chapter  1
Life and Tracts for the Times
Pages 23

The biographer who seeks to discover the facts of Swift’s life soon finds his path obstructed with numerous myths which it is best to clear away at the outset. The very fact that he was bom in Dublin in 1667 has been disputed, though that can be discounted. He is alleged to have said that his uncle gave him the education of a dog, but the story rests on very slender evidence. In fact Swift’s uncle, who looked after his interests from a very early age, since his father died before he was bom, sent him to Kilkenny school, one of the best in Ireland. On leaving Kilkenny Swift went to Trinity College, Dublin. There are wild stories about his undergraduate days, and at one time it was even maintained by some that he was sent down without a degree. Though it is clear that he was not a model Student he seems to have been no worse than most, and he eventually obtained his B.A., albeit by special grace, a fact usually commented on with disapproval. Yet though Swift himself was ashamed of his performance it was by no means a disgrace. Indeed in Greek and Latin he did well.