To Swift on his BirthdayPoem by Jonathan Swift
With a Paper Book from the Earl of Orrery
TO THE REVEREND DR. SWIFT
WITH A PRESENT OF A PAPER-BOOK, FINELY BOUND,
ON HIS BIRTH-DAY, NOV. 30, 1732.
BY JOHN, EARL OF ORRERY
To thee, dear Swift, these spotless leaves I send;
Small is the present, but sincere the friend.
Think not so poor a book below thy care;
Who knows the price that thou canst make it bear?
Tho' tawdry now, and, like Tyrilla's face,
The specious front shines out with borrow'd grace;
Tho' pasteboards, glitt'ring like a tinsell'd coat,
A rasa tabula within denote:
Yet, if a venal and corrupted age,
And modern vices should provoke thy rage;
If, warn'd once more by their impending fate,
A sinking country and an injur'd state,
Thy great assistance should again demand,
And call forth reason to defend the land;
Then shall we view these sheets with glad surprise,
Inspir'd with thought, and speaking to our eyes;
Each vacant space shall then, enrich'd, dispense
True force of eloquence, and nervous sense;
Inform the judgment, animate the heart,
And sacred rules of policy impart.
The spangled cov'ring, bright with splendid ore,
Shall cheat the sight with empty show no more;
But lead us inward to those golden mines,
Where all thy soul in native lustre shines.
So when the eye surveys some lovely fair,
With bloom of beauty graced, with shape and air;
How is the rapture heighten'd, when we find
Her form excell'd by her celestial mind!
[Footnote 1: It was occasioned by an annual custom, which I found pursued among his friends, of making him a present on his birth-day. Orrery's "Remarks," p. 202.--W. E. B.]
Verses on Swift's Birthday
LEFT WITH A SILVER STANDISH ON THE DEAN OF ST. PATRICK'S DESK, ON HIS BIRTH-DAY.
BY DR. DELANY
Hither from Mexico I came,
To serve a proud Iernian dame:
Was long submitted to her will;
At length she lost me at quadrille.
Through various shapes I often pass'd,
Still hoping to have rest at last;
And still ambitious to obtain
Admittance to the patriot Dean;
And sometimes got within his door,
But soon turn'd out to serve the poor:
Not strolling Idleness to aid,
But honest Industry decay'd.
At length an artist purchased me,
And wrought me to the shape you see.
This done, to Hermes I applied:
"O Hermes! gratify my pride;
Be it my fate to serve a sage,
The greatest genius of his age;
That matchless pen let me supply,
Whose living lines will never die!"
"I grant your suit," the God replied,
And here he left me to reside.
[Footnote 1: Alluding to sums lent by the Dean, without interest, to assist poor tradesmen.--W. E. B.]
Verses occasioned by foregoing Presents
A paper book is sent by Boyle,
Too neatly gilt for me to soil.
Delany sends a silver standish,
When I no more a pen can brandish.
Let both around my tomb be placed:
As trophies of a Muse deceased;
And let the friendly lines they writ,
In praise of long-departed wit,
Be graved on either side in columns,
More to my praise than all my volumes,
To burst with envy, spite, and rage,
The Vandals of the present age.