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Thus in a sea of folly tost,
My choicest hours of life are lost,
Yet always wishing to retreat:
Oh, could I see my country-seat!
There leaning near a gentle brook,
Sleep, or peruse some ancient book,
And there in sweet oblivion drown
Those cares that haunt the Court and Town.
O charming noon! and nights divine !
Or when I sup, or when I dine,
My friends above, my folks below,
Chatting and laughing all a-row,
The beans and bacon set before 'em,
The grace-cup serv'd with all decorum;
Each willing to be pleas'd, and please,
And ev’n the very dogs at ease!
Here no man prates of idle things,
How this or that Italian sings,
A neighbour's madness, or his spouse's,
Or what's in either of the Houses;
But something much more our concern,
And quite a scandal not to learn ;
Which is the happier or the wiser,
A man of merit or a miser,
Whether we ought to chuse our friends
For their own worth or our own ends?
What good, or better, we may call,
And what the very best of all ?
Our friend, Dan Prior, told (you know)
A tale extremely à-propos :
Name a Town life, and in a trice
He had a story of two Mice.
Once on a time (so runs the fable)
A country mouse, right hospitable,
Receiv'd a town mouse at his board,
Just as a farmer might a lord.
A frugal mouse upon the whole,
Yet lov'd his friend, and had a soul ;
Knew what was handsome, and would do't,
On just occasion, coute qui coute.
He brought him bacon, (nothing lean ;)
Pudding that might have pleas'd a Dean;
Cheese such as men in Suffolk make,
But wish'd it Stilton for his sake;
Yet to his guest, tho' no way sparing,
He ate himself the rind and paring.
Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show'd his breeding and his wit;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cry'd, “ I vow you're mighty neat:
But, Lord, my friend, this savage scene! « For God's sake come and live with men :
« Consider mice, like men, must die, 66 Both small and great, both
“ Then spend your life in joy and sport :
(“ This doctrine, friend, I learn’d at court.")
The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Away they came, thro' thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's inn :
('Twas on the night of a debate,
When all their Lordships had sat late.)
Behold the place where if a poet
Shin'd in description he might show it;
Tell how the moon-beam trembling falls,
And tips with silver all the walls;
Palladian walls, Venetian doors,
Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors :
But let it (in a word) be said,
The moon was up, and men a-bed ;
The napkins white, the carpet red :
The guests withdrawn had left the treat,
And down the mice sat tête-à-tête.
Our courtier walks from dish to dish,
Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish;
Tells all their names, lays down the law,
“ Que ça est bon! Ah gouter ça!
“ That jelly's rich, this Malmsey healing;
“Pray, dip your whiskers and your tail in.”
Was ever such a happy swain!
He stuffs and swills, and stuffs again.
205 “ I'm quite asham'd—'tis mighty rude « To eat so much—but all's so good! « I have a thousand thanks to give
My Lord alone knows how to live.” No sooner said, but from the hall
210 Rush chaplain, butler, dogs, and all : “ A rat, a rat! clap to the door”The cat comes bouncing on the floor. O for the heart of Homer's mice, Or gods to save them in a trice!
215 (It was by Providence they think, For your
damn'd stucco has no chink.) « An't please your Honour," quoth the peasant, “ This same desert is not so pleasant : u Give me again my holly tree, “ A crust of bread and liberty !