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JONATHAN SWIFT was born in Dublin, Ireland, November 30, 1667. His father had died in poverty some months before, and his mother was dependent upon two wealthy brothers, by whom the boy was educated. He was sent to Trinity College, but did not take kindly to the prescribed studies, and at the end of the course he was denied the bachelor's degree, "for dulness and insufficiency," he says. It was afterward conferred by special grace. He retrieved somewhat his scholastic reputation in taking the master's degree at Oxford. But the poverty of his early years and the ill-success of his college career were mortifications that he never forgot.

Swift's life was full of incident, and it is almost impossible to give any satisfactory sketch of it without occupying considerable space. But while he was the greatest wit of his age, and perhaps the keenest of all satirists, he was scarcely a poet in any dignified sense, and a very brief summary must here suffice.

In 1689 he became a protégé of Sir William Temple, and through this connection was presented to King William III. He had taken orders, with high hopes of preferment, but his political friends failed to provide for him, and though he gave both parties a trial, going over to the Tories in 1710, and "libelled all round," he had to be content with the vicarage of Laracor until, at the age of forty-five, he was made Dean of St. Patrick's.

The romance of his life consisted in his strange attachment for two ladies at once-Esther Johnson and Esther Vanhomrigh, whom he named respectively "Stella" and "Vanessa.” He made Stella's acquaintance at Moor Park, Sir William Temple's residence, and Vanessa's afterward in London. Vanessa offered him her hand, which he neither accepted nor declined, and followed him to Ireland. But Stella had preceded her thither, and was privately married to Swift. When Vanessa learned this, she died broken-hearted, and her hardly more fortunate rival did not long survive her.

Dean Swift was a favorite with the Irish people, for services he had rendered them by his pen, and was an acknowledged power in the nation; but he seems to have failed miserably of every ultimate object he sought. Serving two parties, he was rewarded by neither; beloved by two women, he lacked the moral courage to make a manly choice, and his cowardice cost the life of both; while his most elaborate satire, the "Tale of a Tub," by its coarseness and irreverence, shocked and disgusted the dignitaries of the church it was intended to vindicate. He died October 19, 1745, having been insane during the last three years of his life. A complete edition of his works, with a life by Walter Scott, was published in 1815, in 19 volumes. The first volume of a new life of Swift, by John Forster, was published in 1876.



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 altar now no longer smokes,
His mother's aid no youth invokes :
This tempts 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 bebeld 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.

From visits to receive and pay;
From scandal, politics, and play;
From fans, and flounces, and brocades,
From equipage and park-parades,
From all the thousand female toys,
From every trifle that employs
The out or inside of their heads,
Between their toilets and their beds

In a dull stream, which moving slow,
You hardly see the current flow;
If a small breeze obstruct the course,
It whirls about, for want of force,
And in its narrow circle gathers
Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers.
The current of a female mind

Stops thus, and turns with every wind;
Thus whirling round together draws
Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.
Hence we conclude, no women's hearts
Are won by virtue, wit, and parts:
Nor are the men of sense to blame,
For breasts incapable of flame;

The fault must on the nymphs be plac'd,
Grown so corrupted in their taste.

The pleader, having spoke his best,
Had witness ready to attest,
Who fairly could on oath depose,
When questions on the fact arose,
That every article was true;

Nor further these deponents knew :-
Therefore he humbly would insist,
The bill might be with costs dismiss'd.
The cause appear'd of so much weight,
That Venus, from her judgment-seat,
Desir'd them not to talk so loud,
Else she must interpose a cloud :
For, if the heavenly folk should know
These pleadings in the courts below,
That mortals here disdain to love,
She ne'er could show her face above;
For gods, their betters, are too wise
To value that which men despise.
"And then," said she, "my son and I
Must stroll in air, 'twixt land and sky;
Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,
Fly to the sea, my place of birth;
There live, with daggled mermaids pent,
And keep on fish perpetual Lent."

