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Jonathan Swift was born in 1667, on the 30th of November.  His father was a Jonathan Swift, sixth of the ten sons of the Rev. Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, near Ross, in Herefordshire, who had married Elizabeth Dryden, niece to the poet Dryden’s grandfather.  Jonathan Swift married, at Leicester, Abigail Erick, or Herrick, who was of the family that had given to England Robert Herrick, the poet.  As their eldest brother,... more...

PRELUDE AN ANGLER'S WISH IN TOWN When tulips bloom in Union Square,And timid breaths of vernal airAre wandering down the dusty town,Like children lost in Vanity Fair;When every long, unlovely rowOf westward houses stands aglowAnd leads the eyes toward sunset skies,Beyond the hills where green trees grow;Then weary is the street parade,And weary books, and weary trade:I'm only wishing to go a-fishing;For this the month of May was made. I guess... more...

THE COLOUR OF LIFE Red has been praised for its nobility as the colour of life.  But the true colour of life is not red.  Red is the colour of violence, or of life broken open, edited, and published.  Or if red is indeed the colour of life, it is so only on condition that it is not seen.  Once fully visible, red is the colour of life violated, and in the act of betrayal and of waste.  Red is the secret of life, and not... more...

HOW THEY STRUCK A CONTEMPORARY There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to make it too true, and The Black Arrow is so inartistic as not to contain a single anachronism to boast of, while the transformation of Dr. Jekyll reads dangerously like an experiment out of the Lancet.  As for Mr. Rider Haggard, who really has, or had once, the makings of a perfectly magnificent liar, he is now so afraid of being suspected of... more...

THAT WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE OF OUR HAPPINESSE UNTILL AFTER OUR DEATH      scilicet ultima semper     Expectanda dies homini est, dicique beatus     Ante obitum nemo, supremaque funera debat.     [Footnote: Ovid. Met. 1, iii. 135.]      We must expect of man the latest day,     Nor ere he die, he's... more...


To the Rev. J. Jowett Willow Lane, St. Giles, Norwich,Feb. 10th, 1833. Revd. and dear Sir,—I have just received your communication, and notwithstanding it is Sunday morning, and the bells with their loud and clear voices are calling me to church, I have sat down to answer it by return of post.  It is scarcely necessary for me to say that I was rejoiced to see the Chrestomathie Mandchou, which will be of no slight assistance in... more...

As I sit by my Christmas fire I now and then give it a poke with a bayonet. It is an old-fashioned British bayonet which has seen worse days. I picked it up in a little shop in Birmingham for two shillings. I was attracted to it as I am to all reformed characters. The hardened old sinner, having had enough of war, was a candidate for a peaceful position. I was glad to have a hand in his reformation. To transform a sword into a pruning hook is a... more...

There existed formerly, in diplomatic circles, a curious custom, since fallen into disuse, entitled the Pêle Mêle, contrived doubtless by some distracted Master of Ceremonies to quell the endless jealousies and quarrels for precedence between courtiers and diplomatists of contending pretensions.  Under this rule no rank was recognized, each person being allowed at banquet, fête, or other public ceremony only such place as... more...

MY DEAR COLVIN, - As I rode down last night about six, I saw a sight I must try to tell you of. In front of me, right over the top of the forest into which I was descending was a vast cloud. The front of it accurately represented the somewhat rugged, long-nosed, and beetle-browed profile of a man, crowned by a huge Kalmuck cap; the flesh part was of a heavenly pink, the cap, the moustache, the eyebrows were of a bluish gray; to see this with its... more...

CHAPTER I SOME FACTS IN NATURE If I were asked what, in my opinion, distinguishes the thought of the present day from that of a previous generation, I should feel inclined to say, it is the fact that people are beginning to realize that Thought is a power in itself, one of the great forces of the Universe, and ultimately the greatest of forces, directing all the others. This idea seems to be, as the French say, "in the air," and this very well... more...