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PREFACE TO TUB FIliST EDITION.
Tut following Fables were written at intervals, when I found myself in humour, and disengaged from matters of greater moment. As they are the writings of an idle hour, so they are intended for the reading of those, whose only business is amusement. My hopes of profit, or applause, are not immoderate; nor have t printed through necessity, or request of friends. I have leave from her royal highness to address her, and I claim the fair for my readers. My fears are lighter than my expectations; I wrote to please myself, and I publish to please others; and this so universally, that I have not wished for correctness to roh the critic of his censure, or my friend of the laugh.
My intimites arc few, and I am not solicitous to increas* them. I have learnt, that where the writer would please, the man should be unknown. An author is the reverse of all oth»r ohjects, and magnifies hy dis'ance, hut diminishes by approach. His private attachments must give place to public favour; for no man can forgive his friend the illnatured attempt of being thought wiser than himself.
To avoid therefore the misfortunes that may attend me from any accidental success, I think it necessary to inform those who know me, that I have been assisted in the following papers by the author of Gustavus Vasa'. Let the crime of pleasing he his, whose talents as a writer, and whose virtues as a man, have rendered him a living affront to the whole circle of his acquaintance.
THE EAOLE AND THE ASSEMBLY OF BIRDS. TO HER ROYAL HtUHNESS THE FRIXCESS Of WALES.
The moral lay, to beauty due,
I write, fair excellence, to you;
Well pleas'd to hope my vacant hour*
Have heen employ'd to sweeten yours.
Truth under fiction I impart,
To weed out folly from the heart;
And show the paths that lead astray
The wand'ring nymph from Wisdom's way.
I flatter none. The great and good
Are by their actions understood;
Your monument if actions raise,
Shall I deface by idle praise i
I echo not the voice of Fame,
That dwells delighted on your name;
Her friendly tale, however true,
Were flatt'ry, if I told it you.
The proud, the envious, and the vain,
The jilt, the prude, demand my strain;
To these, detesting praise, I write,
And vent, in charity, my spite.
i Henry Brooke, esq. who wrote the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth fables, which are reserved for insertion in his works. C .
With friendly hand I hold the glass
To all, promiscuous as they pass;
Should Folly there her likeness view,
I fret not that the mirror's true;
If the fantastic form offend, I made it not, but would amend. Virtue, in every clime and age.
Spurns at the folly-soothing page,
While satire, that offends the ear
Of Vice and Passion, pleases her. Premising this, your anger spare,
And claim the fable you who dare.
The hirds in place, by factions press'd,
To Jupiter their pray'rs address'd;
Hy specious lies the state was vex'd,
Their counsels lihellers perplex'd;
They begg'd (to stop seditious tongues)
A gracious hearing of their wrongs.
Jove grants their suit. The Eagle sate,
Decider of the grand debate.
The Pye, to trust and pow'r preferr'd, Demands permission to be heard. Says he, "Prolixity of phrase You know I hate. This lihel says, 'Some hirds there are, who, prone to noise, Are hir'd to silence Wisdom's voice, And skill'd to chatter out the hour, Rise by their emptiness to pow'r.' That this isaim'd direct at me, No douht, you 'll readily agree; Yet well this sage assemhly knows', By parts to government I rose; My prudent counsels prop the state; Magpies were never known to prate."
The Kite rose up. "His honest heart In virtue's sufferings bore a part. That there were birds of prey he knew; So far the liheller said true; 'Voracious, bold, to rapine prone, Who knew no int'rest hut their own; Who hovering o'er the farmer's yard, Nor pigeon, chick, nor duckling spar'd.' This might be true, but if apply'd To him, in troth, the sland'rer ly'd. Since ign'rance then might be misled, Such things, he thought, were best unsaid." The Crow was vex'd. As yester-morn He flew across the new-sown corn,
A screaming hoy was set for pay, He knew, to drive the crows away;Scandal had found out him in turn, And huzz'd ahroad, that crows love corn. The Owl arose, with solemn face, And thus harangu'd upon the case."That magpies prate, it may be true, A kite may be voracious too, Crows sometimes deal in new-sown pease;He libels not, who strikes at these;The slander's here—' But there are hirds,
Whose wisdom lies in looks, not words;
Blund'rers, who level in the dark, And always shoot beside the mark.' He names not me; but these are hints, Which manifests at whom he squints;
! were indeed that hlund'ring fowl,
To question if he meant an owl."
"Ye wretches, hence!" the Eagle cries,"Tis conscience, conscience that applies;
The virtnou- mind takes no alarm, Secur'd hy innocence from harm: While Guilt, and his associate, Fear, Arc startled at the passing air."
