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The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume 1 By Jonathan Swift Characters: 47659

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Howe'er, such verse as yours I grant

Would be but too inviting:

Were fair Ardelia not my Aunt,

Or were it Worsley's writing.[2]

[Footnote 1: Some ladies, among whom were Mrs. Worsley and Mrs. Finch, to the latter of whom Swift addressed, under the name of Ardelia, the preceding poem, appear to have written verses to him from May Fair, offering him such temptations as that fashionable locality supplied to detain him from the country and its pleasures: and thus he replies.-Forster.]

[Footnote 1: There is some playful allusion in this last stanza, not now decipherable.-Forster.]

VANBRUGH'S HOUSE[1]

BUILT FROM THE RUINS OF WHITEHALL THAT WAS BURNT, 1703

In times of old, when Time was young,

And poets their own verses sung,

A verse would draw a stone or beam,

That now would overload a team;

Lead 'em a dance of many a mile,

Then rear 'em to a goodly pile.

Each number had its diff'rent power;

Heroic strains could build a tower;

Sonnets and elegies to Chloris,

Might raise a house about two stories;

A lyric ode would slate; a catch

Would tile; an epigram would thatch.

Now Poets feel this art is lost,

Both to their own and landlord's cost.

Not one of all the tuneful throng

Can hire a lodging for a song.

For Jove consider'd well the case,

That poets were a numerous race;

And if they all had power to build,

The earth would very soon be fill'd:

Materials would be quickly spent,

And houses would not give a rent.

The God of Wealth was therefore made

Sole patron of the building trade;

Leaving to wits the spacious air,

With license to build castles there:

In right whereof their old pretence

To lodge in garrets comes from thence.

There is a worm by Phoebus bred,

By leaves of mulberry is fed,

Which unprovided where to dwell,

Conforms itself to weave a cell;

Then curious hands this texture take,

And for themselves fine garments make.

Meantime a pair of awkward things

Grow to his back instead of wings;

He flutters when he thinks he flies,

Then sheds about his spawn and dies.

Just such an insect of the age

Is he that scribbles for the stage;

His birth he does from Phoebus raise,

And feeds upon imagin'd bays;

Throws all his wit and hours away

In twisting up an ill spun Play:

This gives him lodging and provides

A stock of tawdry shift besides.

With the unravell'd shreds of which

The under wits adorn their speech:

And now he spreads his little fans,

(For all the Muses Geese are Swans)

And borne on Fancy's pinions, thinks

He soars sublimest when he sinks:

But scatt'ring round his fly-blows, dies;

Whence broods of insect-poets rise.

Premising thus, in modern way,

The greater part I have to say;

Sing, Muse, the house of Poet Van,

In higher strain than we began.

Van (for 'tis fit the reader know it)

Is both a Herald and a Poet;

No wonder then if nicely skill'd

In each capacity to build.

As Herald, he can in a day

Repair a house gone to decay;

Or by achievements, arms, device,

Erect a new one in a trice;

And poets, if they had their due,

By ancient right are builders too:

This made him to Apollo pray

For leave to build-the poets way.

His prayer was granted, for the God

Consented with the usual nod.

After hard throes of many a day

Van was delivered of a play,

Which in due time brought forth a house,

Just as the mountain did the mouse.

One story high, one postern door,

And one small chamber on a floor,

Born like a phoenix from the flame:

But neither bulk nor shape the same;

As animals of largest size

Corrupt to maggots, worms, and flies;

A type of modern wit and style,

The rubbish of an ancient pile;

So chemists boast they have a power,

From the dead ashes of a flower

Some faint resemblance to produce,

But not the virtue, taste, nor juice.

So modern rhymers strive to blast

The poetry of ages past;

Which, having wisely overthrown,

They from its ruins build their own.

[Footnote 1: This is the earlier version of the Poem discovered by Forster at Narford, the residence of Mr. Fountaine. See Forster's "Life of Swift," p. 163.-W. E. B.]

VANBRUGH'S HOUSE,[1]

BUILT FROM THE RUINS OF WHITEHALL THAT WAS BURNT, 1703

In times of old, when Time was young,

And poets their own verses sung,

A verse would draw a stone or beam,

That now would overload a team;

Lead 'em a dance of many a mile,

Then rear 'em to a goodly pile.

Each number had its diff'rent power;

Heroic strains could build a tower;

Sonnets, or elegies to Chloris,

Might raise a house about two stories;

A lyric ode would slate; a catch

Would tile; an epigram would thatch.

But, to their own or landlord's cost,

Now Poets feel this art is lost.

