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If boys can mortify thy pride,
"How wilt thou stand the ridicule "Of our whole flock? Affected fool! "Coxcombs distinguish'd from the rest, "To all but coxcombs are a jest."
Wide he displays; the spangled dew Reflects his eyes, and various hue.
His now-forgotten friend, a Snail,
Beneath his house, with slimy trail,
Crawls o'er the grass; whom when he spies,
In wrath he to the gard'ner cries :—
"What means yon peasant's daily toil,
§ 100. FABLE XXIII. The Old Woman and her "From choking weeds to rid the soil?
WHO friendship with a knave hath made,
Is judg'd a partner in the trade.
The matron who conducts abroad,
A willing nymph, is thought a bawd';
And if a modest girl is seen
With one who cures a lover's spleen,
We guess her not extremely nice,
And only wish to know her price.
"Tis thus that on the choice of friends,
Our good or evil name depends.
A wrinkled Hag, of wicked fame,
Beside a little smoky flame
Sat hov'ring, pinch'd with age and frost :
Her shrivell'd hands, with veins embost,
Upon her knees her weight sustains,
While palsy shook her crazy brains:
She mumbles forth her backward pray'rs,
An untam'd scold of fourscore years.
About her swarm'd a num'rous brood
Of Cats, who lank with hunger mew'd.
Teas'd with their cries, her choler grew; And thus she sputter'd: "Hence ye crew! "Fool that I was, to entertain
"Such imps, such fiends, a hellish train;
"Had ye been never hous'd and nurs'd,
"I for a witch had ne'er been curs'd.
"To you I owe that crowds of boys,
"Worry me with eternal noise;
"Straws laid across my pace retard;
"The horse-shoe's nail'd each threshold's guard),
"The stunted broom the wenches hide,
"For fear that I should up and ride;
"They stick with pins my bleeding seat,
"And bid me show my secret teat.
"To hear you prate would vex a saint : "Who hath most reason of complaint?" Replies a Cat. "Let's come to proof: "Had we ne'er starv'd beneath your roof, "We had, like others of our race, "In credit liv'd, as beasts of chace. ""Tis infamy to serve a hag; "Cats are thought imps, her broom a nag; "And boys against our lives combine, "Because 'tis said your cats have nine."
§ 101. FABLE XXIV. The Butterfly and Snail.
ALL upstarts insolent in place
Remind us of their vulgar race.
As, in the sunshine of the morn,
A Butterfly but newly born
Sat proudly perking on a rose,
With pert conceit his bosom glows;
His wings, all glorious to behold,
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold,
Why wake you to the morning's care? Why with new arts correct the year? Why glows the peach with crimson hue? "And why the plum's inviting blue? "Were they to feast his taste design'd, "That vermin of voracious kind? "Crush then the slow, the pilf'ring race; "So purge thy garden from disgrace." "What arrogance!" the Snail replied; "How insolent is upstart pride! "Had thou not thus, with insult vain, "Provok'd my patience to complain, "I had conceal'd thy meaner birth, "Nor trac'd thee to the scum of earth. "For scarce nine suns had wak'd the hours "To swell the fruit and paint the flow'rs, "Since I thy humbler life survey'd, "In base and sordid guise array'd: "A hideous insect, vile, unclean, "You dragg'd a slow and noisome train ; "And from your spider-bowels drew “Foul film, and spun the dirty clue. "I own my humble life, good friend; "Snail was I born, and Snail shall end. "And what's a Butterfly? At best "He's but a caterpillar drest;
"And all thy race (a num'rous seed) Shall prove of caterpillar breed."
§ 102. FABLE Xxv. The Scold and the Parrot. THE husband thus reprov'd his wife:"Who deals in slander, lives in strife. "Art thou the herald of disgrace,
Denouncing war to all thy race?
"Can nothing quell thy thunder's rage, "Which spares no friend, nor sex, nor age? "That vixen tongue of yours, my dear, "Alarms our neighbours far and near. "Good gods! 'tis like a rolling river, "That murm'ring flows, and flows for ever! "Ne'er tir'd, perpetual discord sowing! "Like fame, it gathers strength by going," "Heighday!" the flippant tongue replies, "How solemn is the fool, how wise! "Is nature's choicest gift debarr'd?
Nay, frown not, for I will be heard. "Women of late are finely ridden; A parrot's privilege forbidden! "You praise his talk, his squalling song; "But wives are always in the wrong.'
