03 January 2007

Poet invited to Gosford.

In view of the current ideas about encouraging creative industries as a strategy for regional development, it is interesting to note an early, but unsuccessful, attempt to lure a poet to Gosford by offering free land for a house.

The offer was made by Sir Arthur Acheson to Dean Jonathan Swift. (It was his son Archibald, 2nd Earl od Gosford, after whom the town of Gosford, NSW was named)

Gosford Castle.

In the poem The Dean's Reasons For not Building at Drapier's Hill (1730), “Swift finally renounces the idea of taking up permanent residence at Drapier's Hill: Sir Arthur seems to have become uncommunicative and miserly, no longer a suitable foil for his wit. We also have further confirmation of Swift's officious interference in the daily running of the household - perhaps this is the explanation of the coldness of Sir Arthur towards him now, and why he did not return to Gosford after 1730 - the last line of the poem suggests that Sir Arthur did not want him to.”

First and last verses:

I'LL not build on yonder mount:
And, should you call me to account,
Consulting with myself I find,
It was no levity of mind.
Whate'er I promised or intended,
No fault of mine, the scheme is ended:
Nor can you tax me as unsteady,
I have a hundred causes ready:
All risen since that flatt'ring time,
When Drapier's-hill appear'd in rhyme.


Those thankless and officious cares
I use to take in friends affairs,
From which I never could refrain,
And have been often chid in vain:
From these I am recover'd quite,
At least in what regards the Knight.
Preserve his health, his store increase;
May nothing interrupt his peace.
But now, let all his tenants round
First milk his cows, and after, pound:
Let ev'ry cottager conspire
To cut his hedges down for fire;
The naughty boys about the village
His crabs and sloes may freely pillage:
He still may keep a pack of knaves
To spoil his work, and work by halves:
His meadows may be dug by swine,
It shall be no concern of mine.
For, why should I continue still
To serve a friend against his will?

Full text of poem.

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