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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Faggot


Written when the Ministry were at Variance. 1713.

OBSERVE the dying father speak:
Try, lads, can you this bundle break?
Then bids the youngest of the six
Take up a well-bound heap of sticks.
They thought it was an old man's maggot;
And strove by turns to break the faggot:
In vain; the complicated wands
Were much too strong for all their hands.
See, said the sire, how soon 'tis done:
Then took and broke them one by one.
So strong you'll be, in friendship tied;
So quickly broke, if you divide.
Keep close then, boys, and never quarrel:
Here ends the fable, and the moral.
This Tale may be apply'd in few words
To treasurers, comptrollers, stewards;
And others, who in solemn sort,
Appear with slender wands at court;
Not firmly join'd to keep their ground,
But lashing one another round:
While wise men think they ought to fight
With quarterstaffs instead of white;
Or constable with staff of peace,
Should come and make the clattering cease;
Which now disturbs the queen and court,
And gives the whigs and rabble sport.
In history we never found;
The consul's fasces were unbound:
Those Romans were too wise to think on 't,
Except to lash some grand delinquent.
How would they blush to hear it said,
The prætor broke the consul's head!
Or consul, in his purple gown,
Came up, and knock'd'the prætor down!
Come, courtiers: every man his stick!
Lord treasurer, for once be quick:
And that they may the closer cling,
Take your blue ribbon for a string.
Come, trimming Harcourt[1], bring your mace;
And squeeze it in, or quit your place:
Dispatch, or else that rascal Northey[2]
Will undertake to do it for thee:
And be assur'd, the court will find him
Prepar'd to leap o'er sticks, or bind them.
To make the bundle strong and safe,
Great Ormond, lend thy general's staff:
And, if the crosier could be cramm'd in,
A fig for Lechmere, King, and Hambden!
You'll then defy the strongest whig
With both his hands to bend a twig;
Though with united strength they all pull,
From Somers, down to Craggs and Walpole.