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to England, where she kept him for more than three years; but she had taken good care of him, and when he was sent home he could read very well.
He was sent to school, where he learned very rapidly at first, but was afterward neglectful of his studies, and his career as a student was not very creditable to him. He associated with companions of loose habits, and was often censured by his teachers. He began to write verses and stories while at school, but always in satire, holding up his teachers and others to ridicule. He afterward became a powerful political writer, but was seldom loyal to his party or his friends.
When he received his degree of Bachelor of Arts, it was acknowledged to be by special favor and not because of his merit. Instead of an honor to him, it was a disgrace, which he seems to have deeply felt, for he shook off his idle and careless habits and became a laborious student. For seven years he devoted eight hours each day to hard study. "This part of his story," says Dr. Johnson, "well deserves to be remem
bered; as it may afford useful admonition and powerful encouragement to men whose abilities have been made for a time useless by their passions or pleasures, and who, having lost one part of life in idleness, are tempted to throw away the remainder in despair."
At the age of twenty-one, the good uncle died and Swift was left without any means of continuing his studies, or of support. But he was taken into the family of Sir William Temple, who was a distant relation to his mother, and there he had the use of a splendid library and plenty of time to use it. At first he was merely a clerk and amanuensis, but finally his scholarship and genius were recognized by his employer, who treated him as a companion, and introduced him to King William III., who was then on the throne. The king of fered him a commission in the army, but Swift had no desire to be a soldier, and the offer was declined.
Encouraged by Sir William, Swift went to Oxford, and this time fairly earned his degree, and so got his first appointment in
After the death of Sir Will iam, he made the acquaintance of other noblemen, and as he continued to write, his pen was of such service to them in politics that he was finally made a dean.
Though an able writer and a great scholar, Swift was never a good man nor a happy man. He was in bad health all his life, and always kept his birthday as a day of mourning. His ability was always directed towards ridicule and satire, except when, for preferment or pay, it suited him to praise. As a natural result, he had few friends and many enemies.
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS was written as a satire on the people against whom the author had a spite, and nearly every one of the repugnant characters whom he described among the giants or the pigmies, the learned Laputans or the filthy Yahoos, was intended to picture the follies and weaknesses of some person whom he knew. Many of these were people in high stations, and so the authorship was kept a secret. It is said that not even the publisher knew who was the writer.
There is much in the original story that is of no interest to children, and much that is unsuitable for them. But, aside from these objectionable portions, the romantic adventures of Gulliver will always have, for young readers, the attractions of a fairy tale.
The editor has faithfully preserved these attractive features and as mercilessly cut out the objectionable portions. His only excuse for taking such liberties with the author's text is that the work may with propriety be placed where it has so long been improperly classed, among books for children.