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"(The joys above are understood "And relish'd only by the good.) "Who shall assunie this guardian care? "Who shall secure their birthright there? "Souls are my charge-to me 'tis given "To train them for their native heaven.
"Know, then-Who bow the early knee, "And give the willing heart to me; "Who wisely, when temptation waits, "Elude her frauds, and spurn her baits; "Who dare to own my injur'd cause,
Though fools deride my sacred laws; "Or scorn to deviate to the wrong, Though Persecution lifts her thong; Though all the sons of hell conspire "To raise the stake, and light the fire"Know, that for such superior souls "There lies a bliss beyond the poles ;
Where spirits shine with purer ray, "And brighten to meridian day; "Where love, where boundless friendship rules, "(No friends that change, no love that cools!) "Where rising floods of knowledge roll, "And pour, and pour upon the soul!
"But where's the passage to the skies?— "The road through Death's black valley lies. "Nay, do not shudder at my tale;
Though dark the shades, yet safe the vale.
"This path the best of men have trod,
"And who'd decline the road to God?
"Oh! 'tis a glorious boon to die!
"This favor can't be priz'd too high."
While thus she spake, my looks express'd
The raptures kindling in my breast:
My soul a fix'd attention gave;
When the stern monarch of the grave
With haughty strides approach'd-amaz'd
I stood, and trembled as I gaz'd.
The seraph calm'd each anxious fear,
And kindly wip'd the falling tear;
Then hasten'd with expanded wing
To meet the pale, terrific king.
But now what milder scenes arise!
The tyrant drops his hostile guise :
He seems a youth divinely fair;
In graceful ringlets waves his hair;
His wings their whit'ning plumes display,
His burnish'd plumes reflect the day;
Light flows his shining azure vest,
And all the angel stands confest.
I view'd the change with sweet surprise,
And, oh! I panted for the skies;
Thank'd Heaven that e'er I drew my breath,
And triumph'd in the thoughts of Death.
FABLES by the late Mr. GAY. Introduction to the FABLES. Part the First.
$77. The Shepherd and the Philosopher.
REMOTE from cities liv'd a swain,
Unvex'd with all the cares of gain;
His head was silver'd o'er with age,
And long experience made him sage;
In summer's heat, and winter's cold,
He fed his flock, and penn'd the fold;
His hours in cheerful labor flew,
envy nor ambition knew ;
His wisdom and his honest fame
Through all the country rais'd his name.
A deep Philosopher (whose rules
Of moral life were drawn from schools)
The shepherd's homely cottage sought,
And thus explor'd his reach of thought :-
Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil
O'er books consum'd the midnight oil?
Hast thou old Greece and Rome survey'd,
And the vast sense of Plato weigh'd?
Hath Socrates thy soul refin'd?
And hast thou fathom'd Tully's mind?
Or, like the wise Ulysses, thrown
By various fates on realms unknown,
Hast thou through many cities stray'd,
Their customs, laws, and manners weigh'd?
The Shepherd modestly replied:-
I ne'er the path of learning tried:
Nor have I roam'd in foreign parts
To read mankind, their laws, and arts;
For man is practis'd in disguise,
He cheats the most discerning eyes:
Who by that search shall wiser grow,
When we ourselves can never know?
The little knowledge I have gain'd,
Was all from simple nature drain'd;
life's maxims took their rise,
Hence grew my settled hate to vice.
The daily labors of the bee
Awake my soul to industry.
Who can observe the careful ant,
And not provide for future want?
My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind:
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.
In constancy and nuptial love,
1 learn my duty from the dove.
The hen, who from the chilly air
With pious wing protects her care,
And ev'ry fowl that flies at large,
Instructs me in a parent's charge.
From nature too I take my rule,
To shun contempt and ridicule:
I never, with important air,
In conversation overbear:
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When men the solemn hour despise ?
My tongue within my lips I rein,
For who talks much must talk in vain :
We from the wordy torrent fly;
Who listens to the chatt'ring pie?
Nor would I, with felonious flight,
By stealth invade my neighbour's right:
Rapacious animals we hate;
Kites, hawks, and wolves, deserve their fate.
Do not we just abhorrence find
Against the toad and serpent kind?
But envy, calumny, and spite
Bear stronger venom in their bite.
