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Poem by John Gay


Part I. Fable 30. The Setting-dog and the Partridge


  The ranging dog the stubble tries,
  And searches every breeze that flies;
  The scent grows warm; with cautious fear
  He creeps, and points the covey near;
  The men, in silence, far behind,
  Conscious of game, the net unbind.
     A partridge, with experience wise,
  The fraudful preparation spies:
  She mocks their toils, alarms her brood;
  The covey springs, and seeks the wood;

  But ere her certain wing she tries,
  Thus to the creeping spaniel cries:
     'Thou fawning slave to man's deceit,
  Thou pimp of luxury, sneaking cheat,
  Of thy whole species thou disgrace,
  Dogs shall disown thee of their race!
  For if I judge their native parts,
  They're born with open, honest hearts;
  And, ere they serve man's wicked ends,
  Were generous foes, or real friends.'

     When thus the dog, with scornful smile:
  'Secure of wing, thou dar'st revile.
  Clowns are to polished manners blind,
  How ignorant is the rustic mind!
  My worth, sagacious courtiers see,
  And to preferment rise, like me.
  The thriving pimp, who beauty sets,
  Hath oft enhanced a nation's debts:
  Friend sets his friend, without regard;
  And ministers his skill reward:

  Thus trained by man, I learnt his ways,
  And growing favour feasts my days.'
    'I might have guessed,' the partridge said,
  'The place where you were trained and fed;
  Servants are apt, and in a trice
  Ape to a hair their master's vice.
  You came from court, you say. Adieu,'
  She said, and to the covey flew.



                      John Gay


John Gay's other poems:
  1. Sweet William's Farewell To Black-Ey'd Susan
  2. Part II. Fable 17. Ay and No
  3. To A Young Lady, With Some Lampreys
  4. The Quidnunckis
  5. He That Tastes Woman


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