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-Dean Smedley's Petition

To the Duke of Grafton[1]

Non domus et fundus, non aeris acervus et auri.--HOR. Epist., I, ii, 47.

It was, my lord, the dexterous shift
Of t'other Jonathan, viz. Swift,
But now St. Patrick's saucy dean,
With silver verge, and surplice clean,
Of Oxford, or of Ormond's grace,
In looser rhyme to beg a place.
A place he got, yclept a stall,
And eke a thousand pounds withal;
And were he less a witty writer,
He might as well have got a mitre.

Thus I, the Jonathan of Clogher, In humble lays my thanks to offer, Approach your grace with grateful heart, My thanks and verse both void of art, Content with what your bounty gave, No larger income do I crave: Rejoicing that, in better times, Grafton requires my loyal lines. Proud! while my patron is polite, I likewise to the patriot write! Proud! that at once I can commend King George's and the Muses' friend! Endear'd to Britain; and to thee (Disjoin'd, Hibernia, by the sea) Endear'd by twice three anxious years, Employ'd in guardian toils and cares; By love, by wisdom, and by skill; For he has saved thee 'gainst thy will.

But where shall Smedley make his nest, And lay his wandering head to rest? Where shall he find a decent house, To treat his friends and cheer his spouse? O! tack, my lord, some pretty cure, In wholesome soil, and ether pure; The garden stored with artless flowers, In either angle shady bowers. No gay parterre, with costly green, Within the ambient hedge be seen: Let Nature freely take her course, Nor fear from me ungrateful force; No shears shall check her sprouting vigour, Nor shape the yews to antic figure: A limpid brook shall trout supply, In May, to take the mimic fly; Round a small orchard may it run, Whose apples redden to the sun. Let all be snug, and warm, and neat; For fifty turn'd a safe retreat, A little Euston[2] may it be, Euston I'll carve on every tree. But then, to keep it in repair, My lord--twice fifty pounds a-year Will barely do; but if your grace Could make them hundreds--charming place! Thou then wouldst show another face.

Clogher! far north, my lord, it lies, 'Midst snowy hills, inclement skies: One shivers with the arctic wind, One hears the polar axis grind. Good John[3] indeed, with beef and claret, Makes the place warm, that one may bear it. He has a purse to keep a table, And eke a soul as hospitable. My heart is good; but assets fail, To fight with storms of snow and hail. Besides, the country's thin of people, Who seldom meet but at the steeple: The strapping dean, that's gone to Down, Ne'er named the thing without a frown, When, much fatigued with sermon study, He felt his brain grow dull and muddy; No fit companion could be found, To push the lazy bottle round: Sure then, for want of better folks To pledge, his clerk was orthodox.

Ah! how unlike to Gerard Street, Where beaux and belles in parties meet; Where gilded chairs and coaches throng, And jostle as they troll along; Where tea and coffee hourly flow, And gape-seed does in plenty grow; And Griz (no clock more certain) cries, Exact at seven, "Hot mutton-pies!" There Lady Luna in her sphere Once shone, when Paunceforth was not near; But now she wanes, and, as 'tis said, Keeps sober hours, and goes to bed. There--but 'tis endless to write down All the amusements of the town; And spouse will think herself quite undone, To trudge to Connor[4] from sweet London; And care we must our wives to please, Or else--we shall be ill at ease.

You see, my lord, what 'tis I lack, 'Tis only some convenient tack, Some parsonage-house with garden sweet, To be my late, my last retreat; A decent church, close by its side, There, preaching, praying, to reside; And as my time securely rolls, To save my own and other souls.

[Footnote 1: This piece is repeatedly and always satirically alluded to in the preceding poems. --Scott.]

[Footnote 2: The name of the Duke's seat in Suffolk.--N.]

[Footnote 3: Bishop Sterne.--H.]

[Footnote 4: The bishopric of Connor is united to that of Down; but there are two deans. --Scott.]

The Duke's Answer


Dear Smed, I read thy brilliant lines,
Where wit in all its glory shines;
Where compliments, with all their pride,
Are by their numbers dignified:
I hope to make you yet as clean
As that same Viz, St. Patrick's dean.
I'll give thee surplice, verge, and stall,
And may be something else withal;
And, were you not so good a writer,
I should present you with a mitre.
Write worse, then, if you can--be wise-
Believe me, 'tis the way to rise.
Talk not of making of thy nest:
Ah! never lay thy head to rest!
That head so well with wisdom fraught,
That writes without the toil of thought!
While others rack their busy brains,
You are not in the least at pains.
Down to your dean'ry now repair,
And build a castle in the air.
I'm sure a man of your fine sense
Can do it with a small expense.
There your dear spouse and you together
May breathe your bellies full of ether,
When Lady Luna[1] is your neighbour,
She'll help your wife when she's in labour,
Well skill'd in midwife artifices,
For she herself oft falls in pieces.
There you shall see a raree show
Will make you scorn this world below,
When you behold the milky-way,
As white as snow, as bright as day;
The glittering constellations roll
About the grinding arctic pole;
The lovely tingling in your ears,
Wrought by the music of the spheres--
Your spouse shall then no longer hector,
You need not fear a curtain-lecture;
Nor shall she think that she is undone
For quitting her beloved London.
When she's exalted in the skies,
She'll never think of mutton-pies;
When you're advanced above Dean Viz,
You'll never think of Goody Griz;
But ever, ever live at ease,
And strive, and strive your wife to please;
In her you'll centre all your joys,
And get ten thousand girls and boys;
Ten thousand girls and boys you'll get,
And they like stars shall rise and set.
While you and spouse, transform'd, shall soon
Be a new sun and a new moon:
Nor shall you strive your horns to hide,
For then your horns shall be your pride.

[Footnote 1: Diana, also called Lucina, for the reason given in the text.--W. E. B.]

Jonathan Swift

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