quite true, and that there are such moons, though
their times of revolution may be a little different, and
they have been discovered through the great telescope
What if the other reports which Gulliver made
should some day prove to be true ! What if we should
find somewhere in the interior of Africa queer little
people like Liliputians, or great monsters of men like
those of Brobdingnag !
Though these last were monstrous in size, they were
excellent, quiet people. Gulliver had a great many long
talks with their King, who had a strong liking for this
' little traveller, and led him on to tell all about the gov-
ernment and usages of the country from which he had
sailed. He thought Mr. Gulliver did a wise thing in
sailing away from it. For when he heard of the bicker-
ing, and wars, and bribery, and cheating, and prisons,
which were common in England, he thought the people
must be " contemptible little vermin," and said so plainly
to Mr. Gulliver.
Mr. Gulliver does not seem to have been offended, or
106 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
at least he did not resent this plain talking ; and when
he told the King further, that in his country men were
used to making great tubes of metal (as large as his
majesty's tooth-pick), and filled them with a black powder
and hot shot, and then fired them off with a terrible
explosion, so as to kill and maim as many men as possi-
ble at one blast the big King was horrified. And,
when one thinks of it closely, it does seem horrible.
Gulliver told the King, one day, in the course of a con-
versation, which he held by sitting upon a chair placed
on a cabinet, and the cabinet on a table, all which
brought Mr. Gulliver about on a level with the King's
ear, who kindly took a low seat, I say Gulliver told
the King that in his country meaning England
there were a thousand works published on the art of
government. The big King said only, "Pooh! pooh!"
but afterward gave it as his opinion that "whoever
could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to
grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before,
would deserve better of mankind, and do more service to
his country, than the whole race of politicians put
A good many orators have said the same thing since ;
but the King of Brobdingnag said it first.
Of course Mr. Gulliver must have found it very awk
ward in getting about in houses where the steps were all
five feet high, and where the level of the seats was six-
teen feet above the floor. The flies, too, were as large
as robins, and came buzzing frightfully about his ears.
He had a very narrow escape, also, from a couple of
rats ; when his great presence of mind alone saved him
It happened in this wise. He had been left asleep on
a bedstead twenty feet from the floor, in a chamber
which was about three hundred feet wide by five hundred
feet long, and high in proportion. Waking up suddenly,
he saw two enormous beasts, as large as large mastiffs,
but with the whiskers and tails of rats, tramping toward
him. One seized him by the collar, and had nearly
throttled him, when he managed to draw out the short
sword which he always wore, and with it he pierced the
Gulliver Kills a Rat.
monster rat through the body. The other ran away
frightened, but not until the traveller had given him two
or three good thwacks with his weapon.
He was, however, very limp and exhausted after this
battle as you observe in this picture of him.
Fortunately, Mr. Gulliver kept a journal, or else wrote
108 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
out the account of his travels and of his adventures
when they were fresh in his mind. But his friend Mr.
Sympson, of whom I spoke in the beginning, did not
cause his travels to be printed until a good many years
after. Why, I'm sure I don't know. When they were
printed, people in England were very much astonished ;
and some curious ones went so far as to go down into
Nottinghamshire to have an interview with Mr. Gulliver.
But, bless you, he wasn't there. He was not anywhere,
the Nottingham people said. And some went so far as
to say there was no Mr. Sympson.
Who then ?
Who ^as Gulliver ?
There can't be travels unless there's a traveller,
that's certain. If Mr. Gulliver didn't bring away those
small cattle in his pocket from Blefuscu, which Capt.
Biddel saw, and Capt. Biddel's mate saw, where did
he bring them from ? or if Mr. Gulliver didn't fetch them
himself, who did ?
Everybody asked, and for a good while nobody knew.
At last it all came out. There was no Gulliver, and
there was no Sympson, only Dean Swift, a queer sort
of Irish clergyman, who saw in his own library every
thing that Gulliver professed to have seen. And this
Dean Swift was as strange a creature as any that Mr.
He was a child of English parents, though he was
born in Ireland, and lived most of his life in Ireland.
