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He hears the clergy are offended;
And grown so bold behind his back,
To call him hypocrite and quack.
In his own church he keeps a seat;
Says grace before and after meat;
And calls, without affecting airs,
His household twice a-day to prayers.
He shuns apothecaries' shops,
And hates to cram the sick with slops:
He scorns to make his art a trade;
Nor bribes my lady's favourite maid.
Old nurse-keepers would never hire,
To recommend him to the squire;
Which others, whom he will not name,
Have often practised to their shame.
The Statesman tells you, with a sneer, His fault is to be too sincere ;
And having no sinister ends,
Is apt to disoblige his friends.
The nation's good, his master's glory,
Without regard to Whig or Tory,
Were all the schemes he had in view,
Yet he was seconded by few:
Though some had spread a thousand lies,
'Twas he defeated the excise.
'Twas known, though he had borne aspersion, That standing troops were his aversion:
His practice was, in every station,
To serve the king, and please the nation.
Though hard to find in every case
The fittest man to fill a place:
His promises he ne'er forgot,
But took memorials on the spot;
His enemies, for want of charity,
Said, he affected popularity:
'Tis true, the people understood,
That all he did was for their good;
Their kind affections he has tried;
No love is lost on either side.
He came to court with fortune clear,
Which now he runs out every year;
Must, at the rate that he goes on,
Inevitably be undone :
O! if his majesty would please
To give him but a writ of ease,
Would grant him license to retire,
As it has long been his desire,
By fair accounts it would be found,
He's poorer by ten thousand pound.
He owns, and hopes it is no sin,
He ne'er was partial to his kin;
He thought it base for men in stations,
To crowd the court with their relations:
His country was his dearest mother,
And every virtuous man his brother;
Through modesty or awkward shame,
(For which he owns himself to blame,)
He found the wisest man he could,
Without respect to friends or blood;
Nor ever acts on private views,
When he has liberty to choose.
The Sharper swore he hated play,
Except to pass an hour away:
And well he might; for, to his cost,
By want of skill, he always lost;
He heard there was a club of cheats,
Who had contrived a thousand feats;
Could change the stock, or cog a die,
And thus deceive the sharpest eye:
Nor wonder how his fortune sunk,
His brothers fleece him when he's drunk.
I own the moral not exact,
Besides, the tale is false, in fact;
And so absurd, that could I raise up,
From fields Elysian, fabling Æsop,
I would accuse him to his face,
For libelling the four-foot race.
Creatures of every kind but ours
Well comprehend their natural powers,
While we, whom reason ought to sway,
Mistake our talents every day.
The Ass was never known so stupid,
To act the part of Tray or Cupid;
Nor leaps upon his master's lap,
There to be stroked, and fed with pap,
As Æsop would the world persuade;
He better understands his trade:
Nor comes whene'er his lady whistles,
But carries loads, and feeds on thistles.
Our author's meaning, I presume, is
A creature bipes et implumis1;
Wherein the moralist design'd
A compliment on human kind;
For here he owns, that now and then
Beasts may degenerate into men.
1 Two-legged and without feathers.
BY JOHN GAY.1
"Whether on earth, in air, or main,
Sure everything alive is vain.
Does not the hawk all fowls survey
As destined only for his prey?
And do not tyrants, prouder things,
Think men were born for slaves for kings?
When the crab views the pearly strands,
Or Tagus bright with golden sands,
Or crawls beside the coral grove
And hears the ocean roll above,
'Nature is too profuse,' says he,
'Who gave all these to pleasure me.'
When bordering pinks and roses bloom,
And every garden breathes perfume-
1 Born near Barnstaple, England, 1688; wrote "Rural Sports," "The Shepherd's Week," "Trivia," "Fables," and "The Beggar's Opera"; died in London, 1732. No other English author has excelled him as a writer of fables. "Gay's 'Fables' are certainly a work of great merit, both as to the quantity of invention implied, and as to the elegance and facility of the execution." Hazlitt.
"In this age," says Taine, "lived Gay, a kind and amiable good fellow, very sincere, very frank, strangely thoughtless, born to be duped, and a young man to the last. Swift said of him that he ought never to have lived more than twenty-two years. 'In wit a man, simplicity a child,' wrote Pope. He had little of the grave in his character, and neither many scruples nor manners. It was his sad lot, he said, that he could get nothing from the court, whether he wrote for or against it. And he wrote his own epitaph:
"Life is a jest; and all things show it,
I thought so once; but now I know it.''
When peaches glow with sunny dyes, Like Laura's cheek when blushes rise; When with huge figs the branches bend; When clusters from the vine depend. The snail looks round on flower and tree, And cries 'All these were made for me.'
"What dignity's in human nature?' Says Man, the most conceited creature, As from a cliff he cast his eye And viewed the sea and arched sky. The sun was sunk beneath the main; The moon and all the starry train Hung the vast vault of heaven, the man His contemplation thus began:
"When I behold this glorious show And the wide watery world below,
The scaly people of the main,
The beasts that range the woods or plain,
The wing'd inhabitants of air,
The night, the day, the various year, And know all these by Heaven designed
As gifts to pleasure human-kind,
I cannot raise my voice too high
Of what vast consequence am I?'
"Not of the importance you suppose,' Replies a flea upon his nose. 'Be humble, learn thyself to scan,
Know pride was never made for man; 'Tis vanity that swells thy mind.
What heaven and earth for thee designed,
For thee made only for our need,
That more important fleas should feed.'"