From The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume II (of 2)
Edited by William Ernst Browning
Barrister, Inner Temple
Author of The Life of Lord Chesterfield.
TO DR. SWIFT ON HIS BIRTH-DAY
While I the godlike men of old, In admiration wrapt, behold; Revered antiquity explore, And turn the long-lived volumes o'er; Where Cato, Plutarch, Flaccus, shine In every excellence divine; I grieve that our degenerate days Produce no mighty soul like these: Patriot, philosopher, and bard, Are names unknown, and seldom heard.
"Spare your reflection," Phoebus cries; "'Tis as ungrateful as unwise: Can you complain, this sacred day, That virtues or that arts decay? Behold, in Swift revived appears: The virtues of unnumber'd years; Behold in him, with new delight, The patriot, bard, and sage unite; And know, Iërne in that name Shall rival Greece and Rome in fame."
[Footnote 1: Written by Mrs. Pilkington, at the time when she wished to be introduced to the Dean. The verses being presented to him by Dr. Delany, he kindly accepted the compliment.--Scott]
ON DR. SWIFT
No pedant Bentley proud, uncouth, Nor sweetening dedicator smooth, In one attempt has ever dared To sap, or storm, this mighty bard, Nor Envy does, nor ignorance, Make on his works the least advance. For this, behold! still flies afar Where'er his genius does appear; Nor has that aught to do above, So meddles not with Swift and Jove. A faithful, universal fame In glory spreads abroad his name; Pronounces Swift, with loudest breath, Immortal grown before his death.
TO THE REV. DR. SWIFT, DEAN OF ST. PATRICK'S
A BIRTH-DAY POEM. NOV. 30, 1736
To you, my true and faithful friend, These tributary lines I send, Which every year, thou best of deans, I'll pay as long as life remains; But did you know one half the pain What work, what racking of the brain, It costs me for a single clause, How long I'm forced to think and pause; How long I dwell upon a proem, To introduce your birth-day poem, How many blotted lines; I know it, You'd have compassion for the poet.
Now, to describe the way I think, I take in hand my pen and ink; I rub my forehead, scratch my head, Revolving all the rhymes I read. Each complimental thought sublime, Reduced by favourite Pope to rhyme, And those by you to Oxford writ, With true simplicity and wit. Yet after all I cannot find One panegyric to my mind. Now I begin to fret and blot, Something I schemed, but quite forgot; My fancy turns a thousand ways, Through all the several forms of praise, What eulogy may best become The greatest dean in Christendom. At last I've hit upon a thought---- Sure this will do---- 'tis good for nought---- This line I peevishly erase, And choose another in its place; Again I try, again commence, But cannot well express the sense; The line's too short to hold my meaning: I'm cramp'd, and cannot bring the Dean in. O for a rhyme to glorious birth! I've hit upon't----The rhyme is earth---- But how to bring it in, or fit it, I know not, so I'm forced to quit it.
Again I try--I'll sing the man-- Ay do, says Phoebus, if you can; I wish with all my heart you would not; Were Horace now alive he could not: And will you venture to pursue, What none alive or dead could do? Pray see, did ever Pope or Gay Presume to write on his birth-day; Though both were fav'rite bards of mine, The task they wisely both decline.
With grief I felt his admonition, And much lamented my condition: Because I could not be content Without some grateful compliment, If not the poet, sure the friend Must something on your birth-day send.
I scratch'd, and rubb'd my head once more: "Let every patriot him adore." Alack-a-day, there's nothing in't-- Such stuff will never do in print.
Pray, reader, ponder well the sequel; I hope this epigram will take well.
In others, life is deem'd a vapour, In Swift it is a lasting taper, Whose blaze continually refines, The more it burns the more it shines.
I read this epigram again, 'Tis much too flat to fit the Dean.
Then down I lay some scheme to dream on Assisted by some friendly demon. I slept, and dream'd that I should meet A birth-day poem in the street; So, after all my care and rout, You see, dear Dean, my dream is out.
