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Last year, a lad hence by his parents sent With other cattle to the city went; Where having cast his coat, and well pursued The methods most in fashion to be lewd, Return'd a finish'd spark this summer down, Stock'd with the freshest gibberish of the town; A jargon form’d from the lost language, wit, Confounded in that Babel of the pit; Form'd by diseased conceptions, weak and wild, Sick lust of souls, and an abortive child; Born between whores and fops, by lewd compacts, Before the play, or else between the acts; Nor wonder, if from such polluted minds Should spring such short and transitory kinds, Or crazy rules to make us wits by rote, Last just as long as ev'ry cuckoo's note: What bungling, rusty tools, are us'd by fate! 'Twas in an evil hour to urge my hate, My hate, whose lash just Heaven has long decreed Shall on a day make sin and folly bleed :* When man's ill genius to mý presence sent This wretch, to rouse my wrath, for ruin meant ; Who in his idiom vile, with Gray's-Inn grace, Squander'd his noisy talents to my face; Nam'd every player on his fingers ends, Swore all the wits were his peculiar friends ; Talk'd with that saucy and familiar ease Of Wycherly, and you, and Mr Bays: † Said, how a late report your friends had vex'd, Who heard you meant to write heroics next;
* Thus early in life did Swift feel the efforts of his genius struggling for birth, and prognosticate its vigorous exertions &gainst vice and folly, when arrived at maturity.-S.
+ Dryden, whom Swift never mentions with reverence.
For, tragedy, he knew, would lose you quite,
Thus are the lives of fools a sort of dreams,
* There was probably some report stirring concerning the Mourning Bride, which, however, did not appear till 1697.
+ To this resolution Swist ever after adhered; for of the infi. "nite multitude of libellers who personally attacked him, there is not the name inentioned of any one of them throughout his works ; and thus, together with their writings, have they been consigued to eternal oblivion.-S.
Yes, that beau's look, that vice, those critic ears,
Perish the Muse's hour, thus vainly spent
Here by a mountain's side, a reverend cave Gives murmuring passage to a lasting wave; 'Tis the world's wat’ry hour-glass streaming fast, Time is no more when th’ utmost drop is past; Here, on a better day, some druid dwelt, And the young muse's early favour felt; Druid, a name she does with pride repeat, Confessing Albion once her darling seat; Far in this primitive cell might we pursue Our predecessors' footsteps still in view; Here would we sing—But, ah! you think I dream, And the bad world may well believe the same; Yes: you are all malicious standers by, While two fond lovers prate, the Muse, and I.
Since thus I wander from my first intent, Nor am that grave adviser which I meant, Take this short lesson from the god of bays, And let my friend apply it as he please :
* This alludes to Sir William Temple, to whom he gives the name of Apollo in a few lines after.S.
Beat not the dirty paths where vulgar feet have
But give the vigorous fancy room. For when like stupid alchymists you try
To fix this nimble god,
This volatile mercury,
Nor shall the bubbled virtuoso find
While thus I write, vast shoals of critics come,
'Tis time to bid my friend a long farewell,
In this descending sheet you'll haply find
* Out of an Ode I writ, inscribed " The Poet.” The rest of it is lost.- Original.
+ Would not one imagine that Swift had at this time already conceived his idea of the Yahoos?--S.
Nought it contains is common or unclean,
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S
LATE ILLNESS AND RECOVERY.
WRITTEN IN DECEMBER 1693.
STRANGE to conceive, how the same objects strike
old objects to the soul her sun; Or loves the muse to walk with conscious pride O’er the glad scene whence first she rose à bride :
Be what it will; late near yon whisp’ring stream, Where her own Temple was her darling theme; There first the visionary sound was heard, When to poetic view the Muse appear'd. Such seem'd her eyes, as when an evening ray Gives glad farewell to a tempestuous day ; Weak is the beam to dry up nature's tears, Still ev'ry tree the pendent sorrow wears ;
* The allusion, I am afraid, is to the vision of St Paul in the Acts of the Apostles.