Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
A Grub Street Elegy
By Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
 
On the Supposed Death of Partridge the Almanack Maker, 1708

WELL; ’tis as Bickerstaff has guessed,
Though we all took it for a jest—
Partridge is dead; nay more, he died,
Ere he could prove the good ’squire lied.
Strange, an astrologer should die        5
Without one wonder in the sky;
Not one of all his crony stars
To pay their duty at his hearse!
No meteor, no eclipse appear’d!
No comet with a flaming beard!        10
The sun has rose and gone to bed,
Just as if Partridge were not dead;
Nor hid himself behind the moon
To make a dreadful night at noon.
He at fit periods walks through Aries,        15
Howe’er our earthly motion varies;
And twice a year he’ll cut th’ Equator,
As if there had been no such matter.
  Some wits have wonder’d what analogy
There is ’twixt cobbling and astrology;        20
How Partridge made his optics rise
From a shoe-sole to reach the skies.
  A list the cobbler’s temples ties,
To keep the hair out of his eyes;
From whence ’tis plain the diadem        25
That princes wear derives from them;
And therefore crowns are now-a-days
Adorn’d with golden stars and rays;
Which plainly shows the near alliance
’Twixt cobbling and the planet’s science.        30
  Besides, that slow-paced sign Bootes,
As ’tis miscalled, we know not who ’tis;
But Partridge ended all disputes;
He knew his trade, and called it Boots.
  The horned moon, which heretofore        35
Upon their shoes the Romans wore,
Whose wideness kept their toes from corns,
And whence we claim our shoeing-horns,
Shows how the art of cobbling bears
A near resemblance to the spheres.        40
A scrap of parchment hung by geometry,
(A great refiner in barometry,)
Can, like the stars, foretell the weather;
And what is parchment else but leather?
Which an astrologer might use        45
Either for almanacks or shoes.
  Thus Partridge, by his wits and parts
At once did practise both these arts;
And as the boding owl (or rather
The bat, because her wings are leather)        50
Steals from her private cell by night,
And flies about the candle-light;
So learned Partridge could as well
Creep in the dark from leathern cell,
And in his fancy fly as far        55
To peep upon a twinkling star.
  Besides, he could confound the spheres,
And set the planets by the ears;
To show his skill, he Mars could join
To Venus in aspect malign;        60
Then call in Mercury for aid,
And cure the wounds that Venus made.
  Great scholars have in Lucian read,
When Philip King of Greece was dead,
His soul and spirit did divide,        65
And each part took a different side;
One rose a star, the other fell
Beneath, and mended shoes in hell.
  Thus Partridge still shines in each art,
The cobbling and star-gazing part,        70
And is install’d as good a star
As any of the Cæsars are.
  Triumphant star! some pity show
On cobblers militant below,
Whom roguish boys, in stormy nights,        75
Torment by p———out their lights,
Or through a chink convey their smoke,
Enclosed artificers to choke.
  Thou, high exalted in thy sphere,
May’st follow still thy calling there.        80
To thee the Bull will lend his hide,
By Phœbus newly tanned and dried;
For thee thy Argo’s hulk will tax,
And scrape her pitchy sides for wax;
Then Ariadne kindly lends        85
Her braided hair to make thee ends;
The points of Sagittarius’ dart
Turns to an awl by heavenly art;
And Vulcan, wheedled by his wife,
Will forge for thee a paring-knife.        90
For want of room by Virgo’s side,
She’ll strain a point, and sit astride,
To take thee kindly in between;
And then the Signs will be Thirteen.
 
The Epitaph
Here, five feet deep, lies on his back
        95
A cobbler, starmonger, and quack;
Who to the stars, in pure good will,
Does to his best look upward still.
Weep, all you customers that use
His pills, his almanacks, or shoes;        100
And you that did your fortune’s seek,
Step to his grave but once a-week;
This earth, which bears his body’s print,
You’ll find has so much virtue in’t,
That I durst pawn my ears, ’twill tell        105
Whate’er concerns you full as well,
In physic, stolen goods, or love,
As he himself could, when above.
 
 
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