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Poem by William Shenstone

The Price of an Equipage

Servum si potes, Ole, non habere,
Et regem potes, Ole, non habere. Mart.

("If thou from Fortune dost no servant crave,
Believe me thou no master need'st to have.")

I ask'd a friend, amidst the throng,
Whose coach it was that trail'd along?
"The gilded coach there - don't ye mind?
That with the footmen stuck behind."
"O Sir!" says he, "what! han't you seen it?
'Tis Damon's Coach, and Damon in it.
'Tis odd, methinks, you have forgot
Your friend, your neighbour, and - what not!
Your old acquaintance Damon!" - "True;
But faith his Equipage is new."
"Bless me," said I, "where can it end?
That madness has possess'd my friend?
Four powder'd slaves, and those the tallest,
Their stomachs, doubtless, not the smallest!
Can Damon's revenue maintain,
In lace and food, so large a train?
I know his land - each inch of ground -
'Tis not a mile to walk it round -
If Damon's whole estate can bear
To keep his lad and one-horse chair,
I own 'tis past my comprehension."
"Yes, Sir; but Damon has a pension."
Thus does a false ambition rule us,
Thus pomp delude, and folly fool us;
To keep a race of flickering knaves,
He grows himself the worst of slaves.

William Shenstone

William Shenstone's other poems:
  1. The Invidious
  2. The Speeches of Sloth and Virtue
  3. Elegy. He Describes His Disinterestedness to a Friend
  4. Charms of Precedence
  5. A Pastoral Ode. To the Hon. Sir Richard Lyttleton

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