From The Welcome Guest. and snuffed the candles. The house in reAROUT A DISSATISFIED GHOST. duced circumstances felt chilly. I relapsed I HAVE the misfortune to live in closer into dreamland. communion with stars and moonshine than “ The man was unhappy,” thought I to myis absolutely advisable, inhabiting, as I do, self, “ though deservedly so. He lived long the top floor of a house in reduced circum- enough to experience the morbid chidings of stances, under the immediate superintend- a genius wasted in selfish pursuits ; he was ence of a corpulent widow lady, partial to famous in life as well as after it, but he was “old Tom.” The privacy of my literary miserable. His genius wont save him from but leafless Academus is invaded by uproars my censure,—he was unprincipled. He inof the most atrocious character, produced by sulted womankind; he said foul things to “old Tom ” and the widow at certain sea- innocence; of women, this Swift thought fit sons. My dwelling-place is sombre and un- to write filthily. You, Sir Walter Scott, earthly in its aspect, full of draughts and good-natured old trump that you are, ask me darkness; my chairs are Asmodean, my win- to sympathize with him. I wont and can't ; dows shriek and howl like Bedlamites, the he was a humbug." appearance of my very bed is spectral. But There was a movement at my elbow; the that is neither here nor there. Surrounded marrow of my bones felt cold. I shivered, by such gloomy scenery I saw the Dissatis- and snuffed the candles again. There was fied Ghost, whose visit to my solitude I am another movement behind me. I turned about to make public.

round and saw—the Ghost. It was late in the evening when the Ghost As palpable, real, fleshy a Ghost as ever came. I sat in my bed-chamber, half asleep walked the night : clearly, a Ghost well to and half awake; I had fallen into a snooze do in the spiritual world. Internal convicover a stray volume of Scott's “Life of tion assured me that that shabby cassock Swift,” and my finger was placed on a pas- and those draggled silk stockings were not sage which describes the Dean, after his human ; otherwise, I should have taken him marriage with Hester Johnson, riding post- for an elderly stockbroker of eccentric tastes. haste to Ceybridge to have that fatal dumb He had clear blue eyes, blue and ghastly, interview with Vanessa. I was dreaming of bridged with bushy eyebrows ; his complexWhigs and Tories, sinecures, bishoprics, and ion resembling my mellifluous Thames on a Boodle's in the time of Queen Anne. I saw rainy day; there was cynicism in his fat Jonathan Swift, a little dirty boy, bullying double chin. On the whole, a slovenly ghost, other little dirty boys in St. Patrick's Close. ignorant of the earthly blessings of soap and I saw him, with his Irish features and that water. ugly look in his eyes, bullying about Sir “ Humph!” he ejaculated, looking at me William Temple's door and borrowing money fiercely from under his heavy eyebrows. I from the Lord Chancellor. I saw him, hob- shook a little in my slippers ; but, being by and-nob with Pope and Gay at Twickenham, nature a courageous man, felt much less discussing the raw material of “The Beg- frightened than might have been anticipated. gar's Opera.” I heard him extemporizing Still, I felt uncomfortable. The rain began scandal to Vanessa and talking sentiment to to moan outside my window, the wind was Stella. I saw Jonathan Swift in a hundred tugging at the tiles above me; the candles places at once—from Tom Sheridan's par- were burning near the socket, and the speclor to his own desolate Irish Deanery, and I tral room looked more spectral than ever. said to myself, “ The man is a rascal ; his "Humph!”repeated the Ghost, fidgetting sentiment is as disgusting as his ribaldry. I with a dirty finger in the waistcoat-pocket. don't like him.” Remembering the man and “ Well, sir, why do ye disturb me with your the time, I thought of the famous dialogue questions at this time of night ? ” in the play: “ Your character? No.-Your I looked at my eccentric visitor with conhonor? No.-Your eternal salvation ? No. siderable amazement. He was evidently -A thousand pounds ? Ah, there you have sober. But, I disturb the reverend gentleme.” I had no sympathy with him. He was man !--plainly, a mad Ghost. He answered a humbug.

my thoughts with an angry twitch at his I woke out of my meditation with a start, waistcoat.

