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of a rotten house at Rathfarnham, the worst air in Ireland, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, at twelve pounds a-year; the land, which was only a strip of ground, not being worth twenty shillings a-year. When the same person whom he lampooned heard the thing, he begged Solomon to get a clause to surrender, and at last prevailed to have it done after twenty-one years ; because it was a madness to pay eleven pounds a-year, for a thousand years, for a house that could not last twenty. But Solomon made an agreement with his landlady, that he should be at liberty to surrender his lease in seven years; and if he did not do it at that time, should be obliged to keep it for nine hundred and ninety-nine years. In the meantime, he expends about one hundred pounds on the house and garden-wall; and in less than three years, contracts such a hatred to the house, that he lets it run to ruin: so that, when the seven years were expired, he must either take it for the remainder of the nine hundred and ninety-nine years, or be sued for waste, and lose all the money he laid out: and now he pays twelve pounds a-year for a place he
Solomon has an estate of about thirty-five pounds per annum, in the county of Cavan; upon which, instead of ever receiving one penny rent, he hath expended above thirty pounds per annum in buildings and plantations, which are all gone to ruin.
Solomon is under-tenant to a bishop's lease ;* he is bound by articles to his lordship to renew and pay a fine, whenever the bishop renews with his landlord, and to raise his rent as the landlord shall raise it to the bishop. Seven years expire: Solomon's landlord demands a fine, which he readily pays; then asks for a lease : the landlord says,
* It would be unjust to suppress the manner in which Sheridan became possessed of this valuable property.
It had its rise in his memorable text on King George's birth-day.
“ But though, as Swift expresses it, the Doctor had thus, by mere chance-medley, shot his own fortune dead with a single text, yet it was the mean of his receiving a considerable addition to his fortune, of more intrinsic value than the largest benefice he might have reason to expect. As this proceeded from an act of uncommon generosity, it deserves well to be recorded. Archdeacon Russel, in whose pulpit the sermon was preached, considered himself as instrumental, however accidentally, to the ruin of the Doctor's expectations. He was for some time uneasy in his mind on this account, and at last determined to make him a noble compensation, He had a great friendship for the Doctor, whom he saw loaded with a numerous offspring, upon a precarious income, while he himself was possessed of a considerable property, and without any family. Urged on by those nice scruples in his mind before mentioned, he thought he could not make a better use of his fortune, than to apply the superfluity of it towards making the Doctor easy in his circumstances, and thus enabling him to make a provision for his children. With this view, he took a journey to Dublin, in order to make over to him, by an irrevocable deed of gift, the valuable manor of Drumlane, in the county of Cavan, a bishop's lease, which at that time produced a clear profit rent of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum. An act of such liberality, and seldom to be paralleled in this degenerate and selfish age, deserves well to be rescued from oblivion ; nor could the author of these memoirs, without ingratitude, pass it over." -Sheridan's Life of Swift.
“ He may have it at any time.” He never gets it. Another seven years elapse : Solomon's landlord demands another fine, and an additional rent: Solomon pays both, asks to have his lease renewed: the steward answers, “ He will speak to his master.” Seventeen years have elapsed; the landlord sends Solomon word, " That his lease is forfeited, because he hath not renewed and paid his fines according to articles ;" and now they are at law, upon this admirable case.
It is Solomon's great happiness, that, when he acts in the common concerns of life against common sense and reason, he values himself thereupon, as if it were the mark of great genius, above little regards or arts, and that his thoughts are too exalted to descend into the knowledge of vulgar management; and you cannot make him a greater compliment than by telling instances to the company, before his face, how careless he was in any affair that related to his interest and fortune.
He is extremely proud and captious, apt to resent as an affront and indignity what was never intended for either. *
He is allured as easily by every new acquaintance, especially among women, as a child is by a new plaything; and is led at will by them to suspect and quarrel with his best friends, of whom he hath lost the greatest part, for want of that indulgence which they ought to allow for his failings.
He is a generous, honest, good-natured man ; but his perpetual want of judgment and discretion, makes him act as if he were neither generous, honest, nor goodnatured.
The person above-mentioned, whom he lampooned, and to whom he owes preferment, being in the country and out of order, Solomon had appointed to come for him with a chaise, and bring him to town. Solomon
* Swift was as likely as most men to exercise a temper, such as is here described. His long intimacy with Sheridan, is a pretty good proof that his description was overcharged.
sent him word that he was to set out on Monday, and did accordingly, but to another part of the kingdom, thirty miles wide of the place appointed, in compliment to a lady who was going that way; there staid, with her and her family, a month ; then sent the chaise, in the midst of winter, to bring the said person where Solomon would meet him, declaring he could not venture himself for fear of the frost: and, upon the said person's refusing to go in the chaise alone, or to trust to Solomon's appointment, and being in ill health, Solomon fell into a formal quarrel with that person, and foully misrepresented the whole affair, to justify himself.
Solomon had published a humorous ballad, called Ballyspellin,” whither he had gone to drink the waters, with a new favourite lady. The ballad was in the manner of Mr Gay's on Molly Mogg, pretending to contain all the rhymes of Ballyspellin. His friend, the person so often mentioned, being at a gentleman's house in the neighbourhood, and merry over Solomon's ballad, they agreed to make another, in dispraise of Ballyspellin Wells, which Solomon had celebrated, and with all new rhymes not made use of in Solomon's. The thing was done, and all in a mere jest and innocent merriment. Yet Solomon was prevailed upon, by the lady he went with, to resent this as an affront on her and himself; which he did aecordingly, against all the rules of reason, taste, good nature, judgment, gratitude, or common manners. *
He will invite six or more people of condition to dine with him on a certain day, some of them living five or
* Those who choose to compare the ballads, will admit that both Sheridan and the lady had cause of complaint.
six miles from town. On the day appointed, he will be absent, and know nothing of the matter, and they all go back disappointed : when he is told of this, he is pleased, because it shews him to be a genius and a man of learning
Having lain many years under the obloquy of a High Tory and Jacobite, upon the present Queen's birth-day he writ a song, to be performed before the government and those who attended them, in praise of the Queen and King, on the common topics of her beauty, wit, family, love of England, and all other virtues, wherein the King and the royal children were sharers. It was very hard to avoid the common topics. A young collegian, who had done the same job the year before, got some reputation on account of his wit. Solomon would needs vie with him, by which he lost all the esteem of his old friends the Tories, and got not the least interest with the Whigs; for they are now too strong to want advocates of that kind; and therefore one of the lords justices, reading the verses in some company, said,
Ah, Doctor! this shall not do." His name was at length in the title-page; and he did this without the knowledge or advice of one living soul, as he himself confesseth.
His full conviction of having acted wrong in an hundred instances, leaves him as positive in the next instance, as if he had never been mistaken in his life; and if you go to him the next day, and find him convinced in the last, he hath another instance ready, wherein he is as positive as he was the day before.