PANTHER, THE HORSE, AND OTHER BEASTS.
The man who seeks to win the fair, (So custom says) must truth forbear; Must fawn and flatter, cringe and lie, And raise the goddess to the sky. For truth is hateful to her ear, A rudeness, which she cannot bear. A rudeness? Yes. I speak my thoughts;For truth upbraids her with her faults.
How wretched, Chloe, then am I,
Who love you, and yet cannot lie!
And still to make you less my friend,
I strive your errours to amend!
But shall the senseless fop impart
The softest passion to your heart.
While he, who tells you honest truth,
And points to happiness your youth,
Determines, by his care, his lot,
And lives neglected, and forgot?
Trust me, my dear, with greater ease
Your taste for flatt'ry I could please,
And similies in each dull line,
Like glow-worms in the dark, should shine.
What if I say your lips disclose
The freshness of the op'ning rose?
Or that your cheeks are beds of tiow'rs,
Enripeu'd hy refreshing show'rs?Yet certain as these flow'rs shall fade, Time every beauty will invade. The butterfly, of various hue, More than the flow'r resembles you;Fair, fluttering, fickle, husy thing,
To pleasure ever on the wing, Gayly coquetting for an hour, To die, and ne'er be thought of more.
Would you the bloom of youth should last?Tis virtue that must hind it fast;An easy carriage, wholly free From sour reserve, or levity;
Good-natur'd mirth, an open heart, And looks unskill'd in any art;Humility, enough to own The frailties, which a friend makes known;And decent pride, enough to know The worth, that virtue can bestow. These are the charms, which ne'er decay, Though youth and beauty fade away;
And time, which all things else removes, Still heightens virtue, and improves.
You 'll frown, and ask to what intent This blunt address to you is sent?
I 'll spare the question, and confess I'd praise you, if I lov'd you less:But rail, be angry, or complain,
I w ill he rude, while you are vain.
Beneath a lion's peaceful reign,
When beasts met friendly on the plain,
A Panther, of majestic port,
(The vainest female of the court)
With spotted skin, and eyes of fire,
Fill'd every bosom with desire.
Where'er she mov'd, a servile crowd
Of fawning creatures cring'd and how'd;
Assemhlies every week she held,
(Like modern helles') with Coxcomhs fill'd,
Where noise and nonsense, and grimace,
And lies and scandal fill'd the place.
Behold the gay, fantastic thing,
Encircled by the spacious ring.
Iaiw howing, with important look,
As first in rank, the Monkey spoke.
"Gail Like me, madam, but I swear,
No angel ever look'd so fair:
Forgive my rudeness, but I vow
You were not quite divine till now;
Those limbs! that shape! and then those eyes
O, close them, or the gazer dies!"
"Nay, gentle pug, for goodness hush,
I vow, and swear, you make me blush;
I shall be angry at this rate;
Tis so like flatt'ry, which I hate."
The Fox, in deeper cunning vers'd,
The beauties of her mind rehears'd,
And talk'd of knowledge, taste, and sense,
To which the fair have vast pretence!
Yet well he knew them always vain
Of what they strive not to attain,
And play'd so cunningly his part,
That pug was rivall'd in his art.
The Goat avow'd his amorous flame;
And burnt—for what he durst not name;
Yet hop'd a meeting in the wood
Might make his meaning understood.
Half angry at the bold address,
She frown'd; but yet, she must confess,
Such beauties might inflame his blood,
But still his phrase was somewhat rude.
The Hog her neatness much admir'd;
The formal Ass her swiftness fir'd;
While all to feed her folly strove,
And by their praises shar'd her love.
The Horse, whose gen'rous heart disdain'd
Applause hy servile flatt'ry gain'd,
With graceful courage, silence broke,
And thus with indignation spoke.
"When flattering monkeys fawn and prate, They justly raise contempt or hate; For merit's turn'd to ridicule, Applauded by the grinning fool. The artful fox your wit commends, To lure you to his selfish ends; From the vile flatt'rer turn away, For knaves make friendships to betray. Dismiss the train of fops and fools, And learn to live by wisdom's rules; Such beauties might the lion warm, Did not your folly break the charm; For who would court that lovely shape, To he the rival of an ape?"
He said; and snorting in disdain, Spuru'd at the crowd, and sought the plain.
FABLE III. THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WOBJt.
The prudent nymph, whose cheeks disclose The lily, and the hlushing rose,
from public view her charms will screen,
And rarely in the crowd be seen;
This simple truth shall keep her wise,
"The fairest fruits attract the flies."
