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When you peruse the clearest case,
You see it with a double face :
For scepticism's your profession;
You hold there's doubt in all expression.
Hence is the bar with fees supply'd,
Hence eloquence takes either side.
Your hand would have but paltry gleaning,
Could every man express his meaning.
Who dares presume to pen a deed,
Unless you previously are fee'd?
'Tis drawn; and, to augment the cost,
In dull prolixity engrost.
And now we're well secur'd by law,
"Till the next brother find a flaw.
Read o'er a will. Was't ever known,
But you could make the will your own?
For when you read, 'tis with intent
To find out meanings never meant.
Since things are thus, se defendendo,
I bar fallacious inuendo.
Sagacious PORTA's skill could trace
Some beast or bird in ev'ry face.
The head, the eye, the nose's shape,
Prov'd this an owl, and that an ape.
When, in the sketches thus design'd,
Resemblance brings some friend to mind,
You shew the piece, and give the hint,
And find each feature in the print;
So monstrous-like the portrait's found,.
All know it, and the laugh goes round.
Like him I draw from gen'ral nature;
Is't I or you then fix the satire?
So, sir, I beg you, spare your pains
In making comments on my strains.
All private slander I detest,
I judge not of my neighbour's breast;
Party and prejudice I hate,
And write no libels on the state.
Shall not my fable censure vice,
Because a knave is over-nice?
And, lest the guilty hear and dread,
Shall not the decalogue be read?
If I lash vice in gen'ral fiction,
Is't I apply, or self-conviction?
Brutes are my theme. Am I to blame,
If men in morals are the same?
I no man call an ape or ass;
Tis his own conscience holds the glass.
Thus void of all offence I write :
Who claims the fable, knows his right.
A Shepherd's Dog, unskill'd in sports,
Pick'd up acquaintance of all sorts:
Among the rest a Fox he knew ;
By frequent chat their friendship grew.
Says Reynard, 'Tis a cruel case,
That man should stigmatize our race.
No doubt, among us rogues you find,
As among dogs and human kind;
And yet (unknown to me and you)
There may be honest men and true.
Thus slander tries, whate'er it can,
To put us on the foot with man.
Let my own actions recommend ;
No prejudice can blind a friend :
You know me free from all disguise ;
My honour as my life I prize.
By talk like this, from all mistrust
The Dog was cur'd, and thought him just.
As on a time the Fox held forth
On conscience, honesty, and worth,
Sudden he stopt; he cock'd his ear;
Low dropt his brushy tail with fear.
Bless us! the hunters are abroad:
What's all that clatter on the road?
Hold, says the Dog, we're safe from harm, 'Twas nothing but a false alarm; At yonder town 'tis market-day; Some farmer's wife is on the way; 'Tis so (I know her pye-ball'd mare) Dame Dobbins with her poultry ware. Reynard grew huff. Says he, This sneer From you I little thought to hear: Your meaning in your looks I see; Pray what's dame Dobbins, friend, to me? Did I e'er make her poultry thinner ? Prove that I owe the dame a dinner. Friend, quoth the Cur, I meant no harm : Then why so captious; why so warm?
My words, in common acceptation,
Could never give this provocation.
No lamb (for ought I ever knew)
May be more innocent than you.
At this, gall'd Reynard winch'd, and swore
Such language ne'er was giv'n before.
What's lamb to me? The saucy hint
Shews me, base knave! which way you squint,
If t'other night your master lost
Three lambs, am I to pay the cost?
Your vile reflections would imply
That I'm a thief. You Dog, you lie.
Thou knave, thou fool (the Dog reply'd),
The name is just, take either side;
Thy guilt these applications speak :
Sirrah, 'tis conscience makes you squeak.
So saying, on the Fox he flies :
The self-convicted felon dies.
TO A COXCOMB.
THAT man must daily wiser grow,
Whose search is bent himself to know;
Impartially he weighs his scope,
And on firm reason founds his hope;
He tries his strength before the race,
And never seeks his own disgrace;
He knows the compass, sail, and oar,
Or never launches from the shore ;
Before he builds, computes the cost,
And in no proud pursuit is lost :
He learns the bounds of human sense,
And safely walks within the fence.
Thus, conscious of his own defect,
Are pride and self-importance check'd.
If, then, self-knowledge to pursue
Directs our life in ev'ry view,
Of all the fools that pride can boast,
A coxcomb claims distinction most.
Coxcombs are of all ranks and kind;
They're not to sex or age confin'd,
Or rich, or poor, or great, or small;
And vanity besots them all.
By ignorance is pride increas d
Those most assume who know the least;
Their own false balance gives them weight,
But ev'ry other finds them light.
Not that all Coxcombs' follies strike, And draw our ridicule alike; To diff'rent merits each pretends: This in love-vanity transcends ; That, smitten with his face and shape, By dress distinguishes the ape; T'other with learning crams his shelf, Knows books, and all things but himself.. All these are fools of low condition, Compar'd with Coxcombs of ambition. For those, puff'd up with flatt'ry, dare: Assume a nation's various care. They ne'er the grossest praise mistrust, Their sycophants seem hardly just; For these, in part alone, attest The flatt'ry their own thoughts suggest. In this wide sphere a Coxcomb's shown In other realms besides his own: The self-deem'd MACHIAVEL at large By turns controuls in ev'ry charge. Does commerce suffer in her rights?. 'Tis he directs the naval fights. What sailor dares dispute his skill 2. He'll be an adm'ral when he will.
Now meddling in the soldier's trade,.
Troops must be hir'd, and levies made.
He gives ambassadors their cue,
His cobbled treaties to renew;
And annual taxes must suffice
The current blunders to disguise.
When his crude schemes in air are lost,,
And millions scarce defray the cost,
His arrogance (nought undismay'd)
Trusting in self-sufficient aid,
On other rocks misguides the realm,
And thinks a pilot at the helm.
He ne'er suspects his want of skill,
But blunders on from ill to ill;
And, when he fails of all intent,
Blames only unforeseen event.
Lest you mistake the application,
The fable calls me to relation.
A Bear of shag and manners rough, At climbing trees expert enough; For dext'rously, and safe from harm, Year after year, he robb'd the swarm. Thus thriving on industrious toil, He glory'd in his pilfer'd spoil. This trick so swell'd him with conceit, He thought no enterprize too great. Alike in sciences and arts, He boasted universal parts; Pragmatic, busy, bustling, bold, His arrogance was uncontroul'd : And thus he made his party good, And grew dictator of the wood. The beasts, with admiration, stare, And think him a prodigious bear. Were any common booty got, 'Twas his each portion to allot: For why, he found there might be picking Ev'n in the carving of a chicken. Iutruding thus, he by degrees Claim'd too the butcher's larger fees. And now his over-weening pride In ev'ry province will preside. No task too difficult was found: His blund'ring nose misleads the hound. In stratagem and subtle arts, He over-rules the fox's parts.
It chanc'd as, on a certain day, Along the bank he took his way, A boat, with rudder, sail, and oar, At anchor floated near the shore. He stopt, and, turning to his train, Thus pertly vents his vaunting strain. What blund'ring puppies are mankind, In ev'ry science always blind! I mock the pedantry of schools: What are their compasses and rules ?