Now reputations flew in pieces, Of mothers, daughters, aunts, and nieces: She ran the parrot's language o'er, Bawd, hussey, drunkard, slattern, whore; On all the sex she vents her fury; Tries and condemns without a jury.
At once the torrent of her words Alarm'd cat, monkey, dogs, and birds; All join their forces to confound her! Puss spits, the monkey chatters round her; The yelping cur her heels assaults; The magpye blabs out all her faults; Poll, in the uproar, from his cage, With this rebuke out-scream'd her
"A Parrot is for talking priz'd, "But prattling women are despis'd. "She who attacks another's honor "Draws ev'ry living thing upon her. "Think, madam, when you stretch your lungs, "That all your neighbours too have tongues. "One slander must ten thousand get; "The world with int'rest pays the debt."
§ 103. FABLE XXVI. The Cur and the Mastiff.
A SNEAKING Cur, the master's spy,
Rewarded for his daily lie,
With secret jealousies and fears
Set all together by the ears.
Poor Puss to-day was in disgrace,
Another cat supplied her place;
The Hound was beat, the Mastiff chid;
The Monkey was the room forbid :
Each to his dearest friend grew shy,
And none could tell the reason why.
A plan to rob the house was laid:
The thief with love seduc'd the maid :
Cajol'd the Cur, and strok'd his head,
And bought his secrecy with bread.
He next the Mastiff's honor tried;
Whose honest jaws the bribe defied.
He stretch'd his hand to proffer more;
The surly dog his fingers tore.
Swift ran the Cur; with indignation
The master took his information.
Hang him, the villain 's curst, he cries;
And round his neck the halter ties.
The Dog his humble suit preferr'd;
And begg'd in justice to be heard.
The master sat. On either hand
The cited Dogs confronting stand.
The Cur the bloody tale relates,
And, like a lawyer, aggravates.
Judge not unheard, the Mastiff cried,
But weigh the cause of either side.
Think not that treach'ry can be just;
Take not informers' words on trust.
They ope their hand to ev'ry pay,
And you and me by turns betray,
He spoke; and all the truth appear'd:
The Cur was hang'd, the Mastiff clear'd.
Since I must bid the world adieu,
Let me my former life review.
I grant my bargains well were made,
But all men over-reach in trade;
"Tis self-defence in each profession :
Sure self-defence is no transgression.
The little portion in my hands,
By good security on lands,
Is well increas'd. If, unawares,
My justice to myself and heirs
Hath let my debtor rot in jail,
For want of good sufficient bail;
If I by writ, or bond, or deed,
Reduc'd a family to need,
My will hath made the world amends;
My hope on charity depends.
When I am number'd with the dead,
And all my pious gifts are read,
By heaven and earth 'twill then be known
My charities were amply shown.
An Angel came. Ah! friend, he cried,
No more in flatt'ring hope confide.
Can thy good deeds in former times
Outweigh the balance of thy crimes?
What widow or what orphan prays
To crown thy life with length of days?
A pious action's in thy pow'r,
Embrace with joy the happy hour.
Now, while you draw the vital air,
Prove your intention is sincere.
This instant give a hundred pound:
Your neighbours want, and you abound.
But why such haste? the sick Man whines; Who knows as yet what Heaven designs? Perhaps I may recover still;
That sum and more are in my will.
Fool! says the Vision, now 'tis plain,
Your life, your soul, your heaven was gain.
From ev'ry side, with all your might,
You scrap'd, and scrap'd beyond your right;
And after death would fain atone,
By giving what is not your own.
While there is life, there's hope, he cried, Then why such haste? So groan'd and died."
$105. FABLE XXVIII. The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud.
Is there a bard whom genius fires,
Whose ev'ry thought the god inspires?
When envy reads the nervous lines,
She frets, she rails, she raves, she pines;
Her hissing snakes with venom swell;
She calls her venal train from hell:
The servile fiends her nod obey,
And all Curl's authors are in pay.
§ 104. FABLE XXVII. The Sick Man and the Fame calls up calumny and spite;
Is there no hope? the sick man said;
The silent doctor shook his head,
And took his leave with signs of sorrow,
Despairing of his fee to-morrow.
When thus the Man, with gasping breath; I feel the chilling wound of death.
Thus shadow owes its birth to light.
As prostrate to the god of day, With heart devout a Persian lay, His invocation thus began :-
Parent of light, all-seeing Sun! Prolific beam, whose rays dispense The various gifts of Providence!
