The battle of the books.., p.6
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       The Battle of the Books and Other Short Pieces, p.6

           Jonathan Swift
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Tried every tone might pity win,

  But not a soul would let them in.

  Our wandering saints in woeful state,

  Treated at this ungodly rate,

  Having through all the village passed,

  To a small cottage came at last,

  Where dwelt a good honest old yeoman,

  Called, in the neighbourhood, Philemon,

  Who kindly did these saints invite

  In his poor hut to pass the night;

  And then the hospitable Sire

  Bid goody Baucis mend the fire;

  While he from out the chimney took

  A flitch of bacon off the hook,

  And freely from the fattest side

  Cut out large slices to be fried;

  Then stepped aside to fetch 'em drink,

  Filled a large jug up to the brink,

  And saw it fairly twice go round;

  Yet (what is wonderful) they found

  'Twas still replenished to the top,

  As if they ne'er had touched a drop

  The good old couple were amazed,

  And often on each other gazed;

  For both were frightened to the heart,

  And just began to cry, - What art!

  Then softly turned aside to view,

  Whether the lights were burning blue.

  The gentle pilgrims soon aware on't,

  Told 'em their calling, and their errant;

  "Good folks, you need not be afraid,

  We are but saints," the hermits said;

  "No hurt shall come to you or yours;

  But, for that pack of churlish boors,

  Not fit to live on Christian ground,

  They and their houses shall be drowned;

  Whilst you shall see your cottage rise,

  And grow a church before your eyes.


  They scarce had spoke; when fair and soft,

  The roof began to mount aloft;

  Aloft rose every beam and rafter,

  The heavy wall climbed slowly after.

  The chimney widened, and grew higher,

  Became a steeple with a spire.

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  The kettle to the top was hoist,

  And there stood fastened to a joist;

  But with the upside down, to show

  Its inclination for below.

  In vain; for a superior force

  Applied at bottom, stops its coarse,

  Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,

  'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.

  A wooden jack, which had almost

  Lost, by disuse, the art to roast,

  A sudden alteration feels,

  Increased by new intestine wheels;

  And what exalts the wonder more,

  The number made the motion slower.

  The flyer, though 't had leaden feet,

  Turned round so quick, you scarce could see 't;

  But slackened by some secret power,

  Now hardly moves an inch an hour.

  The jack and chimney near allied,

  Had never left each other's side;

  The chimney to a steeple grown,

  The jack would not be left alone;

  But up against the steeple reared,

  Became a clock, and still adhered;

  And still its love to household cares

  By a shrill voice at noon declares,

  Warning the cook-maid not to burn

  That roast meat which it cannot turn.

  The groaning chair began to crawl,

  Like a huge snail along the wall;

  There stuck aloft in public view;

  And with small change a pulpit grew.

  The porringers, that in a row

  Hung high, and made a glittering show,

  To a less noble substance changed,

  Were now but leathern buckets ranged.

  The ballads pasted on the wall,

  Of Joan of France, and English Moll,

  Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,

  The Little Children in the Wood,

  Now seemed to look abundance better,

  Improved in picture, size, and letter;

  And high in order placed, describe

  The heraldry of every tribe.

  A bedstead of the antique mode,

  Compact of timber, many a load,

  Such as our ancestors did use,

  Was metamorphosed into pews:

  Which still their ancient nature keep,

  By lodging folks disposed to sleep.

  The cottage, by such feats as these,

  Grown to a church by just degrees,

  The hermits then desired their host

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  To ask for what he fancied most.

  Philemon having paused a while,

  Returned 'em thanks in homely style;

  Then said, "My house is grown so fine,

  Methinks I still would call it mine:

  I'm old, and fain would live at ease,

  Make me the Parson, if you please.


  He spoke, and presently he feels

  His grazier's coat fall down his heels;

  He sees, yet hardly can believe,

  About each arm a pudding sleeve;

  His waistcoat to a cassock grew,

  And both assumed a sable hue;

  But being old, continued just

  As thread-bare, and as full of dust.

  His talk was now of tithes and dues;

  He smoked his pipe and read the news;

  Knew how to preach old sermons next,

  Vamped in the preface and the text;

  At christenings well could act his part,

  And had the service all by heart;

  Wished women might have children fast,

  And thought whose sow had farrowed last

  Against Dissenters would repine,

  And stood up firm for Right divine.

  Found his head filled with many a system,

  But classic authors, - he ne'er missed 'em.

  Thus having furbished up a parson,

  Dame Baucis next they played their farce on.

  Instead of home-spun coifs were seen

  Good pinners edg'd with colberteen;

  Her petticoat transformed apace,

  Became black satin flounced with lace.

  Plain Goody would no longer down,

  'Twas Madam, in her grogram gown.

  Philemon was in great surprise,

  And hardly could believe his eyes,

  Amazed to see her look so prim;

  And she admired as much at him.

  Thus, happy in their change of life,

  Were several years this man and wife;

  When on a day, which proved their last,

  Discoursing o'er old stories past,

  They went by chance amidst their talk,

  To the church yard to take a walk;

  When Baucis hastily cried out,

  "My dear, I see your forehead sprout!


