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His doors are never clos'd to spies,
Who cheer his heart with double lies,
They flatter him, his foes defame,
So lull the pangs of guilt and shame.
If schemes of lucre haunt his brain,
Projectors swell his greedy train;
Vile brokers ply his private ear
With jobs of plunder for the year;
All consciences must bend and ply:
You must vote on, and not know why;
Through thick and thin you must go on ;
One scruple, and your place is gone.
Since plagues like these have curs'd a land,
And favourites cannot always stand,
Good courtiers should for change be ready,
And not have principles too steady;
For, should a knave engross the power,
(God shield the realm from that sad hour!)
He must have rogues or slavish fools;
For what's a knave without his tools?
Wherever those a people drain,
And strut with infamy and gain,
I envy not their guilt and state,
And scorn to share the public hate.
Let their own servile creatures rise,
By screening fraud, and venting lyes;
Give me, kind Heaven, a private station','
A mind serene for contemplation:
'Title and profit I resign;
The post of honour shall be mine.
My Fable read, their merits view,
Then herd who will with such a crew.
In days of yore (my cautious rhymes
Always except the present times)
A greedy Vulture, skill'd in game,
Inur'd to guilt, unaw'd by shame,
Approach'd the throne in evil hour,
And step by step intrudes to power:
When at the royal Eagle's ear,
He longs to ease the monarch's care.
The monarch grants. With pride elate,
Behold him minister of state!
Around him throng the feather'd rout;
Friends must be serv'd, and some must out:
Each thinks his own the best pretension;
This asks a place, and that a pension;
The Nightingale was set aside.
A forward Daw his room supply'd.
"This bird," (says he) "for business fit, Hath both sagacity and wit:
With all his turns, and shifts, and tricks,
He's docile, and at nothing sticks:
Then with his neighbours one so free
At all times will connive at me."
The Hawk had due distinction shown,
For parts and talents like his own.
Thousands of hireling Cocks attend him,
As blustering bullies, to defend him.
At once the Ravens were discarded, ·
And Magpies with their posts rewarded.
"Those fowls of omen I detest,
That pry into another's nest.
"State-lies must lose all good intent,
For they foresee and croak th' event.
My friends ne'er think, but talk by rote,
Speak what they're taught, and so to vote."
-When impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.
"When rogues like these," a Sparrow cries, "To honours and employments rise,
I court no favour, ask no place;
From such, preferment is disgrace.
Within my thatch'd retreat I find
(What these ne'er feel) true peace of mind."
THE BABOON AND THE POULTRY.
We frequently misplace esteem,
By judging men by what they seem.
To birth, wealth, power, we should allow
Precedence, and our lowest bow:
In that is due distinction shown;
Esteem is Virtue's right alone.
With partial eye we're apt to see
The man of noble pedigree:
We're prepossest my lord inherits,
In some degree, his grandsire's merits;
For those we find upon record,
But find him nothing but my lord.
When we, with superficial view,
Gaze on the rich, we're dazzled too.
We know that wealth, well understood,
Hath frequent power of doing good;
Then fancy that the thing is done,
As if the power and will were one.
Thus oft the cheated crowd adore
The thriving knaves that keep them poor.
The cringing train of power survey;
What creatures are so low as they!
With what obsequiousness they bend!
To what vile actions condescend!
Their rise is on their meanness built,
And flattery is their smallest guilt.
What homage, reverence, adoration,
In every age, in every nation,
Have sycophants to power address'd!
No matter who the power possess'd.
Let ministers be what they will,
You find their levees always fill:
Ev'n those who have perplex'd a state,
Whose actions claim contempt and bate,
Had wretches to applaud their schemes,
Though more absurd than madmen's dreams.
When barbarous Moloch was invok'd,
The blood of infants only smok'd!
But here (unless all history lyes)
Whole realms have been a sacrifice.
Look through all courts: 'tis power we find
The general idol of mankind;
There worshipp'd under every shape :
Alike the lion, fox, and ape,
Are follow'd by time-serving slaves,
Rich prostitutes and needy knaves.
Who then shall glory in his post?
How frail his pride, how vain his boast'
The followers of his prosperous hour
Are as unstable as his power.
Power, by the breath of Flattery nurst,
The more it swells is nearer burst;
The bubble breaks, the gewgaw ends,
And in a dirty tear descends.
Once on a time an ancient maid,
By wishes and by time decay'd.
To cure the pangs of restless thought,
In birds and beasts amusement sought:
Dogs, parrots, apes, her hours employ'd,
With these alone she talk'd and toy'd.
