Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

EPISTLE TO

ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD AND EARL

MORTIMER

Sent to the Earl of Oxford, with Dr. Parnell's Poems

published by our Author, after the said Earl's im. prisonment in the Tower, and Retreat into the Country, in the Year 1721.

Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
He eat himself the rind and paring.
Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show'd his breeding and his wit;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cried, " I vow you're mighty neat.
But Lord, my friend, this savage scene!
For God's sake, come, and live with men;
Consider, mice, like men, must die,
Both small and great, both you and I:
Then spend your life in joy and sport;
(This doctrine, friend, I learnt at court.")

The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Away they come, through thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's-inn:
('Twas on the night of a debate,
When all their lordships had sat late.)

Behold the place, where is a poet
Shin'd in description, he might show it;
Tell how the moonbeam trembling falls,
And tips with silver all the walls;
Palladian walls, Venetian doors,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors :
But let it in a word) be said,
The Moon was up, and men a-bed,
The napkins white, the carpet red:
The guests withdrawn had left the treat,
And down the mice sate, tête-à-tête.

Our courtier walks from dish to dish,
Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish;
Tells all their names, lays down the law,

Que ca est bon! Ah goûtez ca ! That jelly's rich, this malmsey healing, Pray dip your whiskers and your tail in." Was ever such a happy swain ! He stuffs and swills, and stuffs again. “I'm quite asham'd—'tis mighty rude To eat so much—but all's so good. I have a thousand thanks to giveMy lord alone knows how to live." No sooner said, but from the hall Rush chaplain, butler, dogs, and all : “A rat! a rat! clap to the door!". The cat comes bouncing on the floor. O for the heart of Homer's mice, Or gods to save them in a trice! (It was by Providence they think, For your damn'd stucco has no chink.) " An't please your honor," quoth the peasant, “This same dessert is not so pleasant : Give me again my hollow tree, A crust of bread, and liberty!"

Such were the notes thy once-lov'd poet sunk
Till Death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue.
Oh just beheld, and lost! admir'd, and mouna !
With softest manners, gentlest arts adorna!
Blest in each science, blest in every strain!
Dear to the Muse! to Harley dear-in vain!
For him, thou oft hast bid the world attend,

Fond to forget the statesman in the friend ;
For Swift and bim, despis'd the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great ;
Dextrous the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleas'd to 'scape from flattery to wit.

Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear, (A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear,)

Recall those nights that clos'd thy toilsome da
Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays,
Who, careless now of interest, fame, or fato,
Perhaps forgets that Oxford e'er was great ;
Or, deeming meanest what we greatest call
Beholds thee glorious only in thy fall.

And sure, if aught below the seats divine
Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine:
A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried,
Above all pain, and passion, and all pride,
The rage of power, the blast of public breathe
The lust of lucre, and the dread of Death.

In vain to deserts thy retreat is made ;
The Muse attends thee to thy silent shade:
'Tis hers, the brave man's latest steps to trace,
Re-judge his acts, and dignify disgrace.
When interest calls off all her sneaking train,
And all th'oblig'd desert, and all the vain;
She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
When the last lingering friend has bid farewell.
Ev'n now she shades thy evening-walk with bays,
(No hireling she, no prostitute lo praise);
Ev'n now, observant of the parting ray,
Eyes the calm sun-set of thy various day,
Through Fortune's cloud one truly great can see,
Nor fears to tell, that Mortimer is he.

[ocr errors]

JONATHAN SWIFT.

