|Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)
Satirist, was born at Dublin of English parents. Dryden was his cousin, and he also claimed kin with Herrick. He was a posthumous child, and was brought up in circumstances of extreme poverty. He was sent to school at Kilkenny, and afterwards went to Trinity College, Dublin, where he gave no evidence of ability, but displayed a turbulent and unruly temper, and only obtained a degree by "special grace."
After the Revolution he joined his mother, then resident at Leicester, by whose influence he was admitted to the household of Sir William Temple (q.v.) at Moor Park, Lady T. being her distant kinswoman. Here he acted as secretray, and having access to a well-stocked library, made good use of his opportunities, and became a close student. At Moor Park he met many distinguished men, including William III, who offered him a troop of horse; he also met Esther Johnson (Stella), a natural daughter of Sir William, who was afterwards to enter so largely into his life. Dissatisfied, apparently, that Temple did not do more for his advancement, he left his service in 1694 and returned to Ireland, where he took orders, and obtained the small living of Kilroot, near Belfast. While there he wrote his Tale of a Tub, one of the most consummate pieces of satire in any language, and The Battle of the Books.
In 1698 he threw up his living at the request of Temple, who felt the want of his society and assistance, and returned to Moor Park. On the death of his patron in 1699 he undertook by request the publication of his works, and thereafter returned to Ireland as chaplain to the Lord Deputy, the Earl of Berkeley, from whom he obtained some small preferments, including the vicarage of Laracor, and a prebend in St. Patrick's Cathedral.. In 1713 he was made Dean of St. Patrick's, the last piece of patronage which he received. Though he disliked the Irish and considered residence in Ireland as banishment, he interested himself in Irish affairs, and attained extraordinary popularity by his Drapier's Letters, directed against the introduction of "Wood's halfpence."
In 1726, he published Gulliver's Travels, his most widely and permanently popular work. His last visit to England was paid in 1727 and in the following year "Stella," the only being, probably, whom he really loved, died.
Though he had a circle of friends in Dublin, and was, owing to his championing the people in their grievances, a popular idol, the shadows were darkening around him. The fears of insanity by which he had been all his life haunted, and which may account for and perhaps partly excuse some of the least justifiable portions of his conduct, pressed more and more upon him. He became increasingly morose and savage in his misanthropy, and though he had a rally in which he produced some of his most brilliant work-the Rhapsody on Poetry, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, and the Modest Proposal (a horrible but masterly piece of irony)-he gradually sank into almost total loss of his faculities, and died on October 19, 1745.