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doubt that he actually felt the " shame, disappointment, guilt, surprise,” expressed in his celebrated poem, though he had not courage to take the open and manly course, of avowing those engagements with Stella, or other impediments, which prevented him from accepting the hand and fortune of her rival. Perhaps he was conscious that such an explanation had been too long delayed, to be now stated without affording grounds for the heavy charge of having flattered Miss Vanhomrigh into hopes, which, from the nature of his own situation, could never be gratified. This remorseful consciousness, too, he might feel when looking back on his conduct, though until then he had blindly consulted his own gratification in seeking the pleasure of Vanessa's society, without being aware of the difficulties in which they were both becoming gradually entangled. Without, therefore, making this painful but just confession, the answered the avowal of Vanessa's passion, at first in raillery, and afterwards by an offer of devoted and everlasting friendship, founded on the basis of virtuous esteem. Vanessa seems neither to have been contented nor silenced by the result of her declaration, but, to the very close of her life, persisted in endeavouring, by entreaties and arguments, to extort a more lively return to her passion, than this cold proffer was calculated to afford. It is difficult to ascertain when this eclaircissement took place, but it seems to have preceded Swift's departure for Ireland to take possession of his deanery, though it must certainly have been made after obtaining that preferment. The effect of his increasing intimacy with the fascinating Vanessa, may be plainly traced in the Journal to Stella, which, in the course of its progress, becomes more and more cold and indifferent, breathes fewer of those aspirations after the quiet felicity of a life devoted to M. D. and the willows at Laracor, uses less frequently the affectionate jargon, called the “ little language,” in which his fondness at first displays itself,-and, in short, exhibits all the symptoms of waning affection. Stella was neither blind to the altered style of his correspondence, nor deaf to the rumours which were wafted to Ireland. Her letters are not preserved, but, from several passages of the Journal, it appears, that they intimated displeasure and jealousy, which Swift endeavours to appease. But there are two passages, in particular, worthy of notice, as illustrative of the history of Stella and Vanessa. The first occurs when Swift obtains the Deanery of St Patrick's. « If it be worth L.400 a-year,” he says, “overplus shall be divided .... besides usual imperfect phrase, which, however, implies, that his relation with Stella was to continue on its former footing, and that she was only to share the advantage of his promotion, by an increase of her separate income. This hint was probably designed to bar any expectations of a proposal of marriage. Another ominous sentence in the Journal is the following intimation : “ His” (Mr Vanhomrigh’s)
« eldest daughter is come of age, and going to Ireland to look after her fortune, and get it into her own hands.”! This plan, which Miss Vanhomrigh afterwards accomplished, boded no good to the unfortunate Stella.
Upon Swift's return to Ireland, we may guess at the disturbed state of his feelings, wounded at once by ungratified ambition, and harassed by his affection being divided between two objects, each worthy of his attachment, and each having great claims upon him, while neither was likely to remain contented with the limited return of friendship in exchange for love, and that friendship, too, divided with a rival. The claims of Stella were preferable in point of date, and, to a man of honour and good faith, in every respect irresistible. She had resigned her country, her friends, and even hazarded her character, in hopes of one day being united to Swift. But, if Stella had made the greater sacrifice, Vanessa was the more important victim. She had youth, fortune, fashion ; all the acquired accomplishments and information in which Stella was deficient ; possessed at least as much wit, and certainly higher powers of imagination. She had, besides, enjoyed the advantage of having in a manner compelled Swift to hear and reply to the language of passion. There was, in her case, no Mrs Dingley, no convenient third party, whose presence in society and community in correspondence, necessarily imposed upon both restraint, convenient perhaps to Swift, but highly unfavourable to Stella. · Vanessa could address Swift di1 Journad, 15th August, 1711, Swift's Works, vol. ii., p. 331.
rectly in her own name, and, as he was obliged to reply in the sanie manner, there is something in the eloquence of affection that mnst always extort a corresponding answer. There is little doubt, therefore, that Swift, at this time, gave Vanessa a preference in his affection, although, for a reason hereafter to be hinted, it is probable, that the death or removal of one of these far-famed rivals would not have accelerated his union with the other. At least we are certain, that, could the rivals have laid jealousy and desire to sleep; the lover's choice would have been to have bounded his connexion with both within the limits of Platonic affection. That he had no intention to marry Vanessa, is evident from passages
in his letters, which are inconsistent with such an arrangement, as, on the other hand, their whole tenor excludes that of a guilty intimacy. Before leaving England, he acquainted her with his determination to forget everything there, and to write as seldom as he could ; and in the same letter he expresses his doubts of ever visiting. England again,
doubts which implied a gross insult, had he at any time held out a prospect of their union, but something still more villanous, if we suppose the parties to have passed the limits of innocence. On the other hand, his conduct, with respect to Stella, was equally dubious. So soon as he was settled in the deanery-house, his first care was to secure lodgings for Mrs Dingley and Stella, upon Ormond's Quay, on the other side of the Liffy; and to resume, with the same guarded caution, the intercourse which had formerly existed
1 Swift's Works, vol. xix., p. 334.
between them. But circumstances soon compelled him to give that connexion a more definite character.
Mrs Vanhomrigh was now dead. Her two sons survived her but a short time, and the circumstances of the young ladies were so far embarrassed by inconsiderate expenses, as gave them a handsome excuse for retiring to Ireland, where their father had left a small property near Celbridge. The arrival of Vanessa in Dublin excited the apprehensions of Swift, and the jealousy of Stella. However imprudently the Dean might have indulged himself and the unfortunate young lady, by frequenting her society too frequently during his residence in England, there is no doubt that he was alive to all the hazards that might accrue to the reputation and peace of both, by continuing the same intimacy in Dublin. But the means of avoiding it were no longer in his power, although his reiterated remonstrances assumed even the character of unkindness. She importuned him
i The effect which such severity produced upon a character of Miss Vanhomrigh's ardent cast, will be best illustrated from her own words, in a letter to Swift, dated 1714. “ You bid me be easy, and you would see me as often as you could. You had better have said, as often as you could get the better of your inclination so much ; or as often as you remember there was such a one in the world. If you continue to treat me as you do, you will not be made uneasy by me long. It is 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 of yours. Sometimes I have resolved to die without seeing you more; but those resolves, to your misfortune, did not last long. For there is something in human Dature, that prompts one so to find relief in this world, I must give way to it; and beg you would see me, and speak kindly to me; for I am sure you'd not condemn any one to suffer