Page images

The lion thus bespoke his guest:

What hardy beast shall dare contest
My matchless strength? You saw the fight,
And must attest my pow'r and right.
Forc'd to forego their native home,
My starving slaves at distance roam;
Within these woods I reign alone,
The boundless forest is my own.
Bears, wolves, and all the savage brood,
Have dyed the regal den with blood.
These carcases on either hand,
Those bones that whiten all the land.
My former deeds and triumphs tell,
Beneath these jaws what numbers fell.
True, says
the man, the strength I saw
Might well the brutal nation awe :
But shall a monarch, brave like you,
Place glory in so false a view?
Robbers invade their neighbours' right:
Be lov'd; let justice bound your might.
Mean are ambitious heroes boasts
Of wasted lands and slaughtered hosts:
Pirates their pow'r by murders gain;
Wise kings by love and mercy reign.
To me your clemency hath shown
The virtue worthy of a throne.
Heaven gives you pow'r above the rest,
Like Heaven to succour the distrest.

The case is plain, the monarch said;
False glory hath my youth misled;
For beasts of prey, a servile train,
Have been the flatt'rers of my reign.
You reason well. Yet tell me, friend,
Did ever you in courts attend?
For all my fawning rogues agree,
That human heroes rule like me.

§ 92. FABLE 11. The Spaniel and the Cameleon
A SPANIEL, bred with all the care
That waits upon a fav'rite heir;
Neer felt correction's rigid hand:
Indulg'd to disobey command,

In pamper'd ease his hours were spent;
He never knew what learning meant.
Such forward airs, so pert, so smart,
Were sure to win his lady's heart:
Each little mischief gain'd him praise;
flow pretty were his fawning ways!

The wind was south, the morning fair,
He ventures forth to take the air:
He ranges all the meadow round,
And rolls upon the softest ground;
When near him a Cameleon seen
Was scarce distinguish'd from the green.
Dear emblem of the flatt'ring host,
What, live with clowns? a genius lost!
To cities and the court repair,
A fortune cannot fail thee there;
Preferment shall thy talents crown:
Believe me, friend; I know the town.
Sir, says the sycophant, like you,
Of old, politer life I knew:

you, a courtier born and bred,
Kings lean'd an ear to what I said.

My whisper always met success;
The ladies prais'd me for address.
I knew to hit each courtier's passion,
And flatter'd ev'ry vice in fashion.
But Jove, who hates the liar's ways,
At once cut short my prosp'rous days;
And, sentenc'd to retain my nature,
Transform'd me to this crawling creature.
Doom'd to a life obscure and mean,
I wander in this sylvan scene.
For Jove the heart alone regards;
He punishes what man rewards.
How different is thy case and mine!
With men at least you sup and dine;
While I, condemned to thinnest fare,
Like those I flatter'd, feed on air.

$93. FABLE III. The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy.

GIVE me a son. The blessing sent,
Were ever parents more content?
How partial are their doating eyes!
No child is half so fair and wise.
Wak'd to the morning's pleasing care,
The mother rose, and sought her heir.
She saw the Nurse, like one possest,
With wringing hands, and sobbing breast.
Sure some disaster has befel :
Speak, Nurse! I hope the boy is well?

Dear Madam, think not me to blame;
Invisible the Fairy came:

Your precious babe is hence convey'd,
And in the place a changeling laid.
Where are the father's mouth and nose,
The mother's eyes, as black as sloes?
See here, a shocking, awkward creature,
That speaks a fool in ev'ry feature.

The woman 's blind, the inother cries;
I see wit sparkle in his eyes.

Lord, Madam, what a squinting leer!
No doubt the Fairy hath been here.

Just as she spoke, a pigmy Sprite,
Pops through the key-hole, swift as light;
Perch'd on the cradle's top he stands,
And thus her folly reprimands:

Whence sprung the vain conceited lie,
That we the world with fools supply?
What! give our sprightly race away,
For the dull helpless sons of clay!
Besides, by partial fondness shown,
Like you, we doat upon our own.
Where yet was ever found a mother,
Who'd give her booby for another?
And should we change with human breed,
Well might we pass for fools indeed,

[blocks in formation]

For ev'ry thing alive complain'd
That he the hardest life sustain'd.
Jove calls his Eagle. At the word
Before him stands the royal bird.

