THE POEMS OF JONATHAN SWIFT, D.D., VOLUME I
WILLIAM ERNST BROWNING
Barrister, Inner Temple Author of "The Life of Lord Chesterfield"
London G. Bell and Sons, Ltd.
The works of Jonathan Swift in prose and verse so mutually illustrate each other, that it was deemed indispensable, as a complement to the standard edition of the Prose Works, to issue a revised edition of the Poems, freed from the errors which had been allowed to creep into the text, and illustrated with fuller explanatory notes. My first care, therefore, in preparing the Poems for publication, was to collate them with the earliest and best editions available, and this I have done.
But, thanks to the diligence of the late John Forster, to whom every lover of Swift must confess the very greatest obligation, I have been able to do much more. I have been able to enrich this edition with some pieces not hitherto brought to light—notably, the original version of "Baucis and Philemon," in addition to the version hitherto printed; the original version of the poem on "Vanbrugh's House"; the verses entitled "May Fair"; and numerous variations and corrections of the texts of nearly all the principal poems, due to Forster's collation of them with the transcripts made by Stella, which were found by him at Narford formerly the seat of Swift's friend, Sir Andrew Fountaine—see Forster's "Life of Swift," of which, unfortunately, he lived to publish only the first volume. From Swift's own copy of the "Miscellanies in Prose and Verse," 1727-32, with notes in his own handwriting, sold at auction last year, I was able to make several corrections of the poems contained in those four volumes, which serve to show how Swift laboured his works, and revised and improved them whenever he had an opportunity of doing so. It is a mistake to suppose that he was indifferent to literary fame: on the contrary, he kept some of his works in manuscript for years in order to perfect them for publication, of which "The Tale of a Tub," "Gulliver's Travels," and the "Verses on his own Death" are examples.
I am indebted to Miss Wilmot-Chetwode, of Wordbrooke, for the loan of a manuscript volume, from which I obtained some various readings. By the advice of Mr. Elrington Ball, I applied to the librarians of Trinity College and of the National Library, and from the latter I received a number of pieces; but I found that the harvest had already been reaped so fully, that there was nothing left to glean which could with certainty be ascribed to Swift. On the whole, I believe that this edition of the Poems will be found as complete as it is now possible to make it.
In the arrangement of the poems, I have adopted nearly the same order as in the Aldine edition, for the pieces seem to fall naturally into those divisions; but with this difference, that I have placed the pieces in their chronological order in each division. With regard to the notes in illustration of the text, many of them in the Dublin editions were evidently written by Swift, especially the notes to the "Verses on his own Death." And as to the notes of previous editors, I have retained them so far as they were useful and correct: but to many of them I have made additions or alterations wherever, on reference to the authorities cited, or to other works, correction became necessary. For my own notes, I can only say that I have sought to make them concise, appropriate to the text, and, above all, accurate.
Swift and the educated men of his time thought in the classics, and his poems, as well as those of his friends, abound with allusions to the Greek and Roman authors, especially to the latter. I have given all the references, and except in the imitations and paraphrases of so familiar a writer as Horace, I have appended the Latin text. Moreover, Swift was, like Sterne, very fond of curious and recondite reading, in which it is not always easy to track him without some research; but I believe that I have not failed to illustrate any matter that required elucidation.
W. E. B.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I
Ode to Doctor William Sancroft Ode to Sir William Temple Ode to King William Ode to The Athenian Society To Mr. Congreve Occasioned by Sir William Temple's late illness and recovery Written in a Lady's Ivory Table Book Mrs. Frances Harris's Petition A Ballad on the game of Traffic A Ballad to the tune of the Cutpurse The Discovery The Problem The Description of a Salamander To Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough On the Union On Mrs. Biddy Floyd The Reverse Apollo Outwitted Answer to Lines from May Fair Vanbrugh's House Vanbrugh's House Baucis and Philemon Baucis and Philemon The History of Vanbrugh's House A Grub Street Elegy The Epitaph A Description of the Morning A Description of a City Shower On the Little House A Town Eclogue A Conference To Lord Harley on his Marriage Phyllis Horace, Book IV, Ode ix To Mr. Delany An Elegy To Mrs. Houghton Verses written on a Window On another Window Apollo to the Dean News from Parnassus Apollo's Edict The Description of an Irish Feast The Progress of Beauty The Progress of Marriage The Progress of Poetry The South Sea Project Fabula Canis et Umbrae A Prologue Epilogue Prologue Epilogue Answer to Prologue and Epilogue On Gaulstown House The Country Life Dr. Delany's Villa On one of the Windows at Delville Carberiae Rupes Carbery Rocks Copy of the Birthday Verses on Mr. Ford On Dreams Dr. Delany to Dr. Swift The Answer A Quiet Life and a Good Name Advice A Pastoral Dialogue Desire and Possession On Censure The Furniture of a Woman's Mind Clever Tom Clinch Dr. Swift to Mr. Pope A Love Poem Bouts Rimez Helter Skelter The Puppet Show The Journal of a Modern Lady The Logicians Refuted The Elephant; or the Parliament Man Paulus; an Epigram The Answer A Dialogue On burning a dull Poem An excellent new Ballad On Stephen Duck The Lady's Dressing Room The Power of Time Cassinus and Peter A Beautiful young Nymph Strephon and Chloe Apollo; or a Problem solved The Place of the Damned The Day of Judgment Judas An Epistle to Mr. Gay To a Lady Epigram on Busts in Richmond Hermitage Another A Conclusion from above Epigrams Swift's Answer To Swift on his Birthday with a Paper Book from the Earl of Orrery Verses on Swift's Birthday with a Silver Standish Verses occasioned by foregoing Presents Verses sent to the Dean with an Eagle quill An Invitation, by Dr. Delany The Beasts' Confession The Parson's Case The hardship upon the Ladies A Love Song The Storm Ode on Science A Young Lady's Complaint On the Death of Dr. Swift On Poetry, a Rhapsody Verses sent to the Dean on his Birthday Epigram by Mr. Bowyer On Psyche The Dean and Duke Written by Swift on his own Deafness The Dean's Complaint The Dean's manner of living Epigram by Mr. Bowyer Verses made for Fruit Women On Rover, a Lady's Spaniel Epigrams on Windows To Janus, on New Year's Day A Motto for Mr. Jason Hasard To a Friend Catullus de Lesbia On a Curate's complaint of hard duty To Betty, the Grisette Epigram from the French Epigram Epigram added by Stella Joan cudgels Ned Verses on two modern Poets Epitaph on General Gorges and Lady Meath Verses on I know not what Dr. Swift to himself An Answer to a Friend's question Epitaph Epitaph Verses written during Lord Carteret's administration An Apology to Lady Carteret The Birth of Manly Virtue On Paddy's Character of the "Intelligencer" An Epistle to Lord Carteret by Delany An Epistle upon an Epistle A Libel on Dr. Delany and Lord Carteret To Dr. Delany Directions for a Birthday Song The Pheasant and the Lark by Delany Answer to Delany's Fable Dean Smedley's Petition to the Duke of Grafton The Duke's Answer by Swift Parody on a character of Dean Smedley
Dr. Johnson, in his "Life of Swift," after citing with approval Delany's character of him, as he describes him to Lord Orrery, proceeds to say: "In the poetical works there is not much upon which the critic can exercise his powers. They are often humorous, almost always light, and have the qualities which recommend such compositions, easiness and gaiety. They are, for the most part, what their author intended. The diction is correct, the numbers are smooth, and the rhymes exact. There seldom occurs a hard laboured expression or a redundant epithet; all his verses exemplify his own definition of a good style—they consist of 'proper words in proper places.'"
Of his earliest poems it is needless to say more than that if nothing better had been written by him than those Pindaric Pieces, after the manner of Cowley—then so much in vogue—the remark of Dryden, "Cousin Swift, you will never be a Poet," would have been fully justified. But conventional praise and compliments were foreign to his nature, for his strongest characteristic was his intense sincerity. He says of himself that about that time he had writ and burnt and writ again upon all manner of subjects more than perhaps any man in England; and it is certainly remarkable that in so doing his true genius was not sooner developed, for it was not till he became chaplain in Lord Berkeley's household that his satirical humour was first displayed—at least in verse—in "Mrs. Frances Harris' Petition."—His great prose satires, "The Tale of a Tub," and "Gulliver's Travels," though planned, were reserved to a later time.—In other forms of poetry he soon afterwards greatly excelled, and the title of poet cannot be refused to the author of "Baucis and Philemon"; the verses on "The Death of Dr. Swift"; the "Rhapsody on Poetry"; "Cadenus and Vanessa"; "The Legion Club"; and most of the poems addressed to Stella, all of which pieces exhibit harmony, invention, and imagination.
Swift has been unduly censured for the coarseness of his language upon Certain topics; but very little of this appears in his earlier poems, and what there is, was in accordance with the taste of the period, which never hesitated to call a spade a spade, due in part to the reaction from the Puritanism of the preceding age, and in part to the outspeaking frankness which disdained hypocrisy. It is shown in Dryden, Pope, Prior, of the last of whom Johnson said that no lady objected to have his poems in her library; still more in the dramatists of that time, whom Charles Lamb has so humorously defended, and in the plays of Mrs. Aphra Behn, who, as Pope says, "fairly puts all characters to bed." But whatever coarseness there may be in some of Swift's poems, such as "The Lady's Dressing Room," and a few other pieces, there is nothing licentious, nothing which excites to lewdness; on the contrary, such pieces create simply a feeling of repulsion. No one, after reading the "Beautiful young Nymph going to bed," or "Strephon and Chloe," would desire any personal acquaintance with the ladies, but there is a moral in these pieces, and the latter poem concludes with excellent matrimonial advice. The coarseness of some of his later writings must be ascribed to his misanthropical hatred of the "animal called man," as expressed in his famous letter to Pope of September 1725, aggravated as it was by his exile from the friends he loved to a land he hated, and by the reception he met with there, about which he speaks very freely in his notes to the "Verses on his own Death."
