1739 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Anonymous, "To Mr. Gulliver" The Craftsman (3 February 1739).



Industrious Gulliver! our thanks receive.
Your vary'd treats our appetites relieve;
Tir'd with the crambe of our own Debates,
You send us notices from foreign States;
What Lilliputian senators decree,
Oh! cou'd the High-heels and the Low agree!
Here gen'rous Fortitude for War declares,
There palefac'd Fear replies, "Begin who dares:
Touch but th' Iberi, and Blefuscu swears,
She'll come and crop the Remnant of your ears;
Cut all your throats, while standing armies sleep,
And sink your spot into the hoary deep."
Now the majority began to quake,
And felt, or seem'd to feel, the island shake;
Each senator in red sheaths up his blade,
And, self-denying, votes against his trade:
The Grand Vizir harangues, an artful wight,
Batt'ning in peace, and grown too fat to fight.
Pulnub the force of Lilliput displays,
And spreads her flag, once mistress of the seas;
Glows with resentment of his nation's harms,
And bids each patriot voice cry out, To Arms;
War was the word, till yellow dust around,
Strew'd by a peaceful fiscal, chang'd the sound.

So, when the watchful bees (as Virgil sings)
On Battle bent, protrude their warlike stings;
Some dust, in handfuls, sprinkled thro the air,
Deadens the fury, and concludes the War.

Prosper, O Gulliver; and shou'd some sage
Of Lilliput, forbid thy monthly page,
To other fairy hands thy scene remove,
Tell how they fight, or rather how they love;
Shou'd Lilliputian Fleets attempt in vain,
Let Brobdingnaggian squadrons humble Spain;
Or that your politicks we ne'er may lose,
Say, how the wiser Houyhnhnms rule Yahoos.

Thus, when Alcides, of superior might,
Attack'd Achelous in unequal fight,
And though to sink him down in endless night,
To Protean arts, his rescu'd life he ow'd,
Now roar'd a bull, and now a river flow'd;
By change of form eluded all his foes,
And in another shape unconquer'd rose.