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Certes," quoth he, "I cannot well deny,
That you in many things may hope to please:
You force a barbarous northern tongue to ply,
And bend it to your purposes with ease;
Though rough as Albion's rocks, and hoarser
than her seas.
"Nor are your tales, I wot, so loosely yok'd,
As those which Colin Clout did tell before;
Nor with description crowded so, and chok'd,
Which, thinly spread, will always please the
Colin, I wot, was rich in Nature's store;
More rich than you, had more than he could use:
But mad Orlando 2 taught him bad his lore:
Whose flights, at random, oft misled his Muse:
To follow such a guide, few prudent men would
"Me you have follow'd: Nature was my guide;
To this the merit of your verse is owing:
And know for certain, let it check your pride,
That all you boast of is of my bestowing.
The flow'rs I see through all your garden
Are mine; most part, at least: I might demand,
Might claim them, as a crop of my own
And leave but few, thin scatter'd o'er the land: A claim so just, I wot, you could not well withstand."
But dreams are short; for as I thought to lay
"Certes," quoth I, "that justice were full hard,
Which me alone would sentence to restore;
When many a learned sage, and many a bard,
Are equally your debtors, or much more.
Let Tityrus 3 himself produce his store,
Take what is thine, but little will remain:
Little, I wot, and that indebted sore
To Ascra's bard 4, and Arethusa's swain ';
And others too beside, who lent him many a straiu.
"Nor could the modern bards afford to pay,
Whose songs exalt the champions of the Cross:
Take from each hoard thy sterling gold away,
And little will remain but worthless dross.
Not bards alone could ill support the loss;
But sages too, whose theft suspicion shuun'd:
E'en that sly Greek, who steals and hides so
My limbs at ease upon the flow'ry ground,
And drink, with greedy ear, what he might say.
As murm'ring waters sweet, or music's sound;
My sleep departed; and I, waking, found
Myself again by Fortha's pleasant stream.
Homewards I stepp'd, in meditation drown'd,
Refecting on the meaning of my dream:
Which let each wight interpret as him best doth
Ir is undoubtedly an uneasy situation to lie under great obligations without being able to make suitable returns: all that can be done in this case is, to acknowledge the debt, which (though it does not entitle to an acquittance) is looked upon as a kind of compensation, being all that gratitude has in its power.
This is in a peculiar manner my situation with respect to your lordship. What you have done for me with the most uncommon favour ami condescension, is what I never shall be able to repay; and therefore have used the freedom to recommend the following performance to your protection, that I might have an opportunity of acknowledging my obligations in the most public
It is evident that the world will hardly allow my gratitude upon this occasion to be disinterested. Your distinguished rank, the additional honours derived from the lustre of your ancestors, your own uncommon abilities, equally adapted to the service of your country in peace and in war, are circumstances sufficient to make any author ambitious of your lordship's patronBut I must do myself the justice to insist, it is upon the account of distinctions less splenWhile these are all forborn, shall I alone be did, though far more interesting (those, I mean.
Were half a bankrupt, if he should refund.
by which you are distinguished as the friend of human nature, the guide and patron of unexpe rienced youth, and the father of the poor), that I am zealous of subscribing myself,
most humble, and
most devoted servant,
THE YOUNG, LADY AND THE
E deep philosophers who can
Plato, reckoned, by Longinus, one of the Explain that various creature, man,
greatest imitators of Homer.
Say, is there any point so nice,
As that of offering an advice?
To bid your friend his errours mend,
Is almost certain to offend :
Though you in softest terms advise,
Confess him good; admit him wise;
In vain you sweeten the discourse,
He thinks you call him fool, or worse;
You paint his character, and try
If he will own it, and apply.
Without a name reprove and warn :
Here none are hurt, and all may learn.
This too must fail, the picture shown,
No man will take it for his own.
In moral lectures treat the case,
Say this is honest, that is base;
In conversation none will bear it;
And for the pulpit, few come near it.
And is there then no other way
A moral lesson to convey?
Must all that shall attempt to teach,
Admonish, satyrize, or preach?
Yes, there is one, an ancient art,
By sages found to reach the heart,
Ere science with distinctions nice
Had fixt what virtue is, and vice,
Inventing all the various names
On which the moralist declaims :
They wou'd by simple tales advise,
Which took the hearer by surprise;
Alarm'd his conscience, unprepar'd,
Ere pride had put it on its guard;
And made him from himself receive
The lessons which they meant to give.
