« PreviousContinue »
"Were all your interloping band
'Extinguith'd, or expell'd the land, "We Rat-catchers might raife our fees, Sole guardians of a nation's checfe!" A Cat, who faw the lifted knife, This spoke, and fav'd her fifter's life: In ev'ry age and clime, we fee Two of a trade can ne'er agree.
Each hates his neighbour for encroaching; "Squire Aigmatifes fquire for poaching; Beauties with beauties are in arms, And fcandal pelts each other's charms; Kings too their neighbour kings dethrone,
In hope to make the world their own.
But let us limit cur defires;
Not war like beauties, kings, and 'fquires;
*For tho' we both one prey pursue,
'There's game enough for us and you.'
§ 142. FABLE XXII. The Coat without a Beard.
TIS certain that the modifh paffions
Defcend among the crowd, like fashions.
Excufe me then, if pride, conceit
(The manners of the fair and great),
1 give to monkeys, affes, hogs,
Fas, owls, goats, butterflies, and dogs.
I fay that these are proud: what then?
I never faid they equal men.
A Goat (as vain as Goat can be)
Whene'er a thymy bank he found,
He roll'd upon the fragrant ground;
And then with fond attention stood,
Fix'd o'er his image in the flood.
I hate my frowzy beard," he cries; "My youth is loft in this difguife. "Did not the females know my vigour, "Well might they loath this rev'rend figure." Refolv'd to fimooth his fhaggy face, He fought the barber of the place. A flippant monkey, fpruce and finart, Hard by profefs'd the dapper art; His pole with pewter bafons hung; Black rotten teeth in order ftrung; Rang'd cups that in the window food, Lin'd with red rags, to look like blood, Did well his threefold trade explain; Who fhav'd, drew teeth, and breath'd a vein. The Goat he welcomes with an air, And feats him in his wooden chair: Mouth, nofe, and check the lather hides; Light, finooth, and fwift, the razor glides.
I hope your custom, sir,' fays pug; 'Sure never face was half fo fmug.'
The Goat, impatient for applaufe, Swift to the neighb'ring hill withdraws; The fhaggy people grinn'd and ftar'd:
Heighday! what 's here, without a beard? Say, brother, whence the dire difgrace? What envious hand hath robb'd your face?'
When thus the fop, with fmiles of fcorn: "Are beards by civil nations worn? Een Mufcovites have mow'd their chins. Shall we, like formal Capuchins,
§ 143. FABLE XXIII. The Old Woman ana
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 modeft girl is feen
With one who cures a lover's fpleen,
We guefs 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,
Befide a little fmoky flame
Sat hov'ring, pinch'd with age and froft:
Her thrivell'd hands, with veins emboft,
Upon her knees her weight fuftains,
While palfy fhook her crazy brains:
She mumbles forth her backward pray'rs,
An untam'd fcold of fourfcore years.
About her fwarm'd a num'rous brood
Of Cats, who lank with hunger mew`d.
Teas'd with their cries, her choler grew;
And thus the fputter'd: Hence, ye crew!
Fool that I was, to entertain
Such imps, fuch fiends, a hellish train!
Had ye been never hous'd and nurs'd,
I for a witch had ne'er been curs'd.
you I owe that crowds of boys
Worry me with eternal noife;
Straws laid acrofs my pace retard;
The horse-fhoe's nail'd (each threshold's guard);
The ftunted broom the wenches hide,
For fear that I should up and ride;
They ftick with pins my bleeding feat,
And tid me fhew my fecret teat."'
"To hear you prate would vex a faint:
Who hath most reafon of complaint?"
Replies a Cat. "Let's come to proof:
Had we ne'er ftarv'd beneath your roof,
We had, like others of our race,
In credit liv'd, as beafts of chace.
'Tis infamy to ferve a hag;
Cats are thought imps, her broom a nag;
And boys against our lives combine,
Becaufe 'tis faid your cats have nine."
As, in the funfline of the morn,
A Butterfly but newly born
Sat proudly perking on a rofe,
With pert conceit his bofom glows;
His wings, all glorious to behold,
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold,,
Wide he difplays; the fpangled dew
Reflects his eyes, and various hue.
His now-forgotten friend, a Snail,
Beneath his houfe, with fliny trail,
Crawls o'er the grafs; whom when he fpies,
In wrath he to the gard'ner cries:
"What means yon peafant's daily toil,
From choking weeds to rid the foil?
Why wake you to the morning's care?
Why with new arts correct the year?
Why glows the peach with crimfon hue?
And why the plum's inviting blue?
