FABLES OF JOHN GAY (SOMEWHAT ALTERED).
FABLES OF JOHN GAY (SOMEWHAT ALTERED).
AFFECTIONATELY PRESENTED TO MARGARET ROSE,
BY HER UNCLE JOHN BENSON ROSE.
[FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION.]
LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES & SONS, STAMFORD STREET, AND CHARING CROSS.
Si doulce la Margarite.
When I first saw you—never mind the year—you could speak no English, and when next I saw you, after a lapse of two years, you would prattle no French; when again we met, you were the nymph with bright and flowing hair, which frightened his Highness Prince James out of his feline senses, when, as you came in by the door, he made his bolt by the window. It was then that you entreated me, with "most petitionary vehemence," to write you a book—a big book—thick, and all for yourself—
"Apollo heard, and granting half the prayer, Shuffled to winds the rest and tossed in air."
I have not written the book, nor is it thick: but I have printed you a book, and it is thin. And I take the occasion to note that old Geoffry Chaucer, our father poet, must have had you in his mind's eye, by prescience or precognition, or he could hardly else have written two poems, one on the daisy and one on the rose. They are poems too long for modern days, nor are we equal in patience to our fore-fathers, who read 'The Faerie Queen,' 'Gondibert,' and the 'Polyolbion,' annually, as they cheeringly averred, through and out. Photography, steam, and electricity make us otherwise, and Patience has fled to the spheres; therefore, if feasible, shall "brevity be the soul of wit," and we will eschew "tediousness and outward flourishes" in compressing 'The Flower and the Leaf' into little:—
THE FLOWER AND THE LEAF.
A maiden in greenwood in month of sweet May, Arose and awoke at the dawn of the day: As she wended along, She heard fairie song— "Si doulce est la Margarite." There the Ladye the Flower and Ladye the Leaf, With knights and squires of fairie chief, Were met upon mead, For devoir and deed— Homage unto "La doulce Margarite."
There the ladye in white and the ladye in green Sat on their thrones by the Fairie Queen, Whilst knights did their duty, And bowed down to beauty— "Si doulce est la Margarite,"— When the skies grew hot and the ladies pale, And the storm descended in lightning and hail, As they danced and sung, And the burden rung— "Sous la feuille, sous la feuille, meet."
Our Ladye of Leaf asked her of the Flower And fairie Nymphs to shelter in bower: And they danced and sung, And the refrain rung— "Si doulce est la Margarite." All woe begone shivered the Ladye Flower, The Ladye Leaf glittered in gems from the shower: As they danced and sung, And the refrain rung— "Si doulce est la Margarite."
And knights and squires then wended forth, East and west, and south, and north: To free forests and shores From giants and boars, And shelter in night and in storm; And every knight bore in chief on his shield The foyle en verte on an argent field: And they rode and they sung The huge oaks among:— "Sous la feuille, sous la feuille, dorme."
The maiden then asked of the Fairie Queen To tell her the moral of what she had seen: Who answered and sung In her fairie tongue— "Si doulce est la Margarite." The knight that is wise will lead from bower The lasting Leaf—not the fading Flower: And when storms arise To turmoil life's skies— "Sous la feuille, sous la feuille, meet."
Romaunt of the Rose.
Within my twentie yeares of age, When Love asserteth most his courage, I dreamed a dream, now fain to tell— A dream that pleased me wondrous well. Now this dream will I rime aright, To make your heartes gaye and light; For Love desireth it—also Commandeth me that it be so. It is the Romaunt of the Rose, And tale of love I must disclose. Fair is the matter for to make, But fairer—if she will to take For whom the romaunt is begonne For that I wis she is the fair one Of mokle prise; and therefore she So worthier is beloved to be; And well she ought of prise and right Be clepened Rose of every wight. But it was May, thus dreamed me,— A time of love and jollitie: A time there is no husks or straw, But new grene leaves on everie shaw; The woods were grene, the earth was proud, Beastes and birdes snug aloud; And earth her poore estate forgote, In which the winter her had fraught. Ah! ben in May the sunne is bright, And everie thing does take delight: The nightingale then singeth blithe; Then is blissful many a scithe; The goldfinch and the popinjay, They then have many things to say. Hard is his heart that loveth nought In May, when all such love is wrought.
Right from my bed full readilie, That it was by the morrow earlie; And up I rose, and gan me clothe Anon I with my handes bothe: A silver needle forth I drew Out of an aguiler quainte inew, And gan this needle threade anone, For out of town me list to gone, Jollife and gaye, full of gladnesse, Towards a river gan I me dresse, For from a hill that stood there neere Came down the stream of that rivere— My face, I wis, there saw I wele, The bottom ypaved everie dele With gravel, which was shining shene, In meadows soft and soote and greene. And full attempre out of drede Then gan I walken throw the mede Downward ever in my playing As the river's waters straying; And when I had awhile igone I saw a garden right anone, Of walls with many portraitures, And bothe of images and peintures—
But you may read it as it flows In Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose.
Chaucer to his Booke.
Now go, my booke, and be courageous, For now I send you forthe into the worlde. And though ye may find some outrageous, And in a pette be in some cornere hurl'd; Yet you by little fingeres will be greased And known hereafter by the marke of thumbe; At which, my little booke, be ye well pleased, For booke, like mouthe, unopened is dumbe. And there be some, perchance, will bidde you off To Conventre, or Yorke, or Jericho; But be not you, my booke, abashed by scoff, For I will teach you where you boun to go,— Which is in Gloucestershire, there unto Bisley, Where the church spire is spied long afarre; It is not either uncouth, square, or grisly, But soareth high, as if to catch a starre; Where shall the brother of the Christian Yeare, Keble, hereafter tend the seven springs, Above whose fountains doth The Grove uproar, Like to Mount Helicon, where Clio sings, Where rookes build, and peacocke spreadeth tail. And there the wood-pigeon doth sobbe Coo coo; Neither do sparrow, merle or mavis fail, And there the owl at midnight singeth Whoo. And where there are a Laurel and a Rose, Beneath whose branches wide a broode doth haunt; The whom high walls and fretted gates enclose, Where goode may enter, badde are bidde avaunt. And there is one yclepen Margarete, Who alsoe for the nonce is clepen Rose, For she must on some other hille be sette When Hymenaeos shall her lotte dispose. And, little booke, it is to her you runne. And sisters eight, for they, in soothe, are nine; And in their bowere baske as in the suunne, And beare Maid Marion's love to Catherine, Who is her gossipe, and she is her pette; And nought mote save us from a wrath condign, If you, my booke, should haplessly forgette, Nor bended knees, I trow, nor teares of Margarete.
DEDICATION v Introduction 1 Lion, Tiger, and Traveller 4 Spaniel and Chameleon 6 Mother, Nurse, and Fairy 7 Jove's Eagle, and Murmuring Beasts 9 Wild Boar and Ram 10 Miser and Plutus 11 Lion, Fox, and Gander 12 Lady and Wasp 14 Bull and Mastiff 15 Elephant and Bookseller 16 Turkey, Peacock, and Goose 18 Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus 20 The Tamed Fawn 21 Monkey who had seen the World 22 Philosopher and Pheasant 24 Pin and Needle 25 Shepherd's Dog and Wolf 26 The Unsatisfactory Painter 27 Lion and Cub 29 Old Hen and Young Cock 30 Ratcatcher and Cats 31 Goat without a Beard 33 Old Woman and her Cats 34 Butterfly and Snail 36 Scold and Parrot 37 Cur and Mastiff 38 Sick Man and the Angel 39 Persian, Sun, and Cloud 41 Fox at the point of Death 42 Setting Dog and Partridge 43 Universal Apparition 44 Owls and Sparrow 46 Courtier and Proteus 47 Mastiff 49 Barley Mow and Dunghill 50 Pythagoras and Countryman 51 Farmer's Dame and Raven 52 Turkey and Ant 54 Father and Jupiter 55 Two Monkeys 56 Owl and Farmer 58 Juggler and Vice 59 Council of Horses 61 Hound and Huntsman 63 Poet and the Rose 64 Cur, Horse, and Shepherd's Dog 66 Court of Death 67 Florist and Pig 68 Man and Flea 69 Hare and many Friends 71 Dog and Fox 72 Vulture, Sparrow, and Birds 75 Ape and Poultry 78 Ant in Office 81 Bear in a Boat 85 Squire and Cur 88 Countryman and Jupiter 91 Man, Cat, Dog, and Fly 95 Jackall, Leopard, and Beasts 98 Degenerate Bees 101 Packhorse and Carrier 104 Pan and Fortune 107 Plutus, Cupid, and Time 109 Owl, Swan, Cock, Spider, Ass, and Farmer 113 Cookmaid, Turnspit, and Ox 117 Raven, Sexton, and Earthworm 120 Town Mouse and Country Mouse 124 Magpie and Brood 126 The Three Warnings 129 POSTSCRIPT 131
Remote from cities dwelt a swain, Unvexed by petty cares of gain; His head was silvered, and by age He had contented grown and sage; In summer's heat and winter's cold He fed his flock and penned his fold, Devoid of envy or ambition, So had he won a proud position.
A deep philosopher, whose rules Of moral life were drawn from schools, With wonder sought this shepherd's nest, And his perplexity expressed:
"Whence is thy wisdom? Hath thy toil O'er books consumed the midnight oil, Communed o'er Greek and Roman pages, With Plato, Socrates—those sages— Or fathomed Tully,—or hast travelled With wise Ulysses, and unravelled Of customs half a mundane sphere?"
The shepherd answered him: "I ne'er From books or from mankind sought learning, For both will cheat the most discerning; The more perplexed the more they view In the wide fields of false and true.
"I draw from Nature all I know— To virtue friend, to vice a foe. The ceaseless labour of the bee Prompted my soul to industry; The wise provision of the ant Made me for winter provident; My trusty dog there showed the way, And to be true I copy Tray. Then for domestic hallowed love, I learnt it of the cooing dove; And love paternal followed, when I marked devotion in the hen.
"Nature then prompted me to school My tongue from scorn and ridicule, And never with important mien In conversation to o'erween. I learnt some lessons from the fowls: To shun solemnity, from owls; Another lesson from the pie,— Pert and pretentious, and as sly; And to detest man's raids and mulctures, From eagles, kites, goshawks, and vultures; But most of all abhorrence take From the base toad or viler snake, With filthy venom in the bite, Of envies, jealousies, and spite. Thus from Dame Nature and Creation Have I deduced my observation; Nor found I ever thing so mean, That gave no moral thence to glean."
