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As well she scours or scrubs a floor,
And still is good for something more?
Thus, to avoid the greater vice,
I knew a priest, of conscience nice,
To quell his lust for neighbour's spouse,
Keep fornication in his house.
But you 're impatient all this time,
Fret at my counsel, curse my rhyme.
Be satisfy'd: I'll talk no more,
For thus my tale begins-Of yore
There dwelt at Blois a priest full fair,
With rolling eye and crisped hair;
His chin hung low, his brow was sleek,
Plenty lay basking on his cheek;
Whole days at cloyster-grates he sate,
Ogled and talk'd of this and that
So feelingly, the nuns lamented
That double-bars were e'er invented.
If he the wanton wife confest,
With downcast eye, and heaving breast,
He stroak'd her cheek to still her fear,
And talk'd of sins en cavalier;
Each time enjoin'd her penance mild,
And fondled on her like his child.
At every jovial gossip's feast
Pere Bernard was a welcome guest;
Mirth suffer'd not the least restraint,
He could at will shake off the saint;
Nor frown'd he when they freely spoke,
But shook his sides, and took the joke ;
Nor fail'd he to promote the jest,
And shar'd the sins which they confest.
Yet, that he might not always roam,
He kept conveniencies at home.
His maid was in the bloom of beauty,
Well-limb'd for every social duty;
He meddled with no household cares,
To her consign'd his whole affairs:
She of his study kept the keys,
For he was studious-of his ease:
She had the power of all his locks,
Could rummage every chest and box;
Her honesty such credit gain'd,
Not ev'n the cellar was restrain'd.
In troth it was a goodly show, Lin'd with full hogsheads all a-row. One vessel, from the rank remov'd, Far dearer than the rest he lov'd; Pour la bonne bouche 'twas set aside, To all but choicest friends deny'd. He now and the would send a quart, To warm some wife's retentive heart, Against confession's sullen hour: Wine has all secrets in its power. At common feasts it had been waste, Nor was it fit for layman's taste. If monk or friar were his guest, They drank it; for they know the best. Nay, he at length so fond was grown, He always drank it when-alone.
Who shall recount his civil labours, In pious visits to his neighbours? Whene'er weak husbands went astray, He guess'd their wives were in the way: 'Twas then his charity was shown, He chose to see them when alone.
Now was he bent on cuckoldom :
He knew friend Dennis was from home: His wife (a poor neglected beauty, Defrauded of a husband's duty)
Heigh-day! my darling wine astoop! It must, alas! have sprung a hoop." "That there's a leak is past all doubt," (Reply'd the maid)—“ I'll find it out.” She sets the candle down in haste, Tucks her white apron round her waist. The hogshead's mouldy side ascends; She straddles wide, and downward bends: So low she stoops to seek the flaw, Her coats rose up, her master saw"I see"-he cries-(then claspt her fast) "The leak through which my wine has past." Then all in haste the maid descended, And in a trice the leak was mended. He found in Nannette all he wanted, So Dennis' brows remain'd unplanted.
Ere since this time, all lusty friars (Warm'd with predominant desires, Whene'er the flesh with spirit quarrels) Look on the sex as leaky barrels. Beware of these, ye jealous spouses! From such-like coopers guard your houses; For, if they find not work at home, For jobbs through all the town they roam.
AN abbot rich (whose taste was good Alike in science and in food) His bishop had resolv'd to treat; The bishop came, the bishop eat. 'Twas silence, till their stomachs fail'd; And now at heretics they rail'd. "What heresy," (the prelate said) "Is in that church where priests may wed! Do not we take the Church for life? But those divorce her for a wife; Like laymen, keep her in their houses, And own the children of their spouses." "Vile practices!" the abbot cry'd,
For pious use we 're set aside!
Shall we take wives? Marriage, at best,
Is but carnality profest!"
Now, as the bishop took his glass,
He spy'd our abbot's buxom lass,
Who cross'd the room; he mark'd her eye,
That glow'd with love; his pulse beat high.
