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ACCESSION OF GEORGE I.--SWIFT'S LEADERSHIP.

The last years of Queen Anne had been years of intrigue and preparation with the Jacobite leaders throughout the three kingdoms. At their head stood Ormond, the second and last Duke of his name, and with him were associated at one stage or another of his design, Bolingbroke, Orrery, Bishop Atterbury, and other influential persons. It was thought that had this party acted promptly on the death of the Queen, and proclaimed James III. (or "the Pretender," as he was called by the partisans of the new dynasty), the Act of Succession might have remained a dead letter, and the Stuarts recovered their ancient sovereignty. But the partisans of the elector were the first in the field, and King George was accordingly proclaimed, on the 1st of August, at London, and on the 6th of August, at Dublin.

In Dublin, where serious apprehensions of a Jacobite rising were entertained, the proclamation was made by the glare of torches at the extraordinary hour of midnight. Two or three arrests of insignificant persons were made, and letters to Swift being found on one of them, the Dean was thought by his friends to be in some danger. But it was not correct to say, as many writers have done, that he found it necessary to retire from Dublin. The only inconvenience he suffered was from the hootings and revilings of the Protestant rabble in the street, and a brutal threat of personal violence from a young nobleman, upon whom he revenged himself in a characteristic petition to the House of Lords "for protection against the said lord." Pretending not to be quite sure of his assailant, he proceeds to explain: "Your petitioner is informed that the person who spoke the words above mentioned is of your Lordships' House, under the style and title of Lord Blaney; whom your petitioner remembers to have introduced to Mr. Secretary Addison, in the Earl of Wharton's government, and to have done him other good offices at that time, because he was represented as a young man of some hopes and a broken fortune." The entire document is a curious picture of the insolence of the ascendancy party of that day, even towards dignitaries of their own church who refused to go all lengths in the only politics they permitted or tolerated.

It was while smarting under these public indignities, and excluded from the society of the highest class in his own country, with two or three exceptions, that Swift laid the foundations of his own and his country's patriotism, among the educated middle class of the Irish capital. From the college and the clergy he drew Dr. Sheridan--ancestor of six generations of men and women of genius! Doctors Delaney, Jackson, Helsham, Walmsley, Stopford (afterwards Bishop of Cloyne), and the three reverend brothers Grattan. In the city he selected as his friends and companions four other Grattans, one of whom was Lord-Mayor, another physician to the castle, one a schoolmaster, the other a merchant. "Do you know the Grattans?" he wrote to the Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Carteret; "then pray obtain their acquaintance. The Grattans, my lord, can raise 10,000 men." Among the class represented by this admirable family of seven brothers, and in that of the tradesmen immediately below them, of which we may take his printers, Waters and Faulkner for types, Swift's haughty and indignant denunciations of the oligarchy of the hour produced striking effects. The humblest of the community began to raise their heads, and to fix their eyes steadily on public affairs and public characters. Questions of currency, of trade, of the administration of justice and of patronage, were earnestly discussed in the press and in society, and thus by slow but gradually ascending steps, a spirit of independence was promoted where hitherto only servility had reigned.

The obligations of his cotemporaries to Swift are not to be counted simply by what he was able to originate or to advocate in their behalf--for not much could be done in that way, in such times, and in such a position as his --but rather in regard to the enemies and maligners of that people, whom he exposed and punished. To understand the value of his example and inspiration, we must read over again his castigations of Wharton, of Burnet, of Boulter, of Whitshed, of Allan, and all the leaders of the oligarchy, in the Irish Parliament. When we have done so, we shall see at once how his imperial reputation, his personal position, and every faculty of his powerful mind were employed alike to combat injustice and proscription, to promote freedom of opinion and of trade, to punish the abuses of judicial power, and to cultivate and foster a spirit of self reliance and economy among all classes--especially the humblest. In his times, and in his position, with a cassock "entangling his course," what more could have been expected of him?

The Irish Parliament met in 1715--elected, according to the then usage, for the lifetime of the King--commenced its career by an act of attainder against the Pretender, accompanied by a reward of 50,000 pounds for his apprehension. The Lords-Justices, the Duke of Grafton and the Earl of Galway, recommended in their speech to the Houses, that they should cultivate such unanimity among themselves as "at once to put an end to all other distinctions in Ireland, but that of Protestant and Papist." In the same speech, and in all the debates of that reign, the Catholics were spoken of as "the common enemy," and all who sympathized with them, as "enemies of the constitution." But far as this Parliament was from all our ideas of what a national legislature ought to be, it was precisely at this period, when the administration could not be worse, that the foundation was laid of the great contest for legislative independence, which was to continue through three generations, and to constitute the main staple of the Irish history of this century.

In the year 1717, the English House of Lords entertained and decided, as a court of last resort, an appeal from the Irish courts, already passed on by the Irish Lords, in the famous real-estate case of Annesley versus Sherlock. The proceeding was novel, and was protested against in the English House at the time by the Duke of Leeds, and in the Irish, by the majority of the whole House. But the British Parliament, not content with claiming the power, proceeded to establish the principle, by the declaratory act--6th George I.--for securing the dependence of Ireland on the crown of Great Britain. This statute, even more objectionable than the law of Poynings, continued unrepealed till 1782, notwithstanding all the arguments and all the protests of the Irish patriot party. The Lords of Ireland, unsupported by the bigoted and unprincipled oligarchy in the Commons, were shorn of their appellate jurisdiction, and their journals for many years contain few entries of business done, beyond servile addresses to successive Viceroys, and motions of adjournment.

