Swift, Jonathan, Dd
Swift, Jonathan, D.D.
a prelate and satirist, was born in Dublini Nov. 30,1667, and when about a year old was carried by his nurse to Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, where he was kept for three years. His father, who died three months before he was born, left his family in great poverty, and they were supported by relatives. Swift, when, six years old, was sent to the school of Kilkenny, and remained there until, removed to Trinity College, Dublin, which he entered as a pensioner, April 24, 1682. He received his degree of A.B. Feb. 15, 1685, but he remained in the college until 1688, when he went to England to visit his mother, and was on her recommendation admitted into the house of Sir William Temple. In 1694 he went to Ireland, took orders in the Church that of deacon Oct. 18, 1694,'of priest Jan. 13, 1695 and obtained a small living, which he threw up in two years and returned to England. He lived as a friend with Temple until the death of the latter, Jan. 27, 1698, and in 1699 accompanied lord Berkeley to Ireland as his chaplain and private secretary. Being deprived of this office, he was given the rectory of Agher, and the vicarages of Laracor and Ruthbeggan, worth altogether £230 a year. The prebend of Dunlavin was bestowed upon him soon afterwards. He still continued to reside with lord Berkeley until 1700, when the latter returned to England and Swift took possession of Laracor. He performed his duties as a country clergyman with exemplary diligence. His appointment to the deanery of St. Patrick's was made Feb. 23, 1713, and early in June he left England to take possession. He soon returned to England on a political mission, and again visited England to solicit the remission of the "first-fruits." In 1741 Swift's memory failed, his understanding was much impaired, and' he became subject to violent fits of passion which soon terminated in furious lunacy. In 1742 he sank into a state of quiet idiocy, and died Oct. 19, 1745. Dr.
Samuel Johnson (Lives of the English Poets) gives the following estimate of dean Swift: "He was a churchman rationally zealous; he desired the prosperity and maintained the honor of the clergy; of the Dissenters he did not wish, to infringe the toleration, but he opposed their encroachments." To his duty as dean he was very attentive. In his Church he restored the practice of weekly communion, and distributed the sacramental elements in the most solemn and devout manner with his own hand. He came to Church every morning, preached commonly in his turn, and attended the evening anthem, that it might not be negligently performed. The suspicions of his irreligion proceeded in a great measure from his dread of hypocrisy; instead of wishing to seem better, he delighted in seeming worse than he was. In London he went to early prayers lest he should be seen at Church; he read prayers to his servants every morning with such dexterous secrecy that Dr. Delany was six months in his house before he knew it. He gave great attention to political matters, and, indeed, it is to his political writings that he is principally indebted for his fame. In addition to these works, some poems, etc., he published several Sermons and Tracts upon religious and ecclesiastical matters. — Of his works several editions have been printed, that of Sir Walter Scott being considered the best (Edinb. —1819, 19 vols. 8vo). See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Chalmers, Biog. Dict. s.v.; English Cyclop. s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. s.v.