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Most women have no characters at all, is with greater and wiser men their very highest virtue. The characterless women—the soft, ductile, loving, gentle natures of Shakespeare, Ophelia, Imogen, and Desdemona—make the best wives; and indeed gathering wisdom from the true men they love, they are the very perfection of Nature's chief handiwork.

Pope's rank as a poet-irrespective of his merits as a satirist-has been the subject of much dispute. His thoughts are not deep, but they are compact and sound, according to his lights. He never tires his readers, has a thousand beauties, is ingenious, full of strength of a peculiar kind, witty, learned, observant. He seldom rises, but he never falls, and whatever he writes is worth reading and studying. He has more good lines, lines that are remembered and quoted, than any other poet of his bulk. He liked to be thought like Horace-a gentleman, who wrote for gentlemen; not for the poor, nor the whole world, but for the rich and well-to-do only. In his ambition he succeeded, as every man will succeed, if his ambition is vigorous and lasting. He grew to be the most popular, with the educated and rich, of all poets, the drawingroom philosopher, and the man of the world.

I“Moral Essays,” ii. 1. 2.

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women,

252ONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745), a won

derful genius, who did every thing he did do as no other man of the time could do it, next deserves to be mentioned as a

satirist. He seems to have been born one—a man-hater in some measure, -one who neither loved the world nor the world's ways, and who spoke his mind with intense feeling against both men and

On the ivory handle of a pen-knife we have had engraved a motto that applies to Swift“I cut to mend;” and it is mentioned here, because Thackeray's want of appreciation of this great man, his limited approval, and his hesitated dislike, have been too generally followed. Swift was the most powerful man of his day in England. There was no onein Lords, Commons, or bench of bishops—who could touch him; he had the best brain and he knew it. Says Mr. Hannay, “He held probably the most potent position that a writer has ever held in this country;

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but all the while held it in a dubious and unrecognised way. He was the patron of men of letters; got them places, and got them money.

He crammed the Ministers, and his pen was not employed in quizzing hoops or patches, or sneering at City people; it was an engine of power over all England. He used it as an orator does his tongue—to do something with ; the Ministers dreaded him, flattered him, courted him, and yet felt that he was their master! As he had helped to govern England, so that his name occurs in the public history of the time, I suppose he expected Eng

I land to do something for him in return.”

Swift's satire is essentially manly and strong. Hence it is often what many people call“ nasty.” He dared even to point out to women their offensive ways,

their want of personal cleanliness—too common in that age -and most people called him a beast for his pains ; but he was no beast. We cannot here enter into his unhappy life. Suffice it to say, that, with a constant dread of madness; unable to marry, yet loving and beloved; generous to all friends, yet neglected and despised; loving power and the Court, yet banished to a desert; eloquent enough to move an academy the noblest scholars, yet condemned to preach to three or four untaught Irish hinds and his own clerk, Swift preserved the faith of a Christian, the tenderness of a friend, and the heart of a philanthropist. He has well defended himself in some of the noblest, wisest, deepest, and saddest verses ever written—those on his own death :

As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew
From Nature, I believe them true:
They argue no corrupted mind
In him ; the fault is in mankind.

SWIFT'S SATIRE.

219

And he further tells us, in a pleasant picture of ladies playing at cards and talking of his death (“The Dean is dead! Pray what is trumps ? ”) what he has done, and how he has been treated. “His wealth,” he says, is bequeathed

To public uses. There's the whim ;
What had the public done for him ?

And of his works he speaks thus :

I cannot tell what critics thought 'em,
But this I know, the public bought 'em,
As with a moral view design'd
To please and to reform mankind :
And if he often miss'd his aim,
The world must own it, to their shame,
The praise is his, and theirs the blame.
He gave the little wealth he had
To build a house for fools or mad,
To show by one satiric touch
No nation wanted it so much,
The kingdom he hath left his debtor,
I wish it soon may have a better;
And since you dread no further lashes,
Methinks you may forgive his ashes.

Swift's works are not to be read nor to be enjoyed by young people, with the exception of the immortal “Gulliver,” the most cutting satire on mankind ever written ; but when men and women are grown up and know the world, then indeed no deeper nor wiser guide can be taken. “A Tale of a Tub” is an admirable, pure satire on religious disputants. English society under Queen Anne and the Georges was very corrupt, and Swift was one of those men who dared to speak the truth of it: hence he was received with general hatred. He introduced into literature a great deal of humour, and what is now known as fun, He first

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commenced a kind of savings bank for the poor ; was never tired of doing kind services for those who were weak; was never tired equally of lashing those who were strong; was the kindest, firmest, tenderest friend in the world; how then could the world hate him? Here is the secret: he knew it too well, and was fond of probing it. Holding the sacerdotal office in high honour, he saw the clergy in those days treated worse than we now treat footmen, and he satirically repaid it. “Madam," said he to a lady, "you're not going to treat me like your poor prig of a parson :” and again, he poured out to a young curate of his the last glass of wine, rather thick, saying, “I always keep the bottoms of my bottles for some poor thing of a parson.” The gentleman, seeing his humour, took the wine meekly, saying he was glad enough to get any. “Then I'm hanged if you shall drink it,” said the Dean; “ I'll drink that myself-here's a fresh bottle for you. Only I said the same to a young cleric the other day, and he did not understand me, but flounced out of the room." Let us take care that we understand Swift; for it is worth while to study him in order to gain that understanding thoroughly. That true martyr, without the martyr's cause or crown, or weakness which is his shield; that dethroned king, wandering sceptreless in lower kingdoms; that great and tender heart, always so lonely, and beloved even to be made more miserable; that fine broad forehead, and those sweet, tender eyes, with a foreshadow of great trouble, and ultimate madness. “The stage darkened ere the curtain fell,” says Scott of him; and he himself said, looking at a tree in the park in Dublin, “ I am like that tree; I shall die at the top.” He did die at

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