1734 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

John Sican, T. C. D., "A Poem sent to the Rev. Dr. Swift, on his Birth-Day, with Pine's Horace, in Turkey Leather, very finely bound and gilt" Daily Journal (21 December 1734).



HORACE SUPPOSED TO SPEAK.
You've read, Sir, in Poetic Strain,
How Varus and the Mantuan Swain
Have on my Birth-Day been invited,
(But I was forced in Verse to write it.)
Upon a plain Repast to dine,
And taste my old Campanian Wine.
But I who all Punctilios hate,
(Tho' long familiar with the Great)
Nor glory in my Reputation,
Am come without an Invitation.
And tho' I'm us'd to right Falernian,
I'll deign for once to taste Iernian.
But fearing that you might dispute,
(Had I put on a common Suit)
My Breeding, and my Politesse,
I visit in a Birth-Day Dress,
My Coat of purest Turkey red,
With Gold Embroid'ry richly spread,
To which I've sure as good Pretensions,
As Irish L—s who starve on Pensions.

What tho' proud Ministers of State,
Did at your Antichamber wait;
What tho' your Oxfords, and your St. Johns,
Have at your Levee paid Attendance;
And Peterborough, and great Ormond,
With many Chiefs who now are dormant,
Have laid aside the Gen'ral's Staff,
And public Cares, with you to laugh.
Yet I some Friends as good can name,
No less the darling Sons of Fame;
For sure my Pollio and Mecaenas,
Were as goo Statesmen, Mr. Dean, as
Either your Bolingbroke or Harley,
(Tho' they made Lewis beg a Parley.)
And as for Mordaunt your lov'd Hero,
I'll match him with my Drusus Nero.
You'll boast perhaps your Fav'rite Pope,
But Virgil is as good, I hope.
I own indeed I can't get any
To equal Helsham, and Delany,
Since Athens brought forth Socrates,
A Grecian Isle Hippocrates,
Since Tully liv'd before my Time,
And Galen bless'd another Clime.

You'll plead perhaps to my Request
To be admitted as a Guest,
Your Hearing's bad — but why such Fears;
I speak to Eyes, and not to Ears.
And for that Reason wisely took
The Form you see me in — a Book.

Attack'd by slow devouring Moths,
By Rage of barb'rous Huns and Goths,
By Bentley's Notes, my deadliest Foes,
By Creech's Rhimes, and Dunster's Prose.
I found my boasted Wit and Fire
In their rude Hands almost expire;
Yet still they but in vain assail'd,
For had their Violence prevail'd,
And in a Blast destroy'd my Fame,
They would have partly miss'd their Aim;
Since all my Spirit in thy Page,
Defies the Vandals of this Age.
'Tis yours to save these small Remains,
From future Pedants muddy Brains,
And fix my long uncertain Fate;
You best know how — Which way? — Translate.