Accept our praise, our daily pray'r,
Smile on our fields, and bless the year!
A Cloud, who mock'd his grateful tongue,
The day with sudden darkness hung;
With pride and envy swell'd aloud,
A voice thus thunder'd from the Cloud:
Weak is this gaudy god of thine,
Whom I at will forbid to shine.
Shall I nor vows nor incense know!
Where praise is due, the praise bestow.
With fervent zeal the Persian mov'd,
Thus the proud calumny reprov'd :
It was that god, who claims my pray'r,
Who gave thee birth and rais'd thee there;
When o'er his beams the veil is thrown,
Thy substance is but plainer shown.
A passing gale, a puff of wind,
Dispels thy thickest troops combin'd.
The gale arose; the vapor, tost
(The sport of winds) in air, was lost.
The glorious orb the day refines;
Thus envy breaks, thus merit shines.
To us descends the long disgrace,
And infamy hath mark'd our race.
Though we, like harmless sheep, should feed,
Honest in thought, in word, and deed,
Whatever hen-roost is decreas'd,
We shall be thought to share the feast.
The change shall never be believ'd;
A lost good name is ne'er retriev'd.
Nay, then, replies the feeble Fox,
(But, hark! I hear a hen that clocks!)
Go, but be moderate in your food;
A chicken too might do me good.
§ 107. FABLE XXX. The Setting Dog and the Partridge.
THE raging Dog the stubble tries,
And searches ev'ry breeze that flies;
The scent grows warm; with cautious fear
He creeps, and points the covey near:
The men, in silence, far behind,
Conscious of game, the net unbind.
A Partridge, with experience wise,
The fraudful preparation spies :
§ 106. FABLE XXIX. The Fox at the Point of She mocks their toils, alarms her brood;
A Fox in life's extreme decay,
Weak, sick, and faint, expiring lay;
All appetite had left his maw,
And age disarm'd his mumbling jaw.
His num'rous race around him stand,
To learn their dying sire's command:
He rais'd his head with whining moan,
And thus was heard the feeble tone :-
Ah, sons! from evil ways depart ;
My crimes lie heavy on my heart.
See, see, the murder'd geese appear!
Why are those bleeding turkeys there?
Why all around this cackling train,
Who haunt my ears for chickens slain?
The hungry Foxes round them star'd,
And for the promis'd feast prepar'd.
Where, sir, is all this dainty cheer?
Nor turkey, goose, nor hen is here:
These are the phantoms of your brain,
And your sons lick their lips in vain.
O gluttons! says the drooping sire, Restrain inordinate desire; Your liquorish taste you shall deplore, When peace of conscience is no more. Does not the hound betray our pace, And gins and guns destroy our race? Thieves dread the searching eye of pow'r, And never feel the quiet hour. Old age (which few of us shall know) Now puts a period to my woe. Would you true happiness attain, Let honesty your passions rein; So live in credit and esteem, And the good name you lost redeem.
The counsel's good, a Fox replies, Could we perform what you advise. Think what our ancestors have done; A line of thieves from son to son:
The covey springs, and seeks the wood;
But ere her certain wing she tries,
Thus to the creeping Spaniel cries:
Thou fawning slave to man's deceit,
Thou pimp of lux'ry, sneaking cheat,
Of thy whole species the disgrace;
Dogs shall disown thee of their race!
For, if I judge their native parts,
They're born with open honest hearts;
And ere they serv'd man's wicked ends,
Were gen'rous foes, or real friends.
When thus the Dog, with scornful smile :Secure of wing, thou dar'st revile. Clowns are to polish'd manners blind; How ign'rant is the rustic mind! My worth sagacious courtiers see, And to preferment rise, like me. The thriving pimp, who beauty sets, Hath oft enhanc'd a nation's debts : Friend sets his friend, without regard; And ministers his skill reward: Thus train'd by man, I learnt his ways, And growing favor feasts my days. I might have guess'd, the Partridge said, The place where you were train'd and fed ; Servants are apt, and in a trice,
Ape to a hair their master's vice.
You came from court, you say? Adieu!
She said, and to the covey flew.
$108. FABLE Xxx1. The Universal Apparition.
A RAKE, by ev'ry passion rul'd,
With ev'ry vice his youth had cool'd;
Disease his tainted blood assails;
His spirits droop, his vigor fails;
With secret ills at home he pines,
And, like infirm old age, declines.
