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A poem by Jonathan Swift

Ay And No

Title:     Ay And No
Author: Jonathan Swift [More Titles by Swift]


At Dublin's high feast sat Primate and Dean,
Both dress'd like divines, with band and face clean:
Quoth Hugh of Armagh, "The mob is grown bold."
"Ay, ay," quoth the Dean, "the cause is old gold."
"No, no," quoth the Primate, "if causes we sift,
This mischief arises from witty Dean Swift."
The smart one replied, "There's no wit in the case;
And nothing of that ever troubled your grace.
Though with your state sieve your own notions you split,
A Boulter by name is no bolter of wit.
It's matter of weight, and a mere money job;
But the lower the coin the higher the mob.
Go tell your friend Bob and the other great folk,
That sinking the coin is a dangerous joke.
The Irish dear joys have enough common sense,
To treat gold reduced like Wood's copper pence.
It is a pity a prelate should die without law;
But if I say the word--take care of Armagh!"

[Footnote 1: In 1737, the gold coin had sunk in current value to the amount of 6_d._ in each guinea, which made it the interest of the Irish dealers to send over their balances in silver. To bring the value of the precious metals nearer to a par, the Primate, Boulter, who was chiefly trusted by the British Government in the administration of Ireland, published a proclamation reducing the value of the gold coin threepence in each guinea. This scheme was keenly opposed by Swift; and such was the clamour excited against the archbishop, that his house was obliged to be guarded by soldiers. The two following poems relate to this controversy, which was, for the time it lasted, nearly as warm as that about Wood's halfpence. The first is said to be the paraphrase of a conversation which actually passed between Swift and the archbishop. The latter charged the Dean with inflaming the mob, "I inflame them?" retorted Swift, "were I to lift but a finger, they would tear you to pieces."--_Scott_.]

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Jonathan Swift's poem: Ay And No