While in what he called his “exile” he wrote Gulliver’s Travels, which was at first published anonymously, the secret of the authorship being so closely guarded that the publisher did not know who was the author. Dr. Johnson characterized it as “A production so new and strange that it filled the reader with admiration and amazement. It was read by the high and low, the learned and the illiterate.” In this work, Jonathan Swift appears as one of the greatest masters of English we have ever had; as endowed with an imaginative genius inferior to few; as a keen and pitiless critic of the world, and a bitter misanthropic accounter of humanity at large. Dean Swift was indeed a misanthrope by theory, however he may have made exception to private life. His hero, Gulliver, discovers race after race of beings who typify the genera in his classification of mankind. Extremely diverting are Gulliver’s adventures among the tiny Lilliputians; only less so are his more perilous encounters with the giants of Brobdingnag.... By a singular dispensation of Providence, we usually read the Travels while we are children; we are delighted with the marvellous story, we are not at all injured by the poison. Poor Swift! he was conscious of insanity’s approach; he repeated annually Job’s curse upon the day of his birth; he died a madman.
There are numerous biographies of Swift; but probably the best characterization of the man and his life, rather than of his books, is to be found in Thackeray’s English Humorists, and a closer study of the man and his works in Leslie Stevenson’s “Swift,” in Morley’s English Men of Letters. The other biographies of him are: Lord Orrery Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, 1751; Hawkes, on his life, 1765; Sheridan’s life, 1785; Forster’s life, 1875 (unfinished); Henry Craik’s life (1882). The best edition of Swift’s writings and correspondence is that edited by Scott, 1824.
 Redriff Rotherhithe: then a Thames side village, now part of London.
 Pound: nearly five dollars.
 Levant: the point where the sun rises. The countries about the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and its adjoining waters.
 Mrs.: it was formerly the custom to call unmarried women Mrs.
 The South Sea: the Pacific Ocean.
 Van Diemen’s Land: N.W. from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and in latitude 30 degrees 2 minutes would be in Australia or off the West Coast.
 Cable’s length: about six hundred or seven hundred feet.
 Buff jerkin a leather jacket or waistcoat.
 Small: weak, thin.
 Signet-royal: the king’s seal.
 Half-pike a short wooden staff, upon one end of which was a steel head.