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The Poetical Works of Addison; Gay's Fables; and Somerville's Chase With Memoirs and Critical Dissertations, by the Rev. George Gilfillan online

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Shall prove of caterpillar breed.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXV.

THE SCOLD AND THE PARROT.

The husband thus reproved his wife:
'Who deals in slander, lives in strife.
Art thou the herald of disgrace,
Denouncing war to all thy race?
Can nothing quell thy thunder's rage,
Which spares no friend, nor sex, nor age?
That vixen tongue of yours, my dear,
Alarms our neighbours far and near.
Good gods! 'tis like a rolling river,
That murmuring flows, and flows for ever!
_10
Ne'er tired, perpetual discord sowing!
Like fame, it gathers strength by going.'
'Heyday!' the flippant tongue replies,
How solemn is the fool, how wise!
Is nature's choicest gift debarred?
Nay, frown not; for I will be heard.
Women of late are finely ridden,
A parrot's privilege forbidden!
You praise his talk, his squalling song;
But wives are always in the wrong.'
_20
Now reputations flew in pieces,
Of mothers, daughters, aunts, and nieces.
She ran the parrot's language o'er,
Bawd, hussy, drunkard, slattern, whore;
On all the sex she vents her fury,
Tries and condemns without a jury.
At once the torrent of her words
Alarmed cat, monkey, dogs, and birds:
All join their forces to confound her;
Puss spits, the monkey chatters round her;
_30
The yelping cur her heels assaults;
The magpie blabs out all her faults;
Poll, in the uproar, from his cage,
With this rebuke out-screamed her rage:
'A parrot is for talking prized,
But prattling women are despised.
She who attacks another's honour,
Draws every living thing upon her.
Think, madam, when you stretch your lungs,
That all your neighbours too have tongues.
_40
One slander must ten thousand get,
The world with interest pays the debt.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXVI.

THE CUR AND THE MASTIFF.

A sneaking cur, the master's spy,
Rewarded for his daily lie,
With secret jealousies and fears
Set all together by the ears.
Poor puss to-day was in disgrace,
Another cat supplied her place;
The hound was beat, the mastiff chid,
The monkey was the room forbid;
Each to his dearest friend grew shy,
And none could tell the reason why.
_10
A plan to rob the house was laid,
The thief with love seduced the maid;
Cajoled the cur, and stroked his head,
And bought his secrecy with bread.
He next the mastiff's honour tried,
Whose honest jaws the bribe defied.
He stretched his hand to proffer more;
The surly dog his fingers tore.
Swift ran the cur; with indignation
The master took his information.
_20
'Hang him, the villain's cursed,' he cries;
And round his neck the halter ties.
The dog his humble suit preferred,
And begged in justice to be heard.
The master sat. On either hand
The cited dogs confronting stand;
The cur the bloody tale relates,
And, like a lawyer, aggravates.
'Judge not unheard,' the mastiff cried,
'But weigh the cause on either side.
_30
Think not that treachery can be just,
Take not informers' words on trust.
They ope their hand to every pay,
And you and me by turns betray.'
He spoke. And all the truth appeared,
The cur was hanged, the mastiff cleared.

* * * * *


FABLE XXVII.

THE SICK MAN AND THE ANGEL.

'Is there no hope?' the sick man said.
The silent doctor shook his head,
And took his leave with signs of sorrow,
Despairing of his fee to-morrow.
When thus the man with gasping 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;
_10

'Tis self-defence in each profession,
Sure self-defence is no transgression.
The little portion in my hands,
By good security on lands,
Is well increased. If unawares,
My justice to myself and heirs,
Hath let my debtor rot in jail,
For want of good sufficient bail;
If I by writ, or bond, or deed,
Reduced a family to need,
_20
My will hath made the world amends;
My hope on charity depends.
When I am numbered with the dead,
And all my pious gifts are read,
By heaven and earth 'twill then be known
My charities were amply shown'
An angel came. 'Ah, friend!' he cried,
'No more in flattering hope confide.
Can thy good deeds in former times
Outweigh the balance of thy crimes?
_30
What widow or what orphan prays
To crown thy life with length of days?
A pious action's in thy power,
Embrace with joy the happy hour.
Now, while you draw the vital air,
Prove your intention is sincere.
This instant give a hundred pound;
Your neighbours want, and you abound.'
'But why such haste?' the sick man whines;
'Who knows as yet what Heaven designs?
_40
Perhaps I may recover still;
That sum and more are in my will?
'Fool,' says the vision, 'now 'tis plain,
Your life, your soul, your heaven was gain,
From every side, with all your might,
You scraped, and scraped 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 such haste?' so groaned and died.
_50

* * * * *


FABLE XXVIII.