Not one of all our tuneful throng

Can raise a lodging for a song.

For Jove consider'd well the case,

Observed they grew a numerous race;

And should they build as fast as write,

'Twould ruin undertakers quite.

This evil, therefore, to prevent,

He wisely changed their element:

On earth the God of Wealth was made

Sole patron of the building trade;

Leaving the Wits the spacious air,

With license to build castles there:

And 'tis conceived their old pretence

To lodge in garrets comes from thence.

Premising thus, in modern way,

The better half we have to say;

Sing, Muse, the house of Poet Van,

In higher strains than we began.

Van (for 'tis fit the reader know it)

Is both a Herald[2] and a Poet;

No wonder then if nicely skill'd

In both capacities to build.

As Herald, he can in a day

Repair a house gone to decay;

Or, by achievements, arms, device,

Erect a new one in a trice;

And as a poet, he has skill

To build in speculation still.

"Great Jove!" he cried, "the art restore

To build by verse as heretofore,

And make my Muse the architect;

What palaces shall we erect!

No longer shall forsaken Thames

Lament his old Whitehall in flames;

A pile shall from its ashes rise,

Fit to invade or prop the skies."

Jove smiled, and, like a gentle god,

Consenting with the usual nod,

Told Van, he knew his talent best,

And left the choice to his own breast.

So Van resolved to write a farce;

But, well perceiving wit was scarce,

With cunning that defect supplies:

Takes a French play as lawful prize;[3]

Steals thence his plot and ev'ry joke,

Not once suspecting Jove would smoke;

And (like a wag set down to write)

Would whisper to himself, "a bite."

Then, from this motley mingled style,

Proceeded to erect his pile.

So men of old, to gain renown, did

Build Babel with their tongues confounded.

Jove saw the cheat, but thought it best

To turn the matter to a jest;

Down from Olympus' top he slides,

Laughing as if he'd burst his sides:

Ay, thought the god, are these your tricks,

Why then old plays deserve old bricks;

And since you're sparing of your stuff,

Your building shall be small enough.

He spake, and grudging, lent his aid;

Th'experienced bricks, that knew their trade,

(As being bricks at second hand,)

Now move, and now in order stand.

The building, as the Poet writ,

Rose in proportion to his wit-

And first the prologue built a wall;

So wide as to encompass all.

The scene, a wood, produc'd no more

Than a few scrubby trees before.

The plot as yet lay deep; and so

A cellar next was dug below;

But this a work so hard was found,

Two acts it cost him under ground.

Two other acts, we may presume,

Were spent in building each a room.

Thus far advanc'd, he made a shift

To raise a roof with act the fift.

The epilogue behind did frame

A place, not decent here to name.

Now, Poets from all quarters ran,

To see the house of brother Van;

Looked high and low, walk'd often round;

But no such house was to be found.

One asks the watermen hard by,

"Where may the Poet's palace lie?"

Another of the Thames inquires,

If he has seen its gilded spires?

At length they in the rubbish spy

A thing resembling a goose-pie.

Thither in haste the Poets throng,

And gaze in silent wonder long,

Till one in raptures thus began

To praise the pile and builder Van:

"Thrice happy Poet! who may'st trail

Thy house about thee like a snail:

Or harness'd to a nag, at ease

Take journeys in it like a chaise;

Or in a boat whene'er thou wilt,

Can'st make it serve thee for a tilt!

Capacious house! 'tis own'd by all

Thou'rt well contrived, tho' thou art small:

For ev'ry Wit in Britain's isle

May lodge within thy spacious pile.

Like Bacchus thou, as Poets feign,

Thy mother burnt, art born again,

Born like a phoenix from the flame:

But neither bulk nor shape the same;

As animals of largest size

Corrupt to maggots, worms, and flies;

A type of modern wit and style,

The rubbish of an ancient pile;

So chemists boast they have a power,

From the dead ashes of a flower

Some faint resemblance to produce,

But not the virtue, taste, or juice.

So modern rhymers wisely blast

The poetry of ages past;

Which, after they have overthrown,

They from its ruins build their own."

[Footnote 1: Here follows the later version of the poem, as printed in all editions of Swift's works.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: Sir John Vanbrugh at that time held the office of

Clarencieux king of arms.-Scott.]

[Footnote 3: Several of Vanbrugh's plays are taken from Molière.-Scott. This is a very loose statement. That Vanbrugh was indebted for some of his plays to French sources is true; but the only one taken from Molière was "The Mistake," adapted from "Le Dépit Amoureux"; while his two best plays, "The Relapse" and "The Provoked Wife," were original.-W. E. B.]

