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Sion College

Anecdotes Home




Upon the recovery of George III. in 1789, the librarian and
others connected with Sion College were at a loss what device or motto to
select for the illumination of the building; when the following happy
choice was made by a worthy divine, from the book of Psalms; "_Sion_ heard
of it and was glad."


Dean Swift having preached an assize sermon in Ireland, was invited to dine
with the judges; and having in his sermon considered the use and abuse of
the law, he pressed somewhat hard upon those counsellors, who plead causes,
which they knew in their consciences to be wrong. When dinner was over, and
the glass began to go round, a young barrister retorted upon the dean; and
after several altercations, the counsellor asked him, "If the devil was to
die, whether a _parson_ might not be found, who, for money, would preach
his funeral?" "Yes," said Swift, "I would gladly be the man, and I would
then give the _devil_ his due, as I have this day done his _children_."


Swift disliked nothing so much as being troubled with applications from
authors to correct their works. A poor poet having written a very
indifferent tragedy, got himself introduced to the dean in order to have
his opinion of it; and in about a fortnight after, called at the deanery.
Swift returned the play, carefully folded up, telling him he had read it,
and taken some pains with it, and he believed the author would not find
above half the number of faults that it had when it came into his hands.
The poor author, after a thousand acknowledgments, retired in company with
the gentleman who had introduced him, and was so impatient to see the
corrections, that he stopped under the first gateway they came to, when to
his utter astonishment and confusion, he saw that the dean had taken the
pains to blot out every second line throughout the whole play, so carefully
as to render them quite illegible.


Lady Carteret, wife of the Lord Lieutenant, said to Swift one day, "The air
of Ireland is excellent and healthy." "For God's sake, madam," said Swift,
falling down before her, "don't say so in England, for if you do they will
tax it."


Dr Savage, who died in 1747, travelled in his younger days, with the Earl
of Salisbury, to whom he was indebted for a considerable living in
Hertfordshire. One day at the levee, the King (George I.) asked him how
long he had resided at Rome with Lord Salisbury. Upon his answering him how
long,--"Why," said the king, "you staid there long enough; how is it you
did not convert the pope?"--"Because, sir," replied the doctor, "I had
nothing better to offer him."





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