Ow night, a Glow-worm, proud and vain,
Contemplating her glitt'ring train,
Cry'd, "Sure there never was in nature
So elegant, so fine a creature.
All other insects, that I see,
The frugal ant, industrious bee,
Or silkworm, with contempt I view;
With all that low, mechanic crew,
Who servilely their lives employ
In business, enemy to joy.
Mean, vulgar herd! ye are my scorn,
For grandeur only I was born,
Or sure am sprung from race divine,
And plac'd on Earth, to live and shine.
Those lights that sparkle so on high,
Are but the glow-worms of the sky,
And kings on Earth their gems admire,
Because they imitate my fire."
She spoke. Attentive on a spray,
A Nightingale forbore his lay;
He saw the shining morsel near,
And flew, directed by the glare;
A while he gaz'd with sober look,
And thus the trembling prey bespoke.
"Deluded fool, with pride elate,
Know, 'tis thy beauty brings thy fate:
Less dazzling, long thou might'st have lain
Voheeded on the velvet plain:
Pride, soon or late, degraded mourns,
And Beauty wrecks whom she adorns."
FOR THE LADIES.But must the gentle, and the kind,
Thy fury, undistinguish'd, find?"
The monarch calmly thus reply'd:
"Weigh well the cause, and then decide.
That friend of yours, you lately nam'd,
Cupid, alone is to be blam'd;
Then let the charge be justly laid j
That idle boy neglects his trade,
And hardly once in twenty years,
A couple to your temple bears.
The wretches, whom your office blends,
Sileuus now, or Plutus sends;
Hence care, and bitterness, and strife
Are common to the nuptial life.
"Believe me; more than all mankind,
Your vot'ries my compassion find;
Yet cruel am I call'd, and base,
Who seek the wretched to release;
The captive from his bonds to free,
Indissoluble but for me.
"Tis I entice him to the yoke;
By me, your crowded altars smoke:
For mortals boldly dare the noose,
Secure that Death will set them loose."
FABLE IV. HYMEN AND DEATH.
Stxrezu, d'ye say? Nay then 'tis time;
Another year destroys your prime.
But stay—The settlement!" That's made"
Why then ^ my simple girl afraid?
Vrt hold a moment, if you can,
And needfully the fable scan.
Tbe shades were fled, the morning blush'd,
The winds were in their caverns hush'd,
Wbeo Hymen, pensive and sedate,
H»ld o'er the fields his musing gait.
Behind him, through the green-wood shade,
l>path's meagre form the god survey'd,
Who quickly, with gigantic stride,
Out-went his pace, and join'd his side.
The chat on various subjects ran,
Till angry Hymen thus began.
"Relentless Death, whose iron sway
Mortals reluctant must obey,
Sfcll of thy pow'r shall I complain,
And thy too partial hand arraign?
When Cupid brings a pair of hearts
All over stuck with equal darts,
Thy cruel shafts my hopes deride,
And cat the knot, that Hymen ty'd.
"Shall not the bloody, and the bold,
The miser, hoarding up his gold,
The harlot, recking from the stew,
Alos* thy fell revenge pursue?
THE POET AND HIS PATRON.
Why, Ca?lia, is your spreading waist
So loose, so negligently lao'd?
Why must the wrapping bed-gown hide
Your snowy bosom's swelling pride?
How ill that dress adorns your head,
Distain'd, and rumpled from the bed!
Those clouds, that shade your blooming face,
A little water might displace,
As Nature every morn bestows
The crystal dew, to cleanse the rose.
Those tresses, as the raven black,
That wav'd in ringlets down your back,
L'ncomb'd, and injurM by neglect,
Destroy the face, which once they deck'd.
Whence this forgctfulness of dress?
Pray, madam, are you marry'd ?" Yes."
Nay, then indeed the wonder ceases,
No matter now how loose your dress is;
The end is won, your fortune's made,
Your sister now may take the trade. Alas! what pity 'tis to find
This fault in half the female kind!
From hence proceed aversion, strife,
And all that sours the wedded life.
Beauty can only point the dart,
Tis neatness guides it to the heart;
Let neatness then, and beauty strive
To krop a wav'ring flame alive.
Tis harder far (you'll find it true)
To keep the conquest, than subdue;
Admit us once behind the screen.
What is there further to be seen?
A newer face may raise the flame,
But every woman is the same. Then study chiefly to improve
The charm, that fix'd your husband's love.
Weigh well his humour. Was it dress,
That gave your beauty power to bless?
Pursue it still; be neater seen;
'Tis always frugal to be clean;
So shall you keep alive desire,
And Time's swift wing shall fan the fire.
In garret high (as stories say)
A poet sung his tuneful lay;
So soft, so smooth his verse, you'd swear
Apollo and the Muses there.