The bird, obedient, from heaven's height
Downward directs his rapid flight;
Then cited ev'ry living thing
To hear the mandates of his king.
Ungrateful creatures! whence arise
These murmurs which offend the skies?
Why this disorder? say the cause;
For just are Jove's eternal laws.
Let each his discontent reveal;
To yon sour Dog I first appeal.

Hard is my lot, the Hound replies:
On what fleet nerves the Greyhound flies!
While I, with weary step and slow,
O'er plains, and vales, and mountains go.
The morning sees my chace begun,
Nor ends it till the setting sun.

When (says the Greyhound) I pursue,
My game is lost, or caught in view;
Beyond my sight the prey's secure:
The Hound is slow, but always sure!
And had I his sagacious scent,
Jove ne'er had heard my discontent.
The Lion crav'd the Fox's art;
The Fox the Lion's force and heart;
The Cock implor'd the Pigeon's flight,
Whose wings were rapid, strong, and light;
The Pigeon strength of wing despis'd,
And the Cock's matchless valor priz'd;
The Fishes wish'd to graze the plain;
The beasts to skim beneath the main.
Thus, envious of another's state,
Each blau'd the partial hand of Fate.

The Bird of Heaven then cried aloud :
Jove bids disperse the murm'ring crowd;
The God rejects your idle prayers,
Would ye, rebellious mutineers,
Entirely change your name and nature,
And be the very envied creature?
What! silent all, and none consent?
Be happy then, and learn content:
Nor imitate the restless mind,
And proud ambition of mankind.

§ 95. FABLE V. The Wild Boar and the Ram.
AGAINST an elm a sheep was tied,
The butcher's knife in blood was dyed;
The patient flock, in silent fright,
From far beheld the horrid sight:
A savage Boar, who near them stood,
Thus mock'd to scorn the fleecy brood:
All cowards should be serv'd like you;
Sec, see, your murd'rer is in view!
With purple hands, and reeking knife,
He strips the skin yet warm with life:
Your quarter'd sires, your bleeding dams,
The dying bleat of harmless lainbs,
Call for revenge. Ostupid race!
The heart that wants revenge is base.
I grant, an antient Ram replies,
We bear no terror in our eyes:

Yet think us not of soul so tame,
Which no repeated wrongs inflame,
Insensible of ev'ry ill,

Because we want thy tusks to kill.
Know, those who violence pursue,
Give to themselves the vengeance due;
For in these massacres they find

The two chief plagues that waste mankind.
Our skins supplies the wrangling bar;
It wakes their slumb'ring sons to war;
And well revenge may rest contented,
Since drums and parchment were invented.

$96. FABLE VI. The Miser and Plutus.
THE wind was high, the window shakes;
With sudden start the Miser wakes;
Along the silent room he stalks;
Looks back, and trembles as he walks!
Each lock and ev'ry bolt he tries,
In ev'ry creek and corner pries;
Then opes the chest with treasure stor'd,
And stands in rapture o'er his hoard.
But now, with sudden qualms possest,
He wrings his hands, he beats his breast;
By conscience stung, he wildly stares,
And thus his guilty soul declares:

Had the deep earth her stores confin'd,
This heart had known sweet peace of mind.
But virtue's sold! Good gods! what price
Can recompense the pangs of vice?
O bane of good! seducing cheat!

Can man, weak man, thy pow'r defeat?
Gold banish'd honor from the mind,
And only left the name behind;
Gold sow'd the world with ev'ry ill;
Gold taught the murderer's sword to kill:
"Twas gold instructed coward hearts
In treachery's more pernicious arts.
Who can recount the mischiefs o'er?
Virtue resides on earth no more!
He spoke, and sigh'd. In angry mood,
Plutus, his god, before him stood.
The Miser, trembling, lock'd his chest;
The vision frown'd, and thus address'd:
Whence is this vile ungrateful rant,
Each sordid rascal's daily cant?
Did I, base wretch, corrupt mankind!
The fault's in thy rapacious mind.
Because my blessings are abus'd,
Must I be censur'd, curs'd, accus'd?
E'en virtue's self by knaves is inade
A cloak to carry on the trade;
And pow'r (when lodg'd in their possession)
Grows tyranny, and rank oppression,
Thus, when the villain crams his chest,
Gold is the canker of the breast;
'Tis av'rice, insolence, and pride;
And ev'ry shocking vice beside:
But when to virtuous hands 'tis given,
It blesses like the dews of heaven;
Like heaven, it hears the orphan's cries,
And wipes the tears from widows' eyes.
Their crimes on gold shall misers lay,
Who pawn'd their sordid souls for pay?


