The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 17/Duke Upon Duke

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While this work is included within The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift and is not attributed to anyone other than Jonathan Swift, it may have been written by another member of the Scriblerus Club. The club, which was founded in 1714, included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Henry St John, and Thomas Parnell.




TO lordlings proud I tune my lay,
Who feast in bow'r or hall:
Though dukes they be, to dukes I say.
That pride will have a fall.

Now, that this same it is right sooth,
Full plainly doth appear,
From what befel John duke of Guise,
And Nic. of Lancastere.

When Richard Cœur de Lion reign'd,
(Which means a lion's heart)
Like him his barons rag'd and roar'd:
Each play'd a lion's part.

A word and blow was then enough:
Such honour did them prick,
If you but turn'd your cheek, a cuff;
And if your a—se, a kick.

Look in their face, they tweak'd your nose;
At ev'ry turn fell to't;
Come near, they trod upon your toes;
They fought from head to foot.

Of these the duke of Lancastere
Stood paramount in pride;
He kick'd, and cuff d, and tweak'd, and trod
His foes and friends beside.

Firm on his front his beaver sate;
So broad, it hit his chin;
For why? he deemed no man his mate,
And fear'd to tan his skin.

With Spanish wool he dy'd his cheek,
With essence oil'd his hair;
No vixen civet cat so sweet,
Nor could so scratch and tear.

Right tall he made himself to show,
Though made full short by God:
And when all other dukes did bow,
This duke did only nod.

Yet courteous, blithe, and debonnair,
To Guise's duke was he:
Was ever such a loving pair?
How could they disagree?

Oh, thus it was: he lov'd him dear,
And cast how to requite him:
And, having no friend left but this,
He deem'd it meet to fight him.

Forthwith he drench'd his desp'rate quill,
And thus he did indite:
"This eve at whisk ourself will play,
Sir duke! be here to night."

"Ah no! ah no!" the guileless Guise
Demurely did reply;
"I cannot go, nor yet can stand,
So sore the gout have I."

The duke in wrath call'd for his steeds,
And fiercely drove them on;
Lord! Lord! how rattled then thy stones,
O kingly Kensington!

All in a trice he rush'd on Guise,
Thrust out his lady dear:
He tweak'd his nose, trod on his toes,
And smote him on the ear.

But mark, how 'midst of victory
Fate plays her old dog trick!
Up leap'd duke John, and knock'd him down,
And so down fell duke Nic.

Alas, O Nic.! O Nic. alas!
Right did thy gossip call thee:
As who should say, alas the day
When John of Guise shall maul thee!

For on thee did he clap his chair,
And on that chair did sit;
And look'd as if he meant therein
To do — what was not fit.

Up didst thou look, O woful duke!
Thy mouth yet durst not ope,
Certes for fear of finding there
A t— d, instead of trope.

"Lie there, thou caitiff vile!" quoth Guise;
"No shift is here to save thee:
The casement it is shut likewise;
Beneath my feet I have thee.

"If thou hast ought to speak, speak out."
Then Lancastere did cry,
"Know'st thou not me, nor yet thyself?
Who thou, and who am I?

"Know'st thou not me, who (God be prais'd!)
Have brawl'd and quarrell'd more,
Than all the line of Lancastere,
That battled heretofore?

"In senates fam'd for many a speech,
And (what some awe must give ye,
Tho' laid thus low beneath thy breech)
Still of the council privy;

"Still of the duchy chancellor;
Durante life, I have it;
And turn, as now thou dost on me,
Mine a—se on them that gave it."

But now the servants they rush'd in;
And duke Nic. up leap'd he:
"I will not cope against such odds,
But, Guise! I'll fight with thee:

"To morrow with thee will I fight
Under the green wood tree:"
"No, not to morrow, but to night,"
Quoth Guise, "I'll fight with thee:"

And now the sun declining low
Bestreak'd with blood the skies;
When, with his sword at saddle bow,
Rode forth the valiant Guise.

Full gently pranc'd he o'er the lawn;
Oft roll'd his eyes around,
And from the stirrup stretch'd to find
Who was not to be found.

Long brandish'd he the blade in air,
Long look'd the field all o'er:
At length he spied the merry-men brown,
And eke the coach and four.

From out the boot bold Nicholas
Did wave his wand so white,
As pointing out the gloomy glade
Wherein he meant to fight.

All in that dreadful hour so calm
Was Lancastere to see,
As if he meant to take the air,
Or only take a fee:

And so he did — for to New Court
His rolling wheels did run:
Not that he shunn'd the doubtful strife;
But business must be done.

Back in the dark, by Brompton park,
He turn'd up through the Gore;
So slunk to Cambden house so high,
All in his coach and four.

Mean while duke Guise did fret and fume,
A sight it was to see,
Benumb'd beneath the evening dew
Under the greenwood tree.

Then, wet and weary, home he far'd,
Sore mutt'ring all the way,
"The day I meet him, Nic. shall rue
The cudgel of that day.

"Mean time on every pissing-post
Paste we this recreant's name,
So that each passer by shall read
And piss against the same."

Now God preserve our gracious king,
And grant his nobles all
May learn this lesson from duke Nic.,
That "pride will have a fall."

  1. This very humourous ballad was occasioned by a quarrel between Nicholas lord Lechmere and sir John Guise, bart. — Lord Lechmere had been representative in parliament for Cockermouth, and one of the managers against Sacheverell; he was an eminent lawyer, a staunch whig, and, having been removed from his office of queen's counsel in June 1711, was a constant opposer of her ministry. He was appointed solicitor general in Oct. 1714; chancellor of the duchy court of Lancaster for life in June 1717; attorney-general in March 1717-18; and was created baron Lechmere of Evesham, Sept. 8, 1721: dying June 18, 1727, the title became extinct. — Sir John Guise, who represented the county of Gloucester in several parliaments, died Nov. 6, 1732.