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Swift's Peculiarity Of Humor

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Trifles become of some consequence when connected with a great name, or
when they throw any light on a distinguished character. Spence thus
relates a story told by Pope: Dr. Swift had an odd blunt way that is
mistaken by strangers for ill nature. It is so odd that there is no
describing it but by facts. I'll tell you one that first comes into my
head. One evening Gay and I went to see him: you know how intimately we
were all acquainted. On our coming in, Hey-day, gentlemen (says the
Doctor), what's the meaning of this visit? How came you to leave all the
Lords that you are so fond of, to come here to see a poor Dean?
Because we would rather see you than any of them. Ay, any one that
did not know you so well as I do, might believe you. But since you are
come, I must get some supper for you, I suppose. No, Doctor, we have
supped already. Supped already, that's impossible! why it is not eight
o'clock yet. That's very strange! But, if you had not supped, I must
have got something for you. Let me see what should I have had? A couple
of lobsters; ay, that would have done very well; two shillings: tarts, a
shilling. But you will drink a glass of wine with me, though you supped
so much before your usual time only to spare my pocket. No, we had
rather talk with you than drink with you. But if you had supped with
me, as in all reason you ought to have done, you must then have drank
with me. A bottle of wine, two shillings--two and two is four, and one
is five; just two and sixpence a piece. There, Pope, there's
half-a-crown for you; and there's another for you, Sir; for I won't save
any thing by you, I am determined. This was all said and done with his
usual seriousness on such occasions; and in spite of every thing we
could say to the contrary, he actually obliged us to take the money.





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Previous: Public Absurdities In Ireland



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