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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 on his skill,
Is here and there officious still
Till, striking on the dang’rous sands,
A-ground the shatter'd vessel stands'.
To see the bungler thus distrest,
The very fishes sneer and jest.
Ey'n gudgeons join in ridicule,
To mortify the meddling fool.
The clam'rous watermen appear;
Threats, curses, oaths, insult his ear;
Seiz'd, thresh'd, and chain'd, he's dragg'd to land;
Derision shouts along the strand.
The Man, the Cat, the Dog, and the Fly,
TO MY NATIVE COUNTRY,
HAIL, happy land! whose fertile grounds
The liquid fence of NEPTUNE bounds ;
By bounteous nature set apart,
The seat of industry and art.
O BRITAIN! chosen port of trade,
May lux'ry ne'er thy sons invade;
May never minister (intent
His private treasures to augment)
Corrupt thy state. If jealous foes
Thy rights of commerce dare oppose,
Shall not thy fleets their rapine awe?
Who is't prescribes the ocean law ?
Whenever neighb'ring states contend,
"Tis thine to be the gen'ral friend.
What is't, who rules in other lands?
On trade alone thy glory stands.
That benefit is unconfin'd,
Diffusing good anong mankind :
That first gave lustre to thy reigns,
And scatter'd plenty o'er thy plains :
'Tis that alone thy wealth supplies,
And draws all EUROPE's envious eyes,
Be commerce then thy sole design ;
Keep that, and all the world is thine.
When naval traffic plows the main,
Who shares not in the merchant's gain?
'Tis that supports the regal state,
And makes the farmer's heart elate:
The num'rous flocks, that clothe the land,
Can scarce supply the loom's demand :
Prolific culture glads the fields,
And the bare heath a harvest yields. .
Nature expects mankind should share The duties of the public care. Who's born for sloth * To some we find The ploughshare's annual toil assign'd. Some at the sounding anvil glow ; Some the swift-sliding shuttle throw: Some, studious of the wind and tide, From pole to pole our commerce guide : Some (taught by industry) impart With hands and feet the works of art : While some, of genius more refin'd, With head and tongue assist mankind : Each, aiming at one common end, Proves to the whole a needful friend. Thus, born each other's useful aid, By turns are obligations paid.
The monarch, when his table's spread, Is to the clown oblig'd for bread; And when in all his glory drest, Owes to the loom his royal vest. Do not the mason's toil and care Protect him from th' inclement air? Does not the cutler's art supply The ornament that guards his thigh ? All these, in duty to the throne, Their common obligations own. 'Tis he (his own and people's cause) Protects their properties and laws.
Thus they their honest toil employ,
And with content their fruits enjoy.
In ev'ry rank, or great or small,
'Tis industry supports us all.
The animals, by want oppress'd,
To man their services address'd.
While each pursu'd their selfish good,
They hunger'd for precarious food.
Their hours with anxious cares were vext;
One day they fed, and starv'd the next.
They saw that plenty, sure and rife,
Was found alone in social life
; That mutual industry, profess'd, The various wants of man redress'd.
The Cat, half-famish'd, lean and weak, Demands the privilege to speak.
Well Puss (says Man) and what can you To benefit the public do?
The Cat replies. These teeth, these claws, With vigilance shall serve the cause. The mouse, destroy'd by my pursuit, No longer shall your feasts pollute; Nor rats, from nightly ambuscade, With wasteful teeth your stores invade.
I grant, says Man, to gen’ral use Your parts and talents may conduce ; For rats and mice purloin our grain, And threshers whirl the flail in vain : Thus shall the Cat, a foe to spoil; Protect the farmer's honest toil.
Then turning to the Dog, he cry'd,
Well, sir ; be next your merits try'd :
Sir, says the Dog, by self-applause
We seem to own a friendless cause.
Ask those who know me, if distrust
E’er found me treach'rous or unjust?
Did I e'er faith or friendship break ?
Ask all those creatures : let them speak.
My vigilance and trusty zeal
Perhaps might serve the public weal.
Might not your flocks in safety feed,
Were I to guard the fleecy breed?
Did I the nightly watches keep,
Could thieves invade you while you sleep?
The Man replies : 'Tis just and right,
Reward such service should requite.
So rare, in property, we find
Trust uncorrupt among mankind,
That, taken in a public view,
The first distinction is your due.
Such merits all reward transcend :
Be then my comrade and my friend.
Addressing now the Fly : From you
What public service can accrue?
From me! (the flutt'ring insect said)
I thought you knew me better bred.
Sir, I'm a gentleman. Is't fit
That I to industry submit?
Let mean mechanics, to be fed,
By bus'ness earn ignoble bread.
Lost in excess of daily joys,
No thought, no care my
At noon (the lady's matin hour)
I sip the tea's delicious flower.
On cates luxuriously I dine,
And drink the fragrance of the vine.
Studious of elegance and ease,
Myself alone I seek to please.
The Man his pert conceit derides,
And thus the useless coxcomb chides.
Hence, from that peach, that downy seat; No idle fool deserves to eat. Could you have sapp'd the blushing rind, And on that pulp ambrosial din’d, Had not some hand, with skill and toil, To raise the tree, prepar'd the soil ? Consider, sot, what would ensue, Were all such worthless things as you. You'd soon be forc'd (by hunger stung) To make your dirty meals on dung ; On which such despicable need, Unpitied, is reduc'd to feed. Besides, vain selfish insect, learn (If you can right and wrong discern), That lie who, with industrious zeal, Contributes to the public weal, By adding to the common good, His own hath rightly understood.
So saying, with a sudden blow, He laid the noxious vagrant low. Crush'd in his luxury and pride, The spunger on the public dy’d.
The Pack-HORSE and the CARRIER.
TO A YOUNG NOBLEMAN.
A FABLE. (GAY.)
BEGIN, my lord, in early youth,
To suffer, nay, encourage truth;
And blame me not for disrespect,
If I the flatt'rer's style reject:
With that, by menial tongues supply'd,
You're daily cocker'd up in pride.
The tree's distinguish'd by the fruit :
Be virtue then your first pursuit ;
Set your great ancestors in view,
Like them deserve the title too;
Like them ignoble actions scorn :
Let virtue prove you nobly born.
Though with less plate their side-board shone,
Their conscience always was their own;
They ne'er at levees meanly fawn'd,
Nor was their honour yearly pawn'd
Their hands, by no corruption stain'd,
The ministerial bribe disdain'd;
They serv'd the crown with loyal zeal;
Yet jealous of the public weal,
They stood the bulwark of our laws,
And wore at heart their country's cause ;
By neither place nor pension bought,
They spoke and voted as they thought.
Thus did your sires adorn their seat;
And such alone are truly great.
If you the paths of learning slight,
You're but a dunce in stronger light.
In foremost rank, the coward plac'd,
Is more conspicuously disgrac'd.
If you, to serve a paltry end,
To knavish jobs can condescend,
the contempt that's due; In that you have precedence too.