The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Wood an Insect

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BY long observation I have understood,
That two little vermin are kin to Will Wood.
The first is an insect they call a wood-louse,
That folds up itself in itself for a house,
As round as a ball, without head, without tail,
Inclos'd cap à pié in a strong coat of mail.
And thus William Wood to my fancy appears
In fillets of brass roll'd up to his ears;
And over these fillets he wisely has thrown,
To keep out of danger, a doublet of stone[1].
The louse of the wood for a medicine is us'd,
Or swallow'd alive, or skilfully bruis'd.
And, let but our mother Hibernia contrive
To swallow Will Wood either bruis'd or alive,
She need be no more with the jaundice possest,
Or sick of obstructions, and pains in her chest.
The next is an insect we call a wood-worm,
That lies in old wood like a hare in her form;
With teeth or with claws it will bite or will scratch,
And chambermaids christen this worm a deathwatch;
Because like a watch it always cries click;
Then woe be to those in the house who are sick:
For, as sure as a gun, they will give up the ghost,
If the maggot cries click when it scratches the post.
But a kettle of scalding hot water injected
Infallibly cures the timber affected:
The omen is broken, the danger is over;
The maggot will die, and the sick will recover.
Such a worm was Will Wood, when he scratch’d at the door
Of a governing statesman or favourite whore:
The death of our nation he seem'd to foretell,
And the sound of his brass we took for our knell.
But now, since the Drapier has heartily maul'd him,
I think the best thing we can do is to scald him.
For which operation there's nothing more proper
Than the liquor he deals in, his own melted copper;
Unless, like the Dutch, you rather would boil
This coiner of raps[2] in a cauldron of oil.
Then choose which you please, and let each bring a faggot,
For our fear's at an end with the death of the maggot.

  1. He was in gaol for debt.
  2. Counterfeit halfpence.