To what end did the king give his patent for coining halfpence for Ireland ? Was it not because it was represented to his sacred Majesty that such a coinage would be of advantage to the good of this kingdom, and of all his subjects here? It is to the patentee's peril if this representation be false, and the execution of his patent be fraudulent and corrupt. Is he so wicked and foolish to think that his patent was given him to ruin a million and a half of people, that he might be a gainer of three or four score thousand pounds to himself ? Before he was at the charge of passing a patent, much more of raking up so much filthy dross, and stamping it with his Majesty's image and superscription, should he not first, in common sense, in common equity, and common manners, have consulted the principal party concerned—that is to say, the people of the kingdom, the House of Lords or Commons, or the