OCCASIONED BY DR. SWIFT'S INTENDED
HOSPITAL FOR IDIOTS AND LUNATICS
The Dean must die--our idiots to maintain! Perish, ye idiots! and long live the Dean!
O Genius of Hibernia's state, Sublimely good, severely great, How doth this latest act excel All you have done or wrote so well! Satire may be the child of spite, And fame might bid the Drapier write: But to relieve, and to endow, Creatures that know not whence or how Argues a soul both good and wise, Resembling Him who rules the skies, He to the thoughtful mind displays Immortal skill ten thousand ways; And, to complete his glorious task, Gives what we have not sense to ask!
Lo! Swift to idiots bequeaths his store: Be wise, ye rich!--consider thus the poor!
Great wits to madness nearly are allied, This makes the Dean for kindred thus provide.
ON THE DEAN OF ST. PATRICK'S BIRTH-DAY
BEING NOV. 30, ST. ANDREW'S DAY
Between the hours of twelve and one, When half the world to rest were gone, Entranced in softest sleep I lay, Forgetful of an anxious day; From every care and labour free, My soul as calm as it could be.
The queen of dreams, well pleased to find An undisturb'd and vacant mind, With magic pencil traced my brain, And there she drew St. Patrick's Dean: I straight beheld on either hand Two saints, like guardian angels, stand, And either claim'd him for their son, And thus the high dispute begun:
St. Andrew, first, with reason strong, Maintain'd to him he did belong. "Swift is my own, by right divine, All born upon this day are mine."
St. Patrick said, "I own this true So far he does belong to you: But in my church he's born again, My son adopted, and my Dean. When first the Christian truth I spread, The poor within this isle I fed, And darkest errors banish'd hence, Made knowledge in their place commence: Nay more, at my divine command, All noxious creatures fled the land. I made both peace and plenty smile, Hibernia was my favourite isle; Now his--for he succeeds to me, Two angels cannot more agree.
His joy is, to relieve the poor; Behold them weekly at his door! His knowledge too, in brightest rays, He like the sun to all conveys, Shows wisdom in a single page, And in one hour instructs an age When ruin lately stood around Th'enclosures of my sacred ground, He gloriously did interpose, And saved it from invading foes; For this I claim immortal Swift As my own son, and Heaven's best gift.
The Caledonian saint, enraged, Now closer in dispute engaged. Essays to prove, by transmigration, The Dean is of the Scottish nation; And, to confirm the truth, he chose The loyal soul of great Montrose; "Montrose and he are both the same, They only differ in the name: Both heroes in a righteous cause, Assert their liberties and laws; He's now the same Montrose was then, But that the sword is turn'd a pen, A pen of so great power, each word Defends beyond the hero's sword."
Now words grew high--we can't suppose Immortals ever come to blows, But lest unruly passion should Degrade them into flesh and blood, An angel quick from Heaven descends, And he at once the contest ends:
"Ye reverend pair, from discord cease, Ye both mistake the present case; One kingdom cannot have pretence To so much virtue! so much sense! Search Heaven's record; and there you'll find That he was born for all mankind."
AN EPISTLE TO ROBERT NUGENT, ESQ.
WITH A PICTURE OF DR. SWIFT. BY WILLIAM DUNKIN, D.D.
To gratify thy long desire, (So love and piety require,) From Bindon's colours you may trace The patriot's venerable face. The last, O Nugent! which his art Shall ever to the world impart; For know, the prime of mortal men, That matchless monarch of the pen, (Whose labours, like the genial sun, Shall through revolving ages run, Yet never, like the sun, decline, But in their full meridian shine,) That ever honour'd, envied sage, So long the wonder of the age, Who charm'd us with his golden strain, Is not the shadow of the Dean: He only breathes Boeotian air-- "O! what a falling off was there!"