Fye, father, fye!" (the prelate cries) "A maid so young! for shame, be wise. These indiscretions lend a handle To lewd lay-tongues, to give us scandal. For your vow's sake, this rule I give t' ye; Let all your maids be turn'd of fifty."
The priest reply'd, "I have not swerv'd, But your chaste precept well observ'd: That lass full twenty-five has told; I've yet another who 's as old; Into one sum their ages cast; So both my maids have fifty past."
The prelate smil'd, but durst not blame; For why his lordship did the same.
Let those who reprimand their brothers, First mend the faults they find in others.
How chang'd, alas! from what it once had been!
'Tis now degraded to a public inn. [mands:
Straight he dismounts, repeats his loud com-
Swift at the gate the ready landlord stands;
With frequent cringe he bows, and begs excuse,
His house was full, and every bed in use.
"What not a garret, and no straw, to spare?
Why then the kitchen-fire and elbow-chair
Shall serve for once to nod away the night."
"The kitchen ever is the servant's right,"
Replies the host; "there, all the fire around,
The count's tir'd footmen snore upon the ground.”
The maid, who listen'd to this whole debate,
With pity learnt the weary stranger's fate. [guest;
Be brave," she cries, "you still may be our
Our haunted room was ever held the best:
If then your valour can the fright sustain
Of rattling curtains and the clinking chain;
If your courageous tongue have power to talk,
When round your bed the horrid ghost shall walk;
If you dare ask it, why it leaves its tomb;
I'll see your sheets well air'd, and show the room.”
Soon as the frighted maid her tale had told,
The stranger enter'd, for his heart was bold.
A TRUE STORY OF AN APPARITION. SCEPTICS (whose strength of argument makes That Wisdom's deep inquiries end in doubt) Hold this assertion positive and clear, That sprites are pure delusions, rais'd by fear. Not that fam'd ghost, which in presaging sound Call'd Brutus to Philippi's fatal ground, Nor can Tiberius Gracchus, gory shade, These ever-doubting disputants persuade. Straight they with smiles reply, "Those tales of By visionary priests were made and told." [old Oh, might some ghost, at dead of night, appear, And make you own conviction by your fear! I know your sneers my easy faith accuse, Which with such idle legends scares the Muse: But think not that I tell those vulgar sprites, Which frighted boys relate on winter nights, How cleanly milk-maids meet the fairy train, How heedless horses drag the clinking chain, Night-roaming ghosts, by saucer eye-balls known, The common spectres of each country-town. No, I such fables can like you despise, And laugh to hear these nurse-invented lies. Yet has not oft the fraudful guardian's fright Compell'd him to restore an orphan's right? And can we doubt that horrid ghosts ascend, Which on the conscious murderer's steps attend? Hear then, and let attested truth prevail; From faithful lips I learnt the dreadful tale.
Where Arden's forest spreads its limits wide, Whose branching paths the doubtful road divide, A traveller took his solitary way,
When low beneath the hills was sunk the day.
And now the skies with gathering darkness lour,
The branches rustle with the threaten'd shower;
With sudden blasts the forest murmurs loud,
Indented lightnings cleave the sable cloud,
Thunder on thunder breaks, the tempest roars,
And Heaven discharges all its watery stores.
The wandering traveller shelter seeks in vain,
And shrinks and shivers with the beating rain:
On his steed's neck the slacken'd bridle lay,
Who chose with cautious step th' uncertain way;
And now he checks the rein, and halts to hear
If any noise foretold a village near.
At length from far a stream of light he sees
Extends its level ray between the trees;
Thither he speeds, and, as he nearer came,
Joyful he knew the lamp's domestic flame
That trembled through the window; cross the way
Darts forth the barking cur, and stands at bay.
It was an ancient lonely house, that stood
Upon the borders of the spacious wood;
Here towers and antique battlements arise,
And there in heaps the moulder'd ruin lies.
