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'Twas sung of old how one Amphion
Could by his verses tame a lion,
And, by his strange enchanting tunes,
Make bears or wolves dance rigadoons ;
His songs could call the timber down,
And form it into house or town;
But it is plain that in these times
No house is raised by poets' rhymes ;
They for themselves can only rear
A few wild castles in the air ;
Poor are the brethren of the bays,
Down from high strains, to ekes and ayes :
The Muses too are virgins yet,
And may be-till they portions get.
Yet still the doting rhymer dreams,
And sings of Helicon's bright streams;
But Helicon, for all his clatter,
Yields only uninspiring water;
Yet, even athirst, he sweetly sings
Of nectar and Elysian springs.
What dire malignant planet sheds,
Ye bards, his influence on your heads?
Lawyers, by endless controversies,
Consume unthinking clients' purses,
As Pharaoh's kine, which strange and odd is,
Devour'd the plump and well fed bodies,
The grave physician who, by physic,
Like death, dispatches him that is sick,
Pursues a sure and thriving trade;
Though patients die, the doctor's paid :
Licensed to kill, he gains a palace
For what another mounts the gallows,
In shady groves the Muses stray,
And love in flowery meads to play ;
An idle crew! whose only trade is
To shine in trifles, like our ladies;
In dressing, dancing, toying, singing,
While wiser Pallas thrives by spinning:
Thus they gain nothing to bequeath
Their votaries, but a laurel wreath.
But love rewards the bard ! the fair
Attend his song, and ease his care:
Alas! fond youth, your plea you urge ill
Without a jointure, though a Virgil.
Could you like Phoebus sing, in vain
You nobly swell the lofty strain ;
Coy. Daphne flies, and you will find as
Hard hearts as hers, in your Belindas.
But then some say you purchase fame,
And gain that envied prize, a name ;
Great recompense ! like his who sells
A diamond for beads and bells.
Will fame be thought sufficient bail
To keep the poet from the gaol?-
Thus the brave soldier, in the wars,
Gets empty praise and aching scars :
Is paid with fame and wooden legs ;
And, starved, the glorious vagrant begs.
JACK CARELESS was a man of parts,
Well skill'd in the politer arts,
With judgment read, with humour writ,
Among his friends pass’d for a wit;
But loved his ease more than his meat,
And wonder'd knaves could toil and cheat,
To’expose themselves by being great.
At no levees the suppliant bow'd,
Nor courted for their votes the crowd;
Nor riches nor preferment sought,
Did what he pleased, spoke what he thought;
Content within due bounds to live,
And what he could not spend, to give :
Would whiff his pipe o'er nappy ale,
And joke, and pun, and tell his tale ;
Reform the state, lay down the law,
And talk of lords he never saw;
Fight Marlborough’s battles o'er again,
And push the French on Blenheim's plain ;
Discourse of Paris, Naples, Rome,
Though he had never stirr’d from home:
'Tis true he travell’d with great care
The tour of Europe—in his chair;
Was loath to part without his load,
Or move till morning peep'd abroad.
One day this honest idle rake,
Nor quite asleep nor well awake,
Was lolling in his elbow-chair,
And building castles in the air ;
His nipperkin (the port was good)
Half empty at his elbow stood,
When a strange noise offends his ear,
The din increased as it came near,
And in his yard at last he view'd
Of farmers a great multitude,
Who that day, walking of their rounds
Had disagreed about their bounds;
And sure the difference must be wide,
Where each does for himself decide.
Volleys of oaths in vain they swear, Which burst like guiltless bombs in air ; And, “Thou’rt a knave!' and · Thou'rt an oaf! Is bandied round with truth enough. At length they mutually agree His worship should be referee, Which courteous Jack consents to be ; Though for himself he would not budge, Yet for his friends an arrant drudge; A conscience of this point he made, With pleasure readily obey'd, And shot like lightning to their aid. The farmers, summon’d to his room, Bowing with awkward reverence come. In his great chair his worship sat, A grave and able magistrate : Silence proclaim'd, each claek was laid, And flippant tongues with pain obey'd. In a short speech he first computes The vast expense of law disputes, And everlasting chancery suits. With zeal and warmth he rallied then Pack'd juries, sheriffs, talesmen, And recommended in the close Good neighbourhood, peace, and repose. Next weigh'd with care each man's pretence, Perused records, heard evidence; Observed, replied, hit every blot, Unravel'd every Gordian knot; With great activity and parts Inform’d their judgments, won their hearts, And without fees or time mispent By strength of ale and argument, Dispatch'd them home, friends and content.
Trusty, who at his elbow sat,
And with surprise heard the debate,
Astonish'd, could not but admire
His strange dexterity and fire,
His wise discernment and good sense,
His quickness, ease, and eloquence :
• Lord ! sir (said he), I can't but chide;
What useful talents do you hide!
In half an hour you have done more
Than Puzzle can in half a score,
With all the practice of the courts,
His cases, precedents, reports.'
Jack with a smile replied, ' 'Tis true,
This may seem odd, my friend, to you:
But give me not more than my due.
No hungry judge nods o'er the laws,
But hastens to decide the cause.
Who hands the oar, and drags the chain,
Will struggle to be free again.
So lazy men and indolent,
With cares oppress'd, and business spent,
Exert their utmost powers and skill,
Work hard ; for what? why, to sit still.
They toil, they sweat, they want no fee,
For even sloth prompts to industry:
Therefore, my friend, I freely own
All this address I now have shown,
Is mere impatience, and no more,
To lounge and loiter as before.
Life is a span, the world an inn-
Here, sirrah, the other nipperkin.'