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The waves in fpreading circles ran, Proteus arofe, and thus began:
Came you from court? for in your mien A felf-important air is seen.
He frankly own'd his friends had trick'd him, And how he fell his party's victim.
Know, fays the God, by matchless skill,
But yet I'm told, at court you fee
Those who prefume to rival me.
Thus faid-a fnake, 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, Bask in the fun, and fly the ftorm; With malice hifs, with envy glote, And for convenience change their coat.; With new-got luftre rear their head, Though on a dunghill born and bred.
Sudden the God a lion stands;
He shakes his mane, he fpurns the fands;
Now a fierce lynx, with fiery glare,
A wolf, an afș, a fox, a bear.
Had I ne'er liv'd at court, he cries,
Such transformation might furprize;
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 fteal with art.
They fometimes in the fenate 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 struggling captive ties.
Now, Proteus, now (to truth compell❜d)
Speak, and confefs thy art excell'd.
Ufe ftrength, furprize, or what you will,
The courtier finds evafions ftill:
Not to be bound by any ties,
And never forc'd to leave his lyes.
§ 169. Fable XXXIV. The Maftiffs. THOSE who in quarrels interpofe,
Muft often wipe a bloody nose.
A Maftiff, of true English blood,
Lov'd fighting better than his food.
When dogs were fnarling 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 ears.
As on a time he heard from far
Two dogs engag’d 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 fprung this curfed hate to tanners ?
While on my Dog you vent your spite,
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 circl'd crowd,
To the curs'd Maftiff cries aloud:
Both Hockley-hole and Marybone
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 fhare his fame;.
Be his the honour or the shame.
Thus faid, they swore, and rav'd like thunder;
Then dragg'd their faften'd Dogs afunder;
While clubs and kicks from ev'ry fide
Rebounded from the Maftiff's hide.
All reeking now with sweat and blood,
A while the parted warriors ftood,
Then pour'd upon the meddling foe;
Who, worry'd, howl'd and fprawl'd below.
He rose, and, limping from the fray,
By both fides mangl'd, sneak'd away.
But upstarts, to fupport their ftation,
Cancel at once all obligation.
$171. Fable XXXVI. Pythagoras and the
PYTHAG'RAS rofe at early dawn,
By foaring meditation drawn,
To breathe the fragrance of the day.
Through flow'ry fields he took his way.
In mufing contemplation warm,
His steps mifled him to a farm,
Where, on the ladder's topmoft round,
A peasant stood: the hammer's found
Shook the weak barn. Say, friend, what care
Calls for thy honest labour, there?
The Clown, with furly voice, replies,
Vengeance aloud for juftice cries.
This kite, by daily rapine:fed,
My heps annoy, my turkies dread,
At length his forfeit life hath paid;
See on the wall his wings display'd;
Here nail'd, a terror to his kind,
My fowls: fhall future fafety find;
My yard the thriving poultry feed;
And my barns refufe fat the breed.
Friend, fays the Sage, the doom is wife;
For public good the murd❜rer dies.
§ 170. Fable XXXV. The Barley Mow and But if thefe tyrants of the air
HOW many faucy airs we meet
From Temple-bar to Aldgate-ftreet?
Proud rogues, who fhar'd the South-fea prey,
And fpring like mushrooms in a day!
They think it mean to condefcend
To know a brother or a friend;
They blush to hear their mother's name;
And by their pride expofe their fhame.
As cross his yard, at early day,
A careful farmer took his way,
He stopp'd, and leaning on his fork,
Obferv'd the flail's inceffant work.
In thought he measur'd all his store;
His geefe, his hogs, he number'd o'er:
In fancy weigh'd the fleeces fhorn,
And multiply'd the next year's corn.
A Barley-mow, which stood befide,
Thus to its mufing mafter cry'd :
Say, good Sir, is it fit or right
To treat me with neglect and flight?
Me, who contribute to your cheer,
And raife your mirth with ale and beer,
Why thus infulted, thus difgrac'd,
And that vile Dunghill near me plac'd ?
Are thofe poor fweepings of a groom,
That filthy fight, that naufeous fume,
Meet objects here? Command it hence :
A thing fo mean muft give offence.
The humble Dunghill thus reply'd,
Thy master hears, and mocks thy pride:
Infult not thus the meek and low;
In me thy benefactor know;
My warm affiftance gave thee birth,
Or thou hadft perifh'd low in carth ;
Demand a fontence fo fevere,
Think how the glutton man devours;
What bloody feasts regale his hours!
O, impudence of pow'r and might,
Thus to condemn a hawk or kite,
When thou perhaps, carniv'rous finner,
Hadit pullets yesterday for dinner!
Hold, cry'd the Clown, with paffion, heated,
Shall kites and men alike be treated?
When Heav'n the world with creatures ftor'd,
Man was ordain'd their sov'reign lord.