  "Sprout," quoth the man, "what's this you tell us?

  I hope you don't believe me jealous,

  But yet, methinks, I feel it true;

  And really, yours is budding too


  Nay, - now I cannot stir my foot;

  It feels as if 'twere taking root.


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  Description would but tire my Muse;

  In short, they both were turned to Yews.

  Old Goodman Dobson of the green

  Remembers he the trees has seen;

'll talk of them from noon till night,

  And goes with folks to show the sight;

  On Sundays, after evening prayer,

  He gathers all the parish there,

  Points out the place of either Yew:

  Here Baucis, there Philemon grew,

  Till once a parson of our town,

  To mend his barn, cut Baucis down;

  At which, 'tis hard to be believed

  How much the other tree was grieved,

  Grow scrubby, died a-top, was stunted:

  So the next parson stubbed and burnt it.


  LOGICIANS have but ill defined

  As rational, the human kind;

  Reason, they say, belongs to man,

  But let them prove it, if they can.

  Wise Aristotle and Smiglesius,

  By ratiocinations specious,

  Have strove to prove with great precision,

  With definition and division,


  But, for my soul, I cannot credit 'em.

  And must, in spite of them, maintain

  That man and all his ways are vain;

  And that this boasted lord of nature

  Is both a weak and erring creature.

  That instinct is a surer guide

  Than reason-boasting mortals pride;

  And, that brute beasts are far before 'em,


  Whoever knew an honest brute,

  At law his neighbour prosecute,

  Bring action for assault and battery,

  Or friend beguile with lies and flattery?

  O'er plains they ramble unconfined,

  No politics disturb their mind;

  They eat their meals, and take their sport,

  Nor know who's in or out at court.

  They never to the levee go

  To treat as dearest friend a foe;

  They never importune his grace,

  Nor ever cringe to men in place;

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  Nor undertake a dirty job,

  Nor draw the quill to write for Bob.

  Fraught with invective they ne'er go

  To folks at Paternoster Row:

  No judges, fiddlers, dancing-masters,

  No pickpockets, or poetasters

  Are known to honest quadrupeds:

  No single brute his fellows leads.

  Brutes never meet in bloody fray,

  Nor cut each others' throats for pay.

  Of beasts, it is confessed, the ape

  Comes nearest us in human shape;

  Like man, he imitates each fashion,

  And malice is his ruling passion:

  But, both in malice and grimaces,

  A courtier any ape surpasses.

  Behold him humbly cringing wait

  Upon the minister of state;

  View him, soon after, to inferiors

  Aping the conduct of superiors:

  He promises, with equal air,

  And to perform takes equal care.

  He, in his turn, finds imitators,

  At court the porters, lacqueys, waiters

  Their masters' manners still contract,

  And footmen, lords, and dukes can act.

  Thus, at the court, both great and small

  Behave alike, for all ape all.


  THE life of man to represent,

  And turn it all to ridicule,

  Wit did a puppet-show invent,

  Where the chief actor is a fool.

  The gods of old were logs of wood,

  And worship was to puppets paid;

  In antic dress the idol stood,

  And priests and people bowed the head.

  No wonder then, if art began

  The simple votaries to frame,

  To shape in timber foolish man,

  And consecrate the block to fame.

  From hence poetic fancy learned

  That trees might rise from human forms

  The body to a trunk be turned,

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  And branches issue from the arms.

  Thus Daedalus and Ovid too,

  That man's a blockhead have confessed,

  Powel and Stretch the hint pursue;

  Life is the farce, the world a jest.

  The same great truth South Sea hath proved

  On that famed theatre, the ally,

  Where thousands by directors moved

  Are now sad monuments of folly.

  What Momus was of old to Jove

  The same harlequin is now;

  The former was buffoon above,

  The latter is a Punch below.

  This fleeting scene is but a stage,

  Where various images appear,

  In different parts of youth and age

  Alike the prince and peasant share.

  Some draw our eyes by being great,

  False pomp conceals mere wood within,

  And legislators rang'd in state

  Are oft but wisdom in machine.

  A stock may chance to wear a crown,

  And timber as a lord take place,

  A statue may put on a frown,

  And cheat us with a thinking face.

  Others are blindly led away,

  And made to act for ends unknown,

  By the mere spring of wires they play,

  And speak in language not their own.

  Too oft, alas! a scolding wife

  Usurps a jolly fellow's throne,

  And many drink the cup of life

  Mix'd and embittered by a Joan.

  In short, whatever men pursue

  Of pleasure, folly, war, or love,

  This mimic-race brings all to view,

  Alike they dress, they talk, they move.

  Go on, great Stretch, with artful hand,

  Mortals to please and to deride,

  And when death breaks thy vital band

  Thou shalt put on a puppet's pride.

  Thou shalt in puny wood be shown,

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  Thy image shall preserve thy fame,

  Ages to come thy worth shall own,

  Point at thy limbs, and tell thy name.

