by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Act 2.

Act 1

Scene 1.1

A magnificent temple, built of thigh-bones and death's-heads, and tiled with scalps. Over the altar the statue of famine, veiled; a number of boars, sows, and sucking-pigs, crowned with thistle, shamrock, and oak, sitting on the steps, and clinging round the altar of the temple.

Enter Swellfoot, in his royal robes, without perceiving the pigs.

 SWELLFOOT: Thou supreme Goddess! by whose power divine These graceful limbs are clothed in proud array [HE CONTEMPLATES HIMSELF WITH SATISFACTION.] Of gold and purple, and this kingly paunch Swells like a sail before a favouring breeze, And these most sacred nether promontories  Lie satisfied with layers of fat; and these Boeotian cheeks, like Egypt's pyramid, (Nor with less toil were their foundations laid),[1] Sustain the cone of my untroubled brain, That point, the emblem of a pointless nothing!  Thou to whom Kings and laurelled Emperors, Radical-butchers, Paper-money-millers, Bishops and Deacons, and the entire army Of those fat martyrs to the persecution Of stifling turtle-soup, and brandy-devils,  Offer their secret vows! Thou plenteous Ceres Of their Eleusis, hail! 
 SWINE: Eigh! eigh! eigh! eigh! 
 SWELLFOOT: Ha! what are ye, Who, crowned with leaves devoted to the Furies, Cling round this sacred shrine? 
 SWINE: Aigh! aigh! aigh! 
 SWELLFOOT: What! ye that are The very beasts that, offered at her altar  With blood and groans, salt-cake, and fat, and inwards, Ever propitiate her reluctant will When taxes are withheld? 
 SWINE: Ugh! ugh! ugh! 
 SWELLFOOT: What! ye who grub With filthy snouts my red potatoes up In Allan's rushy bog? Who eat the oats  Up, from my cavalry in the Hebrides? Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks digest From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe-leather, Which should be given to cleaner Pigs than you? 
 SWINE-SEMICHORUS 1: The same, alas! the same;  Though only now the name Of Pig remains to me. 
 SEMICHORUS 2: If 'twere your kingly will Us wretched Swine to kill, What should we yield to thee?  
 SWELLFOOT: Why, skin and bones, and some few hairs for mortar. 
 CHORUS OF SWINE: I have heard your Laureate sing, That pity was a royal thing; Under your mighty ancestors, we Pigs Were bless'd as nightingales on myrtle sprigs,  Or grasshoppers that live on noonday dew, And sung, old annals tell, as sweetly too; But now our sties are fallen in, we catch The murrain and the mange, the scab and itch; Sometimes your royal dogs tear down our thatch,  And then we seek the shelter of a ditch; Hog-wash or grains, or ruta-baga, none Has yet been ours since your reign begun. 
 FIRST SOW: My Pigs, 'tis in vain to tug. 
 SECOND SOW: I could almost eat my litter.  
 FIRST PIG: I suck, but no milk will come from the dug. 
 SECOND PIG: Our skin and our bones would be bitter. 
 THE BOARS: We fight for this rag of greasy rug, Though a trough of wash would be fitter. 
 SEMICHORUS: Happier Swine were they than we,  Drowned in the Gadarean sea- I wish that pity would drive out the devils, Which in your royal bosom hold their revels, And sink us in the waves of thy compassion![2] Alas! the Pigs are an unhappy nation!  Now if your Majesty would have our bristles To bind your mortar with, or fill our colons With rich blood, or make brawn out of our gristles, In policy-ask else your royal Solons- You ought to give us hog-wash and clean straw,  And sties well thatched; besides it is the law! 
 SWELLFOOT: This is sedition, and rank blasphemy! Ho! there, my guards! 
 GUARD: Your sacred Majesty. 
 SWELLFOOT: Call in the Jews, Solomon the court porkman, Moses the sow-gelder, and Zephaniah  The hog-butcher. 
 GUARD: They are in waiting, Sire. 
