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-The Elephant; or the Parliament Man


Sir E. Coke says: "Every member of the house being a counsellor should have three properties of the elephant; first that he hath no gall; secondly, that he is inflexible and cannot bow; thirdly, that he is of a most ripe and perfect memory ... first, to be without gall, that is, without malice, rancor, heat, and envy: ... secondly, that he be constant, inflexible, and not be bowed, or turned from the right either for fear, reward, or favour, nor in judgement respect any person: ... thirdly, of a ripe memory, that they remembering perils past, might prevent dangers to come."--W. E. B.

Ere bribes convince you whom to choose,
The precepts of Lord Coke peruse.
Observe an elephant, says he,
And let him like your member be:
First take a man that's free from Gaul,
For elephants have none at all;
In flocks or parties he must keep;
For elephants live just like sheep.
Stubborn in honour he must be;
For elephants ne'er bend the knee.
Last, let his memory be sound,
In which your elephant's profound;
That old examples from the wise
May prompt him in his noes and ayes.

Thus the Lord Coke hath gravely writ, In all the form of lawyer's wit: And then, with Latin and all that, Shows the comparison is pat. Yet in some points my lord is wrong, One's teeth are sold, and t'other's tongue: Now, men of parliament, God knows, Are more like elephants of shows; Whose docile memory and sense Are turn'd to trick, to gather pence; To get their master half-a-crown, They spread the flag, or lay it down: Those who bore bulwarks on their backs, And guarded nations from attacks, Now practise every pliant gesture, Opening their trunk for every tester. Siam, for elephants so famed, Is not with England to be named: Their elephants by men are sold; Ours sell themselves, and take the gold.

Jonathan Swift

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