Were they to feast his taste design'd,
That vermin of voracious kind?
Crush then the flow, the pilf 'ring race;
So purge thy garden from difgrace.'
What arrogance!' the Snail replied;
How infolent is upftart pride!
Hadft thou not thus, with infult vain,
Provok'd my patience to complain,
I had conceal'd thy meaner birth,
Nor trac'd thee to the fcum of carth.
For fcarce nine funs have wak'd the hours,
To fwell the fruit and paint the flow'rs,
Since I thy humbler life furvey'd,
In bafe and fordid guise array'd;
A hideous infect, vile, unclean,
You dragg'd a flow and noitome train;
And from your fpider-bowels drew
Foul film, and fpun 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 dreft;
And all thy race (a num'rous feed)
Shall prove of caterpillar breed.'
145. FABLE XXV. The Scold and the Parrot. HE husband thus reprov'd his wife:
Art thou the herald of difgrace,
Denouncing war to all thy race?
Can nothing quell thy thunder's rage,
Which fpares no friend, nor fex, 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 difcord fowing!
Like fame, it gathers ftrength by going."
Heighday!' the flippant tongue replies,
How folemn is the fool, how wife!
Is nature's choiceft gift debarr'd?
Nay, frown not, for I will be heard.
Women of late are fincly ridden;
A parrot's privilege forbidden!
You praite his talk, his fqualling fong;
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, huily, drunkard, flattern, whore;
On ail the fex fhe 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;
Pufs fpits, the monkey chatters round her;
The yelping cur her heels affaults;
The magpye blabs out all her faults;
Poll, in the uproar, from his cage,
With this rebuke out-fcream'd her rage:
"A Parrot is for talking priz'd,
But prattling women are despis'd.
She who attacks another's honour
Draws ev'ry living thing upon her.
Think, Midam, when you ftretch your lungs,
That all your neighbours too have tongues.
One flander muft ten thoufand get;
The world with int'reft pays the debt.”
146. FABLE XXVI. The Cur and the Mafiff.
SNEAKING Cur, the mafter's fpy,
Rewarded for his daily lie,
With fecret jealoufies and fears
Set all together by the ears.
Poor Pufs to-day was in difgrace,
Another cat fupplied her place;
The Hound was beat, the Mastiff chid;
The Monkey was the room forbid:
Each to his dearest friend grew fhy,
And none could tell the reaton why.
A plan to rob the houfe was laid:
The thief with love feduc'd the maid;
Cajol'd the Cur, and strok'd his head,
And bought his fecrecy with bread.
He next the Maftif's honour tried;
Whofe honeft jaws the bribe defied.
He ftretch'd his hand to proffer more;
The furly dog his fingers tore.
Swift ran the Cur; with indignation
The mafter took his information.
Hang him, the villain's curft, he cries;
And round his neck the halter ties.
And took his leave with figns of forrow,
Defpairing of his fee to-morrow.
When thus the Man, with gafping breath:
I feel the chilling wound of death.
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 felf-defence in each profeffion:
Sure felf-defence is no tranfgreffion.
The little portion in my hands,
By good fecurity on lands,
Is well increas'd. If, unawares,
My juftice to my felf 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 fhewn.
An Angel came. Ah friend! he cried, No more in flatt'ring hope contide. 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 fincere. This inftant give a hundred pound; Your neighbours want, and you abound. But why fuch hafte? the Sick Man whines; Who knows as yet what Heaven defigns? Perhaps I may recover ftill; That fum and more are in my will.
Fool! fays the Vision, now 'tis plain, Your life, your foul, your heaven was gain. From ev'ry fide, with all your might, You ferap'd, and ferap'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 fuch hafte? So groan'd and died.
148. FABLE XXVIII. The Perfian, the Sun, and the Cloud.
Is there a bard whom genius fires,
Whofe ev'ry thought the God infpires ? When Envy reads the nervous lines, She frets, the rails, the raves, the pines; Her hifling fnakes with venom fwell; She calls her venal train from hell.: The fervile fiends her nod obey, And all Curl's authors are in pay. Fame calls up calumny and fpite; Thus fhadow owes its birth to light.
As proftrate to the God of day, With heart devout, a Perfian lay,
His invocation thus begun:
Parent of light, all-feeing Sun!
Prolific beam, whofe rays difpenfe
The various gifts of Providence!
Accept our praife, our daily pray'r,
Smile on our fields, and blefs the year!
A Cloud, who mock'd his grateful tongue,
The day with fudden darknefs hung;
With pride and envy fwell'd aloud,
A voice thus thunder'd from the Cloud:
Weak is this gaudy God of thine,
Whom I at will forbid to fhine.
