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In short, I'm perfectly content,
Let me but live on this side Trent; 3
Nor cross the Channel twice a year,
To spend six months with statesmen here.
I must, by all means, come to town,
"Tis for the service of the crown.
"Lewis, the dean will be of use,
Send for him up; take no excuse."
The toil, the danger of the seas;
Great ministers ne'er think of these;
Or let it cost five hundred pound,
No matter where the money 's found:
It is but so much more in debt,
And that they ne'er considered yet.
"Good Mr. Dean, go change your gown,
Let my lord know you're come to town."
I hurry me in haste away,
Not thinking it is levee-day;
And find his honour in a pound,
Hemm'd by a triple circle round.
Chequered with ribands blue and green:
How should I thrust myself between ?
Some wag observes me thus perplex'd,
And smiling, whispers to the next,
"I thought the Dean had been too proud
To justle here among a crowd."
Another, in a surly fit,
Tells me I have more zeal than wit:
"So eager to express your love,
You ne'er consider whom you shove;
But rudely press before a duke."
I own, I'm pleased with this rebuke,
[Swift always considered his preferment to the Deanery of St. Patrick's as a banishment. Various references to this occur in his correspondence in Scott's edition of his works. In the Additional MSS., British Museum, are two letters addressed by Swift, in 1709, to the Earl of Halifax, entreating for preferment, and specifying particularly the reversion of Dr. South's prebend, at Westminster. If this reversion could not be compassed, he was anxious to be named for the bishopric of Cork. (See "Letters of Eminent Literary Men," by Sir H. Ellis, Camden Soc. 1843.) Lord Orrery's conjecture is, no doubt, the true one. Swift's English friends wished him promoted at a distance, not in England, where his intractable spirit and eccentric movements might have occasioned uneasiness and trouble.]
And take it kindly meant to show,
What I desire the world should know.
I get a whisper, and withdraw;
When twenty fools, I never saw,
Come, with petitions fairly penn'd,
Desiring I would stand their friend.
This, humbly offers me his case-
That, begs my interest for a place-
A hundred other men's affairs,
Like bees, are humming in my ears.
"To-morrow my appeal comes on,
Without your help the cause is gone:"
The duke expects my lord and you,
About some great affair, at two—
"Put my Lord Bolingbroke in mind,
To get my warrant quickly sign'd:
Consider, 'tis my first request."
Be satisfied, I'll do my best :
Then presently he falls to tease,
"You may for certain, if you please;
I doubt not, if his lordship knew-
And, Mr. Dean, one word from you"-
'Tis (let me see) three years and more,
(October next it will be four),
Since Harley bid me first attend,
And chose me for an humble friend;
Would take me in his coach to chat,
And question me of this and that;
As, "What's o'clock?" and, "How's the wind?"
"Whose chariot's that we left behind?"
Or gravely try to read the lines,
Writ underneath the country-signs;
Or, "Have you nothing new to-day
From Pope, from Parnell, or from Gay?"
Such tattle often entertains
My lord and me as far as Staines,
As once a-week we travel down
To Windsor, and again to town,
Where all that passes, inter nos,
Might be proclaimed at Charing-cross.
Yet some I know with envy swell, Because they see me used so well:
"How think you of our friend the dean?
I wonder what some people mean;
My lord and he are grown so great,
Always together tête-à-tête.
What, they admire him for his jokes-
See but the fortune of some folks!"
There flies about a strange report,
Of some express arrived at court;
I'm stopp'd by all the fools I meet,
And catechised in every street.
"You, Mr. Dean, frequent the great;
Inform us, will the Emperor treat?
Or do the prints and papers lie?"
'Faith, sir, you know as much I.
"Ah, doctor, how you love to jest.
"Tis now no secret."-I protest
'Tis one to me-" Then, tell us, pray,
When are the troops to have their pay?"
And, though I solemnly declare
I know no more than my Lord Mayor,
They stand amazed, and think me grown
The closest mortal ever known.
Thus in a sea of folly toss'd,
My choicest hours of life are lost;
Yet always wishing to retreat,
Oh, could I see my country-seat!
There, leaning near a gentle brook,
Sleep, or peruse some ancient book,
And there, in sweet oblivion drown
Those cares that haunt the court and town.
O charming noons! and nights divine!
Or when I sup, or when I dine;
My friends above, my folks below,
Chatting and laughing all a-row :
The beans and bacon set before 'em,
The grace-cup served with all decorum:
Each willing to be pleased, and please,
And e'en the very dogs at ease!
Here no man prates of idle things,
How this or that Italian sings,
A neighbour's madness, or his spouse's,
Or what's in either of the Houses:
But something much more our concern,
And quite a scandal not to learn:
Which is the happier, or the wiser,
A man of merit, or a miser ?
Whether we ought to choose our friends
For their own worth, or our own ends?
What good, or better, we may call,
And what, the very best of all?
Our friend Dan Prior told (you know)
A tale extremely à propos :
Name a town-life, and in a trice,
He had a story of two mice.
Once on a time (so runs the fable)
A country mouse, right hospitable,
Received a town mouse at his board,
Just as a farmer might a lord.
A frugal mouse upon the whole,
Yet loved his friend, and had a soul,
Knew what was handsome, and would do 't,
On just occasion, coute qui coute,
He brought him bacon (nothing lean),
Pudding that might have pleased a dean ;
Cheese, such as men in Suffolk make,
But wish'd it Stilton for his sake;
Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
He ate himself the rind and paring.
Our courtier scarce would 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:
4 [Prior has several little apologues on mice. His first work was the City and Country Mouse, a parody on Dryden's Hind and Panther, by Prior and Montagu (afterwards Lord Halifax). Pope's silence as to Montagu's share in the satire, seems to countenance the observation of Lord Peterborough, who, being asked if Montagu did not write the Country Mouse with Prior, replied, "Yes, just as if I was in a chaise, with Mr. Cheselden here, drawn by his fine horse, and should say, 'Lord, how finely we draw this chaise.""]
Then spend your life in joy and sport,
(This doctrine, friend, I learn'd 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.
"A RAT, A RAT! CLAP TO THE DOOR!
Behold the place, where if a poet
Shined 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: