Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

The Famous Speech-Maker Of England Or Baron (Alias Barren) Lovel’s Charge At The Assizes At Exon, April 5, 1710 - Poem by Jonathan Swift

From London to Exon,
By special direction,
Came down the world's wonder,
Sir Salathiel Blunder,
With a quoif on his head
As heavy as lead;
And thus opened and said:

Gentlemen of the Grand Inquest,

Her majesty, mark it,
Appointed this circuit
For me and my brother,
Before any other;
To execute laws,
As you may suppose,
Upon such as offenders have been.
So then, not to scatter
More words on the matter,
We're beginning just now to begin.
But hold—first and foremost, I must enter a clause,
As touching and concerning our excellent laws;
Which here I aver,
Are better by far
Than them all put together abroad and beyond sea;
For I ne'er read the like, nor e'er shall, I fancy
The laws of our land
Don't abet, but withstand,
Inquisition and thrall,
And whatever may gall,
And fire withal;
And sword that devours
Wherever it scowers:
They preserve liberty and property, for which men pull and haul so,
And they are made for the support of good government also.
Her majesty, knowing
The best way of going
To work for the weal of the nation,
Builds on that rock,
Which all storms will mock,
Since Religion is made the foundation.
And, I tell you to boot, she
Resolves resolutely,
No promotion to give
To the best man alive,
In church or in state,
(I'm an instance of that,)
But only to such of a good reputation
For temper, morality, and moderation.
Fire! fire! a wild-fire,
Which greatly disturbs the queen's peace
Lies running about;
And if you don't put it out,
( That's positive) will increase:
And any may spy,
With half of an eye,
That it comes from our priests and Papistical fry.
Ye have one of these fellows,
With fiery bellows,
Come hither to blow and to puff here;
Who having been toss'd
From pillar to post,
At last vents his rascally stuff here:
Which to such as are honest must sound very oddly,
When they ought to preach nothing but what's very godly;
As here from this place we charge you to do,
As ye'll answer to man, besides ye know who.
Ye have a Diocesan,—
But I don't know the man;—
The man's a good liver,
They tell me, however,
And fiery never!
Now, ye under-pullers,
That wear such black colours,
How well would it look,
If his measures ye took,
Thus for head and for rump
Together to jump;
For there's none deserve places,
I speak't to their faces,
But men of such graces,
And I hope he will never prefer any asses;
Especially when I'm so confident on't,
For reasons of state, that her majesty won't
Know, I myself I
Was present and by,
At the great trial, where there was a great company,
Of a turbulent preacher, who, cursedly hot,
Turn'd the fifth of November, even the gun-powder plot,
Into impudent railing, and the devil knows what:
Exclaiming like fury—it was at Paul's, London—
How church was in danger, and like to be undone,
And so gave the lie to gracious Queen Anne;
And, which is far worse, to our parliament-men:
And then printed a book,
Into which men did look:
True, he made a good text;
But what follow'd next
Was nought but a dunghill of sordid abuses,
Instead of sound doctrine, with proofs to't, and uses.
It was high time of day
That such inflammation
should be extinguish'd without more delay:
But there was no engine could possibly do't,
Till the commons play'd theirs, and so quite put it out.
So the man was tried for't,
Before highest court:
Now it's plain to be seen,
It's his principles I mean,
Where they suffer'd this noisy and his lawyers to bellow:
Which over, the blade
A poor punishment had
For that racket he made.
By which ye may know
They thought as I do,
That he is but at best an inconsiderable fellow.
Upon this I find here,
And everywhere,
That the country rides rusty, and is all out of gear:
And for what?
May I not
In opinion vary,
And think the contrary,
But it must create
Unfriendly debate,
And disunion straight;
When no reason in nature
Can be given of the matter,
Any more than for shapes or for different stature?
If you love your dear selves, your religion or queen,
Ye ought in good manners to be peaceable men:
For nothing disgusts her
Like making a bluster:
And your making this riot,
Is what she could cry at,
Since all her concern's for our welfare and quiet.
I would ask any man
Of them all that maintain
Their passive obedience
With such mighty vehemence,
That damn'd doctrine, I trow!
What he means by it, ho',
To trump it up now?
Or to tell me in short,
What need there is for't?
Ye may say, I am hot;
I say I am not;
Only warm, as the subject on which I am got.
There are those alive yet,
If they do not forget,
May remember what mischiefs it did church and state:
Or at least must have heard
The deplorable calamities
It drew upon families,
About sixty years ago and upward.
And now, do ye see,
Whoever they be,
That make such an oration
In our Protestant nation,
As though church was all on a fire,—
With whatever cloak
They may cover their talk,
And wheedle the folk,
That the oaths they have took,
As our governors strictly require;—
I say they are men—(and I'm a judge, ye all know,)
That would our most excellent laws overthrow;
For the greater part of them to church never go;
Or, what's much the same, it by very great chance is,
If e'er they partake of her wise ordinances.
Their aim is, no doubt,
Were they made to speak out,
To pluck down the queen, that they make all this rout;
And to set up, moreover,
A bastardly brother;
Or at least to prevent the House of Hanover.
Ye gentlemen of the jury,
What means all this fury,
Of which I'm inform'd by good hands, I assure ye;
This insulting of persons by blows and rude speeches,
And breaking of windows, which, you know, maketh breaches?
Ye ought to resent it,
And in duty present it,
For the law is against it;
Not only the actors engaged in this job,
But those that encourage and set on the mob:
The mob, a paw word, and which I ne'er mention,
But must in this place, for the sake of distinction.
I hear that some bailiffs and some justices
Have strove what they could, all this rage to suppress;
And I hope many more
Will exert the like power,
Since none will, depend on't,
Get a jot of preferment.
But men of this kidney, as I told you before.—
I'll tell you a story: Once upon a time,
Some hot-headed fellows must needs take a whim,
And so were so weak
(Twas a mighty mistake)
To pull down and abuse
Bawdy-houses and stews;
Who, tried by the laws of the realm for high-treason,
Were hang'd, drawn, and quarter'd for that very reason.
When the time came about
For us all to set out,
We went to take leave of the queen;
Where were great men of worth,
Great heads and so forth,
The greatest that ever were seen:
And she gave us a large
And particular charge;—
Good part on't indeed
Is quite out of my head;—
But I remember she said,
We should recommend peace and good neighbourhood, wheresoever we came;
and so I do here;
For that every one, not only men and their wives,
Should do all that they can to lead peaceable lives;
And told us withal, that she fully expected
A special account how ye all stood affected;
When we've been at St. James's, you'll hear of the matter.
Again then I charge ye,
Ye men of the clergy,
That ye follow the track all
Of your own Bishop Blackall,
And preach, as ye should,
What's savoury and good;
And together all cling,
As it were, in a string;
Not falling out, quarrelling one with another,
Now we're treating with Monsieur,—that son of his mother.

Then proceeded on the common matters of the law; and concluded:

Once more, and no more, since few words are best,
I charge you all present, by way of request,
If ye honour, as I do,
Our dear royal widow,
Or have any compassion
For church or the nation;
And would live a long while
In continual smile,
And eat roast and boil,
And not be forgotten,
When ye are dead and rotten;
That ye would be quiet, and peaceably dwell,
And never fall out, but p—s all in a quill.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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