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Should to the priest confess their sins;
The Ass approaching next, confess'd,
The Swine with contrite heart allow'd, His shape and beauty made him proud : In diet was perhaps too nice, But gluttony was ne'er his vice : In every turn of life content, And meekly took what fortune sent: Inquire through all the parish round, A better neighbor ne'er was found; His vigilance might some displease; 'Tis true, he hated sloth like pease.
The mimic Ape began his chatter, How evil tongues his life bespatter; Much of the censuring world complain’d, Who said, his gravity was feign'd: Indeed, the strictness of his morals Engaged him in a hundred quarrels :
He saw, and he was grieved to see 't,
licentious age Might well excuse a stoic's
rage. The Goat advanced with decent pace, And first excused his youthful face; Forgiveness begg'd that he appear'd ('T was Nature's fault) without a beard. 'Tis true, he was not much inclined To fondness for the female kind: Not, as his enemies object, From chance, or natural defect; Not by his frigid constitution; But through a pious resolution : For he had made a holy vow Of Chastity, as monks do now: Which he resolved to keep forever hence, And strictly too, as doth his reverence.
Apply the tale, and you shall find, How just it suits with human kind. Some faults we own; but can you guess ? -Why, virtue 's carried to excess, Wherewith our vanity endows us, Though neither foe nor friend allows us.
The Lawyer swears (you may rely on 't)
the poor advice;
The cringing Knave, who seeks a place Without success, thus tells his case :
Why should he longer mince the matter?
The Chaplain vows, he can not fawn,
eyes; But owns he had a stubborn spirit, That made him trust alone to merit; Would rise by merit to promotion; Alas! a mere chimeric notion.
The Doctor, if you will believe him, Confess'd a sin; (and God forgive him I) Call'd up at midnight, ran to save A blind old beggar from the grave: But see how Satan spreads his snares; He quite forgot to say his prayers. He can not help it, for his heart, Sometimes to act the parson's part: Quotes from the Bible many a sentence, That moves his patients to repentance; And, when his medicines do no good, Supports their minds with heavenly food: At which, however well intended, He hears the clergy are offended; And grown so bold behind his back, To call him hypocrite and quack. In his own church he keeps a seat; Says grace before and after meat; And calls, without affecting airs, His household twice a-day to prayers. He shuns apothecaries' shops, And hates to cram the sick with slops : He scorns to make his art a trade; Nor bribes my lady's favorite maid.
Old nurse-keepers would never hire,
The Statesman tells you, with a sneer,
His country was his dearest mother,
The Sharper swore he hated play,
I own the moral not exact, Besides, the tale is false, in fact; And so absurd, that could I raise up, From fields Elysian, fabling Æsop, I would accuse him to his face, For libeling the four-foot race. Creatures of every kind but ours Well comprehend their natural powers, While we, whom reason ought to sway, Mistake our talents every day. The Ass was never known so stupid, To act the part of Tray or Cupid; Nor leaps upon his master's lap, There to be stroked, and fed with pap, As Æsop would the world persuade; He better understands his trade: Nor comes whene'er his lady whistles, But carries loads, and feeds on thistles. Our author's meaning, I presume, is A creature bipes et implumis; Wherein the moralist design'd A compliment on human kind; For here he owns, that now and then Beasts may degenerate into men.