on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.
Occasioned by reading a Maxim in Rochefoucauld.
|As Rochefoucauld his Maxim drew
|From nature, I believe 'em true :
|They argue no corrupted mind
|In him; the fault is in mankind.
| This Maxim more than all the rest
|Is thought too base for human breast ;
|'In all distresses of our friends
|We first consult our private ends,
|While nature kindly bent to ease us,
|Points out some circumstance to please
| If this perhaps your patience move
|Let reason and experience prove.
| We all behold with envious eyes,
|Our equal rais'd above our size
|Who would not at a crowded show,
|Stand high himself, keep others low ?
|I love my friend as well as you,
|But would not have him stop my view ;
|Then let me have the higher post ;
|I ask but for an inch at most.
| If in a battle you should find,
|One, whom you love of all mankind,
|Had some heroic action done,
|A champion kill'd, or trophy won ;
|Rather than thus be over-topt,
|Would you not wish his laurels cropt ?
| Dear honest Ned is in the gout,
|Lies rackt with pain, and you without :
|How patiently you hear him groan!
|How glad the case is not your own!
| What poet would not grieve to see,
|His brethren write as well as he?
|But rather than they should excel,
|He'd wish his rivals all in hell.
| Her end when Emulation misses,
|She turns to envy, stings and hisses :
|The strongest friendship yields to pride,
|Unless the odds be on our side.
| Vain human kind! Fantastic race!
|Thy various follies, who can trace?
|Self-love, ambition, envy, pride,
|Their empire in our hearts divide :
|Give others riches, power, and station,
|'Tis all on me an usurpation.
|I have no title to aspire ;
|Yet, when you sink, I seem the higher.
|In Pope, I cannot read a line,
|But with a sigh, I wish it mine :
|When he can in one couplet fix
|More sense than I can do in six :
|It gives me such a jealous fit,
|I cry, Pox take him, and his wit.
| Why must I be outdone by Gay,
|In my own hum'rous biting way?
| Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
|Who dares to irony pretend;
|Which I was born to introduce,
|Refin'd it first, and show'd its use.
| St John, as well as Pultney knows,
|That I had some repute for prose ;
|And till they drove me out of date,
|Could maul a minister of state :
|If they have mortified my pride,
|And made me throw my pen aside ;
|If with such talents Heav'n hath blest 'em
|Have I not reason to detest 'em?
| To all my foes, dear Fortune, send
|Thy gifts, but never to my friend :
|I tamely can endure the first,
|But, this with envy makes me burst.
| Thus much may serve by way of
|Proceed we therefore to our poem.
| The time is not remote, when I
|Must by the course of nature die :
|When I foresee my special friends,
|Will try to find their private ends :
|Tho' it is hardly understood,
|Which way my death can do them good ;
|Yet, thus methinks, I hear 'em speak ;
|See, how the Dean begins to break :
|Poor gentleman, he droops apace,
|You plainly find it in his face :
|That old vertigo in his head,
|Will never leave him, till he's dead :
|Besides, his memory decays,
|He recollects not what he says ;
|He cannot call his friends to mind ;
|Forgets the place where last he din'd :
|Plies you with stories o'er and o'er,
|He told them fifty times before.
|How does he fancy we can sit,
|To hear is out-of-fashion'd wit?
|But he takes up with younger folks,
|Who for his wine will bear his jokes :
|Faith, he must make his stories shorter,
|Or change his comrades once a quarter:
|In half the time, he talks them round ;
|There must another set be found.
| For poetry, he's past his prime,
|He takes an hour to find a rhyme :
|His fire is out, his wit decay'd,
|His fancy sunk, his Muse a jade.
|I'd have him throw away his pen ;
|But there's no talking to some men.
| And, then their tenderness
|By adding largely to my years :
|'He's older than he would be reckon'd,
|And well remembers Charles the Second.
| 'He hardly drinks a pint of wine ;
|And that, I doubt, is no good sign.
|His stomach too begins to fail :
|Last year we thought his strong and hale
|But now, he's quite another thing ;
|I wish he may hold out till spring.'
| Then hug themselves, and reason
|'It is not yet so bad with us.'