Some lord this mansion held in days of yore,
To chase the wolf, and pierce the foaming bear :
The damsel led him through a spacious hall, Where ivy hung the half-demolish'd wall: She frequent look'd behind, and chang'd her hue, While fancy tipt the candle's flame with blue. And now they gain'd the winding stairs' asceut, And to the lonesome room of terrours went. When all was ready, swift retir'd the maid, The watch-lights burn, tuck'd warm in bed was laid The hardy stranger, and attends the Sprite Till his accustoni'd walk at dead of night.
At first he hears the wind with hollow roar Shake the loose lock, and swing the creaking door; Nearer and nearer draws the dreadful sound Of rattling chains, that dragg'd upon the ground: When, lo! the spectre came with horrid stride, Approach'd the bed, and drew the curtains wide! In human form the ghastful phantom stood, Expos'd his mangled bosom dy'd with blood. Then, silent pointing to his wounded breast, Thrice way'd his hand. Beneath the frighted guest The bed-cords trembled, and with shuddering fear, Sweat chill'd his limbs, high rose his bristled hair; Then muttering hasty prayers, he mann'd his heart, And cry'd aloud, "Say, whence, and who thou art?" The stalking ghost with hollow voice replies, "Three years are counted, since with mortal eyw I saw the Sun, and vital air respirˇd. Like thee benighted, and with travel tir'd, Within these walls I slept. O thirst of gain! See, still the planks the bloody mark retain. Stretch'd on this very bed, from sleep I start, And see the steel impending o'er my heart; The barbarous hostess held the lifted knife, The floor ran purple with my gushing life. My treasure now they seize, the golden spoil They bury deep beneath the grass-grown soil, Far in the common field. Be bold, arise, My steps shall lead thee to the secret prize; There dig and find; let that thy care reward: Call loud on Justice, bid her not retard To punish murder; lay my ghost at rest : So shall with peace secure thy nights be blest; And, when beneath these boards my bones are found, Decent inter them in some sacred ground.”
Here ceas'd the ghost. The stranger springs from And boldly follows where the phantom led: [bed,
The half-worn stony stairs they now descend,
Where passages obscure their arches bend.
Silent they walk; and now thro' groves they pass,
Now thro' wet meads their steps imprint the grass.
At length amidst a spacious field they came:
There stops the spectre, and ascends in flame.
Amaz'd he stood, no bush or brier was found,
To teach his morning search to find the ground.
What could he do? the night was hideous dark,
Fear shook his joints, and nature dropt the mark:
With that he starting wak'd, and rais'd his head,
But found the golden mark was left in bed.
What is the statesman's vast ambitious scheme,
But a short vision and a golden dream?
Power, wealth, and title, elevate his hope;
He wakes: but, for a garter, finds a rope.
A PRUDE, at morn and evening prayer,
Had worn her velvet cushion bare;
Upward she taught her eyes to roll,
As if she watch'd her soaring soul;
And, when devotion warm'd the crowd,
None sung, or smote their breast, so loud:
Pale penitence had mark'd her face
With all the meagre signs of grace.
Her mass-book was completely lin'd
With painted saints of various kind:
But, when in every page she view'd
Fine ladies who the flesh subdu'd,
As quick her beads she counted o'er,
She cry'd-" Such wonders are no more!"
She chose not to delay confession,
To bear at once a year's transgression;
But every week set all things even,
And balanc'd her accounts with Heaven.
Behold her now, in humble guise,
Upon her knees, with downcast eyes,
Before the priest: she thus begins,
And, sobbing, blubbers forth her sins:
"Who could that tempting man resist?
My virtue languish'd, as he kiss'd;
I strove till I could strive no longer :
How can the weak subdue the stronger?"
