The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/The Country Post

While this work is included within The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift and is not attributed to anyone other than Jonathan Swift, it may have been written by another member of the Scriblerus Club. The club, which was founded in 1714, included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Henry St John, and Thomas Parnell.







[From the henroost, August the 4th.]

TWO days ago we were put in a dreadful consternation by the advance of a kite, which threatened every minute to fall upon us: he made several motions, as if he designed to attack our left wing, which covered our infantry. We were alarmed at his approach, and, upon a general muster of all our forces, the kitchenmaid came to our relief; but we were soon convinced that she had betrayed us, and was in the interest of the kite aforesaid; for she twisted off two of our companions necks, and stripped them naked: five of us were also clapped in a close prison, in order to be sold for slaves the next market-day.

P. S. The black hen was last night safely delivered of seven young ducks.

[From the garden, August the 3d.]

The boars have done much mischief of late in these parts, to such a degree, that not a turnip or carrot can lie safe in their beds. Yesterday several of them were taken, and sentenced to have a wooden engine put about their necks, to have their noses bored, and rings thrust through them, as a mark of infamy for such practices.

[From the great pond, August the 1st.]

Yesterday a large sail of ducks passed by here, after a small resistance from two little boys, who flung stones at them: they landed near the barn door, where they foraged with very good success. While they were upon this enterprise, an old turkey-cock attacked a maid in a red petticoat, and she retired with great precipitation. This afternoon being somewhat rainy, they set sail again, and took several frogs. Just now arrived the parson's wife, and twenty ducks were brought forth before her, in order to be tried, but for what crime we know not: however, two of them were condemned. 'Twas also observed, that she carried off a gosling, and three sucking pigs.

[From the little fort at the end of the garden, August the 5th.]

Last night two young men of this place made a detachment of their breeches, in order, as it is thought, to possess themselves of the two overtures of the said fort; but at their approach they heard great firing from the port-holes; they found them already bombarded by the rear-guard of Sarah and Suky, who, fearing these young men were come to beat up their quarters, deserted their necessary posts, which were immediately taken possession of, notwithstanding they were much annoyed, by reason of several stinkpots, that had been flung there the same morning.

[From the barleymow near the barn, August the 3d.]

It was yesterday rumoured, that there was heard a mighty squeaking near this place, as of an army of mice, who were thought to lie in ambuscade in the said mow. Upon this, the farmer assembled together a council of neighbours, wherein it was resolved, that the mow should be removed, to prevent the farther destruction of the forage. This day the affair was put in execution; four hundred and seventy-nine mice, and three large rats, were killed, and a vast number wounded, by pitchforks and other instruments of husbandry. A mouse, that was close pursued, took shelter under Dolly's petticoats; but, by the vigilance of George Simmons, he was taken, as he was endeavouring to force his way through a deep morass, and crushed to death on the spot. There was nothing material happened the next day, only Cicily Hart was observed to make water under the said mow, as she was going a milking.

[From the great yard, August the 2d.

It is very credibly reported, that there is a treaty of marriage on foot between the old red cock and the pied hen, they having of late appeared very much in publick together: he yesterday made her a present of three barleycorns, so that we look on this affair as concluded. This is the same cock, that fought a duel for her about a month ago.

[From the 'squire's house.]

On Sunday last there was a noble entertainment in our great hall, where were present the parson and the farmer: the parson eat like a farmer, and the farmer like a parson: we refer you to the curious in calculations, to decide which eat most.

It is reported, that the minister christened a male child last week, but it wants confirmation.

[From the justices meeting, August the 7th.]

This day a jackdaw, well known in the parish, was ordered close prisoner to a cage, for crying "Cuckold" to a justice of the quorum; and, the same evening, certain apples, for hissing in a disrespectful manner as they were roasting, were committed to lamb's wool. The same day the said justices caused a pig to be whipped to death, and eat the same, being convicted of squeaking on the 10th of June.

[From the church, August the 8th.]

Divine service is continued in our parish as usual, though we have seldom the company of any of the neighbouring gentry; by whose manner of living it may be conjectured, that the advices from this place are not credited by them, or else regarded as matters of little consequence.

[From the churchyard, August the 8th.]

The minister, having observed his only daughter to seem too much affected with the intercourse of his bull and the cows of the parish, has ordered the ceremony for the future to be performed, not in his own court, but in the churchyard: where, at the first solemnity of that kind, the grave-stones of John Fry, Peter How, and Mary d'Urfey were spurned down. This has already occasioned great debates in the vestry, the latter being the deceased wife of the singing clerk of this place.

[Casualties this week.]

Several casualties have happened this week, and the bill of mortality is very much increased. There have died of the falling sickness two stumbling horses, as also one of their riders. Smothered (in onions) seven rabbits. Stifled (in a soldier's breeches) two geese. Of a sore throat, several sheep and calves at the butchers. Starved to death, one bastard child, nursed at the parish charge. Stillborn, in eggs of turkeys, geese, ducks, and hens, thirty-six. Drowned, nine puppies. Of wind in the bowels, five bottles of smallbeer. I have not yet seen the exact list of the parishclerk; so that, for a more particular account, we refer you to our next.

We have nothing material as to the stocks, only that Dick Adams was set in them last Sunday for swearing.