THE PERSIAN, THE SUN, AND THE CLOUD.

Is there a bard whom genius fires,
Whose every thought the god inspires?
When Envy reads the nervous lines,
She frets, she rails, she raves, she pines;
Her hissing snakes with venom swell;
She calls her venal train from hell:
The servile fiends her nod obey,
And all Curl's[4] authors are in pay,
Fame calls up calumny and spite.
Thus shadow owes its birth to light.
_10
As prostrate to the god of day,
With heart devout, a Persian lay,
His invocation thus begun:
'Parent of light, all-seeing Sun,
Prolific beam, whose rays dispense
The various gifts of providence,
Accept our praise, our daily prayer,
Smile on our fields, and bless the year.'
A cloud, who mocked his grateful tongue,
The day with sudden darkness hung;
_20
With pride and envy swelled, aloud
A voice thus thundered from the cloud:
'Weak is this gaudy god of thine,
Whom I at will forbid to shine.
Shall I nor vows, nor incense know?
Where praise is due, the praise bestow.'
With fervent zeal the Persian moved,
Thus the proud calumny reproved:
'It was that god, who claims my prayer,
Who gave thee birth, and raised thee there;
_30
When o'er his beams the veil is thrown,
Thy substance is but plainer shown.
A passing gale, a puff of wind
Dispels thy thickest troops combined.'
The gale arose; the vapour toss'd
(The sport of winds) in air was lost;
The glorious orb the day refines.
Thus envy breaks, thus merit shines.

* * * * *


FABLE XXIX.

THE FOX AT THE POINT OF DEATH.

A fox, in life's extreme decay,
Weak, sick, and faint, expiring lay;
All appetite had left his maw,
And age disarmed his mumbling jaw.
His numerous race around him stand
To learn their dying sire's command:
He raised his head with whining moan,
And thus was heard the feeble tone:
'Ah, sons! from evil ways depart:
My crimes lie heavy on my heart.
_10
See, see, the murdered geese appear!
Why are those bleeding turkeys here?
Why all around this cackling train,
Who haunt my ears for chicken slain?
The hungry foxes round them stared,
And for the promised feast prepared.
'Where, sir, is all this dainty cheer?
Nor turkey, goose, nor hen is here.
These are the phantoms of your brain,
And your sons lick their lips in vain.'
_20
'O gluttons!' says the drooping sire,
'Restrain inordinate desire.
Your liqu'rish taste you shall deplore,
When peace of conscience is no more.
Does not the hound betray our pace,
And gins and guns destroy our race?
Thieves dread the searching eye of power,
And never feel the quiet hour.
Old age (which few of us shall know)
Now puts a period to my woe.
_30
Would you true happiness attain,
Let honesty your passions rein;
So live in credit and esteem,
And the good name you lost, redeem.'
'The counsel's good,' a fox replies,
'Could we perform what you advise.
Think what our ancestors have done;
A line of thieves from son to son:
To us descends the long disgrace,
And infamy hath marked our race.
_40
Though we, like harmless sheep, should feed,
Honest in thought, in word, and deed;
Whatever henroost is decreased,
We shall be thought to share the feast.
The change shall never be believed,
A lost good name is ne'er retrieved.'
'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.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXX.

THE SETTING-DOG AND THE PARTRIDGE.

The ranging dog the stubble tries,
And searches every breeze that flies;
The scent grows warm; with cautious fear
He creeps, and points the covey near;
The men, in silence, far behind,
Conscious of game, the net unbind.
A partridge, with experience wise,
The fraudful preparation spies:
She mocks their toils, alarms her brood;
The covey springs, and seeks the wood;
_10
But ere her certain wing she tries,
Thus to the creeping spaniel cries:
'Thou fawning slave to man's deceit,
Thou pimp of luxury, sneaking cheat,
Of thy whole species thou disgrace,
Dogs shall disown thee of their race!
For if I judge their native parts,
They're born with open, honest hearts;
And, ere they serve man's wicked ends,
Were generous foes, or real friends.'
_20
When thus the dog, with scornful smile:
'Secure of wing, thou dar'st revile.
Clowns are to polished manners blind,
How ignorant is the rustic mind!
My worth, sagacious courtiers see,
And to preferment rise, like me.
The thriving pimp, who beauty sets,
Hath oft enhanced a nation's debts:
Friend sets his friend, without regard;
And ministers his skill reward:
_30
Thus trained by man, I learnt his ways,
And growing favour feasts my days.'
'I might have guessed,' the partridge said,
'The place where you were trained and fed;
Servants are apt, and in a trice
Ape to a hair their master's vice.
You came from court, you say. Adieu,'
She said, and to the covey flew.