The father ask'd her where, and when? How many? and what sort of men? By what degrees her blood was heated? How oft the frailty was repeated? Thus have I seen a pregnant wench, All flush'd with guilt, before the bench: The judges (wak'd by wanton thought) Dive to the bottom of her fault; . They leer, they simper, at her shame, And make her call all things by name. And now to sentence he proceeds, Prescribes how oft to tell her beads; Shows her what saints could do her good, Doubles her fasts, to cool her blood. Eas'd of her sins, and light as air, Away she trips, perhaps to prayer. "Twas no such thing. Why then this haste? The clock has struck, the hour is past; And, on the spur of inclination, She scorn'd to bilk her assignation. Whate'er she did, next week she came, And piously confest the same.
The priest, who female frailties pity'd, First chid her, then her sins remitted.
"But did she now her crime bemoan In penitential sheets alone? And was no bold, no beastly fellow The nightly partner of her pillow?" No, none for next time in the grove A bank was conscious of her love." Confession-day was come about, And now again it all must out.
She seems to wipe her twinkling eyes:
"What now, my child?" the father cries.
"Again!" says she.-With threatening looks,
He thus the prostrate dame rebukes:
"Madam, I grant there's something in it,
That virtue has th' unguarded minute;
But pray now tell me what are whores,
But women of unguarded hours?
Then you must sure have lost all shame.
What! every day, and still the same,
And no fault else! 'tis strange to find
A woman to one sin confin'd!
Pride is this day her darling passion,
The next day Slander is in fashion;
Gaming succeeds; if Fortune crosses,
Then Virtue's mortgag'd for her losses;
By use her favourite vice she loaths,
And loves new follies like new clothes:
But you, beyond all thought unchaste,
Have all sin center'd near your waist!
Whence is this appetite so strong?
Say, madam, did your mother long?
Or is it luxury and high diet
That won't let Virtue sleep in quiet?"
She tells him now, with meekest voice,
That she had never err'd by choice;
Nor was there known a virgin chaster,
Till ruin'd by a sad disaster.
That she a favourite lap-dog had,
Which (as she stroak'd and kiss'd) grew mad;
And on her lip a wound indenting,
First set her youthful blood fermenting.
The priest reply'd, with zealous fury,
"You should have sought the means to cure ye.
Doctors by various ways, we find,
Treat these distempers of the mind.
"Let gaudy ribbands be deny'd
To her who raves with scornful pride;
And, if religion crack her notions,
Lock up her volumes of devotions;
But, if for man her rage prevail,
Bar her the sight of creatures male.
Or else, to cure such venom'd bites,
And set the shatter'd thoughts arights;
They send you to the ocean's shore,
And plunge the patient o'er and o'er."
The dame reply'd, "Alas! in vain
My kindred forc'd me to the main ;
Naked, and in the face of day:
Look not, ye fishermen, this way!
What virgin had not done as I did?
My modest hand, by Nature guided,
Debarr'd at once from human eyes
The seat where female honour lies;
And, though thrice dipt from top to toe,
I still secur'd the post below,
And guarded it with grasp so fast,
Not one drop through my fingers past.
Thus owe I to my bashful care,
That all the rage is settled there."
Weigh well the projects of mankind; Then tell me, reader, canst thou find The man from madness wholly free? They all are mad-save you and me. Do not the statesman, fop, and wit, By daily follies, prove they 're bit? And, when the briny cure they try'd, Some part still kept above the tide?
Some men (when drench'd beneath the wave)
High o'er their heads their fingers save :
Those hands by mean extortion thrive,
Or in the pocket lightly dive:
Or, more expert in pilfering vice,
They burn and itch to cog the dice.
Plunge in a courtier; straight his fears
Direct his hands to stop his ears.
And now truth seems a grating noise,
He loves the slanderer's whispering voice;
He hangs on flattery with delight,
And thinks all fulsome praise is right.
All women dread a watery death:
They shut their lips, to hold their breath;
And, though you duck them ne'er so long,
Not one salt drop e'er wets their tongue;
'Tis hence they scandal have at will,
And that this member ne'er lies still.
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF THE DUKE REGENT OF FRANCE.
