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So ready to do strangers good,
Forgetting his own flesh and blood !
Here shift the scene, to represent
How those I love my death lament.
Poor Pope will grieve a month, and Gay
A week, and Arbuthnot a day.
St. John himself will scarce forbear
To bite his pen, and drop a tear.
The rest will give a shrug, and cry,
“ I'm sorry — but we all must die!"
Indifference clad in wisdom's guise,
All fortitude of mind supplies ;
For how can stony bowels melt
In those who never pity felt?
When we are lashed, they kiss the rod,
Resigning to the will of God.
Suppose me dead; and then suppose
A club assembled at the Rose,
Where, from discourse of this and that,
I grow the subject of their chat.
“ The dean, if we believe report,
Was never ill-received at court.
Although ironically grave,
He shamed the fool and lashed the knave.
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own."
“ Sir, I have heard another story;
He was a most confounded Tory,
And grew, or he is much belied,
Extremely dull, before he died.”
“ Can we the Drapier then forget ?
Is not our nation in his debt ?
'T was he that writ the Drapier's* letters!"
“He should have left them for his betters;
We had a hundred abler men,
Nor need depend upon his pen.
Say what you will about his reading,
You never can defend his breeding;
Who, in his satires running riot,
Could never leave the world in quiet;
Attacking, when he took the whim,
Court, city, camp- all one to him.
What scenes of evil he unravels,
In satires, libels, lying travels !
Not sparing his own clergy-cloth,
But eats into it, like a moth !"
“ Perhaps I may allow, the dean
Had too much satire in his vein,
And seemed determined not to starve it,
Because no age could more deserve it.
Vice, if it e'er can be abashed,
Must be or ridiculed or lashed.
If you resent it, who's to blame?
He neither knew you, nor your name:
Should vice expect to 'scape rebuke,
Because its owner is a duke?
His friendships, still to few confined,
Were always of the middling kind;
No fools of rank or mongrel breed,
Who fain would pass for lords indeed,
Where titles give no rank or power,
And peerage is a withered flower.
* A series of political essays written by Swift, which gave him popularity with his countrymen.
He would have deemed it a disgrace,
If such a wretch had known his face.
“He never thought an honour done him,
Because a peer was proud to own him;
Would rather slip aside, and choose
To talk with wits in dirty shoes;
And scorn the tools with stars and garters,
So often seen caressing Charteris.
He kept with princes due decorum,
Yet never stood in awe before 'em.
He followed David's lesson just;
In princes never put his trust:
And, would you make him truly sour,
Provoke him with a slave in power.”
“ Alas, poor dean! his only scope
Was to be held a misanthrope.
This into general odium drew him,
Which, if he liked, much good may't do him.
His zeal was not to lash our crimes,
But discontent against the times:
For, had we made him timely offers,
To raise his post, or fill his coffers,
Perhaps he might have truckled down,
Like other brethren of his gown.
For party he would scarce have bled :
I say no more because he's dead.
What writings has he left behind ?
I hear they're of a different kind :
A few in verse; but most in prose:
Some high-flown pamphlets, I suppose:
All scribbled in the worst of times,
To palliate his friend Oxford's crimes ;
To praise Queen Anne, nay more, defend her,
As never favouring the Pretender :
Or libels yet concealed from sight,
Against the court, to show his spite:
Perhaps his travels, part the third ;
A lie at every second word —
Offensive to a loyal ear:
But — not one sermon, you may swear."
“ As for his works in verse or prose,
I own myself no judge of those.
Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em;
But this I know, all people bought 'em,
As with a moral view designed,
To please, and to reform mankind :
And, if he often missed his aim,
The world must own it to their shame,
The praise is his, and theirs the blame.
He gave the little wealth he had
To build a house for fools and mad;
To show, by one satiric touch,
No nation wanted it so much.
That kingdom he hath left his debtor ;
I wish it soon may have a better
And, since you dread no further lashes,
Methinks you may forgive his ashes.”
I've often wished that I had clear
For life six hundred pounds a-year,
A handsome house to lodge a friend,
A river at my garden's end,
A terrace-walk, and half a rood
Of land set out to plant a wood.
Well, now I have all this and more,
I ask not to increase my store;
But here a grievance seems to lie,
All this is mine but till I die;
I can't but think 't would sound more clever,
To me and to my heirs for ever.
If I ne'er got or lost a groat
By any trick or any fault;
And if I pray for reason's rules,
And not like forty other fools,
As thus, “ Vouchsafe, oh gracious Maker!
To grant me this and 't other acre;
Or if it be thy will and pleasure,
Direct my plough to find a treasure!"
But only what my station fits,
And to be kept in my right wits ;
Preserve, Almighty Providence!
Just what you gave me, competence,
And let me in these shades compose
Something in verse as true as prose.