1728 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Anonymous, "The Devil's Last Game: A Satire" Daily Journal (9 April 1728).



Said Old Nick, to St. Michael; You use me but ill,
To suppress all my Force, and restrain all my Skill:
Let me loose at Religion, I'll shew my Good Parts,
And try, if your Doctrine can balance my Arts.
'Tis a Match, cry'd the Angel, — and drew off his Guard,
And the Devil slipt from him, to play a Coat Card.

The first Help he sought, was a qualified Mind,
That had Compass, and Void, for the Use he design'd.
There occurr'd a Pure Nothing, a Stick of Church Timber,
Who had Stiffness of Will, but his Morals were limber:
To whom Wit serv'd for Reason, and Passion for Zeal,
Who had Teeth like a Viper, and Tail, like an Eel.
Whose Distaste was sincere, and whose Friendship Pretence,
Who supply'd Want of Merit, by Store of fine Sense.
Wore the Malice of Hell, with a Heavenly Grace,
Of Humour enchanting, and Easy of Face:
His Tongue flow'd with Honey, His Eyes flash'd Delight;
He despis'd what was wrong, and abus'd what was right:
Had a Knack to laugh luckily, never thought twice,
And, with Coarseness of Heart, had a Taste, that was nice.
Nature form'd him malignant, but, whetting him fast,
He was edg'd for Decay, and too brittle to last.
He wou'd quarrel with Vertue, because 'twas his Foe's,
And was hardly a Friend to the Vice, which he chose:
He cou'd love nothing grave, nothing pleasant forbear;
He was always in Jest, but was most so, in Prayer.

Lord be prais'd, quoth the Devil! — a Fig for all Grace!
So, He breath'd a new Brogue, o'er the Bronze of his Face:
Lent him Pride, above Hope, and Conceit above Spleen,
Slipt him into Church-Service, and call'd him a DEAN.