Thus tyrants boaft, the Sage reply'd,
Whofe murders fpring from power and pride.
Own then, this manlike kite is flain
Thy greater lux'ry to fuftain;
Petty rogues fubmit to fate,
"That great ones may enjoy their state.”
§ 172. Fable XXXVII. The Farmer's Wife and
WHY are thofe tears? why droops your head?
Is then your other husband dead?
Or does a worfe difgrace betide;
Hath no one fince his death apply'd?
Alas! you know the caufe too well:
The falt is fpilt; to me it fell.
Then, to contribute to my lofs,
My knife and fork were laid across;
On Friday too! the day I dread !
Would I were fafe at home in bed!
Last night (I vow to Heav'n 'tis true)
Bounce from the fire a coffin fiew.
Next poft fome fatal news fall tell:
God fend my Cornish friends be well!
Unhappy widow, ceafe thy tears,
Nor feel affliction in thy fears:
Let not thy ftomach be fufpended;
Eat now, and weep when dinner's ended;
And when the butler clears the table,
For thy defert I'll read my fable.
Betwixt her fwagging panniers load
A farmer's wife to market rode,
And jogging on, with thoughtful care,
Summ'd up the profits of her ware;
When starting from her filver dream,
Thus far and wide was heard her fcream:
That raven on yon left-hand oak
(Curfe on his ill betiding croak)
Bodes me no good. No more the faid.
When poor blind Ball, with ftumbling tread,
Fell prone; o'erturn'd the pannier lay;
And her mash'd eggs beftrew'd the way.
She, fprawling in the yellow road,
Rail'd, fiore, and curs'd: Thou croaking toad,
A murrain take thy whorefon throat !
I knew misfortune in the note.
Dame, quoth the Raven, fpare your oaths, Unclench your fift, and wipe your cloaths. But why on me thofe curfes thrown? Goody, the fault was all your own: For had you laid this brittle ware On Dun, the old fure-footed mare, Though all the Ravens of the hundred With croaking had your tongue out-thunder'd, Sure-footed Dun had kept his legs, And you, good woman, fav'd your eggs.
§ 173. Fable XXXVIII. The Turkey and Ant.
IN other men we faults can spy,
And blame the mote that dims their eye;
Each little fpeck and blemish find;
To our own ftronger crrors blind.
A Turkey, tir'd of common food,
Forlook the barn, and fought the wood;
Behind her ran her infant train,
Collecting here and there a grain.
Draw near, my birds, the mother cries,
This hill delicious fare fupplies;
Behold, the bufy Negro race:
See, millions blacken all the place!
Fear not. Like me, with freedom eat;
Au Ant is moft delightful meat.—
How blefs'd, how envy'd were our life,
Could we but 'fcape the poult'rer's knife!
But man, curs'd man, on Turkey preys,
And Christmas fhortens all our days:
Sometimes with oyfters we combine,
Sometimes aflift the fav'ry chine.
From the low peafant to the lord,
The Turkey fmokes on ev'ry board.
Sure, men for gluttony are curft :
Of the fev'n deadly fins the worst.
An Ant, who climb'd beyond his reach, Thus anfwer'd from the neighb'ring beech; Ere you remark another's fin,
Bid thy own confcience look within;
Controul thy more voracious bill, Nor for a breakfast nations kill.
§ 174. Fable XXXIX. The Father and Jupiter. THE Man to Jove his fuit preferr'd;
He begg'd a wife. His pray'r was heard. Jove wonder'd at his bold addreffing: For how precarious is the bleffing!
A wife he takes. And now for heirs Again he worries Heav'n with prayers. Jove nods affent. Two hopeful boys And a fine girl reward his joys.
Now more folicitous he grew,
And fet their future lives in view;
He faw that all refpect and duty
Were paid to wealth, to pow'r, and beauty.
Once more, he cries, accept my pray'r;
Make my lov'd progeny thy care.
firft hope, my fav'rite boy,
All fortune's richeft gifts enjoy.
My next with ftrong ambition fire:
May favour teach him to afpire;
Till he the step of pow'r afcend,
And courtiers to their idol bend.
With ev'ry grace, with ev'ry charm,
My daughter's perfect features arm.
If Heav'n approve, a father's bleft.
Jove fimiles, and grants his full request.
The firft, a mifer at the heart,
Studious of ev'ry griping art,
Heaps hoards on hoards with anxious pain;
And all his life devotes to gain.
He feels no joy, his cares increase,
He neither wakes nor fleeps in peace;
In fancy'd want (a wretch complete)
He ftarves, and yet he dares not eat.
The next to fudden honours grew :
The thriving art of courts he knew;
He reach'd the height of pow'r and place,
Then fell, the victim of disgrace.
Beauty with early bloom fupplies. His daughter's cheek, and points her eyes. The vain coquette each fuit difdains, And glories in her lover's pains. With age the fades, each lover flies; Contemn'd, forlorn, the pines and dies.