"How vain are mortal man's endeavours!"
(Said, at dame Elliot's', master Travers)
"Good Orleans dead! in truth, 'tis hard:
Oh, may all statesmen die prepar'd!
I do foresee" (and for foreseeing
He equals any man in being)
"The army ne'er can be disbanded.—
I wish the king were safely landed.
Ah, friends! great changes threat the land;
All France and England at a stand!
There's Meroweis-mark! strange work!
And there's the Czar, and there's the Turk;
The Pope-" An India merchant by,
Cut short the speech with this reply:
"All at a stand: You see great changes?
Ah, sir! you never saw the Ganges.
There dwell the nations of Quidnunki's
(So Monomotapa calls monkeys):
On their bank, from bough to bough,
They meet and chat (as we may now).
Whispers go round, they grin, they shrug,
They bow, they snarl, they scratch, they hug;
And, just as chance or whim provoke them,
They either bite their friends, or stroke them.
"There have I seen some active prig,
To show his parts, bestride a twig:
Lord! how the chattering tribe admire,
Not that he's wiser, but he's higher :
All long to try the venturous thing
(For power is but to have one's swing);
From side to side he springs, he spurns,
And bangs his foes and friends by turns.
Thus, as in giddy freaks he bounces,
Crack goes the twig, and in he flounces!
A coffee-house near St. James's.
Down the swift stream the wretch is borne;
Never, ah! never, to return!
""Zounds! what a fall had our dear brother! 'Morbleu !' cries one; and Damme!' t'other. The nations give a general screech;
None cocks his tail, none claws his breech;
Fach trembles for the public weal,
And for a while forgets to steal.
"Awhile, all eyes, intent and steady,
Pursue him, whirling down the eddy.
But, out of mind when out of view,
Some other mounts the twig anew ;
And business, on each monkey-shore,
Runs the same track it went before."
Shall not my fables censure Vice,
Because a knave is over nice?-
If I lash Vice in general fiction,
Is 't I apply or self-conviction?
Brutes are my theme. Am I to blame,
If men in morals are the same?
I no man call or ape or ass;
"Tis his own conscience holds the glass.
Thus void of all offence I write :
Who claims the fable, knows his right.
Prol. to Shep. Week
INTRODUCTION TO THE FABLES. PART THE FIRST.
THE SHEPHERD AND THE PHILOSOPHER.
REMOTE from cities liv'd a swain,
Unvex'd with all the cares of gain;
His head was silver'd o'er with age,
And long experience made him sage;
In Summer's heat, and Winter's cold,
He fed his flock, and penn'd the fold;
His hours in cheerful labour flew,
Nor envy nor ambition knew;
His wisdom and his honest fame
Through all the country rais'd his name.
A deep Philosopher (whose rules
Of moral life were drawn from schools)
The Shepherd's homely cottage sought,
And thus explor'd his reach of thought.
"Whence is thy learning? hath thy toil
O'er books consum'd the midnight oil?
Hast thou old Greece and Rome survey'd,
And the vast sense of Plato weigh'd ?
Hath Socrates thy soul refin'd,
And hast thou fathom'd Tully's mind?
Or, like the wise Ulysses, thrown,
By various fates, on realms unknown,
Hast thou through many cities stray'd,
Their customs, laws, and manners, weigh'd?"
The Shepherd modestly reply'd,
"I ne'er the paths of learning try'd;
Nor have I roam'd in foreign parts,
To read mankind, their laws, and arts;
For man is practis'd in disguise,
He cheats the most discerning eyes:
Who by that search shall wiser grow,
When we ourselves can never know?
The little knowledge I have gain'd,
Was all from simple Nature drain'd;
Hence my life's maxims took their rise,
Hence grew my settled hate to vice.
"The daily labours of the bee
Awake my soul to industry:
Who can observe the careful ant,
And not provide for future want?
My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind:
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.
In constancy and nuptial love,
I learn my duty from the dove.
