Satire and Satirists; Six Lectures

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9781230359687: Satire and Satirists; Six Lectures
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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1854 edition. Excerpt: ... lecture iv. swift, pope, churchill. Jonathan Swift, the famous Dean of St. Patrick's, has left among his numerous volumes such a mass of Satire, and his whole attitude towards the world was so essentially that of a satirist, that he fairly comes within the province which I have selected to make an excursion in. He is such a huge figure in our literature, and his personal story is so strange, so interesting, and so awful, that generation after generation of men gather round his monument with wonder, and try to understand the meaning of it;--as they gather round a pyramid, and speculate on the moral phenomena which produced it. Compared with Swift's life, the lives of his contemporaries are commonplace, and their characters to be read off at first sight. A pious-minded, semi-conventional essayist, with a fine sheen of humour playing over him,--here is his friend Addison; Pope is not such a very difficult man to understand; and Bolingbroke is still easier:--but Swift is a portentous figure. We just begin, I think, to comprehend and to judge of him fairly, when we admit that he is altogether the most unfortunate man of genius in the history of England. That history is not without several instances of men of genius who have suffered from misfortune. Mere poverty is only bitter in so far as it cramps a man's abilities, and prevents his achieving what Nature has fitted him to achieve. It is bad enough; and Swift for a while had his share of it. But he had to struggle all his life under far deeper obstructions. He had giant energies, and a wretched field for them; a soul for worship, in an age of unbelief; a heart for love, yet under the ban of a mysterious destiny; and he had to fight his fight under the closest of all restrictions,--the...

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