Let bravoes then (when blood is spilt) Upbraid the passive sword with guilt.

$97. FABLE VII. The Lion, the Fox,
and the Geese.

A Liox, tir'd with state affairs,
Quite sick of pomp, and worn with cares;
Resolv'd (remote from noise and strife)
In peace to pass his latter life.

It was proclaim'd; the day was set:
Behold the gen'ral council met.
The Fox, was viceroy nam'd. The crowd
To the new regent humbly bowd,

Wolves, bears, and mighty tigers bend,
And strive who most shall condescend.
He straight assumes a solemn grace,
Collects his wisdom in his face.
The crowd admire his wit, his sense;
Each word hath weight and consequence.
The flatt'rer all his art displays,
He who hath pow'r is sure of praise.
A fox stepp'd forth before the rest,
And thus the servile throng address'd
How vast his talents, born to rule,
And train'd in virtue's honest school:
What clemency his temper sways!
How uncorrupt are all his ways!
Beneath his conduct and command
Rapine shall cease to waste the land,
His brain hath stratagem and art;
Prudence and mercy rule his heart.
What blessings must attend the nation
Under this good administration!

He said. A Goose who distant stood,
Harangu'd apart the cackling brood:

Whene'er I hear a knave commend,
He bids me shun his worthy friend
What praise! what mighty commendation!
But 'twas a Fox who spoke th' oration.
Foxes this government may prize,
As gentle, plentiful, and wise;
If they enjoy the sweets, 'tis plain,
We Geese must feel a tyrant reign.
What havock now shall thin our race,
When ev'ry petty clerk in place,
To prove his taste and seem polite,
Will feed on Geese both noon and night!

98. FABLE VIII. The Lady and the Wasp.
WHAT Whispers must the beauty bear!
What hourly nonsense haunts her ear!
Where'er her eyes dispense their charms,
Impertinence around her swarms.
Did not the tender nonsense strike,
Contempt and scorn might soon dislike:
Forbidding airs might thin the place;
The slightest flap a fly can chase.
But who can drive the num'rous breed!
Chase one, another will succeed,

Who knows a fool, must know his brother;
One fop will recommend another:
And with this plague she 's rightly curst,
Because the listen'd to the first.

As Doris, at her toilet's duty, Sat meditating on her beauty, She now was pensive, now was gay, And loll'd the sultry hours away.

As thus in indolence she lies, A giddy Wasp around her flies. He now advances, how retires, Now to her neck and cheek aspires. Her fan in vain defends her charms; Swift he returns, again alarms: For by repulse he bolder grew,

Perch'd on her lip, and sipp'd the dew.
She frowns, she frets. Good gods! she cries,
Protect ine from these teasing flies!
Of all the plagues that heaven hath sent,
A Wasp is most impertinent.

The hov'ring insect thus complain'd:
Am I then slighted, scorn'd, disdain'd?
Can such offence your anger wake?
"Twas beauty caus'd the bold mistake.
Those cherry lips that breathe perfume,
That cheek so ripe with youthful bloom,
Made me with strong desire pursue
The fairest peach that ever grew.

Strike him not, Jenny, Doris cries,'
Nor murder Wasps like vulgar flies:
For though he 's free, (to do him right)
The creature's civil and polite.

In ecstasies away he posts; Where'er he came the favor boasts; Brags how her sweetest tea he sips, And shows the sugar on his lips.

The hint alarm'd the forward crew:
Sure of success, away they flew.
They share the dainties of the day,
Round her with airy music play,
And now they flutter, now they rest,
Now soar again, and skin her breast.
Nor were they banish'd till she found
That Wasps have stings, and felt the wound.

$99. FABLE IX. The Bull and the Mastiff
SEEK you to train your fav'rite Boy?
Each caution, ev'ry care employ:
And ere you venture to confide,
Let his preceptor's heart be tried:
Weigh well his manners, life, and scope ;
On these depends thy future hope.

A Bull enjoy'd the flow'ry plain,
A Mastiff pass'd; inflam'd with ire,
His eye-balls shot indignant fire;
He foam'd, he rag'd with thirst of blood,
Spurning the ground the monarch stood,
And roar'd aloud-Suspend the fight;
In a whole skin go sleep to-night:
Or tell me, ere the battle rage,
What wrongs provoke thee to engage?
Is it ambition fires thy breast,
Or av'rice, that ne'er can rest?
From these alone unjustly springs
The world-destroying wrath of kings.
The surly Mastiff thus returns;
Within my bosom glory burns.

