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each other's houses, and were united by the name of Brother.
Being not immediately considered as an obdurate Tory, he conversed indiscriminately with all the wits, and was yet the friend of Steele; who, in the Tatler, which began in 1710, confesses the advantages of his conversation, and mentions something contributed by him to his paper.
But he was now immerging into political controversy; for the same year produced the Examiner, of which Swift wrote thirty-three papers. In argument he may be allowed to have the ada vantage; for where a wide system of conduct, and the whole of a publick character, is laid open to enquiry, the accufer having the choice of facts, must be very unskilful if he does not prevail; but with regard to wit, I am afraid none of Swift's papers will be found equal to those by which Addison opposed him.
Early in the next year he published a Proposal for correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English Tongue, in a Letter to the Earl of Oxford ; written without much
knowledge of the general nature of language, and without any accurate enquiry into the history of other tongues. The certainty and stability which, contrary to all experience, he thinks attainable, he proposes to secure by instituting an academy; the decrees of which every man would have been willing, and many would have been proud to disobey, and which, being renewed by successive elections, would in a short time have differed from itself.
He wrote the same year a Letter to the Öctober Club, a number of Tory Gentlemen sent from the country to Parliament, who formed themselves into a club, to the number of about a hundred, and met to animate the zeal and raise the expectations of each other. They thought, with great reason, that the Ministers were losing opportunities; that sufficient use was not made of the general ardour of the nation ; they called loudly for more changes, and stronger efforts ; and demanded the punishment of part, and the dismission of the rest, of those whom they considered as publick robbers.
Their eagerness was not gratified by the Queen, or by Harley. The Queen was probably flow because she was afraid, and Harley was flow because he was doubtful; -he was a tory only by necessity, or for convenience; and when he had power in his hands, had no settled purpose for which he should employ it; forced to gratify to a certain degree the Tories who supported him, but unwilling to make his reconcilement to the Whigs utterly desperate, he corresponded at once with the fwo expectants of the Crown, and kept, as has been observed, the succession ündetermined. Not knowing what to do, he did nothing; and with the fate of a doubledealer, at last he lost his power, but kept his enemies.
Swift seems to have concurred in opinion with the Oxtober. Club; but it was not in his power to quicken the tardiness of Harley, whom he stimulated as much as he could, but with little effect. He that knows not whither to go, is in no haste to move. Harley, who was perhaps not quick by nature, became yet more slow by irresolution; and was content to hear that dilatoriness lamented as na
tural, which he applauded in himself as politick.
Without the Tories, however, nothing could be done; and as they were not to be gratified, they must be appeased; and the conduct of the Minister, if it could not be vindicated, was to be plausibly excused.
Swift now attained the zenith of his political importance: he published (1712) the Conduct of the Allies, ten days before the Parliament assembled. The purpose was to persuade the nation to a peace, and never had any writer more success. The people, who had been amused with bonfires and triumphal processions, and looked with idolatry on the General and his friends, who, as they thought, had made England the arbitress of nations, were confounded between shame and rage, when they found that mines had been exhausted, and millions destroyed, to secure the Dutch or aggrandize the emperor,
advantage to ourselves; that we had been bribing our neighbours to fight their own quarrel; and that amongst our enemies we might number our allies.
That is now no longer doubted, of which the nation was then first informed, that the war was unnecessarily protracted to fill the pockets of Marlborough ; and that it would have been continued without end, if he could have continued his annual plunder. But Swift, I suppose, did not yet know what he has since written, that a commission was drawn which would have appointed him General for life, had it not become ineffectual by the resolution of Lord Cowper, who refused the seal.
Whatever is received, say the schools, is received in proportion to the recipient. The power of a political treatise depends much upon
the disposition of the people; the nation was then combustible, and a spark set it on fire. It is boasted, that between November and January eleven thousand were sold ; a great number at that time, when we were not yet a nation of readers. To its propagation certainly no agency of power or influence was wanting. It furnished arguments for conversation, speeches for debate, and materials for parliamentary resolutions. VOL. III.