On the morning of Swift's installation as Dean, the following scurrilous lines by Smedley, Dean of Clogher, were affixed to the doors of St. Patrick's Cathedral:
To-day this Temple gets a Dean Of parts and fame uncommon, Us'd both to pray and to prophane, To serve both God and mammon. When Wharton reign'd a Whig he was; When Pembroke—that's dispute, Sir; In Oxford's time, what Oxford pleased, Non-con, or Jack, or Neuter. This place he got by wit and rhime, And many ways most odd, And might a Bishop be in time, Did he believe in God. Look down, St. Patrick, look, we pray, On thine own church and steeple; Convert thy Dean on this great day, Or else God help the people. And now, whene'er his Deanship dies, Upon his stone be graven, A man of God here buried lies, Who never thought of heaven.
It was by these lines that Smedley earned for himself a niche in "The Dunciad." For Swift's retaliation, see the poems relating to Smedley at the end of the first volume, and in volume ii, at p. 124, note.
This bitterness of spirit reached its height in "Gulliver's Travels," surely the severest of all satires upon humanity, and writ, as he tells us, not to divert, but to vex the world; and ultimately, in the fierce attack upon the Irish Parliament in the poem entitled "The Legion Club," dictated by his hatred of tyranny and oppression, and his consequent passion for exhibiting human nature in its most degraded aspect.
But, notwithstanding his misanthropical feelings towards mankind in general, and his "scorn of fools by fools mistook for pride," there never existed a warmer or sincerer friend to those whom he loved—witness the regard in which he was held by Oxford, Bolingbroke, Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot, and Congreve, and his readiness to assist those who needed his help, without thought of party or politics. Although, in some of his poems, Swift rather severely exposed the follies and frailties of the fair sex, as in "The Furniture of a Woman's Mind," and "The Journal of a Modern Lady," he loved the companionship of beautiful and accomplished women, amongst whom he could count some of his dearest and truest friends; but He loved to be bitter at A lady illiterate; and therefore delighted in giving them literary instruction, most notably in the cases of Stella and Vanessa, whose relations with him arose entirely from the tuition in letters which they received from him. Again, when on a visit at Sir Arthur Acheson's, he insisted upon making Lady Acheson read such books as he thought fit to advise, and in the doggerel verses entitled "My Lady's Lamentation," she is supposed to resent his "very imperious" manner of instruction:
No book for delight Must come in my sight; But instead of new plays, Dull Bacon's Essays, And pore every day on That nasty Pantheon.
As a contrast to his imperiousness, there is an affectionate simplicity in the fancy names he used to bestow upon his female friends. Sir William Temple's wife, Dorothea, became Dorinda; Esther Johnson, Stella; Hester Vanhomrigh, Vanessa; Lady Winchelsea, Ardelia; while to Lady Acheson he gave the nicknames of Skinnybonia, Snipe, and Lean. But all was taken by them in good part; for his rather dictatorial ways were softened by the fascinating geniality and humour which he knew so well how to employ when he used to "deafen them with puns and rhyme."
Into the vexed question of the relations between Swift and Stella I do not purpose to enter further than to record my conviction that she was never more to him than "the dearest friend that ever man had." The suggestion of a concealed marriage is so inconsistent with their whole conduct to each other from first to last, that if there had been such a marriage, instead of Swift having been, as he was, a man of intense sincerity, he must be held to have been a most consummate hypocrite. In my opinion, Churton Collins settled this question in his essays on Swift, first published in the "Quarterly Review," 1881 and 1882. Swift's relation with Vanessa is the saddest episode in his life. The story is amply told in his poem, "Cadenus and Vanessa," and in the letters which passed between them: how the pupil became infatuated with her tutor; how the tutor endeavoured to dispel her passion, but in vain, by reason; and how, at last, she died from love for the man who was unable to give love in return. That Swift ought, as soon as Hester disclosed her passion for him, at once to have broken off the intimacy, must be conceded; but how many men possessed of his kindness of heart would have had the courage to have acted otherwise than he did? Swift seems, in fact, to have been constitutionally incapable of the passion of love, for he says, himself, that he had never met the woman he wished to marry. His annual tributes to Stella on her birthdays express the strongest regard and esteem, but he "ne'er admitted love a guest," and he had been so long used to this Platonic affection, that he had come to regard women as friends, but never as lovers. Stella, on her part, had the same feeling, for she never expressed the least discontent at her position, or ever regarded Swift otherwise than as her tutor, her counsellor, her friend. In her verses to him on his birthday, 1721, she says:
Long be the day that gave you birth Sacred to friendship, wit, and mirth; Late dying may you cast a shred Of your rich mantle o'er my head; To bear with dignity my sorrow One day alone, then die tomorrow.
Stella naturally expected to survive Swift, but it was not to be. She died in the evening of the 28th January 1727-8; and on the same night he began the affecting piece, "On the Death of Mrs. Johnson." (See "Prose Works," vol. xi.)
With the death of Stella, Swift's real happiness ended, and he became more and more possessed by the melancholy which too often accompanies the broadest humour, and which, in his case, was constitutional. It was, no doubt, to relieve it, that he resorted to the composition of the doggerel verses, epigrams, riddles, and trifles exchanged betwixt himself and Sheridan, which induced Orrery's remark that "Swift composing Riddles is Titian painting draught-boards;" on which Delany observes that "a Riddle may be as fine painting as any other in the world. It requires as strong an imagination, as fine colouring, and as exact a proportion and keeping as any other historical painting"; and he instances "Pethox the Great," and should also have alluded to the more learned example—"Louisa to Strephon."
On Orrery's seventh Letter, Delany says that if some of the "coin is base," it is the fine impression and polish which adds value to it, and cites the saying of another nobleman, that "there is indeed some stuff in it, but it is Swift's stuff." It has been said that Swift has never taken a thought from any writer ancient or modern. This is not literally true, but the instances are not many, and in my notes I have pointed out the lines snatched from Milton, Denham, Butler—the last evidently a great favourite.
It seems necessary to state shortly the causes of Swift not having obtained higher preferment. Besides that Queen Anne would never be reconciled to the author of the "Tale of a Tub"—the true purport of which was so ill-understood by her—he made an irreconcilable enemy of her friend, the Duchess of Somerset, by his lampoon entitled "The Windsor Prophecy." But Swift seldom allowed prudence to restrain his wit and humour, and admits of himself that he "had too much satire in his vein"; and that "a genius in the reverend gown must ever keep its owner down"; and says further:
Humour and mirth had place in all he writ; He reconciled divinity and wit.
But that was what his enemies could not do.
Whatever the excellences and defects of the poems, Swift has erected, not only by his works, but by his benevolence and his charities, a monumentum aere perennius, and his writings in prose and verse will continue to afford instruction and delight when the malevolence of Jeffrey, the misrepresentations of Macaulay, and the sneers and false statements of Thackeray shall have been forgotten.
POEMS OF JONATHAN SWIFT
ODE TO DOCTOR WILLIAM SANCROFT LATE LORD BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
WRITTEN IN MAY, 1689, AT THE DESIRE OF THE LATE LORD BISHOP OF ELY
Truth is eternal, and the Son of Heaven, Bright effluence of th'immortal ray, Chief cherub, and chief lamp, of that high sacred Seven, Which guard the throne by night, and are its light by day; First of God's darling attributes, Thou daily seest him face to face, Nor does thy essence fix'd depend on giddy circumstance Of time or place, Two foolish guides in every sublunary dance; How shall we find Thee then in dark disputes? How shall we search Thee in a battle gain'd, Or a weak argument by force maintain'd? In dagger contests, and th'artillery of words, (For swords are madmen's tongues, and tongues are madmen's swords,) Contrived to tire all patience out, And not to satisfy the doubt?
But where is even thy Image on our earth? For of the person much I fear, Since Heaven will claim its residence, as well as birth, And God himself has said, He shall not find it here. For this inferior world is but Heaven's dusky shade, By dark reverted rays from its reflection made; Whence the weak shapes wild and imperfect pass, Like sunbeams shot at too far distance from a glass; Which all the mimic forms express, Though in strange uncouth postures, and uncomely dress; So when Cartesian artists try To solve appearances of sight In its reception to the eye, And catch the living landscape through a scanty light, The figures all inverted show, And colours of a faded hue; Here a pale shape with upward footstep treads, And men seem walking on their heads; There whole herds suspended lie, Ready to tumble down into the sky; Such are the ways ill-guided mortals go To judge of things above by things below. Disjointing shapes as in the fairy land of dreams, Or images that sink in streams; No wonder, then, we talk amiss Of truth, and what, or where it is; Say, Muse, for thou, if any, know'st, Since the bright essence fled, where haunts the reverend ghost?
If all that our weak knowledge titles virtue, be (High Truth) the best resemblance of exalted Thee, If a mind fix'd to combat fate With those two powerful swords, submission and humility, Sounds truly good, or truly great; Ill may I live, if the good Sancroft, in his holy rest, In the divinity of retreat, Be not the brightest pattern earth can show Of heaven-born Truth below; But foolish man still judges what is best In his own balance, false and light, Following opinion, dark and blind, That vagrant leader of the mind, Till honesty and conscience are clear out of sight.
And some, to be large ciphers in a state, Pleased with an empty swelling to be counted great, Make their minds travel o'er infinity of space, Rapt through the wide expanse of thought, And oft in contradiction's vortex caught, To keep that worthless clod, the body, in one place; Errors like this did old astronomers misguide, Led blindly on by gross philosophy and pride, Who, like hard masters, taught the sun Through many a heedless sphere to run, Many an eccentric and unthrifty motion make, And thousand incoherent journeys take, Whilst all th'advantage by it got, Was but to light earth's inconsiderable spot. The herd beneath, who see the weathercock of state Hung loosely on the church's pinnacle, Believe it firm, because perhaps the day is mild and still; But when they find it turn with the first blast of fate, By gazing upward giddy grow, And think the church itself does so; Thus fools, for being strong and num'rous known, Suppose the truth, like all the world, their own; And holy Sancroft's motion quite irregular appears, Because 'tis opposite to theirs.
In vain then would the Muse the multitude advise, Whose peevish knowledge thus perversely lies In gath'ring follies from the wise; Rather put on thy anger and thy spite, And some kind power for once dispense Through the dark mass, the dawn of so much sense, To make them understand, and feel me when I write; The muse and I no more revenge desire, Each line shall stab, shall blast, like daggers and like fire; Ah, Britain, land of angels! which of all thy sins, (Say, hapless isle, although It is a bloody list we know,) Has given thee up a dwelling-place to fiends? Sin and the plague ever abound In governments too easy, and too fruitful ground; Evils which a too gentle king, Too flourishing a spring, And too warm summers bring: Our British soil is over rank, and breeds Among the noblest flowers a thousand pois'nous weeds, And every stinking weed so lofty grows, As if 'twould overshade the Royal Rose; The Royal Rose, the glory of our morn, But, ah! too much without a thorn.