Sir William Temple had married a relative of Swift's
mother, and therefore he was befriended by Sir William
GULLIVER SWIFT. 109
Temple, and through him came to know a great many
distinguished people of England, the King among the
rest. He had a university education, and a powerful
and acute mind, and enormous ambition. These things
would have made him a distinguished man, even if he
had never known Sir William Temple and never known
But he was an utterly selfish man ; and though he was
admired by thousands, he was loved by very few.
That queer story of Gulliver, I have told you of, was
written by him, not so much to amuse his readers as
to ridicule the people he had met about the court of
Eng-land. He loved dearly to ridicule people whom he
disliked ; and I think he disliked nearly the whole human
He wanted to be a Bishop ; but Archbishop Sharp
told the Queen that he was unfit to be a Bishop ; and I
think Sharp was right. A man who is doing his best
only when he is saying (or writing) harsh, witty things of
other people, is not the man for Bishop, or clergyman
And yet so strange a creature was this Dean Swift
he did, at one time, make himself respected and held
in good esteem as a parish priest. Not such a man, we
may be sure, as the excellent Dr. Primrose ; but he filled
up the measure of his duties with a sturdy zeal, and for
the poor or those who were beneath him in position, he
never had bitter words. He gave in charity too, but
often with such look of scorn as made it hard to accept
his gifts. At the last, too, to do him justice, he left
a large sum to endow a hospital for lunatics ; and if he
could have had his way, and had possessed money
1 10 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
enough, I think he would have clapped half the world
into such an asylum. A very great man, to be sure
as his writings and his influence show; but a soured
man ; with good instincts sometimes struggling up to
light ; and sometimes amazing people by sudden explo-
sions of generosity; but yet all through his life, mak-
ing ten men hate and fear him, where he made one love
It must be said that his boyhood was a hard one : he
had no father to direct or win him ; he was poor ; he
only gained his education by the charity of an uncle
whom he never loved, and of whom, in his savage way,
he always spoke scornfully ; he quarrelled with his
teachers. His only sister married badly, and he never
forgave her for it ; and, though he came afterward to
give support to her family, he did it grudgingly. He
quarrelled with Sir William Temple, who was one of the
gentlest and most amiable of men ; and when he came,
by his splendid talents, to be associated with the first
men in England, there were few of them in political
life with whom he did not sooner or later find himself at
He lived when Pope lived, and Gay and Bolingbroke
and Steele and Defoe, the author of " Robinson Crusoe."
But I think he never knew this last, and I dare say
thought of him as a tile-maker and a quack. Yet there
can be no doubt that he read " Robinson Crusoe," which
was published only five or six years before Gulliver's
travels ; and the minute careful descriptions in this last
remind one very much of the pains-taking descriptions
in the voyages of Crusoe.
Dean Swift's Love.
Of domestic comforts Swift knew very little, and per-
haps cared little. In his early life he had met Esther
Johnson, a charming young person, who was living under
the guardianship of Sir William Temple. Under his
direction he became her tutor ; he admired her quick-
ness ; perhaps he admired her beauty : certain it is that
he so won upon her that she gave her heart and faith to
him wholly. She was that " Stella" whom all the world
came to know through his poems.
When he went to take a parish in Ireland, she fol-
112 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
lowed with an elderly lady friend, and took a cottage
near to his parsonage. There she lived for years
people wondering at this strange friendship ; she, poor
girl, believing her idol, the great Dean, could do nothing
wrong. In later life he did indeed marry her privately,
but she never came to make glad any home of his ; nor
would he though she entreated it again and again
ever publicly acknowledge the marriage. Beside her
death-bed he did relent ; but poor Esther Johnson said
it was too late ; and she died with a blighted name, and
This was bad enough : but more remains to be told.
