Patrick Delany

?1685-1768 [var Delaney; signing himself Pat in letters to Mrs Pendarves (Mary Delany)]; clergyman, fellow of TCD and tutor; Swift called him ‘the most eminent preacher we have’; chancellor of Christ Church, 1727; prependary of S. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1729; Chanc. St. Patrick’s, 1730; moved to a 12 yr. old house in Glasnevin, called Delville, 1734 and spent 14 of 25 ensuing years in Ireland; started The Tribune, 1738; Dean of Down, 1744; issued Observations on Orrery’s “Remarks” [ ..., &c.] (1754), pseud. as “J. R.”; subscribed for 6 copies of Dermod O’Connor’s translation of Keating’s History of Ireland (1723); d. 6 May; bur. in garden of Delville, that part of it which was later added to Glasnevin Cemetery. RR CAB ODNB PI DIW DIB OCEL FDA OCIL

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  • Revelations Examined with Candour, Vol. I (1732), Do., Vol. II (1734), Vol. III (1763);
  • Reflections upon Polygamy (1738), Do. [2nd edn., with preface (1739);
  • An Historical Account of the Life and Writings of King David, Vol. I (1740), and Do., Vols. II & III (1742);
  • Social Duties of Life, [15 sermons] (1744), Do. [2nd edn.] (1747) [add. give more on Vices];
  • Divine Original of Tythes (1748);
  • A Humble Apology for Christian Orthodoxy (1761), tract;
  • Eighteen Discourses (1766), many republished in Family Lectures (1791).
  • A letter to Dean Swift, Esq.; on his Essay upon the life, writings, and character of Dr. J. Swift, by the author of the Observations on Lord Orrery's remarks, &c (London: W. Reeve at Shakespear's Head [...] and A. Linde [...] 1755), 31, [1]p.; 8o. [Vide Deane Swift].
  • Robert Hogan, ed. [assoc. editor, Donald C. Mell], The Poems of Patrick Delany: comprising also poems about him by Jonathan Swift, Thomas Sheridan, and other friends and enemies (Delaware UP [2006]), 215pp. [24cm.]  

See also The Tribune, 1737 [fnd. & ed. by Delany; 20 issues]; The Humanist 1757 [15 issues; in which he denounces docking horses tails].

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Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.63-70; also parts of the account of Mrs Delany, in Constantia Maxwell, Strangers in Ireland (1954); Mrs Esther Morris, ‘The Delanys of Delville’, in Dublin Historical Record, 9, 4 (Dec. 1947-Feb.1948), pp.105-116; Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., ‘Swift’s Friend, Dr Patrick Delany’, in Eire-Ireland, 5.3 (Autumn 1970), 53-62.

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Robert Welch, A History of Verse Translation from the Irish 1789-1897 (Gerrards Cross 1988), [Swift’s] friend Delany was a patron of Carolan and Swift himself may have known the harper.

See also remarks of Alan Bliss about the patronage and friendship of Delany with the harpist Carolan, in Dialogue in Hybernian Stile Between A & B & Irish Eloquence by Jonathan Swift [Irish Writings from the Age of Swift, No. 6], Dublin: Cadenus Press MCMLXXVII [1977], p.54 - as given under Carolan, supra.

Gerard McCoy, ‘“Patriots, Protestants and Papists”: Religion and the Ascendancy, 1714-60’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, Spring 1994, quoting: ‘Our Blessed Saiour hath indeed taught us by His Own example to give the interest of our country the first place in our affections, but by no means to confine them to that only; but to extend our regard, our concern, our beneficence, to all mankind. Here then is the most perfect pattern of Patriotism, that ever was exhibited to the world - The prime of life, entirely devoted, in the most useful, the most exemplary, the most indefatigable, and disinterested manner, to his care and concern for his country.’ (Sermon Preached on Tuesday, March 13th, 1744, London 1744, pp.4, 13 [sic]; McCoy, pp.112-13.)

