Page images
PDF

. My light, indeed, I must confess,

On some occasions will be less; . But spite itself will hardly say • I'm debtor for a single ray; • 'Tis all my own, and on the score. • Of merit, mounts to ten times more • Than any planet can demand • For light dispens’d at second hand.'

To hear the paltry insect boast The Grasshopper some patience lost. Quoth he, ‘My friend, it may be so, « The moon with borrow'd light, may glow: . That your faint glimm’ring is your own, • I think is question'd yet by none: * But sure the office to collect • The solar brightness and reflect, • To catch those rays that would be spent

Quite useless in the firmament, * And turn them downwards on the shade • Which absence of the sun has made, * Amounts to more, in point of merit, • Than all your tribe did e'er inherit:

Oft by that planet's friendly ray • The midnight trav'ler finds his way;

Safe by the favour of her beams • 'Midst precipices, lakes and streams ; • Whilst you mislead him, and your light,

Seen like a cottage-lamp by night, • With hopes to find a safe retreat, • Allures and tempts him to his fate :

• As this is so, I needs must call
• The merit of your light but small :
You need not boast on't tho' your own,
'Tis light indeed, but worse than none;
· Unlike to what the moon supplies,
• Which you call borrow'd and despise.'

FABLE XXIV.

THE FISHERMEN.

IMITATED FROM THEOCRITUS.

By Wilkie.

By all the Sages 'tis confest
That hope when moderate is best :
But, when indulg'd beyond due measure,
It yields a vain deceitful pleasure,
Which cheats the simple, and betrays
To mischief in a thousand ways :
Just hope assists in all our toils,
The wheels of industry it oils ;
In great attempts the bosom fires,
And zeal and constancy inspires.'
False hope, like a deceitful dream,
Rests on some visionary scheme,
And keeps us idle to our loss,..
Inchanted with our hands across.

A Tale an ancient Bard has told Of two poor Fishermen of old, Their names were (lest I should forget And put the reader in a pet, . Lest critics too should make a pother) The one Asphelio, Gripus t other. The men were very poor, their trade Could scarce afford them daily bread: Tho'ply'd with industry and care Thro' the whole season, foul and fair. Upon a rock their cottage stood, '; On all sides bounded by the flood : It was a miserable seat,, Like Cold and Hunger's worst retreat: And yet it serv'd them both for life, As neither could maintain a wife; Two walls were rocks, and two were sand, Ramm'd up with stakes and made to stand. A roof hung threat'ning o'er their heads Of boards half-rotten, thatch'd with reeds. And, as no thief e'er touch'd their store, A hurdle serv'd them for a door. : Their beds were leaves ; against the wall A sail hung drying, yard and all. On one side baskets and a net,... With sea-weed foul and always wet. These sorry instruments of trade Were all the furniture they had ::: For they had neither spit nor pot, ... Unless my author has forgot.

Some few hours, once, ere break of day,
As in their hut our Fishers lay,
The one awak'd, and wak'd his neighbour,
That both might ply their daily labour ;
For cold and hunger are confess'd
No friends to indolence or rest.

• Friend,' quoth the drowsy swain, and swore, • What you have done has hurt me more

Than all your service can repay. .. * For years to come by night and day;

You've broke the thought on't makes me mad ; • The finest dream that e'er I had.'

Quoth Gripus: 'Friend, your speech would prove

You mad indeed, or else in love; . • For dreams should weighobutilight on those • Who feel the want of food and clothes: • I guess, tho? simple and untaught; You dream about a lucky draught,

Or money found by chance: they say, . That hungry foxes dream of prey.'

"You're wond'rous shrewd, my friend; in troth,'. Asphelio cried, and right in both: .. • My dream had gold in't, as you said, * And fishing too, our constant trade; . And, since your guess has hit so near; . In short, the whole on't you shall hear:

• Upon the shore I seem'd to stand, • My rod and tackle in my hand; • The baited hook full oft I threw,

And still in vain, I nothing drew :

A fish at last appear'd to bite,

The cork div'd quickly out of sight, * And soon the dipping rod I found • With something weighty bent half round:

Quoth I, good luck has come at last,
• I've surely made a happy cast:
*This fish, when in the market sold,
• In place of brass will sell for gold :
* To bring it safe within my reach,
• I drew it softly to the beach :::
* But, long ere it had come so near,
• The water gleam'd with something clear ;

Each passing billow caught the blaze,
And glitt'ring shone with golden rays.

Of hope and expectation full,
• Impatient, yet afraid to pull,
To shore I slowly brought my prizė,'.
• A golden fish of largest size:
• Twas metal all from head to tail,
'Quite stiff and glitt'ring ev'ry scale..!
• Thought I, my fortune now is made ;!. .
• 'Tis time to quit the fishing trade,
* And choose some other, where the gains
'Are sure, and come for half the pains. ;'.

Like creatures of amphibious nature • One hour on land and three in water; • We live 'midst danger toil and care,

Yet never have a groat to spare: • While others not expos'd to harm,

Grow rich, tho' always dry and warm;

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »