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-On the Little House

BY THE CHURCHYARD OF CASTLENOCK

1710


   Whoever pleases to inquire
Why yonder steeple wants a spire,
The grey old fellow, Poet Joe,[1]
The philosophic cause will show.
Once on a time a western blast,
At least twelve inches overcast,
Reckoning roof, weathercock, and all,
Which came with a prodigious fall;
And, tumbling topsy-turvy round,
Lit with its bottom on the ground:
For, by the laws of gravitation,
It fell into its proper station.

This is the little strutting pile You see just by the churchyard stile; The walls in tumbling gave a knock, And thus the steeple got a shock; From whence the neighbouring farmer calls The steeple, Knock; the vicar, Walls.[2]

The vicar once a-week creeps in, Sits with his knees up to his chin; Here cons his notes, and takes a whet, Till the small ragged flock is met.

A traveller, who by did pass, Observed the roof behind the grass; On tiptoe stood, and rear'd his snout, And saw the parson creeping out: Was much surprised to see a crow Venture to build his nest so low.

A schoolboy ran unto't, and thought The crib was down, the blackbird caught. A third, who lost his way by night, Was forced for safety to alight, And, stepping o'er the fabric roof, His horse had like to spoil his hoof.

Warburton[3] took it in his noddle, This building was design'd a model; Or of a pigeon-house or oven, To bake one loaf, or keep one dove in.

Then Mrs. Johnson[4] gave her verdict, And every one was pleased that heard it; All that you make this stir about Is but a still which wants a spout. The reverend Dr. Raymond[5] guess'd More probably than all the rest; He said, but that it wanted room, It might have been a pigmy's tomb.

The doctor's family came by, And little miss began to cry, Give me that house in my own hand! Then madam bade the chariot stand, Call'd to the clerk, in manner mild, Pray, reach that thing here to the child: That thing, I mean, among the kale; And here's to buy a pot of ale.

The clerk said to her in a heat, What! sell my master's country seat, Where he comes every week from town! He would not sell it for a crown. Poh! fellow, keep not such a pother; In half an hour thou'lt make another.

Says Nancy,[6] I can make for miss A finer house ten times than this; The dean will give me willow sticks, And Joe my apron-full of bricks.


[Footnote 1: Mr. Beaumont of Trim, remarkable, though not a very old man, for venerable white locks.--Scott. He had a claim on the Irish Government, which Swift assisted him in getting paid. See "Prose Works," vol. ii, Journal to Stella, especially at p. 174, respecting Joe's desire for a collector's place.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: Archdeacon Wall, a correspondent of Swift's.--Dublin Edition.]

[Footnote 3: Dr. Swift's curate at Laracor.]

[Footnote 4: Stella.]

[Footnote 5: Minister of Trim.]

[Footnote 6: The waiting-woman.]


Jonathan Swift

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