Thus ev'ry object of creation
Can furnish hints to contemplation;
And from the most minute and mean
A virtuous mind can morals glean.
Thy fame is just, the Sage replies;
Thy virtue proves thee truly wise.
Pride often guides the author's pen;
Books as affected are as men:
But he who studies nature's laws,
From certain truth his maxims draws;
And those, without our schools, suffice
To make men moral, good, and wise.
To his Highness William Duke of Cumberland.
§ 78. FABLE 1. The Lion, the Tiger, and
ACCEPT, young Prince, the moral lay,
And in these tales mankind survey;
With early virtues plant your breast,
The specious arts of vice detest.
Princes, like beauties, from their youth
Are strangers to the voice of truth:
Learn to contemn all praise betimes;
For flattery's the nurse of crimes.
Friendship by sweet reproof is shown
(A virtue never near a throne);
In courts such freedom must offend,
There none presumes to be a friend.
To those of your exalted station,
Each courtier is a dedication.
Must I too flatter like the rest,
And turn my morals to a jest?
The Muse disdains to steal from those
Who thrive in courts by fulsome prose.
But shall I hide your real praise,
Or tell you what a nation says?
They in your infant bosom trace
The virtues of your royal race,
In the fair dawning of your mind
Discern you gen'rous, mild, and kind.
They see you grieve to hear distress,
And pant already to redress.
Go on, the height of good attain,
Nor let a nation hope in vain :
For hence we justly may presage
The virtues of a riper age.
True courage shall your bosom fire,
And future actions own your sire.
Cowards are cruel, but the brave
Love mercy, and delight to save.
A Tiger, roaming for his prey,
Sprung on a Trav'ller in the way;
The prostrate game a Lion spies,
And on the greedy tyrant flies:
With mingled roar resounds the wood,
Their teeth, their claws, distil with blood;
Till, vanquish'd by the Lion's strength,
The spotted foe extends his length.
The man besought the shaggy lord,
And on his knees for life explor'd;
His life the gen'rous hero gave:
Together walking to his cave,
The lion thus bespoke his guest :-
What hardy beast shall dare contest
My matchless strength? You saw the fight,
And must attest my pow'r and right.
Forc'd to forego their native home,
My starving slaves at distance roam;
Within these woods I reign alone,
The boundless forest is my own.
Bears, wolves, and all the savage brood,
Have dyed the regal den with blood.
These carcases on either hand,
Those bones that whiten all the land.
My former deeds and triumphs tell,
Beneath these jaws what numbers fell.
True, says the man, the strength I saw
Might well the brutal nation awe:
But shall a monarch, brave like you,
Place glory in so false a view?
Robbers invade their neighbours' right:
Be lov'd; let justice bound your might.
Mean are ambitious heroes' boasts
Of wasted lands and slaughtered hosts :
Pirates their pow'r by murders gain;
Wise kings by love and mercy reign.
To me your clemency hath shown
The virtue worthy of a throne.
Heaven gives you pow'r above the rest,
Like Heaven to succour the distrest.
The case is plain, the monarch said;
False glory hath my youth misled;
For beasts of prey, a servile train,
Have been the flatt'rers of my reign.
You reason well. Yet tell me, friend,
Did ever you in courts attend?
For all my fawning rogues agree,
That human heroes rule like me.
§ 79. FABLE II. The Spaniel and the Cameleon.
A SPANIEL, bred with all the care
That waits upon a fav'rite heir;
Ne'er felt correction's rigid hand:
Indulg'd to disobey command,
In pamper'd case his hours were spent ;
He never knew what learning meant.
Such forward airs, so pert, so smart,
Were sure to win his lady's heart:
Each little mischief gain'd him praise;
How pretty were his fawning ways!
The wind was south, the morning fair,
He ventures forth to take the air:
He ranges all the meadow round,
And rolls upon the softest ground;
When near him a Cameleon seen
Was scarce distinguish'd from the green.
Dear emblem of the flatt ring host,
What, live with clowns? a genius lost!
To cities and the court repair,
A fortune cannot fail thee there;
Preferment shall thy talents crown:
Believe me, friend; I know the town.
Sir, says the sycophant, like you,
Of old, politer life I knew :
Like you, a courtier born and bred,
Kings lean'd an ear to what I said.