Then the philosopher replied: "Thy fame, re-echoed far and wide, Is just and true: for books misguide,— As full, as man himself, of pride; But Nature, rightly studied, leads To noble thoughts and worthy deeds."
TO HIS HIGHNESS WILLIAM DUKE OF CUMBERLAND.
LION, TIGER, AND TRAVELLER.
Accept, my Prince, the moral fable, To youth ingenuous, profitable. Nobility, like beauty's youth, May seldom hear the voice of truth; Or mark and learn the fact betimes That flattery is the nurse of crimes. Friendship, which seldom nears a throne, Is by her voice of censure known. To one in your exalted station A courtier is a dedication; But I dare not to dedicate My verse e'en unto royal state. My muse is sacred, and must teach Truths which they slur in courtly speech. But I need not to hide the praise, Or veil the thoughts, a nation pays; We in your youth and virtues trace The dawnings of your royal race; Discern the promptings of your breast, Discern you succour the distrest, Discern your strivings to attain The heights above the lowly plain. Thence shall Nobility inspire Your bosom with her holy fire; Impressing on your spirit all Her glorious and heroical.
* * * * *
A tigress prowling for her prey Assailed a traveller on his way; A passing lion thought no shame To rob the tigress of her game. They fought: he conquered in the strife; Of him the traveller begged for life. His life the generous lion gave, And him invited to his cave. Arrived, they sat and shared the feast.
The lion spoke: he said, "What beast Is strong enough to fight with me? You saw the battle, fair and free. My vassals fear me on my throne: These hills and forests are my own. The lesser tribes of wolf and bear Regard my royal den with fear; Their carcases, on either hand, And bleaching bones now strew the land."
"It is so," said the man, "I saw What well might baser natures awe; But shall a monarch, like to you, Place glory in so base a view? Robbers invade a neighbour's right, But Love and Justice have more might. O mean and sordid are the boasts Of plundered lands and wasted hosts! Kings should by love and justice reign, Nor be like pirates of the main. Your clemency to me has shown A virtue worthy of a throne: If Heaven has made you great and strong, Use not her gifts to do us wrong."
The lion answered: "It is plain That I have been abused; my reign By slaves and sophisters beset. But tell me, friend, didst ever yet Attend in human courts? You see, My courtiers say they rule like me."
THE SPANIEL AND CHAMELEON.
A spaniel mightily well bred, Ne'er taught to labour for his bread, But to play tricks and bear him smart, To please his lady's eyes and heart, Who never had the whip for mischief, But praises from the damsel—his chief.
The wind was soft, the morning fair, They issued forth to take the air. He ranged the meadows, where a green Cameleon—green as grass—was seen.
"Halloa! you chap, who change your coat, What do you rowing in this boat? Why have you left the town? I say You're wrong to stroll about this way: Preferment, which your talent crowns, Believe me, friend, is found in towns."
"Friend," said the sycophant, "'tis true One time I lived in town like you. I was a courtier born and bred, And kings have bent to me the head. I knew each lord and lady's passion, And fostered every vice in fashion. But Jove was wrath—loves not the liar— He sent me here to cool my fire, Retained my nature—but he shaped My form to suit the thing I aped, And sent me in this shape obscene, To batten in a sylvan scene. How different is your lot and mine! Lo! how you eat, and drink, and dine; Whilst I, condemned to thinnest fare, Like those I flattered, feed on air. Jove punishes what man rewards;— Pray you accept my best regards."
MOTHER, NURSE, AND FAIRY.
"Give me a son, grant me an heir!" The fairies granted her the prayer. And to the partial parent's eyes Was never child so fair and wise; Waked to the morning's pleasing joy, The mother rose and sought her boy. She found the nurse like one possessed, Who wrung her hands and beat her breast. "What is the matter, Nurse—this clatter: The boy is well—what is the matter?"
"What is the matter? Ah! I fear The dreadful fairy has been here, And changed the baby-boy. She came Invisible; I'm not to blame She's changed the baby: here's a creature!— A pug, a monkey, every feature! Where is his mother's mouth and grace? His father's eyes, and nose, and face?"
"Woman," the mother said, "you're blind: He's wit and beauty all combined."
"Lord, Madam! with that horrid leer!— That squint is more than one can bear."
But, as she spoke, a pigmy wee soul Jumped in head-foremost through the key-hole, Perched on the cradle, and from thence Harangued with fairy vehemence:
"Repair thy wit—repair thy wit! Truly, you are devoid of it. Think you that fairies would change places With sons of clay and human races— In one point like to you alone, That we are partial to our own; For neither would a fairy mother Exchange her baby for another; But should we change with imps of clay, We should be idiots—like as they."
JOVE'S EAGLE, AND MURMURING BEASTS.
As Jove once on his judgment-seat, Opened the trap-door at his feet; Up flew the murmurs of creation, Of every brute that had sensation. The Thunderer, therefore, called his Eagle, Which came obedient as a beagle,— And him commanded to descend, And to such murmurs put an end. The eagle did so—citing all To answer the imperial call.
He spoke: "Ye murmurers declare What are these ills which trouble air?— Just are the universal laws. Now let the dog first plead his cause."
A beagle answered him: "How fleet The greyhound's course, how nerved his feet! I hunt by scent, by scent alone; That lost, and all my chance has flown."
Answered the greyhound: "If I had That which he scorns, I should be glad; Had I the hound's sagacious scent, I ne'er had murmured discontent."
The lion murmured he had not Sly Reynard's wits to lay a plot; Sly Reynard pleaded that, to awe, He should possess the lion's paw. The cock desired the heron's flight; The heron wished for greater might. And fish would feed upon the plain, And beasts would refuge in the main. None their ambitious wish could smother, And each was envious of another.
The eagle answered: "Mutineers, The god rejects your idle prayers. But any may exchange who wishes, And chop and change,—birds, beasts, and fishes." The eagle paused; but none consented To quit the race they represented, And recognised the restless mind And proud ambition of mankind.
WILD BOAR AND RAM.
A sheep lay tethered, and her life Fast ebbing on the butcher's knife; The silly flock looked on with dread. A wild boar, passing them, then said: "O cowards! cowards! will nought make The courage of your hearts awake? What, with the butcher in your sight, Flaying—ere life be parted quite— Your lambs and dams! O stolid race! Who ever witnessed souls so base?"
The patriarch ram then answered him: "My face and bearing are not grim, But we are not of soul so tame As to deny Revenge her claim: We have no whetted tusks to kill, Yet are not powerless of ill. Vengeance, the murdering hand pursues, And retribution claims her dues; She sends the plagues of war and law, Where men will battle for a straw— And our revenge may rest contented, Since drums and parchment were invented."
MISER AND PLUTUS
The wind was high, the window shook, The miser woke with haggard look; He stalked along the silent room, He shivered at the gleam and gloom, Each lock and every corner eyed, And then he stood his chest beside; He opened it, and stood in rapture In sight of gold he held in capture; And then, with sudden qualm possessed, He wrung his hands and beat his breast: "O, had the earth concealed this gold, I had perhaps in peace grown old! But there is neither gold nor price To recompense the pang of vice. Bane of all good—delusive cheat, To lure a soul on to defeat And banish honour from the mind: Gold raised the sword midst kith and kind, Gold fosters each, pernicious art In which the devils bear a part,— Gold, bane accursed!" In angry mood Plutus, his god, before him stood. The trembling miser slammed the chest.
"What rant and cant have you expressed, Yon sordid wretch! It is the mind, And not the gold, corrupts mankind. Shall my best medium be accused Because its virtues are abused? Virtue and gold alike betrayed, When knaves demand a cloak to trade; So likewise power in their possession Grows into tyrannous oppression. And in like manner gold may be Abused to vice and villany. But when it flows in virtue's streams It blesses like the sun's blest beams— Wiping the tears from widowed eyes And soothing bereft orphans' cries. Speak not of misers who have sold Their soul's integrity for gold— Than bravoes and than cut-throats worse, Who in their calling steal a purse."
LION, FOX, AND GANDER.
A lion, sick of pomp and state, Resolved his cares to delegate. Reynard was viceroy named—the crowd Of courtiers to the regent bowed; Wolves, bears, and tigers stoop and bend, And strive who most could condescend; Whilst he, with wisdom in his face, Assumed the regal grace and pace. Whilst flattery hovered him around, And the pleased ear in thraldom bound, A fox, well versed in adulation, Rose to pronounce the due oration:
"Vast talents, trained in virtue's school, With clemency, from passion cool— And uncorrupted—such a hand Will shed abundance o'er the land. The brain shall prompt the wiser part, Mercy and justice rule the heart; All blessings must attend the nation Under such bright administration."
A gander heard and understood, And summoned round his gosling brood: "Whene'er you hear a rogue commended, Be sure some mischief is intended; A fox now spoke in commendation— Foxes no doubt will rise in station; If they hold places, it is plain The geese will feel a tyrant reign. 'Tis a sad prospect for our race When every petty clerk in place Will follow fashion, and ne'er cease On holidays to feed on geese."
LADY AND WASP.
What stupid nonsense must the Beauty Endure in her diurnal duty— Buzzings and whispers from the stores Of the fatuities of bores! Yet such impertinence must be pleasing, Or Beauty would resent such teazing. A flap will drive a fly away, A frown will drive a dog to bay: So if the insects are persistent 'Twas Beauty that was inconsistent! And if she does not know herself, Blame not the persecuting elf.
It chanced upon a summer day That Boris in her boudoir lay— She the last work of God's fair creatures, Contemplated her faultless features. A wasp assailed her so reclined, Bred of a persecuting kind. He now advanced, and now retreated, Till Beauty's neck and face grew heated; She smote him with her fan: she said Wasps were excessively ill bred. But the wasp answered her: "Alas! Before you blame me, view your glass. 'Twas beauty caused me to presume; Those cherry lips, that youthful bloom, Allured me from the plums and peaches To Beauty, which the soul o'erreaches."
"Don't hit him, Jenny!" Doris cried: "The race of wasps is much belied; I must recant what I have said,— Wasps are remarkably well bred."
Away Sir Sting fled, and went boasting Amongst his fellows—Doris toasting; And as his burgundy he sips, He showed the sugar on his lips. Away the greedy host then gathered, Where they thought dalliance fair was feathered. They fluttered round her, sipped her tea, And lived in quarters fair and free; Nor were they banished, till she found That wasps had stings and felt the wound.
