« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
suit each of the parties. The versification is easy and flowing, with nothing but the most familiar and common-place expressions. There are some little touches of homely pathos, which are felt like trickling tears, and the effect of the piece altogether, is electrical: it carries with it the strongest conviction of its sincerity and truth; and we see and feel how faithful a delineator of human nature, in its frailty and weakness, was the misanthropic dean of St. Patrick's. From this poem we select the following extract:—
ON HIS OWN DEATH.
Suppose me dead; and then suppose
'The dean, if we believe report
He shamed the fool, and lashed the knave.
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own.'
Sir, I have heard another story;
'Can we the Drapier then forget?
Is not our nation in his debt?
'T was he that writ the Drapier's letters!'
'He should have left them for his betters; We had a hundred abler men,
Nor need depend upon his pen.
Say what you will about his reading,
You never can defend his breeding;
Who, in his satires running riot,
Could never leave the world in quiet;
And seemed determined not to starve it
Vice, if it e'er can be abashed,
Must be or ridiculed or lashed.
Should vice expect to 'scape rebuke,
His friendships, still to few confined,
He never thought an honour done him,
And scorn the tools with stars and garters,
And, would you make him truly sour,
'Alas, poor dean! his only scope
Was to be held a misanthrope.
This into general odium drew him,
Which, if he liked, much good may 't do him.
His zeal was not to lash our crimes,
But discontent against the times:
But-not one sermon, you may swear.'
I own myself no judge of those.
And, if he often missed his aim,
To these lines we add the following:
DESCRIPTION OF MORNING.
Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;
And brick-dust Moll had screamed through half the street.
Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees;
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands,
And school-boys lag with satchels in their hands.
Swift's poetry, however, formed only a sort of interlude to the strangely mixed drama of his life. None of his works were written for mere fame or solitary gratification. His restless and insatiable ambtion prompted him to wield his pen as a means of advancing his interests, or expressing his personal feelings, caprices, or resentments. Though perhaps, the most powerful and original prose writer of the age, we find little in his works with which we can sympathize. His satires, such as the Battle of the Books, and Argument against the Abolition of Christianity, are, doubtless, written with much talent; and Gulliver's Travels, and the Tale of a Tub display much original genius but how any clergyman could write and publish in such a strain is, to us, inconceivable. We shall, however, no longer dwell upon this author, but with the following paper from the 'Tatler' close our present remarks:
OVERSTRAINED POLITENESS, OR VULGAR HOSPITALITY.
Those inferior duties of life, which the French call les petites morales, or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. Low and little understandings, without some rules of this kind, would be perpetually wandering into a thousand indecencies and irregularities in behaviour; and in their ordinary conversation, fall into the same boisterous familiarities that one observeth amongst them when a debauch hath quite taken away the use of their reason. In other instances, it is odd to consider, that for want of common discretion the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted; and civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires and inclinations. This abuse reigneth chiefly in the country, as I found to my vexation, when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neighbour about two miles from my cousin. As soon as I entered the parlour, they put me into the great chair that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force, until I was almost stifled. Then a boy came in great hurry to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging, that I must return soon after dinner. In the mean time, the good lady whispered to her eldest daughter, and slipped a key into her hand. The girl returned instantly with a beerglass half full of aqua mirabilis and syrop of gilly-flowers. I took as much as I had a mind for; but madam vowed I should drink it off (for she was sure it would do me good after coming out of the cold air), and I was forced to obey; which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire; but they told me it was as much as my life was worth, and set me with my back just against it. Although my appetite were quite gone, I resolved to force down as much as I could; and desired the leg of a pullet. Indeed, Mr. Bickerstaff, says the lady, you must eat a wing to oblige me; and so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate during the whole meal. As often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October. Some time after dinner, I ordered my cousin's man, who came with me, to get ready the horses, but it was resolved I should not stir that night; and when I seemed pretty much bent upon going, they ordered the stable-door to be locked; and the children hid my cloak and boots. The next question was, what I would have for supper? I said I never eat any thing at night; but was at last, in my own defence, obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours spent chiefly in apologies for my entertainment, insinuating to me, 'That this was the worst time of the year for provisions; that they were at a great distance from any market; that they were afraid I should be starved; and that they knew they kept me to my loss,' the lady went and left me to her husband (for they took special care I should never be alone). As soon as her back was turned, the little misses ran backward and forward every moment; and constantly as they came in or went out, made a curtsy directly at me, which in good manners I was forced to return with a bow, and, your humble servant, pretty miss. Exactly at eight the mother came up, and discovered by the redness of her face that supper was not far off. It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion. I desired at my usual hour to go to my repose, and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink something before I went to bed; and upon my refusing, at last left a bottle of stingo, as they called it, for fear I should wake and be thirsty in the night. I was forced in the morning to rise and dress myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman's servant to disturb me at the hour I desired to be called. I was
now resolved to break through all measures to get away; and after sitting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neat's-tongues, venison pastry, and stale beer, took leave of the family. But the gentleman would needs see me part of my way and carry me a short cut through his own grounds, which he told me would save half a mile's riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck, by leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt; when my horse, having slipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again. It is evident, that none of the absurdities I met with in this visit proceeded from an ill intention, but from a wrong judgment of complaisance, and a misapplication in the rules of it.
END OF VOLUME THE FIRST.