* * * * *


FABLE XXXI.

THE UNIVERSAL APPARITION.

A rake, by every passion ruled,
With every vice his youth had cooled;
Disease his tainted blood assails;
His spirits droop, his vigour fails;
With secret ills at home he pines,
And, like infirm old age, declines.
As, twinged with pain, he pensive sits,
And raves, and prays, and swears by fits,
A ghastly phantom, lean and wan,
Before him rose, and thus began:
_10
'My name, perhaps, hath reached your ear;
Attend, and be advised by Care.
Nor love, nor honour, wealth, nor power,
Can give the heart a cheerful hour,
When health is lost. Be timely wise:
With health all taste of pleasure flies.'
Thus said, the phantom disappears.
The wary counsel waked his fears:
He now from all excess abstains,
With physic purifies his veins;
_20
And, to procure a sober life,
Resolves to venture on a wife.
But now again the sprite ascends,
Where'er he walks his ear attends;
Insinuates that beauty's frail,
That perseverance must prevail;
With jealousies his brain inflames,
And whispers all her lovers' names.
In other hours she represents
His household charge, his annual rents,
_30
Increasing debts, perplexing duns,
And nothing for his younger sons.
Straight all his thought to gain he turns,
And with the thirst of lucre burns.
But when possessed of fortune's store,
The spectre haunts him more and more;
Sets want and misery in view,
Bold thieves, and all the murd'ring crew,
Alarms him with eternal frights,
Infests his dream, or wakes his nights.
_40
How shall he chase this hideous guest?
Power may perhaps protect his rest.
To power he rose. Again the sprite
Besets him, morning, noon, and night!
Talks of ambition's tottering seat,
How envy persecutes the great,
Of rival hate, of treacherous friends,
And what disgrace his fall attends.
The Court he quits to fly from Care,
And seeks the peace of rural air:
_50
His groves, his fields, amused his hours;
He pruned his trees, he raised his flowers.
But Care again his steps pursues;
Warns him of blasts, of blighting dews,
Of plund'ring insects, snails, and rains,
And droughts that starved the laboured plains.
Abroad, at home, the spectre's there:
In vain we seek to fly from Care.
At length he thus the ghost address'd:
'Since thou must be my constant guest,
_60
Be kind, and follow me no more;
For Care by right should go before.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXXII.

THE TWO OWLS AND THE SPARROW.

Two formal owls together sat,
Conferring thus in solemn chat:
'How is the modern taste decayed!
Where's the respect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian sages knew;
They gave our sires the honour due;
They weighed the dignity of fowls,
And pried into the depth of owls.
Athens, the seat of learned fame,
With general voice revered our name;
_10
On merit, title was conferred,
And all adored the Athenian bird.'
'Brother, you reason well,' replies
The solemn mate, with half-shut eyes;
'Right. Athens was the seat of learning,
And truly wisdom is discerning.
Besides, on Pallas' helm we sit,
The type and ornament of wit:
But now, alas! we're quite neglected,
And a pert sparrow's more respected.'
_20
A sparrow, who was lodged beside,
O'erhears them soothe each other's pride,
And thus he nimbly vents his heat:
'Who meets a fool must find conceit.
I grant, you were at Athens graced,
And on Minerva's helm were placed;
But every bird that wings the sky,
Except an owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know
How false we judge by outward show;
_30
That we should never looks esteem,
Since fools as wise as you might seem.
Would ye contempt and scorn avoid,
Let your vain-glory be destroyed:
Humble your arrogance of thought,
Pursue the ways by Nature taught;
So shall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praise your care:
So shall sleek mice your chase reward,
And no keen cat find more regard.'
_40

* * * * *


FABLE XXXIII.

THE COURTIER AND PROTEUS.