BAUCIS AND PHILEMON[1]

ON THE EVER-LAMENTED LOSS OF THE TWO YEW-TREES IN THE PARISH OF CHILTHORNE, SOMERSET. 1706. IMITATED FROM THE EIGHTH BOOK OF OVID

In ancient time, as story tells,

The saints would often leave their cells,

And stroll about, but hide their quality,

To try good people's hospitality.

It happen'd on a winter's night,

As authors of the legend write,

Two brother hermits, saints by trade,

Taking their tour in masquerade,

Came to a village hard by Rixham,[2]

Ragged and not a groat betwixt 'em.

It rain'd as hard as it could pour,

Yet they were forced to walk an hour

From house to house, wet to the skin,

Before one soul would let 'em in.

They call'd at every door: "Good people,

My comrade's blind, and I'm a creeple!

Here we lie starving in the street,

'Twould grieve a body's heart to see't,

No Christian would turn out a beast,

In such a dreadful night at least;

Give us but straw and let us lie

In yonder barn to keep us dry."

Thus in the stroller's usual cant,

They begg'd relief, which none would grant.

No creature valued what they said,

One family was gone to bed:

The master bawled out half asleep,

"You fellows, what a noise you keep!

So many beggars pass this way,

We can't be quiet, night nor day;

We cannot serve you every one;

Pray take your answer, and be gone."

One swore he'd send 'em to the stocks;

A third could not forbear his mocks;

But bawl'd as loud as he could roar

"You're on the wrong side of the door!"

One surly clown look't out and said,

"I'll fling the p-pot on your head:

You sha'nt come here, nor get a sous!

You look like rogues would rob a house.

Can't you go work, or serve the King?

You blind and lame! 'Tis no such thing.

That's but a counterfeit sore leg!

For shame! two sturdy rascals beg!

If I come down, I'll spoil your trick,

And cure you both with a good stick."

Our wand'ring saints, in woful state,

Treated at this ungodly rate,

Having thro' all the village past,

To a small cottage came at last

Where dwelt a good old honest ye'man,

Call'd thereabout good man Philemon;

Who kindly did the saints invite

In his poor house to pass the night;

And then the hospitable sire

Bid Goody Baucis mend the fire;

Whilst he from out the chimney took

A flitch of bacon off the hook,

And freely from the fattest side

Cut out large slices to be fry'd;

Which tost up in a pan with batter,

And served up in an earthen platter,

Quoth Baucis, "This is wholesome fare,

Eat, honest friends, and never spare,

And if we find our victuals fail,

We can but make it out in ale."

To a small kilderkin of beer,

Brew'd for the good time of the year,

Philemon, by his wife's consent,

Stept with a jug, and made a vent,

And having fill'd it to the brink,

Invited both the saints to drink.

When they had took a second draught,

Behold, a miracle was wrought;

For, Baucis with amazement found,

Although the jug had twice gone round,

It still was full up to the top,

As they ne'er had drunk a drop.

You may be sure so strange a sight,

Put the old people in a fright:

Philemon whisper'd to his wife,

"These men are-Saints-I'll lay my life!"

The strangers overheard, and said,

"You're in the right-but be'nt afraid:

No hurt shall come to you or yours:

But for that pack of churlish boors,

Not fit to live on Christian ground,

They and their village shall be drown'd;

Whilst you shall see your cottage rise,

And grow a church before your eyes."

Scarce had they spoke, when fair and soft,

The roof began to mount aloft;

Aloft rose ev'ry beam and rafter;

The heavy wall went clambering after.

The chimney widen'd, and grew higher,

Became a steeple with a spire.

The kettle to the top was hoist,

And there stood fastened to a joist,

But with the upside down, to show

Its inclination for below:

In vain; for a superior force

Applied at bottom stops its course:

Doom'd ever in suspense to dwell,

'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.

The wooden jack, which had almost

Lost by disuse the art to roast,

A sudden alteration feels,

Increas'd by new intestine wheels;

But what adds to the wonder more,

The number made the motion slower.

The flyer, altho't had leaden feet,

Would turn so quick you scarce could see't;

But, now stopt by some hidden powers,

Moves round but twice in twice twelve hours,

While in the station of a jack,

'Twas never known to turn its back,

A friend in turns and windings tried,

Nor ever left the chimney's side.

The chimney to a steeple grown,

The jack would not be left alone;

But, up against the steeple rear'd,

Became a clock, and still adher'd;

And still its love to household cares,

By a shrill voice at noon declares,

Warning the cookmaid not to burn

That roast meat, which it cannot turn.