A huge Baboon her fancy took,
(Almost a man in size and look)
He finger'd every thing he found,
And mimick'd all the servants round;
Then, too, his parts and ready wit
Show'd him for every business fit.
With all these talents was but just
That Pug should hold a place of trust;
So to her favourite was assign'd
The charge of all her feather'd kind.
'Twas his to tend them eve and morn,
And portion out their daily corn.
Behold him now, with haughty stride,
Assume a ministerial pride.
The morning rose. In hope of picking,
Swans, turkeys, peacocks, ducks, and chicken,
Fowls of all ranks surround his hut,
To worship his important strut.
The minister appears. The crowd,
Now here, now there, obsequious bow'd.
This prais'd his parts, and that his face,
Th' other his dignity in place.
From bill to bill the flattery ran :
He hears and bears it like a man;
For, when we flatter Self-conceit,
We but his sentiments repeat.
If we're too scrupulously just,
What profit's in a place of trust?
The common practice of the great
Is to secure a snug retreat.
So Pug began to turn his brain
(Like other folks in place) on gain.
An apple-woman's stall was near,
Well stock'd with fruits through all the year;
Here every day he cramm'd his guts,
Hence were his hoards of pears and nuts;
For 'twas agreed (in way of trade)
His payments should in corn be made..
The stock of grain was quickly spent,
And no account which way it went.
Then, too, the Poultry's starv'd condition
Caus'd speculations of suspicion.
The facts were proy'd beyond dispute;
Pug must refund his hoards of fruit;
And, though then minister in chief,
Was branded as a public thief.
'Disgrac'd, despis'd, confin'd to chains,
He nothing but his pride retains.
A Goose pass'd by; he knew the face,
Seen every levee while in place.
"What, no respect! no reverence shown!
How saucy are these creatures grown!
Not two days since," says he, "you bow'd
The lowest of my fawning crowd."
"Proud fool!" replies the Goose, "'tis true
Thy corn a fluttering levee drew;
For that I join'd the hungry train,
And sold thee flattery for thy grain.
But then, as now, conceited ape,
We saw thee in thy proper shape."
You tell me, that you apprehend
My verse may touchy folks offend.
In prudence, too, you think my rhymes
Should never squint at courtier's crimes;
For though nor this nor that is meant,
Can we another's thoughts prevent?
You ask me, if I ever knew
Court chaplains thus the lawn pursue?
I meddle not with gown or lawn;
Poets, 1 grant, to rise, must fawn;
They know great ears are over-nice,
And never shock their patron's vice.
But I this hackney-path despise;
'Tis my ambition not to rise.
If I must prostitute the Muse,
The base conditions I refuse.
I neither flatter nor defame,
Yet own I would bring Guilt to shame.
If I Corruption's hand expose,
I make corrupted men my foes;
What then? I hate the paltry tribe:
Be virtue mine; be theirs the bribe.
I no man's property invade ;
Corruption's yet no lawful trade.
Nor would it mighty ills produce,
Could I shame bribery out of use.
I know 'twould cramp most politicians,
Were they ty'd down to these conditions.
"Twould stint their power, their riches bound,
And make their parts seem less profound.
Were they deny'd their proper tools.
How could they lead their knaves and fools?
Were this the case, let's take a view
What dreadful mischiefs would ensue.
Though it might aggrandize the state,
Could private Luxury dine on plate?
Kings might, indeed, their friends reward,
But ministers find less regard.
Informers, sycophants, and spies,
Would not augment the year's supplies.
Perhaps, too, take away this prop,
An annual jobb or two might drop.
Besides, if pensions were deny'd,
Could Avarice support its pride?
It might ev'n ministers confound,
| And yet the state be safe and sound.
I care not though 'tis understood;
I only mean my country's good:
And (let who will my freedom blame)
I wish all courtiers did the same.
Nay, though some folks the less might get
I wish the nation out of debt.
I put no private man's ambition
With public good in competition:
Rather than have our laws defac'd,
I'd vote a minister disgrac'd.
I strike at vice, be 't where it will;
And what if great folks take it ill?
I hope corruption, bribery, pension,
One may with detestation mention;
Think you the law (let who will take it)
Can scandalum magnatum make it?
I vent no slander, owe no grudge,
Nor of another's conscience judge:
At him or him I take no aim,
Yet dare against all vice declaim.
Shall I not censure breach of trust,
Because knaves know themselves unjust?