Hibernia's Helicon is dry, Invention, Wit, and Humour die; And what remains against the storm Of Malice but an empty form? The nodding ruins of a pile, That stood the bulwark of this isle? In which the sisterhood was fix'd Of candid Honour, Truth unmix'd, Imperial Reason, Thought profound, And Charity, diffusing round In cheerful rivulets to flow Of Fortune to the sons of woe?
Such one, my Nugent, was thy Swift, Endued with each exalted gift, But lo! the pure ethereal flame Is darken'd by a misty steam: The balm exhausted breathes no smell, The rose is wither'd ere it fell. That godlike supplement of law, Which held the wicked world in awe And could the tide of faction stem, Is but a shell without the gem.
Ye sons of genius, who would aim To build an everlasting fame, And in the field of letter'd arts, Display the trophies of your parts, To yonder mansion turn aside, And mortify your growing pride. Behold the brightest of the race, And Nature's honour, in disgrace: With humble resignation own, That all your talents are a loan; By Providence advanced for use, Which you should study to produce Reflect, the mental stock, alas! However current now it pass, May haply be recall'd from you Before the grave demands his due, Then, while your morning star proceeds, Direct your course to worthy deeds, In fuller day discharge your debts; For, when your sun of reason sets, The night succeeds; and all your schemes Of glory vanish with your dreams.
Ah! where is now the supple train, That danced attendance on the Dean? Say, where are those facetious folks, Who shook with laughter at his jokes, And with attentive rapture hung, On wisdom, dropping from his tongue; Who look'd with high disdainful pride On all the busy world beside, And rated his productions more Than treasures of Peruvian ore?
Good Christians! they with bended knees Ingulf'd the wine, but loathe the lees, Averting, (so the text commands,) With ardent eyes and upcast hands, The cup of sorrow from their lips, And fly, like rats, from sinking ships. While some, who by his friendship rose To wealth, in concert with his foes Run counter to their former track, Like old Actæon's horrid pack Of yelling mongrels, in requitals To riot on their master's vitals; And, where they cannot blast his laurels, Attempt to stigmatize his morals; Through Scandal's magnifying glass His foibles view, but virtues pass, And on the ruins of his fame Erect an ignominious name. So vermin foul, of vile extraction, The spawn of dirt and putrefaction, The sounder members traverse o'er, But fix and fatten on a sore. Hence! peace, ye wretches, who revile His wit, his humour, and his style; Since all the monsters which he drew Were only meant to copy you; And, if the colours be not fainter, Arraign yourselves, and not the painter.
But, O! that He, who gave him breath, Dread arbiter of life and death: That He, the moving soul of all, The sleeping spirit would recall, And crown him with triumphant meeds, For all his past heroic deeds, In mansions of unbroken rest, The bright republic of the bless'd! Irradiate his benighted mind With living light of light refined; And there the blank of thought employ With objects of immortal joy!
Yet, while he drags the sad remains Of life, slow-creeping through his veins, Above the views of private ends, The tributary Muse attends, To prop his feeble steps, or shed The pious tear around his bed.
So pilgrims, with devout complaints, Frequent the graves of martyr'd saints, Inscribe their worth in artless lines, And, in their stead, embrace their shrines.
[Footnote 1: Created Baron Nugent and Viscount Clare, Dec. 20, 1766.--Scott]
ON THE DRAPIER. BY DR. DUNKIN.
Undone by fools at home, abroad by knaves, The isle of saints became the land of slaves, Trembling beneath her proud oppressor's hand; But, when thy reason thunder'd through the land, Then all the public spirit breathed in thee, And all, except the sons of guilt, were free. Blest isle, blest patriot, ever glorious strife! You gave her freedom, as she gave you life! Thus Cato fought, whom Brutus copied well, And with those rights for which you stand, he fell.
[Footnote 1: See the translation of Carberiae Rupes in vol. i, p. 143. In the select Poetical Works of Dr. Dunkin, published at Dublin in 1770, are four well-chosen compliments to the Dean on his birth-day, and a very humorous poetical advertisement for a copy of Virgil Travestie, which, at the Dean's request, Dr. Dunkin had much corrected, and afterwards lost. After offering a small reward to whoever will restore it, he adds,
"Or if, when this book shall be offer'd to sale, Any printer will stop it, the bard will not fail To make over the issues and profits accruing From thence to the printer, for his care in so doing; Provided he first to the poet will send it, That where it is wrong, he may alter and mend it."--N.]
