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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Answer to Paulus, an Epigram

THE ANSWER.

BY DR. SWIFT.


LINDSAY mistakes the matter quite,
And honest Paulus judges right.
Then, why these quarrels to the sun,
Without whose aid you're all undone?
Did Paulus e'er complain of sweat?
Did Paulus e'er the sun forget;
The influence of whose golden beams
Soon licks up all unsavoury steams?
The sun, you say, his face has kiss'd:
It has; but then it greas'd his fist.
True lawyers, for the wisest ends,
Have always been Apollo's friends.
Not for his superficial powers
Of ripening fruits, and gilding flowers;
Not for inspiring poets' brains
With pennyless and starveling strains;
Not for his boasted healing art;
Not for his skill to shoot the dart;
Nor yet because he sweetly fiddles;
Nor for his prophecies in riddles:
But for a more substantial cause —
Apollo's patron of the laws;
Whom Paulus ever must adore,
As parent of the golden ore,
By Phoebus, an incestuous birth,
Begot upon his grandam Earth;
By Phœbus first produc'd to light:
By Vulcan form'd so round and bright:
Then offer’d at the shrine of Justice,
By clients to her priests and trustees.
Nor, when we see Astræa stand
With even balance in her hand,
Must we suppose she has in view,
How to give every man his due;
Her scales you see her only hold,
To weigh her priests' the lawyers gold.
Now, should I own your case was grievous,
Poor sweaty Paulus, who'd believe us?
'Tis very true, and none denies,
At least, that such complaints are wise:
'Tis wise, no doubt, as clients fat you more,
To cry, like statesmen, Quanta patimur!
But, since the truth must needs be stretched,
To prove that lawyers are so wretched;
This paradox I'll undertake,
For Paulus' and for Lindsay's sake;
By topicks, which, though I abomine 'em,
May serve as arguments ad hominem:
Yet I disdain to offer those
Made use of by detracting foes.
I own, the curses of mankind
Sit light upon a lawyer's mind:
The clamours of ten thousand tongues
Break not his rest, nor hurt his lungs:
I own, his conscience always free,
(Provided he has got his fee)
Secure of constant peace within,
He knows no guilt, who knows no sin.
Yet well they merit to be pitied,
By clients always overwitted.
And though the Gospel seems to say,
What heavy burdens lawyers lay
Upon the shoulders of their neighbour,
Nor lend a finger to their labour,
Always for saving their own bacon;
No doubt, the text is here mistaken:
The copy's false, the sense is rack'd:
To prove it, I appeal to fact;
And thus by demonstration show
What burdens lawyers undergo.
With early clients at his door,
Though he was drunk the night before,
And cropsick with unclubb'd for wine,
The wretch must be at court by nine;
Half sunk beneath his briefs and bag,
As ridden by a midnight hag:
Then, from the bar, harangues the bench,
In English vile, and viler French,
And Latin, vilest of the three;
And all for poor ten moidores fee!
Of paper how is he profuse,
With periods long, in terms abstruse!
What pains he takes to be prolix!
A thousand lines to stand for six!
Of common sense without a word in!
And is not this a grievous burden?
The lawyer is a common drudge,
To fight our cause before the judge:
And, what is yet a greater curse,
Condemn’d to bear his client's parse;
While he, at ease, secure and light,
Walks boldly home at dead of night;
When term is ended, leaves the town,
Trots to his country mansion down;
And, disencumber’d of his load,
No danger dreads upon the road;
Despises rapparees, and rides
Safe through the Newry mountains sides.
Lindsay, 'tis you have set me on,
To state this question pro and con.
My satire may offend, 'tis true;
However, it concerns not you.
I own, there may, in every clan,
Perhaps, be found one honest man;
Yet link them close; in this they jump,
To be but rascals in the lump.
Imagine Lindsay at the bar,
He's much the same his brethren are;
Well taught by practice to imbibe
The fundamentals of his tribe:
And, in his client's just defence,
Must deviate oft from common sense;
And make his ignorance discerned,
To get the name of council learned
(As lucus comes a non lucendo),
And wisely do as other men do:
But shift him to a better scene,
Among his crew of rogues in grain;
Surrounded with companions fit,
To taste his humour, sense, and wit;
You'd swear he never took a fee,
Nor knew in law his A, B, C.
'Tis hard, where dullness overrules,
To keep good sense in crowds of fools.
And we admire the man, who saves
His honesty in crowds of knaves;
Nor yields up virtue, at discretion,
To villains of his own profession.
Lindsay, you know what pains you take
In both, yet hardly save your stake;
And will you venture both anew,
To sit among that venal crew,
That pack of mimick legislators,
Abandon'd, stupid, slavish praters!
For, as the rabble daub and rifle
The fool who scrambles for a trifle;
Who for his pains is cuff'd and kick'd,
Drawn through the dirt, his pockets pick'd;
You must expect the like disgrace,
Scrambling with rogues to get a place;
Must lose the honour you have gain'd,
Your numerous virtues foully stain'd;
Disclaim forever all pretence
To common honesty and sense;
And join in friendship with a strict tye,
To M——l, C——y, and Dick Tighe.