Forgive (original mildness) this ill-govern'd zeal, 'Tis all the angry slighted Muse can do In the pollution of these days; No province now is left her but to rail, And poetry has lost the art to praise, Alas, the occasions are so few: None e'er but you, And your Almighty Master, knew With heavenly peace of mind to bear (Free from our tyrant passions, anger, scorn, or fear) The giddy turns of popular rage, And all the contradictions of a poison'd age; The Son of God pronounced by the same breath Which straight pronounced his death; And though I should but ill be understood, In wholly equalling our sin and theirs, And measuring by the scanty thread of wit What we call holy, and great, and just, and good, (Methods in talk whereof our pride and ignorance make use,) And which our wild ambition foolishly compares With endless and with infinite; Yet pardon, native Albion, when I say, Among thy stubborn sons there haunts that spirit of the Jews, That those forsaken wretches who to-day Revile his great ambassador, Seem to discover what they would have done (Were his humanity on earth once more) To his undoubted Master, Heaven's Almighty Son.
But zeal is weak and ignorant, though wondrous proud, Though very turbulent and very loud; The crazy composition shows, Like that fantastic medley in the idol's toes, Made up of iron mixt with clay, This crumbles into dust, That moulders into rust, Or melts by the first shower away. Nothing is fix'd that mortals see or know, Unless, perhaps, some stars above be so; And those, alas, do show, Like all transcendent excellence below; In both, false mediums cheat our sight, And far exalted objects lessen by their height: Thus primitive Sancroft moves too high To be observed by vulgar eye, And rolls the silent year On his own secret regular sphere, And sheds, though all unseen, his sacred influence here.
Kind star, still may'st thou shed thy sacred influence here, Or from thy private peaceful orb appear; For, sure, we want some guide from Heaven, to show The way which every wand'ring fool below Pretends so perfectly to know; And which, for aught I see, and much I fear, The world has wholly miss'd; I mean the way which leads to Christ: Mistaken idiots! see how giddily they run, Led blindly on by avarice and pride, What mighty numbers follow them; Each fond of erring with his guide: Some whom ambition drives, seek Heaven's high Son In Caesar's court, or in Jerusalem: Others, ignorantly wise, Among proud doctors and disputing Pharisees: What could the sages gain but unbelieving scorn; Their faith was so uncourtly, when they said That Heaven's high Son was in a village born; That the world's Saviour had been In a vile manger laid, And foster'd in a wretched inn?
Necessity, thou tyrant conscience of the great, Say, why the church is still led blindfold by the state; Why should the first be ruin'd and laid waste, To mend dilapidations in the last? And yet the world, whose eyes are on our mighty Prince, Thinks Heaven has cancell'd all our sins, And that his subjects share his happy influence; Follow the model close, for so I'm sure they should, But wicked kings draw more examples than the good: And divine Sancroft, weary with the weight Of a declining church, by faction, her worst foe, oppress'd, Finding the mitre almost grown A load as heavy as the crown, Wisely retreated to his heavenly rest.
Ah! may no unkind earthquake of the state, Nor hurricano from the crown, Disturb the present mitre, as that fearful storm of late, Which, in its dusky march along the plain, Swept up whole churches as it list, Wrapp'd in a whirlwind and a mist; Like that prophetic tempest in the virgin reign, And swallow'd them at last, or flung them down. Such were the storms good Sancroft long has borne; The mitre, which his sacred head has worn, Was, like his Master's Crown, inwreath'd with thorn. Death's sting is swallow'd up in victory at last, The bitter cup is from him past: Fortune in both extremes Though blasts from contrariety of winds, Yet to firm heavenly minds, Is but one thing under two different names; And even the sharpest eye that has the prospect seen, Confesses ignorance to judge between; And must to human reasoning opposite conclude, To point out which is moderation, which is fortitude.
Thus Sancroft, in the exaltation of retreat, Shows lustre that was shaded in his seat; Short glimm'rings of the prelate glorified; Which the disguise of greatness only served to hide. Why should the Sun, alas! be proud To lodge behind a golden cloud? Though fringed with evening gold the cloud appears so gay, 'Tis but a low-born vapour kindled by a ray: At length 'tis overblown and past, Puff'd by the people's spiteful blast, The dazzling glory dims their prostituted sight, No deflower'd eye can face the naked light: Yet does this high perfection well proceed From strength of its own native seed, This wilderness, the world, like that poetic wood of old, Bears one, and but one branch of gold, Where the bless'd spirit lodges like the dove, And which (to heavenly soil transplanted) will improve, To be, as 'twas below, the brightest plant above; For, whate'er theologic levellers dream, There are degrees above, I know, As well as here below, (The goddess Muse herself has told me so), Where high patrician souls, dress'd heavenly gay, Sit clad in lawn of purer woven day. There some high-spirited throne to Sancroft shall be given, In the metropolis of Heaven; Chief of the mitred saints, and from archprelate here, Translated to archangel there.
Since, happy saint, since it has been of late Either our blindness or our fate, To lose the providence of thy cares Pity a miserable church's tears, That begs the powerful blessing of thy prayers. Some angel, say, what were the nation's crimes, That sent these wild reformers to our times: Say what their senseless malice meant, To tear religion's lovely face: Strip her of every ornament and grace; In striving to wash off th'imaginary paint? Religion now does on her death-bed lie, Heart-sick of a high fever and consuming atrophy; How the physicians swarm to show their mortal skill, And by their college arts methodically kill: Reformers and physicians differ but in name, One end in both, and the design the same; Cordials are in their talk, while all they mean Is but the patient's death, and gain— Check in thy satire, angry Muse, Or a more worthy subject choose: Let not the outcasts of an outcast age Provoke the honour of my Muse's rage, Nor be thy mighty spirit rais'd, Since Heaven and Cato both are pleas'd—
[The rest of the poem is lost.]
[Footnote 1: Born Jan., 1616-17; died 1693. For his life, see "Dictionary of National Biography."—W. E. B.]
ODE TO THE HON. SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE
WRITTEN AT MOOR-PARK IN JUNE 1689
Virtue, the greatest of all monarchies! Till its first emperor, rebellious man, Deposed from off his seat, It fell, and broke with its own weight Into small states and principalities, By many a petty lord possess'd, But ne'er since seated in one single breast. 'Tis you who must this land subdue, The mighty conquest's left for you, The conquest and discovery too: Search out this Utopian ground, Virtue's Terra Incognita, Where none ever led the way, Nor ever since but in descriptions found; Like the philosopher's stone, With rules to search it, yet obtain'd by none.
We have too long been led astray; Too long have our misguided souls been taught With rules from musty morals brought, 'Tis you must put us in the way; Let us (for shame!) no more be fed With antique relics of the dead, The gleanings of philosophy; Philosophy, the lumber of the schools, The roguery of alchymy; And we, the bubbled fools, Spend all our present life, in hopes of golden rules.
But what does our proud ignorance Learning call? We oddly Plato's paradox make good, Our knowledge is but mere remembrance all; Remembrance is our treasure and our food; Nature's fair table-book, our tender souls, We scrawl all o'er with old and empty rules, Stale memorandums of the schools: For learning's mighty treasures look Into that deep grave, a book; Think that she there does all her treasures hide, And that her troubled ghost still haunts there since she died; Confine her walks to colleges and schools; Her priests, her train, and followers, show As if they all were spectres too! They purchase knowledge at th'expense Of common breeding, common sense, And grow at once scholars and fools; Affect ill-manner'd pedantry, Rudeness, ill-nature, incivility, And, sick with dregs and knowledge grown, Which greedily they swallow down, Still cast it up, and nauseate company.
Curst be the wretch! nay, doubly curst! (If it may lawful be To curse our greatest enemy,) Who learn'd himself that heresy first, (Which since has seized on all the rest,) That knowledge forfeits all humanity; Taught us, like Spaniards, to be proud and poor, And fling our scraps before our door! Thrice happy you have 'scaped this general pest; Those mighty epithets, learned, good, and great, Which we ne'er join'd before, but in romances meet, We find in you at last united grown. You cannot be compared to one: I must, like him that painted Venus' face, Borrow from every one a grace; Virgil and Epicurus will not do, Their courting a retreat like you, Unless I put in Caesar's learning too: Your happy frame at once controls This great triumvirate of souls.
Let not old Rome boast Fabius' fate; He sav'd his country by delays, But you by peace. You bought it at a cheaper rate; Nor has it left the usual bloody scar, To show it cost its price in war; War, that mad game the world so loves to play, And for it does so dearly pay; For, though with loss, or victory, a while Fortune the gamesters does beguile, Yet at the last the box sweeps all away.
Only the laurel got by peace No thunder e'er can blast: Th'artillery of the skies Shoots to the earth and dies: And ever green and flourishing 'twill last, Nor dipt in blood, nor widows' tears, nor orphans' cries. About the head crown'd with these bays, Like lambent fire, the lightning plays; Nor, its triumphal cavalcade to grace, Makes up its solemn train with death; It melts the sword of war, yet keeps it in the sheath.
The wily shafts of state, those jugglers' tricks, Which we call deep designs and politics, (As in a theatre the ignorant fry, Because the cords escape their eye, Wonder to see the motions fly,) Methinks, when you expose the scene, Down the ill-organ'd engines fall; Off fly the vizards, and discover all: How plain I see through the deceit! How shallow, and how gross, the cheat! Look where the pulley's tied above! Great God! (said I) what have I seen! On what poor engines move The thoughts of monarchs and designs of states! What petty motives rule their fates! How the mouse makes the mighty mountains shake! The mighty mountain labours with its birth, Away the frighten'd peasants fly, Scared at the unheard-of prodigy, Expect some great gigantic son of earth; Lo! it appears! See how they tremble! how they quake! Out starts the little beast, and mocks their idle fears.
Then tell, dear favourite Muse! What serpent's that which still resorts, Still lurks in palaces and courts? Take thy unwonted flight, And on the terrace light. See where she lies! See how she rears her head, And rolls about her dreadful eyes, To drive all virtue out, or look it dead! 'Twas sure this basilisk sent Temple thence, And though as some ('tis said) for their defence Have worn a casement o'er their skin, So wore he his within, Made up of virtue and transparent innocence; And though he oft renew'd the fight, And almost got priority of sight, He ne'er could overcome her quite, In pieces cut, the viper still did reunite; Till, at last, tired with loss of time and ease, Resolved to give himself, as well as country, peace.
