The Storm; Minerva’s Petition By Jonathan Swift

Pallas, a goddess chaste and wise
Descending lately from the skies,
To Neptune went, and begg’d in form
He’d give his orders for a storm;
A storm, to drown that rascal Hort,[1]
And she would kindly thank him for’t:
A wretch! whom English rogues, to spite her,
Had lately honour’d with a mitre.
The god, who favour’d her request,
Assured her he would do his best:
But Venus had been there before,
Pleaded the bishop loved a whore,
And had enlarged her empire wide;
He own’d no deity beside.
At sea or land, if e’er you found him
Without a mistress, hang or drown him.
Since Burnet’s death, the bishops’ bench,
Till Hort arrived, ne’er kept a wench;
If Hort must sink, she grieves to tell it,
She’ll not have left one single prelate:
For, to say truth, she did intend him,
Elect of Cyprus in commendam.
And, since her birth the ocean gave her,
She could not doubt her uncle’s favour.
Then Proteus urged the same request,
But half in earnest, half in jest;
Said he – “Great sovereign of the main,
To drown him all attempts are vain.
Hort can assume more forms than I,
A rake, a bully, pimp, or spy;
Can creep, or run, or fly, or swim;
All motions are alike to him:
Turn him adrift, and you shall find
He knows to sail with every wind;
Or, throw him overboard, he’ll ride
As well against as with the tide.
But, Pallas, you’ve applied too late;
For, ’tis decreed by Jove and Fate,
That Ireland must be soon destroy’d,
And who but Hort can be employ’d?
You need not then have been so pert,
In sending Bolton[2] to Clonfert.
I found you did it, by your grinning;
Your business is to mind your spinning.
But how you came to interpose
In making bishops, no one knows;
Or who regarded your report;
For never were you seen at court.
And if you must have your petition,
There’s Berkeley[3] in the same condition;
Look, there he stands, and ’tis but just,
If one must drown, the other must;
But, if you’ll leave us Bishop Judas,
We’ll give you Berkeley for Bermudas.[4]
Now, if ’twill gratify your spight,
To put him in a plaguy fright,
Although ’tis hardly worth the cost,
You soon shall see him soundly tost.
You’ll find him swear, blaspheme, and damn
(And every moment take a dram)
His ghastly visage with an air
Of reprobation and despair;
Or else some hiding-hole he seeks,
For fear the rest should say he squeaks;
Or, as Fitzpatrick[5] did before,
Resolve to perish with his whore;
Or else he raves, and roars, and swears,
And, but for shame, would say his prayers.
Or, would you see his spirits sink?
Relaxing downwards in a stink?
If such a sight as this can please ye,
Good madam Pallas, pray be easy.
To Neptune speak, and he’ll consent;
But he’ll come back the knave he went.”
The goddess, who conceived a hope
That Hort was destined to a rope,
Believed it best to condescend
To spare a foe, to save a friend;
But, fearing Berkeley might be scared,
She left him virtue for a guard.


About Lea Ryan

Author, blogger, podcaster, occasional artist
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