[ocr errors]


“Don't tell me,” he said, “ don't tell me. I with a mingled look of awe and veneration; The world's a fool and a liar, sir ; it lies he seemed Hattered by the respect my timidagainst me, though it feared me once. You, ity paid him, and his features softened. sir, have the stupidity to believe it-you too “ Now, sir, let us talk over this matter consider me a humbug. You're an ass. I sensibly. Pshaw! what d'ye tremble at? I scorn ye.”

sha'n't eat ye. You take me for a ghoul, a This, to say the least of it was unpolite.vampire, a bloodsucker, eh? Open your

The Ghost, who spoke with a very slight mouth. What fault hare ye to find with touch of the brogue, was far from well bred. me?” But he went on, fiercely gesticulating, bully- More bullying and blustering. ing at the back of my chair, growling in Resistance was impossible ; I felt comharsh gutturals to the accompaniment of pelled by something within me to think wind and rain.

over my charges against him. A thousand “Yes, sir, you're an ass, a ninny; the things flashed into my mind all at once: then world's an ass and a ninny; everybody's an they flashed out again, leaving a residuum ass and a ninny! Why can't the world let of hard stories. I said mentally, and I me sleep in peace? What have I done to couldn't help it, “ Well, then, take your polmerit this dirty treatment ? I starved out itics. You were a turncoat ; your principles blood and bone and brain for the world. were buried under an ideal heap of profitaShe can't let me alone, sir. She's a vindic- ble livings. Proof? Under the roof of Sir tive, lying old hag, sir; by Heaven she is!” William Temple you professed to acquire the

By this time the Ghost had talked himself passions of the Revolutionist, and the prininto a tolerable passion. His blue eyes ciples of the Whig; you were worldly wise glared ; his mouth foamed: he fidgetted at in doing so, for your leaders had power and his waistcoat more than ever. I began to place at their disposal. You defended Somfeel out of my element. Gradually heers and the rest, when they were arraigned soothed down ; but a dark look lingered in in 1701, but when their affairs still looked his blue eyes. He took a chair and wiped tolerably bright. When matters looked his perspiring forehead with a snuffy pocket-dangerous and the other party came into handkerchief. Presently, I grew bolder, and power, you shoved off Addison and Somers watched his proceedings with feelings of in- and rushed over to Toryism, like a humbug tense interest. I felt more and more at home as you were. Finally, when the queen died with him ; that puffy, puffy anger of his and you lost all chance of gaining a bishoplooked so very human.

ric, you turned tail again, and abused all the “But go on, sir," continued the Ghost, world indiscriminately. You know the rest." with a frown. “Ask your questions ; I'm The Dissatisfied Ghost heard my mental here to answer ye. You take me for a brute, remarks, fired up, and interrupted them. a rascal-don't tell me a falsehood, I over- Stop!” he cried ; " don't go any further; heard ye. Come, out with it. Jonathan for I understand ye. You talk stuff, sirSwift isn't the man to stand talking here till the old stuff; ask Tom Sheridan, jolly Tom, cock-crow. Hang it, sir, what's the matter if I was unprincipled. I don't mean to say with ye? Do ye take me for my Lord Boling that I was better than my fellows, that I was broke?” And the blue eyes grew bluer and absolutely perfect—totus teres atque rotunbluer.

dus. But mark ye, sir, I stuck by my party Jonathan Swift! The dissatisfied manes as long as my party stuck by me. My Lord of the author of my immortal “ Gulliver”! Somers, indeed! Pray, sir, what connection Here was a visitor with a vengeance. I had I with my Lord Somers, or any of the thought of his last days, and quaked in my lot of 'em ? I wrote a pamphlet about my slippers. I cried peccavi to Nemesis, but it lord and the other three, and I avowed it was no use. I might have put up tolerably like a man who meant business. Scurry well with a sane apparition ; but with a pet- were the thanks I got for it! I was a young ulant old Ghost lying under the imputation man then ; and if I thought fit to change my of lunacy, I felt uneasy. What had I to opinions in after life, what then? I did as say for myself? Nothing; so I merely the rest of them did. Damme, sir, I might trembled and perspired. I glanced at him have starved if I hadn't. I was a Church



