The Conjured Spirit, Swift: A Study in the Relationship of Swift, Stella, and Vanessa

The Conjured Spirit, Swift: A Study in the Relationship of Swift, Stella, and Vanessa

The Conjured Spirit, Swift: A Study in the Relationship of Swift, Stella, and Vanessa

The Conjured Spirit, Swift: A Study in the Relationship of Swift, Stella, and Vanessa

Excerpt

In September, 1710, Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity, then forty-three years of age, climbed the stairs of his London lodgings. Weary with seven days' travelling, two of which had been spent in crossing the Irish sea and five in lurching and swaying on the springless seat of a coach which had borne him from Chester, tired out with visiting his circle of the great--a task which had occupied him immediately on arrival, he mounted gladly to his room and bade his servant Patrick--(that 'dog Patrick', that 'rascal Patrick', that 'booby', 'puppy' and 'extravagant whelp')--lay out his clothes for the night, light some candles, and take himself off to bed.

But what did Patrick's master do? He did not go to bed. Restless with the lack of exercise to which he was accustomed, he sat down to write a letter, not to the Lord Treasurer, Sydney, Earl of Godolphin, with whom he had business; not to my Lady Giffard, sister of his former patron, whose animosity it were best to dispel; nor to the Duke of Ormonde, whom he planned to visit; but to a woman, left behind in Ireland, whom he loved as much as he dared love any woman.

With ear half-cocked for the voice of the bellman who will carry his letter for him, he dips his quill in the ink (which Patrick with irritating forgetfulness locks up) and writes line after line--a mixture of cold statements, hot emotional outbursts, business details, gossip, tenderness, and studied reserve.

The political world is in a state of ferment, seething like a great cauldron on the point of boiling:

"Everything is turning upside down; every Whig in great office will, to a man, be infallibly put out; and we shall have such a winter as hath not been seen in England."

A hint of nostalgia creeps in to the letter, a longing for his . . .

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