Swift And His Butler

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 la
er 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.