Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/A Dialogue Between an Eminent Lawyer and Dr. Swift

A DIALOGUE

BETWEEN

AN EMINENT LAWYER[1],

AND

DR. JONATHAN SWIFT, D. S. P. D.

AN ALLUSION TO HORACE, BOOK II. SAT. I.

"Sunt quibus in Satirâ, &c."


DR. SWIFT.

SINCE there are persons who complain
There's too much satire in my vein;
That I am often found exceeding
The rules of raillery and breeding;
With too much freedom treat my betters,
Not sparing even men of letters:
You, who are skill'd in lawyers' lore,
What's your advice? Shall I give o'er?
Nor ever fools or knaves expose
Either in verse or humourous prose;
And, to avoid all future ill,
In my scrutoire lock up my quill?


Since you are pleas'd to condescend
To ask the judgment of a friend,
Your case consider'd, I must think
You should withdraw from pen and ink,
Forbear your poetry and jokes,
And live like other Christian folks;
Or, if the Muses must inspire
Your fancy with their pleasing fire,
Take subjects safer for your wit
Than those on which you lately writ.
Commend the times, your thoughts correct,
And follow the prevailing sect;
Assert that Hyde, in writing story,
Shows all the malice of a tory;
While Burnet, in his deathless page,
Discovers freedom without rage.
To Woolston recommend our youth,
For learning, probity, and truth;
That noble genius, who unbinds
The chains which fetter freeborn minds;
Redeems us from the slavish fears
Which lasted near two thousand years;
He can alone the priesthood humble,
Make gilded spires and altars tumble.


DR. SWIFT.

Must I commend against my conscience
Such stupid blasphemy and nonsense?
To such a subject tune my lyre,
And sing like one of Milton's choir,
Where devils to a vale retreat,
And call the laws of Wisdom Fate,
Lament upon their hapless fall,
That Force free Virtue should enthrall?
Or shall the charms of Wealth and Power
Make me pollute the Muses' bower?


LAWYER.

As from the tripod of Apollo,
Hear from my desk the words that follow:
"Some, by philosophers misled,
Must honour you alive and dead;
And such as know what Greece has writ,
Must taste your irony and wit;
While most that are, or would be great,
Must dread your pen, your person hate;
And you on Drapier's hill must lie,
And there without a mitre die."