 SWELLFOOT: Out with your knife, old Moses, and spay those Sows [THE PIGS RUN ABOUT IN CONSTERNATION.] That load the earth with Pigs; cut close and deep. Moral restraint I see has no effect, Nor prostitution, nor our own example,  Starvation, typhus-fever, war, nor prison- This was the art which the arch-priest of Famine Hinted at in his charge to the Theban clergy- Cut close and deep, good Moses. 
 MOSES: Let your Majesty Keep the Boars quiet, else- 
 SWELLFOOT: Zephaniah, cut  That fat Hog's throat, the brute seems overfed; Seditious hunks! to whine for want of grains. 
 ZEPHANIAH: Your sacred Majesty, he has the dropsy;- We shall find pints of hydatids in 's liver, He has not half an inch of wholesome fat  Upon his carious ribs- 
 SWELLFOOT: 'Tis all the same, He'll serve instead of riot money, when Our murmuring troops bivouac in Thebes' streets And January winds, after a day Of butchering, will make them relish carrion.  Now, Solomon, I'll sell you in a lump The whole kit of them. 
 SOLOMON: Why, your Majesty, I could not give- 
 SWELLFOOT: Kill them out of the way, That shall be price enough, and let me hear Their everlasting grunts and whines no more!  
 PURGANAX: The future looks as black as death, a cloud, Dark as the frown of Hell, hangs over it- The troops grow mutinous-the revenue fails- There's something rotten in us-for the level  Of the State slopes, its very bases topple, The boldest turn their backs upon themselves! 
 MAMMON: Why what's the matter, my dear fellow, now? Do the troops mutiny?-decimate some regiments; Does money fail?-come to my mint-coin paper, Till gold be at a discount, and ashamed  To show his bilious face, go purge himself, In emulation of her vestal whiteness. 
 PURGANAX: Oh, would that this were all! The oracle!! 
 MAMMON: Why it was I who spoke that oracle, And whether I was dead drunk or inspired,  I cannot well remember; nor, in truth, The oracle itself! 
 PURGANAX: The words went thus:- 'Boeotia, choose reform or civil war! When through the streets, instead of hare with dogs,[3] A Consort Queen shall hunt a King with Hogs,  Riding on the Ionian Minotaur.' 
 MAMMON: Now if the oracle had ne'er foretold This sad alternative, it must arrive, Or not, and so it must now that it has; And whether I was urged by grace divine  Or Lesbian liquor to declare these words, Which must, as all words must, he false or true, It matters not: for the same Power made all, Oracle, wine, and me and you-or none- 'Tis the same thing. If you knew as much  Of oracles as I do- 
 PURGANAX: You arch-priests Believe in nothing; if you were to dream Of a particular number in the Lottery, You would not buy the ticket? 
 MAMMON: Yet our tickets Are seldom blanks. But what steps have you taken?  For prophecies, when once they get abroad, Like liars who tell the truth to serve their ends, Or hypocrites who, from assuming virtue, Do the same actions that the virtuous do, Contrive their own[4] fulfilment. This Iona-  Well-you know what the chaste Pasiphae did, Wife to that most religious King of Crete, And still how popular the tale is here; And these dull Swine of Thebes boast their descent From the free Minotaur. You know they still  Call themselves Bulls, though thus degenerate, And everything relating to a Bull Is popular and respectable in Thebes. Their arms are seven Bulls in a field gules; They think their strength consists in eating beef,-  Now there were danger in the precedent If Queen Iona- 