The groaning-chair began to crawl,

Like a huge insect, up the wall;

There stuck, and to a pulpit grew,

But kept its matter and its hue,

And mindful of its ancient state,

Still groans while tattling gossips prate.

The mortar only chang'd its name,

In its old shape a font became.

The porringers, that in a row,

Hung high, and made a glitt'ring show,

To a less noble substance chang'd,

Were now but leathern buckets rang'd.

The ballads, pasted on the wall,

Of Chevy Chase, and English Mall,[3]

Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,

The little Children in the Wood,

Enlarged in picture, size, and letter,

And painted, lookt abundance better,

And now the heraldry describe

Of a churchwarden, or a tribe.

A bedstead of the antique mode,

Composed of timber many a load,

Such as our grandfathers did use,

Was metamorphos'd into pews;

Which yet their former virtue keep

By lodging folk disposed to sleep.

The cottage, with such feats as these,

Grown to a church by just degrees,

The holy men desired their host

To ask for what he fancied most.

Philemon, having paused a while,

Replied in complimental style:

"Your goodness, more than my desert,

Makes you take all things in good part:

You've raised a church here in a minute,

And I would fain continue in it;

I'm good for little at my days,

Make me the parson if you please."

He spoke, and presently he feels

His grazier's coat reach down his heels;

The sleeves new border'd with a list,

Widen'd and gather'd at his wrist,

But, being old, continued just

As threadbare, and as full of dust.

A shambling awkward gait he took,

With a demure dejected look,

Talk't of his offerings, tythes, and dues,

Could smoke and drink and read the news,

Or sell a goose at the next town,

Decently hid beneath his gown.

Contriv'd to preach old sermons next,

Chang'd in the preface and the text.

At christ'nings well could act his part,

And had the service all by heart;

Wish'd women might have children fast,

And thought whose sow had farrow'd last;

Against dissenters would repine.

And stood up firm for "right divine;"

Carried it to his equals higher,

But most obedient to the squire.

Found his head fill'd with many a system;

But classic authors,-he ne'er mist 'em.

Thus having furbish'd up a parson,

Dame Baucis next they play'd their farce on.

Instead of homespun coifs, were seen

Good pinners edg'd with colberteen;[4]

Her petticoat, transform'd apace,

Became black satin, flounced with lace.

"Plain Goody" would no longer down,

'Twas "Madam," in her grogram gown.

Philemon was in great surprise,

And hardly could believe his eyes.

Amaz'd to see her look so prim,

And she admir'd as much at him.

Thus happy in their change of life,

Were several years this man and wife:

When on a day, which prov'd their last,

Discoursing o'er old stories past,

They went by chance, amidst their talk,

To the churchyard, to take a walk;

When Baucis hastily cry'd out,

"My dear, I see your forehead sprout!"-

"Sprout;" quoth the man; "what's this you tell us?

I hope you don't believe me jealous!

But yet, methinks, I feel it true,

And really yours is budding too-

Nay,-now I cannot stir my foot;

It feels as if 'twere taking root."

Description would but tire my Muse,

In short, they both were turn'd to yews.

Old Goodman Dobson of the Green

Remembers he the trees has seen;

He'll talk of them from noon till night,

And goes with folk to show the sight;

On Sundays, after evening prayer,

He gathers all the parish there;

Points out the place of either yew,

Here Baucis, there Philemon, grew:

Till once a parson of our town,

To mend his barn, cut Baucis down;

At which, 'tis hard to be believ'd

How much the other tree was griev'd,

Grew scrubby, dy'd a-top, was stunted,

So the next parson stubb'd and burnt it.

[Footnote 1: I here give the original version of this poem, which Forster found in Swift's handwriting at Narford; and which has never been published. It is well known that, at Addison's suggestion, Swift made extensive changes in this, "one of the happiest of his poems," concerning which Forster says, in his "Life of Swift," at p. 165: "The poem, as printed, contains one hundred and seventy-eight lines; the poem, as I found it at Narford, has two hundred and thirty; and the changes in the latter bringing it into the condition of the former, by which only it has been thus far known, comprise the omission of ninety-six lines, the addition of forty-four, and the alteration of twenty-two. The question can now be discussed whether or not the changes were improvements, and, in my opinion, the decision must be adverse to Addison."-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: The "village hard by Rixham" of the original has as little connection with "Chilthorne" as the "village down in Kent" of the altered version, and Swift had probably no better reason than his rhyme for either.-Forster.]