Sing, beloved Muse! the pleasures of retreat, And in some untouch'd virgin strain, Show the delights thy sister Nature yields; Sing of thy vales, sing of thy woods, sing of thy fields; Go, publish o'er the plain How mighty a proselyte you gain! How noble a reprisal on the great! How is the Muse luxuriant grown! Whene'er she takes this flight, She soars clear out of sight. These are the paradises of her own: Thy Pegasus, like an unruly horse, Though ne'er so gently led, To the loved pastures where he used to feed, Runs violent o'er his usual course. Wake from thy wanton dreams, Come from thy dear-loved streams, The crooked paths of wandering Thames. Fain the fair nymph would stay, Oft she looks back in vain, Oft 'gainst her fountain does complain, And softly steals in many windings down, As loth to see the hated court and town; And murmurs as she glides away.
In this new happy scene Are nobler subjects for your learned pen; Here we expect from you More than your predecessor Adam knew; Whatever moves our wonder, or our sport, Whatever serves for innocent emblems of the court; How that which we a kernel see, (Whose well-compacted forms escape the light, Unpierced by the blunt rays of sight,) Shall ere long grow into a tree; Whence takes it its increase, and whence its birth, Or from the sun, or from the air, or from the earth, Where all the fruitful atoms lie; How some go downward to the root, Some more ambitious upwards fly, And form the leaves, the branches, and the fruit. You strove to cultivate a barren court in vain, Your garden's better worth your nobler pain, Here mankind fell, and hence must rise again.
Shall I believe a spirit so divine Was cast in the same mould with mine? Why then does Nature so unjustly share Among her elder sons the whole estate, And all her jewels and her plate? Poor we! cadets of Heaven, not worth her care, Take up at best with lumber and the leavings of a fare: Some she binds 'prentice to the spade, Some to the drudgery of a trade: Some she does to Egyptian bondage draw, Bids us make bricks, yet sends us to look out for straw: Some she condemns for life to try To dig the leaden mines of deep philosophy: Me she has to the Muse's galleys tied: In vain I strive to cross the spacious main, In vain I tug and pull the oar; And when I almost reach the shore, Straight the Muse turns the helm, and I launch out again: And yet, to feed my pride, Whene'er I mourn, stops my complaining breath, With promise of a mad reversion after death.
Then, Sir, accept this worthless verse, The tribute of an humble Muse, 'Tis all the portion of my niggard stars; Nature the hidden spark did at my birth infuse, And kindled first with indolence and ease; And since too oft debauch'd by praise, 'Tis now grown an incurable disease: In vain to quench this foolish fire I try In wisdom and philosophy: In vain all wholesome herbs I sow, Where nought but weeds will grow Whate'er I plant (like corn on barren earth) By an equivocal birth, Seeds, and runs up to poetry.
[Footnote 1: Sir William Temple was ambassador to the States of Holland, and had a principal share in the negotiations which preceded the treaty of Nimeguen, 1679.]
ODE TO KING WILLIAM
ON HIS SUCCESSES IN IRELAND
To purchase kingdoms and to buy renown, Are arts peculiar to dissembling France; You, mighty monarch, nobler actions crown, And solid virtue does your name advance.
Your matchless courage with your prudence joins, The glorious structure of your fame to raise; With its own light your dazzling glory shines, And into adoration turns our praise.
Had you by dull succession gain'd your crown, (Cowards are monarchs by that title made,) Part of your merit Chance would call her own, And half your virtues had been lost in shade.
But now your worth its just reward shall have: What trophies and what triumphs are your due! Who could so well a dying nation save, At once deserve a crown, and gain it too.
You saw how near we were to ruin brought, You saw th'impetuous torrent rolling on; And timely on the coming danger thought, Which we could neither obviate nor shun.
Britannia stripp'd of her sole guard, the laws, Ready to fall Rome's bloody sacrifice; You straight stepp'd in, and from the monster's jaws Did bravely snatch the lovely, helpless prize.
Nor this is all; as glorious is the care To preserve conquests, as at first to gain: In this your virtue claims a double share, Which, what it bravely won, does well maintain.
Your arm has now your rightful title show'd, An arm on which all Europe's hopes depend, To which they look as to some guardian God, That must their doubtful liberty defend.
Amazed, thy action at the Boyne we see! When Schomberg started at the vast design: The boundless glory all redounds to thee, The impulse, the fight, th'event, were wholly thine.
The brave attempt does all our foes disarm; You need but now give orders and command, Your name shall the remaining work perform, And spare the labour of your conquering hand.
France does in vain her feeble arts apply, To interrupt the fortune of your course: Your influence does the vain attacks defy Of secret malice, or of open force.
Boldly we hence the brave commencement date Of glorious deeds, that must all tongues employ; William's the pledge and earnest given by fate, Of England's glory, and her lasting joy.
ODE TO THE ATHENIAN SOCIETY
Moor Park, Feb. 14, 1691.
As when the deluge first began to fall, That mighty ebb never to flow again, When this huge body's moisture was so great, It quite o'ercame the vital heat; That mountain which was highest, first of all Appear'd above the universal main, To bless the primitive sailor's weary sight; And 'twas perhaps Parnassus, if in height It be as great as 'tis in fame, And nigh to Heaven as is its name; So, after the inundation of a war, When learning's little household did embark, With her world's fruitful system, in her sacred ark, At the first ebb of noise and fears, Philosophy's exalted head appears; And the Dove-Muse will now no longer stay, But plumes her silver wings, and flies away; And now a laurel wreath she brings from far, To crown the happy conqueror, To show the flood begins to cease, And brings the dear reward of victory and peace.
The eager Muse took wing upon the waves' decline, When war her cloudy aspect just withdrew, When the bright sun of peace began to shine, And for a while in heavenly contemplation sat, On the high top of peaceful Ararat; And pluck'd a laurel branch, (for laurel was the first that grew, The first of plants after the thunder, storm and rain,) And thence, with joyful, nimble wing, Flew dutifully back again, And made an humble chaplet for the king. And the Dove-Muse is fled once more, (Glad of the victory, yet frighten'd at the war,) And now discovers from afar A peaceful and a flourishing shore: No sooner did she land On the delightful strand, Than straight she sees the country all around, Where fatal Neptune ruled erewhile, Scatter'd with flowery vales, with fruitful gardens crown'd, And many a pleasant wood; As if the universal Nile Had rather water'd it than drown'd: It seems some floating piece of Paradise, Preserved by wonder from the flood, Long wandering through the deep, as we are told Famed Delos did of old; And the transported Muse imagined it To be a fitter birth-place for the God of wit, Or the much-talk'd-of oracular grove; When, with amazing joy, she hears An unknown music all around, Charming her greedy ears With many a heavenly song Of nature and of art, of deep philosophy and love; While angels tune the voice, and God inspires the tongue. In vain she catches at the empty sound, In vain pursues the music with her longing eye, And courts the wanton echoes as they fly.
Pardon, ye great unknown, and far-exalted men, The wild excursions of a youthful pen; Forgive a young and (almost) virgin Muse, Whom blind and eager curiosity (Yet curiosity, they say, Is in her sex a crime needs no excuse) Has forced to grope her uncouth way, After a mighty light that leads her wandering eye: No wonder then she quits the narrow path of sense For a dear ramble through impertinence; Impertinence! the scurvy of mankind. And all we fools, who are the greater part of it, Though we be of two different factions still, Both the good-natured and the ill, Yet wheresoe'er you look, you'll always find We join, like flies and wasps, in buzzing about wit. In me, who am of the first sect of these, All merit, that transcends the humble rules Of my own dazzled scanty sense, Begets a kinder folly and impertinence Of admiration and of praise. And our good brethren of the surly sect, Must e'en all herd us with their kindred fools: For though possess'd of present vogue, they've made Railing a rule of wit, and obloquy a trade; Yet the same want of brains produces each effect. And you, whom Pluto's helm does wisely shroud From us, the blind and thoughtless crowd, Like the famed hero in his mother's cloud, Who both our follies and impertinences see, Do laugh perhaps at theirs, and pity mine and me.
But censure's to be understood Th'authentic mark of the elect, The public stamp Heaven sets on all that's great and good, Our shallow search and judgment to direct. The war, methinks, has made Our wit and learning narrow as our trade; Instead of boldly sailing far, to buy A stock of wisdom and philosophy, We fondly stay at home, in fear Of every censuring privateer; Forcing a wretched trade by beating down the sale, And selling basely by retail. The wits, I mean the atheists of the age, Who fain would rule the pulpit, as they do the stage, Wondrous refiners of philosophy, Of morals and divinity, By the new modish system of reducing all to sense, Against all logic, and concluding laws, Do own th'effects of Providence, And yet deny the cause.
This hopeful sect, now it begins to see How little, very little, do prevail Their first and chiefest force To censure, to cry down, and rail, Not knowing what, or where, or who you be, Will quickly take another course: And, by their never-failing ways Of solving all appearances they please, We soon shall see them to their ancient methods fall, And straight deny you to be men, or anything at all. I laugh at the grave answer they will make, Which they have always ready, general, and cheap: 'Tis but to say, that what we daily meet, And by a fond mistake Perhaps imagine to be wondrous wit, And think, alas! to be by mortals writ, Is but a crowd of atoms justling in a heap: Which, from eternal seeds begun, Justling some thousand years, till ripen'd by the sun: They're now, just now, as naturally born, As from the womb of earth a field of corn.
But as for poor contented me, Who must my weakness and my ignorance confess, That I believe in much I ne'er can hope to see; Methinks I'm satisfied to guess, That this new, noble, and delightful scene, Is wonderfully moved by some exalted men, Who have well studied in the world's disease, (That epidemic error and depravity, Or in our judgment or our eye,) That what surprises us can only please. We often search contentedly the whole world round, To make some great discovery, And scorn it when 'tis found. Just so the mighty Nile has suffer'd in its fame, Because 'tis said (and perhaps only said) We've found a little inconsiderable head, That feeds the huge unequal stream. Consider human folly, and you'll quickly own, That all the praises it can give, By which some fondly boast they shall for ever live, Won't pay th'impertinence of being known: Else why should the famed Lydian king, (Whom all the charms of an usurped wife and state, With all that power unfelt, courts mankind to be great, Did with new unexperienced glories wait,) Still wear, still dote on his invisible ring?
