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Expos'd to every coxcomb's eyes,
power of spittle and a clout,
MRS FRANCES HARRIS'S PETITION,
[This, and the following piece of humour, which, in their own
peculiar style, will probably never be equalled, were written while Swift was chaplain to Lord Berkeley in Ireland. None of his talents is more remarkable than the case with which he could assume the character which he best pleased to occupy for the moment, and bind down his powerful genius to the thoughts, sentiments, and expressions of a chambermaid or housekeeper.]
To their excellencies the Lords Justices of Ire.
The humble petition of Frances Harris,
Lady Betty's † chamber, because I was cold; And I had in a purse seven pounds, four shillings,
and sixpence, besides farthings, in money and
gold; So because I had been buying things for my lady
last night, I was resolv'd to tell my money, to see if it was
* The Earls of Berkeley and of Galway.-H.
Now, you must know, because my trunk has a
very bad lock, Therefore all the money I have, which, God
knows, is a very small stock, I keep in my pocket, tied about my middle, next
So when I went to put up my purse, as God would
have it, my smock was unripp'd, And instead of putting it into my pocket, down it
slipp'd ; Then the bell rung, and I went down to put my
lady to bed; And, God knows, I thought my money was as
safe as my maidenhead. So, when I came up again, I found my pocket feel
very light; But when I search'd, and miss'd my purse, Lord !
I thought I should have sunk outright. “ Lord ! madam,” says Mary, "how d'ye do?"
“ Indeed,” says I, “ never worse : But pray, Mary, can you tell what I have done
with my purse?" “ Lord help me!” says Mary,
« I never stirr'd out of this place!" “ Nay,” said I, “ I had it in Lady Betty's cham
ber, that's a plain case." So Mary got me to bed, and cover'd me up However, she stole away my garters, that I might
do myself no harm. So I tumbled and toss'd all night, as you may very
well think, But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a
So I was a dream'd, methought, that I went and
search'd the folks round, And in a corner of Mrs Dukes's * box, tied in a rag,
the money was found. So next morning we told Whittle t, and he fell a
swearing : Then my dame Wadger | came; and she, you know,
is thick of hearing. Dame," said I, as loud. I could bawl, “ do you
know what a loss I have had ?" “ Nay,” said she, “my Lord Colway's $ folks are
all very sad : For my Lord Dromedary || comes a Tuesday with
“ Pugh !” said I, “but that's not the business that
I ail.” Says Cary, says he, “ I have been a servant this
five and twenty years, come spring, And in all the places I liv'd I never heard of such
a thing." “ Yes,” says the steward, ** “ I remember when I
was at my Lady Shrewsbury's, Such a thing as this happen'd, just about the time
* Wife to one of the footmen.-H.
The old deaf housekeeper.-H. Galway.--H. | The Harl of Drogheda, who, with the primate, was to succeed the two earls, then lords justices of Ireland.
1 Clerk of the kitchen.H.
** Ferris ; whom the poet terms in his Journal a scoundrel dog, Vol. II. p. 115.
So I went to the party suspected, and I found her
full of grief : (Now, you must know, of all things in the world,
I hate a thief :) However, I was resolv'd to bring the discourse slily
about: “ Mrs Dukes,” said I, “ here's an ugly accident
has happen'd out : 'Tis not that I value the money three skips of a
louse ; * But the thing I stand upon is the credit of the
house. 'Tis true, seven pounds, four shillings, and sixpence,
makes a great hole in my wages : Besides, as they say, service is no inheritance in Now, Mrs Dukes, you know, and every body un
derstands, That though 'tis hard to judge, yet money can't go
without hands." “ The devil take me !" said she (blessing herself)
“ if ever I saw't !" So she roar'd like a bedlam, as though I had callid
her all to naught. So you know, what could I say to her any more? I e'en left her, and came away as wise as I was be
fore. Well; but then they would have had me gone to
the cunning man ! No,” said I, “ 'Tis the same thing, the Chap
LAIN † will be here anon.”
* A usual saying of hers.--H,