But, since the case appear'd so nice,
She thought it best to take advice.
The Muses, by their king's permission,
Though foes to love, attend the session,
And on the right hand took their places
In order; on the left, the Graces:
To whom she might her doubts propose
On all emergencies that rose.

The Muses oft were seen to frown;
The Graces half-asham'd look down;
And 'twas observ'd there were but few
Of either sex among the crew,
Whom she or her assessors knew.
The goddess soon began to see,
Things were not ripe for a decree :
And said she must consult her books,
The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.
First to a dapper clerk she beckon'd,
To turn to Ovid, book the second;
She then referr'd them to a place
In Virgil (vide Dido's case :)

As for Tibullus's reports,

They never pass'd for law in courts:

For Cowley's briefs, and pleas of Wailer.
Still their authority was smaller.

There was on both sides much to say:
She'd hear the cause another day.
And so she did; and then a third
She heard it-there, she kept her word:
But, with rejoinders or replics,
Long bills and answers stuff'd with lies,
Demur, imparlance, and essoign,
The parties ne'er could issue join:
For sixteen years the cause was spun
And then stood where it first begun.
Now, gentle Clio, sing or say,
What Venus meant by this delay.
The goddess, much perplex'd in mind
To see her empire thus declin'd,
When first this grand debate arose,
Above her wisdom to compose,
Conceiv'd a project in her head
To work her ends; which, if it sped,
Would show the merits of the cause
Far better than consulting laws.

In a glad hour Lucina's aid
Produc'd on Earth a wondrous maid,
On whom the queen of love was bent
To try a new experiment.

She threw her law-books on the shelf,
And thus debated with herself.

"Since men allege, they ne'er can find
Those beauties in a female mind,
Which raise a flame that will endure
For ever uncorrupt and pure;

If 'tis with reason they complain,
This infant shall restore my reign.
I'll search where every virtue dwells,
From courts inclusive down to cells:
What preachers talk, or sages write;
These I will gather and unite,
And represent them to mankind
Collected in that infant's mind."

This said, she plucks in heaven's high bowers A sprig of amaranthine flowers,

In nectar thrice infuses bays,

Three times refin'd in Titan's rays;

Then calls the Graces to her aid,

And sprinkles thrice the new-born maid:
From whence the tender skin assumes

A sweetness above all perfumes :
From whence a cleanliness remains
Incapable of outward stains:

From whence that decency of mind,
So lovely in the female kind,
Where not one careless thought intrudes,
Less modest than the speech of prudes;
Where never blush was call'd in aid,
That spurious virtue in a maid,

. A virtue but at second-hand;
They blush because they understand.

The Graces next would act their part,
And show'd but little of their art;
Their work was half already done,
The child with native beauty shone;
The outward form no help requir'd:
Fach, breathing on her thrice, inspir'd
That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Which in old times adorn'd the fair:
And said, "Vanessa be the name
By which thou shalt be known to fame;
Vanessa, by the gods enroll'd:

Her name on Earth shall not be told "

But still the work was not complete; When Venus thought on a deceit : Drawn by her doves, away she flies, And finds out Pallas in the skies. "Dear Pallas, I have been this morn To see a lovely infant born; A boy in yonder isle below, So like my own without his bow, By beauty could your heart be won, You'd swear it is Apollo's son: But it shall ne'er be said a child So hopeful has by me been spoil'd, I have enough besides to spare, And give him wholly to your care." Wisdom's above suspecting wiles : The queen of learning gravely smiles, Down from Olympus comes with joy. Mistakes Vanessa for a boy; Then sows within her tender mind Seeds long unknown to woman-kind; For manly bosoms chiefly fit,

