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A poem by Jonathan Swift

A New Song On Wood's Halfpence

Title:     A New Song On Wood's Halfpence
Author: Jonathan Swift [More Titles by Swift]

Ye people of Ireland, both country and city,
Come listen with patience, and hear out my ditty:
At this time I'll choose to be wiser than witty.
Which nobody can deny.

The halfpence are coming, the nation's undoing,
There's an end of your ploughing, and baking, and brewing;
In short, you must all go to wreck and to ruin.
Which, &c.;

Both high men and low men, and thick men and tall men,
And rich men and poor men, and free men and thrall men,
Will suffer; and this man, and that man, and all men.
Which, &c.;

The soldier is ruin'd, poor man! by his pay;
His fivepence will prove but a farthing a-day,
For meat, or for drink; or he must run away.
Which, &c.;

When he pulls out his twopence, the tapster says not,
That ten times as much he must pay for his shot;
And thus the poor soldier must soon go to pot.
Which, &c.;

If he goes to the baker, the baker will huff,
And twentypence have for a twopenny loaf,
Then dog, rogue, and rascal, and so kick and cuff.
Which, &c.;

Again, to the market whenever he goes,
The butcher and soldier must be mortal foes,
One cuts off an ear, and the other a nose.
Which, &c.;

The butcher is stout, and he values no swagger;
A cleaver's a match any time for a dagger,
And a blue sleeve may give such a cuff as may stagger.
Which, &c.;

The beggars themselves will be broke in a trice,
When thus their poor farthings are sunk in their price;
When nothing is left they must live on their lice.
Which, &c.;

The squire who has got him twelve thousand a-year,
O Lord! what a mountain his rents would appear!
Should he take them, he would not have house-room, I fear.
Which, &c.;

Though at present he lives in a very large house,
There would then not be room in it left for a mouse;
But the squire is too wise, he will not take a souse.
Which, &c.;

The farmer who comes with his rent in this cash,
For taking these counters and being so rash,
Will be kick'd out of doors, both himself and his trash.
Which, &c.;

For, in all the leases that ever we hold,
We must pay our rent in good silver and gold,
And not in brass tokens of such a base mould.
Which, &c.;

The wisest of lawyers all swear, they will warrant
No money but silver and gold can be current;
And, since they will swear it, we all may be sure on't.
Which, &c.;

And I think, after all, it would be very strange,
To give current money for base in exchange,
Like a fine lady swapping her moles for the mange.
Which, &c.;

But read the king's patent, and there you will find,
That no man need take them, but who has a mind,
For which we must say that his Majesty's kind.
Which, &c.;

Now God bless the Drapier who open'd our eyes!
I'm sure, by his book, that the writer is wise:
He shows us the cheat, from the end to the rise.
Which, &c.;

Nay, farther, he shows it a very hard case,
That this fellow Wood, of a very bad race,
Should of all the fine gentry of Ireland take place.
Which, &c.;

That he and his halfpence should come to weigh down
Our subjects so loyal and true to the crown:
But I hope, after all, that they will be his own.
Which, &c.;

This book, I do tell you, is writ for your goods,
And a very good book 'tis against Mr. Wood's,
If you stand true together, he's left in the suds.
Which, &c.;

Ye shopmen, and tradesmen, and farmers, go read it,
For I think in my soul at this time that you need it;
Or, egad, if you don't, there's an end of your credit.
Which nobody can deny.

[The end]
Jonathan Swift's poem: New Song On Wood's Halfpence