That this device will oft prevail,
And gain its end, when others fail,
If any shall pretend to doubt,
The tale which follows makes it out.
There was a little stubborn dame
Whom no authority could tame,
Restive by long indulgence grown,
No will she minded but her own:
At trifles oft she'd scold and fret,
Then in a corner take a seat,
And sourly moping all the day,
Disdain alike to work or play.
Papa all softer arts had try'd,
And sharper remedies apply'd;
But both were vain, for every course
He took still made her worse and worse,
'Tis strange to think how female wit,
So oft shou'd make a lucky hit,
When man with all his high pretence
To deeper judgment, sounder sense,
Will err, and measures false pursue-
'Tis very strange I own, but true.-
Mama observ'd the rising lass,
By stealth retiring to the glass,
To practise little airs unseen,
In the true genius of thirteen:
On this a deep design she laid
To tame the humour of the maid;
Contriving like a prudent mother
To make one folly cure another.
Upon the wall against the seat
Which Jessy us'd for her retreat,
Whene'er by accident offended,
A looking-glass was straight suspended,
That it might show her how deform'd
She look'd, and frightful when she storm'd;
And warn her, as she priz'd her beauty,
To bend her humour to her duty.
All this the looking glass achiev'd,
Its threats were minded and believ'd.
The maid, who spurn'd at all advice,
Grew tame and gentle in a trice.
So when all other means had fail'd,
The silent monitor prevail'd.
Thus, fable to the human-kind
Presents an image of the mind;
It is a mirror where we spy
At large our own deformity,
And learn of course those faults to mend, Which but to mention would offend.
THẾ KITE AND THE ROOKS, You say 'tis vain in verse or prose
To tell what ev'ry body knows,
And stretch invention to express
Plain truths which all men will confess:
Go on the argument to mend,
Prove that to know is to attend,
And that we ever keep in sight
What reason tells us once is right:
Till this is done you must excuse
The zeal and freedom of my Muse,
In hinting to the human-kind
What few deny but fewer mind:
There is a folly which we blame,
'Tis strange that it should want a name,
For sure no other finds a place
So often in the human race;
I mean the tendency to spy
Our neighbour's faults with sharpen'd eye,
And make his lightest failings known,
Without attending to our own.
The prude, in daily use to vex
With groundless censure half the sex,
Of rigid virtue, honour nice,
And much a foe to every vice,
Tells lies without remorse and shame,
Yet never thinks herself to blame.
A scriv'ner, though afraid to kill,
Yet scruples not to forge a will;
Abhors the soldier's bloody feats,
While he as freely damns all cheats.
The reason's plain, 'tis not his way
To lie, to cozen and betray.
But tell me if to take by force,
Is not as bad at least, or worse.
The pimp who owns it as his trade
To poach for letchers, and be paid,
Thinks himself honest in his station,
But rails at rogues that sell the nation:
Nor would he stoop in any case,
And stain his honour for a place.
To mark this errour of mankind
The tale which follows is design'd.
A flight of rooks one harvest morn
Had stopt upon a field of corn,
Just when a kite, as authors say,
Was passing on the wing that way:
His honest heart was fill'd with pain,
To see the farmer lose his grain,
So lighting gently on a shock
He thus the foragers bespoke.
"Believe me, sirs, you're much to blame, ,Tis strange that neither fear nor shame
Can keep you from your usual way
Of stealth, and pilf'ring ev'ry day.
No sooner has th' industrious swain
His field turn'd up and sow'd the grain,
But ye come flocking on the wing,
Prepar'd to snatch it ere it spring:
And after all his toil and care
Leave every furrow spoil'd and bare:
If aught escapes your greedy bills,
Which nurs'd by summer grows and fills,
'Tis still your prey: and though ye know
No rook did ever till or sow,
Ye boldly reap, without regard
To justice, industry's reward,
And use it freely as your own,
Though men and cattle shou'd get none.
I never did in any case
Descend to practises so base;
Though stung with hunger's sharpest pain,
I still have scorn'd to touch a grain,
Even when I had it in my pow'r,
To do 't with safety every hour:
For, trust me, nought that can be gain'd
Is worth a character unstain'd."