THE BULL AND THE MASTIFF.
Deem you to train your son and heir, For his preceptor then take care; To sound his mind your cares employ, E'er you commit to him your boy. Once on a time on native plain A bull enjoyed a native reign. A mastiff, stranger there, with ire Beheld the bull, with eyes of fire. The bovine monarch, on his part, Spurned up the dust with dauntless heart, Advised the mastiff to think twice, And asked—if lust or avarice, From which, in main, contention springs, Caused him to break the peace of kings? The mastiff answered him, 'twas glory— To emulate the sons of story; Told him that Caesar was his sire, And he a prince baptized in fire; That rifles and the mitrailleur Had thrown his bosom in a stir.
"Accursed cur!" the bull replied, "Delighting in the sanguine tide: If you are Revolution trained, Doubtless your paws with blood are stained— Demons that take delight in slaughter, And pour out human blood as water— Take then thy fate." With goring wound The monarch tossed him from the ground In air gyrating—on the stones He fell a mass of broken bones.
ELEPHANT AND BOOKSELLER.
The traveller whose undaunted soul Sails o'er the seas from pole to pole Sees many wonders, which become So wonderful they strike one dumb, When we in their description view Monsters which Adam never knew. Yet, on the other hand, the sceptic Supplies his moral antiseptic; Denying unto truths belief, With groans which give his ears relief: But truth is stranger far than fiction, And outlives sceptic contradiction. Read Pliny or old Aldrovandus, If—they would say—you understand us. Let other monsters stand avaunt, And read we of the elephant.
As one of these, in days of yore, Rummaged a stall of antique lore Of parchment rolls—not modern binding— He found a roll; the which unwinding, He saw all birds and beasts portrayed Which Nature's bounteous hand had made, With forms and sentiments, to wit— All by the hand of man down writ. The elephant, with great attention, Remarked upon that great invention:
"Man is endowed with reason; beasts Allowed their instinct—that at least: But here's an author owning neither— No reason and no instinct either: He thinks he has all natures known, And yet he does not know his own. Now here's the spaniel—who is drawn The master spirit sprung to fawn. Pooh, pooh! a courtier in his calling Must fawn more deeply for enthralling. Now there's the fox—his attribute To plunder—as we say, 'to loot.' Pooh, pooh! a lawyer at that vice Would outfox Reynard in a trice. Then come the wolf and tiger's brood; He bans them for their gust of blood. Pooh, pooh! he bloodier is than they; They slay for hunger—he for pay."
A publisher, who heard him speak, And saw him read Parsee and Greek, Thought he had found a prize: "Dear sir, If you against mankind will stir, And write upon the wrongs of Siam, No man is better pay than I am; Or, since 'tis plain that you know true Greek, To make an onslaught on the rubrick."
Twisting his trunk up like a wipsy, "Friend," said the elephant, "you're tipsy: Put up your purse again—be wise; Leave man mankind to criticise. Be sure you ne'er will lack a pen Amidst the bustling sons of men; For, like to game cocks and such cattle, Authors run unprovoked to battle, And never cease to fight and fray them Whilst there's a publisher to pay them."
THE TURKEY, PEACOCK, AND GOOSE.
As specks appear on fields of snow, So blemishes on beauty show.
A peacock fed in a farm-yard Where all the poultry eyed him hard— They looked on him with evil eye, And mocked his sumptuous pageantry: Proud of the glories he inherited, He sought the praises they well merited. Then, to surprise their dazzled sight, He spread his glories to the light. His glories spread, no sooner seen Than rose their malice and their spleen.
"Behold his insolence and pride— His haughtiness!" the turkey cried. "He trusts in feathers; but within They serve to hide his negro skin."
"What hideous legs!" exclaimed the goose; "The tail to hide them were of use. And hearken to his voice: it howls Enough to frighten midnight owls."
"Yes, they are blemishes, I own," Replied the peacock; "harsh the tone Is of my voice—no symmetry In my poor legs; yet had your eye Been pleased to mark my radiant train, You might have spared detraction's vein. For if these shanks which you traduce Belonged to turkey or to goose, Or had the voice still harsher been, They had not been remarked or seen; But Envy, unto beauties blind, Seeks blemishes to soothe her mind."
So have we, in the midnight scene, Seen purity with face serene Awake the clamour of detraction From jaundiced Envy's yellow faction.
CUPID, HYMEN, AND PLUTUS.
As Cupid, with his band of sprites, In Paphian grove set things to rights, And trimmed his bow and tipped his arrows, And taught, to play with Lesbia, sparrows, Thus Hymen said: "Your blindness makes, O Cupid, wonderful mistakes! You send me such ill-coupled folks: It grieves me, now, to give them yokes. An old chap, with his troubles laden, You bind to a light-hearted maiden; Or join incongruous minds together, To squabble for a pin or feather Until they sue for a divorce; To which the wife assents—of course."
"It is your fault, and none of mine," Cupid replied. "I hearts combine: You trade in settlements and deeds, And care not for the heart that bleeds. You couple them for gold and fee; Complain of Plutus—not of me."
Then Plutus added: "What can I do?— The settlement is what they spy to. Say, does Belinda blame her fate?— She only asked a great estate. Doris was rich enough, but humble: She got a title—does she grumble? All men want money—not a shoe-tie Care they for excellence or beauty. Oh all, my boys, is right enough: They got the money—hearts is stuff."
THE TAMED FAWN.
A young stag in the brake was caught, And home with corded antlers brought. The lord was pleased: so was the clown. When he was tipped with half-a-crown. The stag was dragged before his wife; The gentle lady begged its life: "How sleek its skin! how specked like ermine! Sure never creature was more charming."
At first within the court confined, He fled and hid from all mankind; Then, bolder grown, with mute amaze He at safe distance stood to gaze; Then munched the linen on the lines, And off a hood or whimple dines; Then steals my little master's bread, Then followed servants to be fed, Then poked his nose in fists for meat, And though repulsed would not retreat; Thrusts at them with his levelled horns, And man, that was his terror, scorns.
How like unto the country maid, Who of a red-coat, first, afraid Will hide behind the door, to trace The magic of the martial lace; But soon before the door will stand, Return the jest and strike the hand; Then hangs with pride upon his arm,— For gallant soldiers bear a charm,— Then seeks to spread her conquering fame, For custom conquers fear and shame.
THE MONKEY WHO HAD SEEN THE WORLD.
A monkey, to reform the times, Resolved to visit foreign climes; For therefore toilsomely we roam To bring politer manners home. Misfortunes serve to make us wise: Poor pug was caught, and made a prize; Sold was he, and by happy doom Bought to cheer up a lady's gloom. Proud as a lover of his chains His way he wins, his post maintains— He twirled her knots and cracked her fan, Like any other gentleman. When jests grew dull he showed his wit, And many a lounger hit with it. When he had fully stored his mind— As Orpheus once for human kind,— So he away would homewards steal, To civilize the monkey weal.
The hirsute sylvans round him pressed, Astonished to behold him dressed. They praise his sleeve and coat, and hail His dapper periwig and tail; His powdered back, like snow, admired, And all his shoulder-knot desired.
"Now mark and learn: from foreign skies I come, to make a people wise. Weigh your own worth, assert your place,— The next in rank to human race. In cities long I passed my days, Conversed with man and learnt his ways; Their dress and courtly manners see— Reform your state and be like me.
"Ye who to thrive in flattery deal, Must learn your passions to conceal; And likewise to regard your friends As creatures sent to serve your ends. Be prompt to lie: there is no wit In telling truth, to lose by it. And knock down worth, bespatter merit: Don't stint—all will your scandal credit. Be bumptious, bully, swear, and fight— And all will own the man polite."
He grinned and bowed. With muttering jaws His pugnosed brothers grinned applause, And, fond to copy human ways, Practise new mischiefs all their days.
Thus the dull lad too big to rule, With travel finishes his school; Soars to the heights of foreign vices, And copies—reckless what their price is.
PHILOSOPHER AND PHEASANT.
A sage awakened by the dawn, By music of the groves was drawn From tree to tree: responsive notes Arose from many warbling throats. As he advanced, the warblers ceased; Silent the bird and scared the beast— The nightingale then ceased her lay, And the scared leveret ran away. The sage then pondered, and his eye Roamed round to learn the reason why.
He marked a pheasant, as she stood Upon a bank, above her brood; With pride maternal beat her breast As she harangued and led from nest:
"Play on, my infant brood—this glen Is free from bad marauding men. O trust the hawk, and trust the kite, Sooner than man—detested wight! Ingratitude sticks to his mind,— A vice inherent to the kind. The sheep, that clothes him with her wool, Dies at the shambles—butcher's school; The honey-bees with waxen combs Are slain by hives and hecatombs; And the sagacious goose, who gives The plume whereby he writes and lives, And as a guerdon for its use He cuts the quill and eats the goose. Avoid the monster: where he roams He desolates our raided homes; And where such acts and deeds are boasted, I hear we pheasants all are roasted."
PIN AND NEEDLE.
A pin which long had done its duty, Attendant on a reigning beauty,— Had held her muffler, fixed her hair, And made its mistress debonnaire,— Now near her heart in honour placed, Now banished to the rear disgraced; From whence, as partners of her shame, She saw the lovers served the same. From whence, thro' various turns of life, She saw its comforts and its strife: With tailors warm, with beggars cold, Or clutched within a miser's hold. His maxim racked her wearied ear: "A pin a day's a groat a year." Restored to freedom by the proctor, She paid some visits with a doctor; She pinned a bandage that was crossed, And thence, at Gresham Hall, was lost. Charmed with its wonders, she admires, And now of this, now that inquires— 'Twas plain, in noticing her mind, She was of virtuoso kind.
"What's this thing in this box, dear sir?"
"A needle," said the interpreter.
"A needle shut up in a box? Good gracious me, why sure it locks! And why is it beside that flint? I could give her now a good hint: If she were handed to a sempstress, She would hem more and she would clem less."
"Pin!" said the needle, "cease to blunder: Stupid alike your hints and wonder. This is a loadstone, and its virtue— Though insufficient to convert you— Makes me a magnet; and afar True am I to my polar star. The pilot leaves the doubtful skies, And trusts to me with watchful eyes; By me the distant world is known, And both the Indies made our own. I am the friend and guide of sailors, And you of sempstresses and tailors."