[ocr errors]

of England man, a better man than any of wrote or said was based upon the use and my brethren ; if I didn't want ranting Low legality of popular opinion; and because a Church knaves to filch my pockets, my breth- parcel of mad lords and half-grown lordlings ren agreed with me. So I shook hands with were playing that silly game, was I going to Harley on principle, and played trump cards cut the cards for 'em? Sir, this is going a for the Tories. What had Somers done for little too far!" me ? what had Joe Addison done for me? He continued in this strain for several Was I going to sacrifice myself and my minutes. Evidently, there was no convincprinciples because Joe Addison liked me and ing him that he had played false cards. He found me useful? No, sir. Joe and I were sweated and bullied like the Dissatisfied friends till the end ; Joe, I am proud to say, Ghost that he was. I saw how far personal respected me. What beggarly benefit did I pique went to make up his account, as inreceive from the Tories ? Didn't I lose a bish- deed most accounts, of the matter. By the opric by writing right out what was in me? by, I said to myself, “ You wont tell me that Pooh! pooh! They pitched into me in you were a consistent divine ; you can't.” both Houses. The clergy, hang 'em ! abused The Ghost heard. He broke out into me; and because they abused me, Harley another passion. shoved me off with the beggarly rat-hole at • Tell that to your grandmother, sir, and St. Patrick's.”

not to Jonathan Swift. I was religious “ You are avoiding the question," quoth enough to feed hungry men and women at I, still mentally. “But how about those St. Patrick's Church. In big London, I outrageous passages in The Journal to smelt cant and blarney; so I sought to drag Stella'? You cajole weak-headed recruits them from their hiding-places. I was a under your banner; you flatter and pander | High Churchman, every inch of me; but to them ; then you abuse them to Miss some of my brethren were knaves, and I Johnson, calling them knaves and fools. I hinted so." You libel my Lord Treasurer, while you Let me remind you, Dean, that you perborrow money from him. Finally, let me petrated a book-a very clever book, no remind you of that ugly rumor, asserting doubt-called . The Tale of a Tub.' Honest your desire to assist Bolingbroke to bring in Churchmen found fault with both book and the Pretender.”

author ; justly, I think.” “ You talk like a jackanapes,” growled “I tell ye again, sir, that I found cant the Ghost. “But come, I'll give ye a bit of and blarney under their ecclesiastical casmy mind, sir. I hated the swindlers you talk socks; and I wasn't the man to bow down about, every one of 'em ; what's more, sir, and worship them, bad as ye think me. The they hated me. There was no love lost be- slander of the world is blunt and meaningtween us. Why, they treated me like a less-telum imbelle sine ictu. The world dog, and I bit them—hard, deep, and the said I wasn't a Christian. Sir, I was a betwound galled. They trembled before my ter Christian than the world, when she Lord Berkeley's chaplain, as they trembled taught Irishmen to insult me at Dublin. I before the Dean of St. Patrick's; and why ? say that there's more Christianity in the Because he spoke out for the people's rights book ye prate about than there was in all and his own. Harkee, the scoundrels sought the churches bundled together. If I showed to stop my mouth with their beggarly dean- Cant her own image, and called Blarney by cry; but they failed, sir, they failed. Even her right name, what then? Hang me, sir ! my Lord Bolingbroke hated me, and because the fellows--that Archbishop Sharpe among I knew his secrets. There sat my lord, guz- the number—knew how to recognize their zling over his cups with Dick Steele and a own faces in my mirror. Neither priests pack of other wine-bibbers, while I worked nor laymen like to be called uncomely. for him, crammed bim, and sought to keep Consequently, they said I was no Christian, him sober. You know how I was rewarded ; and you believe them. They lied, sir.” you know how my own country rewarded “ Polemics, sir," he added, after a mome. I, Jonathan Swift, connive at bringing ment, more calmly, "spoil piety. I made in the card-playing, brainless boy over the myself no better by writing polemical books į Channel! Why, sir, every word I ever the world knew me only as a testy Irishman,

