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Mrs Frances Hariss Petition

Written by: Jonathan Swift | Biography
 | Quotes (86) |
 To their Excellencies the Lords Justices of Ireland,
The humble petition of Frances Harris,
Who must starve and die a maid if it miscarries;
Humble sheweth, that I went to warm myself in 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 resolved to tell my money, to see if it was right.
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 my smock.
So when I went to put up my purse, as God would have it, my smock was unripped, And instead of putting it into my pocket, down it slipped; 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 searched, and missed 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 stirred out of this place!" "Nay," said I, "I had it in Lady Betty's chamber, that's a plain case.
" So Mary got me to bed, and covered me up warm: However, she stole away my garters, that I might do myself no harm.
So I tumbled and tossed all night, as you may very well think, But hardly ever set my eyes together, or slept a wink.
So I was a-dreamed, methought, that I went and searched the folks round, And in a corner of Mrs Duke's box, tied in a rag, the money was found.
So next morning we told Whittle, and he fell a swearing: Then my dame Wadgar came, and she, you know, is thick of hearing.
"Dame," says I, as loud as I could bawl, "do you know what a loss I have had?" "Nay," says she, "my Lord Colway's folks are all very sad: For my Lord Dromedary comes a Tuesday without fail.
" "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 lived I never heard of such a thing.
" "Yes," says the steward, "I remember when I was at my Lord Shrewsbury's, Such a thing as this happened, just about the time of gooseberries.
" 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 resolved to bring the discourse slily about: "Mrs Duke," said I, "here's an ugly accident has happened 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 these ages.
Now, Mrs Duke, you know, and everybody understands, 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 roared like a bedlam, as though I had called 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 before.
Well; but then they would have had me gone to the cunning man: "No," said I, "'tis the same thing, the CHAPLAIN will be here anon.
" So the Chaplain came in.
Now the servants say he is my sweetheart, Because he's always in my chamber, and I always take his part.
So, as the devil would have it, before I was aware, out I blundered, "Parson," said I, "can you cast a nativity, when a body's plundered?" (Now you must know, he hates to be called Parson, like the devil!) "Truly," says he, "Mrs Nab, it might become you to be more civil; If your money be gone, as a learned Divine says, d'ye see, You are no text for my handling; so take that from me: I was never taken for a Conjurer before, I'd have you to know.
" "Lord!" said I, "don't be angry, I am sure I never thought you so; You know I honour the cloth; I design to be a Parson's wife; I never took one in your coat for a conjurer in all my life.
" With that he twisted his girdle at me like a rope, as who should say, `Now you may go hang yourself for me!' and so went away.
Well: I thought I should have swooned.
"Lord!" said I, "what shall I do? I have lost my money, and shall lose my true love too!" Then my lord called me: "Harry," said my lord, "don't cry; I'll give you something toward thy loss: "And," says my lady, "so will I.
" Oh! but, said I, what if, after all, the Chaplain won't come to? For that, he said (an't please your Excellencies), I must petition you.
The premisses tenderly considered, I desire your Excellencies' protection, And that I may have a share in next Sunday's collection; And, over and above, that I may have your Excellencies' letter, With an order for the Chaplain aforesaid, or, instead of him, a better: And then your poor petitioner, both night and day, Or the Chaplain (for 'tis his trade,) as in duty bound, shall ever pray.

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