SHEPHERD'S DOG AND WOLF.
A hungry wolf had thinned the fold, Safely he refuged on the wold; And, as in den secure he lay, The thefts of night regaled his day. The shepherd's dog, who searched the glen, By chance found the marauder's den. They fought like Trojan and like Greek, Till it fell out they both waxed weak.
"Wolf," said the dog, "the whilst we rest on, I fain would ask of you a question."
"Ask on," the wolf replied; "I'm ready."
"Wolf," said the dog, "with soul so steady And limbs so strong, I wonder much That you our lambs and ewes should touch. There are the lion and the boar To bathe your jaws with worthier gore; 'Tis cowardly to raid the fold."
"Friend," said the wolf, "I pray thee, hold! Nature framed me a beast of prey, And I must eat when, where I may. Now if your bosom burn with zeal To help and aid the bleating-weal, Hence to your lord and master: say What you have said to me; or, stay, Tell him that I snatch, now and then, One sheep for thousands gorged by men. I am their foe, and called a curse, But a pretended friend is worse."
THE UNSATISFACTORY PAINTER.
Lest captious men suspect your story, Speak modestly its history. The traveller, who overleaps the bounds Of probability, confounds; But though men hear your deeds with phlegm, You may with flattery cram them. Hyperboles, though ne'er so great, Will yet come short of self-conceit.
A painter drew his portraits truly, And marked complexion and mien duly;— Really a fellow knew the picture, There was nor flattery nor delicture. The eyes, and mouth, and faulty nose, Were all showed up in grim repose; He marked the dates of youth and age— But so he lost his clientage: The which determined to recover, He turned in mind the matter over. He bought a pair of busts—one, Venus, The other was Apollo Phoebus; Above his subject client placed them, And for the faulty features traced them. Chatted the while of Titian's tints, Of Guido—Raphael—neither stints To raise him to the empyreal, Whilst he is sketching his ideal. He sketches, utters, "That will do: Be pleased, my lord, to come and view." "I thought my mouth a little wider." "My lord, my lord, you me deride, ah!" "Such was my nose when I was young." "My lord, you have a witty tongue." "Ah well, ah well! you artists flatter." "That were, my lord, no easy matter." "Ah well, ah well! you artists see best." "My lord, I only (aside) earn my fee best."
So with a lady—he, between us, Borrowed the face and form of Venus. There was no fear of its rejection— Her lover voted it perfection. So on he went to fame and glory, And raised his price—which ends the story;— But not the moral,—which, though fainter, Bids one to scorn an honest painter.
LION AND CUB.
All men are fond of rule and place, Though granted by the mean and base; Yet all superior merit fly, Nor will endure an equal nigh. They o'er some ale-house club preside With smoke and joke and paltry pride. Nay, e'en with blockheads pass the night; If such can read, to such I write.
A lion cub of sordid mind Avoided all the lion-kind, And, greedy of applause, sought feasts With asses and ignoble beasts; There, as their president appears, An ass in every point, but ears. If he would perpetrate a joke, They brayed applause before he spoke; And when he spoke, with shout they praised, And said he beautifully brayed.
Elate with adulation, then He sought his father's royal den, And brayed a bray. The lion started, The noble heart within him smarted. "You lion cub," he said, "your bray Proclaims where you pass night and day,— 'Midst coxcombs who, with shameless face, Blush not proclaiming their disgrace."
"Father, the club deems very fine, All that conforms with asinine."
"My son, what stupid asses prize Lions and nobler brutes despise."
OLD HEN AND YOUNG COCK.
Once an old hen led forth her brood To scratch and glean and peck for food; A chick, to give her wings a spell, Fluttered and tumbled in a well. The mother wept till day was done, When she met with a grown-up son, And thus addressed him:—"My dear boy, Your years and vigour give me joy: You thrash all cocks around, I'm told; 'Tis right, cocks should be brave and bold: But never—fears I cannot quell— Never, my son, go near that well; A hateful, false, and wretched place, Which is most fatal to my race. Imprint that counsel on your breast, And trust to providence the rest."
He thanked the dame's maternal care, And promised never to go near. Yet still he burned to disobey, And hovered round it day by day; And communed thus: "I wonder why? Does mother think my soul is shy? Thinks me a coward? or does she Store grain in yonder well from me? I'll find that out, and so here goes." So said, he flaps his wings and crows, Mounted the margin, peered below, Where to repel him rose a foe. His choler rose, his plumes upreared— With ruffled plumes the foe appeared. Challenged to fight—he dashed him down Upon the mirrored wave to drown; And drowning uttered: "This condition Comes from my mother's prohibition. Did she forget, or not believe, That I too am a son of Eve?"
THE RATCATCHER AND CATS.
The rats by night the mischief did, And Betty every morn was chid. The cheese was nibbled, tarts were taken, And purloined were the eggs and bacon; And Betty cursed the cat, whose duty Was to protect and guard the booty. A ratcatcher, of well known skill, Was called to kill or scotch the ill; And, as an engineer, surveyed Their haunts and laid an ambuscade. A cat behold him, and was wrath, Whilst she resolved to cross his path; Not to be beaten by such chaps, She silently removed his traps. Again he set the traps and toils, Again his cunning pussy foils. He set a trap to catch the thief, And pussy she got caught in brief. "Ah!" said the rat-catcher, "you scamp, You are the spy within the camp." But the cat said, "A sister spare, Your science is our mutual care." "Science and cats!" the man replied; "We soon that question shall decide; You are my rival interloper, A nasty, sneaking, crouching groper."
A sister tabby saw the cord, And interposed a happy word: "In every age and clime we see Two of a trade cannot agree; Each deems the other an encroacher, As sportsman thinks another poacher. Beauty with beauty vies in charms, And king with king in warfare's arms: But let us limit our desires, Nor war like beauties, kings, and squires; For though one prey we both pursue There's prey enough for us and you."
THE SHAVEN AND SHORN GOAT.
'Tis strange to see a new-launched fashion Lay on the soul and grow a passion. To illustrate such folly, I Proffer some beast to the mind's eye. Now I select the goat. What then? I never said goats equal men.
A goat of singularity— Not vainer than a goat need be— Lay on a thymy bank, and viewed Himself reflected in the flood. "Confound my beard!" he thought, and said; "How badly it becomes my head; Upon my honour! women might Take me to be some crazy wight." He sought the barber of the place,— A monkey 'twas, of Moorish race, Who shaved mankind, drew teeth, and bled. A pole diagonal—striped red, Teeth in their row in order strung, And pewter bason by them slung, Far in the street projecting stood— The pole with bandage symboled blood.
Pug shaved our friend and took his penny, And hoped to shave him oft and many; Goatee, impatient of applause, Then sought his native hills and shaws. "Heigh-day! how now? whoever heard— What gone and shaven off your beard?"
The fop replied: "All realms polite, From Roman to the Muscovite, Now trim their beards and shave their chins; Shall we, like Monkish Capuchins, Alone be singular and hairy? One walks amidst the cities cheery, And men and boys all cease to poke Fun at the beard by way of joke— In days of old, so Romans jeered Stoic philosophers with beard."
"Friend," said a bearded chieftain, "you At Rome may do as Romans do; But if you refuge with our herd, I counsel you to keep your beard: For if you dread the jeers of others, How will you bear it from your brothers?"
OLD DAME AND CATS.
He who holds friendship with a knave, Will reputation hardly save; And thus upon our choice of friends Our good or evil name depends.
A wrinkled hag—of naughty fame— Sat hovering o'er a flickering flame, Propped with both hands upon her knees She shook with palsy and the breeze. She had perhaps seen fourscore years, And backwards said her daily prayers; Her troop of cats with hunger mewed,— Tabbies and toms, a numerous brood. Teased with their murmuring, out she flew In angry passion: "Hence, ye crew!— What made me take to keeping cats? Ye are as bad as bawling brats: With brats I might perhaps have grown rich; I never had been thought a known witch. Boys pester me, and strive to awe— Across my path they place a straw; They nail the horse-shoe, hide the broom-stick, Put pins, and every sort of trick."
"Dame," said a tabby, "cease your prate, Enough to break a pussy's pate. What is our lot beneath your roof? Within, starvation; out, reproof: Elsewhere we had been honest mousers, And slept, by, fireside carousers. Here we are imps who serve a hag, And yonder broom-stick's thought your nag; Boys hunt us with a doom condign, To take one life out of our nine."
BUTTERFLY AND SNAIL.
All upstarts, insolent in place, Remind us of their vulgar race.
A butterfly, but born one morning, Sat on a rose, the rosebud scorning. His wings of azure, jet, and gold, Were truly glorious to behold; He spread his wings, he sipped the dew, When an old neighbour hove in view— The snail, who left a slimy trace Upon the lawn, his native place.
"Adam," he to the gard'ner cried, "Behold this fellow by my side; What is the use with daily toil To war with weeds, to clear the soil, And with keen intermittent labour To graft and prune for fruit with flavour The peach and plum, if such as he, Voracious vermin, may make free? Give them the roller or the rake, And crush as you would crush a snake."
The snail replied: "Your arrogance Awakes my patience from its trance; Recalls to mind your humble birth, Born from the lowliest thing on earth. Nine times has Phoebus, with the hours, Awakened to new life, new flowers, Since you were a vile crawling thing! Though now endowed with painted wing, You then were vilest of the vile— I was a snail, but housed the while; Was born a snail, and snail shall die; And thou, though now a butterfly, Will leave behind a baneful breed Of caterpillar sons—thy seed."
THE SCOLD AND PARROT.
A husband said unto his wife: "Who deals in slander deals in strife; Are we the heralds of disgrace, To thunder, love, at all our race— And, indiscriminate in rage, To spare nor friend nor sex nor age? Your tongue, love, is a rolling flood That thundering onwards stirs up mud, And, like to fame and human woes, Progressing, strengthens as it flows."
"My husband," so the tongue replies, "So philosophic and so wise, Am I to be—so wisdom ridden— A parrot's privilege forbidden? You praise his talk—smile at his squalling Yet in your wife you deem it brawling: Dear husband, must it still belong To man to think his wife is wrong? A lesson learnt from nature's school Tells me to call a fool a fool."