 PURGANAX: I have taken good care That shall not be. I struck the crust o' the earth With this enchanted rod, and Hell lay bare! And from a cavern full of ugly shapes  I chose a LEECH, a GADFLY, and a RAT. The Gadfly was the same which Juno sent To agitate Io[5], and which Ezekiel[6] mentions That the Lord whistled for out of the mountains Of utmost Aethiopia, to torment  Mesopotamian Babylon. The beast Has a loud trumpet like the scarabee, His crooked tail is barbed with many stings, Each able to make a thousand wounds, and each Immedicable; from his convex eyes  He sees fair things in many hideous shapes, And trumpets all his falsehood to the world. Like other beetles he is fed on dung- He has eleven feet with which he crawls, Trailing a blistering slime, and this foul beast  Has tracked Iona from the Theban limits, From isle to isle, from city unto city, Urging her flight from the far Chersonese To fabulous Solyma, and the Aetnean Isle, Ortygia, Melite, and Calypso's Rock,  And the swart tribes of Garamant and Fez, Aeolia and Elysium, and thy shores, Parthenope, which now, alas! are free! And through the fortunate Saturnian land, Into the darkness of the West. 
 MAMMON: But if  This Gadfly should drive Iona hither? 
 PURGANAX: Gods! what an IF! but there is my gray RAT: So thin with want, he can crawl in and out Of any narrow chink and filthy hole, And he shall creep into her dressing-room,  And- 
 MAMMON: My dear friend, where are your wits? as if She does not always toast a piece of cheese And bait the trap? and rats, when lean enough To crawl through SUCH chinks- 
 PURGANAX: But my LEECH-a leech Fit to suck blood, with lubricous round rings,  Capaciously expatiative, which make His little body like a red balloon, As full of blood as that of hydrogen, Sucked from men's hearts; insatiably he sucks And clings and pulls-a horse-leech, whose deep maw  The plethoric King Swellfoot could not fill, And who, till full, will cling for ever. 
 MAMMON: This For Queen Jona would suffice, and less; But 'tis the Swinish multitude I fear, And in that fear I have- 
 PURGANAX: Done what? 
 MAMMON: Disinherited  My eldest son Chrysaor, because he Attended public meetings, and would always Stand prating there of commerce, public faith, Economy, and unadulterate coin, And other topics, ultra-radical;  And have entailed my estate, called the Fool's Paradise, And funds in fairy-money, bonds, and bills, Upon my accomplished daughter Banknotina, And married her to the gallows.[7]
 PURGANAX: A good match! 
 MAMMON: A high connexion, Purganax. The bridegroom  Is of a very ancient family, Of Hounslow Heath, Tyburn, and the New Drop, And has great influence in both Houses;-oh! He makes the fondest husband; nay, TOO fond,- New-married people should not kiss in public;  But the poor souls love one another so! And then my little grandchildren, the gibbets, Promising children as you ever saw,- The young playing at hanging, the elder learning How to hold radicals. They are well taught too,  For every gibbet says its catechism And reads a select chapter in the Bible Before it goes to play. 
 PURGANAX: Ha! what do I hear? 
 MAMMON: Your Gadfly, as it seems, is tired of gadding. 
 GADFLY: Hum! hum! hum!  From the lakes of the Alps, and the cold gray scalps Of the mountains, I come! Hum! hum! hum! From Morocco and Fez, and the high palaces Of golden Byzantium;  From the temples divine of old Palestine, From Athens and Rome, With a ha! and a hum! I come! I come! 
 All inn-doors and windows  Were open to me: I saw all that sin does, Which lamps hardly see That burn in the night by the curtained bed,- The impudent lamps! for they blushed not red,  Dinging and singing, From slumber I rung her, Loud as the clank of an ironmonger; Hum! hum! hum! 
 Far, far, far!  With the trump of my lips, and the sting at my hips, I drove her-afar! Far, far, far! From city to city, abandoned of pity, A ship without needle or star;-  Homeless she passed, like a cloud on the blast, Seeking peace, finding war;- She is here in her car, From afar, and afar;- Hum! hum!  
 I have stung her and wrung her, The venom is working;- And if you had hung her With canting and quirking, She could not be deader than she will be soon;-  I have driven her close to you, under the moon, Night and day, hum! hum! ha! I have hummed her and drummed her From place to place, till at last I have dumbed her, Hum! hum! hum![8]