EPITAPH PROPOSED FOR DR. SWIFT.
HIC JACET DEMOCRITVS ILLE NEOTERICVS, RABELAESIVS NOSTER, IONATHAN SWIFT, S.T.P. HVIVS CATHEDRALIS NVPER DECANVS; MOMI, MVSARVM, MINERVAE, ALVMNVS PERQVAM DILECTVS; INSVLSIS, HYPOCRITIS, THEOMACHIS, IVXTA EXOSVS; QVOS TRIBVTIM SVMMO CVM LEPORE DERISIT, DENVDAVIT, DEBELLAVIT. PATRIAE INFELICIS PATRONVS IMPIGER, ET PROPVGNATOR PRIMORES ARRIPVIT, POPVLVMQVE INTERRITVS, VNI SCILICET AEQVVS VIRTVTI. HANC FAVILLAM SI QVIS ADES, NEC PENITVS EXCORS VIDETVR, DEBITA SPARGES LACRYMA.
EPIGRAM ON TWO GREAT MEN.
Two geniuses one age and nation grace! Pride of our isles, and boast of human race! Great sage! great bard! supreme in knowledge born! The world to mend, enlighten, and adorn. Truth on Cimmerian darkness pours the day! Wit drives in smiles the gloom of minds away! Ye kindred suns on high, ye glorious spheres, Whom have ye seen, in twice three thousand years, Whom have ye seen, like these, of mortal birth; Though Archimede and Horace blest the earth? Barbarians, from th' Equator to the Poles, Hark! reason calls! wisdom awakes your souls! Ye regions, ignorant of Walpole's name; Ye climes, where kings shall ne'er extend their fame; Where men, miscall'd, God's image have defaced, Their form belied, and human shape disgraced! Ye two-legg'd wolves! slaves! superstition's sons! Lords! soldiers! holy Vandals! modern Huns! Boors, mufties, monks; in Russia, Turkey, Spain! Who does not know SIR ISAAC, and THE DEAN?
TO THE MEMORY OF DOCTOR SWIFT
When wasteful death has closed the Poet's eyes, And low in earth his mortal essence lies; When the bright flame, that once his breast inspired, Has to its first, its noblest seat retired; All worthy minds, whom love of merit sways, Should shade from slander his respected bays; And bid that fame, his useful labours won, Pure and untainted through all ages run.
Envy's a fiend all excellence pursues, But mostly poets favour'd by the Muse; Who wins the laurel, sacred verse bestows, Makes all, who fail in like attempts, his foes; No puny wit of malice can complain, The thorn is theirs, who most applauses gain.
Whatever gifts or graces Heaven design'd To raise man's genius, or enrich his mind, Were Swift's to boast--alike his merits claim The statesman's knowledge, and the poet's flame; The patriot's honour, zealous to defend His country's rights--and faithful to the end; The sound divine, whose charities display'd He more by virtue than by forms was sway'd; Temperate at board, and frugal of his store, Which he but spared, to make his bounties more: The generous friend, whose heart alike caress'd, The friend triumphant, or the friend distress'd; Who could, unpain'd, another's merit spy, Nor view a rival's fame with jaundiced eye; Humane to all, his love was unconfined, And in its scope embraced all human kind; Sharp, not malicious, was his charming wit, And less to anger than reform he writ; Whatever rancour his productions show'd, From scorn of vice and folly only flow'd; He thought that fools were an invidious race, And held no measures with the vain or base.
Virtue so clear! who labours to destroy, Shall find the charge can but himself annoy: The slanderous theft to his own breast recoils, Who seeks renown from injured merit's spoils; All hearts unite, and Heaven with man conspires To guard those virtues she herself admires.