The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit.
Her soul was suddenly endued
With justice, truth, and fortitude;
With honor, which no breath can stain,
Which malice must attack in vain;
With open heart and bounteous hand.
But Pallas here was at a stand;
She knew, in our degenerate days,
Bare virtue could not live on praise;
That meat must be with money bought:
She therefore, upon second thought,
Infus'd, yet as it were by stealth,
Some small regard for state and wealth;
Of which, as she grew up, there staid
A tincture in the prudent maid:
She manag'd her estate with care,
Yet lik'd three footmen to her chair.
But lest he should neglect his studies
Like a young heir, the thrifty goddess
(For fear young master should be spoil'd)
Would use him like a younger child;
And, after long computing, found
"Twould come to just five thousand pound.
The queen of love was pleas'd, and proud,
To see Vanessa thus endow'd:
She doubted not but such a dame
Through every breast would dart a flame;
That every rich and lordly swain
With pride would drag about her chain;
That scholars would forsake their books,
To study bright Vanessa's looks;
As she advanc'd, that woman-kind
Would by her model form their mind,
And all their conduct would be tried
By her, as an unerring guide;
Offending daughters oft would hear
Vanessa's praise rung in their ear:
Miss Betty, when she does a fault,
Lets fall her knife, or spills the salt,
Will thus be by her mother chid,

""Tis what Vanessa never did!"

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To-morrow, ere the setting sun,
She'd all undo that she had done.
But in the poets we may find

A wholesome law, time out of mind,
Had been confirm'd by fate's decree,
That gods, of whatsoe'er degree,
Resume not what themselves have given.
Or any brother-god in Heaven;
Which keeps the peace among the gods,
Or they must always be at odds:
And Pallas, if she broke the laws,
Must yield her foe the stronger cause;
A shame to one so much ador'd
For wisdom at Jove's council-board.
Besides, she fear'd the queen of love
Would meet with better friends above.
And though she must with grief reflect,
To see a mortal virgin deck'd
With graces hitherto unknown
To female breasts, except her own;
Yet she would act as best became

A goddess of unspotted fame.
She knew, by augury divine,
Venus would fail in her design;
She studied well the point, and found
Her foe's conclusions were not sound,
From premises erroneous brought;
And therefore the deduction's nought,
And must have contrary effects
To what her treacherous foe expects.

In proper season Pallas meets
The queen of love, whom thus she greets.
(For gods, we are by Homer told,
Can in celestial language scold :)
"Perfidious goddess! but in vain
You form'd this project in your brain;
A project for thy talents fit,
With much deceit and little wit.
Thou hast, as thou shalt quickly see,
Deceiv'd thyself, instead of me.
For how can heavenly wisdom prove
An instrument to earthly love?

Know'st thou not yet, that men commence
Thy votaries, for want of sense?

Nor shall Vanessa be the theme
To manage thy abortive scheme :
See'll prove the greatest of thy foes;
And yet I scorn to interpose,
But, using neither skill nor force,
Leave all things to their natural course."
The goddess thus pronounc'd her doom.
When, lo! Vanessa in her bloom
Advanc'd, like Atalanta's star,
But rarely seen, and seen from far:
In a new world with caution stept,
Watch'd all the company she kept,
Well knowing, from the books she read,
What dangerous paths young virgins tread
Would seldom at the park appear,
Nor saw the play-house twice a year;
Yet, not incurious, was inclin'd

To know the converse of mankind
First issued from perfumers' shops,

A crowd of fashionable fops:
They ask'd her, how she lik'd the play!
Then told the tattle of the day;
A duel fought last night at two,
About a lady-you know who;
Mention'd a new Italian come
Either from Muscovy or Rome;

Gave hints of who and who's together;
Then fell a talking of the weather;
Last night was so extremely fine,
The ladies walk'd till after nine;
Then, in soft voice and speech absurd,
With nonsense every second word,
With fustian from exploded plays,
They celebrate her beauty's praise:
Run o'er their cant of stupid lies,
And tell the murders of her eyes.