 LEECH: I will suck Blood or muck! The disease of the state is a plethory, Who so fit to reduce it as I? 
 RAT: I'll slily seize and  Let blood from her weasand,- Creeping through crevice, and chink, and cranny, With my snaky tail, and my sides so scranny. 
 PURGANAX: Aroint ye! thou unprofitable worm! [TO THE LEECH.] And thou, dull beetle, get thee back to hell!  [TO THE GADFLY.] To sting the ghosts of Babylonian kings, And the ox-headed Io- 
 SWINE (WITHIN): Ugh, ugh, ugh! Hail! Iona the divine, We will be no longer Swine, But Bulls with horns and dewlaps. 
 RAT: For,  You know, my lord, the Minotaur- 
 PURGANAX (FIERCELY): Be silent! get to hell! or I will call The cat out of the kitchen. Well, Lord Mammon, This is a pretty business. 
 MAMMON: I will go And spell some scheme to make it ugly then.-  
 SWELLFOOT: She is returned! Taurina is in Thebes, When Swellfoot wishes that she were in hell! Oh, Hymen, clothed in yellow jealousy, And waving o'er the couch of wedded kings The torch of Discord with its fiery hair;  This is thy work, thou patron saint of queens! Swellfoot is wived! though parted by the sea, The very name of wife had conjugal rights; Her cursed image ate, drank, slept with me, And in the arms of Adiposa oft 290 Her memory has received a husband's- [A LOUD TUMULT, AND CRIES OF 'IONA FOR EVER -NO SWELLFOOT!'] Hark! How the Swine cry Iona Taurina; I suffer the real presence; Purganax, Off with her head! 
 PURGANAX: But I must first impanel A jury of the Pigs. 
 SWELLFOOT: Pack them then.  
 PURGANAX: Or fattening some few in two separate sties. And giving them clean straw, tying some bits Of ribbon round their legs-giving their Sows Some tawdry lace, and bits of lustre glass, And their young Boars white and red rags, and tails  Of cows, and jay feathers, and sticking cauliflowers Between the ears of the old ones; and when They are persuaded, that by the inherent virtue Of these things, they are all imperial Pigs, Good Lord! they'd rip each other's bellies up,  Not to say, help us in destroying her. 
 SWELLFOOT: This plan might be tried too;-where's General Laoctonos? [ENTER LAOCTONOS AND DAKRY.] It is my royal pleasure That you, Lord General, bring the head and body, If separate it would please me better, hither  Of Queen Iona. 
 LAOCTONOS: That pleasure I well knew, And made a charge with those battalions bold, Called, from their dress and grin, the royal apes, Upon the Swine, who in a hollow square Enclosed her, and received the first attack  Like so many rhinoceroses, and then Retreating in good order, with bare tusks And wrinkled snouts presented to the foe, Bore her in triumph to the public sty. What is still worse, some Sows upon the ground  Have given the ape-guards apples, nuts, and gin, And they all whisk their tails aloft, and cry, 'Long live Iona! down with Swellfoot!' 
 THE SWINE (WITHOUT): Long live Iona! down with Swellfoot! 
 DAKRY: I Went to the garret of the swineherd's tower,  Which overlooks the sty, and made a long Harangue (all words) to the assembled Swine, Of delicacy mercy, judgement, law, Morals, and precedents, and purity, Adultery, destitution, and divorce,  Piety, faith, and state necessity, And how I loved the Queen!-and then I wept With the pathos of my own eloquence, And every tear turned to a mill-stone, which Brained many a gaping Pig, and there was made  A slough of blood and brains upon the place, Greased with the pounded bacon; round and round The mill-stones rolled, ploughing the pavement up, And hurling Sucking-Pigs into the air, With dust and stones.- 
