The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Horace, Book IV, Ode XIX, Addressed to Humphry French, Late Lord Mayor of Dublin




PATRON of the tuneful throng,
O! too nice, and too severe!
Think not, that my country song
Shall displease thy honest ear.
Chosen strains I proudly bring,
Which the Muses, sacred choir!
When they gods and heroes sing,
Dictate to th' harmonious lyre.
Ancient Homer, princely bard!
Just precedence still maintains;
With sacred rapture still are heard
Theban Pindar's lofty strains.
Still the old triumphant song,
Which, when hated tyrants fell,
Great Alcæus boldly sung,
Warns, instructs, and pleases well.
Nor has Time's all darkening shade
In obscure oblivion press'd
What Anacreon laugh'd and play'd;
Gay Anacreon, drunken priest!
Gentle Sappho, love-sick muse,
Warms the heart with amorous fire;
Still her tenderest notes infuse
Melting rapture, soft desire.
Beauteous Helen young and gay,
By a painted fopling won,
Went not first, fair nymph, astray,
Fondly pleas'd to be undone.
Nor young Teucer's slaughtering bow,
Nor bold Hector's dreadful sword,
Alone, the terrours of the foe,
Sow'd the field with hostile blood.
Many valiant chiefs of old
Greatly lived and died, before
Agamemnon, Grecian bold,
Waged the ten years famous war.
But their names, unsung, unwept,
Unrecorded, lost, and gone,
Long in endless night have slept,
And shall now no more be known.
Virtue, which the poet's care
Has not well consign'd to fame,
Lies, as in the sepulchre
Some old king without a name.
But, O Humphry, great and free,
While my tuneful songs are read,
Old forgetful Time on thee
Dark oblivion ne'er shall spread.
When the deep cut notes shall fade
On the mouldering Parian stone,
On the brass no more be read
The perishing inscription.
Forgotten all the enemies,
Envious G———n's cursed spite,
And P———l's derogating lies,
Lost and sunk in Stygian night.
Still thy labour and thy care,
What for Dublin thou hast done,
In full lustre shall appear,
And outshine th' unclouded sun.
Large thy mind, and not untried,
For Hibernia now doth stand,
Through the calm, or raging tide,
Safe conducts the ship to land.
Falsely we call the rich man great,
He is only so that knows,
His plentiful or small estate
Wisely to enjoy and use.
He, in wealth or poverty,
Fortune's power alike defies;
And falsehood and dishonesty
More than death abhors and flies:
Flies from death! — No, meets it brave,
When the suffering so severe
May from dreadful bondage save
Clients, friends, or country dear.
This the sovereign man, complete;
Hero; patriot; glorious; free;
Rich and wise; and good and great;
Generous Humphry, thou art he.

  1. Originally annexed to the Presbyterians' Plea of Merit. 1731.