The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/A Ballad on Quadrille

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WHEN, as Corruption hence did go,
And left the nation free;
When Ay said Ay, and No said No,
Without a place or fee:
Then Satan, thinking things went ill,
Sent forth his spirit, call'd Quadrille,
Quadrille, Quadrille, &c.


Kings, queens, and knaves made up his pack,
And four fair suits he wore:
His troops they are with red and black
All blotch'd and spotted o'er:
And ev'ry house, go where you will,
Is haunted by the imp Quadrille, &c.


Sure cards he has for ev'ry thing,
Which well court-cards they name;
And, statesmen like, calls in the king,
To help out a bad game:
But, if the parties manage ill,
The king is forced to lose Codille, &c.


When two and two were met of old,
Though they ne'er meant to marry,
They were in Cupid's books enroll'd,
And call'd a party quarree:
But now, meet when and where you will,
A party quarree is Quadrille, &c.


The commoner, and knight, the peer,
Men of all ranks and fame,
Leave to their wives the only care,
To propagate their name;
And well that duty they fulfil,
When the good husband's at Quadrille, &c.


When patients lie in piteous case,
In comes th' apothecary;
And to the doctor cries, alas!
Non debes quadrillare.
The patient dies without a pill,
For why? the doctor's at Quadrille, &c.


Should France and Spain again grow loud,
The Muscovite grow louder;
Britain, to curb her neighbours proud,
Would want both ball and powder;
Must want both sword and gun to kill;
For why? the gen'ral's at Quadrille, &c.


The king of late drew forth his sword
(Thank God 'twas not in wrath)
And made of many a 'squire and lord
An unwash'd knight of Bath:
What are their feats of arms and skill?
They're but nine parties at Quadrille, &c.


A party late at Cambray met,
Which drew all Europe's eyes;
'Twas call'd in Post Boy and Gazette
The quadruple allies:
But somebody took something ill,
So broke this party at Quadrille, &c.


And now, God save this noble realm,
And God save eke Hanover;
And God save those who hold the helm,
When as the king goes over:
But let the king go where he will,
His subjects must play at Quadrille,
Quadrille, Quadrille, &c.

  1. On the subject of this ballad, see a letter from Arbuthnot to Swift, dated Nov. 8, 1726.