Friday, March 21, 2014

A guinea a week was ample board in 1714

Meanwhile, Dean Swift, 
angry with the political 
folly of his friends .., 
and in a fit of dudgeon 
because he had failed to 
obtain the post of histor-iographer to Queen Anne, 
had become the paying 
guest of a country cler-gyman, thirty miles from Binfield, and there re-
venged himself on the 
world in general by bor-
ing himself into a state 
of mulish muteness; since 
for days together he would 
refuse to speak.


  He lived the simple life, 
  and paid the country clergyman 
  (who must have found him an
  unaccountable guest) a guinea 
  a week for his board.

The life at the vicarage does not 
seem to have held many excitements, 
apart from the Dean's behaviour, 
which could not be relied upon, and 
which contained many possibilities; 
but Swift seems to have revelled in 
his self-inflicted boredom, for he 
told Vanessa in a letter (after ex-
plaining that he liked his reverend 
host very well): 

"Mr Geree is such a melancholy, thoughtful man, partly from nature and partly from solitude, that I shall soon catch the spleen from him. His wife has been this month twenty miles off at her father's, and will not return within these ten days, and perhaps the house will be worse when she comes."

Edith Sitwell
Alexander Pope
Penguin Books, 1948©

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