JONATHAN Swift, a person who has carried one brought him under the heavy imputation, from species of poetry, that of humorous satire, to a de- which he was never able entirely to free himself, gree never before attained, was, by his parentage, of being a scoffer against revealed religion. of English descent, but probably born in Ireland. His prospects of advancement in the political It is known that his father, also called Jonathan, career were abortive, till 1710, when the Tories having married a Leicestershire lady, died at an came into power. His connexion with this party early age, leaving a daughter, and a posthumous son. began in an acquaintance with Harley, afterwards His widow, being left in narrow circumstances, Earl of Oxford, who introduced him to secretary was invited by her husband's brother, Godwin, St. John, afterwards Lord Boling broke; and, he who resided in Dublin, to his house; and there, it engaged the confidence of these leaders to such a is supposed, Jonathan was born, on November 30th, degree, that he was admitted to their most secret 1667. After passing some time at a school in Kil- consultations. In all his transactions with them, ko kenny, he was removed to Trinity College, Dụblin, was most scrupulously attentive to preserve every in his 15th year; in which university he spent seven appearance of being on an equality, and to repress years, and then obtained with difficulty the degree every thing that looked like slight or neglect on of bachelor of arts, conferred speciali gratia. The their parts; and there probably is not another excircumstance affords sufficient proof of the misap- ample of a man of letters who has held his head so plication of his talents to mathematical pursuits ; high in his association with men in power. This but he is said to have been at this period engaged was undoubtedly owing to that constitutional pride eight hours a day in more congenial studies. and unsubmitting nature which governed all his

So profuse are the materials the life of Swift, actions. that it has become almost a vain attempt to give, in A bishopric in England was the object at which a moderate compass, the events by which he was he aimed, and a vacancy on the bench occurring, distinguished from ordinary mortals; and it will he was recommended by his friends in the ministry therefore be chiefly in his character of a poetical to the Queen; but suspicions of his faith, and other composer that we shall now consider him. He was prejudices, being raised against him, he was passed early domesticated with the celebrated statesman, over; and the highest preferment which his patrons Sir William Temple, who now lived in retirement could venture to bestow upon him was the deanery at Moor Park; but having made choice of the of St. Patrick's, in Dublin; to which he was prechurch as his future destination, on parting in sented in 1713, and in which he continued for life. some disagreement from Temple, he went to Ire- The death of the Queen put an end to all contests land, with very moderate expectations, and took among the Tory ministers; and the change termiorders. A reconciliation with his patron brought nated Swift's prospects, and condemned him to an him back to Moor Park, where he passed his time unwilling residence in a country which he always in harmony till the death of Sir William, who left disliked. On his return to Dublin, his temper was him a legacy and his papers. He then accepted severely tried by the triumph of the Whigs, who an invitation from the earl of Berkeley, one of the treated him with great indignity ; but in length of Lords Justices of Ireland, to accompany him time, by a proper exercise of his clerical office, by thither as chaplain and private secretary; and he reforms introduced into the chapter of St. Patrick's, continued in the family as long as his lordship re- and by his bold and able exposures of the abuses mained in that kingdom. Here Swift began to practised in the government of Ireland, he rose to distinguish himself by an incomparable talent of the title of King of the Mob in that capital. writing humorous verses in the true familiar style, His conduct with respect to the female sex was several specimens of which he produced for the not less unaccountable than singular, and certainly amusement of the house. After Lord Berkeley's does no honor to his memory. Early in life he return to England, Swift went to reside at his attached himself to his celebrated Stella, whose real living at Laracor, in the diocese of Meath; and name was Johnson, the daughter of Sir William here it was that ambition began to take possession Temple's steward. Soon after his settlement at of his mind. He thought it proper to increase his Laracor, he invited her to Ireland. She came, acconsequence by taking the degree of doctor of companied by a Mrs. Dingley, and resided near divinity in an English university; and, for the pur- the parsonage when he was at home, and in it when pose of forming connexions, he paid annual visits he was absent; nor were they ever known to lodge to that country. In 1701, he first engaged as a in the same house, or to see each other without a political writer; and, in 1704, he published, though witness. In 1716, he was privately married to her, anonymously, his celebrated “Tale of a Tub," but the parties were brought no nearer than before which, while it placed him high as a writer, dis- and the act was attended with no acknowledgment tinguished by wit and humor of a peculiar cast, that could gratify the feelings of a woman who

