Swift's Peculiarity Of Humor





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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