The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Answer to Dr. Sheridan's Prologue, and to Dr. Swift's Epilogue, in behalf of the distressed Weavers
THE Muses, whom the richest silks array,
Refuse to fling their shining gowns away;
The pencil clothes the nine in bright brocades,
And gives each colour to the pictured maids;
Far above mortal dress the sisters shine,
Pride in their Indian robes, and must be fine.
And shall two bards in consort rhyme and huff,
And fret these Muses with their playhouse stuff?
The player in mimick piety may storm,
Deplore the comb, and bid her heroes arm:
The arbitrary mob, in paltry rage,
May curse the belles and chintses of the age:
Yet still the artist worm her silk shall share,
And spin her thread of life in service of the fair.
The cotton plant, whom satire cannot blast;
Shall bloom the favourite of these realms, and last;
Like yours, ye fair, her fame from censure grows,
Prevails in charms, and glares above her foes:
Your injured plant shall meet a loud defence,
And be the emblem of your innocence.
Some bard, perhaps, whose landlord was a weaver,
Penn'd the low prologue, to return a favour:
Some neighbour wit, that would be in the vogue,
Work'd with his friend, and wove the epilogue.
Who weaves the chaplet, or provides the bays,
For such woolgathering sonneteers as these?
Hence then, ye homespun witlings, that persuade
Miss Chloe to the fashion of her maid.
Shall the wide hoop, that standard of the town,
Thus act subservient to a poplin gown?
Who'd smell of wool all over? 'Tis enough
The underpetticoat be made of stuff.
|Lord! to be wrapt in flannel just in May,|
|When the fields dress'd in flowers appear so gay!|
|And shall not miss be flowered as well as they?|
Work'd to a quilt, or studded in a chair!
The skin, that vies with silk, would fret with stuff;
Or who could bear in bed a thing so rough?
Ye knowing fair, how eminent that bed,
Where the chints diamonds with the silken thread,
Where rustling curtains call the curious eye,
And boast the streaks and paintings of the sky!
Of flocks they'd have your milky Ticking full;
And all this for the benefit of wool!
"But where," say they, "shall we bestow these weavers,
That spread our streets, and are such piteous cravers?"
The silk worms (brittle beings!) prone to fate,
Demand their care, to make their webs complete:
These may they tend, their promises receive;
We cannot pay too much for what they give!
- See vol. VII, page 198.