[Footnote 3: See the next poem for note on this line. Chevy Chase seems more suitable to the characters than the Joan of Arc of the altered version.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 4: A lace so called after the celebrated French Minister, M.

Colbert Planché's "Costume," p. 395.-W. E. B.]

BAUCIS AND PHILEMON[1]

ON THE EVER-LAMENTED LOSS OF THE TWO YEW-TREES IN THE PARISH OF CHILTHORNE, SOMERSET. 1706. IMITATED FROM THE EIGHTH BOOK OF OVID

In ancient times, as story tells,

The saints would often leave their cells,

And stroll about, but hide their quality,

To try good people's hospitality.

It happen'd on a winter night,

As authors of the legend write,

Two brother hermits, saints by trade,

Taking their tour in masquerade,

Disguis'd in tatter'd habits, went

To a small village down in Kent;

Where, in the strollers' canting strain,

They begg'd from door to door in vain,

Try'd ev'ry tone might pity win;

But not a soul would let them in.

Our wand'ring saints, in woful state,

Treated at this ungodly rate,

Having thro' all the village past,

To a small cottage came at last

Where dwelt a good old honest ye'man,

Call'd in the neighbourhood Philemon;

Who kindly did these saints invite

In his poor hut to pass the night;

And then the hospitable sire

Bid Goody Baucis mend the fire;

While he from out the chimney took

A flitch of bacon off the hook,

And freely from the fattest side

Cut out large slices to be fry'd;

Then stepp'd aside to fetch 'em drink,

Fill'd a large jug up to the brink,

And saw it fairly twice go round;

Yet (what was wonderful) they found

'Twas still replenished to the top,

As if they ne'er had touch'd a drop.

The good old couple were amaz'd,

And often on each other gaz'd;

For both were frighten'd to the heart,

And just began to cry, "What art!"

Then softly turn'd aside, to view

Whether the lights were burning blue.

The gentle pilgrims, soon aware on't,

Told them their calling and their errand:

"Good folk, you need not be afraid,

We are but saints," the hermits said;

"No hurt shall come to you or yours:

But for that pack of churlish boors,

Not fit to live on Christian ground,

They and their houses shall be drown'd;

While you shall see your cottage rise,

And grow a church before your eyes."

They scarce had spoke, when fair and soft,

The roof began to mount aloft;

Aloft rose ev'ry beam and rafter;

The heavy wall climb'd slowly after.

The chimney widen'd, and grew higher

Became a steeple with a spire.

The kettle to the top was hoist,

And there stood fasten'd to a joist,

But with the upside down, to show

Its inclination for below:

In vain; for a superior force

Applied at bottom stops its course:

Doom'd ever in suspense to dwell,

'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.

A wooden jack, which had almost

Lost by disuse the art to roast,

A sudden alteration feels,

Increas'd by new intestine wheels;

And, what exalts the wonder more,

The number made the motion slower.

The flyer, though it had leaden feet,

Turn'd round so quick you scarce could see't;

But, slacken'd by some secret power,

Now hardly moves an inch an hour.

The jack and chimney, near ally'd,

Had never left each other's side;

The chimney to a steeple grown,

The jack would not be left alone;

But, up against the steeple rear'd,

Became a clock, and still adher'd;

And still its love to household cares,

By a shrill voice at noon, declares,

Warning the cookmaid not to burn

That roast meat, which it cannot turn.

The groaning-chair began to crawl,

Like an huge snail

, half up the wall;

There stuck aloft in public view,

And with small change, a pulpit grew.

The porringers, that in a row

Hung high, and made a glitt'ring show,

To a less noble substance chang'd,

Were now but leathern buckets rang'd.

The ballads, pasted on the wall,

Of Joan[2] of France, and English Mall,[3]

Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,

The little Children in the Wood,

Now seem'd to look abundance better,

Improved in picture, size, and letter:

And, high in order plac'd, describe

The heraldry of ev'ry tribe.[4]

A bedstead of the antique mode,

Compact of timber many a load,

Such as our ancestors did use,

Was metamorphos'd into pews;

Which still their ancient nature keep

By lodging folk disposed to sleep.

The cottage, by such feats as these,

Grown to a church by just degrees,

The hermits then desired their host

To ask for what he fancy'd most.

Philemon, having paused a while,

Return'd them thanks in homely style;

Then said, "My house is grown so fine,

Methinks, I still would call it mine.

I'm old, and fain would live at ease;

Make me the parson if you please."

He spoke, and presently he feels

His grazier's coat fall down his heels:

He sees, yet hardly can believe,

About each arm a pudding sleeve;

His waistcoat to a cassock grew,

And both assumed a sable hue;

But, being old, continued just

As threadbare, and as full of dust.

