Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/297

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285
A NOTE ON FORSTER'S SWIFT.

sentimental "religious" nerve connecting his heart and brain, and this was terribly shocked by Swift's daring and strenuous handling of the most formidable problems presented by our religions, our life, and our world. Moreover, Thackeray's thoroughly English domestic sentiments, his English worship of home and the ordinary public strict relations of husband and wife and family, were revolted by the mysterious duplex relations of Swift with Stella and Vanessa; relations, I may observe, whose full tragic development does not come within the scope of this volume, and which in their worst entanglement it does not appear that Mr. Forster could have done much to unravel.

Macaulay, historiographer in chief to the Whigs, and the great prophet of Whiggery which never had or will have a prophet, vehemently judged that a man who could pass over from the celestial Whigs to the infernal Tories must be a traitor false as Judas, an apostate black as the Devil. In truth, Swift was never an extreme partizan of either faction, and tried to moderate both; being Whiggish in his acceptance of the Revolution, and Toryish in his Church views. However, Macaulay, who has always exquisite pleasure and conscientious satisfaction in showing that our great writers who were not steadfast Whigs were just as ignoble morally as they were noble intellectually, paints him in the most lurid colours, and gives us a very terrific portrait indeed, which has merely the disadvantage of being altogether unlike the original, or any other man known to sober history. This, by the way, is a disadvantage pretty common to Macaulay's portraits, which are not developed organically like Carlyle's, but put together in mosaic work, and on glass for the love of brilliancy; he having a fine eye for the dazzle and contrast of colours, if none for their temperance and harmony. He diligently gathers all the pieces required for his purpose,