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MEMOIRS OF known by what he did for his honest, trusty servant, Alexander M Gee. If this expense be thought too much to be taken from the noble charity he hath bequeathed, I ake the offer of doing it, and desire it may be taken out of my legacy as the last respect I can pay to my great and worthy friend.
If this favour be denied me, I shall let whoever mentions this affair in my hearing, know the offer I have made.
I am, Sir,
MARTHA WHITEWAY. October 22, 1745, ten in the morning.
Person, Habits, and Private Character of Swift-His Con.
versation-His Reading—Apparent Inconsistencies in his Character— His Charity_His Talents for Criticism Character of the Dean as a Poet-As a Prose Author.
Swift was in person tall, strong, and well made, of a dark complexion, but with blue eyes, black and bushy eyebrows, nose somewhat acquiline, and features which remarkably expressed the stern, haughty, and dauntless turn of his mind. He was never known to laugh, and his smiles are happily characterised by the well-known lines of Shakspeare. Indeed, the whole description of Cassius might be applied to Swift :
“ He reads much,
That could be moved to smile at any thing.” The features of the Dean have been preserved in several paintings, busts, and medals. In youth, he
1 There is an excellent portrait of Dean Swift at the Deanery House, Dublin, painted by Bindon. A genius appears in the piece displaying a scroll, containing a Latin inscription, partly undecipherable, but which refers to the
was reckoned handsome; Pope observed, that though his face had an expression of dulness, his eyes were
Dean's exertions in procuring for the church the grant of the first fruits and tenths. At the bottom of the canvass is the following inscription :
EFFIGIEM HUJUS REV. ADMODUM VIRI JONATH. SWIFT, S. T. P.
ECCLESIÆ CATH. S. PAT. DUB. DECANI. IN PERPETUUM HARUM ÆDIUM TOTIUS CLERI ET HUJUSCE PRÆCIPUE GENTIS DECUS, AMORIS ET OBSERVANTIÆ ERGO PINGI CURAVIT CAPITULUM
PRÆSENTI TIBI MATUROS LARGIMUR HONORES,
In the back distance, through the window, is seen in perspective the great western door of the cathedral of St Patrick's, leading immediately to that aisle in which the illustrious patriot is interred. The tower, or steeple, is preeminently conspicuous, however minute this part of the drawing be. It is to be observed, that at the period the original painting was taken, the spire, which now completes that fine Gothic structure, had not been erected.
The frame is of black Irish oak, curiously and tastefully carved with a variety of emblematical figures, having at the bottom the arms of the Deanery and of Swift quartered in one scutcheon. The unfortunate taste of one of his successors caused this frame to be gilded. This picture should not be mentioned without recording the patriotic disinterestedness of Dean Cradoc, who, when a fire broke out at the Deaneryhouse, commanded those who assisted to leave their exertions to save his own property and books, until they had secured the picture of his renowned predecessor.
Another portrait, supposed to be one of the best likenesses in existence, and also painted by Bindon, is the property of Dr Hill of Dublin. The expression of the features differs in some respects from the picture in the Deanery, being rather of a deep and melancholy cast, than of the stern, harsh, and imperative character.
There is a portrait of Dean Swift at Howth Castle. It is a full length, painted by Bindon. He is represented in the clerical costume. To the left of the figure is seen the Temple
very particular. They were as azure, he said, as the heavens, and had an unusual expression of acuteIn old
the Dean's countenance conveyed an expression which, though severe, was noble and impressive. He spoke in public with facility and impressive energy; and as his talents for ready
of Fame in the background; on the Dean's right appears the genius of Ireland, extending a laurel-wreath, as about to crown the patriot; in his left hand he holds forth a scroll, on which is written, “ The fourth Drapier's Letter.” At his feet, on the right of the picture, lies bound the famous patentee Woods ; he is depicted in agony. On a scroll is written “ Woods' patent.”
A full-length painting of the Dean, in his clerical habit, is placed in the theatre, or examination-hall of Trinity College, Dublin. The head and figure, with some variation of attitude, appear to be copied from the oil painting at the Deaneryhouse. He is here represented as standing between two pillars; in the space between, in the background, is given a view of the steeple and spire of St Patrick's.
In the museum of Trinity College, Dublin, there is a dark plaster bust, or cast, of Dean Swift. It is an impression taken from the mask, applied to the face after death. The expression of countenance is most unequivocally maniacal, and one side of the mouth (the left) horribly contorted downwards, as if .convulsed by pain. It is engraved for Mr Barrett's Essay.
There is a marble bust of Dean Swift in the possession of Dr Duke, Stephen's-green, Dublin.
} [" The most interesting representation of Swift is a plaster of Paris cast, taken after his death, which is in the museum of Trinity College, Dublin; the engraving made from it, which is to be found in the last edition of Swift's Works by Mr Nichols, is a vile representa tion. Mr Walter Scott must have alluded to this copy, when he asserted that the expression of the face was evidently maniacal,' for the original is not so in the slightest degree, but, on the contrary, the most placid and the most free from any turbulent expression that can be imagined."-Monck Mason.]
3 [" That picture of Dr Swift (by Jervais) is very like him; though his face has a look of dulness in it, he has very particular eyes : they are quite aznre as the heavens, and there is a very uncommon archness in them."-Pope, 1735-Spence's Anecdotes-Malone, p. 135.]
MEMOIRS OF reply were so well calculated for political debate, it must have increased the mortification of Queen Anne's ministers, that they found themselves unable to secure him a seat on the bench of Bishops. The government of Ireland dreaded his eloquence as much as his pen.
His manners in society were, in his better days, free, lively, and engaging, not devoid of peculiarities, but bending them so well to circumstances, that his company was universally courted. When age and infirmity had impaired the elasticity of his spirits and the equality of his temper, his conversation was still valued, not only on account of the extended and various acquaintance with life and manners, of which it displayed an inexhaustible fund, but also for the shrewd and satirical humour which seasoned his observations and anecdotes. This, according to Orrery, was the last of his powers which decayed; but the Dean himself was sensible that, as his memory failed, his stories were too often repeated. His powers of conversation and of humorous repartee were in his time regarded as unrivalled; but, like most who have assumed a despotic sway in conversation, he was sometimes silenced by unexpected resistance. He was very
At an inn, seeing the cook-maid scraping a piece of mutton, he asked how many maggots she had got out of it? “Not 80 many as are in your head,” answered the wench smartly. The Dean was angry, and complained to her mistress. On another occasion, he was silenced by a worthy citizen, Alderman Brown, who, having undergone his raillery in silence during the time of dinner, all of a sudden raised his head from the plate, on observing Swift take apple-sauce to the wing of a duck, and exclaimed, “ Mr Dean, you eat your duck like a