| In such a case they talk in
|And, by their fears express their hopes :
|Some great misfortune to portend,
|No enemy can match a friend ;
|With all the kindness they profess,
|The merit of a lucky guess,
|(When daily howd'y's come of course,
|And servants answer ; Worse and worse)
|Wou'd please 'em better than to tell,
|That, God be prais'd, the Dean is well.
|Then he who prophesied the best,
|Approves his foresight to the rest :
|'You know, I always fear'd the worst,
|And often told you so at first':
|He'd rather choose that I should die,
|Than his prediction prove a lie.
|Not one foretells I shall recover ;
|But, all agree, to give me over.
| Yet should some neighbour feel a
|Just in the parts, where I complain ;
|How many a message would be send?
|What hearty prayers that I should mend?
|Enquire what regimen I kept ;
|What gave me ease, and how I slept?
|And more lament, when I was dead,
|Than all the sniv'llers round my bed.
| My good companions, never fear,
|For though you may mistake a year ;
|Though your prognostics run too fast,
|They must be verified at last.
| 'Behold the fatal day arrive!
|How is the Dean? He's just alive.
|Now the departing prayer is read :
|He hardly breathes. The Dean is dead.
|Before the passing-bell begun,
|The news thro' half the town has run.
|O, may we all for death prepare!
|What, has he left? And who's his heir?
|I know no more than what the news is,
|'Tis all bequeathed to public uses.
|To public use! A perfect whim!
|What had the public done for him!
|Mere envy, avarice and pride!
|He gave it all :- But first he died.
|And had the Dean, in all the nation ,
|No worthy friend, no poor relation?
|So ready to do strangers good.
|Forgetting his own flesh and blood?
| Now Grub-Street wits are all
|With elegies, the town is cloy'd :
|Some paragraph in ev'ry paper,
|To curse the Dean, or bless
| The doctors tender of their fame,
|Wisely on me lay all the blame :
|We must confess his case was nice ;
|But he would never take advice :
|Had he been rul'd, for ought appears,
|He might have liv'd these twenty years :
|For when we open'd him we found,
|That all his vital parts were sound.'
| From Dublin soon to London spread,
|'Tis told at Court, the Dean is dead.
| Kind Lady Suffolk in the spleen,
|Runs laughing up to tell the Queen.
|The Queen, so gracious, mild and good,
|Cries, 'Is he gone? 'Tis time he should.
|He's dead you say ; why let him rot ;
|I'm glad the medals were forgot.
|I promis'd them, I own ; but when?
|I only was the Princess then ;
|But now as Consort of the King,
|You know 'tis quite a different thing.'
| Now, Chartres at Sir Robert's
|Tells, with a sneer, the tidings heavy :
|'Why, is he dead without his shoes?'
|(Cries Bob) 'I'm sorry for the news ;
|Oh, were the wretch but living still,
|And in his place my good friend Will ;
|Or, had a mitre on his head
|Provided Bolingbroke were dead.'
| Now Curl his shop from rubbish
|Three genuine tomes of Swift's remains.
|And then to make them pass the glibber,
|Revis'd by Tibbalds, Moore, and Cibber,
|He'll treat me as he does my betters.
|Publish my will, my life, my letters.
|Revive the libels born to die ;
|Which Pope must bear, as well as I.
| 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 scare
|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 lash'd, they
kiss the rod ;
|Resigning to the will of God.
| The fools, my juniors by a year,
|Are tortur'd with suspense and fear.
|Who wisely thought my age a screen,
|When death approach'd to stand between :
|The screen remov'd, their hearts are
|They mourn for me without dissembling.
| My female friends, who tender
|Have better learn'd to act their parts,
|Receive the news in doleful dumps,
|'The Dean is dead, (and what is
|Then Lord have mercy on his soul.
|(Ladies I'll venture for the Vole.)
|Six Deans they say must bear the pall.
|(I wish I knew what King to call.)
|Madam, your husband will attend
|The funeral of so good a friend.
|No Madam, 'tis a shocking sight,
|And he's engag'd to-morrow night!
|My Lady Club wou'd take it ill
|If you shou'd fail her at Quadrill.
|He lov'd the Dean. (I lead a heart.)
|But dearest friends, they say, must part.
|His time was come, he ran his race ;
|We hope he's in a better place.'
| Why do we grieve that friends
|No loss more easy to supply.
|One year is past ; a different scene ;
|No further mention of the Dean ;
|Who now, alas, no more is mist,
|Than if he never did exist.