Thus with a face austerely grave
Harangu'd the hypocrite and knave;
And answering from amidst the flock
A rook with indignation spoke.
"What has been said is strictly true,
Yet comes not decently from you;
For sure it indicates a mind
From selfish passions more than blind,
To miss your greater crimes, and quote
Our lighter failings thus by rote.
I must confess we wrong the swain,
Too oft by pilf'ring of his grain:
But is our guilt like yours, I pray,
Who rob and murder every day?
No harmless bird can mount the skies
you attack him as he flies;
And when at eve he lights to rest,
You stoop and snatch him from his nest.
The husbandman who seems to share
So large a portion of your care,
Say, is he ever off his guard,
While you are hov'ring o'er the yard?
He knows too well your usual tricks,
Your ancient spite to tender chicks,
And that you, like a felon, watch
For something to surprise and snatch."
At this rebuke so just, the kite
Surpris'd, abash'd, and silenc'd quite,
And prov'd a villain to his face,
Straight soar'd aloft and left the place.
THE MUSE AND THE SHEPHERD.
LET every bard who seeks applause
Be true to virtue and her cause,
Nor ever try to raise his fame
By praising that which merits blame,
The vain attempt he needs must rue,
For disappointment will ensue.
Virtue with her superior charms
Exalts the poet's soul and warms,
His taste refines, his genius fires,
Like Phoebus and the Nine inspires ;
While vice, though seemingly approv'd,
Is coldly flatter'd, never lov'd.
Palemon once a story told,
Which by conjecture must be old :
I have a kind of half conviction
That at the best 'tis but a fiction;
But taken right and understood,
The moral certainly is good.
A shepherd swain was wont to sing
The infant beauties of the spring,
The bloom of summer, winter hoar,
The autumn rich in various store;
And prais❜d in numbers strong and clear
The Ruler of the changeful year.
To human themes he'd next descend,
The shepherd's harmless life commend,
And prove him happier than the great
With all their pageantry and state:
Who oft for pleasure and for wealth,
Exchange their innocence and health
The Muses listen'd to his lays
And crown'd him as he sung with bays.
Euterpe, goddess of the lyre,
A harp bestow'd with golden wire :
And oft wou'd teach him how to sing,
Or touch with art the trembling string
His fame o'er all the mountains flew,
And to his cot the shepherds drew;
They heard his music with delight,
Whole summer days from morn to night!
Nor did they ever think him long,
Such was the magic of his song:
Some rural present each prepar'd,
His skill to honour and reward;
A flute, a sheep-hook, or a lamb
Or kidling follow'd by its dam:
For bards it seems in earlier days,
Got something more than empty praise.
All this continu'd for a while,
But soon our songster chang'd his style,
Infected with the common itch,
His gains to double and grow rich :
Or fondly seeking new applause,
Or this or t'other was the cause;
One thing is certain, that his rhymes
Grew more obsequious to the times,
Less stiff and formal, alter'd quite
To what a courtier calls polite,
Whoe'er grew rich, by right or wrong,
Became the hero of a song:
No nymph or shepherdess could wed
But he must sing the nuptial bed,
And still was ready to recite
The secret transports of the night,
In strains too luscious for the ear
Of sober chastity to bear.
Astonish'd at a change so great,
No more the shepherds sought his seat,
But in their place, a horned crowd
Of satyrs flock'd from every wood,
Drawn by the magic of his lay,
To dance, to frolie, sport and play.
The goddess of the lyre disdain'd
To see her sacred gift profan'd,
And gliding swiftly to the place,
With indignation in her face,
The trembling shepherd thus address'd
In awful majesty confess'd.
"Thou wretched fool, that harp resign For know it is no longer thine;
It was not given you to inspire
A herd like this with loose desire,
Nor to assist that venal praise
Which vice may purchase, if it pays:
Such offices my lyre disgrace;
Here take this bag-pipe in its place.
'Tis fitter far, believe it true,
Both for these miscreants and you."
The swain dismay'd, without a word,
Submitted, and the harp restor❜d.
THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE
WHEN ignorance possess'd the schools,
And reign'd by Aristotle's rules,
Fre Verulam, like dawning light,
Rose to dispel the Gothic night:
A man was taught to shut his eyes,
And grow abstracted to be wise.