But Nature disabused her words By cat and monkey, dog and birds: Puss spat and pug grinned at the scold, The hound slunk off, the magpie told, With repetitions, woman's rage; Whilst poll, haranguing from her cage: "Parrots for prattling words are prized; Woman for prattling words despised. She who attacks another's fame Does but discredit her own name; Upon her tongues malignant set, And with good interest pay their debt."
CUR AND MASTIFF.
A sneaking cur caused much disaster By pandering scandal for his master. The hound was beaten, mastiff chidden, Puss in disgrace, and pug forbidden. Each of his dearest chum grew shy. And none could tell a reason why. Burglars to rob the house laid wait. Betty in love, undid the gate; The cur was won by dint of meat; Remained the mastiff dog to cheat. The mastiff dog refused the bribe, And tore the hand of one beside. The cur off with the tidings ran, And told how he had bit a man. The master said: "Hanged he shall be!" They dragged poor Trusty to the tree: He met his master, and averred That he had been condemned unheard.
His lord then sat to hear the trial: The mastiff pleaded his denial; The cur then, special pleading, stated The case—unduly aggravated.
When evidence on either side Concluded was, the dog replied, And ended with this peroration: "Trust not to curs of basest station, With itching palms—a plot is laid, And man and master are betrayed."
The mastiff had with truth harangued: The truth appeared; the cur was hanged.
SICK MAN AND ANGEL.
"Is there no hope?" the sick man said. The silent doctor shook his head, And took his leave with unfeigned sorrow To lose a patient on the morrow. When left alone, the dying man "Let me review my life"—began; "My bargains—well, they were well made; 'Tis the necessity of trade— Necessity is no transgression. Now for my portion in possession: My lands and my securities, They all are right, in every wise. If justice to myself and heirs Have done some hardships unawares,— Left Smith in jail for debt, or sent The Browns adrift for unpaid rent,— I've given alms and helped my friends, What I propose will make amends: When I am numbered with the dead, And when my good bequests are read, Then will be seen and then be known Benevolence I have not shown."
The angel, present by his side, Bade him not in such hopes confide:
"What deed have you done worthy praise? What orphan blesses, widow prays, To lengthen out your life one year? If you will now add deeds to prayer— Your neighbours want, whilst you abound— Give me a cheque—five hundred pound."
"Where is the haste?" the sick man whines; "Who knows—who knows what Heaven designs: That sum, and more, are in my will; Perhaps I may recover still."
"Fool!" said the angel: "it is plain That your great happiness was gain; And after death would fain atone By giving what is not your own." "Whilst there is life, there's hope!" he cried; "Then why such haste?"—he spoke, and died.
THE PERSIAN, THE SUN, AND THE CLOUD.
Lives there a bard for genius famed Whom Envy's tongue hath not declaimed? Her hissing snakes proclaim her spite; She summons up the fiends of night; Hatred and malice by her stand, And prompt to do what she command.
As prostrate to the orb of day A Persian, invocating, lay:
"Parent of light, whose rays dispense The various gifts of Providence, Accept our praise, accept our prayer, Smile on our fields, and bless our year."
A cloud passed by—a voice aloud, Like Envy's, issued from that cloud:
"I can eclipse your gaudy orb, And every ray you ask absorb. Pray, then, to me—where praise is due— And I will grant the rays to you."
The Persian answered in his wrath: "He raised thee to that airy path; A passing wind or puff of air Will hurl thee to thy proper sphere."
The gale arose, the cloud was doomed, The golden orb his reign resumed. And as the sun above, so worth Scatters the clouds of sons of earth.
THE DYING FOX.
A fox was dying, and he lay In all the weakness of decay. A numerous progeny, with groans, Attended to his feeble tones:
"My crimes lie heavy on my soul; My sons, my sons, your raids control! Ah, how the shrieks of murdered fowl Environ me with stunning howl!"
The hungry foxes in a ring Looked round, but saw there no such thing: "This is an ecstasy of brain: We fast, dear sir, and wish in vain."
"Gluttons! restrain such wish," replied The dying fox; "be such defied; Inordinate desires deplore; The more you win, you grieve the more. Do not the dogs betray our pace, And gins and guns destroy our race? Old age—which few of us attain— Now puts a period to my pain. Would you the good name lost redeem? Live, then, in credit and esteem."
"Good counsel, marry!" said a fox; "And quit our mountain-dens and rocks! But if we quit our native place, We bear the name that marks our race; And what our ancestry have done Descends to us from sire to son. Though we should feed like harmless lambs, We should regarded be as shams; The change would never be believed; A name lost cannot be retrieved."
The Sire replied: "Too true; but then— Hark! that's the cackle of a hen. Go, but be moderate, spare the brood: One chicken, one, might do me good."
THE SETTER AND THE PARTRIDGE.
The setting dog the stubble tried, And snuffed the breeze with nostrils wide; He set—the sportsmen from behind, Conscious of game, the net unwind.
A partridge, which as warder stood, Warned, and the covey sought the wood. But, ere she followed from her cover, Thus she discharged her mind on Rover:
"Thou fawning slave and sneaking cheat, Subservient unto man's deceit! Disgrace unto thy honest race, Unto the race of dogs disgrace; Who ere to men they bent the knee Were noted for fidelity."
The dog retorted with a sneer: "Since you are safe, enjoy your jeer; Rustic alike in kind and mind, And ignorant of courts refined. Sagacious courtiers do like me,— They rise to high supremacy; I copy them, and I inherit The high rewards for worth and merit."
"I might have known," the partridge said, "The school where you were trained and bred; With a smooth brow for every crisis, Inherent to your master's vices. You came from courts: return! adieu"— And to her covey off she flew.
THE UNIVERSAL APPARITION.
A rake who had, by pleasure stuffing, Raked mind and body down to nothing, In wretched vacancy reclined, Enfeebled both in frame and mind.
As pain and languor chose to bore him, A ghastly phantom rose before him:
"My name is Care. Nor wealth nor power Can give the heart a cheerful hour Devoid of health—impressed by care. From pleasures fraught with pains, forbear."
The phantom fled. The rake abstained, And part of fleeing health retained. Then, to reform, he took a wife, Resolved to live a sober life.
Again the phantom stood before him, With jealousies and fears to bore him. Her smiles to others he resents, Looks to the charges and the rents, Increasing debts, perplexing duns, And nothing for the younger sons.
He turned his thoughts to lucre's thirst, And stored until his garners burst: The spectre haunted him the more. Then poverty besieged his door: He feared the burglar and the thief; Nor light nor darkness brought relief.
Therefore he turned his thoughts to power, To guard him in the midnight hour. That he achieved—and then the sprite Beleagued him morning, noon, and night. He had no placid hour for rest; Envy and hate his soul depressed, And rivalry, and foe for friend, And footfalls which his steps attend.
Therefore he sought a rustic bower— Groves, fields, and fruit-trees, filled each hour; But droughts and rains, and blighting dews, On foot, on horseback, Care pursues.
He faced the phantom, and addressed: "Since you must ever be my guest, Let me, as host, perform my due; Go you the first, I'll follow you."
THE OWLS AND SPARROW.
Two pompous owls together sat In the solemnity of chat:
"Respect to wisdom, all is fled; The Grecian sages all are dead. They gave our fathers honour due; The dignity of owls they knew. Upon our merit they conferred The title of 'The Athenian bird.'"
"Brother, they did; you reason right," Answered his chum with winking sight. "For Athens was the seat of learning. Academicians were discerning. They placed us on Minerva's helm, And strove with rank to overwhelm Our worth, which now is quite neglected,— Ay, a cock-sparrow's more respected."
A sparrow who was passing by, And heard the speech, made this reply: "Old chaps, you were at Athens graced, And on Minerva's helm were placed, And we all know the reason why. Of all the birds beneath the sky, They chose you forth the lot to show What they desired their schools to know, The emptiness of solemn looks. You teach it better than the books. Would you be thought of wit and worth, And be respected upon earth, Humble your arrogance of mind, Go to the farmers, and there find A welcome—foe to mice and rats. And live the rivals of the cats."
COURTIER AND PROTEUS.
The country shelters the disgrace Of every courtier out of place: When, doomed to exercise and health, O'er his estate he scatters wealth; There he builds schemes for others' ruin, As Philip's son of old was doing.
A wandless one, upon the strand, Wandered with heavy hours on hand: The murmuring waters ran and broke; Proteus arose, and him bespoke:
"Come ye from court, I ask? Your mien Is so importantly serene."
The courtier answered, friends had tricked him, And that he was a party's victim.
Proteus replied: "I hold the skill To change to any shape at will. But I am told at court there be Fellows who more than rival me. Now see a form that I can take:" And Proteus rolled a scaly snake.
The man replied: "Of reptile race Is every courtier, whilst in place. Yes, they can take the dragon form, Bask in the sun, and flee the storm; With envy glare, with malice gloat, And cast, like you your skin,—their coat! And in a dunghill born and bred, With new-born lustre rear the head."
Then Proteus as a lion stood, And shook his mane and stirred the flood; Then soused as waters, soared as fire, Then as a tigress glared with ire.
"Such transformations might appal, Had I not stood in regal hall. We hunt the lion, utilise The elements, without surprise. Such forms indeed are things of prey, And courtiers hunt them, though they bray. They practise frauds in every shape, Or as a lion or an ape."
So said, the courtier grasped the god, Bound him with cords, dragged to the sod, And said: "Now tell me, Proteus; tell, Do men or ancient gods excel? For you are bound to tell the truth, Nor are your transformations sooth; But courtiers are not bound by ties; They consort not with truth, but lies; Fix on him any form you will A courtier finds evasion still."
Those who in quarrels interpose Must often wipe a bloody nose.
A mastiff of true English mood Loved fighting better than his food. When dogs were snarling o'er a bone He wished to make their war his own; And often found (where two contend) To interpose, obtained his end: The scars of honour seamed his face; He deemed his limp endued with grace.
Once on a time he heard afar Two dogs contend with noisy jar; Away he scoured to lay about him, Resolved no fray should be without him. Forth from the yard—which was a tanner's— The master rushed to teach him manners; And with the cudgel tanned his hide, And bullied him with words beside. Forth from another yard—a butcher's— The master rushed—his name was Mutchers— "Why, who the deuce are you?" he cried: "Why do you interfere? Bankside Has, at the Bull-pit, seen and known, And Hockleyhole and Marry-bone, That when we go to work we mean it— Why should you come and intervene it?" So said, they dragged the dogs asunder, And kicks and clubs fell down like thunder. And parted now, and freed from danger, The curs beheld the meddling stranger, And where their masters whacked they hurried, And master mastiff he was "worried."
