Search for
today is 19 Oct 2017


CLOSE / Parnassiad


Peace and Other Stories


Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life



An Excellent New Ballad; or, the True English Dean to be Hanged for a Rape
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  9 Nov 2007

This poem was occassioned by the arrest, in Dublin in June 1730, of Rev. Dean Sabridge in 1730 on haing raped one Susanna Runkard.  He was acquitted and Susanna Runkard apparently faced charges of purjury for falsely accusing him of the crime.

Our brethren of England, who love us so dear,
  And in all they do for us so kindly do mean,
(A blessing upon them!) have sent us this year,
  For the good of our church, a true English dean.
A holier priest ne'er was wrapt up in crape,
The worst you can say, he committed a rape.

In his journey to Dublin, he lighted at Chester,
  And there he grew fond of another man's wife;
Burst into her chamber and would have caress'd her;
  But she valued her honour much more than her life.
She bustled, and struggled, and made her escape
To a room full of guests, for fear of a rape.

The dean he pursued, to recover his game;
  And now to attack her again he prepares:
But the company stood in defence of the dame,
  They cudgell'd, and cuff'd him, and kick'd him down stairs.
His deanship was now in a damnable scrape,
And this was no time for committing a rape.

To Dublin he comes, to the bagnio he goes,
  And orders the landlord to bring him a whore;
No scruple came on him his gown to expose,
  'Twas what all his life he had practised before.
He made himself drunk with the juice of the grape,
And got a good clap, but committed no rape.

The dean, and his landlord, a jolly comrade,
  Resolved for a fortnight to swim in delight;
For why, they had both been brought up to the trade
  Of drinking all day, and of whoring all night.
His landlord was ready his deanship to ape
In every debauch but committing a rape.

This Protestant zealot, this English divine,
  In church and in state was of principles sound;
Was truer than Steele to the Hanover line,
  And grieved that a Tory should live above ground.
Shall a subject so loyal be hang'd by the nape,
For no other crime but committing a rape?

By old Popish canons, as wise men have penn'd 'em,
  Each priest had a concubine jure ecclesiae;
Who'd be Dean of Fernes without a commendam?
  And precedents we can produce, if it please ye:
Then why should the dean, when whores are so cheap,
Be put to the peril and toil of a rape?

If fortune should please but to take such a crotchet,
  (To thee I apply, great Smedley's successor,)
To give thee lawn sleeves, a mitre, and rochet,
  Whom wouldst thou resemble? I leave thee a guesser.
But I only behold thee in Atherton's [a Bishop of Waterford] shape,
For sodomy hang'd [at Arbor-hill, near Dublin]; as thou for a rape.

Ah! dost thou not envy the brave Colonel Chartres [tried in 1723],
  Condemn'd for thy crime [actually, only for assault with intent to rape] at threescore and ten?
To hang him, all England would lend him their garters,
  Yet he lives, and is ready to ravish again. [He was fined 300 to the private party prosecuting.]
Then throttle thyself with an ell of strong tape,
For thou hast not a groat to atone for a rape.

The dean he was vex'd that his whores were so willing;
  He long'd for a girl that would struggle and squall;
He ravish'd her fairly, and saved a good shilling;
  But here was to pay the devil and all.
His troubles and sorrows now come in a heap,
And hang'd he must be for committing a rape.

If maidens are ravish'd, it is their own choice:
  Why are they so wilful to struggle with men?
If they would but lie quiet, and stifle their voice,
  No devil nor dean could ravish them then.
Nor would there be need of a strong hempen cape
Tied round the dean's neck for committing a rape.

Our church and our state dear England maintains,
  For which all true Protestant hearts should be glad:
She sends us our bishops, our judges, and deans,
  And better would give us, if better she had.
But, lord! how the rabble will stare and will gape,
When the good English dean is hang'd up for a rape!

                                                   (1730)

subscribe to site or just to poetry