The Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers, by Jonathan Swift

An Elegy on the supposed Death of Partridge, the Almanack-Maker.

Well, ’tis as Bickerstaff has guess’d,

Tho’ we all took it for a jest;

Partridge is dead, nay more, he dy’d

E’re he could prove the good ’Squire ly’d.

Strange, an Astrologer shou’d die,

Without one Wonder in the Sky!

Not one of all his Crony Stars

To pay their Duty at his Herse?

No Meteor, no Eclipse appear’d?

No Comet with a flaming Beard?

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,

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 Cobbling1 and Astrology:

How Partridge made his Optics rise,

From a Shoe-Sole, to reach the Skies.

A List of Coblers Temples Ties,

To keep the Hair out of their Eyes;

From whence ’tis plain the Diadem

That Princes wear, derives from them.

And therefore Crowns are now-a-days

Adorn’d with Golden Stars and Rays,

Which plainly shews the near Alliance

’Twixt cobling and the Planets Science.

Besides, that slow-pac’d Sign Bootes,

As ’tis miscall’d, we know not who ’tis?

But Partridge ended all Disputes,

He knew his Trade, and call’d it 2Boots.

The Horned Moon, which heretofore

Upon their Shoes the Romans wore,

Whose Wideness kept their Toes from Corns,

And whence we claim our Shooing-Horns;

Shows how the Art of Cobling bears

A near Resemblance to the Spheres.

A Scrap of Parchment hung by Geometry

(A great Refinement in Barometry)

Can, like the Stars, foretel the Weather;

And what is Parchment else but Leather?

Which an Astrologer might use,

Either for Almanacks or Shoes.

Thus Partridge, by his Wit and Parts,

At once did practise both these Arts;

And as the boading Owl (or rather

The Bat, because her Wings are Leather)

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 fair,

To peep upon a twinkling Star.

Besides, he could confound the Spheres,

And set the Planets by the Ears;

To shew his Skill, he Mars could join

To Venus in Aspect Mali’n;

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,

And each Part took a diff’rent Side;

One rose a Star, the other fell

Beneath, and mended Shoes in Hell.

Thus Partridge still shines in each Art,

The Cobling and Star-gazing Part,

And is install’d as good a Star

As any of the Caesars are.

Triumphant Star! some Pity shew

On Coblers militant below,

Whom roguish Boys in stormy Nights

Torment, by pissing out their Lights;

Or thro’ a Chink convey their Smoke;

Inclos’d Artificers to choke.

Thou, high exalted in thy Sphere,

May’st follow still thy Calling there.

To thee the Bull will lend his hide,

By Phoebus newly tann’d and dry’d.

For thee they Argo’s Hulk will tax,

And scrape her pitchy Sides for Wax.

Then Ariadne kindly lends

Her braided Hair to make thee Ends.

The Point of Sagittarius’ Dart

Turns to an awl, by heav’nly Art;

And Vulcan, wheedled by his Wife,

Will forge for thee a Paring-Knife.

For want of Room, by Virgo’s Side,

She’ll strain a Point, and sit astride3,

To take thee kindly in between,

And then the Signs will be Thirteen.

1 Partridge was a Cobler.

2 See his Almanack

3 Tibi brachia contrahet ingens Scorpius, etc.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00