Were I to form a regular thought of Fame, Which is, perhaps, as hard t'imagine right, As to paint Echo to the sight, I would not draw the idea from an empty name; Because, alas! when we all die, Careless and ignorant posterity, Although they praise the learning and the wit, And though the title seems to show The name and man by whom the book was writ, Yet how shall they be brought to know, Whether that very name was he, or you, or I? Less should I daub it o'er with transitory praise, And water-colours of these days: These days! where e'en th'extravagance of poetry Is at a loss for figures to express Men's folly, whimseys, and inconstancy, And by a faint description makes them less. Then tell us what is Fame, where shall we search for it? Look where exalted Virtue and Religion sit, Enthroned with heavenly Wit! Look where you see The greatest scorn of learned vanity! (And then how much a nothing is mankind! Whose reason is weigh'd down by popular air, Who, by that, vainly talks of baffling death; And hopes to lengthen life by a transfusion of breath, Which yet whoe'er examines right will find To be an art as vain as bottling up of wind!) And when you find out these, believe true Fame is there, Far above all reward, yet to which all is due: And this, ye great unknown! is only known in you.
The juggling sea-god, when by chance trepann'd By some instructed querist sleeping on the sand, Impatient of all answers, straight became A stealing brook, and strove to creep away Into his native sea, Vex'd at their follies, murmur'd in his stream; But disappointed of his fond desire, Would vanish in a pyramid of fire. This surly, slippery God, when he design'd To furnish his escapes, Ne'er borrow'd more variety of shapes Than you, to please and satisfy mankind, And seem (almost) transform'd to water, flame, and air, So well you answer all phenomena there: Though madmen and the wits, philosophers and fools, With all that factious or enthusiastic dotards dream, And all the incoherent jargon of the schools; Though all the fumes of fear, hope, love, and shame, Contrive to shock your minds with many a senseless doubt; Doubts where the Delphic God would grope in ignorance and night, The God of learning and of light Would want a God himself to help him out.
Philosophy, as it before us lies, Seems to have borrow'd some ungrateful taste Of doubts, impertinence, and niceties, From every age through which it pass'd, But always with a stronger relish of the last. This beauteous queen, by Heaven design'd To be the great original For man to dress and polish his uncourtly mind, In what mock habits have they put her since the fall! More oft in fools' and madmen's hands than sages', She seems a medley of all ages, With a huge farthingale to swell her fustian stuff, A new commode, a topknot, and a ruff, Her face patch'd o'er with modern pedantry, With a long sweeping train Of comments and disputes, ridiculous and vain, All of old cut with a new dye: How soon have you restored her charms, And rid her of her lumber and her books, Drest her again genteel and neat, And rather tight than great! How fond we are to court her to our arms! How much of heaven is in her naked looks!
Thus the deluding Muse oft blinds me to her ways, And ev'n my very thoughts transfers And changes all to beauty and the praise Of that proud tyrant sex of hers. The rebel Muse, alas! takes part, But with my own rebellious heart, And you with fatal and immortal wit conspire To fan th'unhappy fire. Cruel unknown! what is it you intend? Ah! could you, could you hope a poet for your friend! Rather forgive what my first transport said: May all the blood, which shall by woman's scorn be shed, Lie upon you and on your children's head! For you (ah! did I think I e'er should live to see The fatal time when that could be!) Have even increased their pride and cruelty. Woman seems now above all vanity grown, Still boasting of her great unknown Platonic champions, gain'd without one female wile, Or the vast charges of a smile; Which 'tis a shame to see how much of late You've taught the covetous wretches to o'errate, And which they've now the consciences to weigh In the same balance with our tears, And with such scanty wages pay The bondage and the slavery of years. Let the vain sex dream on; the empire comes from us; And had they common generosity, They would not use us thus. Well—though you've raised her to this high degree, Ourselves are raised as well as she; And, spite of all that they or you can do, 'Tis pride and happiness enough to me, Still to be of the same exalted sex with you.
Alas, how fleeting and how vain Is even the nobler man, our learning and our wit! I sigh whene'er I think of it: As at the closing an unhappy scene Of some great king and conqueror's death, When the sad melancholy Muse Stays but to catch his utmost breath. I grieve, this nobler work, most happily begun, So quickly and so wonderfully carried on, May fall at last to interest, folly, and abuse. There is a noontide in our lives, Which still the sooner it arrives, Although we boast our winter sun looks bright, And foolishly are glad to see it at its height, Yet so much sooner comes the long and gloomy night. No conquest ever yet begun, And by one mighty hero carried to its height, E'er flourished under a successor or a son; It lost some mighty pieces through all hands it pass'd, And vanish'd to an empty title in the last. For, when the animating mind is fled, (Which nature never can retain, Nor e'er call back again,) The body, though gigantic, lies all cold and dead.
And thus undoubtedly 'twill fare With what unhappy men shall dare To be successors to these great unknown, On learning's high-establish'd throne. Censure, and Pedantry, and Pride, Numberless nations, stretching far and wide, Shall (I foresee it) soon with Gothic swarms come forth From Ignorance's universal North, And with blind rage break all this peaceful government: Yet shall the traces of your wit remain, Like a just map, to tell the vast extent Of conquest in your short and happy reign: And to all future mankind shew How strange a paradox is true, That men who lived and died without a name Are the chief heroes in the sacred lists of fame.
[Footnote 1: "I have been told, that Dryden having perused these verses, said, 'Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet;' and that this denunciation was the motive of Swift's perpetual malevolence to Dryden."—Johnson in his "Life of Swift."—W. E. B.
In Malone's "Life of Dryden," p. 241, it is stated that John Dunton, the original projector of the Athenian Society, in his "Life and Errours," 1705, mentions this Ode, "which being an ingenious poem, was prefixed to the fifth Supplement of the Athenian Mercury."—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 2: The Ode I writ to the king in Ireland.—Swift.]
[Footnote 3: The floating island, which, by order of Neptune, became fixed for the use of Latona, who there brought forth Apollo and Diana. See Ovid, "Metam.," vi, 191, etc.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 4: Gyges, who, thanks to the possession of a golden ring, which made him invisible, put Candaules to death, married his widow, and mounted the throne, 716 B.C. See the story in Cicero, "De Off.," iii, 9.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 5: Proteus. See Ovid, "Fasti," lib. i.—W. E. B.]
TO MR. CONGREVE
WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER, 1693
Thrice, with a prophet's voice, and prophet's power, The Muse was called in a poetic hour, And insolently thrice the slighted maid Dared to suspend her unregarded aid; Then with that grief we form in spirits divine, Pleads for her own neglect, and thus reproaches mine. Once highly honoured! false is the pretence You make to truth, retreat, and innocence! Who, to pollute my shades, bring'st with thee down The most ungenerous vices of the town; Ne'er sprung a youth from out this isle before I once esteem'd, and loved, and favour'd more, Nor ever maid endured such courtlike scorn, So much in mode, so very city-born; 'Tis with a foul design the Muse you send, Like a cast mistress, to your wicked friend; But find some new address, some fresh deceit, Nor practise such an antiquated cheat; These are the beaten methods of the stews, Stale forms, of course, all mean deceivers use, Who barbarously think to 'scape reproach, By prostituting her they first debauch. Thus did the Muse severe unkindly blame This offering long design'd to Congreve's fame; First chid the zeal as unpoetic fire, Which soon his merit forced her to inspire; Then call this verse, that speaks her largest aid, The greatest compliment she ever made, And wisely judge, no power beneath divine Could leap the bounds which part your world and mine; For, youth, believe, to you unseen, is fix'd A mighty gulf, unpassable betwixt. Nor tax the goddess of a mean design To praise your parts by publishing of mine; That be my thought when some large bulky writ Shows in the front the ambition of my wit; There to surmount what bears me up, and sing Like the victorious wren perch'd on the eagle's wing. This could I do, and proudly o'er him tower, Were my desires but heighten'd to my power. Godlike the force of my young Congreve's bays, Softening the Muse's thunder into praise; Sent to assist an old unvanquish'd pride That looks with scorn on half mankind beside; A pride that well suspends poor mortals' fate, Gets between them and my resentment's weight, Stands in the gap 'twixt me and wretched men, T'avert th'impending judgments of my pen. Thus I look down with mercy on the age, By hopes my Congreve will reform the stage: For never did poetic mind before Produce a richer vein, or cleaner ore; The bullion stamp'd in your refining mind Serves by retail to furnish half mankind. With indignation I behold your wit Forced on me, crack'd, and clipp'd, and counterfeit, By vile pretenders, who a stock maintain From broken scraps and filings of your brain. Through native dross your share is hardly known, And by short views mistook for all their own; So small the gains those from your wit do reap, Who blend it into folly's larger heap, Like the sun's scatter'd beams which loosely pass, When some rough hand breaks the assembling glass. Yet want your critics no just cause to rail, Since knaves are ne'er obliged for what they steal. These pad on wit's high road, and suits maintain With those they rob, by what their trade does gain. Thus censure seems that fiery froth which breeds O'er the sun's face, and from his heat proceeds, Crusts o'er the day, shadowing its partent beam, As ancient nature's modern masters dream; This bids some curious praters here below Call Titan sick, because their sight is so; And well, methinks, does this allusion fit To scribblers, and the god of light and wit; Those who by wild delusions entertain A lust of rhyming for a poet's vein, Raise envy's clouds to leave themselves in night, But can no more obscure my Congreve's light, Than swarms of gnats, that wanton in a ray Which gave them birth, can rob the world of day. What northern hive pour'd out these foes to wit? Whence came these Goths to overrun the pit? How would you blush the shameful birth to hear Of those you so ignobly stoop to fear; For, ill to them, long have I travell'd since, Round all the circles of impertinence, Search'd in the nest where every worm did lie Before it grew a city butterfly; I'm sure I found them other kind of things Than those with backs of silk and golden wings; A search, no doubt, as curious and as wise As virtuosoes' in dissecting flies: For, could you think? the fiercest foes you dread, And court in prologues, all are country bred; Bred in my scene, and for the poet's sins Adjourn'd from tops and grammar to the inns; Those beds of dung, where schoolboys sprout up beaux Far sooner than the nobler mushroom grows: These are the lords of the poetic schools, Who preach the saucy pedantry of rules; Those powers the critics, who may boast the odds O'er Nile, with all its wilderness of gods; Nor could the nations kneel to viler shapes, Which worshipp'd cats, and sacrificed to apes; And can you think the wise forbear to laugh At the warm zeal that breeds this golden calf? Haply you judge these lines severely writ Against the proud usurpers of the pit; Stay while I tell my story, short, and true; To draw conclusions shall be left to you; Nor need I ramble far to force a rule, But lay the scene just here at Farnham school. Last year, a lad hence by his parents sent With other cattle to the city went; Where having cast his coat, and well pursued The methods most in fashion to be lewd, Return'd a finish'd spark this summer down, Stock'd with the freshest gibberish of the town; A jargon form'd from the lost language, wit, Confounded in that Babel of the pit; Form'd by diseased conceptions, weak and wild, Sick lust of souls, and an abortive child; Born between whores and fops, by lewd compacts, Before the play, or else between the acts; Nor wonder, if from such polluted minds Should spring such short and transitory kinds, Or crazy rules to make us wits by rote, Last just as long as every cuckoo's note: What bungling, rusty tools are used by fate! 