Nature's broad volume fairly spread,
Where all true science might be read
The wisdom of th' Eternal Mind,
Declar'd and publish'd to mankind,
Was quite neglected, for the whims
Of mortals and their airy dreams:
By narrow principles and few,
By hasty maxims, oft untrue,
By words and phrases ill-defin'd,
Evasive truth they hop'd to bind;
Which still escap'd them, and the elves
At last caught nothing but themselves.
Nor is this folly modern quite,
'Tis ancient too: the Stagirite
Improv'd at first, and taught his school
By rules of art to play the fool.
Ev'n Plato, from example bad,
Would oft turn sophist and run mad;
Make Socrates himself discourse
Like Clarke and Leibnitz, oft-times worse;
'Bout quirks and subtilties contending,
Beyond all human comprehending.
From some strange bias men pursue
False knowledge still in place of true,
Build airy systems of their own,
This moment rais'd, the next pull'd down ;
While few attempt to catch those rays
Of truth which nature still displays
Throughout the universal plan,
From moss and mushrooms up to man.
This sure were better, but we hate
To borrow when we can create;
And therefore stupidly prefer,
Our own conceits, by which we err,
To all the wisdom to be gain'd
From nature and her laws explain'd.
One ev'ning when the Sun was set,
A grasshopper and glowworm met
Upon a hillock in a dale,
As Mab the fairy tells the tale.
Vain and conceited of his spark,
Which brighten'd as the night grew dark,
The shining reptile swell'd with pride
To see his rays on every side,
Mark'd by a circle on the ground
Of livid light some inches round.
Quoth he, "If glowworms never shone,
To light the Earth when day is gone,
In spite of all the stars that burn,
Primeval darkness wou'd return:
They're less and dimmer, one may see,
Besides much farther off than we;
And therefore thro' a long descent
Their light is scatter'd quite and spent:
While ours, compacter and at hand,
Keeps night and darkness at a stand,
Diffus'd around in many a ray,
Whose brightness emulates the day."
This pass'd and more without dispute,
The patient grasshopper was mute:
But soon the east began to glow
With light appearing from below,
And level from the ocean's streams
The Moon emerging shot her beans.
To gild the mountains and the woods,
And shake and glitter on the floods.
The glowworm, when he found his light
Grow pale and faint and vanish quite
Before the Moon's prevailing ray,
Began his envy to display.
"That globe," quoth he, "which seems so fair, Which brightens all the Earth and air, And sends its beams so far abroad,
Is nought, believe me, but a clod;
A thing which, if the Sun were gone,
Has no more light in't than a stone,
Subsisting merely by supplies
From Phoebus in the nether skies:
My light indeed, I must confess,
On some occasions will be less;
But spite itself will hardly say
I'm debtor for a single ray;
'Tis all my own, and on the score
Of merit, mounts to ten times more
Than any planet can demand
For light dispens'd at second hand."
To hear the paltry insect boast,
The grasshopper all patience lost.
Quoth he, 66
My friend, it may be so,
The Moon with borrow'd light may glow;
That your faint glimm'ring is your own,
I think, is question'd yet by none:
But sure the office to collect
The solar brightness and reflect,
To catch those rays that wou'd be spent
Quite useless in the firmament,
And turn them downwards on the shad
Which absence of the Sun has made,
Amounts to more in point of merit
Than all your tribe did e'er inherit:
Oft by that planet's friendly ray
The midnight trav'ler finds his way;
Safe by the favour of her beams,
'Midst precipices, lakes and streams;
While you mislead him, and your light,
Seen like a cottage-lamp by night,
With hopes to find a safe retreat,
Allures and tempts him to his fate:
As this is so, I needs must call
The merit of your light but small:
You need not boast on 't though your own;
'Tis light indeed, but worse than none;
Unlike to what the Moon supplies,
Which you call borrow'd, and despise,"
I traverse all the house and play
THE APE, THE PARROT, AND THE My tricks and gambols ev'ry day:
HOLD it rash at any time'
To deal with fools dispos'd to rhyme;
Dissuasive arguments provoke
Their most rage as soon as spoke:
Encourage them, and for a day
Or two you're safe by giving way;
But when they find themselves betray'd,
On you at last the blame is laid.