Shall I nor vows nor incenfe know?
Where praife is due, the praise bestow.
With fervent zeal the Perfian 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 fubftance is but plainer fhown.
A paffing gale, a puff of wind,
Difpels thy thickeft troops combin'd.
The gale arofe; the vapour, toft
(The fport of winds) in air, was loft.
The glorious orb the day refines;
Thus envy breaks, thus merit fhines.
The hungry Foxes round them ftar'd, And for the promis'd feaft prepar`d.
Where, Sir, is all this dainty cheer? Nor turkey, goofe, nor hen is here. Thefe are the phantoms of your brain, And your fons lick their lips in vain.
O gluttons! fays the drooping fire, Reftrain inordinate defire. Your liquorih tafte you fhall deplore, When peace of confcience is no more. Does not the hound betray our pace, And gins and guns deftroy our race? Thieves dread the fearching eye of pow'r, And never feel the quiet hour. Old age (which few of us fhall know). Now puts a period to my woe. Would you true happiness attain, Let honelty your paflions rein; So live in credit and esteem, And the good name you loft, redeem.
The counfel's good, a Fox replies,
Could we perform what you advife.
Think what our ancestors have done;
A line of thieves from fon to fon :
To us defcends the long difgiace;
And infamy hath mark'd our race.
Though we, like harmlefs fheep, should feed,
Honeft in thought, in word, and deed;
Whatever hen-rooft is decreas'd,
We shall be thought to fhare the feast.
The change hall never be believ'd;
A loft 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.
THE ranging Dog the stubble tries,
And fearches ev'ry breeze that flies; The fcent grows warm; with cautious fear He creeps, and points the covey near; The men, in filence, far behind, Confcious of game, the net unbind.
A Partridge, with experience wise, The fraudful preparation spies: She mocks their toils, alarms her brood; The covey fprings, and feeks the wood; But ere her certain wing fhe tries, Thus to the creeping Spaniel cries:
My name, perhaps, hath reach'd your ear;
Attend, and be advis'd by Care.
Nor love, nor honour, wealth, nor pow'r,
Can give the heart a cheerful hour
When health is loft. Be timely wife:
With health all taste of pleafure flies.
Thus faid, the phantom difappears
The wary counsel wak'd his fears;
He now from all excefs abftains;
With phyfic purifies his veins;
And, to procure a fober life,
$ 150. FABLE XXX. The Setting Dog and Refoives to venture on a wife.
Thou fawning flave to man's deceit,
Thou pimp of lux'ry, fneaking cheat,
Of thy whole fpecics thou difgrace;
Dogs fhall difown thee of their race!
For, if I judge their native parts,
They 're born with open, honest hearts;
And ere they ferv'd man's wicked ends,
Were gen'rous foes, or real friends.
When thus the Dog, with fcornful fimile:
Secure of wing, thou dar'ft revile.
Clowns are to poinfh'd manners blind;
How ign'rant is the ruftic mind!
My worth fagacious courtiers fee,
And to preferment rife, like me.
The thriving pimp, who beauty fets,
Hath oft enhanc'd a nation's debts:
Friend fets his friend, without regard;
And minifters his skill reward:
Thus train'd by man, I learnt his ways,
And growing favour feafts my days.
I might have gacfs'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 mafter's vice. You came from court, you fay? adieu! She faid, and to the covey flew.
With fecret ills at home he pines,
And, like infirm old age, declines.
As twing'd with pain he penfive fits ; And raves, and prays, and swears by fits; A ghaftly phantoin, lean and wan, Before him rofe, and thus began :
FABLE XXXI. The Univerfal Apparition. RAKE, by ev'ry paffion rul'd, With ev'ry vice his youth had cool'd; Difeafe his tainted blood affails; His fpirits droop, his vigour fails :
But now again the Sprite afcends:
Where'er he walks his ear attends;
Infinuates that beauty 's frail;
That perfeverance must prevail;
With jealoufies his brain inflames,
And whispers all her lovers' names.
In other hours the reprefents
His household charge, his annual rents,
Increafing debts, perplexing duns,
And nothing for his younger fons.
Straight all his thought to gain he turns,
And with the thirft of lucre burns.
But, when poffefs'd of fortune's store,
The Spectre haunts him more and more;
Sets want and mifery in view,
Bold thieves, and all the murd'ring crew
Alarms him with eternal frights,
Infefts his dream, or wakes his nights.
How fhall he chafe this hideous gueft?
