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Swift’s Personality

  • T. G. Wilson

Abstract

There can be few historical or literary figures who have aroused more controversy or who have had more nonsense written about them than Jonathan Swift. Since his death more than two hundred years ago the comment about him has grown steadily more abusive. Dr. Johnson started the process and it has continued ever since. Thackeray’s vilification of his character in English Humourists is quite absurd. Robert Louis Stevenson likened him to ‘a kind of human goat, leaping and wagging [his] scut on mountains of offence’.1 Sir Harold Nicolson calls him ‘… a turncoat, a place seeker, and a most untruthful journalist’ and speaks of ‘his cruelty’ and of ‘the envy that turned his soul a putrid green’.2 These are hard words, but they can at least be supported by a superficial knowledge of Swift’s career. But Malcolm Muggeridge’s statement in the same national Sunday newspaper that he suffered from general paralysis of the insane, better known as G.P.I. which is a late effect of syphilis, is quite unjustifiable.3

Keywords

Sexual Immaturity Elderly Teacher Superior Petrosal Sinus General Paralysis Hard Word 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. Patrick Delany, Observations upon Lord Orrery’s Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift (1754), p. 197.Google Scholar
  2. Denis Johnston, ‘The Mysterious Origin of Dean Swift’, Dublin Historical Record, June-August 1941, p. 89.Google Scholar
  3. Louis I. Bredvold, Pope and his Contemporaries (New York, 1949), p. 2.Google Scholar
  4. Harold Williams (ed.), The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift (Oxford, 1965), vol. IV, p. 210.Google Scholar
  5. Harold Williams (ed.), Journal to Stella (Oxford, 1948), vol. I, p. 77.Google Scholar
  6. Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (London, 1905), vol. III, p. 62.Google Scholar
  7. Christopher Morris (ed.), The Journeys of Celia Fiennes, (London, 1949).Google Scholar
  8. Herbert Davis (ed.), Gulliver’s Travels (Oxford, 1941), p. 273.Google Scholar
  9. W. A. Eddy, Gulliver’s Travels: A Critical Study (Princeton and London, 1923).Google Scholar
  10. Harold Williams (ed.), The Poems of Jonathan Swift, (Oxford, 1958).Google Scholar
  11. Deane Swift, An Essay on the Life, Writings and Character of Dr. Jonathan Swift (London and Dublin, 1755), p. 277.Google Scholar
  12. Temple Scott (ed.), The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. (London, 1908), vol. XI, p 127.Google Scholar
  13. Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift the Man, his Works and the Age: vol. I. Mr, Swift and his Contemporaries (London, 1962).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. G. Wilson

There are no affiliations available

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