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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

IV. Swift

§ 6. Swift in London; Association with Addison and the Whigs

Swift was soon back in England. He had already written one of his most amusing poems, the burlesque Petition of Mrs. Frances Harris; and, in 1701, he wrote the pamphlet A Discourse on the Dissensions in Athens and Rome, which was attributed by some to Somers and by others to Burnet. He was evidently well known in London society by the time that A Tale of a Tub appeared in 1704, after lying in manuscript for seven or eight years. He became a friend of Addison, who sent him a copy of his Travels in Italy with an inscription: “To Jonathan Swift, the most agreeable of companions, the truest friend, and the greatest genius of his age this work is presented by his most humble servant the author.” Of one of his poems, Baucis and Philemon, Swift said that Addison made him blot out fourscore lines, add fourscore and alter fourscore. Steele, too, at this time, was among his friends; but he spoke with some contempt of the ordinary coffee-house wits. He took part in the attack on the almanac written by the astrologer John Partridge, producing a parody, Predictions for the ensuing year by Isaac Bickerstaff, in which he foretold that, on 29 March, Partridge would die of fever; and, on 30 March, he printed a letter giving an account of Partridge’s end. Partridge protested that he was alive; but Swift represented that he was really dead, inasmuch as his credit was gone. Other wits joined in the fray, and Steele, on starting The Tatler in 1709, adopted the name Bickerstaff as that of the supposed author. At the same time, Swift was engaged in more serious work. In 1708–9, he produced important pamphlets on church questions, which show that he was beginning to understand that the interests of the whig party could not be reconciled with those of his order, and was busily engaged in representing to the government the claims of the Irish clergy to the first fruits and twentieths, which had already been granted to the clergy in England.