Polite Conversations "Rain Cats And Dogs"

Jonathan Swift

"Rain Cats And Dogs"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Swift's dialogues are his attempt to revive what he thought to be the dying art of conversation. He collected a large number of "polite expressions" which he thought suitable for genteel and fashionable society and worked them into dialogues. He believed, like Plato, that the dialogue is "the best way of inculcating any part of knowledge." His heroine, so to speak, is Miss Notable. Her masculine counterpart is Mr. Thomas Neverout. To these two people he has given choice lines, in the hope that they will serve as examples for "all young bachelors and single ladies to copy after." The setting of this dialogue is the home of Lady Smart, at the dinner-hour. Sir John Linger, a guest who had the misfortune to be born an outsider to "the circle of politeness," is preparing to leave the group:


LADY SMART
Well; but, Sir John, when may we hope to see you again in London?
SIR JOHN
Why, madam, not till the ducks have eat up the dirt; as the children say.
NEVEROUT
Come, Sir John; I foresee it will rain terribly.
LORD SMART
Come, Sir John, do nothing rashly; let us drink first.
LORD SPARKISH
I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs. . . .