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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/Mary Gulliver to Captain Lemuel Gulliver

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 17

MARY GULLIVER

TO

CAPTAIN LEMUEL GULLIVER.

ARGUMENT.

The captain, some time after his return, beine retired to Mr. Sympson's in the country, Mrs. Gulliver, apprehending from his late behaviour, some estrangement of his affections, writes him the following expostulating, soothing and tenderly complaining epistle.

WELCOME, thrice welcome to thy native place!
— What, touch me not? what, shun a wife's embrace?
Have I for this thy tedious absence born,
And wak'd, and wish'd whole nights for thy return?
In five long years I took no second spouse;
What Redriff wife so long hath kept her vows?
Your eyes, your nose, inconstancy betray;
Your nose you stop, your eyes you turn away.
'Tis said, that thou should'st "cleave unto thy wife;"
Once thou didst cleave, and I could cleave for life.
Hear, and relent! hark, how thy children moan!
Be kind at least to these: they are thy own:
Be bold, and count them all; secure to find
The honest number that you left behind.
See how they pat thee with their pretty paws:
Why start you? are they snakes? or have they claws?
Thy christian seed, our mutual flesh and bone:
Be kind at least to these; they are thy own.
Biddel[1], like thee, might farthest India rove;
He chang'd his country, but retain'd his love.
There's captain Pennel[1], absent half his life,
Comes back, and is the kinder to his wife.
Yet Pennel's wife is brown, compar'd to me:
And Mrs. Biddel sure is fifty-three.
Not touch me! never neighbour call'd me slut:
Was Flimnap's dame more sweet in Lilliput?
I've no red hair to breathe an odious fume;
At least thy consort's cleaner than thy groom.
Why then that dirty stableboy thy care?
What mean those visits to the sorrel mare?
Say, by what witchcraft, or what demon led,
Preferr'st thou litter to the marriage bed?
Some say, the devil himself is in that mare:
If so, our dean shall drive him forth by pray'r.
Some think you mad, some think you are possest,
That Bedlam and clean straw will suit you best.
Vain means, alas, this frenzy to appease!
That straw, that straw, would heighten the disease.
My bed (the scene of all our former joys,
Witness two lovely girls, two lovely boys)
Alone I press: in dreams I call my dear,
I stretch my hand; no Gulliver is there!
I wake, I rise, and shiv'ring with the frost
Search all the house; my Gulliver is lost!
Forth in the street I rush with frantick cries;
The windows open, all the neighbours rise;
"Where sleeps my Gulliver? O tell me where!"
The neighbours answer, "With the sorrel mare."
At early morn I to the market haste
(Studious in ev'ry thing to please thy taste)
A curious fowl and 'sparagus I chose
(For I remember you were fond of those)
Three shillings cost the first, the last seven groats;
Sullen you turn from both, and call for oats.
Others bring goods and treasure to their houses,
Something to deck their pretty babes and spouses:
My only token was a cup like horn,
That's made of norhing but a lady's corn.
'Tis not for that I grieve; no, 'tis to see
The groom and sorrel mare preferr'd to me!
These, for some moments when you deign to quit,
And, at due distance sweet discourse admit,
'Tis all my pleasure thy past toil to know;
For pleas'd remembrance builds delight on woe.
At ev'ry danger pants thy consort's breast,
And gaping infants squall to hear the rest.
How did I tremble, when by thousands bound,
I saw thee stretch'd on Lilliputian ground!
When scaling armies climb'd up every part,
Each step they trod I felt upon my heart.
But when thy torrent quench'd the dreadful blaze,
King, queen, and nation staring with amaze,
Full in my view how all my husband came!
And what extinguish'd theirs, increas'd my flame.
Those spectacles, ordain'd thine eyes to save,
Were once my present; love that armour gave.
How did I mourn at Bolgolam's decree!
For, when he sign'd thy death, he sentenc'd me.
When folks might see thee all the country round
For sixpence, I'd have given a thousand pound.
Lord! when the giant babe that head of thine
Got in his mouth, my heart was up in mine!
When in the marrowbone I see thee ramm'd,
Or on the house-top by the monkey cramm'd,
The piteous images renew my pain,
And all thy dangers I weep o'er again.
But on the maiden's nipple when you rid,
Pray heaven, 'twas all a wanton maiden did!
Glumdalclitch too! — with thee I mourn her case:
Heaven guard the gentle girl from all disgrace!
O may the king that one neglect forgive,
And pardon her the fault by which I live!
Was there no other way to set him free?
My life, alas! I fear prov'd death to thee.
O teach me, dear, new words to speak my flame!
Teach me to woo thee by the best lov'd name!
Whether the style of Grildrig please thee most,
So call'd on Brobdingnag's stupendous coast,
When on the monarch's ample hand you sate,
And halloo'd in his ear intrigues of state;
Or Quinbus Flestrin more endearment brings,
When like a mountain you look'd down on kings:
If ducal Nardac, Lilliputian peer,
Or Glumglum's humbler title sooth thine ear:
Nay, would kind Jove my organs so dispose,
To hymn harmonious Houyhnhnm thro' the nose,
I'd call thee Houyhnhnm, that high-sounding name;
Thy children's noses all should twang the same.
So might I find my loving spouse of course
Endued with all the virtues of a horse.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Names of the sea captains mentioned in Gulliver's Travels.