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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Author Upon Himself


[A few of the first lines are wanting.]

***By an old ——— pursu'd,
A crazy prelate[1], and a royal prude[2];
By dull divines, who look with envious eyes
On every genius that attempts to rise;
And pausing o'er a pipe, with doubtful nod,
Give hints, that poets ne'er believe in God
So clowns on scholars as on wizards look,
And take a folio for a conjuring book.
Swift had the sin of wit, no venial crime;
Nay, 'tis affirm'd, he sometimes dealt in rhyme:
Humour and mirth had place in all he writ;
He reconcil'd divinity and wit:
He mov'd and bow'd, and talk'd with too much grace;
Nor show'd the parson in his gait or face;
Despis'd luxurious wines and costly meat;
Yet still was at the tables of the great;
Frequented lords; saw those that saw the queen;
At Child's or Truby's never once had been;
Where town and country vicars flock in tribes,
Secur'd by numbers from the laymen's gibes;
And deal in vices of the graver sort,
Tobacco, censure, coffee, pride, and port.
But, after sage monitions from his friends,
His talents to employ for nobler ends;
To better judgments willing to submit,
He turns to politicks his dangerous wit.
And now, the publick interest to support,
By Harley Swift invited comes to court;
In favour grows with ministers of state;
Admitted private, when superiours wait:
And Harley, not asham'd his choice to own,
Takes him to Windsor in his coach alone.
At Windsor Swift no sooner can appear,
But St. John comes and whispers in his ear:
The waiters stand in ranks; the yeomen cry,
Make room, as if a duke were passing by.
Now Finch[3] alarms the lords: he hears for certain
This dangerous priest is got behind the curtain.
Finch, fam'd for tedious elocution, proves
That Swift oils many a spring which Harley moves.
Walpole and Aislabie[4], to clear the doubt,
Inform the commons, that the secret's out:
"A certain doctor is observ'd of late
To haunt a certain minister of state:
From whence with half an eye we may discover
The peace is made, and Perkin must come over."
York is from Lambeth sent, to show the queen
A dangerous treatise[5] writ against the spleen;
Which, by the style, the matter, and the drift,
'Tis thought could be the work of none but Swift.
Poor York! the harmless tool of others hate;
He sues for pardon[6], and repents too late.
Now, angry Somerset[7] her vengeance vows
On Swift's reproaches for her ******** spouse:
From her red locks her mouth with venom fills,
And thence into the royal ear instills.
The queen incens'd, his services forgot,
Leaves him a victim to the vengeful Scot[8].
Now through the realm a proclamation spread,
To fix a price on his devoted head[9],
While innocent, he scorns ignoble flight;
His watchful friends preserve him by a sleight.
By Harley's favour once again he shines;
Is now caress'd by candidate divines,
Who change opinions with the changing scene:
Lord! how were they mistaken in the dean!
Now Delawar[10] again familiar grows;
And in Swift's ear thrusts half his powder'd nose.
The Scottish nation, whom he durst offend,
Again apply that Swift would be their friend[11].
By faction tir'd, with grief he waits a while,
His great contending friends to reconcile,
Performs what friendship, justice, truth require:
What could he more, but decently retire?

  1. Dr. John Sharpe, who, for some unbecoming reflections in his sermons had been suspended May 14, 1686, was raised from the deanery of Canterbury to the archbishoprick of York, July 5, 1691; and died Feb. 2, 1712-13. According to Dr. Swift's account, the archbishop had represented him to the queen as a person that was not a Christian; a great lady had supported the aspersion; and the queen upon such assurances had given away a bishoprick contrary to her majesty's first intentions [which were in favour of Swift.] Orrery.
  2. Queen Anne.
  3. The earl of Nottingham.
  4. They both spoke against him in the House of Commons.
  5. Tale of a Tub.
  6. He sent a message, to ask Swift's pardon.
  7. See the Windsor Prophecy, p. 74.
  8. The duke of Argyll.
  9. For writing "The Publick Spirit of the Whigs."
  10. Then lord treasurer of the household, who cautiously avoided Swift while the proclamation was impending.
  11. He was visited by the Scotch lords more than ever.