'Twas in an evil hour to urge my hate, My hate, whose lash just Heaven has long decreed Shall on a day make sin and folly bleed: When man's ill genius to my presence sent This wretch, to rouse my wrath, for ruin meant; Who in his idiom vile, with Gray's-Inn grace, Squander'd his noisy talents to my face; Named every player on his fingers' ends, Swore all the wits were his peculiar friends; Talk'd with that saucy and familiar ease Of Wycherly, and you, and Mr. Bayes: Said, how a late report your friends had vex'd, Who heard you meant to write heroics next; For, tragedy, he knew, would lose you quite, And told you so at Will's but t'other night. Thus are the lives of fools a sort of dreams, Rendering shades things, and substances of names; Such high companions may delusion keep, Lords are a footboy's cronies in his sleep. As a fresh miss, by fancy, face, and gown, Render'd the topping beauty of the town, Draws every rhyming, prating, dressing sot, To boast of favours that he never got; Of which, whoe'er lacks confidence to prate, Brings his good parts and breeding in debate; And not the meanest coxcomb you can find, But thanks his stars, that Phillis has been kind; Thus prostitute my Congreve's name is grown To every lewd pretender of the town. Troth, I could pity you; but this is it, You find, to be the fashionable wit; These are the slaves whom reputation chains, Whose maintenance requires no help from brains. For, should the vilest scribbler to the pit, Whom sin and want e'er furnish'd out a wit; Whose name must not within my lines be shown, Lest here it live, when perish'd with his own; Should such a wretch usurp my Congreve's place, And choose out wits who ne'er have seen his face; I'll bet my life but the dull cheat would pass, Nor need the lion's skin conceal the ass; Yes, that beau's look, that vice, those critic ears, Must needs be right, so well resembling theirs. Perish the Muse's hour thus vainly spent In satire, to my Congreve's praises meant; In how ill season her resentments rule, What's that to her if mankind be a fool? Happy beyond a private Muse's fate, In pleasing all that's good among the great, Where though her elder sisters crowding throng, She still is welcome with her innocent song; Whom were my Congreve blest to see and know, What poor regards would merit all below! How proudly would he haste the joy to meet, And drop his laurel at Apollo's feet! Here by a mountain's side, a reverend cave Gives murmuring passage to a lasting wave: 'Tis the world's watery hour-glass streaming fast, Time is no more when th'utmost drop is past; Here, on a better day, some druid dwelt, And the young Muse's early favour felt; Druid, a name she does with pride repeat, Confessing Albion once her darling seat; Far in this primitive cell might we pursue Our predecessors' footsteps still in view; Here would we sing—But, ah! you think I dream, And the bad world may well believe the same; Yes: you are all malicious slanders by, While two fond lovers prate, the Muse and I. Since thus I wander from my first intent, Nor am that grave adviser which I meant, Take this short lesson from the god of bays, And let my friend apply it as he please: Beat not the dirty paths where vulgar feet have trod, But give the vigorous fancy room. For when, like stupid alchymists, you try To fix this nimble god, This volatile mercury, The subtile spirit all flies up in fume; Nor shall the bubbled virtuoso find More than fade insipid mixture left behind. While thus I write, vast shoals of critics come, And on my verse pronounce their saucy doom; The Muse like some bright country virgin shows Fallen by mishap among a knot of beaux; They, in their lewd and fashionable prate, Rally her dress, her language, and her gait; Spend their base coin before the bashful maid, Current like copper, and as often paid: She, who on shady banks has joy'd to sleep Near better animals, her father's sheep, Shamed and amazed, beholds the chattering throng, To think what cattle she is got among; But with the odious smell and sight annoy'd, In haste she does th'offensive herd avoid. 'Tis time to bid my friend a long farewell, The muse retreats far in yon crystal cell; Faint inspiration sickens as she flies, Like distant echo spent, the spirit dies. In this descending sheet you'll haply find Some short refreshment for your weary mind, Nought it contains is common or unclean, And once drawn up, is ne'er let down again.
[Footnote 1: Where Swift lived with Sir William Temple, who had bought an estate near Farnham, called Compton Hall, which he afterwards named Moor Park. See "Prose Works," vol. xi, 378.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 2: Dryden. See "The Rehearsal," and post, p. 43.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 3: Will's coffee-house in Russell Street, Covent Garden, where the wits of that time used to assemble. See "The Tatler," No. I, and notes, edit. 1786.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 4: To this resolution Swift always adhered; for of the infinite multitude of libellers who personally attacked him, there is not the name mentioned of any one of them throughout his works; and thus, together with their writings, have they been consigned to eternal oblivion.—S.]
[Footnote 5: This alludes to Sir William Temple, to whom he presently gives the name of Apollo.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 6: Out of an Ode I writ, inscribed "The Poet." The rest of it is lost.—Swift.]
[Footnote 7: For an account of Congreve, see Leigh Hunt's edition of "Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar."—W. E. B.]
OCCASIONED BY SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S LATE ILLNESS AND RECOVERY
WRITTEN IN DECEMBER, 1693
Strange to conceive, how the same objects strike At distant hours the mind with forms so like! Whether in time, Deduction's broken chain Meets, and salutes her sister link again; Or haunted Fancy, by a circling flight, Comes back with joy to its own seat at night; Or whether dead Imagination's ghost Oft hovers where alive it haunted most; Or if Thought's rolling globe, her circle run, Turns up old objects to the soul her sun; Or loves the Muse to walk with conscious pride O'er the glad scene whence first she rose a bride: Be what it will; late near yon whispering stream, Where her own Temple was her darling theme; There first the visionary sound was heard, When to poetic view the Muse appear'd. Such seem'd her eyes, as when an evening ray Gives glad farewell to a tempestuous day; Weak is the beam to dry up Nature's tears, Still every tree the pendent sorrow wears; Such are the smiles where drops of crystal show Approaching joy at strife with parting woe. As when, to scare th'ungrateful or the proud, Tempests long frown, and thunder threatens loud, Till the blest sun, to give kind dawn of grace, Darts weeping beams across Heaven's watery face; When soon the peaceful bow unstring'd is shown, A sign God's dart is shot, and wrath o'erblown: Such to unhallow'd sight the Muse divine Might seem, when first she raised her eyes to mine. What mortal change does in thy face appear, Lost youth, she cried, since first I met thee here! With how undecent clouds are overcast Thy looks, when every cause of grief is past! Unworthy the glad tidings which I bring, Listen while the Muse thus teaches thee to sing: As parent earth, burst by imprison'd winds, Scatters strange agues o'er men's sickly minds, And shakes the atheist's knees; such ghastly fear Late I beheld on every face appear; Mild Dorothea, peaceful, wise, and great, Trembling beheld the doubtful hand of fate; Mild Dorothea, whom we both have long Not dared to injure with our lowly song; Sprung from a better world, and chosen then The best companion for the best of men: As some fair pile, yet spared by zeal and rage, Lives pious witness of a better age; So men may see what once was womankind, In the fair shrine of Dorothea's mind. You that would grief describe, come here and trace Its watery footsteps in Dorinda's face: Grief from Dorinda's face does ne'er depart Farther than its own palace in her heart: Ah, since our fears are fled, this insolent expel, At least confine the tyrant to his cell. And if so black the cloud that Heaven's bright queen Shrouds her still beams; how should the stars be seen? Thus when Dorinda wept, joy every face forsook, And grief flung sables on each menial look; The humble tribe mourn'd for the quick'ning soul, That furnish'd spirit and motion through the whole; So would earth's face turn pale, and life decay, Should Heaven suspend to act but for a day; So nature's crazed convulsions make us dread That time is sick, or the world's mind is dead.— Take, youth, these thoughts, large matter to employ The fancy furnish'd by returning joy; And to mistaken man these truths rehearse, Who dare revile the integrity of verse: Ah, favourite youth, how happy is thy lot!— But I'm deceived, or thou regard'st me not; Speak, for I wait thy answer, and expect Thy just submission for this bold neglect. Unknown the forms we the high-priesthood use At the divine appearance of the Muse, Which to divulge might shake profane belief, And tell the irreligion of my grief; Grief that excused the tribute of my knees, And shaped my passion in such words as these! Malignant goddess! bane to my repose, Thou universal cause of all my woes; Say whence it comes that thou art grown of late A poor amusement for my scorn and hate; The malice thou inspirest I never fail On thee to wreak the tribute when I rail; Fool's commonplace thou art, their weak ensconcing fort, Th'appeal of dulness in the last resort: Heaven, with a parent's eye regarding earth, Deals out to man the planet of his birth: But sees thy meteor blaze about me shine, And passing o'er, mistakes thee still for mine: Ah, should I tell a secret yet unknown, That thou ne'er hadst a being of thy own, But a wild form dependent on the brain, Scattering loose features o'er the optic vein; Troubling the crystal fountain of the sight, Which darts on poets' eyes a trembling light; Kindled while reason sleeps, but quickly flies, Like antic shapes in dreams, from waking eyes: In sum, a glitt'ring voice, a painted name, A walking vapour, like thy sister fame. But if thou be'st what thy mad votaries prate, A female power, loose govern'd thoughts create; Why near the dregs of youth perversely wilt thou stay, So highly courted by the brisk and gay? Wert thou right woman, thou should'st scorn to look On an abandon'd wretch by hopes forsook; Forsook by hopes, ill fortune's last relief, Assign'd for life to unremitting grief; For, let Heaven's wrath enlarge these weary days, If hope e'er dawns the smallest of its rays. Time o'er the happy takes so swift a flight, And treads so soft, so easy, and so light, That we the wretched, creeping far behind, Can scarce th'impression of his footsteps find; Smooth as that airy nymph so subtly born With inoffensive feet o'er standing corn; Which bow'd by evening breeze with bending stalks, Salutes the weary traveller as he walks; But o'er the afflicted with a heavy pace Sweeps the broad scythe, and tramples on his face. Down falls the summer's pride, and sadly shows Nature's bare visage furrow'd as he mows: See, Muse, what havoc in these looks appear, These are the tyrant's trophies of a year; Since hope his last and greatest foe is fled, Despair and he lodge ever in its stead; March o'er the ruin'd plain with motion slow, Still scattering desolation where they go. To thee I owe that fatal bent of mind, Still to unhappy restless thoughts inclined; To thee, what oft I vainly strive to hide, That scorn of fools, by fools mistook for pride; From thee whatever virtue takes its rise, Grows a misfortune, or becomes a vice; Such were thy rules to be poetically great: "Stoop not to interest, flattery, or deceit; Nor with hired thoughts be thy devotion paid; Learn to disdain their mercenary aid; Be this thy sure defence, thy brazen wall, Know no base action, at no guilt turn pale; And since unhappy distance thus denies T'expose thy soul, clad in this poor disguise; Since thy few ill-presented graces seem To breed contempt where thou hast hoped esteem—" Madness like this no fancy ever seized, Still to be cheated, never to be pleased; Since one false beam of joy in sickly minds Is all the poor content delusion finds.— There thy enchantment broke, and from this hour I here renounce thy visionary power; And since thy essence on my breath depends Thus with a puff the whole delusion ends.
