Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/On Reading Dr. Young's Satires





IF there be truth in what you sing,
Such godlike virtues in the king;
A minister[1] so fill'd with zeal
And wisdom for the commonweal:
If he[2] who in the chair presides
So steadily the senate guides:
If others, whom you make your theme,
Are seconds in the glorious scheme:
If every peer, whom you commend,
To worth and learning be a friend:
If this be truth, as you attest,
What land was ever half so blest!
No falsehood now among the great,
And tradesmen now, no longer cheat;
Now on the bench fair Justice shines;
Her scale to neither side inclines:
Now Pride and Cruelty are flown,
And Mercy here exalts her throne:
For such is good example's power,
It does its office every hour,
Where governours are good and wise;
Or else the truest maxim lyes:
For so we find all ancient sages
Decree, that, ad exemplum regis,
Through all the realm his virtues run,
Ripening and kindling like the sun.
If this be true, then how much more
When you have nam'd at least a score
Of courtiers, each in their degree,
If possible, as good as he!
Or take it in a different view.
I ask (if what you say be true)
If you affirm the present age
Deserves your satire's keenest rage:
If that same universal passion
With every vice has fill'd the nation:
If virtue dares not venture down
A single step beneath the crown:
If clergymen, to show their wit,
Praise classicks more than holy writ:
If bankrupts, when they are undone,
Into the senate house can run,
And sell their votes at such a rate,
As will retrieve a lost estate:
If law be such a partial whore,
To spare the rich, and plague the poor:
If these be of all crimes the worst,
What land was ever half so curst?

  1. Sir Robert Walpole, afterward earl of Orford.
  2. Sir Spencer Compton, then speaker, afterward earl of Wilmington.