  Tell Tom he draws a farce in vain,

  Before he looks in nature's glass;

  Puns cannot form a witty scene,

  Nor pedantry for humour pass.

  To make men act as senseless wood,

  And chatter in a mystic strain,

  Is a mere force on flesh and blood,

  And shows some error in the brain.

  He that would thus refine on thee,

  And turn thy stage into a school,

  The jest of Punch will ever be,

  And stand confessed the greater fool.



  THE shepherds and the nymphs were seen

  Pleading before the Cyprian Queen.

  The counsel for the fair began

  Accusing the false creature, man.

  The brief with weighty crimes was charged,

  On which the pleader much enlarged:

  That Cupid now has lost his art,

  Or blunts the point of every dart;

  His altar now no longer smokes;

  His mother's aid no youth invokes


  This tempts free-thinkers to refine,

  And bring in doubt their powers divine,

  Now love is dwindled to intrigue,

  And marriage grown a money-le

  Which crimes aforesaid (with her leave)

  Were (as he humbly did conceive)

  Against our Sovereign Lady's peace,

  Against the statutes in that case,

  Against her dignity and crown:

  Then prayed an answer and sat down.

  The nymphs with scorn beheld their foes:

  When the defendant's counsel rose,

  And, what no lawyer ever lacked,

  With impudence owned all the fact.

  But, what the gentlest heart would vex,

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  Laid all the fault on t'other sex.

  That modern love is no such thing

  As what those ancient poets sing;

  A fire celestial, chaste, refined,

  Conceived and kindled in the mind,

  Which having found an equal flame,

  Unites, and both become the same,

  In different breasts together burn,

  Together both to ashes turn.

  But women now feel no such fire,

  And only know the gross desire;

  Their passions move in lower spheres,

  Where'er caprice or folly steers.

  A dog, a parrot, or an ape,

  Or some worse brute in human shape

  Engross the fancies of the fair,

  The few soft moments they can spare

  From visits to receive and pay,

  From scandal, politics, and play,

  From fans, and flounces, and brocades,

  From equipage and park-parades,

  From all the thousand female toys,

  From every trifle that employs

  The out or inside of their heads

  Between their toilets and their beds.

  In a dull stream, which, moving slow,

  You hardly see the current flow,

  If a small breeze obstructs the course,

  It whirls about for want of force,

  And in its narrow circle gathers

  Nothing but chaff, and straws, and feathers:

  The current of a female mind

  Stops thus, and turns with every wind;

  Thus whirling round, together draws

  Fools, fops, and rakes, for chaff and straws.

  Hence we conclude, no women's hearts

  Are won by virtue, wit, and parts;

  Nor are the men of sense to blame

  For breasts incapable of flame:

  The fault must on the nymphs be placed,

  Grown so corrupted in their taste.

  The pleader having spoke his best,

  Had witness ready to attest,

  Who fairly could on oath depose,

  When questions on the fact arose,

  That every article was true;


  Therefore he humbly would insist,

  The bill might be with costs dismissed.

  The cause appeared of so much weight,

  That Venus from the judgment-seat

  Desired them not to talk so loud,

  Else she must interpose a cloud:

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  For if the heavenly folk should know

  These pleadings in the Courts below,

  That mortals here disdain to love,

  She ne'er could show her face above.

  For gods, their betters, are too wise

  To value that which men despise.

  "And then," said she, "my son and


  Must stroll in air 'twixt earth and sky:

  Or else, shut out from heaven and earth,

  Fly to the sea, my place of birth;

  There live with daggled mermaids pent,

  And keep on fish perpetual Lent.


  But since the case appeared so nice,

  She thought it best to take advice.

  The Muses, by their king's permission,

  Though foes to love, attend the session,

  And on the right hand took their places

  In order; on the left, the Graces:

  To whom she might her doubts propose

  On all emergencies that rose.

  The Muses oft were seen to frown;

  The Graces half ashamed look down;

  And 'twas observed, there were but few

  Of either sex, among the crew,

  Whom she or her assessors knew.

  The goddess soon began to see

  Things were not ripe for a decree,

  And said she must consult her books,

  The lovers' Fletas, Bractons, Cokes.

  First to a dapper clerk she beckoned,

  To turn to Ovid, book the second;

  She then referred them to a place

  In Virgil (VIDE Dido's case)


  As for Tibullus's reports,

  They never passed for law in Courts:

  For Cowley's brief, and pleas of Waller,

  Still their authority is smaller.

  There was on both sides much to say;

  She'd hear the cause another day;

  And so she did, and then a third,

  She heard it - there she kept her word;

  But with rejoinders and replies,

  Long bills, and answers, stuffed with lies

  Demur, imparlance, and essoign,

  The parties ne'er could issue join:

  For sixteen years the cause was spun,

  And then stood where it first begun.

  Now, gentle Clio, sing or say,

  What Venus meant by this delay.

  The goddess, much perplexed in mind,

  To see her empire thus declined,

  When first this grand debate arose

  Above her wisdom to compose,

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  Conceived a project in her head,

  To work her ends; which, if it sped,

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