[ocr errors]

had so long devoted herself to him. About the humorous and sarcastic was his habitual taste,
year 1712, he became acquainted, in London, with which he frequently indulged beyond the bounds of
Miss Esther Vanhomrigh, a young lady of fortune, decorum ; a circumstance which renders the task
with a taste for literature, which Swist was fond of of selection from his works somewhat perplexing.
cultivating. To her he wrote the longest and most In wit, both in verse and prose, he stands foremost
finished of his poems, entitled Cadenus and in grave irony, maintained with the most plausible
Vanessa ; and her attachment acquired so much air of serious simplicity, and supported by great
strength, that she made him the offer of her hand. minuteness of detail. His “Gulliver's Travels"
Even after his marriage to Stella, Swift kept are a remarkable exemplification of his powers in
Miss Vanbomrigh in ignorance of this connexion ; this kind, which have rendered the work wonder-
but a report of it having at length reached her, she fully amusing, even to childish readers, whilst the
took the step of writing a note to Stella, requesting keen satire with which it abounds may gratify the
to know if the marriage were real. Stella assured most splenetic misanthropist. In general, however,
her of the affirmative in her answer, which she his style in prose, though held up as a model of
inclosed to Swift, and went into the country without clearness, purity, and simplicity, has only the merit
seeing him. Swift went immediately to the house of expressing the author's meaning with perfect
of Miss Vanhomrigh, threw Stella's letter on the precision.
table, and departed, without speaking a word. She Late in life, Swift fell under the fate which he
never recovered the shock, and died in 1723. dreaded : the faculties of his mind decayed before
Stella, with her health entirely ruined, languished those of his body, and he gradually settled into ab-
on till 1728, when she expired. Such was the fate solute idiocy. A total silence for some months
which he prepared for both.

preceded his decease, which took place in October,
of the poems of Swift, some of the most striking 1744, when he was in his 781h year. He was in-
were composed in mature life, after his attainment terred in St. Patrick's cathedral, under a monu-
of his deanery of St. Patrick; and it will be ad- ment, for which he wrote a Latin epitaph, in which
mitted that no one ever gave a more perfect ex. one clause most energetically displays the state of
ample of the easy familiarity attainable in the his feelings : Ubi sæva indignatio ulterius cor
English language. His readiness in rhyme is lacerare nequit.” He bequeathed the greatest part
truly astonishing; the most uncommon associations of his property to an hospital for lunatics and
of sounds coming to him as it were spontaneously, idiots,
in words seemingly the best adapted to the occasion.

To show, by one satiric touch, That he was capable of high polish and elegance,

No nation wanted it so much. some of his works sufficiently prove; but the

CADENUS AND VANESSA.*

WRITTEN AT WINDSOR, 1713.

The shepherds and the nymphs were seen
Pleading before the Cyprian queen.
The counsel for the fair began,
Accusing the false creature man.
The brief with weighty crimes was charg'd,
On which the pleader much enlarg'd;
That Cupid now has lost his art,
Or blunts the point of every dart;-
His allar now no longer smokes,
His mother's aid no youth invokes :
This templs freethinkers to refine,
And bring in doubt their powers divine;
Now love is dwindled to intrigue,
And marriage grown a money-league.
Which crimes aforesaid (with her leave)
Were (as he humbly did conceive)

Against our sovereign lady's peace,
Against the statute in that case,
Against her dignity and crown:
Then pray'd an answer, and sat down.

The nymphs with scorn beheld their foes
When the defendant's counsel rose,
And, what no lawyer ever lack'd,
With impudence own'd all the fact;
But, what the gentlest heart would vex
Laid all the fault on t'other sex.
That modern love is no such thing
As what those ancient poets sing ;
A fire celestial, chaste, refin'd,
Conceiv'd and kindled in the mind;
Which, having found an equal flame,
Unites, and both become the same,
In different breasts together burn,
Together both to ashes turn.
But women now feel no such fire,
And only know the gross desire.
Their passions move in lower spheres,
Where'er caprice or folly steers.
A dog, a parrot, or an ape,
Or some worse brute in human shape,
Engross the fancies of the fair,
The few soft moments they can spare,

* Founded on an offer of marriage made by Miss Von. homrigh to Dr. Swill, who was occasionally her precep. tor. The lady's unhappy story is well known.

[ocr errors]

From visits to receive and pay ;

For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Waller,
From scandal, politics, and play ;

Still their authority was smaller.
From fans, and flounces, and brocades,

There was on both sides much to say:
From equipage and park-parades,

She'd hear the cause another day.
From all the thousand female toys,

And so she did ; and then a third
From every trifle that employs

She heard it—there, she kept her word:
The out or inside of their heads,

But, with rejoinders or replies,
Between their toilets and their beds.

