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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/The Windsor Prophecy


WHEN a holy black Swede, the son of Bob[2],
With a saint[3] at his chin, and a seal[3] at his fob,
Shall not see one[4] New-year's day in that year,
Then let old Englond make good cheer:
Windsor[5] and Bristow[5] then shall be
Joined together in the Low-countree[5]
Then shall the tall black Daventry Bird[6].
Speak against peace right many a word;
And some shall admire his conying wit,
For many good groats his tongue shall slit.
But, spight of the Harpy[7] that crawls on all four,
There shall be peace, pardie, and war no more.
But Englond must cry alack and well-a-day,
If the stick be taken from the dead sea.
And, dear Englond, if ought I understond,
Beware of Carrots[8] from Northumberlond.
Carrots sown Thynne[9] a deep root may get,
If so be they are in Somer set:
Their[10] Conyngs mark thou; for I have been told,
They assassine when young, and poison when old.
Root out these Carrots, O thou[11], whose name
Is backwards and forwards always the same;
And keep close to thee always that name,
Which backwards and forwards[12] is almost the same.
And, Englond, wouldst thou be happy still,
Bury those Carrots under a Hill[13].

  1. First printed in December, 1711; with the following introduction: "About three months ago, at Windsor, a poor knight's widow was buried in the cloisters. In digging the grave, the sexton struck against a small leaden coffer, about half a foot in length, and four inches wide. The poor man, expecting he had discovered a treasure, opened it with some difficulty; but found only a small parchment, rolled up very fast, put into a leather case; which case was tied at the top, and sealed with a St. George, the impression on black wax, very rude and gothick. The parchment was carried to a gentleman of learning, who found in it the following lines, written in a black old English letter, and in the orthography of the age, which seems to be about two hundred years ago. I made a shift to obtain a copy of it; but the transcriber, I find, hath in many parts altered the spelling to the modern way. The original, as I am informed, is now in the hands of the ingenious Dr. W—, F. R. S. where, I suppose, the curious will not be refused the satisfaction of seeing it.

    The lines seem to be a sort of prophecy, and written in verse, as old prophecies usually are, but in a very hobbling kind of measure. Their meaning is very dark, if it be any at all; of which the learned reader can judge better than I: however it be, several persons were of opinion, that they deserved to be published, both as they discover somewhat of the genius of a former age, and may be an amusement to the present." See the Journal to Stella, Dec. 24, 1711.
  2. Dr. John Robinson, bishop of Bristol, one of the plenipotentiaries at Utrecht.
  3. 3.0 3.1 He was dean of Windsor, and lord privy seal.
  4. The New Style (which was not used in Great Britain and Ireland till 1752) was then observed in most parts of Europe. The bishop set out from England the latter end of December O. S.; and, on his arrival at Utrecht, by the variation of the style, he found January somewhat advanced.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Alluding to the deanery and bishoprick being possessed by the same person, then at Utrecht.
  6. Earl of Nottingham.
  7. Duke of Marlborough.
  8. The duchess of Somerset.
  9. Thomas Thynne of Longleate, esq. a gentleman of very great estate, married the above lady after the death of her first husband, Henry Cavendish earl of Ogle, only son to Henry duke of Newcastle, to whom she had been betrothed in her infancy.
  10. Count Koningsmark.
  11. ANNA.
  12. MASHAM.
  13. Lady Masham's maiden name was Hill.