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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/George-Nim-Dan-Dean's Answer


DEAR Sheridan! a gentle pair
Of Gaulstown lads (for such they are)
Beside a brace of grave divines,
Adore the smoothness of thy lines:
Smooth as our basin's silver flood,
Ere George had robb'd it of its mud;
Smoother than Pegasus' old shoe,
Ere Vulcan comes to make him new.
The board on which we set our a—s
Is not so smooth as are thy verses;
Compar'd with which (and that's enough)
A smoothing iron itself is rough.
Nor praise I less that circumcision,
By modern poets call'd elision,
With which, in proper station plac'd,
Thy polish'd lines are firmly brac'd.
Thus a wise tailor is not pinching,
But turns at every seam an inch in;
Or else, be sure, your broad-cloth breeches
Will ne'er be smooth, nor hold their stitches.
Thy verse, like bricks, defy the weather,
When smooth’d by rubbing them together;
Thy words so closely wedg'd and short are
Like walls, more lasting without mortar;
By leaving out the needless vowels,
You save the charge of lime and trowels.
One letter still another locks,
Each groov'd and dovetail'd like a box;
Thy Muse is tuckt up and succinct;
In chains thy syllables are linkt;
Thy words together ty'd in small hanks,
Close as the Macedonian phalanx;
Or like the umbo of the Romans,
Which fiercest foes could break by no means.
The critick to his grief will find,
How firmly these indentures bind.
So, in the kindred painter's art,
The shortening is the nicest part.
Philologers of future ages,
How will they pore upon thy pages!
Nor will they dare to break the joints,
But help thee to be read with points:
Or else, to show their learned labour, you
May backward be perus'd like Hebrew,
In which they need not lose a bit
Or of thy harmony or wit.
To make a work completely fine,
Number and weight and measure join;
Then all must grant your lines are weighty,
Where thirty weigh as much as eighty;
All must allow your numbers more,
Where twenty lines exceed fourscore;
Nor can we think your measure short,
Where less than forty fill a quart,
With Alexandrian in the close,
Long, long, long, long, like Dan's long nose.