His talk was now of tithes and dues:

Could smoke his pipe, and read the news;

Knew how to preach old sermons next,

Vamp'd in the preface and the text;

At christ'nings well could act his part,

And had the service all by heart;

Wish'd women might have children fast,

And thought whose sow had farrow'd last;

Against dissenters would repine,

And stood up firm for "right divine;"

Found his head fill'd with many a system;

But classic authors,-he ne'er mist 'em.

Thus having furbish'd up a parson,

Dame Baucis next they play'd their farce on.

Instead of homespun coifs, were seen

Good pinners edg'd with colberteen;

Her petticoat, transform'd apace,

Became black satin, flounced with lace.

"Plain Goody" would no longer down,

'Twas "Madam," in her grogram gown.

Philemon was in great surprise,

And hardly could believe his eyes.

Amaz'd to see her look so prim,

And she admir'd as much at him.

Thus happy in their change of life,

Were several years this man and wife:

When on a day, which prov'd their last,

Discoursing o'er old stories past,

They went by chance, amidst their talk,

[5]To the churchyard to take a walk;

When Baucis hastily cry'd out,

"My dear, I see your forehead sprout!"-

"Sprout;" quoth the man; "what's this you tell us?

I hope you don't believe me jealous!

But yet, methinks, I feel it true,

And really yours is budding too-Nay,-now

I cannot stir my foot;

It feels as if 'twere taking root."

Description would but tire my Muse,

In short, they both were turn'd to yews.

Old Goodman Dobson of the Green

Remembers he the trees has seen;

He'll talk of them from noon till night,

And goes with folk to show the sight;

On Sundays, after evening prayer,

He gathers all the parish there;

Points out the place of either yew,

Here Baucis, there Philemon, grew:

Till once a parson of our town,

To mend his barn, cut Baucis down;

At which, 'tis hard to be believ'd

How much the other tree was griev'd,

Grew scrubby, dy'd a-top, was stunted,

So the next parson stubb'd and burnt it.

[Footnote 1: This is the version of the poem as altered by Swift in accordance with Addison's suggestions.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: La Pucelle d'Orléans. See "Hudibras," "Lady's Answer," verse 285, and note in Grey's edition, ii, 439.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: Mary Ambree, on whose exploits in Flanders the popular ballad was written. The line in the text is from "Hudibras," Part I, c. 2, 367, where she is compared with Trulla: "A bold virago, stout and tall, As Joan of France, or English Mall." The ballad is preserved in Percy's "Reliques of English Poetry," vol. ii, 239.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 4: The tribes of Israel were sometimes distinguished in country churches by the ensigns given to them by Jacob.-Dublin Edition.]

[Footnote 5: In the churchyard to fetch a walk.-Dublin Edition.]

THE HISTORY OF VANBRUGH'S HOUSE 1708

When Mother Cludd[1] had rose from play,

And call'd to take the cards away,

Van saw, but seem'd not to regard,

How Miss pick'd every painted card,

And, busy both with hand and eye,

Soon rear'd a house two stories high.

Van's genius, without thought or lecture

Is hugely turn'd to architecture:

He view'd the edifice, and smiled,

Vow'd it was pretty for a child:

It was so perfect in its kind,

He kept the model in his mind.

But, when he found the boys at play

And saw them dabbling in their clay,

He stood behind a stall to lurk,

And mark the progress of their work;

With true delight observed them all

Raking up mud to build a wall.

The plan he much admired, and took

The model in his table-book:

Thought himself now exactly skill'd,

And so resolved a house to build:

A real house, with rooms and stairs,

Five times at least as big as theirs;

Taller than Miss's by two yards;

Not a sham thing of play or cards:

And so he did; for, in a while,

He built up such a monstrous pile,

That no two chairmen could be found

Able to lift it from the ground.

Still at Whitehall it stands in view,

Just in the place where first it grew;

There all the little schoolboys run,

Envying to see themselves outdone.

From such deep rudiments as these,

Van is become, by due degrees,

For building famed, and justly reckon'd,

At court,[2] Vitruvius the Second:[3]

No wonder, since wise authors show,

That best foundations must be low:

And now the duke has wisely ta'en him

To be his architect at Blenheim.

But raillery at once apart,

If this rule holds in every art;

Or if his grace were no more skill'd in

The art of battering walls than building,

We might expect to see next year

A mouse-trap man chief engineer.

[Footnote 1: See ante, p. 51, "The Reverse."-W, E. B.]

