1730


In ancient times, the wise were able
In proper terms to write a fable:
Their tales would always justly suit
The characters of every brute.
The ass was dull, the lion brave,
The stag was swift, the fox a knave;
The daw a thief, the ape a droll,
The hound would scent, the wolf would prowl:
A pigeon would, if shown by √ęsop,
Fly from the hawk, or pick his pease up.
Far otherwise a great divine
Has learnt his fables to refine;
He jumbles men and birds together,
As if they all were of a feather:
You see him first the Peacock bring,
Against all rules, to be a king;
That in his tail he wore his eyes,
By which he grew both rich and wise.
Now, pray, observe the doctor's choice,
A Peacock chose for flight and voice;
Did ever mortal see a peacock
Attempt a flight above a haycock?
And for his singing, doctor, you know
Himself complain'd of it to Juno.
He squalls in such a hellish noise,
He frightens all the village boys.
This Peacock kept a standing force,
In regiments of foot and horse:
Had statesmen too of every kind,
Who waited on his eyes behind;
And this was thought the highest post;
For, rule the rump, you rule the roast.
The doctor names but one at present,
And he of all birds was a Pheasant.
This Pheasant was a man of wit,
Could read all books were ever writ;
And, when among companions privy,
Could quote you Cicero and Livy.
Birds, as he says, and I allow,
Were scholars then, as we are now;
Could read all volumes up to folios,
And feed on fricassees and olios:
This Pheasant, by the Peacock's will,
Was viceroy of a neighbouring hill;
And, as he wander'd in his park,
He chanced to spy a clergy Lark;
Was taken with his person outward,
So prettily he pick'd a cow-t - d:
Then in a net the Pheasant caught him,
And in his palace fed and taught him.
The moral of the tale is pleasant,
Himself the Lark, my lord the Pheasant:
A lark he is, and such a lark
As never came from Noah's ark:
And though he had no other notion,
But building, planning, and devotion;
Though 'tis a maxim you must know,
"Who does no ill can have no foe;"
Yet how can I express in words
The strange stupidity of birds?
This Lark was hated in the wood,
Because he did his brethren good.
At last the Nightingale comes in,
To hold the doctor by the chin:
We all can find out what he means,
The worst of disaffected deans:
Whose wit at best was next to none,
And now that little next is gone;
Against the court is always blabbing,
And calls the senate-house a cabin;
So dull, that but for spleen and spite,
We ne'er should know that he could write
Who thinks the nation always err'd,
Because himself is not preferr'd;
His heart is through his libel seen,
Nor could his malice spare the queen;
Who, had she known his vile behaviour,
Would ne'er have shown him so much favour.
A noble lord[1] has told his pranks,
And well deserves the nation's thanks.
O! would the senate deign to show
Resentment on this public foe,
Our Nightingale might fit a cage;
There let him starve, and vent his rage:
Or would they but in fetters bind
This enemy of human kind!
Harmonious Coffee,[2] show thy zeal,
Thou champion for the commonweal:
Nor on a theme like this repine,
For once to wet thy pen divine:
Bestow that libeller a lash,
Who daily vends seditious trash:
Who dares revile the nation's wisdom,
But in the praise of virtue is dumb:
That scribbler lash, who neither knows
The turn of verse, nor style of prose;
Whose malice, for the worst of ends,
Would have us lose our English friends:[3]
Who never had one public thought,
Nor ever gave the poor a groat.
One clincher more, and I have done,
I end my labours with a pun.
Jove send this Nightingale may fall,
Who spends his day and night in gall!
So, Nightingale and Lark, adieu;
I see the greatest owls in you
That ever screech'd, or ever flew.