O sacred bard!--once ours!--but now no more, Whose loss, for ever, Ireland must deplore, No earthly laurels needs thy happy brow, Above the poet's are thy honours now: Above the patriot's, (though a greater name No temporal monarch for his crown can claim.) From noble breasts if envy might ensue, Thy death is all the brave can envy you. You died, when merit (to its fate resign'd) Saw scarce one friend to genius left behind, When shining parts did jealous hatred breed, And 'twas a crime in science to succeed, When ignorance spread her hateful mist around, And dunces only an acceptance found. What could such scenes in noble minds beget, But life with pain, and talents with regret? Add that thy spirit from the world retired, Ere hidden foes its further grief conspired; No treacherous friend did stories yet contrive, To blast the Muse he flatter'd when alive, Or sordid printer (by his influence led) Abused the fame that first bestow'd him bread. Slanders so mean, had he whose nicer ear Abhorr'd all scandal, but survived to hear, The fraudful tale had stronger scorn supplied, And he (at length) with more disdain had died.
But since detraction is the portion here Of all who virtuous durst, or great, appear, And the free soul no true existence gains, While earthly particles its flight restrains, The greatest favour grimful Death can show, Is with swift dart to expedite the blow. So thought the Dean, who, anxious for his fate, Sigh'd for release, and deem'd the blessing late. And sure if virtuous souls (life's travail past) Enjoy (as churchmen teach) repose at last, There's cause to think, a mind so firmly good, Who vice so long, and lawless power, withstood, Has reach'd the limits of that peaceful shore, Where knaves molest, and tyrants awe, no more; These blissful seats the pious but attain, Where incorrupt, immortal spirits reign. There his own Parnell strikes the living lyre. And Pope, harmonius, joins the tuneful choir; His Stella too, (no more to forms confined, For heavenly beings all are of a kind,) Unites with his the treasures of her mind, With warmer friendships bids their bosoms glow, Nor dreads the rage of vulgar tongues below. Such pleasing hope the tranquil breast enjoys, Whose inward peace no conscious crime annoys; While guilty minds irresolute appear, And doubt a state their vices needs must fear.
Dublin, Nov. 4, 1755.
[Footnote 1: Compare the Earl of Orrery's "Verses to Swift on his birthday" (vol. i, 228) with his "Remarks on the Life and writings of Swift." And see post, p. 406. The next line refers to Faulkner.--W. E. B.]
A SCHOOLBOY'S THEME
The following lines were enclosed in a letter from Mr. Pulteney, (afterwards Earl of Bath,) to Swift, in which he says--"You must give me leave to add to my letter a copy of verses at the end of a declamation made by a boy at Westminster school on this theme,--Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat?"
Dulce, Decane, decus, flos optime gentis Hibernae Nomine quique audis, ingenioque celer: Dum lepido indulges risu, et mutaris in horas, Quò nova vis animi, materiesque rapit? Nunc gravis astrologus, coelo dominaris et astris, Filaque pro libitu Partrigiana secas. Nunc populo speciosa hospes miracula promis, Gentesque aequoreas, aëriasque creas. Seu plausum captat queruli persona Draperi, Seu levis a vacuo tabula sumpta cado. Mores egregius mira exprimis arte magister, Et vitam atque homines pagina quaeque sapit; Socraticae minor est vis et sapientia chartae, Nec tantum potuit grande Platonis opus.
VERSES ON THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS
BY MR. JAMES STERLING, OF THE COUNTY OF MEATH
While the Dean with more wit than man ever wanted, Or than Heaven to any man else ever granted, Endeavours to prove, how the ancients in knowledge Have excell'd our adepts of each modern college; How by heroes of old our chiefs are surpass'd In each useful science, true learning, and taste. While thus he behaves, with more courage than manners, And fights for the foe, deserting our banners; While Bentley and Wotton, our champions, he foils, And wants neither Temple's assistance, nor Boyle's; In spite of his learning, fine reasons, and style, --Would you think it?--he favours our cause all the while: We raise by his conquest our glory the higher, And from our defeat to a triumph aspire; Our great brother-modern, the boast of our days, Unconscious, has gain'd for our party the bays: St. James's old authors, so famed on each shelf, Are vanquish'd by what he has written himself.
