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A man of merit, or a miser?
Whether we ought to choose our friends,
For their own worth, or our own ends?
What good, or better, we may call,
And what the very best of all.
Our friend Dan Prior, told (you know)
A tale extremely 'a propos :
Name a town life, and in a trice
He had a story of two mice.
Once on a time (so runs the fable)
A country mouse, right hospitable,
Received a town mouse at his board,
Just as a farmer might a lord.
A frugal mouse upon the whole,
Yet loved his friend, and had a soul,
Knew what was handsome, and would do't,
On just occasion, 'coute que coute,'
He brought him bacon (nothing lean);
Pudding that might have pleased a dean ;
Cheese, such as men in Suffolk make,
But wish'd it Stilton for his sake;
Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
He ate himself the rind and pairing.
Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show d his breeding and his wit;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cried, I vow you're mighty neat."
But, lord, my friend, this savage scene!
For God's sake come, and live with men :
Consider, mice, like men, must die,
Both small and grerat, both you and I:
Then spend your life in joy and sport;
(This doctrine, friend, I learn'd at court).
The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Away they came, through thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's-inn:
('Twas on the night of a debate.
When all their lordships had sat late).
Behold the place, where if a poet
Shined in description, he might show it:
Tell how the moon-beam trembling falls,
And tips with silver all the walls;
Paladian walls, Venetian doors,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors:
But let it (in a word) be said,
The moon was up, and men a-bed,
The napkins white, the carpet red;
The guests withdrawn had left the treat,
And down the mice sat, 'tete a tete.'
Our courtier walks from dish to dish,
Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish ;
Tells all their names, lays down the law;
'Que ca est bon ! Ah goutez ca!
That jelly's rich, this malmsey healing,
Pray dip your whiskers and your tail in.
Was ever such a hapy swain?
He stuffs, and swills, and stuffs again.
'I'm quite ashamed-'tis mighty rude
To eat so much-but all's so good.'
I have a thousand thanks to give-
My lord alone knows how to live.
No sooner said but from the hall
Rush chaplain, butler, dogs and all :
A rat, a rat! clap to the door'-
The cat comes bouncing on the floor,
O for the heart of Homer's mice,
Or gods to save them in a trice!
(It was by providence they think,
For your damn'd stucco has no chink).
An't please your honour,' quoth the peasant:
This same dessert is not so pleasant:
Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread, and liberty!'
Ah spare me, Venus! let me, let me rest! I am not now, alas! the man
As in the gentle reign of my queen Anne. Ah! sound no more thy soft alarms,
Nor circle sober fifty with thy charms!
Mother too fierce of dear desires!
Turn, turn to willing hearts your wanton fires:
To number five direct your doves,
There spread round Murray all your blooming love: Noble and young, who strikes the heart
With every sprightly, every decent part
Equal the injured to defend,
To charm the mistress, or to fix the friend,
He with a hundred arts refined
Shall stretch thy conquests over half the kind : To him each rival shall submit,
Make but his riches equal to his wit. Then hall thy form the marble grace,
(Thy Grecian form) and Chloe lend the face;
His house, embosom'd in the grove,
Sacred to social life and social love,
Shall glitter o'er the pendant green,
Where Thames reflects the visionary scene:
Thither the silver sounding lyres
Shall call the siniling Loves and young Desires; There, every grace and muse shall throng,
Exalt the dance, or animate the song; There youths and nymphs, in concert gay, Shall hail the rising, close the parting day. With me, alas! those joys are o'er ;
For me the vernal garlands bloom no more. Adieu! fond hope of mutual fire,
The still believing, still renew'd desire: Adieu! the heart expanding bowl,
And all the kind deceivers of the soul! But why? ah tell me, ah too dear!
Steals down my cheek the involuntary tear? Why words so flowing, thoughts so free,
Stop, or turn nonsense, at one glance of thee?
Thee dress'd in fancy's airy beam,
Absent I follow through the extended dream; Now, now I cease, I clasp thy charms,
And, now you burst (ah cruel) from my arms! And swiftly shoot along the Mall,
Or softly glide by the canal;
Now shown by Cyntha's silver
And now on rolling waters snatch'd away.
LEST you should think that verse shall die,
Which sounds the silver Thames along,
Taught on the wings of truth to fly
Above the reach of vulgar song;
Though daring Milton sits sublime,
In Spenser native muses play;
Nor yet shall Waller yield to time,
Nor pensive Cowley's moral lay-
Sages and chiefs long since had birth
Ere Cæsar was, or Newton named:
These raised new empires o'er the earth,
And those new heavens and systems framed.
Vain was the chief's the sage's pride!
They had no poet, and they died;
In vain they schemed, in vain they bled!
They had no poet, and are dead.