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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/A Quibbling Elegy on Judge Boat

A QUIBBLING ELEGY, ON JUDGE BOAT. 1723.


TO mournful ditties, Clio, change thy note,
Since cruel fate has sunk our justice Boat.
Why should he sink, where nothing seem'd to press,
His lading little, and his ballast less?
Tost in the waves of this tempestuous world,
At length, his anchor fixt and canvas furl'd,
To Lazy hill[1] retiring from his court,
At his Ring's end[2] he founders in the port.
With water[3] fill'd, he could no longer float,
The common death of many a stronger boat.
A post so fill'd on nature's laws entrenches:
Benches on boats are plac'd, not boats on benches.
And yet our Boat (how shall I reconcile it?)
Was both a Boat, and in one sense a pilot.
With every wind he sail'd, and well could tack:
Had many pendants, but abhorr'd a Jack[4].
He's gone, although his friends began to hope,
That he might yet be lifted by a rope.
Behold the awful bench, on which he sat!
He was as hard and ponderous wood as that:
Yet, when his sand was out, we find at last,
That death has overset him with a blast.
Our Boat is now sail'd to the Stygian ferry,
There to supply old Charon's leaky wherry:
Charon in him will ferry souls to Hell;
A trade our Boat[5] has practis'd here so well;
And Cerberus has ready in his paws
Both pitch and brimstone, to fill up his flaws.
Yet, spite of death and fate, I here maintain
We may place Boat in his old post again.
The way is thus; and well deserves your thanks:
Take the three strongest of his broken planks,
Fix them on high, conspicuous to be seen,
Form'd like the triple tree near Stephen's green[6];
And, when we view it thus with thief at end on't,
We'll cry; Look, here's our Boat, and there's the pendant.


THE EPITAPH.


HERE lies judge Boat within a coffin;
Pray, gentlefolks, forbear your scoffing.
A Boat a judge! yes; where's the blunder?
A wooden judge is no such wonder.
And in his robes, you must agree,
No boat was better deckt than he,
'Tis needless to describe him fuller;
In short, he was an able sculler.


  1. A street in Dublin leading to the harbour.
  2. A village near the sea.
  3. It was said he died of a dropsy.
  4. A cant word for a Jacobite.
  5. In condemning malefactors, as a judge.
  6. Where the Dublin gallows stands.