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Swift And His Butler

Irish Humour Home

During the publication of the Drapers Letters, Swift was particularly
careful to conceal himself from being known as the author. The only
persons in the secret, were Robert Blakely, his butler, whom he employed
as an amanuensis, and Dr. Sheridan. It happened, that on the very
evening before the proclamation, offering a reward of L300 for
discovering the author of these letters, was issued, Robert Blakely
stopped out later than usual without his master's leave. The dean
ordered the door to be locked at the accustomed hour, and shut him out.
The next morning the poor fellow appeared before his master with marks
of great contrition. Swift would hear no excuses, but abusing him
severely, bade him strip off his livery, and quit the house instantly.
What! said he, is it because I am in your power that you dare to take
these liberties with me? get out of my house, and receive the reward of
your treachery.

Mrs. Johnson (Stella), who was at the deanery, did not interfere, but
immediately dispatched a messenger to Dr. Sheridan, who on his arrival
found Robert walking up and down the hall in great agitation. The doctor
bade him not be uneasy, as he would try to pacify the dean, so that he
should continue in his place. That is not what vexes me, replied
Robert, though to be sure I should be sorry to lose so good a master;
but what grieves me to the soul, is, that my master should have so bad
an opinion of me, as to suppose me capable of betraying him for any
reward whatever. When this was related to the dean, he was so struck
with the honor and generosity of sentiment, which it exhibited in one
so humble in life, that he immediately restored him to his situation,
and was not long in rewarding his fidelity.

The place of verger to the cathedral becoming vacant, Swift called
Robert to him, and asked him if he had any clothes of his own that were
not a livery? Robert replying in the affirmative, he desired him to take
off his livery, and put them on. The poor fellow, quite astonished,
begged to know what crime he had committed, that he was to be
discharged. The dean bade him do as he was ordered; and when he returned
in his new dress, the dean called all the other servants into the room,
and told them that they were no longer to consider him as their
fellow-servant Robert, but as Mr. Blakely, verger of St. Patrick's
Cathedral; an office which he had bestowed on him for his faithful
services, and as a proof of that sure reward, which honesty and fidelity
would always obtain.

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