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Britain as I did Ireland, with an absolute sway, while I talked of nothing but liberty, property, and so forth.
Addison. You governed the mob of Ireland; but I never heard that you governed the kingdom. A nation and a mob are different things.
Swift. Aye; so you fellows that have no genius for politics may suppose. But there are times when, by putting himself at the head of the mob, an able man may get to the head of the nation. Nay, there are times when the nation itself is a mob, and may be treated as such by a skilful observer.
Addison. I do not deny the truth of your axiom; but is there no danger, that, from the vicissitudes of human affairs, the favourite of the mob should be mobbed in his turn?
Swift. Sometimes there may; but I risked it, and it answered my purpose. Ask the lords lieutenants, who were forced to pay court to me instead of my courting them, whether they did not feel my superiority. And if I could make myself so considerable when I was only a dirty dean of St. Patrick's without a seat in either house of parliament, what should I have done if fortune had placed me in England, anincumbered with a gown, and in a situation to make myself heard in the house of lords or of commons?
Addison. You would doubtless have done very marvellous acts! perhaps you might have then been as zealous a whig as Lord Wharton himself: or if the whigs had offended the statesman, as they unhappily did the doctor, who knows but you might have brought in the Pretender? pray let me ask you one question between you and me if you had been first minister under that prince, would you have tolerated the Protestant religion, or not?
Swift. Ha! Mr. Secretary, are you witty upon me; do you think, because Sunderland took a fancy to make you a great man in the state, that he could also make you as great in wit as nature made me ? No, no; wit is like grace, it must come from above.
Mercury. Do not be discouraged, friend Addison. Apollo perhaps would have given a different judg ment. I am a wit, and a rogue, and a foe to all dignity. Swift and I naturally like one another: he worships me more than Jupiter, and I honour him more than Homer: but yet I assure you, I have a great value for you.-Sir Roger de Coverly, Will Honeycomb, Will Wimble, the country gentleman in the Freeholder, and twenty more characters. drawn with the finest strokes of natural wit and humour in your excellent writings, seat you very high in the class of my authors, though not quite so high as the dean of St. Patrick. Perhaps you might have come nearer to him, if the decency of your nature and cau tiousness of your judgment would have given you leave. But if in the spirit of his wit he has the advan tage, how much does he yield to you in all the polite and elegant graces; in the fine touches of delicate sentiment; in unfolding the secret springs of the soul; i in shewing all the mild lights and shades of a character; in marking distinctly every line, and every soft gradation of tints which would escape the common eye! who ever painted like you the beautiful parts of human nature, and brought them out from under the shade even of the greatest simplicity, or the most ridiculous weaknesses; so that we are forced to admire, and feel that we venerate, even while we are laughing? Swift could do nothing that approaches to this. He could draw an ill face very well, or caricature a good one with a masterly hand: but there was all his power; and, if I am to speak as a god, a worthless power it is. Yours is divine: it tends to improve and exalt human nature.
Swift. Pray, good Mercury, (if I may have leave to say a word for myself) do you think that my talent was of no use to correct human nature? Is whipping of no use to mend naughty boys?
Mercury. Men are not so patient of whipping as boys, and I seldom have known a rough satirist mend them. But I will allow that you have done some
good in that way, though not half so much as Addison did in his. And now you are here, if Pluto and Proserpine would take my advice, they should dispose of you both in this manner :-When any hero
comes hither from earth, who wants to be humbled, (as most heroes do) they should set Swift upon him to bring him down. The same good office he may frequently do to a saint swoln too much with the wind of spiritual pride, or to a philosopher, vain of his wisdom and virtue. He will soon shew the first that he cannot be holy without being humble; and the last, that, with all his boasted morality, he is but a better kind of Yahoo. I would have him also apply his anticosmetic wash to the painted face of female vanity, and his rod, which draws blood at every stroke, to the hard back of indolent folly or petulent wit. But you Mr. Addison, should be employed to comfort and raise the spirits of those whose good and noble souls are dejected with a sense of some infirmities in their nature. To them you should hold your fair and charitable mirror, which would bring to their sight all their hidden perfections, cast over the rest a softening shade, and put them in a temper fit for ElysiumAdieu: I must now return to my business above.
Enter JOB THORNBERRY (in a night gown) and BUR.
Bur. Don't take on so-don't you, now pray, lis
ten to reason.
Job. I won't
Bur. Pray, do.
Job. I won't. Reason bid me love my child, and help my friend what's the consequence? my friend has run one way, and broke up my trade; my daughter has run another, and broke my. No she shall
never have it to say she broke my heart. If I hang myself for grief, she sha'nt know she made me.
Bur. Well, but, master
Job. And reason told me to take you into my shop when the fat church-wardens starved you at the workhouse-hang their want of feeling for it ;-and you were thumped about, a poor unoffending, ragged rumped boy, as you were-I wonder you hav'n't run away from me, too.
Bur. That's the first real unkind word you ever said to me. I've sprinkled your shop two-and-twenty years, and never miss'd a morning.
Job. The bailiffs are below, clearing the goods ;you won't have the trouble any longer.
Bur. Trouble! look ye, old Job Thornberryfob. Well! What, are you going to be saucy to me, now I am ruined ?
Bur. Don't say one cutting thing after another. You have been as noted, all round our town, for being a kind man, as being a blunt one.
Job. Blunt or sharp, I've been honest. Let them look at my ledger-they'll find it right. I began upon a little: I made that little great, by industry; I never cringed to a customer, to get him into my books, that I might hamper him with an overcharged bill, for long credit; I earned my fair profits; I paid my way; I break by the treachery of a friend, and my first dividend will be seventeen shillings in the pound. I wish every tradesman may clap his hand on his heart, and say as much, when he asks a creditor to sign his certificate.
Bur. 'Twas I kept your ledger all the time.
Bur. From the time you took me out of the workhouse. Job. Psha! rot the work-house!
Bur. You never mentioned it to me, yourself, till to-day. Job. I said it in a hurry.
Bur. And I've always remembered it at leisure. I don't want to brag, but I hope I've been found faithful. It's rather hard to tell poor John Bur, the work-house