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Swift's Queer Testimonial To His Servant

Irish Humour Home

Dean Swift, standing one morning at the window of his study, observed a
decent old woman offer a paper to one of his servants, which the fellow
at first refused in an insolent and surly manner. The woman however
pressed her suit with all the energy of distress, and in the end
prevailed. The dean, whose very soul was compassion, saw, felt, and was
determined to alleviate her misery. He waited most anxiously for the
servant to bring the paper; but to his surprise and indignation, an hour
elapsed, and the man did not present it. The dean again looked out. The
day was cold and wet, and the wretched petitioner still retained her
situation, with many an eloquent and anxious look at the house. The
benevolent divine lost all patience, and was going to ring the bell,
when he observed the servant cross the street, and return the paper with
the utmost sang froid and indifference. The dean could bear no longer;
he threw up the sash, and loudly demanded what the paper contained. It
is a petition, please your reverence, replied the woman. Bring it up,
rascal! cried the enraged dean. The servant, surprised and petrified,
obeyed. With Swift, to know distress was to pity it; to pity to relieve.
The poor woman was instantly made happy, and the servant almost as
instantly turned out of doors, with the following written testimonial of
his conduct. The bearer lived two years in my service, in which time he
was frequently drunk and negligent of his duty; which, conceiving him to
be honest, I excused; but at last detecting him in a flagrant instance
of cruelty, I discharge him. Such were the consequences of this paper,
that for seven years the fellow was an itinerant beggar; after which the
dean forgave him; and in consequence of another paper equally singular,
he was hired by Mr. Pope, with whom he lived till death removed him.

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