They hate and scorn you as a traitor,
The common lot of those who flatter:
But can a scribbler, sir, be shunn'd?
What will you do when teas'd and cunn'd?
When watch'd, and caught, and closely press'd,
When complimented and caress'd,
When Bavius greets you with a bow,
"Sir, please to read a line or two;"
If you approve and say they're clever,
"You make me happy, sir, for ever."
What can be done? the case is plain,
No methods of escape remain:
You're fairly noos'd, and must consent
To bear, what nothing can prevent,
A coxcomb's anger; and your fate
Will be to suffer soon or late.
An ape that was the sole delight
Of an old woman day and night,
Indulg'd at table and in bed,
Attended like a child and fed:
Who knew each trick, and twenty more
Than ever monkey play'd before,
At last grew frantic and wou'd try,
In spite of nature's laws, to fly.
Oft from the window wou'd he view
The passing swallows as they flew,'
Observe them fluttering round the walls,
Or gliding o'er the smooth canals:
He too must fly, and cope with these;
For this and nothing else wou'd please:
Oft thinking from the window's height,
Three stories down to take his flight:
He still was something loth to venture,
As tending strongly to the centre:
And knowing that the least mistake
Might cost a limb, perhaps his neck.
The case you'll own was something nice;
He thought it best to ask advice;
And to the parrot straight applying,
Allow'd to be a judge of flying,
He thus began: "You'll think me rude,
Forgive me if I do intrude,
For you alone my doubts can clear
In something that concerns me near :
Do you imagine, if I try,
That I shall e'er attain to fly?
The project's whimsical, no doubt,
But ere you censure hear me out:
That liberty's our greatest blessing
You'll grant me without farther pressing;
To live confin'd, 'tis plain and clear,
Is something very hard to bear:
This you must know, who for an age
Have been kept pris'ner in a cage,
Deny'd the privilege to soar
With boundless freedom as before.
I have, 'tis true, much greater scope
Than you my friend, can ever hope;
Oft with my mistress in a chair
I ride abroad to take the air;
Make visits with her, walk at large,
A maid or footman's constant charge.
Yet this is noth ng, for I find
Myself still hamper'd and confin'd;
A grov'ling thing: I fain would rise
Above the Earth and mount the skies:
The meanest birds, and insects too,
This feat with greatest ease can do.
To that gay creature turn about
That's beating on the pane without;
Ten days ago, perhaps but five,
A worm, it scarcely seem'd alive:
By threads suspended, tough and small,
'Midst dusty cobwebs on a wall;
Now dress'd in all the diffrent dyes
That vary in the ev'ning skies,
He soars at large, and on the wing
Enjoys with freedom all the spring;
Skims the fresh lakes, and rising sees
Berath him far the loftiest trees;
And when he rests, he makes his bow'r
The cup of some delicious flow'r.
Shall creatures so obscurely bred,
On mere corruption nurs'd and fed,
A glorious privilege obtain,
Which I can never hope to gain?
Shall I, like man's imperial race
In manners, customs, shape and face,
Expert in all ingenious tricks,
To tumble, dance, and leap o'er sticks;
Who know to sooth and coax my betters,
And match a beau, at least in letters;
Shall I despair, and never try
(What meanest insects can) to fly?
Say, mayn't without dread or care
At once commit me to the air,
And not fall down and break my bones
Upon those hard and flinty stones ?
Say, if to stir my limbs before
Will make me glide along or soar?
All things they say are learn'd by trying
No doubt it is the same with flying.
I wait your judgment with respect,
And shall proceed as you direct."
Poor Poll, with gen'rous pity mov'd, The Ape's fond rashness thus reprov'd: For, though instructed by mankind, Her tongue to candour still inclin'd. My friend, the privilege to rise Above the Earth and mount the skies, Is glorious sure, and 'tis my fate To feel the want on't with regret ; A pris'ner to a cage confin'd, Though wing'd and of the flying kind. With you the case is not the same, You 're quite terrestrial by your frame, And shou'd be perfectly content With your peculiar element: You have no wings, I pray reflect, To lift you and your course direct; Those arms of yours will never do, Not twenty in the place of two; They ne'er can lift you from the ground, For broad and long, they're thick and round; And therefore if you choose the way,
To leap the window, as you say,