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-Copy of the Birthday Verses on Mr. Ford


Come, be content, since out it must,
For Stella has betray'd her trust;
And, whispering, charged me not to say
That Mr. Ford was born to-day;
Or, if at last I needs must blab it,
According to my usual habit,
She bid me, with a serious face,
Be sure conceal the time and place;
And not my compliment to spoil,
By calling this your native soil;
Or vex the ladies, when they knew
That you are turning forty-two:
But, if these topics shall appear
Strong arguments to keep you here,
I think, though you judge hardly of it,
Good manners must give place to profit.

The nymphs, with whom you first began, Are each become a harridan; And Montague so far decay'd, Her lovers now must all be paid; And every belle that since arose, Has her contemporary beaux. Your former comrades, once so bright, With whom you toasted half the night, Of rheumatism and pox complain, And bid adieu to dear champaign. Your great protectors, once in power, Are now in exile or the Tower. Your foes triumphant o'er the laws, Who hate your person and your cause, If once they get you on the spot, You must be guilty of the plot; For, true or false, they'll ne'er inquire, But use you ten times worse than Prior.

In London! what would you do there? Can you, my friend, with patience bear (Nay, would it not your passion raise Worse than a pun, or Irish phrase) To see a scoundrel strut and hector, A foot-boy to some rogue director, To look on vice triumphant round, And virtue trampled on the ground? Observe where bloody **** stands With torturing engines in his hands, Hear him blaspheme, and swear, and rail, Threatening the pillory and jail: If this you think a pleasing scene, To London straight return again; Where, you have told us from experience, Are swarms of bugs and presbyterians.

I thought my very spleen would burst, When fortune hither drove me first; Was full as hard to please as you, Nor persons' names nor places knew: But now I act as other folk, Like prisoners when their gaol is broke.

If you have London still at heart, We'll make a small one here by art; The difference is not much between St. James's Park and Stephen's Green; And Dawson Street will serve as well To lead you thither as Pall Mall. Nor want a passage through the palace, To choke your sight, and raise your malice. The Deanery-house may well be match'd, Under correction, with the Thatch'd.[2] Nor shall I, when you hither come, Demand a crown a-quart for stum. Then for a middle-aged charmer, Stella may vie with your Mounthermer;[3] She's now as handsome every bit, And has a thousand times her wit The Dean and Sheridan, I hope, Will half supply a Gay and Pope. Corbet,[4] though yet I know his worth not, No doubt, will prove a good Arbuthnot. I throw into the bargain Tim; In London can you equal him? What think you of my favourite clan, Robin[5] and Jack, and Jack and Dan; Fellows of modest worth and parts, With cheerful looks and honest hearts?

Can you on Dublin look with scorn? Yet here were you and Ormond born.

O! were but you and I so wise, To see with Robert Grattan's eyes! Robin adores that spot of earth, That literal spot which gave him birth; And swears, "Belcamp[6] is, to his taste, As fine as Hampton-court at least." When to your friends you would enhance The praise of Italy or France, For grandeur, elegance, and wit, We gladly hear you, and submit; But then, to come and keep a clutter, For this or that side of a gutter, To live in this or t'other isle, We cannot think it worth your while; For, take it kindly or amiss, The difference but amounts to this, We bury on our side the channel In linen; and on yours in flannel.[7] You for the news are ne'er to seek; While we, perhaps, may wait a week; You happy folks are sure to meet A hundred whores in every street; While we may trace all Dublin o'er Before we find out half a score.

You see my arguments are strong, I wonder you held out so long; But, since you are convinced at last, We'll pardon you for what has past. So--let us now for whist prepare; Twelve pence a corner, if you dare.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Swift had been used to celebrate the birth-day of his friend Charles Ford, which was on the first day of January. See also the poem, "Stella at Wood Park."--Dr. Delany mentions also, among the Dean's intimate friends, "Matthew Ford, Esq., a man of family and fortune, a fine gentleman, and the best lay scholar of his time and nation."--Nichols.]

[Footnote 1: A celebrated tavern in St. James' Street, from 1711 till about 1865. Since then and now, The Thatched House Club.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: Mary, youngest daughter of the Duke of Marlborough, "exquisitely beautiful, lively in temper, and no less amiable in mind than elegant in person," married in 1703, to Lord Mounthermer, son of the Earl, afterwards Duke, of Montagu. See Coxe's "Life of Marlborough," i, 172.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 4: Dr. Corbet, afterwards Dean of St. Patrick's, on the death of Dr. Maturine, who succeeded Dr. Swift.]

[Footnote 5: Robert and John Grattan, and John and Daniel Jackson.--H.]

[Footnote 6: In Fingal, about five miles from Dublin.--H.]

[Footnote 7: The law for burying in woollen was extended to Ireland in 1733.]

Jonathan Swift

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