 MAMMON: I wonder that gray wizards  Like you should be so beardless in their schemes; It had been but a point of policy To keep Iona and the Swine apart. Divide and rule! but ye have made a junction Between two parties who will govern you  But for my art.-Behold this BAG! it is The poison BAG of that Green Spider huge, On which our spies skulked in ovation through The streets of Thebes, when they were paved with dead: A bane so much the deadlier fills it now  As calumny is worse than death,-for here The Gadfly's venom, fifty times distilled, Is mingled with the vomit of the Leech, In due proportion, and black ratsbane, which That very Rat, who, like the Pontic tyrant,  Nurtures himself on poison, dare not touch;- All is sealed up with the broad seal of Fraud, Who is the Devil's Lord High Chancellor, And over it the Primate of all Hell Murmured this pious baptism:-'Be thou called  The GREEN BAG; and this power and grace be thine: That thy contents, on whomsoever poured, Turn innocence to guilt, and gentlest looks To savage, foul, and fierce deformity. Let all baptized by thy infernal dew  Be called adulterer, drunkard, liar, wretch! No name left out which orthodoxy loves, Court Journal or legitimate Review!- Be they called tyrant, beast, fool, glutton, lover Of other wives and husbands than their own-  The heaviest sin on this side of the Alps! Wither they to a ghastly caricature Of what was human!-let not man or beast[9] Behold their face with unaverted eyes! Or hear their names with ears that tingle not  With blood of indignation, rage, and shame!'- This is a perilous liquor;-good my Lords.- [SWELLFOOT APPROACHES TO TOUCH THE GREEN BAG.] Beware! for God's sake, beware!-if you should break The seal, and touch the fatal liquor- 
 PURGANAX: There, Give it to me. I have been used to handle  All sorts of poisons. His dread Majesty Only desires to see the colour of it. 
 MAMMON: Now, with a little common sense, my Lords, Only undoing all that has been done (Yet so as it may seem we but confirm it),  Our victory is assured. We must entice Her Majesty from the sty, and make the Pigs Believe that the contents of the GREEN BAG Are the true test of guilt or innocence. And that, if she be guilty, 'twill transform her  To manifest deformity like guilt. If innocent, she will become transfigured Into an angel, such as they say she is; And they will see her flying through the air, So bright that she will dim the noonday sun;  Showering down blessings in the shape of comfits. This, trust a priest, is just the sort of thing Swine will believe. I'll wager you will see them Climbing upon the thatch of their low sties, With pieces of smoked glass, to watch her sail  Among the clouds, and some will hold the flaps Of one another's ears between their teeth, To catch the coming hail of comfits in. You, Purganax, who have the gift o' the gab, Make them a solemn speech to this effect:  I go to put in readiness the feast Kept to the honour of our goddess Famine, Where, for more glory, let the ceremony Take place of the uglification of the Queen. 
 DAKRY (TO SWELLFOOT): I, as the keeper of your sacred conscience,  Humbly remind your Majesty that the care Of your high office, as Man-milliner To red Bellona, should not be deferred. 
 PURGANAX: All part, in happier plight to meet again. 

See Universal History for an account of the number of people who died, and the immense consumption of garlic by the wretched Egyptians, who made a sepulchre for the name as well as the bodies of their tyrants.-Shelley


thy edition 1820; your edition 1839.


the edition 1820; thy cj. Forman; cf. Motto below Title, and II. i, 153-6. ticket? edition 1820; ticket! edition 1839.


their own Mrs. Shelley, later editions; their editions 1820 and 1839.


The Promethetes Bound of Aeschylus.-Shelley


And the Lord whistled for the gadfly out of Aethiopia, and for the bee of Egypt, etc. [Ezekiel].-Shelley


'If one should marry a gallows, and beget young gibbets, I never saw one so prone.-[Cymbeline].-Shelley


Edd. 1820, 1839 have no stage direction after this line.


or edition 1820; nor edition 1839.