« ПредишнаНапред »
owned by him. At the commencement of it he says that,
“Wisdom is a fox, who after long hunting will at last cost you the pains to dig out; it is a cheese which, by how much the richer, has the thicker, the homelier, and the coarser coat; and whereof to a judicious palate the maggots are the best; it is a sack posset, wherein the deeper you go you will find it the sweeter. Wisdom is a hen, whose cackling we must value and consider, because it is attended with an egg, but then, lastly, it is a nut, which unless you choose with judgment may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm.”
He attacks indiscriminately the Pope, Luther, and Calvin. Of the first he says
“I have seen him, Peter, in his fits take three .old high-crowned bats, and clap them all on his head three story high, with a huge bunch of keys at his girdle, and an angling rod in his left hand. In which guise, whoever went to take him by the hand in the way of salutation, Peter with much grace, like a well educated spaniel, would present them with his foot; and if they refused his civility, then he would raise it as high as their chaps, and give them a damned kick in the mouth, which has ever since been called a salute."
He also ridicules Transubstantiation, representing Peter as asking his brothers to dine, and giving them a loaf of bread, and insisting that it was mutton.
In the history of Martin Luther-a continuation of the “ Tale of a Tub,” he represents Queen Elizabeth as “setting up a shop for those of her own farm, well furnished with powders, plasters, salves, and all other drugs necessary, all right and true, composed according to receipts made by physicians and apothecaries of her own creating, which they extracted
out of Peter's, Martin's, and Jack's receipt books; and of this muddle and hodge-podge made up a dispensary of their own—strictly forbidding any other to be used, and particularly Peter's, from whom the greater part of this new dispensatory was stolen.”
At the conclusion of the “ Tale of a Tub,” he says, “ Among a very polite nation in Greece there were the same temples built and consecrated to Sleep and the Muses, between which two deities they believed the greatest friendship was established. He says he differs from other writers in that he shall be too proud, if by all his labours he has any ways contributed to the repose of mankind in times so turbulent and unquiet.”
It is evident from this work, as from the “ Battle of the Books,” “ The Spider and the Bee,” and other of his writings, that Allegory was still in high favour.
Swift first appeared as a professed author in 1708, when he wrote against astrologers, and prophetic almanack-makers, called philomaths— then numerous, but now only represented by Zadkiel. This Essay was one of those, which gave rise to “ The Tatler.” He wrote about the same time, “An argument against Christianity”-an ironical way of rebuking the irreligion of the time
“It is urged that there are by computation in this kingdom above ten thousand persons, wbose revenues added to those of my lords the bishops, would suffice to maintain two hundred young gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and freethinking.-enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices; who might be an ornament to the court and town; and then again, so great a body of able (bodied) divines might be a recruit to our fleet and armies."
“Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity is the clear gain of one day in seven, which is now entirely lost, and consequently the kingdom one seventh less in trade, business, and pleasure; besides the loss to the public of so many stately structures, now in the hands of the clergy, which might be converted into play. houses, market-houses, exchanges, common dormitories, and other public edifices. I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word, if I call this a perfect cavil. I readily own there has been an old custom, time out of mind, for people to assem. ble in the churcbes every Sunday, and that shops are still frəquently shut, in order, as it is conceived, to preserve the ancient practice, bat how they can be a hindrance to business or pleasure it is hard to imagine. What if the men of pleasure are forced one day in the week to game at home instead of in the chocolate bouses ? Are not the taverns and coffee-houses open. Is not that the chief day for traders to sum up the accounts of the week, and for lawyers to prepare their briefs. ... But I would fain know bow it can be contended that the churches are misapplied ? Where more care to appear in the foremost box with greater advantage of dress. Where more meetings for business, where more bargains are driven, and where so many conveniences and enticements to sleep P”
“I am very sensible how much the gentlemen of wit and pleasure are apt to murmur, and be choked at the sight of so many draggle-tailed parsons, who happen to fall in their way and offend their eyes; but at the same time, these wise reformers do not consider what an advantage and felicity it is for great wits to be always provided with objects of scorn and contempt, in order to exercise and improve tbeir talents, and divert their spleen from falling on each other, or on themselves ; especially, when all this may be done without tbe least imaginable danger to their persons.”
“And to add another argument of a parallel nature-if Gulliver's Travels.
Christianity were once abolished, how could the free-thinkers the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning be able to find another subject so calculated in all points, whereon to display their abilities ? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of, from those whose genius, by continual practice, bas been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would, therefore never be able to shine or distinguish themselves upon any other subject! We are daily complaining of the great decline of Wit among us, and would we take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left? Who would ever have suspected Asgil for a wit, and Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible supply of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them with materials? What other subject through all Art and Nature could have produced Tindal for a profound author, and furnished him with readers? It is the wise choice of the subject, which alone adorns and distinguishes the writer. For had a hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would have sunk into silence and oblivion.”
Pope claims to have shadowed forth such a work as Gulliver's Travels in the Memoirs of Martin Scriblerus; but Swift, no doubt, took the idea from Lucian's “True History.” He was also indebted to Philostratus, who speaks of an army of pigmies attacking Hercules. Something may also have been gathered from Defoe's minuteness of detail ; and he made use of all these with a master-hand to improve and increase the fertile resources of his own mind. Swift produced the work, by which he will always survive, and be young. In the voyage to Lilliput he depreciates the court and ministers of George I., by comparing them to something insignificantly small : in the voyage to Brobdingnag by likening thein to something grand and noble. But the immortality of the work
owes nothing to such considerations but everything to humour and fancy, especially to the general satire upon human vanity. “The Emperor of Lilliput is taller by almost tihe breadth of my nail than any of his Court, which alone is enough to strike awe into beholders.”
In the Honyhuhums, the human race is compared to the Yahoos, and placed in a loathsome and ridiculous light. They are represented as most irrational creatures, frequently engaged in wars or acrimonious disputes as to whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh, whether it be better to kiss a post or throw it into the fire, and what is the best colour of a coat !--referring to religious disputes between Catholics and Protestants. He says, that among the Yahoos. “It is a very justifiable cause of war to invade the country after the people have been wasted by famine, destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled by factions among themselves.” With regard to internal matters, “there is a society of men among us, bred up from youth in the art of proving by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. In this society all the rest of the people are slaves.”
Swift's humour, as has been already intimated,