Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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.
O for the heart of Homer's mice7,
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.”

JOHN GAY Was born at Barnstaple, A.D. 1688. He devoted himself to literary pursuits, and succeeded in gaining some very kind friends and patrons. He died A.D. 1732.

His fables exhibit great ease, freedom, and spirit, in the mode of the narration, and show much correct feeling and sound moral principle

THE PIN AND THE NEEDLE.

A Pin, who long had served a beauty,
Proficient in the toilette's duty,
Had formed her sleeve, confined her hair,
Or given her knot a smarter air;
Now nearest to her heart was placed,
Now in her mantua's tail disgraced ;
But could she partial fortune blame,
Who saw her lovers served the saine?
At length, from all her honours cast,
Through various turns of life she passed;
Now glittering on a tailor's arm,
Now kept a beggar's infant warm;
Now, ranged within a miser's coat,
Contributes to his yearly groat:
Now, raised again from low approach,
She visits in the doctor's coach:
Here, there, by various fortune tost,
At last in Gresham-hall was lost.
Charmed with the wonders of the show,
On every side, above, below,
She now of this or that inquires,
What least was understood, admires.
'Tis plain, each thing so struck her mind,

Her head's of virtuoso kind. 27 Homer's mice; alluding to Homer's burlesque epic, “ The Battle of the

Frogs and Mice.”

“ And pray what's this, and this, dear sir?” A Needle,” says the interpreter. She knew the name; and thus the fool Addressed her as a tailor's tool.

“ A Needle with that filthy stone, Quite idle, all with rust o’ergrown! You better might employ your parts, And aid the sempstress in her arts; But tell me how the friendship grew, Between that paltry flint and you ?”

“ Friend,” says the Needle, cease to blame;
I follow real worth and fame.
Know'st thou the loadstone's power and art?
That virtue virtues can impart;
Of all his talents I partake;
Who then can such a friend forsake?
'Tis I direct the pilot's hand
To shun the rocks and treacherous sand :
By me the distant world is known,
And either India is our own.
Had I with milliners been bred,
What had I been ? the guide of thread;
And drudged, as vulgar Needles do,
Of no more consequence than you.”

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE SNAIL.
All upstarts, insolent in place,
Remind us of their vulgar race.

As in the sunshine of the morn,
A Butterfly (but newly born)
Sat proudly perking on a rose,
With pert conceit his bosom glows;
His wings (all glorious to behold)
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold,
Wide he displays; the spangled dew
Reflects his eyes and various hue.

His now forgotten friend, a Snail,
Beneath his house, with slimy trail,
Crawls o'er the grass, whom, when he spies,
In wrath he to the gardener cries:

“What means yon peasant's daily toil,
From choking weeds to rid the soil?
Why wake you to the morning's care?
Why with new correct the year?
Why grows the peach with crimson hue?
And why the plum's inviting blue ?

Were they to feast his taste designed,
That vermin of voracious kind!
Crush then the slow, the pilfering race,
So purge thy garden from disgrace.”

" What arrogance!" the Snail replied;
“ How insolent is upstart pride!
Hadst thou not thus, with insult vain,
Provoked my patience to complain,
I had concealed thy meaner birth,
Nor traced thee to the scum of earth;
For scarce nine suns have waked the hours,
To swell the fruit and paint the flowers,
Since I thy humbler life surveyed,
In base, in sordid guise arrayed :
A hideous insect, vile, unclean,
You dragged a slow and noisome train;
And, from your spider-bowels drew
Foul film, and span the dirty clue.
I own my humble life, good friend ;
Snail was I born, and Snail shall end.
And what's a Butterfly! at best,
He's but a caterpillar drest;
And all thy race (a numerous seed)
Shall prove of caterpillar breed."

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 an infant train, Collecting here and there a grain. “ Draw near, my birds!” the mother cries, 6. This hill delicious fare supplies ; 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 blessed, how envied, were our life, Could we but ’scape the poulterer's knife ; But man, cursed man, on Turkeys preys, And Christmas shortens all our days! Sometimes with oysters we combine, Sometimes assist the savoury chine ;

From the low peasant to the lord,
The Turkey smokes on every board ;
Sure men for gluttony are cursed,
Of the seven deadly sins the worst."

An Ant who climbed beyond her reach, Thus answered from the neighbouring beech: Ere

you remark another's sin,
Bid thy own conscience look within;
Control thy more voracious bill,
Nor for a breakfast nations kill."

THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
FRIENDSHIP, like love, is but a naine,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care.
'Tis thus in friendships ; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.

A Hare who, in a civil way,
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known to all the bestial train
Who hunt the wood, or graze the plain :
Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.

As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies.
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath;
She hears the near approach of death:
She doubles to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy ground;
Till, fainting in the public way,
Half dead with fear she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the horse appeared in view!

“Let me,” says she, “ your back aseend
And owe my safety to a friend.
You know my feet betray my flight;
To friendship every burden's light.”

The horse replied, “ Poor honest Puss,
It grieves my heart to see you thus :
Be comforted, relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear."

She next the stately bull implored ;
And thus replied the mighty lord :

“Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I

may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend.
Love calls me hence; a favourite cow
Expects me near yon barley-mow;
And, where a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus would seem unkind;
But see the goat is just behind.”

The goat remarked her pulse was high,
Her languid head, her heavy eye;
“ My back," says she, “ may

do

you harm;
The sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.'

The sheep was feeble, and complained,
“ His sides à load of wool sustained;"
Said he was slow, confessed his fears ;
“For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.”

She now the trotting calf addressed,
To save from death a friend distressed.
“ Shall I,” says he, "of tender age,
In this important case engage?
Older and abler passed you by;
How strong are those ! how weak am 1!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence.
Excuse me, then; you know

my

heart;
But dearest friends, alas! must part.
How shall we all lament! adieu ;
For

see, the hounds are just in view.”

THOMAS TICKELL, A poet of but moderate pretensions, was born A.D. 1686, and died A.D. 1740. He was the intimate friend of Addison; and, on the death of that great man, superintended the publication of his works.

TO THE EARL OF WARWICK, ON THE DEATH OF

MR. ADDISON.

If dumb too long the drooping Muse hath stayed,
And left her debt to Addison unpaid,
Blame not her silence, Warwick", but bemoan,
And judge, oh, judge my bosom by your own!

1 Warwick; the Earl of Warwick was Mr. Addison's step-son.

« ПредишнаНапред »