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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/On the Little House by the Churchyard of Castlenock

ON THE LITTLE HOUSE BY THE CHURCHYARD OF CASTLENOCK. 1710.


WHOWEVER pleases to inquire
Why yonder steeple wants a spire,
The gray old fellow, poet Joe[1],
The philosophick cause will show.
Once on a time a western blast
At least twelve inches overcast,
Reckoning roof, weathercock, and all,
Which came with a prodigious fall;
And tumbling topsyturvy round
Lit with its bottom on the ground.
For, by the laws of gravitation,
It fell into its proper station.
This is the little strutting pile,
You see just by the churchyard stile;
The walls in tumbling gave a knock,
And thus the steeple got a shock;
From whence the neighbouring farmer calls
The steeple, Knock; the vicar, Walls[2].
The vicar once a week creeps in,
Sits with his knees up to his chin;
Here cons his notes, and takes a whet,
Till the small ragged flock is met.
A traveller, who by did pass,
Observ'd the roof behind the grass:
On tiptoe stood, and rear'd his snout,
And saw the parson creeping out;
Was much surpris'd to see a crow
Venture to build his nest so low.
A schoolboy ran unto 't and thought,
The crib was down, the blackbird caught.
A third, who lost his way by night,
Was forc'd for safety to alight,
And stepping o'er the fabrick roof,
His horse had like to spoil his hoof.
Warburton[3] took it in his noddle,
This building was design'd a model;
Or of a pigeon-house or oven,
To bake one loaf, and keep one dove in.
Then Mrs. Johnson[4] gave her verdict,
And every one was pleased that heard it:
All that you make this stir about
Is but a still which wants a spout.
The reverend Dr. Raymond[5] guess'd
More probably than all the rest;
He said, but that it wanted room,
It might have been a pigmy's tomb.
The doctor's family came by,
And little miss began to cry;
Give me that house in my own hand!
Then madam bade the chariot stand,
Call'd to the clerk, in manner mild,
Pray, reach that thing here to the child:
That thing, I mean, among the kale;
And here's to buy a pot of ale.
The clerk said to her, in a heat,
What! sell my master's country seat,
Where he comes every week from town!
He would not sell it for a crown.
Poh! fellow, keep not such a pother;
In half an hour thou 'lt make another.
Says Nancy[6], I can make for miss
A finer house ten times than this;
The dean will give me willow sticks,
And Joe my apron full of bricks.


  1. Mr. Beaumont of Trim.
  2. Archdeacon Wall, a correspondent of Swift's.
  3. Dr. Swift's curate at Laracor.
  4. Stella.
  5. Minister of Trim.
  6. The waiting-woman.