|Where's now the fav'rite of Apollo?
|Departed ; and his works must follow
|Must undergo the common fate
|His kind of wit is out of date.
|Some country squire to Lintot goes,
|Enquires for Swift in verse and prose :
|Says Lintot, 'I have heard the name :
|He died a year ago.' The same
|He searcheth all his shop in vain;
|'Sir you may find them in Duck-lane :
|I sent them with a load of books,
|Last Monday to the pastry-cooks.
|To fancy they could live a year!
|I find you're but a stranger here.
|The Dean was famous in his time ;
|And had a kind of knack at rhyme :
|His way of writing now is past ;
|The town hath got a better taste :
|I keep no antiquated stuff ;
|But, spick and span I have enough.
|Pray, do but give me leave to show-em ;
|Here's Colley Cibber's Birth-day Poem.
|This Ode you never yet have seen,
|By Stephen Duck, upon the Queen.
|Then, here's a Letter finely penn'd
|Against the Craftsman and his friend ;
|It clearly shows that all reflection
|On ministers, is disaffection.
|Next, here’s Sir Robert's Vindication,
|And Mr. Henly's last Oration :
|The hawkers have not got 'em yet,
|Your Honour please to buy a set?
| 'Here's Wolston's Tracts, the
twelfth edition ;
|'Tis read by ev'ry politician :
|The country members, when in town,
|To all their boroughs send them down :
|You never met a thing so smart ;
|The couriers have them all by heart :
|Those Maids of Honour (who can read)
|Are taught to use them for their creed.
|The Rev'rend author's good intention,
|Hath been rewarded with a pension :
|He doth an honour to his gown,
|By bravely running priest-craft down :
|He shows, as sure as God's in Gloster,
|That Jesus was a Grand Imposter :
|That all his miracles were cheats,
|Perform'd as jugglers do their feats :
|The Church had never such a writer :
|A shame, he hath not got a mitre!'
| 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 :
|And, while they toss my name about,
|With favour some, and some without ;
|One quite indiff'rent in the cause,
|My character impartial draws :
| 'The Dean, if we believe report,
|Was never ill receiv'd at Court :
|As for his works in verse and prose,
|I own my self 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 design'd
|To cure the vices of mankind :
|His vein, ironically grave,
|Expos'd the fool, and lash'd the knave :
|To steal a hint was never known,
|But what he writ was all his own.
| 'He never thought an honour done
|Because a Duke was proud to own him :
|Would rather slip aside, and choose
|To talk with wits in dirty shoes :
|Despis'd the fools with stars and
|So often seen caressing Chartres :
|He never courted men in station,
|Nor persons had in admiration ;
|Of no man's greatness was afraid,
|Because he sought for no man's aid.
|Though trusted long in great affairs,
|He gave himself no haughty airs :
|Without regarding private ends,
|Spent all his credit for his friends :
|And only chose the wise and good;
|No flatt'rers ; no allies in blood ;
|But succour'd virtue in distress,
|And seldom fail'd of good success;
|As numbers in their hearts must own,
|Who, but for him, had been unknown.
| 'With princes kept a due decorum,
|But never stood in awe before 'em :
|And to her Majesty, God bless her,
|Would speak as free as to her dresser,
|She thought it his peculiar whim,
|Nor took it ill as come from him.
|He follow'd David's lesson just,
|In Princes never put thy trust.
|And, would you make him truly sour ;
|Provoke him with a slave in Power :
|The Irish Senate, if you nam'd,
|With what impatience he declaim'd!
|Fair LIBERTY was all his cry ;
|For her he stood prepar'd to die ;
|For her he boldly stood alone ;
|For her he oft expos'd his own.
|Two kingdoms, just as faction led,
|Had set a price upon his head ;
|But, not a traitor could be found,
|To sell him for six hundred pound.
| 'Had he but spar'd his tongue and
|He might have rose like other men :
|But, power was never in his thought ;
|And, wealth he valu'd not a groat :
|Ingratitude he often found,
|And pitied those who meant the wound :
|But, kept the tenor of his mind,
|To merit well of human kind :
|Nor made a sacrifice of those
|Who still were true, to please his foes.
|He labour'd many a fruitless hour
|To reconcile his friends in power ;
|Saw mischief by a faction brewing,
|While they pursu'd each other's ruin.
