Friend Sheridan, when will you know your own good?
’Twas to teach you in modester language your duty;
For, were you a dog, I could not be rude t’ye; As a good quiet soul, who no mischief intends To a quarrelsome fellow, cries, Let us be friends. But we like Antaeus and Hercules fight, The oftener you fall, the oftener you write: And I’ll use you as he did that overgrown clown, I’ll first take you up, and then take you down; And, ’tis your own case, for you never can wound The worst dunce in your school, till he’s heaved from the ground.
I beg your pardon for using my left hand, but I was in great haste, and the other hand was employed at the same time in writing some letters of business. September 20, 1718.—I will send you the rest when I have leisure: but pray come to dinner with the company you met here last.
[Footnote 1: The humour of this poem is partly lost, by the impossibility of printing it left-handed as it was written.—H.]
[Footnote 2: Bishop of Bangor. For an account of him, see “Prose Works,” v, 326.—W. E. B.]
[Footnote 3: Frequently mentioned by Swift in the Journal to Stella, “Prose Works,” ii, especially p. 404.—W. E. B.]
TO THE DEAN OF ST. PATRICK’S IN ANSWER TO HIS LEFT-HANDED LETTER
Since your poetic prancer is turn’d into Cancer,
I’ll tell you at once, sir, I’m now not your man, sir;
For pray, sir, what pleasure in fighting is found
With a coward, who studies to traverse his ground?
When I drew forth my pen, with your pen you ran back;
But I found out the way to your den by its track:
From thence the black monster I drew, o’ my conscience,
And so brought to light what before was stark nonsense.
When I with my right hand did stoutly pursue,
You turn’d to your left, and you writ like a Jew;
Which, good Mister Dean, I can’t think so fair,
Therefore turn about to the right, as you were;
Then if with true courage your ground you maintain,
My fame is immortal, when Jonathan’s slain:
Who’s greater by far than great Alexander,
As much as a teal surpasses a gander;
As much as a game-cock’s excell’d by a sparrow;
As much as a coach is below a wheelbarrow:
As much and much more as the most handsome man
Of all the whole world is exceeded by Dan.
This was written with that hand which in others is commonly called the left hand.
Oft have I been by poets told,
That, poor Jonathan, thou grow’st old.
Alas, thy numbers failing all,
Poor Jonathan, how they do fall!
Thy rhymes, which whilom made thy pride swell,
Now jingle like a rusty bridle:
Thy verse, which ran both smooth and sweet,
Now limp upon their gouty feet:
Thy thoughts, which were the true sublime,
Are humbled by the tyrant, Time: