1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Matthew Concanen

Anonymous, "Anecdote of Dean Swift" General Evening Post (22 March 1788).



It has not been remarked by any of his historians, but the Dean entertained a most violent hatred to the memory of William the Third; which he often expressed in very bitter terms when in the company of his intimates. He was accustomed to style that Monarch a "bloody and remorseless tyrant," and would commonly add, that "so far from this country deriving any benefit from him, he and his favourites only were the gainers."

Swift dined one day with several friends of both parties in Crow-street, when the conversation turned upon a paraphrase Concannon had lately made of Prior's celebrated epitaph. It was a follows:

Hold MATTHEW PRIOR, by your leave,
Your epitaph is somewhat odd;
BOURBON and you were sons of Eve,
NASSAU the offspring of a God.

The Dean, shaking his head, said, "Let us see whether a man who is neither a fool nor a parasite cannot write four lines that will sound as well as those;" and taking Doctor Sheridan's pencil wrote the following:

Hold friend CONCANNON, by your leave,
Your paraphrase is rather civil;
BOURBON and MAT were sons of EVE,
NASSAU the offspring of a DEVIL.