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To the Court it was fitter to pay his devotion,
Since God had no hand in his lordship's promotion.

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And this, Written on a Window at Chester :'

The church and clergy here, no doubt,

Are very near akin;

Both weather-beaten are without,

And empty both within.

Take this, also, in which the Dean's cynicism is very agreeably exhibited:

As Thomas was cudgell'd one day by his wife,

He took to the street and fled for his life:

Tom's three dearest friends came by in the squabble,
And saved him at once from the shrew and the rabble:
Then ventured to give him some sober advice;
But Tom is a person of honour so nice-

Too wise to take counsel, too proud to take warning,
That he sent to all three a challenge next morning.
Three duels he fought, thrice ventured his life,
Went home and was cudgell'd again by his wife.

In the following lines, addressed to a married lady, we see that Swift, like Pope, could be very complaisant when he chose:

You always are making a god of your spouse,
But this neither reason nor conscience allows.
Perhaps you will say, 'tis in gratitude due,
And you adore him because he adores you.
Your argument's weak, and so you will find:
For you, by this rule, must adore all mankind.

How graceful, too, is this, on the subject of a young lady, by name Biddy Floyd !—

When Cupid did his grandsire Jove entreat
To form some beauty by a new receipt,
Jove sent, and found far in a country scene
Truth, innocence, good-nature, look serene:

From which ingredients first the dexterous boy
Pick'd the demure, the awkward, and the coy.
The Graces from the Court did next provide
Breeding and wit and air and decent pride:
These Venus clears from every spurious grain
Of vice, coquet, affected, pert, and vain.
Jove mix'd up all, and his best clay employ'd;
Then call'd the happy composition Floyd.

For the rest, it must be confessed that Swift's verse is not particularly pleasant reading. There is plenty of it, for the Dean was a most prolific writer; and the number of his squibs and songs and ballads and epistles and addresses and what not, is legion. There is not a spark of poetry in any of them, but there is considerable wit, and a very fair amount of humour. The misfortune is that the wit should be occasionally so nasty, and the humour too frequently so pronounced. Scarcely a 'poem' of this dignitary of the Church is unpolluted by a coarse expression or a double entendre. To read through the three volumes of the Aldine edition, for example, is to wade through a mass of verbiage which contains, after all, but a pennyworth of real wit and humour in comparison with the intolerable deal of rubbish. The fact is, the Dean was not, like Pope, an artist. His verses read, for the most part, as if they had been thrown off at a heat at all kinds of odd occasions. The epigrams are not badly finished off; and some of the political and personal effusions have a sort of rough and ready vigour. It is even possible that the longer pieces were written with more than usual care. Still, as a body, the Dean's verse is slipshod and heavy in the extreme. Apart from his epigrams, which are still effective, the only things of his worth reading are the more substantial compositions in which he satirised the society of his day. These are really useful to the historian, and really agreeable to the literary student. They show great acuteness of observation and power of sardonic satire, whilst they are written, on the whole, in an easy and agreeable style. The Journal of a Modern Lady is perhaps Swift's 'poetical'


chef d'œuvre. It recounts the history of a woman of fashion through a single day, and contains the following sprightly description of an eighteenth-century tea-party:

But let me now a while survey

Our madam o'er her evening tea,*
Surrounded with her noisy clans
Of prudes, coquettes, and harridans,
When, frighted at the clamorous crew,
Away the God of Silence flew,
And fair Discretion left the place,
And Modesty with blushing face;
Now enters overweening Pride,
And Scandal, ever gaping wide;
Hypocrisy with frown severe,
Scurrility with gibing air,

Rude Laughter, seeming like to burst,
And Malice, always judging worst;
And Vanity with pocket glass,

And Impudence with front of brass;
And studied Affectation came,
Each limb and feature out of frame;
While Ignorance, with brain of lead,
Flew hovering o'er each female head.
Why should I ask of thee, my Muse,
A hundred tongues, as poets use,
When, to give every dame her due,
A hundred thousand were too few ?
Or how should I, alas! relate

The sum of all their senseless prate?
Now comes the general scandal charge;
What some invent, the rest enlarge;

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Are you on vices most severe

Wherein you have the greatest share?
Thus every fool herself deludes-

The prudes condemn the absent prudes;
Chloe, of every coxcomb jealous,
Admires how girls can talk to fellows,
And full of indignation frets

That women should be such coquettes.
Iris, for scandal most notorious,

Cries, Lord, the world is so censorious !'

And Rufa, with her combs of lead,

Whispers that Sappho's hair is red;

Aura, whose tongue you hear a mile hence,

Talks half a day in praise of silence;
And Sylvia, full of inward guilt,

Calls Amoret an arrant jilt.

Similar in tone and quality is The Furniture of a Woman's Mind,' from which we take the opening paragraphs:

A set of phrases learn'd by rote;

A passion for a scarlet coat
When at a play to laugh or cry,
Yet cannot tell the reason why;
Never to hold her tongue a minute,
While all she prates has nothing in it;
Whole hours can with a coxcomb sit,
And take his nonsense all for wit;
Her learning mounts to read a song,
But half the words pronouncing wrong;
Has every repartee in store

She spoke ten thousand times before;
Can ready compliments supply

On all occasions cut and dry;

Such hatred to a parson's gown,

The sight would put her in a swoon;
For conversation well endued,

She calls it witty to be rude;

* Wonders.

And, placing raillery in railing,
Will tell aloud your greatest failing;
Nor make a scruple to expose
Your bandy leg or crooked nose;
Can at her morning tea run o'er
The scandal of the day before;
Improving hourly in her skill
To cheat and wrangle at quadrille.

In choosing lace, a critic nice,
Knows to a groat the lowest price;
Can in her female clubs dispute,
What linen best the silk will suit,
What colours each complexion match,
And where with art to place a patch.

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Read, too, the verses on The Death of Dr. Swift,' in which the Dean imagines, with much humour, what the town, and especially his friends, will say of him when he is dead. It is, perhaps, the most thoroughly amusing thing that Swift ever composed in verse. As a rule, his satire leaves in the mouth as unpleasant a taste as does that of Donne or Hall.

It is worth remarking how large a proportion of the satire of the time is occupied with the follies and frailties of fashionable ladies. Pope's works are full of such satire; we have seen how full are Swift's; and we have to remark the same in Gay's and Prior's. Gay is most noted-next to his Beggars' Opera-for his Fables, and these fables deal largely in philosophising on this suggestive subject. Gay, in fact, is never weary of offering his satirical advice to the aristocratic matrons and maidens of his time, and exhibits their characteristics under almost every conceivable form. His Fables are invariably too long to quote from, but we may venture to reproduce in toto his mock Elegy on a Lap-Dog," the pseudo-serious tone of which is most enjoyable :

Shock's fate I mourn! poor Shock is now no more!
Ye Muses, mourn! ye chamber-maids, deplore!
Unhappy Shock! yet more unhappy fair,
Doom'd to survive thy joy and only care!

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