Anglo-Irish Literature by A. Norman Jeffares (auth.)

By A. Norman Jeffares (auth.)

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Swift was representative of his age in his attitude to nature. On the one hand, he disliked its wilder, more savage aspects, as his Latin poem on Carbery Rocks in County Cork indicates. On the other, he had a typically eighteenth-century appreciation of nature methodised, as is shown in his letters to Stella from London. It was probably when he entered Sir William Temple's household at Moor Park, in Farnham in 1689 that Swift, then twenty-two, had first met Esther Johnson, a protegee of Sir William's, who was then about eight.

He occupied himself with medicine, notably his belief in the efficacy of tar-water, so cogently put forward in Sins (1744); but what haunts the reader most of all and perhaps conveys best Berkeley's nature is the sad letter he wrote on the death of his young son: My dear Lord, I was a man retired from the amusement of politics, visits, and what the world calls pleasure. I had a little friend, educated always under mine own eye, whose painting delighted me, whose music ravished me, and whose lively gay spirit was a continual feast.

Secular drama in Ireland began to be performed later than in England. It seems to have commenced with visits of strolling players from London from 1589 onwards, with the Queen's Players and the earl of Essex's players giving performances in Dublin and Youghal. Then an amateur interest developed: in the last three yearsofElizabeth 's reign the gentlemen in Dublin Castle acted in plays; the Dublin tradesmen's guilds put on plays, and so did the undergraduates in Trinity College and the apprentice lawyers.

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