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James Merrick

The Chameleon

OFT has it been my lot to mark
'A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes that hardly served at most
To guard their master 'gainst a post;
Yet round the world the blade has been,
To see whatever could be seen.
Returning from his finish'd tour,
Grown ten times perter than before,
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travell'd fool your mouth will stop.
"Sir, if my judgment you'll allow,
I've seen, and sure I ought to know."
So begs you'd pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.

་་

Two travellers of such a cast, 'As o'er Arabia's wilds they pass'd, 'And on their way, in friendly chat, Now talk'd of this, and then of that, Discoursed awhile, 'mongst other matter, Of the Chameleon's form and nature. "A stranger animal," cries one, "Sure never lived beneath the sun: A lizard's body lean and long,

'A fish's head, a serpent's tongue, Its foot with triple claw disjoin'd,

And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! And then its hue!
Who ever saw so fine a blue?"

"Hold, there!" the other quick replies;
""Tis green; I saw it with these eyes,
'As late with open mouth it lay,
And warm'd it in the sunny ray.
Stretch'd at its ease the beast I view'd,
'And saw it eat the air for food."

"I've seen it, sir, as well as you,
And must again affirm it blue.
'At leisure I the beast survey'd
Extended in the cooling shade."

"'Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye."
"Green!" cries the other in a fury;
"Why, sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?"
""Twere no great loss," the friend replies;
"For if they always serve you thus,
You'll find them but of little use."

So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows,
When luckily came by a third;
To him the question they referr'd,
'And begg'd he'd tell them, if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue.

"Sirs," cries the umpire, " cease your pother; The creature's neither one nor t'other.

I caught the animal last night,
And view'd it o'er by candle-light.
I mark'd it well; 'twas black as jet.
You stare! But, sirs, I've got it yet,
And can produce it." "Pray, sir, do;
I'll lay my life the thing is blue."

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And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen The reptile, you'll pronounce him green."

"Well, then, at once to ease the doubt,"
Replies the man, "I'll turn him out;
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him."

He said; and full before their sight Produced the beast, and lo! 'twas white. Both stared; the man look'd wondrous wise. "My children," the Chameleon cries (Then first the creature found a tongue), "You all are right, and all are wrong. When next you talk of what you view, Think others see as well as you; Nor wonder if you find that none Prefers your eyesight to his own."

David Garrick

The Dictated Letter

HARRIET and HEARTLY, her Guardian.

Har. I hope you are not angry, sir, that I left you so abruptly, without making any apology.

Heart. I am angry that you think an apology necessary. The matter we are upon is of such a delicate nature that I am more pleased with your confusion than I should have been with your excuses. You'll pardon me, my dear?

Har. I have reflected that the person for whom I have conceived a most tender regard may, from the wisest motives, doubt my passion; and therefore I would endeavour to answer all his objections, and convince him how deserving he is of my highest esteem.

Heart. I have not yet apprehended what kind of dispute could arise between you and Mr. Clackit; but I would advise you both to come to a reconciliation as soon as possible.

Har. (aside). He still continues in his error, and I cannot undeceive him.

Heart. Shall I take the liberty of telling you, my dear? (Takes her hand.) You tremble, Harriet. What is the matter with you?

Har. Nothing, sir. Pray go on.

Heart. I guess whence proceeds all this uneasiness. You fear that the world will not be so readily convinced of this young gentleman's merits as you are; and, indeed, I could wish him more deserving of you; but your regard for him

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gives him a merit he otherwise would have wanted, and almost makes me blind to his failings.

Har. And would you advise me, sir, to make choice of this gentleman?

Heart. I would advise you, as I always have done, to consult your own heart on such an occasion.

Har. If that is your advice, I will most religiously follow it; and, for the last time, I am resolved to discover my real sentiments. But as a confession of this kind will not become me, I have been thinking of some innocent strategem to spare my blushes, and, in part, to relieve me from the shame of a declaration. Might I be permitted to write to him?

Heart. I think you may, my dear, without the least offence to your delicacy; and, indeed, you ought to explain yourself; your late misunderstanding makes it absolutely necessary.

Har. Will you be kind enough to assist me? Will you write it for me, sir?

Heart. Oh, most willingly; and as I am made a party, it will remove all objections.

Har. I will dictate to you in the best manner I am able. (Sighs.),

Heart. Here is pen, ink, and paper; and now, my dear, I am ready. He is certainly of a good family; and though he has some little faults, time and your virtues will correct them. Come, what shall I write? (Prepares to write.)

Har. Pray, give me a moment's thought. 'Tis a terrible task, Mr. Heartly.

Heart. I know it is. Don't hurry yourself; I shall wait with patience.

Har. (dictating). "It is in vain for me to conceal from one of your understanding the secrets of my heart"

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