Through all the town his praises rung,
His sonnet at the playhouse sung;
High waving o'er his lab'ring head,
The goddess Want her pinions spread,
And with poetic fury fir'd,
What Phcebus faintiy had inspir'd.
A noble youth, of taste and wit,
Approv'd the sprightly things he writ,
And sought him in his cobweb dome,
Discharg'd his rent, and brought him home.
Behold him at the stately board,
Who, but the Poet and my Lord!
Each day deliciously he dines,
And greedy quaffs the gen'rous wines;
His sides were plump, his skin was sleek,
And plenty wanton'd on his cheek;
Astonish'd at the change so new,
Away th' inspiring goddess flew.
Now, dropt for politics, and news,
Neglected lay the drooping Muse;
Unmindful whence his fortune came,
He stifled the poetic flame;
Nor tale, nor sonnet, for my lady,
Lampoon, nor epigram was ready.
With just contempt his patron saw,
(Resolv'd his bounty to withdraw)
And thus, with anger in his look,
The late-repenting fool bespoke.
"Blind to the good that courts thee grown,
Whence has the sun of favour shone?
Delighted with thy tuneful art,
Esteem was growing in my heart;
But idly thou reject'st the charm,
That gave it birth, and kept it warm."
Unthinking fools alone despise
The arts, that taught them first to rise.
THE WOLF, THE SHEEP, AND THE LAMB.
IX' rv demands, the parent's voice
Should sanctify the daughter's choice;
In that, is due obedience shown;
To choose, belongs to her alone.
May horrour seize his midn'ght hour,
Who budds upon a parent's pow'r,
And claims, by purchase vile and base,
The loathing maid for his embrace;
Hence Virtue sickens; and the breast,
Where Peace had built her downy nest,
Becomes the troubled seat of Care,
And pines with anguish and despair.
A Wor.p, rapacious, rough and bold,
Whose nightly plunders thinn'd the fold,
Contemplating his ill-spent life,
And cloy'd with thefts, would take a wife.
His purpose known, the savage race,
Jn num'rous crowds, attend the place;
For why? a mighty Wolf he was,
And held dominion in his jaws.
Her fav'rite whelp each mother brought,
And humbly his alliance sought;
But cold by age, or else too nice,
None found acceptance in his eyes. It happen'd, as at early dawn
He solitary cross'd the lawn,
Stray'd from the fo'd, a sportive Lamb
Skip'd wanton by her fleecy dam;When Cupid, foe to man and beast,
Discharg'd an arrow at his breast.
The tim'rous breed the robber knew,
And trembling o'er the meadow flew;Their nimblest speed the Wolf o'ertook,
And, courteous, thus the dam bespoke."Stay, fairest, and suspend your fear,
Trust me, no enemy is near;These jaws, in slaughter oft imbru'd,
At length have known enough of blood;And kinder business brings me now,
Vanquish'd, at Beauty's feet to bow. You have a daughter Sweet, forgive
A Wo f s address—In her I live;
Love from her eyes like lightning came,
And set my marrow all on flame;
Let your consent confirm my choice,
And ratify our nuptial joys.
"Me ample wealth anil pow'r attend,
Wide o'er the plains my realms extend;What midnight robber dare invade
The fold, if I the guard am made?At home the shepherd's cur may sleep,
While 1 secure his master's sheep." Discourse like this, attention claim'd;
Orandeur the mother's breast inflam'd;
Now fearless by his side she wnlk'd,
Of settlements and jointures talk'd;
Propos'd, and doubled her demands
Of flow'ry fields, and turnip-lands.
The Wolf agrees. Her bosom swells;
To Miss her happy fate she tells;
And of the grand alliance vain,
Contemns her kindred of the plain.
The loathing Lamb with horrour hears.
And wearies out her dam with pray'rs;
But all in vain; mamma best knew
What inexperiene'd girls should do;
So, to the neighb'ring meadow carry'd,
A formal ass the couple marry'd.
Tom from the tyrant-mother's side,
The trembler goes, a victim-bride,
Reluctant, meets the rude embrace.
And bleats among the howling race.
With horrour oft her eyes behold
Her murder'd kindred of the. fold;
Kadi day a sister-lamb is serv'd,
And at the glutton's table carv'd;
The crashing hones he grinds for food.
And slakes his thirst with streaming blood.
1 .ove, w ho the cruel mind detests,
And lodges but in gentle breasts,
Was now no more. Enjoyment past.
The savage hunger'd for the feast;
But (as we find in human race,
A mask conceals the villain's face)
Justice must authorize the treat;
Till then he long'd, but durst not eat.
