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Full Online Book HomePoemsUpon The Horrid Plot
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Upon The Horrid Plot Post by :frontier Category :Poems Author :Jonathan Swift Date :August 2011 Read :1906

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Upon The Horrid Plot


I ask'd a Whig the other night,
How came this wicked plot to light?
He answer'd, that a dog of late
Inform'd a minister of state.
Said I, from thence I nothing know;
For are not all informers so?
A villain who his friend betrays,
We style him by no other phrase;
And so a perjured dog denotes
Porter, and Pendergast, and Oates,
And forty others I could name.
WHIG. But you must know this dog was lame.
TORY. A weighty argument indeed!
Your evidence was lame:--proceed:
Come, help your lame dog o'er the stile.
WHIG. Sir, you mistake me all this while:
I mean a dog (without a joke)
Can howl, and bark, but never spoke.
TORY. I'm still to seek, which dog you mean;
Whether cur Plunkett, or whelp Skean,(2)
An English or an Irish hound;
Or t'other puppy, that was drown'd;
Or Mason, that abandon'd bitch:
Then pray be free, and tell me which:
For every stander-by was marking,
That all the noise they made was barking.
You pay them well, the dogs have got
Their dogs-head in a porridge-pot:
And 'twas but just; for wise men say,
That every dog must have his day.
Dog Walpole laid a quart of nog on't,
He'd either make a hog or dog on't;
And look'd, since he has got his wish,
As if he had thrown down a dish,
Yet this I dare foretell you from it,
He'll soon return to his own vomit.
WHIG. Besides, this horrid plot was found
By Neynoe, after he was drown'd.
TORY. Why then the proverb is not right,
Since you can teach dead dogs to bite.
WHIG. I proved my proposition full:
But Jacobites are strangely dull.
Now, let me tell you plainly, sir,
Our witness is a real cur,
A dog of spirit for his years;
Has twice two legs, two hanging ears;
His name is Harlequin, I wot,
And that's a name in every plot:
Resolved to save the British nation,
Though French by birth and education;
His correspondence plainly dated,
Was all decipher'd and translated:
His answers were exceeding pretty,
Before the secret wise committee;
Confest as plain as he could bark:
Then with his fore-foot set his mark.
TORY. Then all this while have I been bubbled,
I thought it was a dog in doublet:
The matter now no longer sticks:
For statesmen never want dog-tricks.
But since it was a real cur,
And not a dog in metaphor,
I give you joy of the report,
That he's to have a place at court.
WHIG. Yes, and a place he will grow rich in;
A turnspit in the royal kitchen.
Sir, to be plain, I tell you what,
We had occasion for a plot;
And when we found the dog begin it,
We guess'd the bishop's foot was in it.
TORY. I own it was a dangerous project,
And you have proved it by dog-logic.
Sure such intelligence between
A dog and bishop ne'er was seen,
Till you began to change the breed;
Your bishops are all dogs indeed!

(Footnote 1: In Atterbury's trial a good deal of stress was laid upon the circumstance of a "spotted little dog" called Harlequin being mentioned in the intercepted correspondence. The dog was sent in a present to the bishop from Paris, and its leg was broken by the way. See "State Trials," xvi, 320 and 376-7.--_W. E. B._)

(Footnote 2: John Kelly, and Skin, or Skinner, were persons engaged in the plot. Neynoe, whose declaration was taken before the lords of council, and used in evidence against the bishop, is "t'other puppy that was drown'd," which was his fate in attempting to escape from the messengers.)

(The end)
Jonathan Swift's poem: Upon The Horrid Plot

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