As twing'd with pain he pensive sits;
And raves, and prays, and swears by fits;
A ghastly phantom, lean and wan,
Before him rose, and thus began :
My name, perhaps, hath reach'd your ear ;
Attend, and be advis'd by Care.
Nor love nor honor, wealth nor pow'r,
Can give the heart a cheerful hour
When health is lost. Be timely wise:
With health all taste of pleasure flies.
Thus said, the phantom disappears;
The wary counsel wak'd his fears;
He now from all excess abstains;
With physic purifies his veins;
And, to procure a sober life,
Resolves to venture on a wife.
But now again the Sprite ascends:
Where'er he walks his ear attends;
Insinuates that beauty's frail;
That perseverance must prevail;
With jealousies his brain inflames,
And whispers all her lovers' names.
In other hours she represents
His household charge, his annual rents,
Increasing debts, perplexing duns,
And nothing for his younger sons.
Straight all his thought to gain he turns,
And with the thirst of lucre burns.
But, when possess'd of fortune's store,
The Spectre haunts him more and more;
Sets want and misery in view,
Bold thieves, and all the murd'ring crew;
Alarms him with eternal frights,
Infests his dream, or wakes his nights.
How shall he chase this hideous guest?
Pow'r may perhaps protect his rest.
To pow'r he rose again the Sprite
Besets him morning, noon, and night;
Talks of ambition's tott'ring seat,
How envy persecutes the great;
Of rival hate, of treach'rous friends,
And what disgrace his fall attends.
The court he quits, to fly from Care,
And seeks the peace of rural air:
His groves, his fields, amus'd his hours;
He prun'd his trees, he rais'd his flow'rs.
But Care again his steps pursues;
Warns him of blasts, of blighting dews,
Of plund'ring insects, snails, and rains,
And droughts that starv'd the labor'd plains.
Abroad, at home, the Spectre's there:
In vain we seek to fly from Care.
At length he thus the Ghost address'd:
Since thou must be my constant guest,
Be kind, and follow me no more;
For Care by right should go before.
They weigh'd the dignity of fowls,
And pried into the depth of Owls.
Athens, the seat of learned fame,
With gen'ral voice rever'd our name;
On merit title was conferr'd,
And all ador'd th' Athenian bird.
Brother, you reason well, replies
The solemn mate, with half-shut eyes:
Right-Athens was the seat of learning ;
And truly wisdom is discerning.
Besides, on Pallas' helm we sit,
The type and ornament of wit;
But now, alas! we're quite neglected,
And a pert sparrow's more respected.
A sparrow, who was lodg'd beside,
O'erhears them sooth each other's pride,
And thus he nimbly vents his heat:
Who meets a fool must find conceit.
I grant, you were at Athens grac'd :
And on Minerva's helm were plac'd:
But ev'ry bird that wings the sky,
Except an Owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know
How false we judge by outward show;
That we should never looks esteem,
Since fools as wise as you might seem.
Would ye contempt and scorn avoid,
Let your vain glory be destroy'd:
Humble your arrogance of thought;
Pursue the ways by Nature taught:
So shall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praise your care;
So shall sleek mice your chase reward,
And no keen cat find more regard.
WHENE'ER a courtier's out of place,
The country shelters his disgrace;
Where, doom'd to exercise and health,
His house and gardens own his wealth;
He builds new schemes, in hope to gain
The plunder of another reign;
Like Philip's son, would fain be doing,
And sighs for other realms to ruin.
As one of these (without his wand)
Pensive, along the winding strand
Employ'd the solitary hour,
In projects to regain his pow'r,
The waves in spreading circles ran,
Proteus arose, and thus began:
Came you from court? for in your mien
A self-important air is seen.
He frankly own'd his friends had trick'd him,
The Two Owls and the And how he fell his party's victim.
Two formal Owls together sat,
Conferring thus in solemn chat:
How is the modern taste decay'd!
Where's the respect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian sages knew;
They gave our sires the honor due:
Know, says the god, by matchless skill,
I change to ev'ry shape at will;
But yet I'm told, at court you see
Those who presume to rival me.
Thus said a snake, with hideous trail,
Proteus extends his scaly mail.
Know, says the man, though proud in place, All courtiers are of reptile race.
Like you, they take that dreadful form,
Bask in the sun, and fly the storm;
With malice hiss, with envy glote,
And for convenience change their coat;
With new got lustre rear their head,
Though on a dunghill born and bred.
