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ODE TO KING WILLIAM,
ON HIS SUCCESSES IN IRELAND.
[The recovery of this Ode was owing to the exertions of Mr Ni.
chol. (See his Select Collection of Poems, 1778.) In its structure of verse, and turn of thought, there is an obvious imitation of Dryden's Eulogy upon Oliver Cromwell. This, among other circumstances, shows, that the taste of Swift's youth was formed not upon the better compositions of the end of the seventeenth century, but upon those which had been fa. shionable in the beginning of Charles II.'s reign. This he probably owed to his residence with Temple.]
To purchase kingdoms and to buy renown,
Are arts peculiar to dissembling France; You, mighty monarch, nobler actions crown,
And solid virtue does your name advance.
Your matchless courage with your prudence joins,
The glorious structure of your fame to raise ; With its own light your dazzling glory shines,
And into adoration turns our praise.
Had you by dull succession gain'd your crown
(Cowards are monarchs by thát title made,) Part of your merit Chance would call her own,
And half your virtues had been lost in shade.
But now your worth its just rewards shall have :
What trophies and what triumphs are your due! Who could so well a dying nation save,
At once deserve a crown, and gain it too!
You saw how near we were to ruin brought,
You saw th' impetuous torrent rolling on; And timely on the coming danger thought,
Which we could neither obviate nor shun.
Britannia stripp'd of her sole guard, the laws, · Ready to fall Rome's bloody sacrifice; You straight stepp'd in, and from the monster's jaws
Did bravely snatch the lovely, helpless prize.
Nor this is all; as glorious is the care
To preserve conquests, as at first to gain : In this your virtue claims a double share,
Which, what is bravely won, does well maintain.
Your arm has now your rightful title show'd,
An arm on which all Europe's hopes depend, To which they look as to some guardian God,
That must their doubtful liberty defend.
Amaz'd, thy action at the Boyne we see!
When Schomberg started at the vast design: The boundless glory all redounds to thee,
Th'impulse, the fight, th'event, were wholly thine.
The brave attempt does all our foes disarm;
You need but now give orders and command, Your name shall the remaining work pectorm,
And spare the labour of your conquering hand.
France does in vain her feeble arts apply,
To interrupt the fortune of your course : Your influence does the vain attacks defy
Of secret malice, or of open force.
Boldly we hence the brave commencement date
Of glorious deeds, that must all tongues employ ; William's the pledge and earnest given by fate,
Of England's glory, and her lasting joy.
ODE TO THE ATHENIAN SOCIETY. *
Moor Park, Feb. 14, 1691.
[The noted John Dunton, an author and bookseller, who often
afterwards encountered the edge of Swift's ridicule, about the year 1690-1, set forth a literary plan, or project, as he called it, for an association of wits, to be entitled, The Athenian So. ciety. According to his own account, the body, thus formed, was only second to the Royal Society, which led him justly to express his admiration, why the great Sprat did not oblige the age with a second best history of the second best institution for the promotion of learning and removing epidemic igno. rance.” If the knowledge of this second best institution was at all inferior to that of their great prototype, their readiness of communication made some amends; for they proposed not only to answer curious queries in divinity, physic, law, phi
*" I have been told, that Dryden having perused these verses, said, Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet ;' and that this denunciation was the motive of Swift's perpetual malevolence to Dryden."-Jounson.
losophy, history, poetry, mathematics, trade, and all other questions proposed by either sex, or in any language, but also to give a complete review of all new publications ; and, in case they were favoured with the communication of any curious experiment, to insert it in their Mercury, with a demonstration which the sender could not adhibit to it. This pro. mising annunciation instantly produced a volley of queries, some grave, some gay, some in trockery, and some in sad ear. nest; all which the society answered in their Weekly Mercua ries, with more learning, and with as much dulness as might have been expected from their assurance. The Athenian Mer. curies extended at length to twenty volumes, from which were selected three octavo volumes, 1706, and a supplement in 1710, entitled the Athenian Oracle, and professing to contain an entire collection of what was valuable in the publications of
the society. That Swift should have looked up with admiration to this c 0.
racle, this wooden God,” can only be pardoned by those who have known in what extraordinary and disproportionate respect an author who has attained, however unworthily, the attention of the public, is regarded by a young man whose in. stinctive talents for literature lead him to estimate the labours of such a person, less by their intrinsic merit, than by their having attained the reward of public notice, to which his own secret feelings induce him to aspire. It cannot, however, be disguised, that Swift, though he might regret having offered in. cense at so unworthy a shrine, had no cause to lament the va. lue of the tribute. In point of poetical merit, the Athenian Society did not merit a more valuable eulogy than the following ode; and assuredly it does not exceed even their déserts.]
That mighty ebb never to flow again,
It quite o'ercame the vital heat;
To bless the primitive sailor's weary sight!
It be as great as 'tis in fame,
And nigh to Heaven as is its name;
At the first ebb of noise and fear,
And now a laurel wreath she brings from far,
To shew the flood begins to cease,
When the bright sun of peace began to shine,
On the high top of peaceful Ararat :
The first of plants after the thunder-storm and rain)
And thence, with joyful nimble wing,
Flew dutifully back again,
And the Dove-Muse is filed once more,
No sooner did she land
* The Ode l writ to the king in Ireland. --SWIFT.-See this in p. 21.