[ocr errors]


who dealt in sledge-hammer logic. I was a coolness. He saw clearly that bullying was proud man and an ambitious—I'd better own of no avail. it. But I was proud of my brains, sir, and “People call me a woman-hater. Fools! had a nobler ambition than ye give me credit I was rather fond of the little creatures than for. If I wanted a bishopric, I wanted it for otherwise. But I was as proud as Lucifer ; right reasons. I wanted leisure to do some. I chose to look higher than saucer-eyes, thing worthy the stuff of which God Almighty patches, and ball-room dolls. I liked them, made me. The world involved me in her I say, just as ye like sunshine when you're jars and quarrels. I wasted my precious nothing else to do but to bask in it. I had brains in verse-writing and pamphleteering. a head on my shoulders, and bishop or no My heart ached, and my brain had to crush bishop when I made up my mind to do a it down. The world drove me mad, sir ; thing, I did it. I swore that no woman the world taught me to hate myself; she should hold reins in my house, and I kept teaches nincompoops like you to cast stones my word. I wasn't the man to eat bitter at me. I wish to rest in peace.”

olives, merely because they looked tempting He paused again, wiped his brow, and con- on the outside. If they grew rotten was it tinued, hotly,

my fault? No.” “ Bad or good, I wasn't the sycophant ye “ Poor arguments, and worse ethics. The think me. I spoke out my mind like a man; wiser and better a man is, the more he respects if I wanted cash, I told my Lord Treasurer wom

mankind, excusing their little follies for he owed it me. That was why they hated the sake of their holy mission.” me, the mean-spirited blackguards. Where “ Pooh, pooh! that was my creed once, I I found talent, I respected it; where I found dare say. Every lad without a family talks stupidity with a title, I sneered at it. I like that, sir. Humbug! Now, sir. You taught fools with coronets to recognize the think that those two bits of girls were vicaristocracy of intellect. What if I bullied timized by me, eh ?” and blustered a little ? They hated me, and

" I said so.' I couldn't help it. I taught them to know “What if I say that those innocent things their level, sir. You say I had no love in in petticoats, victimized Jonathan Swift ? me; there ye lie, sir. Ask Joe Addison, ask What if Jonathan Swift, who bullied my Tom Sheridan, ask the poor rascals I fed Lord Bolingbroke, and talked scandal with and clothed in Ireland, if I had no love in mad Dick Steele, was no more than a toy me. Fools didn't know it. Little Hester in the hands of two sentimental young dolls, Johnson hardly knew it.”

who pretended to condemn rattling Wortley “Surely," I said,catching at his last words, Montague for pooh-poohing my little love“surely you don't mean to tell me that your sick Cupid, Alexander Pope ? conduct to Mrs. Johnson and to Miss Van- " Nonsense!" homrigh was not that of a villain ? If you “Hark ye! Place yourself in my shoes can exonerate yourself, Dr. Swift, I shall for a moment. Think of Jonathan Swift, only be too happy. But allow me to state, who taught a little bright-eyed thing at in the first place, that my notions of morality Temple’s and patted her head once or twice are very different from any you have yet perhaps, waking up, one fine morning, to propounded. I confess, indeed, the world find the bright-haired thing grown a gooddid much to corrupt you ; but you were a looking girl, head over ears in love with him. man of genius, and ought to have acted con-, Circumspicite! What see ye, from the poor scientiously. With regard to your connec- devil of a tutor's point of view ? A prettytion with the unfortunate women alluded to, faced child, with some hundred pounds in my mind, like that of the world, is made up. cash. Suppose you have a will of your own, But still, I am at your service; defend your- which conquers your first mad impulse to self.”

