The travelling skull of Jonathan Swift.

In reading the following article from “Come here to me!”, note as well the keen interest that Clarence Mangan took in phrenology. In fact, his biographer and editor, Father Meehan, published a “Phrenological Description of Mangan’s Head”. This curious monograph, dated 1835 (and furnished in these pages in the next post by the link to “Essays in Prose and Verse”, Meehan ed.), reveals the results of an examination that was performed by Professor John Wilson (who, incidentally, as a literary critic wrote under the pseudonym of “Christopher North” in Blackwood’s Magazine): “This is the head of one capable of warm attachment, and of having his mind enthusiastically wrought up to the consideration of any subject or the accomplishment of any purpose. He would be apt to live much more in the world of romance than in that of reality. … The principal ingredients of the character it indicates are taste, wit, extravagance, vividness of fancy, generosity, and proneness to yield to the solicitations of others.” ~Q~

Come Here To Me!

A cast of Jonathan Swift's skull, at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. A cast of Jonathan Swift’s skull, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (Credit:LIFE)

A rather unusual story from the history of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral involves the remains of Jonathan Swift and his companion Esther Johnson, popularly known as Stella. Today, a visitor to the cathedral will see the epitaph Swift himself wrote. While it is in Latin, it has been translated into English as follows:

Here is laid the Body
of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology,
Dean of this Cathedral Church,

where fierce Indignation
can no longer
injure the Heart.
Go forth, Voyager,
and copy, if you can,
this vigorous (to the best of his ability)
Champion of Liberty.

He died on the 19th Day of the Month of October,
A.D. 1745, in the 78th Year of his Age.

Among the exhibited items in the Cathedral today is a cast of the skull of Swift, but incredibly this cast dates to…

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