BARLEYMOW AND DUNGHILL.
How many saucy beaux we meet 'Twixt Westminster and Aldgate-street! Rascals—the mushrooms of a day, Who sprung and shared the South Sea prey, Nor in their zenith condescend To own or know the humble friend.
A careful farmer took his way Across his yard at break of day: He leant a moment o'er the rail, To hear the music of the flail; In his quick eye he viewed his stock,— The geese, the hogs, the fleecy flock.
A barleymow there, fat as mutton, Then held her master by the button: "Master, my heart and soul are wrung—till They can't abide that dirty dunghill: Master, you know I make your beer— You boast of me at Christmas cheer; Then why insult me and disgrace me, And next to that vile dunghill place me? By Jove! it gives my nose offence: Command the hinds to cart it hence."
"You stupid Barleymow," said Dunghill; "You talk about your heart and wrung-ill: Where would you be, I'd like to know, Had I not fed and made you grow? You of October brew brag—pshaw! You would have been a husk of straw. And now, instead of gratitude, You rail in this ungrateful mood."
PYTHAGORAS AND COUNTRYMAN.
Pythagoras, at daybreak drawn To meditate on dewy lawn, To breathe the fragrance of the morning, And, like philosophers, all scorning To think or care where he was bound, Fell on a farm. A hammer's sound Arrested then his thoughts and ear:
"My man, what are you doing there?"
The clown stood on a ladder's rung, And answered him with rudish tongue: "I've caught the villain—this here kite Kept my hens ever in a fright; I've nailed he here to my barn-door, Him shan't steal turkey-pouts no more." And lo! upon the door displayed, The caitiff kite his forfeit paid.
"Friend," said Pythagoras, "'tis right To murder a marauding kite; But, by analogy, that glutton— That man who feasts on beef and mutton— I say,—that by analogy,— The man who eats a chick should die. 'Tis insolence of power and might When man, the glutton, kills the kite."
The clown, who heard Pythagoras, Waxed in a rage, called him an ass; Said man was lord of all creation.
"Man," the sage answered, sans sensation, "You murder hawks and kites, lest they Should rob you of your fatted prey; And that great rogues may hold their state, The petty rascal meets his fate."
FARMER'S WIFE AND RAVEN.
"Why are those tears? Why droops your head? Say is your swain or husband dead?"
The farmer's wife said: "You know well The salt was spilt,—to me it fell; And then to add loss unto loss, The knife and fork were laid across. On Friday evening, 'tis too true, Bounce in my lap a coffin flew. Some dire misfortune it portends: I tremble for my absent friends."
"Dame," said the neighbour, "tremble not: Be all these prodigies forgot; The while, at least, you eat your dinner Bid the foul fiend avaunt—the sinner! And soon as Betty clears the table For a dessert, I'll read a fable.
"Betwixt her panniers rocked, on Dobbin A matron rode to market bobbing, Indulging in a trancelike dream Of money for her eggs and cream; When direful clamour from her broke: 'A raven on the left-hand oak! His horrid croak bodes me some ill.' Here Dobbin stumbled; 'twas down-hill, And somehow he with failing legs Fell, and down fell the cream and eggs. She, sprawling, said, 'You rascal craven! You—nasty—filthy—dirty—raven!' 'Goody,' said raven, 'spare your clamour, There nothing here was done by glamour; Get up again and wipe your gown, It was not I who threw you down; For had you laid your market ware On Dun—the old sure-footed mare— Though all the ravens in the Hundred Had croaked till all the Hundred wondered, Sure-footed Dun had kept her legs, And you, good woman, saved your eggs.'"
THE TURKEY AND THE ANT.
We blame the mote that dims the eye Of other men, whose faults we spy; But we ignore the beam that lies With stronger strain in one's own eyes.
A turkey, who grew dull at home, Resolved in the wild woods to roam; Wearied she was of barn-door food, Therefore she chuckled round her brood, And said, "My little ones, now follow; We'll go and dine in yonder hollow." They first upon an ant-hill fell— Myriads of negro-ants, pell-mell— "O gobble, gobble—here's a treat! Emmets are most delicious meat; Spare not, spare not. How blest were we, Could we here live from poulterers free! Accursed man on turkeys preys, Christmas to us no holy-days; When with the oyster-sauce and chine We roast that aldermen may dine. They call us 'alderman in chains,' With sausages—the stupid swains! Ah! gluttony is sure the first Of all the seven sins—the worst! I'd choke mankind, had I the power, From peasant's hut to lordly bower."
An ant, who on a neighbouring beech Had climbed the trunk beyond her reach, Thus said to her: "You turkey-hen, What right have you to rail on men? You nor compunction know nor feel, But gobble nations at a meal!"
THE FATHER AND JUPITER.
A man to Jupiter preferred Prayers for a wife: his prayer was heard. Jove smiled to see the man caressing The granted prayer and doubtful blessing.
Again he troubled Jove with prayers: Fraught with a wife, he wanted heirs: They came, to be annoys or joys— One girl and two big bouncing boys. And, a third time, he prayed his prayer For grace unto his son and heir— That he, who should his name inherit, Might be replete with worth and merit. Then begged his second might aspire, With strong ambition, martial fire; That Fortune he might break or bend, And on her neck to heights ascend. Last, for the daughter, prayed that graces Might tend upon her face and paces.
Jove granted all and every prayer, For daughter, and cadet, and heir. The heir turned out a thorough miser, And lived as lives the college sizar; He took no joy in show or feat, And starving did not choose to eat. The soldier—he held honours martial, And won the baton of field-marshal; And then, for a more princely elf, They laid the warrior on the shelf. The beauty viewed with high disdain The lover's hopes—the lover's pain; Age overtook her, undecided, And Cupid left her much derided.
The father raised his voice above, Complaining of the gifts to Jove; But Jove replied that weal and woe Depended not on outward show— That ignorant of good or ill, Men still beset the heavenly will: The blest were those of virtuous mind, Who were to Providence resigned.
THE TWO MONKEYS.
The scholar, of his learning vain, Beholds the fop with deep disdain: The fop, with spirit as discerning, Looks down upon the man of learning. The Spanish Don—a solemn strutter— Despises Gallic airs and flutter: Whilst the Gaul ridicules the Don, And John Bull looks with like disdain On manners both of France and Spain: They hold, indeed, a deed tripartite To see each other in a tart light. 'Tis thus the bard is scorned by those Who only deal in learned prose: Whilst bards of quick imagination Are hipped by the dull prose oration. Men scoff at apes: apes scoff at them; And all—except themselves—contemn.
Two monkeys visited the fair, Like critics, with Parnassian sneer; They forced a way through draggled folk, Laughed at Jack Pudding and his joke, Then bought their tickets for the show, And squatted in the foremost row; Their cut-of-jib was there so stunning, It set the idle rabble funning.
"Brother," one Pug to other said, "The mob is certainly ill-bred." A sentiment which found no favour, And the retorts were of ill-savour.
The clown with entrance stopped the jar— Head over heels—with "Here we are!" The tumblers made their somersets, The vaulters made tremendous jets; The dancer on the rope did wonders, And drew down the applauses—thunders, As Numa once elicited From Jove Elicius, so they did.
"Behold the imitative crew!" Said Pug: "they copy me and you, And clumsily. I'd like to see Them jump from forest-tree to tree; I'd like to see them, on a twig, Perform a slip-slap or a rig; And yet it pleasant is to know The boobies estimate us so."
"Brother!" the other Pug replied, "They do their best—with us their guide; We must allow praise is their due, Whilst they example good pursue; But when I see them take a flight, Or walk, like they walk—bolt upright, Because we sometimes walk on two— I hate the imitative crew!"
OWL AND FARMER.
An owl took, in a barn, a station As fittest for deep contemplation; There (like a Turk) upon a beam He sat, as Turks sit in hareem.
So smokers, at the Magpie met, Peruse the 'Post-boy' or 'Gazette;' And thence foretell, in wise and sure hope, The future destinies of Europe.
The farmer comes to see his sheaves. The owl his silent soul relieves; "Reason in man is sheer pretence, Would he—were he endowed with sense— Treat owls with scorning? He can praise The birds that twitter on the sprays: Linnets, and larks, and nightingales, Yet in the nobler owl he fails. Should I, by daylight, view my reign, Those birds would cluster in my train; Why do they pounce upon the wing, Save that they see and own their king?"
"Pshaw!" said the farmer: "lump of pride! They only follow to deride; Your scream affrights the evening hour, When nightingales enchant the bower. Why all on earth—man, beast, and fowl— Know you for what you are—an owl. You and your train! 'midst Nature's rules, Fools in derision follow fools!"
JUGGLER AND VICE.
A juggler once had travelled thorough Each city, market-town, and borough; You'd think, so far his art transcended, Old Nick upon his fingers tended.
Vice heard his name: she read his bill, And sought his booth—defied his skill.
The juggler, willing, laid a wager, Not yet by losses rendered sager; He played his tricks of high emprize,— Confounding touch, deluding eyes. Then cards obeyed his will, and gold From empty bags in torrents rolled! He showed an ivory egg: and then Hatched and brought forth the mother-hen!
Vice then stepped forth, with look serene Enough to stir a juggler's spleen: She passed a magic looking-glass, Which pleased alike dame, lad, and lass; Whilst she, a senator addressing, Said: "See this bank-note—lo! a blessing— Breathe on it—Presto! hey! 'tis gone!" And on his lips a padlock shone. "Hey, presto!" and another puff, It went, and he spoke well enough! She placed twelve bottles on the board, They were with some enchantment stored; "Hey, presto!" and they disappear— A pair of bloody swords were there. She showed a purse unto a thief, His fingers closed on it in brief; "Hey, presto!" and—the treasure fled— He grasped a halter, noosed, instead. Ambition held a courtier's wand, It turned a hatchet in his hand. A box for charities, she drew; "Blow here!" and a churchwarden blew— "Hey, presto, open!" Opened, in her, For gold was a parochial dinner! Vice shook the dice, she smote the board, And filled all pockets from her hoard. A counter, in a miser's hand, Grew twenty guineas at command; She bade a rake to grasp them, fain— They turned a counter back again. The transmutations of a guinea Made every one stare like a ninny; But fair was false, and false was fair, By which Vice cheated eye and ear.