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Appreciation of Charles O’Conor’s Dissertations (subjoined to revised edn. of 1766): ‘I gladly take this occasion to assure you than no mortal has as cordial a good will to the nation or natives as I have; and I can give no better proof of it, than solemnly to declare that I wish them all as free from the chains of Rome as I am; and upon my concsicnece I know no other more beneficent either to them or you in particular. (Cited by O’Conor in letter to John Curry, 5 June 1766; see Ward & Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor, 1988, p.181.). Note, O’Conor later registered his gratitude to George Faulkner for an introduction to the Dean of Down – that is, Delany – and others (28 Oct. 1766; ibid., p.187).

On female promiscuity:

Ian Watt writes: ‘Moll Flanders [of Defoe] is “tricked once by that cheat called love”, but it is a beginning, not an end; while Colonel Jacque comments on his faithful wife Moggy’s “slip in her younger days” that “it was of small consequence to me one way or another”. In the world of Pamela such off-handedness is inconceivable, for there, in the words of Henry Brooke, “The woman no redemption knows / The wounds of honour never close.”’ (Collection of Pieces, 1778, II, p.45.). See Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (London: Chatto & Windus 1957) - chap. on ‘Love and the Novel: Richardson’s Pamela’ - and cf. further remarks under Henry Brooke, supra.


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Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), cites further publications (sermons, &c.; see “Works”, supra), and the swift riposte on Orrery’s Life of Swift (1754); selects “the Duties of a Wife” [‘first, she is to love her husband, and that upon the same principles, and for the very same reason, that he is to love her. First, because they are one flesh ... it is not, indeed, to be imagined that men should treat their wives with the same reserve and formal complaisance after marriage; that the freedom and ease of friendship forbids; but why friendship and freedom should be a reason for ill-treatment, I must own I cannot conceive ... but after all, wives that are so unhappy as to be too much provoked by the ill treatment of their husbands, should always remember that their husbands’ guilt doth not justify theirs, and much less will neglect or rudeness in the husband justify infidelity in the wife.’] Also, “The Duty of Paying Debts” [‘A good-natured villain will surfeit a sot and gorge a glutton, nay, will glut his horses and his hounds with that food for which the vendors are one day to starve to death in a dungeon; a good-natured monster will be gay in the spoils of widows and orphans. / Good-nature separated from virtue is absolutey the worst quality and character in life; at least, if this be good-nature, to feed a dog, and to murder a man. And therfore, if you have any pretence to good-nature, pay your deabts and in so doing clothe those poor families that are no in rags for your finery -’.

Dictionary of National Biography gives this biographical account: b. Ireland, son of servant of Irish judge, Sir John Russell, and afterwards small farmer; sizar, TCD; popular preacher and tutor worth £900 from his pupils; maintained his dignity more than Swift’s other companions; intimacy began 10 Nov 1718, with verses addressed by Swift praising his conversational powers and requesting him to advise Sheridan to keep his jests within the bounds of politeness; defended case of expelled students in college sermon, 1724; compelled to apologise to Provost; parish of St. John, Dublin, 1725; Archbishop Boulter resisted his application to hold this with his fellowship, letter to Canterbury showing him to be thought dangerous influence; Lord Carteret gav him the chancellorship of Christ Church in 1727, and in 1729 the prependary of St Patrick’s; Chancellor of St. Patrick’s, 1730; sought further preferment of Carteret in verse; momentary coolness with Swift who thought him too much of a courtier; introduced the Pilkington’s to Swift; Swift called him the ‘most eminent preacher we have’; Delany published periodical, The Tribune, running to 20 numbers; publ. Revelations examined with Candour (1732; 2nd vol. 1732; 3rd vol., 1763); m. Margaret Tenison, rich widow; called by Swift one of the few men not spoiled by access of fortune; hospitality; his book ridiculed for enjoining Christians to abstain from things strangled and from blood; excited more criticism with Reflections upon Polygamy and the encouragement given to that practise by the Scriptures of the Old Testament, by Phileleutherus Dubliniensis (1738); 2nd. ed. 1739, with apologetic preface by Boulter with whom he was now reconciled, arguing that polygamy was not favourable to population; An Historical Account of the Life and Writings of King David, vol. i (1740), vols. ii and iii (1742), defending David against Bayle; first wife died 1741; went to England to offer himself to Mrs Pendarves; m. 9 June 1743; appointed to deanery of Down through her interest; Hel Del Ville, then Delville, built by him and Dr Helsham; minute size ridiculed in verses by Sheridan printed in Swift’s works; continued in state left by Delanys with shell decorations of the ceilings and a fresco port. of Stella, attrib. to Mrs Delany; hospitality and bill of fare recounted in Mrs Delany’s diaries; Mrs Delany bought house at Spring Gardens, England, with which she parted shortly before his death; issued as ‘J. R.’ [pseud.] Observations upon Lord Orrery’s Remarks upon the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift (1754), intended to vindicate Swift from some of Orrery’s insinuations, well written, and only account of Swift by one who had known him in the full force of his intellect; Swift left a medal to him, and appointed him one of his executors; lawsuit arising out of first marriage having destroyed settlement made at the time; wife’s heirs called for account of the property; decision against him by Irish chancellor, 23 Dec. 1752; reversed on appeal to Lords, 1758, Lord Mansfield speaking for him in ‘an hour and a half of angelic oratory (Mrs Delany, Autobiog., 1st ser. iii, 490); health decayed; started the Humanist, denouncing among other things docking of horses tails; tried effect of Bath waters; gradually sank, and d. 6 May 1768; left nothing but his books and furniture. Bibl. incl. Swift’s works, Mrs Delany’s Autobiog., Cotton’s Fasti, ii, 58, 59; Boulter’s Letters; Josiah Brown’s Cases in Parliament (1783, v.300-25).

