1740 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Anonymous, "On the Dean's Bonfire" General Evening Post (12 July 1740)



Dublin, June 5. Last Tuesday, being the Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, in 1690, when the Glorious King William of Immortal Memory defeated the late King James, and put his Army to flight, the same was observed all over this City, with the greatest Rejoicings ever known on this Occasion. The Rev. Dr. SWIFT, D.S.P.D. from his great Love of Liberty, had the largest Bonfire ever seen in this City, made of a thick Tree, about 40 Feet high, (which was erected near the Watch-house in St. Keven-street, as being the broadest and most open Part, to prevent the Flames reaching the Houses) with many Bars and Scaffolds, whereon were erected many Pitch and Tar Barrels: Round the Bottom of the Tree were large Quantities of Horse and other Animals Bones, covered with Furze, strowed over with Orange-colour'd Flowers, which made a beautiful Appearance. At Nine in the Evening the Fire was lighted, which appeared like a burning Pyramid. The Dean gave a handsome Sum to the Populace, to drink to the Glorious and Immortal Memory of King William, who rescued these Kingdoms from Slavery and Arbitrary Power, which was drank with great Chearfulness by all the People present, whose Number was very great; and the Night concluded with the greatest Demonstrations of Joy, and Expressions of Loyalty.

There were also Bonfires in all Parts of the City, particularly thirty-six in High-street only; and yet notwithstanding these unexampled Rejoicings, there was not the least Mischief done.

Capt. Latouche, and Nine Officers who had been at that Battle, and whose Ages made up above 750 Years celebrated the Day with great Rejoicings.

ON THE DEAN'S BONFIRE, &c.
The fickle Vulgar prostitute Applause,
As Passion prompts, unconscious of the Cause,
To Vice and Virtue equal Rites perform,
Led by the Motions of a sudden Storm.
By Cato warm'd they kindle to be free,
Or, sooth'd by Julius, bend the willing Knee;
Now joy with Brutus o'er the Tyrant's Doom,
Then weep with Anthony upon his Tomb.
Their Acclamations are in Truth a Jest,
Or but a blind Idolatry at best.

But when the Wise and Virtuous add their Voice,
It gives a Sanction to the publick Choice:
By Words or Signs their Approbations raise
Supplies, to feed the Hero's growing Praise.
This perishable Pile, bestow'd by SWIFT
To NASSAU'S Honour, is a greater Gift,
Than if a Senate its Decree should pass,
To bid him breathe in animated Brass.
No sordid Views the Breast of SWIFT could move,
And well might he the Godlike Man approve;
Well HE, who taught a Nation to be free,
Applaud that Hero, who had rescu'd Three.