In their session of 1723, the ascendancy party in the Commons proceeded to their last extreme of violence against the prostrate Catholics. An act was introduced founded on eight resolutions, "further to prevent the growth of Popery." One of these resolutions, regularly transmitted to England by the Viceroy-proposed that every priest, arrested within the realm, should suffer the penalty of castration! For the first time, a penal law was rejected with horror and indignation by the English Privy Council, and the whole elaborate edifice, overweighted with these last propositions, trembled to its base. But though badly shaken, it was yet far from coming down.

"Do not the corruptions and villainies of men," said Swift to his friend Delaney, "eat your flesh and exhaust your spirits?" They certainly gnawed at the heart of the courageous Dean, but at the same time, they excited rather than exhausted his spirits. In 1720 he resumed his pen, as a political writer, in his famous proposal "for the universal use of Irish manufactures." Waters, the printer of this piece, was indicted for a seditious libel, before Chief-Justice Whitshed, the immortal "_coram nobis_" of the Dean's political ballads. The jury were detained eleven hours, and sent out nine times, to compel them to agree on a verdict. They at length finally declared they could not agree, and a nol. pros. was soon after entered by the crown. This trial of Swift's printer in 1720, is the first of a long series of duels with the crown lawyers, which the Irish press has since maintained with as much firmness and self-sacrifice as any press ever exhibited. And it may be said that never, not even under martial law, was a conspicuous example of civic courage more necessary, or more dangerous. Browne, Bishop of Cork, had been in danger of deprivation for preaching a sermon against the well-known toast to the memory of King William; Swift was threatened, as we see, a few years earlier, with personal violence by a Whig lord, and pelted by a Protestant rabble, for his supposed Jacobitism; his friend, Dr. Sheridan, lost his Munster living for having accidentally chosen as his text, on the anniversary of King George's coronation, "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Such was the intolerance of the oligarchy towards their own clergy. What must it have been to others!

The attempt to establish a National Bank, and the introduction of a debased copper coinage, for which a patent had been, granted to one William Wood, next employed the untiring pen of Swift. The halfpenny controversy, was not, as is often said, a small matter; it was nearly as important as the bank project itself. Of the 100,000 pounds worth coined, the intrinsic value was shown to be not more than 6,000 pounds. Such was the storm excited against the patentee, that his Dublin agents were obliged to resign their connection with him, and the royal letters-patent were unwillingly cancelled. The bank project was also rejected by Parliament, adding another to the triumphs of the invincible Dean.

During the last years of this reign, Swift was the most powerful and popular person in Ireland, and perhaps in the empire. The freedom with which he advised Carteret the Viceroy, and remonstrated with Walpole, the Premier, on the misrule of his country, was worthy of the ascendancy of his genius. No man of letters, no churchman, no statesman of any country in any age, ever showed himself more thoroughly independent, in his intercourse with men of office, than Swift. The vice of Ireland was exactly the other way, so that in this respect also, the patriot was the liberator.

Rising with the rise of public spirit, the great churchman, in his fourth letter, in the assumed character of M. B. Drapier, confronted the question of legislative independence. Alluding to the pamphlet of Molyneux, published thirty years before, he pronounced its arguments invincible, and the contrary system "the very definition of slavery." "The remedy," he concludes, addressing the Irish people, "is wholly in your own hands, and therefore I have digressed a little, in order to refresh and continue that spirit so seasonably raised among you, and to let you see, that, by the laws of God, of nature, of nations, and of your country, you are, and ought to be, as free a people as your brethren in England." For this letter also, the printer, Harding, was indicted, but the Dublin grand jury, infected with the spirit of the times, unanimously ignored the bill. A reward of 300 pounds was then issued from the castle for the discovery of the author, but no informer could be found base enough to betray him. For a time, however, to escape the ovations he despised, and the excitement which tried his health, Swift retired to his friend Sheridan's cottage on the banks of Lough Ramor, in Cavan, and there recreated himself with long rides about the country, and the composition of the Travels of the immortal Gulliver.

Sir Robert Walpole, alarmed at the exhibition of popular intelligence and determination evoked by Swift, committed the government of Ireland to his rival, Lord Carteret--whom he was besides not sorry to remove to a distance--and appointed to the See of Armagh, which fell vacant about the time of the currency dispute, Dr. Hugh Boulter, Bishop of Bristol, one of his own creatures. This prelate, a politician by taste and inclination, modelled his policy on his patron's, as far as his more contracted sphere and inferior talents permitted. To buy members in market overt, with peerages, or secret service money, was his chief means of securing a Parliamentary majority. An Englishman by birth and education; the head of the Protestant establishment in Ireland, it was inevitable that his policy should be English and Protestant, in every particular. To resist, depress, disunite, and defeat the believers in the dangerous doctrines of Swift and Molyneux, was the sole rule of his nearly twenty years' political supremacy in Irish affairs. (1724-1742.) The master of a princely income, endowed with strong passions, unlimited patronage, and great activity, he may be said to have reigned rather than led, even when the nominal viceroyalty was in the hands of such able and accomplished men as Lords Carteret, Dorset and Devonshire. His failure in his first state trial, against Harding the printer, nothing discouraged him; he had come into Ireland to secure the English interest, by uprooting the last vestiges of Popery and independence, and he devoted himself to those objects with persevering determination. In 1727--the year of George the First's decease--he obtained the disfranchisement of Catholic electors by a clause quietly inserted without notice in a Bill regulating elections; and soon after he laid the foundations of those nurseries of proselytism, "the Charter Schools."



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