With silent scorn Vanessa sat,
Scarce listening to their idle chat;
Further than sometimes by a frown,
When they grew pert, to pull them down.
At last she spitefully was bent
To try their wisdom's full extent;
And said she valued nothing less
Than titles, figure, shape, and dress;
That merit should be chiefly plac'd
In judgment, knowledge, wit, and taste;
And these, she offer'd to dispute,
Alone distinguish'd man from brute;
That present times have no pretence
To virtue, in the noble sense
By Greeks and Romans understood,
To perish for our country's good.
She nam'd the ancient heroes round,
Explain'd for what they were renown'd;
Then spoke with censure or applause
Of foreign customs, rites, and laws;
Through nature and through art she rang'd,
And gracefully her subject chang'd;
In vain her hearers had no share
In all she spoke, except to stare.
Their judgment was, upon the whole,
"That lady is the dullest soul!—”
Then tipt their forehead in a jeer,
As who should say " She wants it here
She may be handsome, young, and rich,
But none will burn her for a witch!"

A party next of glittering dames,
From round the purlieus of St. James,
Came early, out of pure good-will,
To see the girl in dishabille.
Their clamor, 'lighting from their chairs,
Grew louder all the way up stairs;
At entrance loudest, where they found
The room with volumes litter'd round.
Vanessa held Montaigne, and read,
Whilst Mrs. Susan comb'd her head.
They call'd for tea and chocolate,
And fell into their usual chat,
Discoursing, with important face,
On ribbons, fans, and gloves, and lace;
Show'd patterns just from India brought,
And gravely ask'd her what she thought,
Whether the red or green were best,
And what they cost? Vanessa guess'd,
As came into her fancy first;

Nam'd half the rates, and lik'd the worst
To scandal next-" What awkward thing
Was that last Sunday in the ring?
I'm sorry Mopsa breaks so fast:
I said, her face would never last.
Corinna, with that youthful air,
Is thirty, and a bit to spare:
Her fondness for a certain earl
Began when I was but a girl!
Phyllis, who but a month ago
Was married to the Tunbridge-beau,

I saw coquetting t' other night

In public with that odious knight!

They rallied next Vanessa's dress: "That gown was made for old queen Bess. Dear madam, let me see your head: Don't you intend to put on red?

A petticoat without a hoop!

Sure, you are not asham'd to stoop!
With handsome garters at your knees,

No matter what a fellow sees."
Fill'd with disdain, with rage inflam'd
Both of herself and sex asham'd,
The nymph stood silent out of spite,
Nor would vouchsafe to set them right.
Away the fair detractors went,

And gave by turns their censures vent.
She's not so handsome in my eyes:

For wit, I wonder, where it lies!

She's fair and clean, and that's the most

But why proclaim her for a toast?

A baby face: no life, no airs,

But what she learn'd at country-fairs:

Scarce knows what difference is between

Rich Flanders lace and colberteen.
I'll undertake, my little Nancy
In flounces hath a better fancy!
With all her wit, I would not ask
Her judgment, how to buy a mask.
We begg'd her but to patch her face,
She never hit one proper place;
Which every girl at five years old
Can do as soon as she is told.
I own, that out-of-fashion stuff
Becomes the creature well enough.
The girl might pass, if we could get her
To know the world a little better."
(To know the world! a modern phrase,
For visits, ombre, balls, and plays.)

Thus, to the world's perpetual shame,
The queen of beauty lost her aim;
Too late with grief she understood,
Pallas had done more harm than good;
For great examples are but vain,
Where ignorance begets disdain.
Both sexes, arm'd with guilt and spite,
Against Vanessa's power unite:
To copy her few nymphs aspir'd;
Her virtues fewer swains admir'd.
So stars beyond a certain height
Give mortals neither heat nor light.
Yet some of either sex, endow'd
With gifts superior to the crowd,
With virtue, knowledge, taste, and wit,
She condescended to admit:
With pleasing arts she could reduce
Men's talents to their proper use:
And with address each genius held
To that wherein it most excell'd;
Thus making others' wisdom known,
Could please them, and improve her own
A modest youth said something new
She plac'd it in the strongest view.
All humble worth she strove to raise;
Would not be prais'd, yet lov'd to praise
The learned met with free approach,
Although they came not in a coach:
Some clergy too she would allow,
Nor quarrell'd at their awkward bow;
But this was for Cadenus' sake,

A gownman of a different make

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