[Footnote 1: Dorothy, Sir William Temple's wife, a daughter of Sir Peter Osborne. She was in some way related to Swift's mother, which led to Temple taking Swift into his family. Dorothy died in January, 1695, at Moor Park, aged 65, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Sir William died in January, 1698, "and with him," says Swift, "all that was good and amiable among men." He was buried in Westminster Abbey by the side of his wife.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 2: Swift's poetical name for Dorothy, Lady Temple.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 3: "—when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er th'unbending corn, and skims along the main." POPE, Essay on Criticism, 372-3.]
[Footnote 4: "Hic murus aheneus esto, Nil conseire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa." HOR., Epist. 1, I, 60.]
WRITTEN IN A LADY'S IVORY TABLE-BOOK, 1698
Peruse my leaves thro' ev'ry part, And think thou seest my owner's heart, Scrawl'd o'er with trifles thus, and quite As hard, as senseless, and as light; Expos'd to ev'ry coxcomb's eyes, But hid with caution from the wise. Here you may read, "Dear charming saint;" Beneath, "A new receipt for paint:" Here, in beau-spelling, "Tru tel deth;" There, in her own, "For an el breth:" Here, "Lovely nymph, pronounce my doom!" There, "A safe way to use perfume:" Here, a page fill'd with billets-doux; On t'other side, "Laid out for shoes"— "Madam, I die without your grace"— "Item, for half a yard of lace." Who that had wit would place it here, For ev'ry peeping fop to jeer? To think that your brains' issue is Exposed to th'excrement of his, In pow'r of spittle and a clout, Whene'er he please, to blot it out; And then, to heighten the disgrace, Clap his own nonsense in the place. Whoe'er expects to hold his part In such a book, and such a heart, If he be wealthy, and a fool, Is in all points the fittest tool; Of whom it may be justly said, He's a gold pencil tipp'd with lead.
MRS. FRANCES HARRIS'S PETITION, 1699
This, the most humorous example of vers de societe in the English language, well illustrates the position of a parson in a family of distinction at that period.—W. E. B.
To their Excellencies the Lords Justices of Ireland, The humble petition of Frances Harris, Who must starve and die a maid if it miscarries; Humbly sheweth, that I went to warm myself in Lady Betty's chamber, because I was cold; And I had in a purse seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence, (besides farthings) in money and gold; So because I had been buying things for my lady last night, I was resolved to tell my money, to see if it was right. Now, you must know, because my trunk has a very bad lock, Therefore all the money I have, which, God knows, is a very small stock, I keep in my pocket, ty'd about my middle, next my smock. So when I went to put up my purse, as God would have it, my smock was unript, And instead of putting it into my pocket, down it slipt; Then the bell rung, and I went down to put my lady to bed; And, God knows, I thought my money was as safe as my maidenhead. So, when I came up again, I found my pocket feel very light; But when I search'd, and miss'd my purse, Lord! I thought I should have sunk outright. "Lord! madam," says Mary, "how d'ye do?"—"Indeed," says I, "never worse: But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done with my purse?" "Lord help me!" says Mary, "I never stirr'd out of this place!" "Nay," said I, "I had it in Lady Betty's chamber, that's a plain case." So Mary got me to bed, and cover'd me up warm: However, she stole away my garters, that I might do myself no harm. So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very well think, But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a wink. So I was a-dream'd, methought, that I went and search'd the folks round, And in a corner of Mrs. Duke's box, ty'd in a rag, the money was found. So next morning we told Whittle, and he fell a swearing: Then my dame Wadgar came, and she, you know, is thick of hearing. "Dame," said I, as loud as I could bawl, "do you know what a loss I have had?" "Nay," says she, "my Lord Colway's folks are all very sad: For my Lord Dromedary comes a Tuesday without fail." "Pugh!" said I, "but that's not the business that I ail." Says Cary, says he, "I have been a servant this five and twenty years come spring, And in all the places I lived I never heard of such a thing." "Yes," says the steward, "I remember when I was at my Lord Shrewsbury's, Such a thing as this happen'd, just about the time of gooseberries." So I went to the party suspected, and I found her full of grief: (Now, you must know, of all things in the world I hate a thief:) However, I was resolved to bring the discourse slily about: "Mrs. Duke," said I, "here's an ugly accident has happened out: 'Tis not that I value the money three skips of a louse: But the thing I stand upon is the credit of the house. 'Tis true, seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence makes a great hole in my wages: Besides, as they say, service is no inheritance in these ages. Now, Mrs. Duke, you know, and everybody understands, That though 'tis hard to judge, yet money can't go without hands." "The devil take me!" said she, (blessing herself,) "if ever I saw't!" So she roar'd like a bedlam, as thof I had call'd her all to naught. So, you know, what could I say to her any more? I e'en left her, and came away as wise as I was before. Well; but then they would have had me gone to the cunning man: "No," said I, "'tis the same thing, the CHAPLAIN will be here anon." So the Chaplain came in. Now the servants say he is my sweetheart, Because he's always in my chamber, and I always take his part. So, as the devil would have it, before I was aware, out I blunder'd, "Parson" said I, "can you cast a nativity, when a body's plunder'd?" (Now you must know, he hates to be called Parson, like the devil!) "Truly," says he, "Mrs. Nab, it might become you to be more civil; If your money be gone, as a learned Divine says, d'ye see, You are no text for my handling; so take that from me: I was never taken for a Conjurer before, I'd have you to know." "Lord!" said I, "don't be angry, I am sure I never thought you so; You know I honour the cloth; I design to be a Parson's wife; I never took one in your coat for a conjurer in all my life." With that he twisted his girdle at me like a rope, as who should say, "Now you may go hang yourself for me!" and so went away. Well: I thought I should have swoon'd. "Lord!" said I, "what shall I do? I have lost my money, and shall lose my true love too!" Then my lord call'd me: "Harry," said my lord, "don't cry; I'll give you something toward thy loss." "And," says my lady, "so will I." Oh! but, said I, what if, after all, the Chaplain won't come to? For that, he said (an't please your Excellencies), I must petition you. The premisses tenderly consider'd, I desire your Excellencies' protection, And that I may have a share in next Sunday's collection; And, over and above, that I may have your Excellencies' letter, With an order for the Chaplain aforesaid, or, instead of him, a better: And then your poor petitioner, both night and day, Or the Chaplain (for 'tis his trade,) as in duty bound, shall ever pray.
[Footnote 1: The Earl of Berkeley and the Earl of Galway.]
[Footnote 2: Lady Betty Berkeley, afterwards Germaine.]
[Footnote 3: Wife to one of the footmen.]
[Footnote 4: The Earl of Berkeley's valet.]
[Footnote 5: The old deaf housekeeper.]
[Footnote 6: Galway.]
[Footnote 7: The Earl of Drogheda, who, with the primate, was to succeed the two earls, then lords justices of Ireland.]
[Footnote 8: Clerk of the kitchen.]
[Footnote 9: Ferris; whom the poet terms in his Journal to Stella, 21st Dec., 1710, a "beast," and a "Scoundrel dog." See "Prose Works," ii, p. 79—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 10: A usual saying of hers.—Swift.]
[Footnote 11: Swift.]
[Footnote 12: Dr. Bolton, one of the chaplains.—Faulkner.]
[Footnote 13: A cant word of Lord and Lady Berkeley to Mrs. Harris.]
[Footnote 14: Swift elsewhere terms his own calling a trade. See his letter to Pope, 29th Sept., 1725, cited in Introduction to Gulliver, "Prose Works," vol. viii, p. xxv.—W. E. B.]
A BALLAD ON THE GAME OF TRAFFIC
WRITTEN AT THE CASTLE OF DUBLIN, 1699
My Lord, to find out who must deal, Delivers cards about, But the first knave does seldom fail To find the doctor out.
But then his honour cried, Gadzooks! And seem'd to knit his brow: For on a knave he never looks But he thinks upon Jack How.
My lady, though she is no player, Some bungling partner takes, And, wedged in corner of a chair, Takes snuff, and holds the stakes.
Dame Floyd looks out in grave suspense For pair royals and sequents; But, wisely cautious of her pence, The castle seldom frequents.
Quoth Herries, fairly putting cases, I'd won it, on my word, If I had but a pair of aces, And could pick up a third.
But Weston has a new-cast gown On Sundays to be fine in, And, if she can but win a crown, 'Twill just new dye the lining.
"With these is Parson Swift, Not knowing how to spend his time, Does make a wretched shift, To deafen them with puns and rhyme."
