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(The source of children's and of courtiers' pride!) Redress'd affronts, for vile affronts there pass'd; And warn'd them not the fretful to deride, But love each other dear, whatever them betide.
Right well she knew each temper to descry; To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise; Some with vile copper-prize exalt on high, And some entice with pittance small of praise, And other some with baleful sprig she 'frays: E'en absent, she the reins of power doth hold, While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways: Forewarn'd, if little bird their pranks behold, "T will whisper in her ear, and all the scene unfold.
Lo now with state she utters the command! Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair; Their books of stature small they take in hand, Which with pellucid horn secured are, To save from finger wet the letters fair: The work so gay that on their back is seen, St. George's high achievements does declare; On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been, Kens the forth-coming rod, unpleasing sight, I ween!
Ah luckless he, and born beneath the beam Of evil star! it irks me whilst I write : As erst the bard by Mulla's silver stream, Oft, as he told of deadly dolorous plight, Sigh'd as he sung, and did in tears indite. For brandishing the rod, she doth begin To loose the brogues, the stripling's late delight! And down they drop; appears his dainty skin, Fair as the furry-coat of whitest ermilin.
O ruthful scene! when from a nook obscure, His little sister doth his peril see :
All playful as she sate, she grows demure; She finds full soon her wonted spirits flee; She meditates a prayer to set him free: Nor gentle pardon could this dame deny (If gentle pardon could with dames agree) To her sad grief that swells in either eye, And wings her so that all for pity she could dye.
No longer can she now her shrieks command;
And soon a flood of tears begins to flow;
But ah! what pen his piteous plight may trace? Or what device his loud laments explain? The form uncouth of his disguised face? The pallid hue that dyes his looks amain? The plenteous shower that does his cheek distain? When he, in abject wise, implores the dame, Ne hopeth aught of sweet reprieve to gain; Or when from high she levels well her aim, And, through the thatch, his cries each falling stroke proclaim.
The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay, Attend, and conn their tasks with mickle care:
By turns, astony'd, every twig survey, And, from their fellows' hateful wounds, beware; Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share ; Till fear has taught them a performance meet, And to the well-known chest the dame repair; Whence oft with sugar'd cates she doth them greet, And ginger-bread y-rare; now certes, doubly sweet!
See to their seats they hye with-merry glee,
His grievous wrong; his dame's unjust behest; And scorns her offer'd love and shuns to be caress'd.
His face besprent with liquid crystal shines,
If so I deem aright, transcending worth and fame.
Behind some door, in melancholy thought, Mindless of food, he, dreary caitiff! pines, Ne for his fellows' joyaunce careth aught, But to the wind all merriment resigns; And deems it shame, if he to peace inclines : And many a sullen look ascance is sent, Which for his dame's annoyance he designs; And still the more to pleasure him she's bent, The more doth he, perverse, her haviour past resent.
Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be ! But if that pride it be, which thus inspires, Beware, ye dames, with nice discernment see, Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires: Ah! better far than all the Muses' lyres, All coward arts, is Valour's generous heat; The firm fixt breast which fit and right requires, Like Vernon's patriot soul! more justly great Than Craft that pimps for ill, or flowery false Deceit.
Yet nurs'd with skill, what dazzling fruits appear! E'en now sagacious Foresight points to show A little bench of heedless bishops here, And there a chancellor in embryo, Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so, As Milton, Shakspeare, names that ne'er shall die! Though now he crawl along the ground so low, Nor weeting how the Muse should soar on high, Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly.
And this perhaps, who, censuring the design, Low lays the house which that of cards doth build,
Shall Dennis be! if rigid Fate incline, And many an epic to his rage shall yield; And many a poet quit th' Aonian field; And, sour'd by age, profound he shall appear, As he who now with 'sdainful fury thrill'd Surveys mine work; and levels many a sneer, And furls his wrinkly front, and cries, "What stuff is here?"