Sudden the god a lion stands;
He shakes his mane, he spurns the sands ;
Now a fierce lynx, with fiery glare,
A wolf, an ass, a fox, a bear.
Had I ne'er lived at court, he cries,
Such transformation might surprise;
But there, in quest of daily game,
Each abler courtier acts the same.
Wolves, lions, lynxes, while in place,
Their friends and fellows are their chase.
They play the bear's and fox's part;
Now rob by force, now steal with art.
They sometimes in the senate bray;
Or, chang'd again to beasts of prey,
Down from the lion to the ape
Practise the frauds of ev'ry shape.
So said, upon the god he flies;
In cords the struggling captive ties.
Now, Proteus, now, (to truth compell'd)
Speak, and confess thy art excell'd.
Use strength, surprise, or what you will,
The courtier finds evasions still,
Not to be bound by any ties,
And never forc'd to leave his lies.
$111. FABLE XXXIV. THOSE Who in quarrels interpose, Must often wipe a bloody nose.
A Mastiff, of true English blood,
Lov'd fighting better than his food;
When dogs were snarling for a bone,
He long'd to make the war his own;
And often found (when two contend)
To interpose obtain'd his end:
He glory'd in his limping pace;
The scars of honor seam'd his face;
In ev'ry limb a gash appears,
And frequent fights retrench'd his ears.
As on a time he heard from far
Two Dogs engag'd in noisy war,
Away he scours, and lays about him,
Resolv'd no fray should be without him.
Forth from his yard a tanner flies,
And to the bold intruder cries:
A cudgel shall correct your manners;
this cursed hate to tanners ?
While on my dog you vent your spite,
Sirrah! 'tis me you dare not bite.
To see the battle thus perplex'd,
With equal rage a butcher vex'd,
Hoarse screaming from the circled crowd,
To the curs'd Mastiff cries aloud:
Both Hockley-hole and Mary-bone
The combats of my Dog have known.
He ne'er, like bullies coward-hearted,
Attacks in public to be parted.
Think not, rash fool, to share his fame;
Be his the honor or the shame.
Thus said, they swore, and rav'd like thunder; Then dragg'd their fasten'd Dogs asunder; While clubs and kicks from ev'ry side Rebounded from the Mastiff's hide.
All reeking now with sweat and blood,
A while the parted warriors stood,
Then pour'd upon the meddling foe,
Who, worried, howl'd, and sprawl'd below!
He rose; and limping from the fray,
By both sides mangled, sneak'd away..
$112. FABLE XXXV. The Barley-mow and the Dunghill.
many saucy airs we meet
From Temple-bar to Aldgate-street!
Proud rogues, who shar'd the South-sea prey,
And spring like mushrooms in a day!
They think it mean to condescend
To know a brother or a friend;
They blush to hear a mother's name,
And by their pride expose their shame.
As cross his yard, at early day,
A careful farmer took his way,
He stopp'd, and, leaning on his fork,
Observ'd the flail's incessant work.
In thought he measur'd all his store,
His geese, his hogs, he number'd o'er;
In fancy weigh'd the fleeces shorn,
And multiplied the next year's corn.
A Barley-mow, which stood beside,
Thus to its musing master cried :
Say, good Sir, is it fit or right
To treat me with neglect and slight?
Me, who contribute to your cheer,
And raise your mirth with ale and beer:
Why thus insulted, thus disgrac'd,
And that vile Dunghill near me plac'd?
Are those poor sweepings of a groom,
That filthy sight, that nauseous fume,
Meet objects here? Command it hence:
A thing so mean must give offence.
The humble Dunghill thus replied:
Thy master hears, and mocks thy pride:
Insult not thus the meek and low;
In me thy benefactor know:
My warm assistance gave thee birth,
Or thou hadst perish'd low in earth;
But upstarts to support their station,
Cancel at once all obligation.
§ 113. FABLE XXXVI. Pythagoras and the Countryman.
PYTHAG'RAS rose at early dawn,
By soaring meditation drawn ;
To breathe the fragrance of the day,
Through flow'ry fields he took his way.
In musing contemplation warm,
His steps misled him to a farm,
Where, on the ladder's topmost round,
A peasant stood: the hammer's sound
Shook the weak barn. Say, friend, what care
Calls for thy honest labor there?
The Clown, with surly voice, replies:
Vengeance aloud for justice cries.