At the very time when "Stella" was receiving fond
letters from this strange Dean when he never went to
England without declaring to her how hard it was to be
away when he was writing fierce political pamphlets,
and pushing intrigues at Court ; he was writing letters
quite as fond as those to " Stella " to a wealthy and
beautiful Miss Van-homrig, who is known as the " Va-
nessa" of some of his best verses. She was highly
educated ; she admired the Dean ; they read together :
their intimacy was such that all who knew of it believed
that he wished and intended to make her his wife. She
was led to believe this too : she never doubted Dr. Swift
not even when rumors came to her ear of the true
story of "Stella." But, finding out with her woman's
wit the real name of " Stella," she wrote to her a letter,
asking what claim she had to the protection and love of
It was after the private marriage; and "Stella" told
all, and sent "Vanessa's" letter to the Dean. Fast as
horses would carry him the Dean rode away to that
GULLIVER SWIFT. 113
beautiful home of Miss Van-homrig, where he had met
such kindly greetings where over and over they two
had read poetry together under the shade of the laurel
boughs, laurels of ''Vanessa's" own planting, and all
planted in honor of the Dean he did not now slacken
pace until he was at the door ; he passed into the room
where the poor, shrinking, frightened Vanessa waited
her fate. He threw her letter wide open upon the table,
and with an oath of defiance turned upon his heel, and
strode out of the house, never to enter it again.
She, poor woman, whose heart had gone out to his,
bowed underneath this blast of his fury. Three weeks
after this, they buried her the victim of Dean Swift's
rage and double dealing.
Do you think this was the sort of a man to make a
clergyman of ? And yet he could so impose on men of
eminence, that the great Addison wrote on the fly-leaf
of a little book which he gave him, "To Dr. Jonathan
Swift ; the most agreeable companion, the truest friend,
and the greatest genius of his age."
Certainly he was a rare genius. No other English
writer has ever put words together in a way which shows
more surely and more sharply his real meaning; and
none ever put more meaning into his words. If he
were only less coarse and less indecent, for he is often
both, no better model for strong, clear writing could
be given you. As it is, I would advise only the reading
of the Liliput voyage of Gulliver.
And what old age do you think befell this great man ?
No calm, no peace in it ; no quietude of home ; no chil-
dren ever fondled him. He grew so petulant and irrita-
ble, that no one wanted to live in the same house with
ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
him. Then came moodiness and melancholy. For a
year he said never a word to any one. At last that
great mind of his which was joined to no heart at all
broke down, and went out. Yet still he lingered ; he
ate ; he slept ; he paced his chamber knowing nothing
saying nothing that was worth saying ; and only hired
keepers were with him at his death.
If he were alive to-day, and at his best, we might like
to have him make our dictionaries for us, or go to
Washington for us; but of a certainty knowing him
as we do we should never want him to preach Chris-
tianity for us, or to sit down with us at our firesides.
A Brobdingnag Book.
AN IRISH STORY-TELLER.
Who was She?
DID you ever hear of Gretna-Green, and of Gretna-
Green marriages ?
Gretna is a small place in Scotland, only a little way
over the English border, as you go from Carlisle to
Dumfries ; and it used to be famous as a place for run-
away couples to go and be married a thing that it was
much easier to do, without consent of relatives, under
the Scotch law, than under the English law.
Well, in the year 1763 the year when poor Gold-
smith was getting into trouble with his landlady, and
had the "Vicar of Wakefield " still in his drawer
there drove up to the inn at Gretna a fine carriage with
a young gentleman in it, hardly nineteen years old, who
was an Oxford student ; and he brought with him a
young girl only seventeen ; and these runaways were
married there by the blacksmith of the village, who
was also justice of the peace.
I suppose the parents were indignant ; but I think
Il6 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
they forgave them afterward. The young wife lived
only a few years ; but she left to her husband two
children. The oldest, a boy, was brought up in a very
strange way, yet a way which had been commended
by a French philosopher, Rousseau (who never had a
child that he cared for). This young Oxford man was
at this time a great admirer of Rousseau : so his boy
did what he chose to do, and nothing that he did not
choose. He was never punished ; wore no clothing
beyond what decency required ; and grew up, as any-
body might expect, a strong, active, ungovernable, bare-
armed and bare-legged young savage. He took a strong
liking for the sea, just when his father would have been
glad to keep him on land ; and to sea he went ; and at
sea he kept until in after days he went to America,
married there, and settled near to Georgetown in South
Carolina, where, it is said, some of his descendants still
The second child of this runaway match was a
daughter, who grew up to be one of the best-known
women in all Europe ; and her name if you have not
guessed it already was Maria Edgeworth.
