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Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show'd his breeding and his wit;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cried "I vow you're mighty neat.
But lord, my friend, this savage scene!
Why can't you come and live with men ?
Consider, mice, like men, must die,
Both small and great, both you and I:
Then spend your life in joy and sport;
This doctrine, friend, I learn'd at court.”
The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, we know, to strong temptation.
Away they come, through thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's Inn:
'Twas on the night of a debate,
When all their lordships had sat late.
Behold the place, where if a poet
Shin'd in description, he might show it;
Tell how the moon-beam trembling falls,
And tips with silver all the walls;
Palladian walls, Venetian doors,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors:
But let it, in a word, be said,
The moon was up, and men abed,
The napkins white, the carpet red:
The guests withdrawn had left the treat,
And down the mice sate, tête-à-tête.
Our courtier walks from dish to dish, Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish ; Tells all their names, lays down the law,
Que ça est bon! Ah goutez ça ! That jelly's rich, this malmsey healing, Pray, dip your whiskers and your tail in.” Was ever such a happy swain? He stuffs and swills, and stuffs again,
"I'm quite ashamed—'tis mighty rude
To eat so much—but all's so good.
I have a thousand thanks to give—
My lord alone knows how to live.”
No sooner said, but from the hall
Rush chaplain, butler, dogs, and all;
"A rat! a rat! clap to the door❞—
The cat comes bouncing on the floor.
Oh, for the heart of Homer's mice,
Or gods to save them in a trice!
"An't please your honour," quoth the peasant,
"This same dessert is not so pleasant:
Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread, and liberty!"
XII. THE CHAMELEON.
OFT has it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes that hardly served at most
To guard their master 'gainst a post;
Yet round the world the blade had been,
To see whatever could be seen.
Returning from his finish'd tour,
Grown ten times perter than before,
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travell'd fool your mouth will stop:
"Sir, if my judgment you'll allow—
I've seen, and sure I ought to know ;"
So begs you'd pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.
Two travellers of such a cast,
As o'er Arabia's wilds they pass'd,
And on their way in friendly chat,
Now talk'd of this, and then of that-
Discours'd a while, 'mongst other matter,
Of the chameleon's form and nature.
A stranger animal,” cries one,
"Sure never lived beneath the sun:
A lizard's body, lean and long,
A fish's head, a serpent's tongue;
Its foot with triple claw disjoin'd,
And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! and then its hue-
Who ever saw so fine a blue ?"
Hold there," the other quick replies,
“'Tis green,—I saw it with these eyes,
As late with open mouth it lay,
And warmed it in the sunny ray;
Stretch'd at its ease the beast I view'd,
And saw it eat the air for food!"
I've seen it, sir, as well as you,
And must again affirm 'tis blue.
At leisure I the beast survey'd,
Extended in the cooling shade."
"'Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye.”
"Green !" cries the other in a fury.
Why, sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?" "Twere no great loss,” the friend replies; "For if they always serve you thus, You'll find them but of little use."
So high at last the contest rose, From words they almost came to blows; When luckily came by a third; To him the question they referr'd, And begg'd he'd tell them, if he knew, Whether the thing was green or blue. "Sirs," cried the umpire, cease your pother, The creature's neither one nor t'other: I caught the animal last night, And view'd it o'er by candle-light; I mark'd it well-'twas black as jet. You stare; but, sirs, I've got it yet,
And can produce it." Pray, sir, do;
I'll lay my life, the thing is blue."
"And I'll be sworn that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce him green."
"Well then, at once, to ease the doubt,"
Replies the man, "Ill turn him out;
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him.”
He said; then full before their sight Produced the beast, and lo-'twas white! Both stared; the man look'd wondrous wise. "My children," the chameleon cries, (Then first the creature found a tongue,) "You all are right, and all are wrong: When next you talk of what you view, Think others see as well as you ; Nor wonder, if you find that none Prefers your eyesight to his own."
XIII. THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE GLOW-WORM.
A NIGHTINGALE, that all day long
Had cheer'd the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off, upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark.
So, stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The worm, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus, right eloquent:
66 Did you admire my lamp," quoth he, As much as I your minstrelsy, You would abhor to do me wrong, As much as I to spoil your song; For, 'twas the self-same Pow'r divine, Taught you to sing, and me to shine; That you with music, I with light, Might beautify and cheer the night."
The songster heard this short oration,
And warbling on't his approbation,
Released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence jarring sectaries may learn, Their real interest to discern, That brother should not war with brother, And worry and devour each other; But sing and shine by sweet consent, Till life's poor transient night is spent ; Respecting, in each other's case, The gifts of nature and of grace. Those Christians best deserve the name, Who studiously make peace their aim :Peace, both the duty and the prize Of him that creeps and him that flies.