|But, finding vain was all his care,
|He left the Court in mere despair.
| 'And, oh! how short are human
|Here ended all our golden dreams.
|What St John's skill in state affairs,
|What Ormond's valour, Oxford's cares,
|To save their sinking country lent,
|Was all destroy'd by one event.
|Too soon that previous life was ended,
|On which alone, our weal depended.
|When up a dangerous faction starts,
|With wrath and vengeance in their hearts:
|By solemn league and cov'nant bound,
|To ruin, slaughter and confound ;
|To turn Religion to a fable,
|And make the government a Babel :
|Pervert the Law, disgrace the Gown,
|Corrupt the Senate, rob the Crown ;
|To sacrifice old England's glory,
|And make her infamous in story.
|When such a tempest shook the land,
|How could unguarded virtue stand?
| 'With horror, grief, despair the
|Beheld the dire destructive scene :
|His fiends in exile, or the Tower,
|Himself within the frown of power ;
|Pursu'd by base envenom'd pens,
|Far to the land of slaves and fens ;
|A service race in folly nurs'd,
|Who truckle most, when treated worst.
| 'By innocence and resolution,
|He bore continual persecution ;
|While numbers to preferment rose ;
|Whose merits were, to be his foes.
|When, e'en his own familiar friends
|Intent upon their private ends ;
|Like renegados now he feels,
|Against him lifting up their heels.
'The Dean did by his pen defeat
An infamous destructive cheat.
|Taught fools their int'rest how to know ;
|And gave them arms to ward the blow.
|Envy hath own'd it was his doing,
|To save that helpless land from ruin,
|While they who at the steerage stood,
|And reapt the profit, sought his blood.
| 'To save them from their evil
|In him was held a crime of state.
|A wicked monster on the bench,
|Whose fury blood could never quench ;
|As vile and profligate a villain,
|As modern Scroggs, or old Tressilian ;
|Who long all justice had discarded,
|Nor fear'd he GOD,
nor man regarded ;
|Vow'd on the Dean his rage to vent,
|And make him of his zeal repent ;
|But Heav'n his innocence defends,
|The grateful people stand his friends
|Not strains of law, nor judge's frown,
|Nor topics brought to please the Crown,
|Nor witness hir'd, nor jury pick'd,
|Prevail to bring him in convict.
| 'In exile with a steady heart,
|He spent his life's declining part ;
|Where, folly, pride and faction sway,
|Remove from St John, Pope and Gay.
| 'His friendship there to few confin'd,
|Were always of the middling kind :
|No fools of rank, a mongrel breed,
|Who fain would pass for lords indeed :
|Where titles give no right or power,
|And peerage is a wither'd flower,
|He would have held it a disgrace,
|If such a wretch had known his face.
|On rural squires, that kingdom's bane,
|He vented oft his wrath in vain :
|Biennial squires, to market brought ;
|Who sell their souls and votes for naught
|The nation stript go joyful back,
|To rob the Church, their tenants rack,
|Go snacks with thieves and rapparees,
|And, keep the peace, to pick up fees :
|In every job to have a share,
|A jail or barrack to repair ;
|And turn the tax for public roads
|Commodious to their own abodes.
| 'Perhaps I may allow, the Dean
|Had too much satire in his vein ;
|And seem'd determin'd not to starve it,
|Because no age could more deserve it.
|Yet, malice never was his aim ;
|He lash'd the vice but spar'd the name.
|No individual could resent
|Where thousands equally were meant.
|His satire points at no defect,
|But what all mortals may correct ;
|For he abhorr'd that senseless tribe,
|Who call it humour when they gibe :
|He spar'd a hump or crooked nose,
|Whose owners set not up for beaux.
|True genuine dullness mov'd his pity,
|Unless it offer'd to be witty.
|Those, who their ignorance confess'd,
|He ne'er offended with a jest ;
|But laugh'd to hear an idiot quote,
|A verse from Horace, learn'd by rote.
| 'He knew an hundred pleasant
|With all the turns of Whigs and Tories :
|Was cheerful to his dying day,
|And friends would let him have his way.
| 'He gave the little wealth he had,
|To build a house for fools and mad :
|And show'd 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.'
Jonathan Swift | Classic
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