As on a time, in peaceful reign,

Like heroes of eternal name,
Whom poets sing, I fight for fame.
The butcher's spirit-stirring mind
To daily warmy youth inclin'd;
He train'd me to heroic deed;
Taught me to conquer or to bleed.
Curs'd Dog! the Bull replied; no more
I wonder at thy thirst of gore;
For thou (beneath a butcher train'd,
Whose hands with cruelty are stain'd,
His daily murders in thy view)
Kiust, like the tutor, blood pursue.
Take then thy fate. With goring wound,
At once he lifts him from the ground:
Aloft the sprawling hero flies;

Mangled he falls, he howls, and dies.

[ocr errors]

$100. FABLE X.
The Elephant and the

THE man who with undaunted toils
Sails unknown seas to unknown soils,
With various wonders feasts his sight:
What stranger wonders does he write!
We read, and in description view
Creatures which Adam never knew:
For, when we risque no contradiction,
prompts tongue to deal in fiction,
Those things that startle me or you,
I grant are strange, yet may be true.
Who doubts that Elephants are found
For science and for sense renown'd?
Borri records their strength of parts,
Extent of thought, and skill in arts;
How they perform the law's decrees,
And save the state the hangman's fees:
And how by travel understand
The language of another land.
Let those who question this report,
To Pliny's antient page resort;
How learn'd was that sagacious breed!
Who now like them the Greek can read!
As one of these, in days of yore,
Rummag'd a shop of learning o'er;
Not, like our modern deeds, minding
Only the margin's breadth and binding;
A book his curious eye detains,
Where with exactest care and pains
Were ev'ry beast and bird pourtray'd,
That e'er the search of man survey'd.
Their natures and their pow'rs were writ
With all the pride of human wit.
The page he with attention spread,
And thus remark'd on what he read:

Man with strong reason is endow'd;
A beast scarce instinct is allow'd.
But let this author's work be tried:
'Tis plain that neither was his guide.
· Can he discern the different natures,
And weigh the pow'r of other creatures,
Who by the partial work hath shown
He knows so little of his own?
How falsely is the spaniel drawn!
Did man from him first learn to fawn?

A dog proficient in the trade!
He the chief flatt'rer nature made!
Go, Man, the ways of courts discern,
You'll find a spaniel still might learn.
How can the Fox's theft and plunder
Provoke his censure or his wonder?
From courtier tricks, and lawyers arts,
The fox might well improve his parts.
The lion, wolf, and tige:'s brood,
He curses for their thirst of blood:
But is not man to man a prey?
Beasts kill for hunger, men for pay,

The Bookseller, who heard him speak,
And saw him turn a page of Greek,
Thought, what a genius have I found?
Then thus address'd with bow profound:
Learn'd Sir, if you'd employ your per
Against the senseless sons of men,
Or write the history of Siam,

No man is better pay than I am;
Or, since your learn'd in Greek, let's see
Something against the Trinity.

When, wrinkling with a sneer his trunk,
Friend, quoth the Elephant, you 're drunk ;
E'en keep your money, and be wise;
Leave man on man to criticise:
For that you ne'er can want a pen
Among the senseless sons of men.
They unprovok'd will court the fray;
Envy's a sharper spur than pay.
No author ever spar'd a brother
Wits are game-cocks to one another.


FABLE XI. The Peacock, the Turkey,
and the Goose.

IN beauty faults conspicuous grow ;
The smallest speck is seen on snow.

As near a barn, by hunger led,
A Peacock with the poultry fed;
All view'd him with an envious eye,
And mock'd his gaudy pageantry.
He, conscious of superior merit,
Contemns their base reviling spirit;
His state and dignity assumes,
And to the sun displays his plumes;
Which, like the heav'ns o'er-arching skies,
Are spangled with a thousand eyes :
The circling rays, and varied light,
At once confound their dazzled sight
On ev'ry tongue detraction burns,
And malice prompts their spleen by turns:


Mark with what insolence and pride
The creature takes his haughty stride,
The Turkey cries. Can spleen contain?
Sure never bird was half so vain!
But, were intrinsic merit seen,
We Turkeys have the whiter skin.

