Next time you’re really mad at Congress, read what Jonathan Swift wrote about the Irish Parliament in 1736:
Let them, when they once get in,
Sell the nation for a pin;
While they sit a picking straws,
Let them rave at making laws,
While they never hold their tongue,
Let them dabble in their dung:
Let them form a grand committee,
How to plague and starve the city;
Let them stare, and storm, and frown
When they see a clergy gown
Let them, ere they crack a louse,
Call for th’ orders of the house
Let them, with their gosling quills,
Scribble senseless heads of bills ;
We may, while they strain their throats,
Wipe our arses with their votes.
That’s from “The Legion Club.” The big Protestant landowners were cheating the Church of Ireland (Anglican) clergy of their due, hence the “clergy gown” reference.
“Crack a louse” is to smash it after picking it — off one’s head, for instance. For us maybe “pick a nose.”
Read the rest of it here, p. 547 ff.