All right, but make it Swift. And no kissing.Posted: November 30, 2011
I’m not going to preamble. I’m just going to say that I know, I KNOW, that I write about sexy historical writers a lot. I get it.
But I must insist that you TRY THIS SHIT ON FOR SIZE:
Once upon a time in Dublin there was born a little lad named Jonathan Swift. Sound familiar? Good. You might just feel like it sounds familiar because you’re just thinking of Taylor Swift and someone else named Jonathan and you’ve sort of crudely combined their names in your head. That’s fair. But for the sake of your remaining cerebral cells and wrinkles and neurons and synapses (lookin’ at you, intro-level Psych class), I suggest you never do that again, and instead make a little room for Jonathan Swift, eighteenth-century satirist, writer, and Generally Notable Historical Gentleman, up there in your brain organ.
If you did know him, it’s probably because you’ve heard of Gulliver’s Travels, which is the one where the guy washes up on the island full of tiny people, and said people, known (to those who have actually “read” Gulliver’s Travels and not just seen the Wishbone) as the Lilliputians, tie him up. Also, not to beat a dead horse (isn’t that one of the worst idioms? I fucking hate it), but my boyfriend-in-my-head Jason Segel stars as a brave li’l Lilliputian in the recent film version. Which I didn’t and probably won’t see, because Jack Black is the lead and I can only subject myself to so much eyebrow-arching and sing-talking at a time. But if your heart isn’t warming up at the mere thought of a pocket-sized Segel, I want you to leave this blog and never fucking come back. Don’t actually leave though, because we don’t want to lose our only readers who aren’t LHB’s immediate family.
Suffice it to say that Jonnie Swift wrote a lot of shit and had his fingers in a lot of different pies. And vaginas. I’m going to focus on the latter.
Swifty came from good literary stock; through his grannies he was distantly related to John Dryden, Walter Raleigh, and even ol’ Billy Shakespeare. So it came as no surprise when he packed up the Volvo, hugged his bros goodbye, and moved into Trinity College to get a Bachelor’s and start working on his Master’s. In what, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. Probably something unrelated to the scandalous sex he would go on to enjoy shortly after his departure for England in 1668, when some shit called the Glorious Revolution happened with the whole British monarchy. Irish people got upset about the goings on which of course meant that a lot of stuff was being blown up, and young Jonathan’s family thought it was best they sent their li’l man over to England, where they got him a job as the Anne Hathaway to Sir William Temple’s Meryl Streep at a swank-ass mansion called Moor Park.
And like Annie, Jonathan fell in love during his time in Meryl’s employ. Unlike Annie, he fell in love with the fatherless, penniless, EIGHT-YEAR OLD daughter of a house servant. Okay, I shouldn’t say that they fell in love YET, because for a while Swifty just acted as her tutor/older and wealthier male friend, and people are still debating whether or not he hit that. But I mean, my boy totally hit that. When she was of a certain age, of course. He nicknamed her “Stella,” he decided to tutor a working class girl, which never, ever happened without at least some inappropriate touching (according to Masterpiece Theater, anyway), and he published a volume of her “witticisms” called “Bon Mots de Stella.” I don’t read French, but I’m pretty sure that means “I Had All Kinds of Sex With Stella,” doesn’t it? In any case, in 1702, when Esther was a very bangable twenty-year old, she traveled with Jonnie to Ireland. Which means that after twelve years of will-they-or-won’t-they worthy of a primetime sitcom, they PROBABLY DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY BONED!!!!!!!!!!!1
And then Jonnie promptly moved on to another Esther with a more ethnic last name – Esther Vanhomrigh. This Esther (Thister? Thester? I really want that to work) was also sans-father figure and also struggling socioeconomically. If you’re wondering if this was some sort of weird fetish for Jonnie – no dads, no dollaz, Madonna’s Jewname – you might be right. I mean the man was Irish, so it’s also quite likely that he confused young bangmaid Esther J. with even younger bangmaid Esther V. after a long night of self-pickling. But who knows. Everybody’s got their jam, and Jonnie Swift’s was Esther-flavored.
This Esther was a couple dozen years Jon’s junior, and apparently was a little manly. But Jonnie was so into that and became her tutor for a while. Then when her mommy died (sad) Esther V., like Esther J., followed him to Ireland so they could be/bang together secretly (yay!), but she ended up really hating the lovely greenery and sheep and kind people and was absolutely miserable during her time there. Yeah, I know I would totally hate it if my sexy, revolutionary, brilliant writer/boyfriend MADE me go to Ireland with him, where I could snuggle sheep and drink beer all day, just so we could be together. MEN, am I right?
Swifty stayed with this bitch for seventeen years, God bless him, and wrote a shit-ton of verse dedicated to her. Oh, and I forgot to mention that much as he had with Esther J., Jonnie gave Esther V. a nickname: Vanessa. He actually invented the name – took the “Van” from her last name (Vanmdgkjfhgkrktoe or whatever, it’s not important) and “Esse,” which was a diminutive of Esther, and badabing badaboom, name invented. So to J.Swift I’d like to say thank you for Redgrave and no thank you for Hudgens.
That’s right: not only did this asshole force her to go on my mom’s dream vacation with him so that they could live happily together, he fucking invented a name for her because he loved her so much.
So naturally she, after a years-long assault of Jonnie powered by general annoyance and fuckery, was HELLA PISSED in 1723 when he started dipping his long, hard, quill pen in Esther J.’s ink bottle again!!!!!!!!!!!1
Other Esther’s reaction: death. Seriously. She just died. Historians (Wikipedia) will have you believe that her death was the result of a broken heart and/or Swifty’s harshness. Science will have you believe that it was tuberculosis. It pains me to say it, but I’m going with science.
So Swifty ran back into the willing arms of Esther J., and the two of them enjoyed non-marital banging for five years or so. Then in 1728, Jonnie was visiting little Alexander Pope (seriously, he was like 4’11”) (he also had a lot of scandalous sex and a hunchback, so obviously look for a post about him from MRG in the near future) when he got word that Esther/Stella was dying. Shit. So he SWIFTLY (I’ve been waiting a while to do that) headed back over to the Emerald Isle to be with his main lay-dy at her deathbed. And after she died, he was really sad because there were no Esther-pieces left for him to slam, so he wrote an elegiac little ditty called “The Death of Mrs. Johnson.” Which was really nice of him. Less nice: a lock of lady hair that was believed to have been attached to Esther J.’s cabeza was found in Swifty’s desk wrapped in a paper that said, “Only a woman’s hair.”
But he must have been a little depressed about the loss of his most reliable ditty-bag, because by 1731 he’d written his own obituary. He died ten years later after being declared “unsound in mind and memory.”
Swift’s legacy as a writer and activist lives on in the many shitty remakes of Gulliver’s Travels and many incorrect political references to A Modest Proposal. But he was as prolific a banger of comically younger women as he was a writer of satirical texts.
Jonnie Swift: historical discourse, sexual intercourse. BOOM, trademark.