The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Virtues of Sid Hamet's Rod

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THE rod was but a harmless wand,
While Moses held it in his hand;
But, soon as e'er he laid it down,
'Twas a devouring serpent grown.
Our great magician, Hamet Sid,
Reverses what the prophet did:
His rod was honest English wood,
That senseless in a corner stood,
Till, metamorphos'd by his grasp,
It grew an all-devouring asp;
Would hiss, and sting, and roll, and twist,
By the mere virtue of his fist;
But, where he laid it down, as quick
Resum'd the figure of a stick.
So, to her midnight feasts, the hag
Rides on a broomstick for a nag,
That, rais'd by magick of her breech,
O'er sea and land conveys the witch;
But with the morning dawn resumes
The peaceful state of common brooms.
They tell us something strange and odd,
About a certain magick rod[1],
That bending down its top, divines
Whene'er the soil has golden mines;
Where there are none, it stands erect,
Scorning to show the least respect;
As ready was the wand of Sid,
To bend where golden mines were hid;
In Scottish hills found precious ore[2],
Where none e'er look'd for it before;
And by a gentle bow divin'd
How well a cully's purse was lin'd;
To a forlorn and broken rake,
Stood without motion, like a stake.
The rod of Hermes was renown'd
For charms above, and under ground;
To sleep could mortal eyelids fix,
And drive departed souls to Styx.
That rod was just a type of Sid's,
Which o'er a British senate's lids
Could scatter opium full as well,
And drive as many souls to Hell.
Sid's rod was slender, white, and tall,
Which oft he us'd to fish withal;
A place was fasten'd to the hook,
And many score of gudgeons took;
Yet still so happy was his fate,
He caught his fish, and sav'd his bait.
Sid's brethren of the conjuring tribe,
A circle with their rod describe,
Which proves a magical redoubt,
To keep mischievous spirits out.
Sid's rod was of a larger stride,
And made a circle thrice as wide,
Where spirits throng'd with hideous din,
And he stood there to take them in:
But, when th' enchanted rod was broke,
They vanish'd in a stinking smoke.
Achilles' sceptre was of wood,
Like Sid's, but nothing near so good;
That down from ancestors divine
Transmitted to the hero's line;
Thence, through a long descent of kings,
Came an heirloom, as Homer sings.
Though this description looks so big,
That sceptre was a sapless twig,
Which, from the fatal day, when first
It left the forest where 'twas nurs'd,
As Homer tells us o'er and o'er,
Nor leaf, nor fruit, nor blossom, bore.
Sid's sceptre, full of juice, did shoot
In golden boughs, and golden fruit;
And he, the dragon never sleeping,
Guarded each fair Hesperian pippin.
No hobby horse, with gorgeous top,
The dearest in Charles Mather's[3] shop,
Or glittering tinsel of May fair,
Could with this rod of Sid compare.
Dear Sid, then, why wert thou so mad
To break thy rod like naughty lad!
You should have kiss'd it in your distress,
And then return'd it to your mistress;
Or made it a Newmarket[4] switch,
And not a rod for thy own breech.
But since old Sid has broken this,
His next may be a rod in piss.

  1. The virgula divina, said to be attracted by minerals.
  2. Supposed to allude to the Union.
  3. An eminent toyman in Fleet street.
  4. Lord Godolphin is satirized by Mr. Pope for a strong attachment to the turf. See his Moral Essays.