Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/298

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286
A NOTE ON FORSTER'S SWIFT.

shows them to us one by one, and announces triumphantly: All the materials are here, as you see for yourselves, gentlemen, each duly numbered and authenticated; and we expect to behold a likeness, though a glaring and composite one. But at the last moment he puts them in the kaleidoscope (or kakeidoscope) of his idiosyncrasy, gives some rapid twirls and flourishes, and no mortal can guess what strange shape they shall have taken when finally settled for exhibition. In contemplating, not without bewilderment, his portrait of Swift, one cannot help muttering: This is really very fine in the way of the dreadful, my rhetorical lord; but if we could only have, to hang beside it, Swift's portrait of you!

Though, his parents being thoroughly English, Swift was in no sense Irish save by accident of birth-place and the mockery of fortune which banished him to Ireland for the last thirty years of his life, the warm-hearted Irish have never ceased to love and revere the memory of the Dean, who was not only a model of sagacious private charity, but who championed the cause of their then oppressed and outraged country with a courage and constancy equalled by few, with a power and effect equalled by none, for no one else has approached him in massiveness and energy of genius. The English generally, like Dr. Johnson, have done him no kind of justice because of too little liking for him. It is doubtful whether they even read him. The children, of course, delight in the fabulous marvels of Gulliver, but the grown-up people care not to study its lessons. At first I was tempted to blame Mr. Forster for occupying space in a book like this, not intended for the uneducated vulgar, with accounts of such classics as the Battle of the Books and the Tale of a Tub. But on reflection it seemed highly probable that Mr. Forster was much better acquainted than myself with the public of