The juggler, though with grief at heart, In recognition of her art, Said: "Now and then I cheat the throng, You every day—and all day long!"
COUNCIL OF HORSES.
A steed with mutiny inspired The stud which grazed the mead, and fired A colt, whose eyes then blazing fire, Stood forth and thus expressed his ire:
"How abject is the equine race, Condemned to slavery's disgrace! Consider, friends, the deep reproach— Harnessed to drag the gilded coach, To drag the plough, to trot the road, To groan beneath the pack-horse load! Whom do we serve?—a two-legged man, Of feeble frame, of visage wan. What! must our noble jaws submit To champ and foam their galling bit? He back and spur me? Let him first Control the lion—tiger's thirst: I here avow that I disdain His might, that I reject his reign. He freedom claims, and why not we? The nag that wills it, must be free!"
He paused: the intervening pause Was followed by some horse-applause.
An ancient Nestor of the race Advanced, with sober solemn pace; With age and long experience wise, He cast around his thoughtful eyes. He said: "I was with strength endued, And knew the tasks of servitude; Now I am old—and now these plains And grateful man, repay my pains. I ofttimes marvelled to think, how He knew the times to reap and plough; And to his horses gave a share Of the fair produce of the year. He built the stable, stored the hay, And winnowed oats from day to day. Since every creature is decreed To aid his brother in his need, We served each other—horse and man— And carried out the Eternal plan, And each performed his part assigned: Then calm your discontented mind."
The Nestor spoke—the colt submitted— And, like his ancestry, was bitted.
HOUND AND HUNTSMAN.
Seeing yourselves are wise, ye smile On fools and folly for a while; But water wears the rocks, and sense Is wearied by impertinence.
The wind was southerly, the sky Proclaimed that a good scent would lie— Forth from the kennel burst the hounds, As schoolboys sally out of bounds. They hailed the huntsman; he by name Greeted each dog, who thought it fame. See them obey command: when bade, They scattered thro' the copse and glade; They snuffed the scent upon the gale, And sought the remnant of a trail.
Ringwood, a pup, on the alert, Was very young and very pert; He opened—from exuberant spirit— But old dogs heard the puppy in it; But when his note of "Full-cry" rose, The huntsman to the puppy goes,— Down falls the lash,—up rose the yelp, And murmured thus the puppy whelp:
"Why lash me? Are you malcontent That I possess superior scent?"
The huntsman answered: "Puppy slips Must be restrained by lash of whips; Puppies our scorn, not envy, raise— For envy is akin to praise. Had not that forward noisy tongue The patience of your elders wrung, You might have hunted with the pack; But now the whip assails your back: You must be taught to know your ground, And from a puppy grow a hound."
ROSE AND POET.
I scorn the man who builds his fame On ruins of another's name: As prudes, who prudishly declare They by a sister scandaled are; As scribblers, covetous of praise, By slandering, snatch themselves the bays; Beauties and bards, alike, are prone To snatch at honours not their own. As Lesbia listens, all the whister, To hear some scandal of a sister. How can soft souls, which sigh for sueings, Rejoice at one another's ruins?
As, in the merry month of May, A bard enjoyed the break of day, And quaffed the fragrant scents ascending, He plucked a blossomed rose, transcending All blossoms else; it moved his tongue To rhapsodize, and thus he sung:
"Go, rose, and lie On Chloe's bosom, and be there caressed; For there would I, Like to a turtle-dove, aye flee to nest From jealousy And carking care, by which I am opprest. There lie—repose Upon a bosom fragrant and as fair; Nor rival those Beauties ethereal you discover there. For wherefore, rose, Should you, as I, be subject to despair?"
* * * * *
"Spare your comparisons—oh! spare— Of me and fragrancy and fair!" A Maiden-blush, which heard him, said, With face unwontedly flushed red. "Tell me, for what committed wrong Am I the metaphor of song? I would you could write rhymes without me, Nor in your ecstacies so flout me. In every ditty must we bloom? Can't you find elsewhere some perfume? Oh! does it add to Chloe's sweetness To visit and compare my meetness? And, to enhance her face, must mine Be made to wither, peak, and pine?"
CUR, HORSE, AND SHEPHERD'S DOG.
The lad of mediocre spirit Blurs not with modesty his merit. On all exerting wit and tongue, His rattling jokes, at random flung, Bespatter widely friend and foe. Too late the forward boy will know That jokes are often paid in kind, Or rankle longer in the mind.
A village cur, with treble throat, Thought he owned music's purest note, And on the highway lay, to show it Or to philosopher or poet. Soon as a roadster's trot was heard, He rose, with nose and ears upreared; As he passed by assailed his heels, Nor left him till they reached the fields.
But, as it happened once, a pad, Assailed by Master Snarl, like mad, Flung out, and knocked him in the mire; Nor did he stop to care, inquire, If he had hurt him. On his way Pad passed, and puppy bleeding lay.
A shepherd's dog, who saw him bleed, Who hated Snarl and all his breed, Said, "This was brought about by prate, Which horses—even horses—hate!"
THE COURT OF DEATH.
Once on a time, in solemn state, Death, in his pomp of terror, sate. Attendant on his gloomy reign, Sadness and Madness, Woe and Pain, His vassal train. With hollow tone The tyrant muttered from his throne:
"We choose a minister to-night; Let him who wills prefer his right, And unto the most worthy hand We will commit the ebon wand."
Fever stood forth: "And I appeal To weekly bills to show my zeal. Repelled, repulsed, I persevere; Often quotidian through a year."
Gout next appeared to urge his claim For the racked joints of tortured frame: He, too, besieged the man oppressed, Nor would depart, although suppressed.
Then Rheumatics stept forth, and said: "I plague them as they lie in bed."
Whilst Palsy said: "I make them stumble; When they get up, I make them tumble."
Then quick Consumption, slow Decline, Put in their claims, on counts malign; And Plague preferred his rapid power To weed a nation in an hour.
At the first pause, the monarch said: "Merit of modesty was bred. Does no physician strive with these? Physicians are content with fees. I say, give Drunkenness the wand; There, give it to his drunken hand. For wary men, as foes, detest You, Rheumatics—who break their rest— Fever, and Gout, who here contend; But Drunkenness they think their friend, Invite him to their feasts: he shares Alike their merriments and cares. He for another magnum calls At weddings, births, and funerals."
FLORIST AND PIG.
A florist—wit had run a rig— Had set his fancy on a pig; Which followed master like a dog, And petted was, although a hog.
The master thus addressed the swine: "My house and garden both be thine; Feast on potatoes as you please, And riot 'midst the beans and peas; Turnips and carrots, pig, devour, And broccoli and cauliflower; But spare my tulips—my delight, By which I fascinate my sight."
But Master Pig, next morning, roamed Where sweet wort in the coolers foamed. He sucked his fill; then munched some grains, And, whilst inebriated, gains The garden for some cooling fruits, And delved his snout for tulip-roots. He did, I tell you, much disaster; So thought, at any rate, his master: "My sole, my only, charge forgot, You drunken and ungrateful sot!"
"Drunken, yourself!" said Piggy-wiggy; "I ate the roots, not flowers, you priggy!"
The florist hit the pig a peg, And piggy turned and tore his leg.
"Fool that I was," the florist said, "To let that hog come near my bed! Who cherishes a brutal mate, Will mourn the folly, soon or late."
MAN AND FLEA.
Nothing, methinks, is to be seen On earth that does not overween. Doth not the hawk, from high, survey The fowls as destined for his prey? And do not Caesars, and such things, Deem men were born to slave for kings? The crab, amidst the golden sands Of Tagus, or on pearl-strewn strands, Or in the coral-grove marine, Thinks hers each gem of ray serene. The snail, 'midst bordering pinks and roses, Where zephyrs fly and love reposes, Where Laura's cheek vies with the peaches, When Corydon one glance beseeches,— The snail regards both fruit and flower, And thanks God for the granted bower.
And man, who, standing on some bluff, Regards the world with soul as tough,— The sun, the moon, the starry sphere, The harvests of the circling year, The mighty ocean, meadows trim, And deems they all are made for him. "How infinite," he says, "am I! How wondrous in capacity! Over creation to hold reign, The lord of pleasure and of pain——"
"Hold hard, my hearty!" said a flea, Perched on his neck, beneath his lee. "I do not brag that all creation Is subject to the Flea-ite nation. I know that parasitic races, The Ticks and Lucies have their places; But the imperial race of Flea Is all surpassing—look at me. My concentrated vigour, grant, Then look at yon huge elephant; Look at my leap, at my proboscis, Then go and learn, 'UT TU TE NOSCIS,' That man was made with skin to bleed, That families of fleas may feed."
HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
Friendship, as love, is but a name, Save in a concentrated flame; And thus, in friendships, who depend On more than one, find not one friend.
A hare who, in a civil way, Was not dissimilar to GAY, Was well known never to offend, And every creature was her friend. As was her wont, at early dawn, She issued to the dewy lawn; When, from the wood and empty lair, The cry of hounds fell on her ear. She started at the frightful sounds, And doubled to mislead the hounds; Till, fainting with her beating heart, She saw the horse, who fed apart. "My friend, the hounds are on my track; Oh, let me refuge on your back!"
The horse responded: "Honest Puss, It grieves me much to see you thus. Be comforted—relief is near; Behold, the bull is in the rear."
Then she implored the stately bull, His answer we relate in full: "Madam, each beast alive can tell How very much I wish you well; But business presses in a heap, I an appointment have to keep; And now a lady's in the case,— When other things, you know, give place. Behold the goat is just behind; Trust, trust you'll not think me unkind."
The goat declared his rocky lairs Wholly unsuited were to hares. "There is the sheep," he said, "with fleece. Adapted, now, to your release."
The sheep replied that she was sure Her weight was too great to endure; "Besides," she said, "hounds worry sheep."
Next was a calf, safe in a keep: "Oh, help me, bull-calf—lend me aid!"
"My youth and inexperience weighed," Replied the bull-calf, "though I rue it, Make me incompetent to do it; My friends might take offence. My heart— You know my heart, my friend—we part, I do assure you——Hark! adieu! The pack, in full cry, is in view."
DOG AND FOX.
(To a Lawyer.)
My friend, the sophisticated tongue Of lawyers can turn right to wrong; And language, by your skill made pliant, Can save an undeserving client. Is it the fee directs the sense To injure injured innocence? Or can you, with a double face Like Janus's, mistate a case? Is scepticism your profession, And justice absent from your session? And is, e'en so, the bar supplied, Where eloquence takes either side?
