Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Stella to Dr. Swift on his Birthday


On his Birthday, Nov. 30, 1721.

ST. Patrick's Dean, your country's pride,
My early and my only guide,
Let me among the rest attend,
Your pupil and your humble friend,
To celebrate in female strains
The day that paid your mother's pains;
Descend to take that tribute due
In gratitude alone to you.
When men began to call me fair,
You interpos'd your timely care;
You early taught me to despise
The ogling of a coxcomb's eyes;
Show'd where my judgment was misplac'd;
Refin'd my fancy and my taste.
Behold that beauty just decay'd,
Invoking art to nature's aid:
Forsook by her admiring train,
She spreads her tatter'd nets in vain;
Short was her part upon the stage;
Went smoothly on for half a page;
Her bloom was gone, she wanted art,
As the scene chang'd, to change her part;
She, whom no lover could resist,
Before the second act was hiss'd.
Such is the fate of female race
With no endowments but a face;
Before the thirtieth year of life,
A maid forlorn, or hated wife.
Stella to you, her tutor, owes
That she has ne'er resembled those;
Nor was a burden to mankind
With half her course of years behind.
You taught how I might youth prolong,
By knowing what was right and wrong;
How from my heart to bring supplies
Of lustre to my fading eyes;
How soon a beauteous mind repairs
The loss of chang'd or falling hairs;
How wit and virtue from within
Send out a smoothness o'er the skin:
Your lectures could my fancy fix,
And I can please at thirty-six.
The sight of Chloe at fifteen
Coquetting, gives not me the spleen;
The idol now of every fool
Till time shall make their passions cool;
Then tumbling down time's steepy hill,
While Stella holds her station still.
O! turn your precepts into laws,
Redeem the women's ruin'd cause,
Retrieve lost empire to our sex,
That men may bow their rebel necks.
Long be the day that gave you birth
Sacred to friendship, wit, and mirth;
Late dying may you cast a shred
Of your rich mantle o'er my head;
To bear with dignity my sorrow,
One day alone, then die to morrow.