Swift's Behavior At Table

Swift's manner of entertaining his guests, and his behavior at table,

were curious. A frequent visitor thus described them: He placed himself

at the head of the table, and opposite to a great pier glass, so that he

could see whatever his servants did at the marble side-board behind his

chair. He was served entirely in plate, and with great elegance. The

beef being once over-roasted, he called for the cook-maid to take it

down stairs and do it less. The girl very innocently replied that she

could not. Why, what sort of a creature are you, exclaimed he, to

commit a fault which cannot be mended? Then, turning to one that sate

next to him, he said very gravely, that he hoped, as the cook was a

woman of genius, he should, by this manner of arguing, be able, in about

a year's time, to convince her she had better send up the meat too

little than too much done: at the same time he charged the men-servants,

that whenever they thought the meat was ready, to take it up, spit and

all, and bring it up by force, promising to assist them in case the cook

resisted. Another time the Dean turning his eye towards the

looking-glass, espied the butler opening a bottle of ale, and helping

himself. Ha, friend, said the Dean, sharp is the word with you, I

find: you have drunk my ale, for which I stop two shillings out of your

board wages this week, for I scorn to be outdone in any thing, even in


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