Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

-A Grub Street Elegy

ON THE SUPPOSED DEATH OF PARTRIDGE THE ALMANACK MAKER.[1]

1708


    Well; 'tis as Bickerstaff has guest,
Though we all took it for a jest:
Partridge is dead; nay more, he dy'd,
Ere he could prove the good 'squire ly'd.
Strange, an astrologer should die
Without one wonder in the sky;
Not one of all his crony stars
To pay their duty at his hearse!
No meteor, no eclipse appear'd!
No comet with a flaming beard!
The sun hath rose and gone to bed,
Just as if Partridge were not dead;
Nor hid himself behind the moon
To make a dreadful night at noon.
He at fit periods walks through Aries,
Howe'er our earthly motion varies;
And twice a-year he'll cut th' Equator,
As if there had been no such matter.

Some wits have wonder'd what analogy There is 'twixt cobbling[2] and astrology; How Partridge made his optics rise From a shoe-sole to reach the skies.

A list the cobbler's temples ties, To keep the hair out of his eyes; From whence 'tis plain the diadem That princes wear derives from them; And therefore crowns are now-a-days Adorn'd with golden stars and rays; Which plainly shows the near alliance 'Twixt cobbling and the planet's science.

Besides, that slow-paced sign Boeoetes, As 'tis miscall'd, we know not who 'tis; But Partridge ended all disputes; He knew his trade, and call'd it boots.[3]

The horned moon,[4] which heretofore Upon their shoes the Romans wore, Whose wideness kept their toes from corns, And whence we claim our shoeing-horns, Shows how the art of cobbling bears A near resemblance to the spheres. A scrap of parchment hung by geometry, (A great refiner in barometry,) Can, like the stars, foretell the weather; And what is parchment else but leather? Which an astrologer might use Either for almanacks or shoes.

Thus Partridge, by his wit and parts, At once did practise both these arts: And as the boding owl (or rather The bat, because her wings are leather) Steals from her private cell by night, And flies about the candle-light; So learned Partridge could as well Creep in the dark from leathern cell, And in his fancy fly as far To peep upon a twinkling star.

Besides, he could confound the spheres, And set the planets by the ears; To show his skill, he Mars could join To Venus in aspect malign; Then call in Mercury for aid, And cure the wounds that Venus made.

Great scholars have in Lucian read, When Philip King of Greece was dead His soul and spirit did divide, And each part took a different side; One rose a star; the other fell Beneath, and mended shoes in Hell.[5]

Thus Partridge still shines in each art, The cobbling and star-gazing part, And is install'd as good a star As any of the Caesars are.

Triumphant star! some pity show On cobblers militant below, Whom roguish boys, in stormy nights, Torment by pissing out their lights, Or through a chink convey their smoke, Enclosed artificers to choke.

Thou, high exalted in thy sphere, May'st follow still thy calling there. To thee the Bull will lend his hide, By Phoebus newly tann'd and dry'd; For thee they Argo's hulk will tax, And scrape her pitchy sides for wax: Then Ariadne kindly lends Her braided hair to make thee ends; The points of Sagittarius' dart Turns to an awl by heavenly art; And Vulcan, wheedled by his wife, Will forge for thee a paring-knife. For want of room by Virgo's side, She'll strain a point, and sit[6] astride, To take thee kindly in between; And then the Signs will be Thirteen.


[Footnote 1: For details of the humorous persecution of this impostor by Swift, see "Prose Works," vol. i, pp. 298 et seq.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: Partridge was a cobbler.--Swift.]

[Footnote 3: See his Almanack.--Swift.]

[Footnote 4: Allusion to the crescent-shaped ornament of gold or silver which distinguished the wearer as a senator.

"Appositam nigrae lunam subtexit alutae."--Juvenal, Sat. vii, 192; and Martial, i, 49, "Lunata nusquam pellis."--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 5: Luciani Opera, xi, 17.]

[Footnote 6:

"ipse tibi iam brachia contrahit ardens
Scorpios, et coeli iusta plus parte reliquit."

VIRGIL., Georg., i, 34.]


Jonathan Swift

Sorry, no summary available yet.