Long bills, and answers stuff 'd with lies,
In a dull stream, which moving slow,

Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
You hardly see the current flow;

The parties ne'er could issue join :
If a small breeze obstruct the course,

For sixteen years the cause was spun,
It whirls about, for want of force,

And then stood where it first begun.
And in its narrow circle gathers

Now, gentle Clio, sing or say,
Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers. What Venus meant by this delay.
The current of a female mind

The goddess, much perplex'd in mind
Stops thus, and turns with every wind;

To see her empire thus declin'd,
Thus whirling round together draws

When first this grand debate arose,
Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws. Above her wisdom to compose,
Hence we conclude, no women's hearts

Conceiv'd a project in her head
Are won by virtue, wit, and parts :

To work her ends ; which, if it sped,
Nor are the men of sense to blame,

Would show the merits of the cause
For breasts incapable of flame;

Far better than consulting laws.
The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,

In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Grown so corrupted in their taste.

Produc'd on Earth a wondrous maid,
The pleader, having spoke his best,

On whom the queen of love was bent
Had witness ready to attest,

To try a new experiment.
Who fairly could on oath depose,

She threw her law-books on the shelf,
When questions on the fact arose,

And thus debated with herself.
That every article was true;

“Since men allege, they ne'er can find Nor further these deponents knew :

Those beauties in a female mind,
Therefore he humbly would insist,

Which raise a flame that will endure
The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.

For ever uncorrupt and pure ;
The cause appear'd of so much weight,

If 'tis with reason they complain,
That Venus, from her judgment-seat,

This infant shall restore my reign.
Desir'd them not to talk so loud,

I'll search where every virtue dwells,
Else she must interpose a cloud :

From courts inclusive down to cells :
For, if the heavenly folk should know

What preachers talk, or sages write ;
These pleadings in the courts below,

These I will gather and unite,
That mortals here disdain to love,

And represent them to mankind
She ne'er could show her face above;

Collected in that infant's mind."
For gods, their betters, are too wise

This said, she plucks in heaven's high bowers fo value that which men despise.

A sprig of amaranthine flowers,
" And then," said she, “my son and I

In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;

Three times refin'd in Titan's rays;
Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,

Then calls the Graces to her aid,
Fly to the sea, my place of birth;

And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid :
There live, with daggled mermaids pent,

From whence the tender skin assumes
And keep on fish perpetual Lent."

A sweetness above all perfumes :
But, since the case appear'd so nice,

From whence a cleanliness remains
She thought it best to take advice.

Incapable of outward stains :
The Muses, by their king's permission,

From whence that decency of mind,
Though foes to love, attend the session,

So lovely in the female kind,
And on the right hand took their places

Where not one careless thought intrudes,
In order ; on the left, the Graces :

Less modest than the speech of prudes;
To whom she might her doubts propose

Where never blush was call'd in aid,
On all emergencies that rose.

That spurious virtue in a maid,
The Muses oft were seen to frown;

A virtue but at second-hand ;
The Graces half-asham'd look down ;

They blush because they understand.
And 'twas observ'd there were but few

The Graces next would act their part,
Of either sex among the crew,

And show'd but little of their art;
Whom she or her assessors knew.

Their work was half already done,
The goddess soon began to see,

The child with native beauty shone;
Things were not ripe for a decree :

The outward form no help requir'd :
And said she must consult her books,

Each, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd
The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes..

That gentle, soft, engaging air,
First 10 a dapper clerk she beckon'd,

Which in old times adorn'd the-fair:
To turn to Ovid, book the second ;

And said, “Vanessa be the name
She then referr'd them to a place

By which thou shalt be known to fame;
In Virgil (vide Dido's case :)

Vanessa, by the gods enrollid :
As for Tibullus's reports,

Her name on Earth shall not be told."
They never pass'd for law in courts :

But still the work was not complete ;

To-morrow, ere the setting sun, When Venus thought on a deceit:

She'd all undo that she had done. Drawn by her doves, away she fies,

But in the poets we may find And finds out Pallas in the skies.