[Footnote 1: The Earl of Berkeley.]
[Footnote 2: Paymaster to the Forces, "Prose Works," ii, 23.]
[Footnote 3: A beauty and a favourite with Swift. See his verses on her, post, p. 50. He often mentions her in the Journal to Stella, especially with respect to her having the smallpox, and her recovery. "Prose Works," ii, 138, 141, 143. 259.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 4: Mrs. Frances Harris, the heroine of the preceding poem.]
[Footnote 5: Written by Lady Betty Berkeley, afterwards wife of Sir John Germaine.]
A BALLAD TO THE TUNE OF THE CUT-PURSE
WRITTEN IN AUGUST, 1702
Once on a time, as old stories rehearse, A friar would need show his talent in Latin; But was sorely put to 't in the midst of a verse, Because he could find no word to come pat in; Then all in the place He left a void space, And so went to bed in a desperate case: When behold the next morning a wonderful riddle! He found it was strangely fill'd up in the middle. CHO. Let censuring critics then think what they list on't; Who would not write verses with such an assistant?
This put me the friar into an amazement; For he wisely consider'd it must be a sprite; That he came through the keyhole, or in at the casement; And it needs must be one that could both read and write; Yet he did not know, If it were friend or foe, Or whether it came from above or below; Howe'er, it was civil, in angel or elf, For he ne'er could have fill'd it so well of himself. CHO. Let censuring, &c.
Even so Master Doctor had puzzled his brains In making a ballad, but was at a stand; He had mixt little wit with a great deal of pains, When he found a new help from invisible hand. Then, good Doctor Swift Pay thanks for the gift, For you freely must own you were at a dead lift; And, though some malicious young spirit did do't, You may know by the hand it had no cloven foot. CHO. Let censuring, &c.
[Footnote 1: Lady Betty Berkeley, finding the preceding verses in the author's room unfinished, wrote under them the concluding stanza, which gave occasion to this ballad, written by the author in a counterfeit hand, as if a third person had done it.—Swift.
The Cut-Purse is a ballad sung by Nightingale, the ballad-singer, in Ben Jonson's "Bartholomew Fair," Act III, Sc. I. The burthen of the ballad is: "Youth, youth, thou had'st better been starv'd by thy nurse Than live to be hang'd for cutting a purse."—W. E. B.]
When wise Lord Berkeley first came here, Statesmen and mob expected wonders, Nor thought to find so great a peer Ere a week past committing blunders. Till on a day cut out by fate, When folks came thick to make their court, Out slipt a mystery of state To give the town and country sport. Now enters Bush with new state airs, His lordship's premier minister; And who in all profound affairs, Is held as needful as his clyster. With head reclining on his shoulder, He deals and hears mysterious chat, While every ignorant beholder Asks of his neighbour, who is that? With this he put up to my lord, The courtiers kept their distance due, He twitch'd his sleeve, and stole a word; Then to a corner both withdrew. Imagine now my lord and Bush Whispering in junto most profound, Like good King Phys and good King Ush, While all the rest stood gaping round. At length a spark, not too well bred, Of forward face and ear acute, Advanced on tiptoe, lean'd his head, To overhear the grand dispute; To learn what Northern kings design, Or from Whitehall some new express, Papists disarm'd, or fall of coin; For sure (thought he) it can't be less. My lord, said Bush, a friend and I, Disguised in two old threadbare coats, Ere morning's dawn, stole out to spy How markets went for hay and oats. With that he draws two handfuls out, The one was oats, the other hay; Puts this to's excellency's snout, And begs he would the other weigh. My lord seems pleased, but still directs By all means to bring down the rates; Then, with a congee circumflex, Bush, smiling round on all, retreats. Our listener stood awhile confused, But gathering spirits, wisely ran for't, Enraged to see the world abused, By two such whispering kings of Brentford.
[Footnote 1: To Ireland, as one of the Lords Justices.]
[Footnote 2: Who, by insinuating that the post of secretary was unsuitable for a clergyman, obtained it for himself, though it had been promised to Swift; and when Swift claimed the Deanery of Derry, in virtue of Lord Berkeley's promise of the "first good preferment that should fall in his gift," the earl referred him to Bush, who told him that it was promised to another, but that if he would lay down a thousand pounds for it he should have the preference. Swift, enraged at the insult, immediately left the castle; but was ultimately pacified by being presented with the Rectory of Agher and the Vicarages of Laracor and Rathbeggan. See Forster's "Life of Swift," p. 111; Birkbeck Hill's "Letters of Swift," and "Prose Works," vol. xi, 380.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 2: Always taken before my lord went to council.—Dublin Edition.]
[Footnote 3: The usurping kings in "The Rehearsal"; the celebrated farce written by the Duke of Buckingham, in conjunction with Martin Clifford, Butler, Sprat, and others, in ridicule of the rhyming tragedies then in vogue, and especially of Dryden in the character of Bayes.—See Malone's "Life of Dryden," p. 95.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 4: The usurping kings in "The Rehearsal," Act I, Sc. 1; Act II, Sc. 1; always whispering each other.—W. E. B.]
"THAT MY LORD BERKELEY STINKS WHEN HE IS IN LOVE"
Did ever problem thus perplex, Or more employ the female sex? So sweet a passion who would think, Jove ever form'd to make a stink? The ladies vow and swear, they'll try, Whether it be a truth or lie. Love's fire, it seems, like inward heat, Works in my lord by stool and sweat, Which brings a stink from every pore, And from behind and from before; Yet what is wonderful to tell it, None but the favourite nymph can smell it. But now, to solve the natural cause By sober philosophic laws; Whether all passions, when in ferment, Work out as anger does in vermin; So, when a weasel you torment, You find his passion by his scent. We read of kings, who, in a fright, Though on a throne, would fall to sh—. Beside all this, deep scholars know, That the main string of Cupid's bow, Once on a time was an a— gut; Now to a nobler office put, By favour or desert preferr'd From giving passage to a t—; But still, though fix'd among the stars, Does sympathize with human a—. Thus, when you feel a hard-bound breech, Conclude love's bow-string at full stretch, Till the kind looseness comes, and then, Conclude the bow relax'd again. And now, the ladies all are bent, To try the great experiment, Ambitious of a regent's heart, Spread all their charms to catch a f— Watching the first unsavoury wind, Some ply before, and some behind. My lord, on fire amid the dames, F—ts like a laurel in the flames. The fair approach the speaking part, To try the back-way to his heart. For, as when we a gun discharge, Although the bore be none so large, Before the flame from muzzle burst, Just at the breech it flashes first; So from my lord his passion broke, He f—d first and then he spoke. The ladies vanish in the smother, To confer notes with one another; And now they all agreed to name Whom each one thought the happy dame. Quoth Neal, whate'er the rest may think, I'm sure 'twas I that smelt the stink. You smell the stink! by G—d, you lie, Quoth Ross, for I'll be sworn 'twas I. Ladies, quoth Levens, pray forbear; Let's not fall out; we all had share; And, by the most I can discover, My lord's a universal lover.
THE DESCRIPTION OF A SALAMANDER, 1705
From Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," lib. x, 67; lib. xxix.
As mastiff dogs, in modern phrase, are Call'd Pompey, Scipio, and Caesar; As pies and daws are often styl'd With Christian nicknames, like a child; As we say Monsieur to an ape, Without offence to human shape; So men have got, from bird and brute, Names that would best their nature suit. The Lion, Eagle, Fox, and Boar, Were heroes' titles heretofore, Bestow'd as hi'roglyphics fit To show their valour, strength, or wit: For what is understood by fame, Besides the getting of a name? But, e'er since men invented guns, A diff'rent way their fancy runs: To paint a hero, we inquire For something that will conquer fire. Would you describe Turenne or Trump? Think of a bucket or a pump. Are these too low?—then find out grander, Call my LORD CUTTS a Salamander. 'Tis well;—but since we live among Detractors with an evil tongue, Who may object against the term, Pliny shall prove what we affirm: Pliny shall prove, and we'll apply, And I'll be judg'd by standers by. First, then, our author has defined This reptile of the serpent kind, With gaudy coat, and shining train; But loathsome spots his body stain: Out from some hole obscure he flies, When rains descend, and tempests rise, Till the sun clears the air; and then Crawls back neglected to his den. So, when the war has raised a storm, I've seen a snake in human form, All stain'd with infamy and vice, Leap from the dunghill in a trice, Burnish and make a gaudy show, Become a general, peer, and beau, Till peace has made the sky serene, Then shrink into its hole again. "All this we grant—why then, look yonder, Sure that must be a Salamander!" Further, we are by Pliny told, This serpent is extremely cold; So cold, that, put it in the fire, 'Twill make the very flames expire: Besides, it spues a filthy froth (Whether thro' rage or lust or both) Of matter purulent and white, Which, happening on the skin to light, And there corrupting to a wound, Spreads leprosy and baldness round. So have I seen a batter'd beau, By age and claps grown cold as snow, Whose breath or touch, where'er he came, Blew out love's torch, or chill'd the flame: And should some nymph, who ne'er was cruel, Like Carleton cheap, or famed Du-Ruel, Receive the filth which he ejects, She soon would find the same effects Her tainted carcass to pursue, As from the Salamander's spue; A dismal shedding of her locks, And, if no leprosy, a pox. "Then I'll appeal to each bystander, If this be not a Salamander?"
[Footnote 1: The famous Mareschal Turenne, general of the French forces, called the greatest commander of the age.]
[Footnote 2: Admiral of the States General in their war with England, eminent for his courage and his victories.]
[Footnote 3: Who obtained this name from his coolness under fire at the siege of Namur. See Journal to Stella, "Prose Works," vol. ii, p. 267.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 4: "Animal lacertae figura, stellatum, numquam nisi magnis imbribus proveniens et serenitate desinens."—Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," lib. x, 67.]
[Footnote 5: "Huic tantus rigor ut ignem tactu restinguat non alio modo quam glacies. ejusdem sanie, quae lactea ore vomitur, quacumque parte corporis humani contacta toti defluunt pili, idque quod contactum est colorem in vitiliginem mutat."—Lib. x, 67. "Inter omnia venenata salamandrae scelus maximum est. . . . nam si arbori inrepsit omnia poma inficit veneno, et eos qui ederint necat frigida vi nihil aconito distans."—Lib. xxix, 4, 23.—W. E. B.]