[Footnote 2: Vitruvius Pollio, author of the treatise "De

Architectura."-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: Sir John Vanbrugh held the office of Comptroller-General of his majesty's works.-Scott.]

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 B??tes,

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."

VIRG., Georg., i, 34.]

THE EPITAPH

Here, five feet deep, lies on his back

A cobbler, starmonger, and quack;

Who to the stars, in pure good will,

Does to his best look upward still.

Weep, all you customers that use

His pills, his almanacks, or shoes;

And you that did your fortunes seek,

Step to his grave but once a-week;

This earth, which bears his body's print,

You'll find has so much virtue in't,

That I durst pawn my ears, 'twill tell

Whate'er concerns you full as well,

In physic, stolen goods, or love,

As he himself could, when above.

A DESCRIPTION OF THE MORNING

WRITTEN IN APRIL 1709, AND FIRST PRINTED IN "THE TATLER"[1]

Now hardly here and there an hackney-coach

Appearing, show'd the ruddy morn's approach.

Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,

And softly stole to discompose her own;

The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door

Had pared the dirt, and sprinkled round the floor.

Now Moll had whirl'd her mop with dext'rous airs,

Prepared to scrub the entry and the stairs.

The youth with broomy stumps began to trace

The kennel's edge, where wheels had worn the place.[2]

The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep,

Till drown'd in shriller notes of chimney-sweep:

Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;

And brickdust Moll had scream'd through half the street.

The turnkey now his flock returning sees,

Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees:[3]

The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands,

And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.

[Footnote 1: No. 9. See the excellent edition in six vols., with notes, 1786.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: To find old nails.-Faulkner.]

[Footnote 3: To meet the charges levied upon them by the keeper of the prison.-W. E. B.]

A DESCRIPTION OF A CITY SHOWER[1]

WRITTEN IN OCT., 1710; AND FIRST PRINTED IN "THE TATLER," NO. 238

Careful observers may foretell the hour,

(By sure prognostics,) when to dread a shower.

While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er

Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.

Returning home at night, you'll find the sink

Strike your offended sense with double stink.

If you be wise, then, go not far to dine:

You'll spend in coach-hire more than save in wine.

A coming shower your shooting corns presage,

Old a-ches[2] throb, your hollow tooth will rage;

Sauntering in coffeehouse is Dulman seen;

He damns the climate, and complains of spleen.

Meanwhile the South, rising with dabbled wings,

A sable cloud athwart the welkin flings,

That swill'd more liquor than it could contain,

And, like a drunkard, gives it up again.

Brisk Susan whips her linen from the rope,

While the first drizzling shower is borne aslope;

Such is that sprinkling which some careless quean

Flirts on you from her mop, but not so clean:

You fly, invoke the gods; then, turning, stop

To rail; she singing, still whirls on her mop.

Not yet the dust had shunn'd the unequal strife,

But, aided by the wind, fought still for life,

And wafted with its foe by violent gust,

'Twas doubtful which was rain, and which was dust.[3]

Ah! where must needy poet seek for aid,

When dust and rain at once his coat invade?

Sole[4] coat! where dust, cemented by the rain,

Erects the nap, and leaves a cloudy stain!

Now in contiguous drops the flood comes down,

Threatening with deluge this devoted town.

To shops in crowds the daggled females fly,

Pretend to cheapen goods, but nothing buy.

The Templar spruce, while every spout's abroach,

Stays till 'tis fair, yet seems to call a coach.

The tuck'd-up sempstress walks with hasty strides,

While streams run down her oil'd umbrella's sides.

Here various kinds, by various fortunes led,

Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.

Triumphant Tories, and desponding Whigs,[5]

Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs.

Box'd in a chair the beau impatient sits,

While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits,

And ever and anon with frightful din

The leather sounds; he trembles from within.

So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,

Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed,

(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,

Instead of paying chairmen, ran them through,)

Laocoon[6] struck the outside with his spear,

And each imprison'd hero quaked for fear.

Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,

And bear their trophies with them as they go:

Filth of all hues and odour, seem to tell

What street they sail'd from, by their sight and smell.

They, as each torrent drives with rapid force,

From Smithfield to St. Pulchre's shape their course,

And in huge confluence join'd at Snowhill ridge,

Fall from the conduit prone to Holborn bridge.[7]

Sweeping from butchers' stalls, dung, guts, and blood,

Drown'd puppies, stinking sprats, all drench'd in mud,

Dead cats, and turnip-tops, come tumbling down the flood.

