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Methinks I scent some rich repast;
The savour strengthens with the blast;
Snuff then, the promis'd feast inhale;
I taste the carcass in the gale.
Near yonder trees the farmer's steed,
From toil and ev'ry drudg’ry freed,
Hath groan'd his last. A dainty treat!
To birds of taste delicious meat.
A Sexton, busy at his trade,
To hear their chat suspends his spade.
Death struck him with no farther thought,
Than merely as the fees he brought.
Was ever two such blund'ring fowls,
In brains and manners less than owls!
Blockheads, says he, learn more respect:
Know ye on whom ye thus reflect ?
In this same grave (who does me right
Must own the work is strong and tight)
The 'Squire that yon' fair hall possest,
To-night shall lay his bones at rest.
Whence could the gross mistake proceed?
The 'Squire was somewhat fat indeed.
What then, the meanest bird of prey
Such want of sense could ne'er betray;
For sure some difference must be found
(Suppose the smelling organ sound)
In carcasses, (say what we can)
Or where's the dignity of man?"
With due respect to human race
The Ravens undertook the case.
In such similitude of scent
Man ne'er could think reflections meante
As epicures ex'ol a treat,
And seem their sav'ry words to eat,
They prais'd dead horse, luxurious food,
The ven’son of the prescient brood.
The Sexton's indignation mov'd;
The mean comparison reprov’d;
Their undiscerning palate blam’d,
Which two-legg'd carrion thus defam'd.
Reproachful speech from either side
The want of argument supply'd:
They rail, revile; as often ends
The contest of disputing friends.
Hold, says the Fowl; since human pride
With confutation ne'er comply'd,
Let's state the case, and then refer
The knotty point, for taste may err.
As thus he spoke, from out the mould
An Earthworm, huge of size, unrollid
His monstrous length: they strait agree
To chuse him as their referee :
So to th' experience of his jaws
Each states the merits of the cause.
He paus'd, and, with a solemn tone,
Thus made his sage opinion known:
On carcasses of ev'ry kind
This maw hath elegantly din'd;
Provok'd by luxury or need,
On beast, or fowl, or man, I feed:
Such small distinction's in the savour,
By turns I chuse the fancy'd flavour:
Yet I must own (that human beast)
A glutton is the rankest feast.
Man, cease this boast; for human pride
Hath various tracts to range beside.
The prince who kept the world in awe,
The judge whose dictate fix'd the law,
The rich, the poor, the great, the small,
Are levell’d; death confounds them all.
Then think not that we reptiles share
Such cates, such elegance of fare;
The only true and real good
Of man was never vermine's food:
'Tis seated in th' immortal mind;
Virtue distinguishes mankind,
And that (as yet ne'er harbour d here)
Mounts with the soul we know not where.
So Good-man Sexton, since the case
Appears with such a dubious face,
To neither I the cause determine,
For different tastes please diff'rent vermine.
In Fable all things hold discourse;
Then words no doubt must talk of course.
Once on a time, near Cannon-row,
Two hostile adverbs, Ay and No,
Were hast’ning to the field of fight,
And front to front stood opposite;
Before each gen'ral join'd the van,
Ay, the more courteous knight, began:
Stop, peevish Particle! beware!
I'm told you are not such a bear,
But sometimes yield when offer'd fair.
Suffer yon' folks a while to tattle;
'Tis we who must decide the battle.
Whene'er we war on yonder stage,
With various fate and equal rage,
The nation trembles at each blow
That No gives Ay, and Ay gives No;
Yet in expensive long contention,
We gain nor office, grant, or pension.
Why then should kinsfolks quarrel thus ?
(For two of you make one of us.)
To some wise statesman let us go,
Where each his proper use may know:
He may admit two such commanders,
And make those wait who serv'd in Flanders,
Let's quarter on a great man's tongue,
A treas’ry lord, not Maister Y----g.
Obsequicus at his high command,
Ay shall march forth to tax the land;
Impeachments No can best resist,
And Ay support the civil list :
Ay, quick as Cæsar, wins the day,
And No, like Fabius, by delay.
Sometimes in mutual sly disguise,
Let Ay's seem No's and No's seem Ay's;
Ay's be in courts denials meant,
And No's in bishops' give consent.
Thus Ay propos'd---ånd, for reply,
No, for the first time, answer'd Ay!
They parted with a thousand kisses,
And fight e'er since for pay, like Swisses.