Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

was it in the power of the unfortunate author to conceal his disgrace, as his friend, from whom I had the story, thought it too good a joke to be lost.

Swift, whatever mastery he had gained over the greater passions, had no command of his temper. He was of a very irritable make, prone to sudden starts of passion, in which his expressions of course were not very guarded. His friends made all due allowance for this, knowing it to be an infirmity often attendant on the best natures, and never took any thing amiss that he said or did on such occasions. But Dr. Sheridan, when he saw one of these fits coming on him, used to divert its course, by some whimsical stroke of fancy that would set him a laughing, and give his humour another bent. And in this he was so successful, that one of their common friends used to say, that he was the David, who alone could play the evil spirit out of Saul. Among the many off-hand poems, which they daily writ to each other, there was one come to my hands, which, though negligently written, is so descriptive of the mode of their living together, and so characteristick of Swift's manner, that I am tempted to lay it before the publick. When he was disengaged, the dean used often to call in at the doctor's about the hour of dining, and their custom was to sit in a small back parlour têre à tête, and have slices sent them upon plates from the common room of whatever was for the family dinner. The furniture of this room was not in the best repair, being often frequented by the boarders, of which the house was seldom without twenty; but was preferred by the dean as being more snug than the state parlour, which was used only when there was company. The

subject subject of the poem, is an account of one of these Casual visits.

When to my house you come, dear dean,
Your humble friend to entertain,
Through dirt and mire along the street,
You find no scraper for your feet;
At which you stamp and storm and swell,
Which serves to clean your feet as well.
By steps ascending to the hall,
All torn to rags by boys and ball,
With scatter'd fragments on the floor;
A sad uneasy parlour door,
Besmear'd with chalk, and carv'd with knives,
(A plague upon all careless wives)
Are the next sights you must expect,
But do not think they are my neglect.
Ah that these evils were the worst !
The parlour still is farther curst.
To enter there if you advance,
If in you get, it is by chance.
How oft by turns have you and I
Said thus-“ Let me-no-let me try-
“ This turn will open it I'll engage”-
You push me from it in a rage.
Turning, twisting, forcing, fumbling,
Stamping, staring, fuming, grumbling,
At length it opens--in we go-
How glad are we to find it so !
Conquests through pains and dangers please,
Much more than those attain'd with ease.
Are you dispos'd to take a seat;
The instant that it feels your weight,

Out

Out go its legs, and down you come
Upon your reverend deanship's bum.
Betwixt two stools 'tis often said,
The sitter on the ground is laid ;
What praise then to my chairs is due,
Where one performs the feat of two !
Now to the fire, if such there be,
At present nought but smoke we see.
« Come, stir it up"_" Ho-Mr. Joker,
“ How can I stir it without poker ?”
“ The bellows take, their batter'd nose
“ Will serve for poker, I suppose.”
Now you begin to rake-alack
The grate has tumbled from its back-
The coals all on the hearth are laid-

Stay, sir-I'll run and call the maid;
“ She'll make the fire again complete-
“ She knows the humour of the grate.
« Pox take your maid, and you together--
« This is cold comfort in cold weather."
Now all is right again—the blaze
Suddenly rais'd as soon decays.
Once more apply the bellows" So-
“ These bellows were not made to blow-
a Their leathern lungs are in decay,

They can't even puff the smoke away." “ And is your reverence vext at that? “ Get up in God's name, take your hat;

Hang them, say I, that have no shift ; « Come blow the fire, good doctor Swift. “ If trifles such as these can tease you, “ Plague take those fools that strive to please you. “ Therefore no longer be a quarr'ler * Either with me, sir, or my parlour.

“ If you can relish ought of mine,
“ A bit of meat, a glass of wine,
“ You're welcome to it, and you shall fare
“ As well as dining with the mayor."
“ You saucy scab-you tell me so
“ Wlry, booby-face, I'd have you know
“ I'd rather see your things in order,
« Than dine in state with the recorder.
« For water I must keep a clutter,
" Or chide your wife for stinking butter.
« Or getting such a deal of meat,
“ As if you'd half the town to eat.
“ That wife of yours, the devil's in her,
“ I've told her of this way of dinner,
« Five hundred times, but all in vain-
“ Here comes a rump of beef again :
“ O that that wife of yours would burst-
« Get out, and serve the boarders first.
« Pox take 'em all for me-I fret
“ So much, I shall not eat my meat-
« You know I'd rather have a slice.”
“ I know, dear sir, you are not nice ;
“ You'll have your dinner in a minute,
Here comes the plate and slices in it
“ Therefore no more, but take your place
“ Do you fall to, and I'll say grace."

MEMOIRS

MEMOIRS and ANECDOTES of Swift, extracted

from the former Publications by DOCTOR DELANY and others.

As Swift had been charged by many with want of religion, Voltaire, and other freethinkers, wishing to have a man of his genius enrolled in their class; doctor Delany enters into a justification of him in that respect. Among other passages to this effect, are the following: As to his religion, I myself have observed many strong indications and proofs of his sincerity in it, beside those now mentioned. His saying grace, both before and after meat, was very remarkable. It was always in the fewest words that could be uttered on the occasion, but with an emphasis and fervour which every one around him saw and felt, and with his hands clasped into one another, and lifted up to his breast, but never higher. The religious and christian form of his last will, and the many prayers composed, and constantly offered up by him in Mrs. Johnson's sickness, are strong proofs to the same purpose.

There was no vice in the world he so much abhorred as hypocrisy ; and of consequence nothing he dreaded so much as to be suspected of it. This naturally led to make him verge sometimes too much to the other extreme; and made him often conceal bis piety with more care, than others take io conceal their vices. I have been assured by ccto: Delany, who lived for a considerable time in la borse, that he resided with him for more than

« AnteriorContinua »