My whisper always met success;
The ladies prais'd me for address.
I knew to hit each courtier's passion,
And flatter'd ev'ry vice in fashion.
But Jove, who hates the liar's ways,
At once cut short my prosp'rous days;
And, sentenc'd to retain my nature,
Transform'd me to this crawling creature.
Doom'd to a life obscure and mean,
I wander in this sylvan scene.
For Jove the heart alone regards;
He punishes what man rewards.
How different is thy case and mine!
With men at least you sup and dine;
While I, condemned to thinnest fare,
Like those I flatter'd, feed on air.
$80. FABLE III. The Mother, the Nurse,
and the Fairy.
GIVE me a son. The blessing sent,
Were ever parents more content?
How partial are their doating eyes!
No child is half so fair and wise.
Wak'd to the morning's pleasing care,
The mother rose, and sought her heir.
She saw the Nurse, like one possest,
With wringing hands, and sobbing breast.
Sure some disaster has befel :
Speak, nurse! I hope the boy is well?
Dear Madam, think not me to blame;
Invisible the Fairy came;
Your precious babe is hence convey'd,
And in the place a changeling laid.
Where are the father's mouth and nose,
The mother's eyes, as black as sloes?
See here, a shocking, awkward creature,
That speaks a fool in ev'ry feature.
The woman's blind, the mother cries;
I see wit sparkle in his eyes.
Lord, Madam, what a squinting leer!
No doubt the Fairy hath been here.
Just as she spoke, a pigmy Sprite,
Pops through the key-hole, swift as light;
Perch'd on the cradle's top he stands,
And thus her folly reprimands:
Whence sprung the vain conceited lie,
That we the world with fools supply?
What! give our sprightly race away,
For the dull helpless sons of clay!
Besides, by partial fondness shown,
Like you, we doat upon our own.
Where yet was ever found a mother,
Who'd give her booby for another?
And should we change with human breed,
Well might we pass for fools indeed.
§ 81. FABLE IV. The Eagle and the
Assembly of Animals.
As Jupiter's all-seeing eye
Survey'd the worlds beneath the sky,
From this small speck of earth were sent
Murmurs and sounds of discontent;
For ev'ry thing alive complain'd
That he the hardest life sustain'd..
Jove calls his Eagle. At the word
Before him stands the royal bird.
The bird, obedient, from heaven's height
Downward directs his rapid flight;
Then cited ev'ry living thing
To hear the mandates of his king.
Ungrateful creatures! whence arise
These murmurs which offend the skies?
Why this disorder? say the cause;
For just are Jove's eternal laws.
Let each his discontent reveal;
To yon sour Dog I first appeal.
Hard is my lot, the Hound replies:
On what fleet nerves the Greyhound flies!
While I, with weary step and slow,
O'er plains, and vales, and mountains go.
The morning sees my chace begun,
Nor ends it till the setting sun.
When (says the Greyhound) I pursue,
My game is lost, or caught in view;
Beyond my sight the prey's secure :
The Hound is slow, but always sure!
And had I his sagacious scent,
Jove ne'er had heard my discontent.
The Lion crav'd the Fox's art;
The Fox the Lion's force and heart;
The Cock implor'd the Pigeon's flight,
Whose wings were rapid, strong, and light;
The Pigeon strength of wing despis'd,
And the Cock's matchless valor priz'd;
The Fishes wish'd to graze the plain;
The beasts to skim beneath the main.
Thus, envious of another's state,
Each blam'd the partial hand of Fate.
The Bird of Heaven then cried aloud :
Jove bids disperse the murm'ring crowd;
The God objects your idle prayers;
Would ye, rebellious mutineers,
Entirely change your name and nature,
And be the very envied creature?
What! silent all, and none consent?
Be happy then, and learn content:
Nor imitate the restless mind,
And proud ambition of mankind.
$82. FABLE V. The wild Boar and the Ram.
AGAINST an elm a sheep was tied,
The butcher's knife in blood was dyed ;
The patient flock, in silent fright,
From far beheld the horrid sight:
A savage Boar, who near them stood,
Thus mock'd to scorn the fleecy brood:
All cowards should be serv'd like you;
See, see, your murd'rer is in view!