Whene'er a courtier's out of place
The country shelters his disgrace;
Where, doomed to exercise and health,
His house and gardens own his wealth,
He builds new schemes in hopes to gain
The plunder of another reign;
Like Philip's son, would fain be doing,
And sighs for other realms to ruin.
As one of these (without his wand)
Pensive, along the winding strand
_10
Employed the solitary hour,
In projects to regain his power;
The waves in spreading circles ran,
Proteus arose, and thus began:
'Came you from Court? For in your mien
A self-important air is seen.
He frankly owned his friends had tricked him
And how he fell his party's victim.
'Know,' says the god, 'by matchless skill
I change to every shape at will;
_20
But yet I'm told, at Court you see
Those who presume to rival me.'
Thus said. A snake with hideous trail,
Proteus extends his scaly mail.
'Know,' says the man, 'though proud in place,
All courtiers are of reptile race.
Like you, they take that dreadful form,
Bask in the sun, and fly the storm;
With malice hiss, with envy gloat,
And for convenience change their coat;
_30
With new-got lustre rear their head,
Though on a dunghill born and bred.'
Sudden the god a lion stands;
He shakes his mane, he spurns the sands;
Now a fierce lynx, with fiery glare,
A wolf, an ass, a fox, a bear.
'Had I ne'er lived at Court,' he cries,
'Such transformation might surprise;
But there, in quest of daily game,
Each able courtier acts the same.
_40
Wolves, lions, lynxes, while in place,
Their friends and fellows are their chase.
They play the bear's and fox's part;
Now rob by force, now steal with art.
They sometimes in the senate bray;
Or, changed again to beasts of prey,
Down from the lion to the ape,
Practise the frauds of every shape.'
So said, upon the god he flies,
In cords the struggling captive ties.
_50
'Now, Proteus, now, (to truth compelled)
Speak, and confess thy art excelled.
Use strength, surprise, or what you will,
The courtier finds evasions still:
Not to be bound by any ties,
And never forced to leave his lies.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXXIV.

THE MASTIFFS.

Those who in quarrels interpose,
Must often wipe a bloody nose.
A mastiff, of true English blood,
Loved fighting better than his food.
When dogs were snarling for a bone,
He longed to make the war his own,
And often found (when two contend)
To interpose obtained his end;
He gloried in his limping pace;
The scars of honour seamed his face;
_10
In every limb a gash appears,
And frequent fights retrenched his ears.
As, on a time, he heard from far
Two dogs engaged in noisy war,
Away he scours and lays about him,
Resolved no fray should be without him.
Forth from his yard a tanner flies,
And to the bold intruder cries:
'A cudgel shall correct your manners,
Whence sprung this cursed hate to tanners?
_20
While on my dog you vent your spite,
Sirrah! 'tis me you dare not bite.'
To see the battle thus perplexed,
With equal rage a butcher vexed,
Hoarse-screaming from the circled crowd,
To the cursed mastiff cries aloud:
'Both Hockley-hole and Mary-bone
The combats of my dog have known.
He ne'er, like bullies coward-hearted,
Attacks in public, to be parted.
_30
Think not, rash fool, to share his fame:
Be his the honour, or the shame.'
Thus said, they swore, and raved like thunder;
Then dragged their fastened dogs asunder;
While clubs and kicks from every side
Rebounded from the mastiff's hide.
All reeking now with sweat and blood,
Awhile the parted warriors stood,
Then poured upon the meddling foe;
Who, worried, howled and sprawled below.
_40
He rose; and limping from the fray,
By both sides mangled, sneaked away.

* * * * *


FABLE XXXV.

THE BARLEY-MOW AND THE DUNGHILL.

How many saucy airs we meet
From Temple Bar to Aldgate Street!
Proud rogues, who shared the South-Sea prey,
And sprung like mushrooms in a day!
They think it mean, to condescend
To know a brother or a friend;
They blush to hear their mother's name,
And by their pride expose their shame.
As cross his yard, at early day,
A careful farmer took his way,
_10
He stopped, and leaning on his fork,
Observed the flail's incessant work.
In thought he measured all his store,
His geese, his hogs, he numbered o'er;
In fancy weighed the fleeces shorn,
And multiplied the next year's corn.
A Barley-mow, which stood beside,
Thus to its musing master cried:
'Say, good sir, is it fit or right
To treat me with neglect and slight?
_20
Me, who contribute to your cheer,
And raise your mirth with ale and beer?
Why thus insulted, thus disgraced,
And that vile dunghill near me placed?
Are those poor sweepings of a groom,
That filthy sight, that nauseous fume,
Meet objects here? Command it hence:
A thing so mean must give offence'
The humble dunghill thus replied:
'Thy master hears, and mocks thy pride:
_30
Insult not thus the meek and low;
In me thy benefactor know;
My warm assistance gave thee birth,
Or thou hadst perished low in earth;
But upstarts, to support their station,
Cancel at once all obligation.'