Her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth, married
again ; in fact, he married a third and a fourth wife
before he was sixty ; and he had a great company of
children, who lived with him in a huge country house
near to Longford in the centre of Ireland. Here Maria
Edgeworth went, when she was only four years old ; here
she grew into such love for Ireland and the Irish, that
she called herself an Irishwoman, and was proud to be
so called ; and here she wrote those stories which were
the delight of all young people forty years ago, and
AN IRISH STORY-TELLER. 1 1/
those novels which were the delight of all the grown
people of her time. You never heard of them ? Well,
well ! Yet it is not so very long ago that she was alive
there, a good, kindly old lady ; and her stepmother
the latest wife of Richard Edgeworth died only the
other day (1864).
It is quite too soon to forget good Miss Edgeworth
and her books. Why, in my school-days, the fellow who
had not read " Eton Monteni," and " Forrester," and
"Waste not, Want not," was not counted much of a
reader. There were long words in them, and some
prosiness, maybe (Dr. Johnson, who set the example
of long words, was the great man in her young days, you
must remember) ; but there was a good plot in her
stories, and a good winding-up. You couldn't tell now,
if you were to read one of her books, what church she
attended, or what party she voted with ; but you could
find, scattered up and down, such talk as would show
that honesty and common sense and good manners and
good morals and all charities were always venerated by
her, and always taught by her.
I don't think I shall forget to the last day of my life,
the long white Chalk-Hill near to Dunstable, where
Paul and his little sister "scotched" the wheels of the
chaises that went toiling up, so that the horses might
take a breathing-spell. The story was in the "Parents'
Assistant ; " and there was a quaint old cut showing
Paul with his " scotcher," and sister Anne, and the old
grandmother talking over the guinea which had been
given the children by accident.
Il8 , ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
Would he keep it? would he return it? Of course
we knew how it would be ; and the sturdy honesty and
pluck of the lad as he went bustling through the inn-
yard at Dunstable was more refreshing than the eighth
commandment repeated ten times over.
Some of us made "scotchers," to look like Paul's, out
of blocks and broom-handles ; but there were no chaise-
wheels and no long chalk-hills to help us out ; and no
AN IRISH STORY-TELLLER. 1 19
guineas dropped into our hats by accident or otherwise.
If there had been, I think we should have caught all
the same the infection of good Miss Edgeworth's
straightforward honesty. Healthy, cheery, unhesitat-
ing honesty is always catching.
The fact is, that homely old truths, which nobody in
his senses ever thought of disputing, lie at the bottom
of most of Miss Edgeworth's pleasant stories, and put
their color on them from beginning to end.
She doesn't take the sly way of covering up a moral
pill in a spoonful of jelly so that a boy shall bolt it
without knowing it ; nor does she tie the lesson she
wants to teach upon the end of her stories like a
snapper ; but it runs all through them, and is so strong
and sound and good that every boy's common sense
makes him stand up stoutly for her little heroes.
Take that old tale of " Waste not, Want not." Mr.
Meacham is a shrewd, practical, kindly-disposed man,
who having no sons of his own has taken a couple
of nephews to bring up and care for.
Hal is free and easy ; and has been brought up to
have a great respect for people with a great trail
whether of titles or of silk. How the boy does wor-
ship Lady Diana Sweepstakes and her sons !
Ben, the other nephew, is thoughtful, quiet, careful,
plodding, and doesn't think of running after boys be-
cause they are Lady Diana's sons.
Mr. Meacham wanting to test the working ways of
his two nephews gives to each a big parcel to undo.
Hal goes daintily about his task, puzzles over the
knots, gets petulant, whips out his knife, and cuts
all clean. Ben sets himself sturdily to a careful unty-
120 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
ing of the fastenings, and saves a good bit. of whipcord.
Next day Mr. Meacham gives each of them a top but
without strings. Ben, by his steady care of yesterday,
is provided with a capital one. Hal in a gust of per-
plexity at last pulls off his hat-band, and uses it up.