With purple hands, and reeking knife,
He strips the skin yet warm with life:
Your quarter'd sires, your bleeding dams,
The dying bleat of harmless lambs,
Call for revenge. O stupid race!
The heart that wants revenge is base.
I grant, an ancient Ram replies,
We bear no terror in our eyes:
Yet think us not of soul so tame,
Which no repeated wrongs inflame,
Insensible of ev'ry ill,
Because we want thy tusks to kill.
Know, those who violence pursue,
Give to themselves the vengeance due ;
For in these massacres they find
The two chief plagues that waste mankind.
Our skins supplies the wrangling bar;
It wakes their slumb'ring sons to war;
And well revenge may rest contented,
Since drums and parchment were invented.
§ 83. FABLE VI. The Miser and Plutus.
THE wind was high, the window shakes;
With sudden start the Miser wakes;
Along the silent room he stalks;
Looks back, and trembles as he walks!
Each lock and ev'ry bolt he tries,
And ev'ry creek and corner pries;
Then opes the chest with treasure stor'd,
And stands in rapture o'er his hoard.
But now, with sudden qualms possest,
He wrings his hands, he beats his breast;
By conscience stung, he wildly stares,
And thus his guilty soul declares :
Had the deep earth her stores confin'd,
This heart had known sweet peace of mind.
But virtue's sold! Good gods! what price
Can recompense the pangs of vice?
O bane of good! seducing cheat!
Can man, weak man, thy pow'r defeat?
Gold banish'd honor from the mind,
And only left the name behind;
Gold sow'd the world with ev'ry ill;
Gold taught the murderer's sword to kill:
"Twas gold instructed coward hearts
In treachery's more pernicious arts.
Who can recount the mischiefs o'er?
Virtue resides on earth no more!
He spoke, and sigh'd. In angry mood,
Plutus, his god, before him stood.
The Miser, trembling, lock'd his chest;
The vision frown'd, and thus address'd:
Whence is this vile ungrateful rant,
Each sordid rascal's daily cant?
Did I, base wretch, corrupt mankind!
The fault's in thy rapacious mind.
Because my blessings are abus'd,
Must I be censur'd, curs'd, accus'd?
E'en virtue's self by knaves is made
A cloak to carry on the trade;
And pow'r (when lodg'd in their possession)
Grows tyranny, and rank oppression;
Thus, when the villain crams his chest,
Gold is the canker of the breast;
"Tis av'rice, insolence, and pride,
And ev'ry shocking vice beside:
But when to virtuous hands 'tis given,
It blesses like the dews of heaven;
Like heaven, it hears the orphan's cries,
And wipes the tears from widows' eyes.
Their crimes on gold shall misers lay,
Who pawn'd their sordid souls for pay?
Let bravoes then (when blood is spilt) Upbraid the passive sword with guilt.
$84. FABLE VII. The Lion, the Fox,
and the Geese.
A LION, tir'd with state affairs,
Quite sick of pomp, and worn with cares;
Resolv'd (remote from noise and strife)
peace to pass his latter life.
It was proclaim'd: the day was set: Behold the gen'ral council met. The Fox was viceroy nam'd. The crowd To the new regent humbly bow'd.
Wolves, bears, and mighty tigers bend, And strive who most shall condescend. He straight assumes a solemn grace, Collects his wisdom in his face. The crowd admire his wit, his sense; Each word hath weight and consequence. The flatt'rer all his art displays, He who hath pow'r is sure of praise. A fox stepp'd forth before the rest, And thus the servile throng address'd :
How vast his talents, born to rule, And train'd in virtue's honest school: What clemency his temper sways! How uncorrupt are all his ways! Beneath his conduct and command Rapine shall cease to waste the land; His brain hath stratagem and art; Prudence and mercy rule his heart. What blessings must attend the nation Under this good administration!
He said. A Goose who distant stood, Harangu'd apart the cackling brood:Whene'er I hear a knave commend, He bids me shun his worthy friend. What praise! what mighty commendation! But 'twas a Fox who spoke th' oration. Foxes this government may prize, As gentle, plentiful, and wise; If they enjoy the sweets, 'tis plain, We Geese must feel a tyrant reign. What havock now shall thin our race, When ev'ry petty clerk in place, To prove his taste and seem polite, Will feed on Geese both noon and night!
