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be perfuaded to think that it might be written by at man of peculiar character, without ill intention; but it is certainly of dangerous example. That Swift was its author, though it be universally believed, was never owned by himself, nor very well proved by any evidence; but no other claimant can be produced, and he did not deny it when Archbishop Sharpe and the Duchefs of Somerset, by fhewing it to the Queen, debarred him from a bishoprick.

When this wild work firft raised the attention of the publick, Sacheverell, meeting Smalridge, tried to flatter him, feeming to think him the author; but Smalridge answered with indignation, "Not all "that you and I have in the world, nor all that' "ever we fhall have, fhould hire me to write the "Tale of a Tub'."

The digreffions relating to Wotton and Bentley must be confeffed to discover want of knowledge, or want of integrity; he did not understand the two controverfies, or he willingly mifreprefented them. But Wit can ftand its ground against Truth only a little while. The honours due to Learning have been justly diftributed by the decifion of posterity.

"The Battle of the Books" is fo like the "Com"bat des Livres," which the fame queftion concerning the Ancients and Moderns had produced in France, that the improbability of fuch a coincidence of thoughts without communication is not, in my opinion, balanced by the anonymous proteftation prefixed, in which all knowledge of the French book is peremptorily difowned *.

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* See Sheridan's Life, p. 451, where are fome remarks on this paffage. R.


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For fome time after Swift was probably employed in folitary study, gaining the qualifications requifite for future eminence. How often he vifited England, and with what diligence he attended his parishes, I know not. It was not till about four years afterwards that he became a profeffed author; and then one year (1708) produced "The Sentiments of a "Church-of-England Man;" the ridicule of Aftrology under the name of "Bickerftaff;" the " Argu"ment against abolishing Chriftianity;" and the defence of the "Sacramental Teft."


"The Sentiments of a Church-of-England Man" is written with great coolness, moderation, ease, and perfpicuity. The Argument against abolishing "Christianity" is a very happy and judicious irony. One paffage in it deferves to be felected.


"If Christianity were once abolished, how could "the free-thinkers, the ftrong reafoners, and the men of profound learning, be able to find another fubject fo calculated, in all points, whereon to difplay their abilities? What wonderful produc❝tions of wit should we be deprived of from those, "whofe genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would therefore never be able to fhine, or diftinguish themselves, upon any other subject? We are daily complaining of the great "decline of wit among us, and would take away "the greateft, perhaps the only, topick we have

left. Who would ever have fufpected Afgill for


a wit, or Toland for a philofopher, if the inex"hauftible stock of Chriftianity had not been at "hand to provide them with materials? What


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"other fubject, through all art or nature, could "have produced Tindal for a profound author, or "furnished him with readers? It is the wife choice "of the fubject that alone adorns and diftinguishes "the writer. For had an hundred fuch pens as "these been employed on the fide of religion, they "would have immediately funk into filence and "oblivion."

The reasonableness of a Te is not hard to be proved; but perhaps it must be allowed that the proper teft has not been chofen.

The attention paid to the papers, published under the name of "Bickerstaff," induced Steele, when he projected the " Tatler," to affume an appellation which had already gained poffeffion of the reader's notice.

In the year following he wrote a " Project for "the Advancement of Religion," addreffed to Lady Berkeley; by whofe kindness it is not unlikely that he was advanced to his benefices. To this project, which is formed with great purity of intention, and difplayed with fprightliness and elegance, it can only be objected, that, like many projects, it is, if not generally impracticable, yet evidently hopeless, as it fuppofes more zeal, concord, and perfeverance, than a view of mankind gives reafon for expecting.

He wrote likewife this year a "Vindication of "Bickerstaff;" and an explanation of an "Ancient "Prophecy," part written after the facts, and the reft never completed, but well planned to excite


Soon after began the bufy and important part of Swift's life. He was employed (1710) by the pri


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mate of Ireland to folicit the Queen for a remiffion of the First Fruits and Twentieth Parts to the Irish Clergy. With this purpose he had recourse to Mr. Harley, to whom he was mentioned as a man neglected and oppreffed by the last ministry, because he had refused to co-operate with fome of their schemes. What he had refused, has never been told; what he had fuffered was, I fuppofe, the exclufion from a bishoprick by the remonftrances of Sharpe, whom he defcribes as "the harmless tool of others' "hate," and whom he reprefents as afterwards, "fuing for pardon.'


Harley's defigns and fituation were fuch as made him glad of an auxiliary fo well qualified for his service; he therefore foon admitted him to familiarity, whether ever to confidence fome have made a doubt; but it would have been difficult to excite his zeal without perfuading him that he was trufted, and not very easy to delude him by falfe perfuafions.

He was certainly admitted to thofe meetings in which the first hints and original plan of action are fuppofed to have been formed; and was one of the fixteen Ministers, or agents of the Miniftry, who met weekly at each other's houfes, and were united by the name of "Brother."

Being not immediately confidered as an obdurate Tory, he conversed indifcriminately with all the wits, and was yet the friend of Steele; who, in the "Tatler," which began in April, 1709, confeffes the advantage of his converfation, and mentions fomething contributed by him to his paper. But he was now immerging into political controverfy; for the year 1710 produced the "Examiner," of which

Swift wrote thirty-three papers. In argument he may be allowed to have the advantage; for where a wide fyftem of conduct, and the whole of a public character, is laid open to enquiry, the accufer having the choice of facts, muft be very unfkiiful if he does not prevail; but with regard to wit, I am afraid none of Swift's papers will be found equal to thofe by which Addifon oppofed him*.

He wrote in the year 1711 a "Letter to the Octo"ber Club," a number of Tory Gentlemen fent from the country to Parliament, who formed themfelves into a club, to the number of about a hundred, and met to animate the zeal and raise the expectations of each other. They thought, with great reafon, that the Minifters were lofing opportunities; that fufficient ufe was not made of the ardour of the nation; they called loudly for more changes, and ftronger efforts; and demanded the punishment of part, and the difmiffion of the reft, of those whom they confidered as public robbers.

Their eagerness was not gratified by the Queen, or by Harley. The Queen was probably flow because fhe was afraid; and Harley was flow because he was doubtful: he was a Tory only by neceffity, or for convenience; and, when he had power in his hands, had no fettled purpose for which he fhould employ it; forced to gratify to a certain degree the Tories who fupported him, but unwilling to make his reconcilement to the Whigs utterly defperate, he correfponded at once with the two expectants of the

Mr. Sheridan however fays, that Addifon's laft Whig Examiner was published Oct. 12, 1711; and Swift's first Examiner, on the 10th of the following November. R.


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