That steward, whose account is clear,
Demands his honour may appear:
His actions never shun the light;
He is, and would be prov'd, upright.
But then you think my Fable bears
Allusion, too, to state-affairs.
I grant it does: and who's so great,
That has the privilege to cheat?
If then in any future reign
(For ministers may thirst for gain)
Corrupted hands defraud the nation,
I bar no reader's application.
An Ant there was, whose forward prate
Controll'd all matters in debate;
Whether he knew the thing or no,
His tongue eternally would go;
For he had impudence at will,
And boasted universal skill.
Ambition was his point in view:
Thus, by degrees, to power he grew.
Behold him now his drift attain:
He's made chief treasurer of the grain.
But as their ancient laws are just,
And punish breach of public trust,
'Tis order'd (lest wrong application
Should starve that wise industrious nation)
That all accounts be stated clear,
Their stock, and what defray'd the year;
That auditors shall these inspect,
And public rapine thus be check'd.
For this the solemn day was set;
The auditors in council met.
The granary-keeper must explain,
And balance his account of grain.
He brought (since he could not refuse them)
Some scraps of paper to amuse them.
An honest Pismire, warm with zeal,
In justice to the public weal,
Thus spoke: " The nation's hoard is low;
From whence does this profusion flow?
I know our annual funds' amount;
Why such expense? and where's th' account ?"
With wonted arrogance and pride,
The Ant in office thus reply'd:
"Consider, sirs, were secrets told,
How could the best-schem'd projects hold?
Should we state-mysteries disclose,
"Twould lay us open to our foes.
My duty and my well-known zeal
Bid me our present schemes conceal:
But, on my honour, all th' expense
(Though vast) was for the swarm's defence,"
They past th' account as fair and just,
And voted him implicit trust.
Next year again, the granary drain'd,
He thus his innocence maintain'd:
"Think how our present matters stand, What dangers threat from every hand; What hosts of turkeys stroll for food, No farmer's wife but hath her brood.
Consider, when invasion 's near,
Intelligence must cost us dear;
And, in this ticklish situation,
A secret told betrays the nation:
But, on my honour, all th' expense
(Though vast) was for the swarm's defence."
Again, without examination,
They thank'd his sage administration.
The year revolves. Their treasure, spent,
Again in secret service went.
His honour, too, again was pledg'd,
To satisfy the charge alledg'd.
When thus, with panic shaine possess'd, An auditor his friends address'd.
"What are we? ministerial tools?
We little knaves are greater fools.
At last this secret is explor'd,
'Tis our corruption thins the hoard.
For every grain we touch'd, at least
A thousand his own heaps increas'd.
Then for his kin and favourite spies,
A hundred hardly could suffice.
Thus, for a paltry sneaking bribe,
We cheat ourselves and all the tribe;
For all the magazine contains
Grows from our annual toil and pains."
They vote th' account shall be inspected;
The cunning plunderer is detected;
The fraud is sentenc'd; and his hoard,
As due, to public use restor❜d.
THAT man must daily wiser grow,
Whose search is bent himself to know;
Impartially he weighs his scope,
And on firm reason founds his hope;
He tries his strength before the race,
And never seeks his own disgrace;
He knows the compass, sail, and oar,
Or never launches from the shore;
Before he builds, computes the cost,
And in no proud pursuit is lost:
He learns the bounds of human sense,
And safely walks within the fence.
Thus, conscious of his own defect,
Are pride and self-importance check'd.
If then, self-knowledge to pursue,
Direct our life in every view,
Of all the fools that pride can boast,
A Coxcomb claims distinction most.
Coxcombs are of all ranks and kind ;
They 're not to sex or age confin'd,
Or rich, or poor, or great, or small,
And vanity besots them all.
By ignorance is pride increas'd:
Those most assume, who know the least;
Their own false balance gives them weight,
But every other finds them light.
Not that all Coxcombs' follies strike,
And draw our ridicule alike;
To different merits each pretends:
This in love-vanity transcends,
That, smitten with his face and shape,
By dress distinguishes the ape;
"Th' other with learning crams his shelf,
knows books, and all things but himself.
All these are fools of low condition,
Compar'd with Coxcombs of ambition:
For those, puff'd up with flattery, dare
Assume a nation's various care.
They ne'er the grossest praise mistrust,
Their sycophants seem hardly just;
For these, in part alone, attest
The flattery their own thoughts suggest.
In this wide sphere a Coxcomb's shown
In other realms besides his own:
The self-deem'd Machiavel at large
By turns controls in every charge.