When Jove the father's grief furvey'd, And heard him Heav'n and Fate upbraid, Thus fpoke the God:- By outward fhow Men judge of happiness and woe: Shall ignorance of good and ill Dare to direct th'Eternal Will? Seck virtue; and, of that poffeft, To Providence refign the reft.
Upon a beam aloft he fits,
And nods, and feems to think by fits.
So have I feen a man of news
Or Post-boy o'er Gazette peruse;
Smoke, nod, and talk with voice profound,
And fix the fate of Europe round.
Sheaves pil'd on fheaves hid all the floor.
At dawn of morn, to view his store,
The Farmer came. The hooting guest
His felf-importance thus expreft:
Reafon in man is mere pretence:
How weak, how fhallow is his fenfe!
To treat with fcorn the Bird of Night,
Declares his folly, or his fpite.
Then, too, how partial is his praise !
The lark's, the linnet's chirping lays,
To his ill-judging ears are fine,
And nightingales are all divine.
But the more knowing feather'd race
See wifdom ftamp'd upon my face,
Whene'er to vifit light I deign,
What flocks of fowl compofe my train!
Like flaves, they crowd my flight behind,
And own me of superior kind.
The Farmer laugh'd, and thus reply'd: Thou dull important lump of pride, Dar'ft thou, with that harth grating tongue, Depreciate birds of warbling fong Indulge thy fpleen. Know, men and fowl Regard thee as thou art, an Owl. Befides, proud blockhead, be not vain Of what thou call'ft thy flaves and train. Few follow wifdom, or her rules; Fools in derifion follow fools.
§ 177. Fable XLII. The Jugglers. JUGGLER long through all the town Had rais'd his fortune and renown; You'd think (fo far his art tranfcends) The devil at his fingers ends
Vice heard his fame, the read his bill;
Convinc'd of his inferior skill,
She fought his booth, and from the crowd
Defy'd the man of art aloud :
Is this then he fo fam'd for flight?
Can this flow bungler cheat your fight?
Dares he with me difpute the prize?
I leave it to impartial eyes.
Provok'd, the Juggler cry'd, 'Tis done; In fcience I fubinit to none.
Thus faid, the cups and balls he play'd; By turns, this here, that there convey'd. The cards, obedient to his words, Are by a fillip turn'd to birds. His little boxes change the grain Trick after trick deludes the train, He shakes his bag, he fhews all fair; His fingers fpread, and nothing there; Then bids it rain with fhow'rs of gold: And now his iv'ry eggs are told: But when from thence the hen he draws, Amaz'd fpe&tators hum applaufe.
Shall we our fervitude retain,
Because our fires have borne the chain?
Confider, friends, your strength and might!
'Tis conqueft to affert your right.
How cumbrous is the gilded coach!
The pride of man is our reproach.
Were we defign'd for daily toil,
To drag the ploughfhare through the foil,
To sweat in harness through the road,
To groan beneath the carrier's load?
How feeble are the two-legg'd kind !
What force is in our nerves combin'd!
Shall then our nobler jaws fubmit
To foam and champ the galling bit?
Shall haughty man my back beftride?
Shall the fharp fpur provoke my fide?
Forbid it, Heav'ns! Reject the rein;
Your fhame, your infamy difdain.
Let him the Lion first controul,
And still the tyger's famifh'd growl.
Let us, like them, our freedom claim,
And make him tremble at our name.
A gen'ral nod approv'd the caufe,
And all the circle neigh'd applause.
When lo! with grave and folemn pace,
A Steed advanc'd before the race;
With age and long experience wife,
Around he caft his thoughtful eyes;
And, to the murmurs of the train,
Thus fpoke the Neftor of the plain:
When I had health and strength, like you,
The toils of fervitude I knew ;
Now grateful man rewards my pains,
And gives me all these wide domains.
At will I crop the year's increase;
My latter life is reft and peace.
I grant, to man we lend our pains,
And aid him to correct the plains:
But doth not he divide the care
Through all the labours of the year?
How many thousand structures. rife,
To fence us from inclement skies !
For us he bears the fultry day,
And ftores up all our winter's hay.
He fows, he reaps the harveft's grain;
We share the toil, and thare the gain.
Since ev'ry creature was decreed
To aid each other's mutual need,
Appeafe your difcontented mind,
And act the part by Heav'n affign'd.
The tumult ceas'd. The Colt fubmitted, And, like his ancestors, was bitted.
$179. Fable XLIV. The Hound and the Huntsman. IMPERTINENCE at firft is borne
With heedlefs fiight or fimiles of fcorn; Teaz'd into wrath, what patience bears The noify fool who perfeveres !
The morning wakes, the Huntsman sounds, At once rush forth the joyful hounds. They feek the wood with eager pace; Through bush, through brier, explore the chace.