As forth he walk'd, in quest of prey,
The hunters mef him on the way;
Tear win<rs his flight; the marsh he sought;
The snuffing dogs are set at fault.
His stomach balk'd, now hunger gnaws,
Howling, he grinds his empty jaws;
Food must be had, and lamb is nigh;
His maw invokes the fraudful lie.
"Is this," dissembling rage, he cry'd,
"The gentle virtue of a bride?
That, leagu'd with man's destroying race,
She sets her husband for the chase?
By treach'ry prompts the noisy hound
To scent his footsteps on the ground?
Thou trait'ress vile! for this thy blood
Shall glut my rage, and dye the wood!"
So saying, on the Lamb he flies,
Beneath his jaws the victim dies.
THE GOOSE AND THE SWANS.
I Hate the face, however fair,
That carries an affected air;
The lisping tone, the shape constraint,
The study'd look, the passion feign'd,
Are fopperies, which only tend
To injure what they strive to mend.
With what superior grace enchants The face, which Nature's pencil paints! Where eyes, unexercis'd in art, Glow with the meaning of the heart! Where freedom, and good-humour sit, And easy gaiety, and wit I Though perfect heauty he not there, The ma.-ter lines, the finish'd air, We catch from every look delight, And grow enamour' d at the sight: For beauty, though we all approve, Excites our wonder more than love, While the agreeable strikes sure, And gives the wounds we cannot cure.
Why then, my Amoret, this care, That forms you, in effect, less fair? If Nature on your cheek bestows A bloom, that emulates the rose, Or from some heav'nly image drew A form, Apelles never knew, Your ill-judg'd aid will you impart, And spoil by meretricious art? Or had you, Nature's errour, come Abortive from the mother's womb, Your forming care she still rejects, Which only heightens her defects. When such, of glitt'ring jewels proud, Still press the foremost in the crowd, At every public show are seen, With look awry, and aukward mien, The gaudy dress attracts the eye, And magnifies deformity.
Nature may under-do her part, But seldom wants the help of Art; Trust her; she is your surest friend, Nor made your form for you to mend.
A Goose, affected, empty, vain, The shrillest of the cackling train, With proud, and elevated crest, Precedence claim'd above the rest .
Says she, "I laugh at human race, Wko say, geese hobble in their pace:
THE LADIES. 2I3look here! the sland'rous lie detect;
Not haughty man is so erect.
That peacock yonder! lord, how vain
The creature's of his gaudy train!If hoth were stript, I'd pawn my word,
A goose would be the finer hird.
Nature, to hide her own defects.
Her bungled work with finery decks;
Were geese set off with half that show,
Would men admire the peacock? No." Thus vaunting, cross the mead she stalks,
The cackling breed attend her walks;The Sun shot down his noontide beams,
The Swans were sporting in the streams;
Their snowy plumes, and stately pride
Provok'd her spleen. "Why there," she ery'd,
"Again, what arrogance we see!Those creatures! how they mimic me!Shall every fowl the waters skim,
Because we geese are known to swim?Humility they soon shall learn,
And their own emptiness discern." So saying, with extended wings,
Lightly upon the wave she springs;
Her bosom swells, she spreads her plumes,
And the swan's stately crest assumes.
Contempt and mockery ensu'd,
And hursts of laughter shook the flood.
A Swan, superior to the rest,
Sprung forth, and thus the fool address'd.
"Conceited thing, elate with pride!
Thy aflectation all deride;
These airs thy aukwardness impart,
And show thee plainly, as thou art-
Among thy equals of the flock,
Thou hadst escap'd the public mock,
And as thy parts to good conduce,
Been deem'd an honest hohhling goose."
L .ci] hence, to study wisdom's rules;
Know, foppery's the pride of fools;
And striving Nature to conceal.
You only her defects reveal.
THE LVWYER AND JUSTICE.
I.OVE! thou d vinest good below,
Thy pure delights few mortals know!
Our rebel hearts thy sway disown,
While tyrant Lust usurps thy throne.
The hounteous God of Nature made
The sexes for each other's aid,
Their mutual talents to employ,
To lessen ills, and heighten joy.
To weaker woman he assign'd
That soft'ning gentleness of mind,
That can, by sympathy, impart
Its likeness to the roughest heart.
Her eyes with magic pow'r endn'd,
To fire the dull, and awe the rude.
His rosy fingers on her face
Shed lavish every blooming grace,
And stamp'd (perfection to display)
His mildest image on her clay.
Man, active, resolute, and bold,
He fashion'd in a different mould,
With useful arts his mind inform'd,
His hreast with nohler passious warm'd;