Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

A Panegyric Of The Dean In The Person Of A Lady In The North


Resolved my gratitude to show,
Thrice reverend Dean, for all I owe,
Too long I have my thanks delay'd;
Your favours left too long unpaid;
But now, in all our sex's name,
My artless Muse shall sing your fame.
Indulgent you to female kind,
To all their weaker sides are blind:
Nine more such champions as the Dean
Would soon restore our ancient reign;
How well to win the ladies' hearts,
You celebrate their wit and parts!
How have I felt my spirits raised,
By you so oft, so highly praised!
Transform'd by your convincing tongue
To witty, beautiful, and young,
I hope to quit that awkward shame,
Affected by each vulgar dame,
To modesty a weak pretence;
And soon grow pert on men of sense;
To show my face with scornful air;
Let others match it if they dare.
Impatient to be out of debt,
O, may I never once forget
The bard who humbly deigns to chuse
Me for the subject of his Muse!
Behind my back, before my nose,
He sounds my praise in verse and prose.
My heart with emulation burns,
To make you suitable returns;
My gratitude the world shall know;
And see, the printer's boy below;
Ye hawkers all, your voices lift;
'A Panegyric on Dean Swift!'
And then, to mend the matter still,
'By Lady Anne of Market-Hill!'
I thus begin: My grateful Muse
Salutes the Dean in different views;
Dean, butler, usher, jester, tutor;
Robert and Darby's coadjutor;
And, as you in commission sit,
To rule the dairy next to Kit;
In each capacity I mean
To sing your praise. And first as Dean:
Envy must own, you understand your
Precedence, and support your grandeur:
Nor of your rank will bate an ace,
Except to give Dean Daniel place.
In you such dignity appears,
So suited to your state and years!
With ladies what a strict decorum!
With what devotion you adore 'em!
Treat me with so much complaisance,
As fits a princess in romance!
By your example and assistance,
The fellows learn to know their distance.
Sir Arthur, since you set the pattern,
No longer calls me snipe and slattern,
Nor dares he, though he were a duke,
Offend me with the least rebuke.
Proceed we to your preaching next!
How nice you split the hardest text!
How your superior learning shines
Above our neighbouring dull divines!
At Beggar's Opera not so full pit
Is seen as when you mount our pulpit.
Consider now your conversation:
Regardful of your age and station,
You ne'er were known by passion stirr'd
To give the least offensive word:
But still, whene'er you silence break,
Watch every syllable you speak:
Your style so clear, and so concise,
We never ask to hear you twice.
But then a parson so genteel,
So nicely clad from head to heel;
So fine a gown, a band so clean,
As well become St. Patrick's Dean,
Such reverential awe express,
That cowboys know you by your dress!
Then, if our neighbouring friends come here
How proud are we when you appear,
With such address and graceful port,
As clearly shows you bred at court!
Now raise your spirits, Mr. Dean,
I lead you to a nobler scene.
When to the vault you walk in state,
In quality of butler's mate;
You next to Dennis bear the sway:
To you we often trust the key:
Nor can he judge with all his art
So well, what bottle holds a quart:
What pints may best for bottles pass
Just to give every man his glass:
When proper to produce the best;
And what may serve a common guest.
With Dennis you did ne'er combine,
Not you, to steal your master's wine,
Except a bottle now and then,
To welcome brother serving-men;
But that is with a good design,
To drink Sir Arthur's health and mine,
Your master's honour to maintain:
And get the like returns again.
Your usher's post must next be handled:
How blest am I by such a man led!
Under whose wise and careful guardship
I now despise fatigue and hardship,
Familiar grown to dirt and wet,
Though draggled round, I scorn to fret:
From you my chamber damsels learn
My broken hose to patch and darn.
Now as a jester I accost you;
Which never yet one friend has lost you.
You judge so nicely to a hair,
How far to go, and when to spare;
By long experience grown so wise,
Of every taste to know the size;
There's none so ignorant or weak
To take offence at what you speak.