The hen, who from the chilly air,
With pious wing, protects her care,
And every fowl that flies at large,
Instructs me in a parent's charge.
"From Nature, too, I take my rule,
To shun contempt and ridicule.
I never, with important air,
In conversation overbear.
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When men the solemn owl despise?
My tongue within my lips I rein;
For who talks much must talk in vain.
We from the wordy torrent fly:
Who listens to the chattering pye?
Nor would I, with felonious slight,
By stealth invade my neighbour's right.
Rapacious animals we hate :
Kites, hawks, and wolves, deserve their fate.
Do not we just abhorrence find
Against the toad and serpent-kind?
But Envy, Calumny, and Spite,
Bear stronger venom in their bite.
Thus every object of creation
Can furnish hints to contemplation;
And from the most minute and mean,
A virtuous mind can morals glean.".
"Thy fame is just," the sage replies;
"Thy virtue proves thee truly wise..
Pride often guides the author's pen ;'
Books as affected are as men :
But he who studies Nature's laws,
From certain truth his maxims draws; '
And those, without our schools, suffice.
To make men moral, good, and wise."
WILLIAM DUKE OF CUMBERLAND.
THE LION, THE TYGER, AND THE TRAVELLER.
ACCEPT, young prince! the moral lay,
And in these TALES mankind survey;
With early virtues plant your breast,
The specious arts of Vice detest.
Princes, like beauties, from their youth
Are strangers to the voice of Truth.
Learn to contemn all praise betimes,
For Flattery's the nurse of crimes:
Friendship by sweet reproof is shown
(A virtue never near a throne):
In courts such freedom must offend;
There none presumes to be a friend.
To those of your exalted station,
Each courtier is a dedication.
Must 1, too, flatter like the rest,
And turn my morals to a jest?
The Muse disdains to steal from those
Who thrive in courts by fulsome prose.
But shall I hide your real praise,
Or tell you what a nation says?
They in your infant bosom trace
The virtues of your royal race;
In the fair dawning of your mind,
Discern you generous, mild, and kind :
They see you grieve to hear distress,
And pant already to redress,
Go on, the height of good attain,
Nor let a nation hope in vain :
For hence we justly may presage
The virtues of a riper age.
True courage shall your bosom fire,
And future actions own your sire.
Cowards are cruel; but the brave
Love mercy, and delight to save.
A Tiger, roaming for his prey,
Sprung on a Traveller in the way;
The prostrate game a Lion spies,
And on the greedy tyrant flies:
With mingled roar resounds the wood,
Their teeth, their claws, distil with blood;
Till, vanquish'd by the Lion's strength,
The spotted foe extends his length.
The man besought the shaggy lord,
And on his knees for life implor'd.
His life the generous hero gave.
Together walking to his cave,
The Lion thus bespoke his guest:
"What hardy beast shall dare contest My matchless strength? You saw the fight, And must attest my power and right. Forc'd to forego their native home, My starving slaves at distance roam. Within these woods I reign alone; The boundless forest is my own. Bears, wolves, and all the savage brood, Have dy'd the regal den with blood. These carcasses on either hand, Those bones that whiten all the land,
My former deeds and triumphs tell,
Beneath these jaws what numbers fell."
"True," says the man," the strength I saw
Might well the brutal nation awe;
But shall a monarch, brave, like you,
Place glory in so false a view?
Robbers invade their neighbour's right.
Be lov'd; let justice bound your might.
Mean are ambitious heroes' boasts
Of wasted lands and slaughter'd hosts.
Pirates their power by murders gain;
Wise kings by love and mercy reign.
To me your clemency hath shown
The virtue worthy of a throne.
Heaven gives you power above the rest,
Like Heaven, to succour the distrest."
"The case is plain," the monarch said;
"False glory hath my youth misled;
For beasts of prey, a servile train,
Have been the flatterers of my reign.
You reason well. Yet teil me, friend,
Did ever you in courts attend?