A man can well express his meaning, Except in law deeds, where your gleaning Must be first purchased—must be fee'd; Engrossed, too, the too-prolix deed. But do we shelter beneath law? Ay, till your brother finds the flaw. All wills pass muster, undisputed; Dispute, and they are soon confuted: And you, by instinct, flaws discover, As dogs find coveys in the clover.
Sagacious Porta loved to trace Likeness to brutes in lordly face— To ape or owls his sketches liking, Sent the laugh round—they were so striking. So would I draw my satire true, And fix it on myself or you.
But you dissent: you do not like A portrait that shall rudely strike. You write no libels on the state, And party prejudice you hate; But to assail a private name You shrink, my friend, and deem it shame. So be it: yet let me in fable Knock a knave over; if I am able. Shall not the decalogue be read, Because the guilty sit in dread? Brutes are my theme: am I to blame If minds are brutish, men the same? Whom the cap fits, e'en let him wear it— And we are strong enough to bear it.
A shepherd's dog, unused to sporting, Picked up acquaintance, all consorting. Amongst the rest, a friendship grew 'Twixt him and Reynard, whom he knew.
Said Reynard: "'Tis a cruel case That man will stigmatize my race: Ah! there are rogues midst men and foxes— You see that where the parish stocks is. Still there are honest men and true— So are there honest foxes too. You see and know I've no disguise, And that, like life, I honour prize."
The honest dog threw off distrust, For talk like that seemed good and just. On as they went one day with chatter Of honour and such moral matter, They heard a tramp. "Are hounds abroad? I heard a clatter on the road."
"Nay," said the dog: "'tis market-day, Dame Dobbin now is on her way. That foot is Dun's, the pyebald mare: They go to sell their poultry ware."
"Their poultry ware! Why poultry me? Sir, your remark is very free. Do I know your Dame Dobbin's farm? Did I e'er do her hen-roost harm?"
"Why, my good friend, I never meant To give your spirit discontent. No lamb—for aught I ever knew— Could be more innocent than you."
"What do you mean by such a flam? Why do you talk to me of lamb? They lost three lambs: you say that I— I robbed the fold;—you dog, you lie!"
"Knave," said the dog, "your conscience tweaks: It is the guilty soul that speaks." So saying, on the fox he flies, The self-convicted felon dies.
VULTURE, SPARROW, AND BIRDS.
Ere I begin I must premise Our ministers are good and wise: Therefore if tongues malicious fly, Or what care they, or what care I?
If I am free with courts, and skittish, I ne'er presume to mean the British: I meddle with no state affairs, But spare my jest and save my ears; And our court schemes are too profound For Machiavel himself to sound. A captious fool may feel offended; They are by me uncomprehended.
Your younger brother wants a place— (That's many a younger brother's case). You likewise tell me he intends To try the court and beat up friends. I trust he may a patriot find, True to his king and to mankind, And true to merit—to your brother's— And then he need not teaze us others.
You praise his probity and wit: No doubt; I doubt them not a whit. Ah! may our patriot have them too; And if both clash, why things may do. For I have heard (oh, Heaven defend us! For I'll not hold it might not mend us) That ministers, high as yon steeple, Have trodden low law, king, and people, When virtue from preferment barred Gets nothing save its own regard. Courtiers—a set of knaves—attend them, And arrogance well recommends them; Who flatter them defame their foes To lull the ministerial woes: And if projectors fire a brain, South Sea or silver mines in Spain, The broker's ready in a trice To satisfy e'en avarice. A courtier's conscience must be pliant; He must go on, nor be defiant, Through thick and thin, o'er stock and stone, Or else, bye, bye, the post is gone. Since plagues like these as storms may lower, And favourites fall as falls the flower, Good principles should not be steady,— That is, at court, but ever ready To veer—as veers the vane—each hour Around the ministry in power: For they, you know, they must have tools; And if they can't get knaves, get fools. Ah! let me shun the public hate, And flee the guilt of guilty state. Give me, kind Heaven, a private station, A mind serene for contemplation; And if bright honour may be mine, Profit and title I resign. Now read my fable, and—in short, Go, if you will, then—go to court.
In days of yore (for cautious rhymes Should aye eschew the present times) A greedy vulture, skilled in preying, Approached the throne, his wings displaying, And at the royal eagle's ear Burthens of state proposed to bear. Behold him minister of state; Behold his feathered throng await; Behold them granting posts and places Concordant with their worth and races. The nightingales were all turned out, And daws put in. "These birds, no doubt," The vulture said, "are the most fit Both for capacity and wit, And very docile: they will do My business, as I wish them to. And hawk—the hawk is a good fellow— And chanticleer, with cockscomb yellow; But all the ravens—they must go— Pry in futurities, you know. That will not do; to baffle all With truth, for the apocryphal. No; jays and pies will do far better,— They talk by rote, nor know a letter."
A sparrow, on the housetop, heard— The sparrow is a knowing bird: "If rogues unto preferments rise, I ask nor place nor seignories. To the thatched cottage, I, to find, From courts afar, my peace of mind."
APE AND POULTRY.
Esteem is frequently misplaced, Where she may even stand disgraced; We must allow to wealth and birth Precedence, which is due on earth: But our esteem is only due Unto the worth of man and virtue.
Around an ancient pedigree There is a halo fair to see, With "unwrung withers" we afford Our salutation to milord, As due unto his ancient house, Albeit his lordship be a chouse. And riches dazzle us—we know How much they might or should bestow: But power is nothing, sans the will, Often recalcitrant to ill: And yet the mob will stand and gaze On each, with similar amaze. But worst of all the lot, we grant, The parasite or sycophant: Such as can vilely condescend To dirty jobs; and bow and bend, With meanest tropes of adulation, To have and hold on to their station. E'en such a ministry among Are found amidst the waiting throng. Where'er are misdeeds, there are bevies; And wanting never at the levees, Men who have trimmed the stocks, been rabbled, In South Seas and in gold mines dabbled, Where sycophants applauded schemes Madder than the maddest madman's dreams.
When pagans sacrificed to Moloch, They gave the first-born of their low stock; But here, unless all history lies, Nations are made the sacrifice. For look through courts, and you will find The principle that rules mankind,— Worshipped beneath the sundry shapes Of wolves, and lions, fox, and apes.
Where, then, can we esteem bestow,— To-day in place, to-morrow low? And the winged insects of his power Gone—when they see the tempests lower: Like to the bubble, full and fair, With hues prismatic, puffed with air. Another puff—and down it tends— Earthward one dingy drop descends.
A maiden, much misused by Time— All aspirations of her prime, Like the soap bubble, puffed and burst,— Monkeys, and dogs, and parrots nurst; A whole menagerie employed The passing hours which she enjoyed. A monkey, big as a gorilla, Who stalked beneath a big umbrella, Was her prime minister: his finger Was wont in each man's pie to linger. She liked the monster, and assigned The poultry-yard to him, to find The daily rations of the corn. Behold him now, with brow of scorn, Amidst his vassals: come for picking— Swans, turkeys, peacocks, ducks, and chicken. The minister appeared, the crowd Performed the reverence due; and bowed And spoke their compliments and duties, Whilst he revolved in mind his new ties, And thought "What is a place of trust?— 'And first unto thyself be just, And then it follows that you can Not be unjust to any man.' That moral motto is most true; As Shakespeare teaches, will I do."
There was an applewoman's stall, With plums and nuts, beneath a wall; With her he then proposed to trade,— In corn, full payments to be made.
"Madam, in mind this dogma bear: 'Buy in the cheap; sell in the dear;' And, since my barley costs me nothing, My market is as cheap as stuffing."
Away then went the stores of grain,— The poultry died; and mistress, fain To know the cause, named a commission— Which ended in the Pug's dismission, And left our hero in a hash, With Newgate and refunded cash.
A gander met him in disgrace, Who knew him well when high in place. "Two days ago," said Pug, "you bowed The lowest of the cringing crowd."
"I always bob my head before I pass," said Goosey, "a barn-door. I always cackle for my grain, And so do all my gosling train: But if I do not know a monkey, Whene'er I see one,—I'm a donkey."
ANT IN OFFICE.
You tell me that my verse is rough, And to do mischief like enough; Bid me eschew, in honest rhymes, Follies of countries and crimes. You ask me if I ever knew Court chaplains thus lawn sleeves pursue? I meddle not with gown or lawn; I, therefore, have no need to fawn. If they must soothe a patron's ear, Not I—I was not born to bear; All base conditions I refuse, Nor will I so debase the muse.
Though I ne'er flatter nor defame, Yet would I fain bring guilt to shame; And I corruption would expose, Though all corrupted were my foes. I no man's property invade,— Corruption 's an unlawful trade; So bribery also. Politicians Should be tied down to such conditions; If they were stinted of their tools, Less were their train of knaves and fools.
Were such the case, let us review The dreadful mischiefs to ensue. Some silver services 'twould stint, But that would aggrandise the Mint; Some ministers find less regard, But bring their servants more reward; Fewer informers, fewer spies, But that would swell the year's supplies; An annual job or two might drop, We should not miss it 'midst the crop; Some pensions, haply, be refused, The Civil List be less abused; It might the ministry confound, And yet the State stand safe and sound. Next, let it well be understood I only mean my country's good— I wish all courtiers did the same. I wish to bar no honest claim; I wish the nation out of debt; No private man had cause to fret; Yet law and public good to be The pole-stars of the Ministry; I wish corruption, bribery, pension, Were things there were no need to mention; I wish to strike a blow at vice,— Fall where it may, I am not nice; Although the Law—the devil take it!— Can scandalum magnatum make it. I vent no scandal, neither judge Another's conscience; on I trudge, And with my satire take no aim, Nor knave nor steward name by name. Yet still you think my fable bears Allusion unto State affairs.
I grant it does so; but, what then?— I strike at motives, not at men. If hands corrupted harm the nation, I bar no reader's application.
There was an Ant, of flippant tongue, Who oft the ears of senates wrung; Whether he knew the thing or no, Assurance sat upon his brow; Who gained the post whereto he strained— The grain-controllership attained. But then old laws were very strict, And punished actions derelict. Accounts were passed by year and year, The auditors would then appear, And his controllership of grain Must his accounts and stock explain.