[Footnote 1: Swift was very proud of the "Shower," and so refers to it in the Journal to Stella. See "Prose Works," vol. ii, p. 33: "They say 'tis the best thing I ever writ, and I think so too. I suppose the Bishop of Clogher will show it you. Pray tell me how you like it." Again, p. 41: "there never was such a Shower since Dan?e's," etc.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 2: "Aches" is two syllables, but modern printers, who had lost the right pronunciation, have aches as one syllable; and then to complete the metre have foisted in "aches will throb." Thus, what the poet and the linguist wish to preserve, is altered and finally lost. See Disraeli's "Curiosities of Literature," vol. i, title "Errata," p. 81, edit. 1858. A good example occurs in "Hudibras," Part III, canto 2, line 407, where persons are mentioned who "Can by their Pangs and Aches find All turns and changes of the wind."-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: "'Twas doubtful which was sea and which was sky." GARTH'S Dispensary.]

[Footnote 4: Originally thus, but altered when Pope published the

"Miscellanies":

"His only coat, where dust confused with rain,

Roughens the nap, and leaves a mingled stain."-Scott.]

[Footnote 5: Alluding to the change of ministry at that time.]

[Footnote 6: Virg., "Aeneid," lib. ii.-W. E. B.]

[Footnote 7: Fleet Ditch, in which Pope laid the famous diving scene in

"The Dunciad"; celebrated also by Gay in his "Trivia." There is a view of

Fleet Ditch as an illustration to "The Dunciad" in Warburton's edition

of Pope, 8vo, 1751.-W. E. B.]

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.]

A TOWN ECLOGUE. 1710[1]

Scene, the Royal Exchange

CORYDON

Now the keen rigour of the winter's o'er,

No hail descends, and frost can pinch no more,

While other girls confess the genial spring,

And laugh aloud, or amorous ditties sing,

Secure from cold, their lovely necks display,

And throw each useless chafing-dish away;

Why sits my Phillis discontented here,

Nor feels the turn of the revolving year?

Why on that brow dwell sorrow and dismay,

Where Loves were wont to sport, and Smiles to play?

PHILLIS

Ah, Corydon! survey the 'Change around,

Through all the 'Change no wretch like me is found:

Alas! the day, when I, poor heedless maid,

Was to your rooms in Lincoln's Inn betray'd;

Then how you swore, how many vows you made!

Ye listening Zephyrs, that o'erheard his love,

Waft the soft accents to the gods above.

Alas! the day; for (O, eternal shame!)

I sold you handkerchiefs, and lost my fame.

CORYDON

When I forget the favour you bestow'd,

Red herrings shall be spawn'd in Tyburn Road:

Fleet Street, transform'd, become a flowery green,

And mass be sung where operas are seen.

The wealthy cit, and the St. James's beau,

Shall change their quarters, and their joys forego;

Stock-jobbing, this to Jonathan's shall come,

At the Groom Porter's, that play off his plum.

PHILLIS

But what to me does all that love avail,

If, while I doze at home o'er porter's ale,

Each night with wine and wenches you regale?

My livelong hours in anxious cares are past,

And raging hunger lays my beauty waste.

On templars spruce in vain I glances throw,

And with shrill voice invite them as they go.

Exposed in vain my glossy ribbons shine,

And unregarded wave upon the twine.

The week flies round, and when my profit's known,

I hardly clear enough to change a crown.

CORYDON

Hard fate of virtue, thus to be distrest,

Thou fairest of thy trade, and far the best;

As fruitmen's stalls the summer market grace,

And ruddy peaches them; as first in place

Plumcake is seen o'er smaller pastry ware,

And ice on that: so Phillis does appear

In playhouse and in Park, above the rest

Of belles mechanic, elegantly drest.

PHILLIS

And yet Crepundia, that conceited fair,

Amid her toys, affects a saucy air,

And views me hourly with a scornful eye.

CORYDON

She might as well with bright Cleora vie.

PHILLIS

With this large petticoat I strive in vain

To hide my folly past, and coming pain;

'Tis now no secret; she, and fifty more,

Observe the symptoms I had once before:

A second babe at Wapping must be placed,

When I scarce bear the charges of the last.

CORYDON

What I could raise I sent; a pound of plums,

Five shillings, and a coral for his gums;

To-morrow I intend him something more.

PHILLIS

I sent a frock and pair of shoes before.

CORYDON

However, you shall home with me to-night,

Forget your cares, and revel in delight,

I have in store a pint or two of wine,

Some cracknels, and the remnant of a chine.

And now on either side, and all around,

The weighty shop-boards fall, and bars resound;

Each ready sempstress slips her pattens on,

And ties her hood, preparing to be gone.

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