A wholesome law, time out of mind, “Dear Pallas, I have been this morn

Had been confirm'd by fate's decree, To see a lovely infant born;

That gods, of whatsoe'er degree, A boy in yonder isle below,

Resume not what themselves have given, So like my own without his bow,

Or any brother-god in Heaven; By beauty could your heart be won,

Which keeps the peace among the gods, You'd swear it is Apollo's son:

Or they must always be at odds: But it shall ne'er be said a child

And Pallas, if she broke the laws, So hopeful has by me been spoil'd;

Must yield her foe the stronger cause ; I have enough besides to spare,

A shame to one so much ador'd And give him wholly to your care."

For wisdom at Jove's council-board. Wisdom 's above suspecting wiles :

Besides, she fear'd the queen of love The queen of learning gravely smiles,

Would meet with better friends above. Down from Olympus comes with joy,

And though she must with grief reflect, Mistakes Vanessa for a boy ;

To see a mortal virgin deck'd Then sows within her tender mind

With graces hitherto unknown Seeds long unknown to woman-kind;

To female breasts, except her own; For manly bosoms chiefly fit,

Yet she would act as best became The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.

A goddess of unspotted fame. Her soul was suddenly endued

She knew, by augury divine, With justice, truth, and fortitude;

Venus would fail in her design; With honor, which no breath can stain,

She studied well the point, and found Which malice must attack in vain;

Her foe's conclusions were not sound, With open heart and bounteous hand.

From premises erroneous brought; But Pallas here was at a stand;

And therefore the deduction's nought, She knew, in our degenerate days,

And must have contrary effects Bare virtue could not live on praise ;

To what her treacherous foe expects. That meat must be with money bought:

In proper season Pallas meets She therefore, upon second thought,

The queen of love, whom thus she greets : Infus’d, yet as it were by stealth,

(For gods, we are by Homer told, Some small regard for state and wealth ;

Can in celestial language scold :) Of which, as she grew up, there staid

“ Perfidious goddess! but in vain A tincture in the prudent maid :

You form'd this project in your brain; She manag'd her estate with care,

A project for thy talents fit, Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.

With much deceit and little wit. But lest he should neglect his studies

Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see, Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess

Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me: (For fear young master should be spoil'd)

For how can heavenly wisdom prove Would use him like a younger child;

An instrument to earthly love? And, after long computing, found

Know'st thou not yet, that men commence "Twould come to just five thousand pound. Thy votaries, for want of sense ?

The queen of love was pleas’d, and proud, Nor shall Vanessa be the theme To see Vanessa thus endow'd :

To manage thy abortive scheme :
She doubted not but such a dame

See 'll prove the greatest of thy foes ;
Through every breast would dart a flame; And yet I scorn to interpose,
That every rich and lordly swain

But, using neither skill nor force,
With pride would drag about her chain;

Leave all things to their natural course." That scholars would forsake their books,

The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom. To study bright Vanessa's looks ;

When, lo! Vanessa in her bloom As she advanc'd, that woman-kind

Adye c'd, like Atalanta's star, Would by her model form their mind,

But rarely seen, and seen from far: And all their conduct would be tried

In a new world with caution stept, By her, as an unerring guide ;

Watch'd all the company she kept, Offending daughters oft would hear

Well knowing, from the books she read, Vanessa's praise rung in their ear:

What dangerous paths young virgins tread; Miss Betty, when she does a fault,

Would seldorn at the park appear, Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,

Nor saw the play-house twice a year; Will thus be by her mother chid,

Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd “ 'Tis what Vanessa never did !"

To know the converse of mankind. “ Thus by the nymphs and swains ador'd,

First issued from perfumers' shops, My power shall be again restor'd,

A crowd of fashionable fops : And happy lovers bless my reign-"

They ask'd her, how she lik'd the play? So Venus hop'd, but hop'd in vain.

Then told the tattle of the day; For when in time the martial maid

A duel fought last night at two, Found out the trick that Venus play'd,

About a lady--you know who; She shakes her helm, she knits her brows, Mention'd a new Italian come And, fir'd with indignation, vows,

Either from Muscovy or Rome ;

« VorigeDoorgaan »