S. C. Hughes, The Church of S. Werburgh (Hodges & Figgis 1889, 104 Grafton St.; Charles W Gibbs, Printer, Dublin), contains a notice on Delany: TCD Schol., TCD, 1704, grad. 1706; Fellowship 1709; King’s Lect. in Div., 1722-28; Prof. of Oratory and History, 1724-32; vicar of Davidstown, 1727; in addition, rector of Derryvullen, Clogher, 1728; resigned fellowship. Chancellor of Christ Church, 1727-44; Chancellor of St patrick’s, 1730, holding his other benefices by faculty; Deanery of Down, 1744. Much information about his life and times may be gleaned from the Memoirs of Mrs Delany, a pompous relative of Lord Carteret. [Cf. ‘a pompous beadle’ who was deposed for reading the burial service, ibid., p.47.] He had a residence at Delville, Glasnevin, and having died at Bath in 1768, he was buried at the corner of the old graveyard in Glasnevin. There is an attractive bust [port.] of him in the College Library. Excellent preacher and good writer of prose and verse, one of the most brilliant of Swift’s set, ‘And thus my stock of wit decayed, / I dying leave the debt unpaid, / Unless Delany, as my heir, / Will answer for the whole arrear.’ (Swift, in lines on Stella). Further, advising Sheridan to study the goodhumour of Delany’s verse, ‘He’ll find the secret out from thence / To rhyme all day without offence.’ Referring to Delany’s slow promotion, and his own, ‘A genius in the reverend gown / Must ever keep its owner down; / ’Tis an unnatural combination, / And spoils the credit of the function’. Delany wrote his fable of ‘The Pheasant and the Lark’ on the occasion of his promotion to Chancellorship by Carteret, ‘It chanced as on a day he strayed / Beneath an Academic shade, / He liked, amid a thousand throats, / The wildness of a woodlark’s notes; / And searched, and spied, and seized his game, / And took him home, and made him tame, / Found him on trial, true and able / So cheered, and fed him at his table.’ (pp.62-63, END] Note prefatory remarks to this volume: ‘It is hoped that it will possess some interest for the Visitors - viz, Sir Knights of the Baldwin Encampment, Bristol, attending Vestry in Comm. of Special Services, 27 March 1898 - as the first English in Dublin were a Bristol Colony, and as Bristol has among her own Churches one ded. to S Werburgh.

