The Uneasy Chair: Laughter, Satire and the Eighteenth Century
In January 1721, from ‘obscurity’ in Dublin, Swift composed a long letter to Pope (a letter which, according to Pope, ‘Mr. Pope never received’) designed to explain and justify his behaviour during the final period of Queen Anne’s reign, and during the first years of the new ministry after her death. He begins: ‘A Thousand things have vex’d me of late years, upon which I am determined to lay open my mind to you.’1 Among the vexations he goes on to treat are the ‘incurable breach’ between Oxford and Bolingbroke, the treatment of his ‘discourse’ on Irish manufactures by the Chief Justice, and the libels written against him by the government pamphleteers.2 He also speaks, however, of his frequent intercessions, when in a position of influence with the late ministry, in favour of his Whig friends.
KeywordsHuman Nature Eighteenth Century Good Sense Good Nature Fall Nature
- 6.Bertrand A. Goldgar, The Curse of Party: Swift’s Relations with Addison and Steele, 1961, charts in detail the growth and decline of the friendship. Chapter 2 deals with ‘Swift’s Change of Parties, 1709–1710’.Google Scholar
- 15.See especially Paul Elkin, The Augustan Defence of Satire, 1973, chapter 2, for the range of these works. A short general account of attitudes towards laughter and comedy can be found in the opening section of Ian Donaldson’s essay on ‘Drama from 1710 to 1780’ in Dryden to Johnson, ed. Roger Lonsdale, 1971, pp. 190–225.Google Scholar
- 19.See E. A. Bloom and L. D. Bloom, Satire’s Persuasive Voice, 1979, for further discussion, especially chapter 3; also Elkin for a useful and thorough bibliography.Google Scholar