From tongue to tongue they caught abuse;
And next was heard the hissing Goose:
What hideous legs! what filthy claws!
I scorn to censure little flaws.
Then what a horrid squalling throat!
Ev'n owls are frighted at the nots.


True-those are faults, the Peacock cries;
My scream, my shanks, you may despise :
But such blind critics rail in vain :
What! overlook my radiant train !
Know, did my legs (your scorn and sport)
The Turkey or the Goose support,
And did ye scream with harsher sound,
Those faults in you had ne'er been found!
To all apparent beauties blind,
Each blemish strikes an envious mind.
Thus in assemblies have I seen

A nymph of brightest charms and mien,
Wake envy in each ugly face;

And buzzing scandal fills the place.

Av'rice, whatever shape it bears, Must still be coupled with its cares.

The Tame Stag.

§ 103. FABLE XIII.
As a young Stag the thicket pass'd,
The branches held his antlers fast;
A clown, who saw the captive hung,
Across the horns his halter flung.

Now safely hamper'd in the cord,
He bore the present to his lord.
His lord was pleas'd; as was the clown,
When he was tipp'd with half-a-crown.
The stag was brought before his wife!
The tender lady begg'd his life.

How sleek the skin! how speck'd like ermine!

§ 102. FABLE X11. Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus. Sure never creature was so charming!

As Cupid in Cythera's grove
Employ'd the lesser pow'rs of love;
Some shape the bow, or fit the string;
Some give the taper shaft its wing,
Or turn the polish'd quiver's mould,
Or head the darts with temper'd gold.
Amidst their toil and various care,
Thus Hymen, with assuming air,
Address'd the god: Thou purblind chit,
Of awkward and ill-judging wit,
If matches are not better made,
At once I must forswear my trade.
You send me such ill-coupled folks,
That 'tis a shame to sell them yokes;
They squabble for a pin, a feather,
And wonder how they came together.
The husband's sullen, dogged, shy;
The wife grows flippant in reply;
He loves command and due restriction,
And she as well likes contradiction:
She never slavishly submits;

She'll have her will, or have her fits:
He this way tugs, she t'other draws;
The man grows jealous, and with cause:
Nothing can save him but divorce:
And here the wife complies of course.
When, says the boy, had I to do
With either your affairs or you?
I never idly spent my darts;
You trade in mercenary hearts.
For settlements the lawyer's feed;
Is my hand witness to the deed?
If they like cat and dog agree,
Go rail at Plutus, not at me.
Plutus appear'd, and said-Tis true,
In marriage gold is all their view;
They seek no beauty, wit, or sense;
And love is seldom the pretence.
All offer incense at my shrine,
And I alone the bargain sign.
How can Belinda blame her fate?
She only ask'd a great estate.
Doris was rich enough, 'tis true;
Her lord must give her title too:
And ev'ry man, or rich or poor,
A fortune asks, and asks no more.

At first within the yard confin'd, He flies, and hides from all mankind; Now, balder grown, with fix'd amaze, And distant awe, presumes to gaze: Munches the linen on the lines, And on a hood or apron dines; He steals my little master's bread, Follows the servants to be fed : Nearer and nearer now he stands, To feel the praise of patting hands Examines ev'ry fist for meat, And, though repuls'd, disda ins retreat ; Attacks again with levell'd horns; And man, that was his terror, scorus


Such is the country maiden's fright,
When first a red-coat is in sight;
Behind the door she hides her face;
Next time at distance eyes the lace;
She now can all his terrors stand,
Nor from his squeeze withdraws her hand.
She plays familiar in his arms,
And ev'ry soldier hath his charms,
From tent to tent she spreads her flame;
For custom conquers fear and shame.

$ 104. FABLE XIV. The Monkey who had

seen the World.

A MONKEY, to reform the times,
Resolved to visit foreign climes:
For men in distant regions roam
To bring politer manners home.
So forth he fares, all toil defies;
Misfortune serves to make us wise.

At length the treach'rous snare was laid
Poor Pug was caught, to town convey'd,
There sold. How envied was his doom,
Made captive in a lady's room!
Proud as a lover of his chains,
He day by day her favor gains.
Whene'er the duty of the day
The toilet calls, with mimic play
He twirls her knots, he cracks her fan,
Like any other gentleman.

In visits too his parts and wit,
When jests grew dull, were sure to hit.
Proud with applause, he thought his mind
In ev'ry courtly art refin'd;



« PreviousContinue »