§ 85. FABLE VIII. The Lady and the Wasp.
WHAT Whispers must the beauty bear!
What hourly nonsense haunts her ear!
Where'er her eyes dispense their charms,
Impertinence around her swarms.
Did not the tender nonsense strike,
Contempt and scorn might soon dislike:
Forbidding airs might thin the place;
The slightest flap a fly can chase.
But who can drive the num'rous breed!
Chase one, another will succeed;
Who knows a fool, must know his brother,
One fop will recommend another:
And with this plague she's rightly curst,
Because she listen'd to the first.
As Doris, at her toilet's duty,
Sat meditating on her beauty,
She now was pensive, now was gay,
And loll'd the sultry hours away.
As thus in indolence she lies,
A giddy Wasp around her flies.
He now advances, now retires,
Now to her neck and cheek aspires.
Her fan in vain defends her charms;
Swift he returns, again alarms :
For by repulse he bolder grew,
Perch'd on her lip, and sipp'd the dew.
She frowns, she frets. Good gods! she cries,
Protect me from these teasing flies!
Of all the plagues that heaven hath sent,
A Wasp is most impertinent.
The hov'ring insect thus complain'd :
Am I then slighted, scorn'd, disdain'd?
Can such offence your anger wake?
'Twas beauty caus'd the bold mistake.
Those cherry lips that breathe perfume,
That cheek so ripe with youthful bloom,
Made me with strong desire pursue
The fairest peach that ever grew.
Strike him not, Jenny, Doris cries,
Nor murder Wasps like vulgar flies:
For though he's free, (to do him right)
The creature's civil and polite.
In ecstasies away he posts; Where'er he came the favor boasts; Brags how her sweetest tea he sips, And shows the sugar on his lips.
The hint alarm'd the forward crew: Sure of success, away they flew. They share the dainties of the day, Round her with airy music play; And now they flutter, now they rest, Now soar again, and skim her breast. Nor were they banish'd till she found That Wasps have stings, and felt the wound.
§ 86. FABLE IX. The Bull and the Mastiff. SEEK you to train your fav'rite Boy? Each caution, ev'ry care employ: And ere you venture to confide, Let his preceptor's heart be tried: Weigh well his manners, life, and scope; On these depends thy future hope. As on a time, in peaceful reign, A Bull enjoy'd the flow'ry plain, A Mastiff pass'd; inflam'd with ire, His eye-balls shot indignant fire; He foam'd, he rag'd with thirst of blood, Spurning the ground the monarch stood, And roar'd aloud-Suspend the fight; In a whole skin go sleep to-night: Or tell me, ere the battle rage, What wrongs provoke thee to engage? Is it ambition fires thy breast, Or avarice, that ne'er can rest? From these alone unjustly springs The world-destroying wrath of kings. The surly Mastiff thus returns; Within my bosom glory burns.
§87. FABLE X. The Elephant and the
THE man who with undaunted toils
Sails unknown seas to unknown soils,
With various wonders feasts his sight:
What stranger wonders does he write!
We read, and in description view
Creatures which Adam never knew:
For, when we risque no contradiction,
It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction;
Those things that startle me or you,
I grant are strange, yet may be true.
Who doubts that Elephants are found
For science and for sense renown'd?
Borri records their strength of parts,
Extent of thought, and skill in arts;
How they perform the law's decrees,
And save the state the hangman's fees:
And how by travel understand
The language of another land.
Let those who question this report,
To Pliny's ancient page resort;
How learn'd was that sagacious breed!
Who now like them the Greek can read!
As one of these, in days of yore,
Rummag'd a shop of learning o'er;
Not, like our modern dealers, minding
Only the margin's breadth and binding;
A book his curious eye detains,
Where with exactest care and pains
Were ev'ry beast and bird pourtray'd,
That e'er the search of man survey'd.
Their natures and their pow'rs were writ
With all the pride of human wit.
The page he with attention spread,
And thus remark'd on what he read :-
Man with strong reason is endow'd;
A beast scarce instinct is allow'd.
But let this author's work be tried:
'Tis plain that neither was his guide.
Can he discern the different natures,
And weigh the pow'r of other creatures,
Who by the partial work hath shown
He knows so little of his own?
How falsely is the spaniel drawn!
Did man from him first learn to fawn?