The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/The Elephant, or the Parliament Man

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.






ERE bribes convince you whom to choose,
The precepts of lord Coke peruse:
And let like him your member be:
First, take a man that's free from gall;
For elephants have none at all:
In flocks or parties he must keep;
For elephants live just like sheep:
Stubborn in honour he must be;
For elephants ne'er bend the knee:
Last, let his memory be sound,
In which your elephant's profound;
That old examples from the wise
May prompt him in his Noes and Ies.
Thus the lord Coke hath gravely writ,
In all the form of lawyers wit;
And then with Latin, and all that,
Shows the comparison is pat.
Yet in some points my lord is wrong:
One's teeth are sold, and t'other's tongue:
Now men of parliament, God knows,
Are more like elephants of shows,
Whose docile memory and sense
Are turn'd to trick, to gather pence.
To get their master half a crown,
They spread their flag, or lay it down:
Those who bore bulwarks on their backs,
And guarded nations from attacks,
Opening their trunk for every tester.
Siam, for elephants so fam'd,
Is not with England to be nam'd:
Their elephants by men are sold;
Ours sell themselves, and take the gold.