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D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), lists A Poem addressed to His Excellency Lord Carteret [who appointed him Chancellor of Christ Church, ODNB supra] (Dublin 1730); friend of Swift; b. Ireland circa 1685; anthologised by Matthew Concanen [Misc. Poems by Several hands, 1727]; some relics in Gilbert collection, Dublin Central.

Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985) notes that he held office of Chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral but prospered through marriage to two wealthy widows, to the advantage of his friends; lived in Delville, Glasnevin; entertained Swift and O’Carolan; cites Observations upon Lord Orrery’s Remarks upon the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift (1754); Revelations examined with candour (1732); Reflections on Polygamy (1738), and a defence of Swift against Orrery, 1754.

The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble (OUP 1986), cites Observations upon Lord Orrery’s Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift (1754), signed ‘J.R.’, an attempt to correct ‘very mistaken and erroneous accounts which have been published.’

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 1 453-54 [remarks on Swift’s circle, his exchange of literary complements with Delany and others; and the enmity of Arbuckle]; selects ‘News from Parnassus’ [456-57; eulogising Swift]; [WORKS & COMM., 492, Observations &c. (Lon 1754; also Dublin 1754); Delany considered in all major biographies; see also Robert W. Uphaus, ‘Swift’s “whole character”, The Delany Poems and “Verses on th Death of Dr Swift”, in Modern Language Quarterly, 34, No.4 (Dec. 1973), pp.406-16; reference in JC Beckett chapter in A New History of Ireland, IV; ODNB. BIBL., 495, ‘News from Parnassus’ (Dublin 1721), Foxon D202, from Harold Williams, ed., The Poems of Jonathan Swift, I, pp.266-69; do., also in Matthew Concanen’s Miscellaneous Poems [by Several Hands] (London 1724). NOTE also: The most severe attack on Swift was made by James Arbuckle, the poet, philosopher and journalist who edited The Dublin Weekly Journal, 1725-27, and who was ridiculed again and again by the literati between 1725 and 1736. Swift had used the figure of Momus as the patron of the Moderns in The Battle &c. In 1735 Arbuckle used him to attack Swift’s private life, leaving it to Mercury, a thief, ‘Pimp’, and ‘Blackguard Crier of the News’, to make an unconvincing tribute to Swift at the end of the poet. [FDA1453-54; and see under Arbuckle, and Sterling.]

A. N. Jeffares & Peter Van de Kamp, eds., Irish Literature: The Eighteenth Century - An Annotated Anthology (Dublin: IAP Press 2006), gives extract from Eighteen Discourses [Of Gaming] [134].

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Stern about Sterne: Dean Patrick Delany would not have Tristram Shandy in the house as a work of ‘bad tendency’ (see ‘Mrs. Delany’ in Constantia Maxwell, Strangers in Ireland, 1954, p. 149).

Swift’s meeting with Stella: ‘I have good reason to believe that they were greatly shocked and distressed (tho’ it may be differently) upon the occasion. The Dean made a tour to the South of Ireland for about two months, at this time, to dissipate his thoughts and give place to obloquy. And Stella retired (upon the earnest invitation of the owner) to the house of a cheerful, generous, good-natured friend of the Dean’s whom she also much loved and honoured. there my informant often saw her and, I have reason to believe, used his utmost endeavour to relieve, support and amuse her in this sad situation.’ (Cited Sybil Le Brocquy, Cadenus, 1962, p.99-100, with the comment that Dr. Delany was himself the informant.)

House improvements: For Delany’s improvements at Delville [House], see Edward Malins, ‘Landscape Gardening by Jonathan Swift and His Friends in Ireland, Garden History II (1973), 69 [J. W. Foster, Colonial Consequences, 1991]. FDA1, selects ‘News from Parnassus’, 456-57.

Portrait: There is a bust by [attributed to] Van Nost in the Old Library, TCD; Constantia Maxwell says; ‘he was a very good preacher, a popular tutor, a writer of verses and epigrams, and a man of taste and humour, whose intelligence was praised by Swift. He wrote some very dull books, but one has only to look at the fascinating bust of him by Van Nost in the gallery of Trinity College Library to see that he had humour and charm.’ (Maxwell, Strangers in Ireland, 1954, p.145]

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