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Imitated from the Eighth Book of Ovid.
N ancient times, as story tells,
The saints would often leave their cells,
And strole about, but hide their quality,
To try good people's hospitality.
It happen’d on a winter night,
As authors of the legend write,
Two brother hermits, saints by trade,
Taking their tour in masquerade,
Disguis’d in tatter'd habits, went
To a small village down in Kent;
Where, in the stroller's canting strain,
They begg'd from door to door in vain,
Try'd ev'ry tone might pity win;
But not a soul would let them in.
Our wand'ring faints in weeful state,
Treated at this ungodly rate,
Having through all the village pass’d,
To a small cottage came at last ;
Where dwelt a good old honeft ye’man,
Call'd in the neighbourhood Philemon,
Who kindly did these faints invite
In his poor hut to pass the night;
And then the hospitable fire
Bid goody Baucis mend the fire ;
While he from out the chimney took
A Aitch of bacon off the hook,
And freely from the fatteft side
Cut out large slices to be fry’d;
Then stepp'd aside to fetch 'em drink,
Fill'd a large jug up to the brink,
And saw it fairly twice go round;
Yet (what is wonderful!) they found
'Twas still replenish'd to the top,
As if they had not touch'd a drop.
The good old couple were amaz’d,
And often on each other gaz'd;
For both were frighten’d to the heart,
And just began to cry,-What ar't!
Then sostly turn’d aside to view
Whether the lights were burning blue.
The gentle pilgrims, foon aware on't,
Told them their calling, and their errant;
Good folks, you need not be afraid,
We are but saints, the hermits faid;
No hurt shall come to you or yours :
But for that pack of churlish boors,
Not fit to live on christian ground,
They and their houses shall be drown'd;
Whilft you shall see your cottage rise,
And grow a church before your eyes.
They scarce had spoke : when fair and soft
The roof began to mount aloft ;
Aloft rose ev'ry beam and rafter
The heavy wall climb’d slowly after.
The chimney widen'd, and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there ftood fasten’d to a joist,
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below :
In vain; for a superior force
Apply'd at bottom stops its course :
Doom'd ever in suspense to dwell,
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Loft by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increas'd by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion flow'r.
The flyer, thou 't had leaden feet,
Turn'd round fo quick, you scarce could see't ;
But, slacken’d by some secret pow'r,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near ally'd,
Had never left each other's side:
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone;
But, up against the fteeple rear'd,
Became a clock, and still adher'd;
And still its love to houshold cares,
By a fhrill voice at noon declares,
Warning the cook-maid not to burn
That roast-meat, which it cannot turn.
The groaning-chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall ;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And, with small change, a pulpit grew.
The porringers, that in a row
Hung high, and made a glitt'ring show,
To a less noble substance chang'd,
Were now but leathern buckets rang’d.
The ballads pasted on the wall,
Of Joan of France, and English Moll,
Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood,
The Little children in the wood,
Now seem'd to look abundance better,
Improv'd in picture, size, and letter ;
And, high in order plac'd, describe
The heraldry of ev'ry tribe.
A bedstead of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphos'd into pews;
Which still their ancient nature keep
By lodging folks dispos'd to sleep.
The cottage by such feats as these
Grown to a church by just degrees,
The hermits then defir'd their hoft
To ak for what he fancy'd most.
Philemon, having paus'd a while,
Return'd 'em thanks in homely style;
Then said, my house is grown so fine,
Methinks, I still would call it mine :
I'm old, and fain would live at ease;
Make me the parson, if you please.
He spoke ; and presently he feels
His grazier's coat fall down his heels;
He sees, yet hardly can believe,
About each arm a pudding-sleeve ;
His waistcoat to a caffock
And both assum'd a fable hue ;
But, being old, continued just
As thread bare, and as full of dust.
His talk was now of tythes and dues ;
He smok'd his pipe, and read the news ;
Knew how to preach old sermons next,
Vamp'd in the preface and the text;
At christ’nings well could act his part,
And had the service all by heart;
Wish'd women might have children faft,
And thought whose fow had farrow'd last;
Against Dissenters would repine,
And stood up firm for Right Divine;