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MEDITATION ON A BROOMSTICK.
the talent of debasing and defiling what he hated WE join with all the world in thinking the Dean of St. Patrick without a rival !” As a specimen of his genius, take his far-famed
Meditation on a BROOMSTICK!
“ This single stick, which you now behold ingloriously lying in that neglected corner, I once knew flourishing in a forest; it was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs! But, now, in vain does the busy art of man pretend to vie with Nature, by tying that withered bundle of twigs to its sapless trunk; it is now, at best, but the reverse of what it was-a tree turned upside down-the branches on the earth, and the root in the air! It is now handled by every dirty wench, condemned to do her drudgery, and, by a capricious kind of fate, destined to make other things clean, and be nasty itself! At length, worn to the stumps in the service of the maids, it is either thrown out of doors, or condemned to the last use of kindling a fire! When I beheld this, I sighed, and said within myself, · Mortal Man is a Broomstick !' Nature sent him into the world strong and lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the proper branches of a reasoning vegetable, till the axe of Intemperance has lopped off the green boughs, and left him a withered trunk: he then flies to art, and puts on a perriwig, valuing himself upon an unnatural bun,
MEDITATION ON A BROOMSTICK. 59 dle of hairs aH covered with powder, and that never grew on his head! But, now, should this our Broomstick pretend to enter the scene, proud of those birchen spoils it never bore, and all covered with dust, through the sweeping of the finest lady's chamber, we should be apt to ridicule and despise its vanity. Partial judges that we are of our own excellencies, and other men's defaults! But a Broomstick, perhaps, you will say, is an emblem of a tree standing on its head; and, pray, what is Man but a topsy-turvy creature, his animal perpetually mounted on his rational facul. ties-his head where his heels should be--grovelling on the earth; and yet, with all his faults, he sets up to be an universal reformer and corrector of abuses, as well as remover of grievances ; till, worn to the stumps, like his brother besom, he is either kicked out of doors, or made use of to kindle flames for others to warm themselves by!"
SWIFT, remarks Dr. Warton, was always reading lectures of economy, upon which he valued himself, to his poetical friends. A SHILLING, says he, is a serious thing. His favourite maxim was, Have money in your head, but not in your heart. Hence Pope addresses him, in his Satires
What's property? dear Swift! you see it alters
Indeed, Pope used to tell the following queer story : “ Dr. Swift has an odd blunt way that is mistaker'
DEAN SWIFT'S ODDITY.
by strangers for ill-nature; it is so odd, that there is no describing it but by facts. I'll tell you one, the first that comes into my head. One evening, Gay and I went to see him. On our arriving, Hey-day! gentlemen (says the Dean), what can be the meaning of this visit? How came you to leave all the great Lords you are so fond of, to come hither to see a poor and crazy Deun?' Because we would rather see you than any of them.' 'Aye, any one that did not know you so well as I do, might possibly believe you; but, since you are come, I must get some supper for
you, I suppose. No, Doctor; we have supped already.' Supped already! that's impossible; why, it is not eight o'clock.' 'Indeed, we have.' That's very strange ; but if you had not supped, I must have got something for
you. Let me see : a couple of lobsters would have done very well-two shillings-tarts, a shilling. But you will drink a glass of wine with me, though you supped so much before your time, only to spare my pocket!' 'No; we had rather talk with you than drink with you.' • But if you had supped with me, as in all reason you ought to have done, you must then have drank with me a bottle of wine-two shillings—two and two are four, and one is fivejust two and sixpence a-piece! There, Pope, there's half-acrown for you; and there's another for you, Sir; for I won't save any thing by you, I am determined.' This was all said and done with his usual seriousness on such occasions; and, in spite of every thing we
could say to the contrary, he actually obliged us to take the money!"
Oliver Goldsmith gives us, likewise, a curious anecdote of this strangest of all strange mortals :—"A party once agreed to walk down to the house of a nobleman, twelve miles from town. As every one agreed to make the best of his way, Swift, aho was remarkable for walking, soon left the rest behind him, fully resolved, upon his arrival, to choose the very best bed for himself, for that was his custom! In the mean time, Parnell was determined to prevent his intentions; and, taking horse, arrived at the nobleman's house, another way, long before him. Having apprised his Lordship of Swift's design, it was resolved, at any rate, to keep him out of the house; but how to effect this was the question. Swift never had the small-pox, and was very much afraid of catching it. As soon, therefore, as he appeared, stridmg along at some distance from the house, one of his Lordship's servants was dispatched to inform him that the small-pox was then making great ravages in the family; but that there was a summer-house, with a field-bed, at his service, at the end of the garden! There the disappointed Dean was obliged to retire, and take a cold supper, that was sent out to him, while the rest were feasting within. However, at last, they took compassion on him; and, upon his promising never to choose the best bed again, they permitted him to make one of the company.”
As a speciinen of Dean Swift's Poetry take the following:
True and faithful Inventory of the goods belonging to Dr. Swift. Vicar of Laracor,
upon bis lending his house to the Bishop of Meath, till his palace was rebuilt.
An oaken broken elbow chair,
Why not—as well as Dr. SWIFT?