Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

The Author Upon Himself - Poem by Jonathan Swift

By an old ——pursued,
A crazy prelate, and a royal prude;
By dull divines, who look with envious eyes
On ev'ry 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 conj'ring book.
Swift had the sin of wit, no venial crime:
Nay, 'twas affirm'd, he sometimes dealt in rhyme;
Humour and mirth had place in all he writ;
He reconcil'd divinity and wit:
He moved and bow'd, and talk'd with too much grace;
Nor show'd the parson in his gait or face;
Despised 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,
Secured 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 politics his dang'rous wit.
And now, the public Int'rest to support,
By Harley Swift invited, comes to court;
In favour grows with ministers of state;
Admitted private, when superiors wait:
And Harley, not ashamed 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 alarms the lords: he hears for certain
This dang'rous priest is got behind the curtain.
Finch, famed for tedious elocution, proves
That Swift oils many a spring which Harley moves.
Walpole and Aislaby, to clear the doubt,
Inform the Commons, that the secret's out:
'A certain doctor is observed 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 dang'rous treatise 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, and repents too late.
Now angry Somerset 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 instils.
The queen incensed, his services forgot,
Leaves him a victim to the vengeful Scot.
Now through the realm a proclamation spread,
To fix a price on his devoted head.
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 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.
By faction tired, with grief he waits awhile,
His great contending friends to reconcile;
Performs what friendship, justice, truth require:
What could he more, but decently retire?


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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