Does Commerce suffer in her rights?
'Tis he directs the naval flights.
What sailor dares dispute his skill?
He'll be an admiral when he will.
Now, meddling in the soldier's trade,
Troops must be hir'd, and levies made.
He gives ambassadors their cue,
His cobbled treaties to renew;
And annual taxes must suffice
The current blunders to disguise.
When his crude schemes in air are lost,
And millions scarce defray the cost,
His arrogance (nought undismay'd)
Trusting in self-sufficient aid,
On other rocks misguides the realm,
And thinks a pilot at the helm.
He ne'er suspects his want of skill,
But blunders on from ill to ill;
And, when he fails of all intent,
Blames only unforeseen event.
Lest you mistake the application,
The Fable calls me to relation.
A Bear of shag and manners rough,
At climbing trees expert enough;
For dextrously, and safe from harm,
Year after year he robb'd the swarm.
Thus thriving on industrious toil,
He glory'd in his pilfer'd spoil.
This trick so swell'd him with conceit,
He thought no enterprise too great.
Alike in sciences and arts,
He boasted universal parts:
Pragmatic, busy, bustling, bold,
His arrogance was uncontroll'd:
And thus he made his party good,
And grew dictator of the wood.
The beasts, with admiration, stare,
And think him a prodigious Bear.
Were any common booty got,
'Twas his each portion to allot :
For why he found there might be picking,
Ev'n in the carving of a chicken.
Intruding thus, he by degrees
Claim'd, too, the butcher's larger fees.
And now his over-weening pride
In every province will preside.
No task too difficult was found:
His blandering nose misleads the hound.
In stratagem and subtle arts
He over-rules the fox's parts.
It chanc'd as, on a certain day,
Along the bank he took his way,
A boat, with rudder, sail, and oar,
At anchor floated near the shore.
He stopt, and, turning to his train,
Thus pertly vents his vaunting strain,
"What blundering puppies are mankind, In every science always blind!
I mock the pedantry of schools:
What are their compasses and rules?
From me that helm shall conduct learn,
And man his ignorance discern.".
So saying, with audacious pride,
He gains the Boat, and climbs the side.
The beasts, astonish'd, line the strand:
The anchor's weigh'd; he drives from land:
The slack sail shifts from side to side;
The Boat untrimm'd admits the tide.
Borne down, adrift, at random tost,
His oar breaks short, the rudder's lost.
The Bear, presuming in his skill,
Is here and there officious still;
Till, striking on the dangerous sands,
Aground the shatter'd vessel stands.
To see the bungler thus distrest,
The very fishes sneer and jest ;
Ev'n gudgeons join in ridicule,
To mortify the meddling fool.
The clamourous watermen appear;
Threats, curses, oaths, insult his ear:
Seiz'd, thrash'd, and chain'd, he's dragg'd to land; Derision shouts along the strand.
TO A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.
THE man of pure and simple heart Through life disdains a double part: He never needs the screen of lies, His inward bosom to disguise. In vain malicious tongues assail; Let Envy snarl, let Slander rail, From Virtue's shield (secure from wound) Their blunted venom'd shafts rebound. So shines his light before mankind, His actions prove his honest mind. If in his country's cause he rise, Debating senates to advise, Unbrib'd, unaw'd, he dares impart The honest dictates of his heart. No ministerial frown he fears, But in his virtue perseveres.
But would you play the politician,
Whose heart's averse to intuition,
Your lips at all times, nay, your reason,
Must be controll'd by place and season.
What statesman could his power support,
Were lying tongues forbid the court?
Did princely ears to truth attend,
What minister could gain his end?
How could he raise his tools to place,
And how his honest foes disgrace?
That politician tops his part,
Who readily can lie with art:
The man's proficient in his trade;
His power is strong, his fortune's made.
By that the interest of the throne
Is made subservient to his own:
By that have kings of old, deluded,
All their own friends for his excluded:
By that, his selfish schemes pursuing,
He thrives upon the public ruin.
Antiochus, with hardy pace,
Provok'd the dangers of the chase;
And, lost from all his menial train,
Travers'd the wood and pathless plain.
A cottage lodg'd the royal guest;
The Parthian clown brought forth his best,
The king unknown his feast enjoy'd,
And various chat the hours employ'd.
From wine what sudden friendship springs!
Frankly they talk'd of courts and kings.
"We country-folks" (the clown replies)
"Could ope our gracious monarch's eyes.