* * * * *


FABLE XXXVI.

PYTHAGORAS AND THE COUNTRYMAN.

Pythag'ras rose at early dawn,
By soaring meditation drawn,
To breathe the fragrance of the day,
Through flowery fields he took his way.
In musing contemplation warm,
His steps misled him to a farm,
Where, on the ladder's topmost round,
A peasant stood; the hammer's sound
Shook the weak barn. 'Say, friend, what care
Calls for thy honest labour there?'
_10
The clown, with surly voice replies,
'Vengeance aloud for justice cries.
This kite, by daily rapine fed,
My hens' annoy, my turkeys' dread,
At length his forfeit life has paid;
See on the wall his wings displayed,
Here nailed, a terror to his kind,
My fowls shall future safety find;
My yard the thriving poultry feed,
And my barn's refuse fat the breed.'
_20
'Friend,' says the sage, 'the doom is wise;
For public good the murderer dies.
But if these tyrants of the air
Demand a sentence so severe,
Think how the glutton man devours;
What bloody feasts regale his hours!
O impudence of power and might,
Thus to condemn a hawk or kite,
When thou, perhaps, carniv'rous sinner,
Hadst pullets yesterday for dinner!'
_30
'Hold,' cried the clown, with passion heated,
'Shall kites and men alike be treated?
When Heaven the world with creatures stored,
Man was ordained their sovereign lord.'
'Thus tyrants boast,' the sage replied,
'Whose murders spring from power and pride.
Own then this man-like kite is slain
Thy greater luxury to sustain;
For "Petty rogues submit to fate,
That great ones may enjoy their state."'[5]
_40




FABLE XXXVII.

THE FARMER'S WIFE AND THE RAVEN.

'Why are those tears? why droops your head?
Is then your other husband dead?
Or does a worse disgrace betide?
Hath no one since his death applied?'
'Alas! you know the cause too well:
The salt is spilt, to me it fell.
Then, to contribute to my loss,
My knife and fork were laid across;
On Friday too! the day I dread!
Would I were safe at home in bed!
_10
Last night (I vow to heaven 'tis true)
Bounce from the fire a coffin flew.
Next post some fatal news shall tell,
God send my Cornish friends be well!'
'Unhappy widow, cease thy tears,
Nor feel affliction in thy fears,
Let not thy stomach be suspended;
Eat now, and weep when dinner's ended;
And when the butler clears the table,
For thy desert, I'll read my fable.'
_20
Betwixt her swagging panniers' load
A farmer's wife to market rode,
And, jogging on, with thoughtful care
Summed up the profits of her ware;
When, starting from her silver dream,
Thus far and wide was heard her scream:
'That raven on yon left-hand oak
(Curse on his ill-betiding croak)
Bodes me no good.' No more she said,
When poor blind Ball, with stumbling tread,
_30
Fell prone; o'erturned the pannier lay,
And her mashed eggs bestrewed the way.
She, sprawling in the yellow road,
Railed, swore and cursed: 'Thou croaking toad,
A murrain take thy whoreson throat!
I knew misfortune in the note.'
'Dame,' quoth the raven, 'spare your oaths,
Unclench your fist, and wipe your clothes.
But why on me those curses thrown?
Goody, the fault was all your own;
_40
For had you laid this brittle ware,
On Dun, the old sure-footed mare,
Though all the ravens of the hundred,
With croaking had your tongue out-thundered,
Sure-footed Dun had kept his legs,
And you, good woman, saved your eggs.'



FABLE XXXVIII.

THE TURKEY AND THE ANT.

In other men we faults can spy,
And blame the mote that dims their eye,
Each little speck and blemish find,
To our own stronger errors blind.
A turkey, tired of common food,
Forsook the barn, and sought 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 supplies;
_10
Behold, the busy negro race,
See, millions blacken all the place!
Fear not. Like me with freedom eat;
An ant is most delightful meat.
How bless'd, how envied were our life,
Could we but 'scape the poulterer's knife!
But man, cursed man, on turkeys preys,


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