The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 9/A Full and True Account of the Solemn Procession at the Execution of William Wood






SOME time ago, upon a report spread that William Wood, hardwareman, was concealed in his brother-in-law's[1] house here in Dublin, a great number of people of different conditions, and of both sexes, crowded about the door, determinately bent to take revenge upon him as a coiner and a counterfeiter. Among the rest, a certain curious person standing in a corner observed, that they all discovered their resentments in the proper terms and expressions of their several trades and callings; whereof he wrote down as many as he could remember; and was pleased to communicate them to me, with leave to publish them, for the use of those who at any time hereafter may be at a loss for proper words, wherein to express their good dispositions toward the said William Wood.

The people cried out to have him delivered into their hands.

Says the parliament man, expel him the house.

2d parliament man, I second that motion.

Cook. I'll baste him.

2d Cook. I'll give him his bellyful.

3d Cook. I'll give him a lick in the chaps.

4th Cook. I'll sowse him.

Drunken man. I'll beat him as long as I can stand.

Bookseller. I'll turn over a new leaf with him.

Sadler. I'll pummel him.

Glazier. I'll make the light shine through him.

Grocer. I'll pepper him.

Groom. I'll curry his hide.

'Pothecary. I'll pound him.

2d 'Pothecary. I'll beat him to mummy.

Schoolmaster. I'll make him an example.

Rabbet catcher. I'll ferret him.

Paviour. I'll thump him.

Coiner. I'll give him a rap.

WHIG. Down with him.

TORY. Up with him.

Miller. I'll dash out his grinders.

2d Miller. Damn him.

Boatman. Sink him.

Scavenger. Throw him in the kennel.

Dyer. I'll beat him black and blue.

Bagnio man. I'll make the house too hot for him.

Whore. Pox rot him.

2d Whore. Let me alone with him.

3d Whore. Clap him up.

Mustard-maker. I'll have him by the nose.

Curate. I'll make the devil come out of him.

Popish priest. I'll send him to the devil.

Dancingmaster. I'll teach him better manners.

2d Dancingmaster. I'll make him cut a caper three story high.

Farmer. I'll thrash him.

Taylor. I'll sit on his skirts.

2d Taylor. Hell is too good for him.

3d Taylor. I'll pink his doublet.

4th Taylor. I'll make his a—— make buttons.

Basketmaker. I'll hamper him.

Fiddler. I'll have him by the ears.

2d Fiddler. I'll bang him to some tune.

Barber. I'll have him by the beard.

2d Barber. I'll pull his whiskers.

3d Barber. I'll make his hair stand on end.

4th Barber. I'll comb his locks.

Tinker. I'll try what metal he's made of.

Cobler. I'll make an end of him.

Tobacconist, I'll make him smoke.

2d Tobacconist. I'll make him set up his pipes.

Goldfinder. I'll make him stink.

Hackney coachman. I'll make him know his driver.

2d Hackney coachman. I'll drive him to the devil.

Butcher. I'll have a limb of him.

2d Butcher. Let us blow him up.

3d Butcher. My knife in him.

Nurse. I'll swaddle him.

Anabaptist. We'll dip the rogue in the pond.

Ostler. I'll rub him down.

Shoemaker. Set him in the stocks.

Banker. I'll kick him to half crowns.

2d Banker. I'll pay him off.

Bowler. I'll have a rubber with him.

Gamester. I'll make his bones rattle.

Boddicemaker. I'll lace his sides.

Gardener. I'll make him water his plants.

Alewife. I'll reckon with him.

Cuckold. I'll make him pull in his horns.

Old Woman. I'll mumble him.

Hangman. I'll throttle him.

But at last the people having received assurances that William Wood was neither in the house nor kingdom, appointed certain commissioners to hang him in effigy; whereof the whole ceremony and procession deserve to be transmitted to posterity.

First, the way was cleared by a detachment of the black-guards, with short sticks in their hands, and cockades of paper in their hats.

Then appeared William Wood, esq., represented to the life by an old piece of carved timber, taken from the keel of a ship. Upon his face, which looked very dismal, were fixed at proper distances several pieces of his own coin, to denote who he was, and to signify his calling and his crime. He wore on his head a peruke, very artfully composed of four old mops; a halter about his neck served him for a cravat. His clothes were indeed not so neat and elegant as is usual with persons in his condition (which some censorious people imputed to affectation) for he was covered with a large rug of several colours in patchwork: he was born upon the shoulders of an ablebodied porter. In his march by St. Stephen's green, he often bowed on both sides, to show his respects to the company; his deportment was grave; and his countenance, though somewhat pensive, was very composed.

Behind him followed his father alone, in a long mourning cloak, with his hat over his nose, and a handkerchief in his hand to wipe tears from his face.

Next in order marched the excutioner himself in person; whose venerable aspect drew the eyes of the whole assembly upon him; but he was farther distinguished by a halter, which he bore upon his left shoulder as the badge of his office.

Then followed two persons hand in hand; the one representing William Wood's brother-in-law; the other a certain saddler, his intimate friend, whose name I forget. Each had a small kettle in his hand, wherein was a reasonable quantity of the new halfpence. At proper periods they shook their kettles, which made a melancholy sound, like the ringing of a knell for their partner and confederate.

After these followed several officers, whose assistance was necessary for the more decent performance of the great work in hand.

The procession was closed with an innumerable crowd of people, who frequently sent out loud huzzas; which were censured by wiser heads as a mark of inhumanity, and an ungenerous triumph over the unfortunate, without duly considering the various vicisitudes of human life. However, as it becomes an impartial historian, I will not conceal one observation, that Mr. Wood himself appeared wholly unmoved, without the least alteration in his countenance; only when he came within sight of the fatal tree, which happened to be of the same species of timber with his own person, he seemed to to be somewhat pensive.

At the place of execution he appeared undaunted, nor was seen to shed a tear. He made no resistance, but submitted himself with great resignation to the hangman, who was indeed thought to use him with too much roughness, neither kissing him, nor asking him pardon. His dying SPEECH was printed, and deserves to be written in letters of GOLD. Being asked whether it were his own true genuine SPEECH, he did not deny it.

Those of the softer sex, who attended the ceremony, lamented that so comely and well timbered a man should come to so untimely an end. He hung but a short time; for, upon feeling his breast, they found it cold and stiff.

It is strange to think, how this melancholy spectacle turned the hearts of the people to compassion. When he was cut down, the body was carried through the whole city to gather contributions for his wake; and all sorts of people showed their liberality according as they were able. The ceremony was performed in an alehouse of distinction, and in a manner suitable to the quality of the deceased. While the attendants were discoursing about his funeral, a worthy member of the assembly stood up, and proposed that the body should be carried out the next day, and burned with the same pomp and formalities used at his execution: which would prevent the malice of his enemies, and all indignities that might be done to his remains. This was agreed to; and about nine o'clock on the following morning there appeared a second procession. But, burning not having been any part of the sentence, authority thought fit to interpose, and the corpse was rescued by the civil power.

We hear the body is not yet interred; which occasions many speculations. But what is more wonderful, it is positively affirmed by many who pretend to have been eyewitnesses, that there does not appear to be the least alteration in any one lineament or feature of his countenance; nor visible decay in his whole frame, farther than what had been made by worms long before his execution. The solution of which difficulty I shall leave among naturalists.

  1. One Molyneux an ironmonger.