1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 78-79.



From an original Picture in the Collection of the Earl of Besborough.

This is a fine head of the satirical dean. What an undaunted eye he has; and what a face, full of shrewd humour! There is a look in this portrait, not unlike the glance of Sir Walter Scott, except that SWIFT has more fierte, with less, perhaps, of the curious or inquiring character than what is distinguishable in the living novelist. We think we can trace the features of "Flimnap" and "Glumdalclitch," and all the adventures of Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, in the single square inch (the face) which now lies open before us. It is a fine and complete index to the twenty-four volumes of "Swift's Works," which we see in every library in London. No owner of those books should be without it. Here are the jokes, the rebusses, the fables, the voyages, the satires, the polite conversation, the directions to the servants, the imitations, the epistles, the perverse humour, and all the quiddities which shine out like the lights of his renown; and here, too, is the manly sense, the stout argument, the caustic and bitter spirit which animated, and have given perpetual life to his more serious labours. We are not sure that other traits might not also be found, confirming certain events in his life, equally remarkable, although not so scrupulously recorded as his sentiments of his friends and enemies. We are unfeigned admirers of Swift's writings in general; but his incessant hunting after place and pension, his cruel treatment of his female friends, his coarse ribaldry, and brutal malignity, are utterly indefensible and disgusting. We have an utter aversion to his character and conduct; nor do we choose to place our approbation on record, without some intimation that we are fully sensible of his glaring defects.