marry her off-hand; you weigh matrimony The Ghost rose from his chair, and began against your chances in the world, and find to pace up and down the room excitedly. the former wanting. You want something whenever his eye caught mine, it sank besides brats and love in a cottage. So you abashed; I had cowed the apparition by my try to wean Miss of her passion; you do



your best to drain it out of her. You don't tried to save myself, sir ; but I couldn't. I succeed : who is to blame, then ? Why, sir, knew what was coming. I knew that I I don't exactly see why a man of genius is wasn't the man to make a wife happy. My bound to immolate himself, because a girl blood had been drained out of me; I was who doesn't know her own mind takes a the curse of all who knew me. Sir, you ask fancy to him.”

me who killed Hester Johnson ? and I an“But Hester Johnson did know her own swer, the world, not Jonathan Swift, who mind; she was a woman, not a sentimental was its instrument, killed her. Sic transit girl. Not know her own mind ! ”

gloria mundi : poor little Stella died. I had Say she did, sir, say she did; what fol- never loved her; I liked her as a man likes lows? I am putting the case to you as fresh air; she was cleaner than your fine Swift, Hester Johnson's tutor, saw it. The ladies of quality. If I had married her so world had kicked him up and down her many years before, she would have died so dirty alleys; he had seen a good many much the sooner. The little thing had seen women, principally bad or weak ones. He only my bright side (bang it, sir, I had a didn't think much of 'em. Had he any bright side) and after our marriage she saw reason to believe this little chit any better my dark side. What then? I had known than the rest ? He said to himself, • Miss it.” here sets her.cap at me; she offers me so “ And Vanessa, Dean, what of her ?" many pounds English to marry her off-hand. I had grown quite familiar with the DisBut I'm not going to tie myself to the apron- satisfied Ghost. strings of a woman. He was wrong, I know ; “ What of her, sir, what of her ? quantum he found out that to his cost afterwards. sufficit ? Well, sir, look back a little. Esther He didn't throw flat rebellion into Miss' face. Vanhomrigh meets Doctor Swift when he He tried to cure her of her folly by degrees; has made a bit of a name by exposing but he didn't succeed. As for the story blarney. Young madam is young and given about the girl Waryng, it was all humbug. to verse-writing ; she shows him her verses, He was free as air."

and he touches 'em up a bit-with fair faHe paused for a moment, frowning at therly words. But by and by she takes it me from under those heavy eyebrows. into her little head to fall in love with Mr.

“What if I add,” he went on, “ that Hes- Preceptor. Mr. Preceptor's eyes are opened, ter's tutor had a heart big enough to under- and he tries to hang back. She offers to run stand how a marriage with his pupil would away with and marry him. He remembers only make her miserable for life ? Sir, if I another little jade over in old Ireland, and misunderstood that girl, I at least understood offers Vanessa his friendship and esteem, myself. I struggled with Satan, partly for in other words, every rap of sentiment he her sake, and gained the mastery. My vic- has left to give her. She wont hear of it. tory proved fatal to the looker-on.” Mr. Preceptor runs off to Ireland, and

young “Let us suppose all these statements to be madam follows him. What can he do? He true or plausible. Do they extenuate your is deliberating, when out comes Miss' letter. conduct to Miss Johnson after she was your Stella is jealous and ill, sir ; the letter upsets wedded wife?"

her. Mr. Preceptor is not an angel, so he The Dissatisfied Ghost groaned ere he an- gets into a deuce of a passion.” swered my question.

“ You don't mean to tell me" “ The world had maddened and enraged I mean to tell ye that I was an old fool. me when I married her. I married her as a I went among the girls when I'd nothing else doctor would bleed a patient, to keep her in to do, and they victimized me. 'Od rot it, the land of the living. But the world had sir, what had I done that every half-grown soured me. I thought men knaves and Miss Impudence should adore me? I wagged women fools—and I made up my mind to live my tongue a little, chatting among 'em, and apart. Could Jonathan Swift, insulted and out came the girls to kneel at my feet and hardened as he was, dream of broken hearts ? ask me to marry 'em. You tell me Vanessa I can't excuse that part of my life. I was died. What did she die for! Because Jonaworse than mad, then. I was hunted down than Swift offered her his friendship, and and driven into that marriage like a dog. I when she hunted him down like a dog got

« ElőzőTovább »