ON DR. SWIFT'S LEAVING HIS ESTATE TO IDIOTS
Swift, wondrous genius, bright intelligence, Pities the orphan's, idiot's want of sense; And rich in supernumerary pelf, Adopts posterity unlike himself. To one great individual wit's confined! Such eunuchs never propagate their kind. Thus nature's prodigies bestow the gifts Of fortune, their descendants are no Swifts. When did prime statesman, for a sceptre fit His ministerial successor beget? No age, no state, no world, can hope to see Two SWIFTS or WALPOLES in one family.
ON SEVERAL PETTY PIECES
LATELY PUBLISHED AGAINST DEAN SWIFT, NOW DEAF AND INFIRM
Thy mortal part, ingenious Swift! must die, Thy fame shall reach beyond mortality! How puny whirlings joy at thy decline, Thou darling offspring of the tuneful nine! The noble lion thus, as vigour passes, The fable tells us, is abused by asses.
ON FAULKNER'S EDITION OF SWIFT
Ornamented with an Engraving of the Dean, by Vertue.
In a little dark room at the back of his shop, Where poets and scribes have dined on a chop, Poor Faulkner sate musing alone thus of late, "Two volumes are done--it is time for the plate; Yes, time to be sure;--but on whom shall I call To express the great Swift in a compass so small? Faith, Vertue shall do it, I'm pleased at the thought, Be the cost what it will--the copper is bought." Apollo o'erheard, (who as some people guess, Had a hand in the work, and corrected the press;) And pleased, he replied, "Honest George, you are right, The thought was my own, howsoe'er you came by't. For though both the wit and the style is my gift, 'Tis VERTUE alone can design us a SWIFT."
ON LORD ORRERY'S REMARKS ON SWIFT'S LIFE AND WRITINGS
A sore disease this scribbling itch is! His Lordship, in his Pliny seen, Turns Madam Pilkington in breeches, And now attacks our Patriot Dean.
What! libel his friend when laid in ground: Nay, good sir, you may spare your hints, His parallel at last is found, For what he writes George Faulkner prints.
Had Swift provoked to this behaviour, Yet after death resentment cools, Sure his last act bespoke his favour, He built an hospital--for fools.
[Footnote 1: Lord Orrery translated the letters of the younger Pliny.--Scott]
TO DOCTOR DELANY
ON HIS BOOK ENTITLED "OBSERVATIONS ON LORD ORRERY'S REMARKS"
Delany, to escape your friend the Dean, And prove all false that Orrery had writ, You kindly own his Gulliver profane, Yet make his puns and riddles sterling wit.
But if for wrongs to Swift you would atone, And please the world, one way you may succeed, Collect Boyle's writings and your own, And serve them as you served THE DEED.
On Faulkner's displaying in his shop the Dean's bust in marble, (now placed in the great aisle of St. Patrick's church), while he was publishing Lord Orrery's Remarks.
Faulkner! for once you have some judgment shown, By representing Swift transform'd to stone; For could he thy ingratitude have known, Astonishment itself the work had done!
Intended for a compartment in Dr. Swift's monument, designed by Cunningham, on College Green, Dublin.
Say, to the Drapier's vast unbounded fame, What added honours can the sculptor give? None.--'Tis a sanction from the Drapier's name Must bid the sculptor and his marble live.
June 4, 1765.
AN EPIGRAM OCCASIONED BY THE ABOVE INSCRIPTION
Which gave the Drapier birth two realms contend; And each asserts her poet, patriot, friend: Her mitre jealous Britain may deny; That loss Iërne's laurel shall supply; Through life's low vale, she, grateful, gave him bread; Her vocal stones shall vindicate him dead.
W. B. J. N.