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-Verses written during Lord Carteret's Administration of Ireland


As Lord Carteret's residence in Ireland as Viceroy was a series of cabals against the authority of the Prime Minister, he failed not, as well from his love of literature as from his hatred to Walpole, to attach to himself as much as possible the distinguished author of the Drapier Letters.

By the interest which Swift soon gained with the Lord-Lieutenant, he was enabled to recommend several friends, whose High Church or Tory principles had hitherto obstructed their preferment. The task of forwarding the views of Delany, in particular, led to several of Swift's liveliest poetical effusions, while, on the other hand, he was equally active in galling, by his satire, Smedley, and other Whig beaux esprits, who, during this amphibious administration, sought the favour of a literary Lord-Lieutenant, by literary offerings and poetical adulation. These pieces, with one or two connected with the same subject, are here thrown together, as they seem to reflect light upon each other.--Scott.



An Apology to Lady Carteret


A lady, wise as well as fair,
Whose conscience always was her care,
Thoughtful upon a point of moment,
Would have the text as well as comment:
So hearing of a grave divine,
She sent to bid him come to dine.
But, you must know he was not quite
So grave as to be unpolite:
Thought human learning would not lessen
The dignity of his profession:
And if you'd heard the man discourse,
Or preach, you'd like him scarce the worse.
He long had bid the court farewell,
Retreating silent to his cell;
Suspected for the love he bore
To one who sway'd some time before;
Which made it more surprising how
He should be sent for thither now.

The message told, he gapes, and stares, And scarce believes his eyes or ears: Could not conceive what it should mean, And fain would hear it told again. But then the squire so trim and nice, 'Twere rude to make him tell it twice; So bow'd, was thankful for the honour; And would not fail to wait upon her. His beaver brush'd, his shoes, and gown, Away he trudges into town; Passes the lower castle yard, And now advancing to the guard, He trembles at the thoughts of state; For, conscious of his sheepish gait, His spirits of a sudden fail'd him; He stopp'd, and could not tell what ail'd him.

What was the message I received? Why certainly the captain raved? To dine with her! and come at three! Impossible! it can't be me. Or maybe I mistook the word; My lady--it must be my lord.

My lord 's abroad; my lady too: What must the unhappy doctor do? "Is Captain Cracherode[1] here, pray?"--"No." "Nay, then 'tis time for me to go." Am I awake, or do I dream? I'm sure he call'd me by my name; Named me as plain as he could speak; And yet there must be some mistake. Why, what a jest should I have been, Had now my lady been within! What could I've said? I'm mighty glad She went abroad--she'd thought me mad. The hour of dining now is past: Well then, I'll e'en go home and fast: And, since I 'scaped being made a scoff, I think I'm very fairly off. My lady now returning home, Calls "Cracherode, is the Doctor come?" He had not heard of him--"Pray see, 'Tis now a quarter after three." The captain walks about, and searches Through all the rooms, and courts, and arches; Examines all the servants round, In vain--no doctor's to be found. My lady could not choose but wonder; "Captain, I fear you've made some blunder; But, pray, to-morrow go at ten; I'll try his manners once again; If rudeness be th' effect of knowledge, My son shall never see a college."

The captain was a man of reading, And much good sense, as well as breeding; Who, loath to blame, or to incense, Said little in his own defence. Next day another message brought; The Doctor, frighten'd at his fault, Is dress'd, and stealing through the crowd, Now pale as death, then blush'd and bow'd, Panting--and faltering--humm'd and ha'd, "Her ladyship was gone abroad: The captain too--he did not know Whether he ought to stay or go;" Begg'd she'd forgive him. In conclusion, My lady, pitying his confusion, Call'd her good nature to relieve him; Told him, she thought she might believe him; And would not only grant his suit, But visit him, and eat some fruit, Provided, at a proper time, He told the real truth in rhyme; 'Twas to no purpose to oppose, She'd hear of no excuse in prose. The Doctor stood not to debate, Glad to compound at any rate; So, bowing, seemingly complied; Though, if he durst, he had denied. But first, resolved to show his taste, Was too refined to give a feast; He'd treat with nothing that was rare, But winding walks and purer air; Would entertain without expense, Or pride or vain magnificence: For well he knew, to such a guest The plainest meals must be the best. To stomachs clogg'd with costly fare Simplicity alone is rare; While high, and nice, and curious meats Are really but vulgar treats. Instead of spoils of Persian looms, The costly boast of regal rooms, Thought it more courtly and discreet To scatter roses at her feet; Roses of richest dye, that shone With native lustre, like her own; Beauty that needs no aid of art Through every sense to reach the heart. The gracious dame, though well she knew All this was much beneath her due, Liked everything--at least thought fit To praise it par maniere d'acquit.

Yet she, though seeming pleased, can't bear The scorching sun, or chilling air; Disturb'd alike at both extremes, Whether he shows or hides his beams: Though seeming pleased at all she sees, Starts at the ruffling of the trees, And scarce can speak for want of breath, In half a walk fatigued to death. The Doctor takes his hint from hence, T' apologize his late offence: "Madam, the mighty power of use Now strangely pleads in my excuse; If you unused have scarcely strength To gain this walk's untoward length; If, frighten'd at a scene so rude, Through long disuse of solitude; If, long confined to fires and screens, You dread the waving of these greens; If you, who long have breathed the fumes Of city fogs and crowded rooms, Do now solicitously shun The cooler air and dazzling sun; If his majestic eye you flee, Learn hence t' excuse and pity me. Consider what it is to bear The powder'd courtier's witty sneer; To see th' important man of dress Scoffing my college awkwardness; To be the strutting cornet's sport, To run the gauntlet of the court, Winning my way by slow approaches, Through crowds of coxcombs and of coaches, From the first fierce cockaded sentry, Quite through the tribe of waiting gentry; To pass so many crowded stages, And stand the staring of your pages: And after all, to crown my spleen, Be told--'You are not to be seen:' Or, if you are, be forced to bear The awe of your majestic air. And can I then be faulty found, In dreading this vexatious round? Can it be strange, if I eschew A scene so glorious and so new? Or is he criminal that flies The living lustre of your eyes?"