The king, (as all our neighbours say)
Might he (God bless him!) have his way,
is sound at heart, and means our good,
And he would do it if he could.
If truth in courts were not forbid,
Nor kings nor subjects would be rid.
Were he in power, we need not doubt him;
But that transferr'd to those about him,
On them he throws the regal cares;
And what mind they? Their own affairs.
If such rapacious hands he trust,
The best of men may seem unjust
From kings to coblers 'tis the same;
Bad servants wound their master's fame.
In this our neighbours all agree:
Would the king knew as much as we!"
Here he stopt short. Repose they sought,
The peasant slept, the monarch thought.
The courtiers learn'd, at early dawn,
Where their lost sovereign was withdrawn.
The guards' approach our host alarms;
With gaudy coats the cottage swarms.
The crown and purple robes they bring,
And prostrate fall before the king.
The clown was call'd; the royal guest
By due reward his thanks exprest.
The king then, turning to the crowd,
Who fawningly before him bow'd,
Thus spoke: "Since, bent on private gain,
Your counsels first misled my reign,
Taught and inform'd by you alone,
No truth the royal ear hath known,
Till here conversing: hence, ye crew;
For now I know myself and you.”
Whene'er the royal ear's engrost,
State-lies but little genius cost.
The favourite then securely robs,
And gleans a nation by his jobbs.
Franker and bolder grown in ill,
He daily poisons dares instil;
And, as his present views suggest,
Inflames and soothes the royal breast.
Thus wicked ministers oppress,
When oft the monarch means redress.
Would kings their private subjects hear,
A minister must talk with fear;
If honesty oppos'd his views,
He dar'd not innocence accuse;
'Twould keep him in such narrow bound,
He could not right and wrong confound.
Happy were kings, could they disclose
Their real friends and real foes!
Were both themselves and subjects known,
A monarch's will might be his own.
Had he the use of ears and eyes,
Knaves would no more be counted wise.
But then a minister might lose
(Hard case!) his own ambitions views
When such as these have vex'd a state,
Pursu'd by universal hate,
Their false support at once hath fail'd,
And persevering truth prevail'd.
Expos'd, their train of fraud is seen;
Truth will at last remove the screen.
A Country 'Squire, by whim directed,
The true stanch dogs of chase neglected.
Beneath his board no hound was fed:
His hand ne'er strok'd the spaniel's head.
A snappish Cur, alone carest,
By lyes had banish'd all the rest.
Yap had his ear; and defamation
Gave him full scope of conversation.
His sycophants must be preferr'd;
Room must be made for all his herd:
Wherefore, to bring his schemes about,
Old faithful servants all must out.
The Cur on every creature flew,
(As other great men's puppies do)
Unless due court to him were shown,
And both their face and business known:
No honest tongue an audience found;
He worried all the tenants round;
For why he liv'd in constant fear,
Lest Truth by chance should interfere.
If any stranger dar'd intrude,
The noisy Cur his heels pursued.
Now fierce with rage, now struck with dread,
At once he snarl'd, and bit, and fled.
Aloof he bays, with bristling hair,
And thus in secret growls his fear:
"Who knows but Truth, in this disguise,
May frustrate my best-guarded lies?
Should she (thus mask'd) admittance find,
That very hour my ruin's sign'd."
Now, in his howl's continued sound,
Their words were lost, the voice was drown'd.
Ever in awe of honest tongues,
Thus every day he strain'd his lunga.
It happen'd, in ill-omen'd hour,
That Yap, unmindful of his power,
Forsook his post, to love inclin'd;
A favourite bitch was in the wind.
By her seduc'd, in amorous play,
They frisk'd the joyous hours away.
Thus by untimely love pursuing,
Like Antony he sought his ruin.
For now the 'Squire, unvex'd with noise,
An honest neighbour's chat enjoys.
"Be free," says he; your mind impart;
I love a friendly open heart.
Methinks my tenants shun my gate;
Why such a stranger grown of late?
Pray tell me what offence they find:
"Tis plain they're not so well inclin'd."
"Turn off your Cur" (the farmer cries)
Who feeds your ear with daily lies.
His snarling insolence offends:
"Tis he that keeps you from your friends.
Were but that saucy puppy checkt,
You'd find again the same respect.
Hear only him, he'll swear it too,
That all our hatred is to you.
But learn from us your true estate;
'Tis that curs'd Cur alone we hate."
The 'Squire heard Truth. Now Yap rush'd in; The wide hall echoes with his din;