Presently afterward, a great archery match is to come
off under the patronage of Lady Diana. Both are pro-
vided with bows and arrows, thanks to uncle Meach-
am : and both, by a little practice, come to be good
shots. Hal wants a white and green uniform to wear
since Lady Diana's boys are to have such. Ben does
not care so much to do things because Lady Di's
boys do them ; and puts his money into a good winter
coat, that will be of service when the archery day is
Well, the time for the match comes at length. Hal is
very fine in his green and white ; but it is something
cold and windy ; and his hat for want of that band
which went to top-spinning some days before goes
spinning over a ploughed field, where Hal must needs
follow, and comes back with his green and white uni-
form woefully draggled and besmeared with red mud.
He could bear this better if he did not catch a sneering
look from Lady Diana and Lady Diana's boys : those
who worship fashion must take fashion's snee r s. How-
ever, he stands up bravely to the shooting. The Sweep-
stakes boys have made good ventures ; Hal does fairly
at the first two shots (they have three each) ; but at
the third twang ! goes his bow-string, hopelessly
Ben shoots as well ; is mighty comfortable, too, in his
snug linsey-woolsey coat ; but it could not bar him
AN IRISH STORY-TELLER. 121
against accident. His bow-string gives out at the sec-
ond shot. Ben is not flustered one jot : he pulls out
that bit of whipcord which he had saved from his par-
cel-fastening, and which had done service with his top,
adjusts it to his bow, takes new aim, and with two
capital shots one after the other wins the match.
I suspect that little experience as recorded in the
" Parents' Assistant " has led to the saving of a great
deal of whipcord first and last : and I suspect it has
lessened the eagerness with which some boys even
American boys will go hunting after familiarity with
the showy Lady Dianas and the Lady Diana's sons.
Miss Edgeworth did not believe in fustian.
Then there was that jolly story as we easily thought
it of the "Limerick Gloves." What a pig-headed
British obstinacy in the old verger Jonathan Hill, with
his "What I say, I say; and what I think, I think."
We had seen such people, though they did not wear
wigs like the verger of Hereford. There was the stout
wife too, who set him upon the hunt for unreal troubles,
and carried her head so high ; and the pretty Phoebe,
with the bang in her hair, looking demure, but very
constant in thinking well of Mr. Brian O'Neill, whatever
papa might do or say.
It looked as if there were a great Popish plot to come
out in the story, and as if the Hereford Cathedral were
to be blown up ; but it ends in a scare about a mere rat-
hole under the church wall, and in the pretty Phoebe
wearing her Limerick gloves ; and " no perfume ever
was so delightful to her lover" (who was Brian O'Neill)
"as the smell of the rose-leaves in which they had been
kept." The moral of the tale is, we have no right
122 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
to suspect people of roguery and arson because they do
not sing out of our hymn-book.
I have no doubt Phoebe and O'Neill married ; but
Miss Edgeworth doesn't say so. In fact, few of her
stories are love-stories in the ordinary sense. She
never married herself ; and I dare say saw no reason
why a story like a life might not be a good one
without being rounded off with a marriage.
Nearly all of her stories were written in that old
country-house in Ireland. There was almost always a
troop of children in it, as I have said, whom she loved,
and who loved her. The father, too, was a companion
and a helper in all her work ; for he had bravely given
over all the wild courses of his younger days, and was
one of the best of landlords ; seeking always for means
to help on his work-people, and so knitting their inter-
ests with his own, that in the rebellion of 1798, when
so many brave young Irishmen went to the scaffold, and
AN IRISH STORY-TELLER.
so many homes were desolated, the Edgeworth house
(though they were obliged to leave it for a time, in the
madness of the outbreak) was wholly unharmed. Even
the pens and papers upon Miss Edgeworth's table were
found, at their return, precisely as she had left them.
An avenue of gaunt old trees leads up to the mansion
from the high road ; and the library windows look out
upon lawn and garden, which were always in the old
time carefully kept. And it is a wonderful thing, and
worth the telling that this good lady authoress never
had her " moods " never neglected commonest every-
day duties, and actually did her book-making work sur-
rounded by the family, with only such retirement as
she could gain by placing her quaint little writing-table
(still preserved) in a corner of the great library, which
was also the common sitting-room.
124 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
But it was an orderly and a cheery household. Mr.
Edgeworth writes to Dr. Darwin in 1796 " I do not
think one tear a month is shed in this house, nor the
voice of reproof heard." The son who had been bred