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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/On Wood the Ironmonger


SALMONEUS, as the Grecian tale is,
Was a mad coppersmith of Elis;
Up at his forge by morning peep,
No creature in the lane could sleep;
Among a crew of roystering fellows
Would sit whole evenings at the alehouse:
His wife and children wanted bread,
While he went always drunk to bed.
This vapouring scab must needs devise
To ape the thunder of the skies:
With brass two fiery steeds he shod,
To make a clattering as they trod.
Of polish'd brass his flaming car
Like lightning dazzled from afar;
And up he mounts into the box,
And he must thunder, with a pox.
Then furious he begins his march,
Drives rattling o'er a brazen arch:
With squibs and crackers arm'd, to throw
Among the trembling crowd below.
All ran to prayers, both priests and laity,
To pacify this angry deity:
When Jove, in pity to the town,
With real thunder knock'd him down.
Then what a huge delight were all in,
To see the wicked varlet sprawling;
They search'd his pockets on the place,
And found his copper all was base;
They laugh'd at such an Irish blunder,
To take the noise of brass for thunder.
The moral of this tale is proper,
Apply'd to Wood's adulterate copper:
Which, as he scatter’d, we like dolts
Mistook at first for thunderbolts,
Before the Drapier shot a letter,
(Nor Jove himself could do it better)
Which, lighting on th' impostor's crown,
Like real thunder knock'd him down.