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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Fable of the Bitches

THE FABLE OF THE BITCHES.


WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1715.


ON AN ATTEMPT TO REPEAL THE TEST ACT.


A BITCH that was full pregnant grown,
By all the dogs and curs in town,
Finding her ripen'd time was come,
Her litter teeming from her womb,
Went here and there, and every where,
To find an easy place to lay-her.
At length to Musick's house[1] she came,
And begg'd like one both blind and lame;
"My only friend, my dear," said she,
"You see 'tis mere necessity,
Hath sent me to your house to whelp:
I die if you refuse your help."
With fawning whine, and rueful tone,
With artful sigh and feigned groan,
With couchant cringe, and flattering tale,
Smooth Bawty[2] did so far prevail,
That Musick gave her leave to litter;
(But mark what follow'd — faith! she bit her)
Whole baskets full of bits and scraps,
And broth enough to fill her paps;
For, well she knew, her numerous brood,
For want of milk, would suck her blood.
But when she thought her pains were done,
And now 'twas high time to be gone;
In civil terms, — "My friend," said she,
"My house you've had on courtesy;
And now I earnestly desire,
That you would with your cubs retire;
For, should you stay but one week longer,
I shall be starved with cold and hunger."
The guest reply'd — "My friend, your leave
I must a little longer crave;
Stay till my tender cubs can find
Their way — for now, you see, they're blind;
But, when we've gathered strength, I swear,
We'll to our barn again repair."
The time pass'd on; and Musick came,
Her kennel once again to claim;
But Bawty, lost to shame and honour,
Set all her cubs at once upon her;
Made her retire, and quit her right,
And loudly cry'd — "A bite! a bite!"


THE MORAL.

Thus did the Grecian wooden horse
Conceal a fatal armed force:
No sooner brought within the walls,
But Ilium's lost, and Priam falls.

  1. The Church of England.
  2. A Scotch name for a bitch; alluding to the kirk.