Pow'r may perhaps protect his rett.
To pow'r he rofe: again the Sprite
Befets him morning, noon, and night;
Talks of Ambition's tott'ring feat,
How Envy perfecutes the great;
Of rival hate, of treach'rous friends,
And what difgrace his fall attends.
The court he quits, to fly from Care,
And fecks 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 purfues;
Warns him of blasts, of blighting dêwş,
Of plund'ring infects, fnails, and rains,
And droughts that starv'd the labour'd plains.
Abroad, at home, the Spectre 's there :
In vain we feek to fly from Care.
At length he thus the Ghost addrefs'd:
Since thou must be my constant guest,
Be kind, and follow me no more;
For Care by right should go before.
How is the modern tafte decay'd!
Where's the refpect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian fages knew;
They gave our fires the honour due;
They weigh'd the dignity of fowls,
And pried into the depth of Owls.
Athens, the feat 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 reafon well, replies
The folemn mate, with half-fhut eyes:
Right-Athens was the feat of learning;
And truly wifdom is difcerning.
Befides, on Pallas' helin we fit,
The type and ornament of wit;
But now, alas! we're quite neglected;
And a pert Sparrow's more refpected !
A Sparrow, who was lodg'd befide,
O'erhears them footh 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 fky,
Except an Owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know
How fale we judge by outward fhow;
That we should never looks efteem,
Since fools as wife as you might feem.
Would ye contempt and fcorn avoid,
Let your vain glory be destroy'd:
Humble your arrogance of thought;
Porfue the ways by Nature taught:
So fhall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praife your care;
So fhall fleek mice your chace reward,
And no keen cat find more regard.
WHENE'ER a courtier's out of place,
The country fhelters his difgrace;
Where, doom'd to exercife and health,
His house and gardens own his wealth,
He builds new fchemes, in hope to gain
The plunder of another reign:
Like Philip's fon, would fain be doing,
And fighs for other realms to ruin.
As one of thefe (without his wand)
Penfive, along the winding ftrand
Employ'd the folitary hour,
In projects to regain his pow'r;
The waves in fpreading circles ran,
Proteus arofe, and thus began:
Came you from court for in your mien
A felf-important air is feen.
He frankly own'd his friends had trick'd him, And how he fell his party's victim.
Know, fays the God, by matchlefs skill,
I change to ev'ry fhape at will;
But yet I'm told, at court you fee
Those who prefume to rival me.
FABLE XXXIII. The Courtier and Proteus.
Thus faid-a foake, with hideous trail, Proteus extends his fcaly mail.
Know, fays the man, though proud in place, All courtiers are of reptile race. Like you, they take that dreadful form, Bafk in the fun, and fly the ftorm; With malice hifs, with envy glote, And for convenience change their coat; With new-got luftre reat their head, Though on a dunghill born and bred.
Sudden the God a lion ftands;
He thakes his mane, he fpurns the fands;
Now a fierce lynx, with fiery glare,
A wolf, an afs, a fox, a bear.
Had I ne'er liv'd at court, he cries, Such transformation might furprise; But there, in queft of daily game, Each abler courtier acts the fame. Wolves, lions, lynxes, while in place, Their friends and fellows are their chace. They play the bear's and fox's part; Now rob by force, now steal with art. They fometimes in the Senate bray; Or, chang'd again to beafts of prey, Down from the lion to the ape Practife the frauds of ev'ry shape.
So faid, upon the God he flies; In cords the ftruggling captive ties.
Now, Proteus, now (to truth compell'd) Speak, and confefs thy art excell'd. Ufe ftrength, furprife, or what you will, The courtier finds evafions ftill:
Not to be bound by any ties,
And never forc'd to leave his lies.
§ 154. The Maftiffs. THOSE who in quarrels interpofe, Muft often wipe a bloody nofc. A Maftiff, 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 interpofe obtain'd his end: He glory'd in his limping pace; The fears of honour feam'd his face; In ev'ry limb a gafh appears, And frequent fights retrench'd his cars. As on a time he heard from far Two Dogs engaged in noify war, Away he fcours, and lays about him, Refolv'd no fray fhould be without him. Forth from his yard a tanner flies, And to the bold intruder cries:
A cudgel fhall correct your manners; Whence Iprung this curfed hate to tanners? While on my Dog you vent your fpite, Sirrah! 'tis me you dare not bite. To fee the battle thus perplex'd, With equal rage a butcher vex'd, Hoarfe fcreaming from the circled crowd, To the curs'd Maftiff crics aloud: 1 2