[Footnote 1: The gentleman who brought the message.--Scott.]



The Birth of Manly Virtue

INSCRIBED TO LORD CARTERET[1]

1724


Gratior et pulcro veniens in corpore virtus.--VIRGIL., Aen., v, 344.


Once on a time, a righteous sage,
Grieved with the vices of the age,
Applied to Jove with fervent prayer--
"O Jove, if Virtue be so fair
As it was deem'd in former days,
By Plato and by Socrates,
Whose beauties mortal eyes escape,
Only for want of outward shape;
Make then its real excellence,
For once the theme of human sense;
So shall the eye, by form confined,
Direct and fix the wandering mind,
And long-deluded mortals see,
With rapture, what they used to flee!"

Jove grants the prayer, gives Virtue birth, And bids him bless and mend the earth. Behold him blooming fresh and fair, Now made--ye gods--a son and heir; An heir: and, stranger yet to hear, An heir, an orphan of a peer;[2] But prodigies are wrought to prove Nothing impossible to Jove.

Virtue was for this sex design'd, In mild reproof to womankind; In manly form to let them see The loveliness of modesty, The thousand decencies that shone With lessen'd lustre in their own; Which few had learn'd enough to prize, And some thought modish to despise.

To make his merit more discern'd, He goes to school--he reads--is learn'd; Raised high above his birth, by knowledge, He shines distinguish'd in a college; Resolved nor honour, nor estate, Himself alone should make him great. Here soon for every art renown'd, His influence is diffused around; The inferior youth to learning led, Less to be famed than to be fed, Behold the glory he has won, And blush to see themselves outdone; And now, inflamed with rival rage, In scientific strife engage, Engage; and, in the glorious strife The arts new kindle into life.

Here would our hero ever dwell, Fix'd in a lonely learned cell: Contented to be truly great, In Virtue's best beloved retreat; Contented he--but Fate ordains, He now shall shine in nobler scenes, Raised high, like some celestial fire, To shine the more, still rising higher; Completely form'd in every part, To win the soul, and glad the heart. The powerful voice, the graceful mien, Lovely alike, or heard, or seen; The outward form and inward vie, His soul bright beaming from his eye, Ennobling every act and air, With just, and generous, and sincere.

Accomplish'd thus, his next resort Is to the council and the court, Where Virtue is in least repute, And interest the one pursuit; Where right and wrong are bought and sold, Barter'd for beauty, and for gold; Here Manly Virtue, even here, Pleased in the person of a peer, A peer; a scarcely bearded youth, Who talk'd of justice and of truth, Of innocence the surest guard, Tales here forgot, or yet unheard; That he alone deserved esteem, Who was the man he wish'd to seem; Call'd it unmanly and unwise, To lurk behind a mean disguise; (Give fraudful Vice the mask and screen, 'Tis Virtue's interest to be seen;) Call'd want of shame a want of sense, And found, in blushes, eloquence.

Thus acting what he taught so well, He drew dumb merit from her cell, Led with amazing art along The bashful dame, and loosed her tongue; And, while he made her value known, Yet more display'd and raised his own.

Thus young, thus proof to all temptations, He rises to the highest stations; For where high honour is the prize, True Virtue has a right to rise: Let courtly slaves low bend the knee To Wealth and Vice in high degree: Exalted Worth disdains to owe Its grandeur to its greatest foe.

Now raised on high, see Virtue shows The godlike ends for which he rose; For him, let proud Ambition know The height of glory here below, Grandeur, by goodness made complete! To bless, is truly to be great! He taught how men to honour rise, Like gilded vapours to the skies, Which, howsoever they display Their glory from the god of day, Their noblest use is to abate His dangerous excess of heat, To shield the infant fruits and flowers, And bless the earth with genial showers.

Now change the scene; a nobler care Demands him in a higher sphere:[3] Distress of nations calls him hence, Permitted so by Providence; For models, made to mend our kind, To no one clime should be confined; And Manly Virtue, like the sun, His course of glorious toils should run: Alike diffusing in his flight Congenial joy, and life, and light. Pale Envy sickens, Error flies, And Discord in his presence dies; Oppression hides with guilty dread, And Merit rears her drooping head; The arts revive, the valleys sing, And winter softens into spring: The wondering world, where'er he moves, With new delight looks up, and loves; One sex consenting to admire, Nor less the other to desire; While he, though seated on a throne, Confines his love to one alone; The rest condemn'd with rival voice Repining, do applaud his choice.

Fame now reports, the Western isle Is made his mansion for a while, Whose anxious natives, night and day, (Happy beneath his righteous sway,) Weary the gods with ceaseless prayer, To bless him, and to keep him there; And claim it as a debt from Fate, Too lately found, to lose him late.


[Footnote 1: See Swift's "Vindication of Lord Carteret," "Prose Works," vii, 227; and his character as Lord Granville in my "Wit and Wisdom of Lord Chesterfield."--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: George, the first Lord Carteret, father of the Lord Lieutenant, died when his son was between four and five years of age.--Scott.]

[Footnote 3: Lord Carteret had the honour of mediating peace for Sweden, with Denmark, and with the Czar.--H.]


Jonathan Swift

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