[Page 364]

V—'s HOUSE Built from the Ruins of White-Hall that was Burnt.

Written, 1703.

1 In Times of Old, when Time was Young,
2 And Poets their own Verses Sung,
3 A Verse could draw a Stone or Beam
4 That now would overload a Team;
5 Lead 'em a Dance of many a Mile,
6 Then rear 'em to a goodly Pile.
7 Each Number had it's diff'rent Pow'r;
8 Heroick Strains could build a Tow'r;
9 Sonnets, or Elogies to Chloris
10 Might raise a House about two Stories;
[Page 365]
11 A Lyrick Ode would Slate; a Catch
12 Would Tile; an Epigram would Thatch.
13 BUT, to their own, or Landlord's Cost,
14 Now Poets feel this Art is lost:
15 Not one of all our tuneful Throng
16 Can raise a Lodging for a Song.
17 For, Jove consider'd well the Case,
18 Observ'd, they grew a num'rous Race.
19 And should they Build as fast as Write,
20 'Twould ruin Undertakers quite.
21 This Evil, therefore to prevent,
22 He wisely chang'd their Element:
23 On Earth, the God of Wealth was made
24 Sole Patron of the Building Trade,
25 Leaving the Wits the Spacious Air
26 With Licence to build Castles there:
27 And 'tis conceiv'd, their old Pretence
28 To lodge in Garrats, comes from thence.
[Page 366]
29 PREMISING thus in Modern way
30 The better Half we had to say;
31 Sing Muse the House of Poet V—
32 In higher Strains than we began.
33 V— (for 'tis fit the Reader know it)
34 Is both a Herald and a Poet,
35 No wonder then, if nicely skill'd
36 In both Capacities, to Build.
37 As Herald, he can in a Day
38 Repair a House gone to Decay,
39 Or by Atchivement, Arms, Device,
40 Erect a new one in a trice.
41 And as a Poet, he has Skill
42 To build in Speculation still.
43 Great Jove, he cry'd, the Art restore
44 To build by Verse as heretofore,
45 And make my Muse the Architect;
46 What Palaces shall we erect!
[Page 367]
47 No longer shall forsaken Thames
48 Lament his old Whitehall in Flames,
49 A Pile shall from its Ashes rise
50 Fit to Invade or prop the Skies.
51 JOVE Smil'd, and like a gentle God,
52 Consenting with the usual Nod,
53 Told V— he knew his Talent best,
54 And left the Choice to his own Breast.
55 So V— resolv'd to write a Farce,
56 But well perceiving Wit was scarce,
57 With Cunning that Defect supplies,
58 Takes a French Play as lawful Prize,
59 Steals thence his Plot, and ev'ry Joke,
60 Not once suspecting, Jove would Smoak,
61 And, (like a Wag) sat down to Write,
62 Would whisper to himself; A Bite,
63 Then, from the motly mingled Style
64 Proceeded to erect his Pile:
[Page 368]
65 So, Men of old, to gain Renown, did
66 Build Babel with their Tongues confounded.
67 Jove saw the Cheat, but thought it best
68 To turn the Matter to a Jest;
69 Down from Olympus Top he Slides,
70 Laughing as if he'd butst his Sides:
71 Ay, thought the God, are these your Tricks?
72 Why then, old Plays deserve old Bricks,
73 And since you're sparing of your Stuff,
74 Your Building shall be small enough.
75 He spake, and grudging, lent his Ayd;
76 Th' experienc't Bricks that knew their Trade,
77 (As being Bricks at Second Hand,)
78 Now move, and now in Order Stand.
79 THE Building, as the Poet Writ,
80 Rose in proportion to his Wit:
81 And first the Prologue built a Wall
82 So wide as to encompass all.
[Page 369]
83 The Scene, a Wood, produc'd no more
84 Than a few Scrubby Trees before.
85 The Plot as yet lay deep, and so
86 A Cellar next was dug below:
87 But this a Work so hard was found,
88 Two Acts it cost him under Ground.
89 Two other Acts we may presume
90 Were spent in Building each a Room;
91 Thus far advanc't, he made a shift
92 To raise a Roof with Act the Fift.
93 The Epilogue behind, did frame
94 A Place not decent here to name.
95 NOW Poets from all Quarters ran
96 To see the House of Brother V—:
97 Lookt high and low, walkt often round,
98 But no such House was to be found;
99 One asks the Watermen hard by,
100 Where may the Poets Place ly?
[Page 370]
101 Another, of the Thames enquires,
102 If he has seen its gilded Spires.
103 At length they in the Rubbish spy
104 A Thing resembling a Goose Py,
105 Farther in haste the Poets throng,
106 And gaze in silent Wonder long,
107 Till one in Raptures thus began
108 To praise the Pile, and Builder V—.
109 THRICE happy Poet, who may trail
110 Thy House about thee like a Snail;
111 Or Harness'd to a Nag, at ease
112 Take Journies in it like a Chaise;
113 Or in a Boat when e're thou wilt
114 Canst make it serve thee for a Tilt.
115 Capacious House! 'tis own'd by all
116 Thou'rt well contriv'd, tho' thou art small;
117 For ev'ry Wit in Britain's Isle
118 May lodge within thy Spacious Pile.
119 Like Bacchus Thou, as Poets feign,
120 Thy Mother burnt, art Born again;
[Page 371]
121 Born like a Phoenix from the Flame,
122 But neither Bulk, nor Shape the same:
123 As Animals of largest Size
124 Corrupt to Maggots, Worms and Flyes.
125 A Type of Modern Wit and Style,
126 The Rubbish of an Antient Pile.
127 So Chymists boast they have a Pow'r
128 From the dead Ashes of a Flow'r
129 Some faint Resemblance to produce,
130 But not the Virtue, Tast or Juice.
131 So Modern Rimers wisely Blast
132 The Poetry of Ages past,
133 Which after they have overthrown,
134 They from its Ruins build their own.


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Title (in Source Edition): V—'s HOUSE Built from the Ruins of White-Hall that was Burnt. Written, 1703.
Themes: poetry; literature; writing; money; wealth

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Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745. Miscellanies in PROSE and VERSE [poems only]. London: printed for John Morphew, near Stationers Hall, 1711, pp. 364-371. [14],416p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T39454) (Page images digitized from microfilm of a copy in the English Faculty Library, Oxford [XL77.1[Mis]].)

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