Whene'er you joke, 'tis all a case
Whether with Dermot, or his grace;
With Teague O'Murphy, or an earl;
A duchess, or a kitchen girl.
With such dexterity you fit
Their several talents with your wit,
That Moll the chambermaid can smoke,
And Gahagan take every joke.
I now become your humble suitor
To let me praise you as my tutor.
Poor I, a savage bred and born,
By you instructed every morn,
Already have improved so well,
That I have almost learnt to spell:
The neighbours who come here to dine,
Admire to hear me speak so fine.
How enviously the ladies look,
When they surprise me at my book!
And sure as they're alive at night,
As soon as gone will show their spight:
Good lord! what can my lady mean,
Conversing with that rusty Dean!
She's grown so nice, and so penurious,
With Socrates and Epicurius!
How could she sit the livelong day,
Yet never ask us once to play?
But I admire your patience most;
That when I'm duller than a post,
Nor can the plainest word pronounce,
You neither fume, nor fret, nor flounce;
Are so indulgent, and so mild,
As if I were a darling child.
So gentle is your whole proceeding,
That I could spend my life in reading.
You merit new employments daily:
Our thatcher, ditcher, gardener, baily.
And to a genius so extensive
No work is grievous or offensive:
Whether your fruitful fancy lies
To make for pigs convenient styes;
Or ponder long with anxious thought
To banish rats that haunt our vault:
Nor have you grumbled, reverend Dean,
To keep our poultry sweet and clean;
To sweep the mansion-house they dwell in,
And cure the rank unsavoury smelling.
Now enter as the dairy handmaid:
Such charming butter never man made.
Let others with fanatic face
Talk of their milk for babes of grace;
From tubs their snuffling nonsense utter;
Thy milk shall make us tubs of butter.
The bishop with his foot may burn it,
But with his hand the Dean can churn it.
How are the servants overjoy'd
To see thy deanship thus employ'd!
Instead of poring on a book,
Providing butter for the cook!
Three morning hours you toss and shake
The bottle till your fingers ache;
Hard is the toil, nor small the art,
The butter from the whey to part:
Behold a frothy substance rise;
Be cautious or your bottle flies.
The butter comes, our fears are ceased;
And out you squeeze an ounce at least.
Your reverence thus, with like success,
(Nor is your skill or labour less,)
When bent upon some smart lampoon,
Will toss and turn your brain till noon;
Which in its jumblings round the skull,
Dilates and makes the vessel full:
While nothing comes but froth at first,
You think your giddy head will burst;
But squeezing out four lines in rhyme,
Are largely paid for all your time.
But you have raised your generous mind
To works of more exalted kind.
Palladio was not half so skill'd in
The grandeur or the art of building.
Two temples of magnific size
Attract the curious traveller's eyes,
That might be envied by the Greeks;
Raised up by you in twenty weeks:
Here gentle goddess Cloacine
Receives all offerings at her shrine.
In separate cells, the he's and she's,
Here pay their vows on bended knees:
For 'tis profane when sexes mingle,
And every nymph must enter single;
And when she feels an inward motion,
Come fill'd with reverence and devotion.
The bashful maid, to hide her blush,
Shall creep no more behind a bush;
Here unobserved she boldly goes,
As who should say, to pluck a rose,
Ye, who frequent this hallow'd scene,
Be not ungrateful to the Dean;
But duly, ere you leave your station,
Offer to him a pure libation,
Or of his own or Smedley's lay,
Or billet-doux, or lock of hay:
And, O! may all who hither come,
Return with unpolluted thumb!
Yet, when your lofty domes I praise
I sigh to think of ancient days.
Permit me then to raise my style,
And sweetly moralize a-while.
Thee, bounteous goddess Cloacine,
To temples why do we confine?
Forbid in open air to breathe,
Why are thine altars fix'd beneath?
When Saturn ruled the skies alone,
(That golden age to gold unknown,)
This earthly globe, to thee assign'd,
Received the gifts of all mankind.
Ten thousand altars smoking round,
Were built to thee with offerings crown'd;
And here thy daily votaries placed
Their sacrifice with zeal and haste:
The margin of a purling stream
Sent up to thee a grateful steam;
Though sometimes thou wert pleased to wink,
If Naiads swept them from the brink:
Or where appointing lovers rove,
The shelter of a shady grove;
Or offer'd in some flowery vale,
Were wafted by a gentle gale,
There many a flower abstersive grew,
Thy favourite flowers of yellow hue;
The crocus and the daffodil,
The cowslip soft, and sweet jonquil.
But when at last usurping Jove
Old Saturn from his empire drove,
Then gluttony, with greasy paws
Her napkin pinn'd up to her jaws,
With watery chops, and wagging chin,
Braced like a drum her oily skin;
Wedged in a spacious elbow-chair,
And on her plate a treble share,
As if she ne'er could have enough,
Taught harmless man to cram and stuff.
She sent her priests in wooden shoes
From haughty Gaul to make ragouts;
Instead of wholesome bread and cheese,
To dress their soups and fricassees;
And, for our home-bred British cheer,
Botargo, catsup, and caviare.
This bloated harpy, sprung from hell,
Confined thee, goddess, to a cell:
Sprung from her womb that impious line,
Contemners of thy rites divine.
First, lolling Sloth, in woollen cap,
Taking her after-dinner nap:
Pale Dropsy, with a sallow face,
Her belly burst, and slow her pace:
And lordly Gout, wrapt up in fur,
And wheezing Asthma, loth to stir:
Voluptuous Ease, the child of wealth,
Infecting thus our hearts by stealth.
None seek thee now in open air,
To thee no verdant altars rear;
But, in their cells and vaults obscene,
Present a sacrifice unclean;
From whence unsavoury vapours rose,
Offensive to thy nicer nose.
Ah! who, in our degenerate days,
As nature prompts, his offering pays?
Here nature never difference made
Between the sceptre and the spade.
Ye great ones, why will ye disdain
To pay your tribute on the plain?
Why will you place in lazy pride
Your altars near your couches' side:
When from the homeliest earthen ware
Are sent up offerings more sincere,
Than where the haughty duchess locks
Her silver vase in cedar box?
Yet some devotion still remains
Among our harmless northern swains,
Whose offerings, placed in golden ranks,
Adorn our crystal rivers' banks;
Nor seldom grace the flowery downs,
With spiral tops and copple crowns;
Or gilding in a sunny morn
The humble branches of a thorn.
So poets sing, with golden bough
The Trojan hero paid his vow.
Hither, by luckless error led,
The crude consistence oft I tread;
Here when my shoes are out of case,
Unweeting gild the tarnish'd lace;
Here, by the sacred bramble tinged,
My petticoat is doubly fringed.
Be witness for me, nymph divine,
I never robb'd thee with design;
Nor will the zealous Hannah pout
To wash thy injured offering out.
But stop, ambitious Muse, in time,
Nor dwell on subjects too sublime.
In vain on lofty heels I tread,
Aspiring to exalt my head;
With hoop expanded wide and light,
In vain I 'tempt too high a flight.
Me Phoebus in a midnight dream
Accosting, said, 'Go shake your cream
Be humbly-minded, know your post;
Sweeten your tea, and watch your toast.
Thee best befits a lowly style;
Teach Dennis how to stir the guile;
With Peggy Dixon thoughtful sit,
Contriving for the pot and spit.
Take down thy proudly swelling sails,
And rub thy teeth and pare thy nails;
At nicely carving show thy wit;
But ne'er presume to eat a bit:
Turn every way thy watchful eye,
And every guest be sure to ply:
Let never at your board be known
An empty plate, except your own.
Be these thy arts; nor higher aim
Than what befits a rural dame.
'But Cloacina, goddess bright,
Sleek——claims her as his right;
And Smedley, flower of all divines,
Shall sing the Dean in Smedley's lines.'

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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