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By John Gay
1685 - 1732

NOTE:   This is one of the Fables dedicated to the Duke of Cumberland, and composed for the four-year-old son of Princess Caroline -----  ( Spelling of words is from 18th century )


The man to Jove his suit preferr'd,

He begg'd a wife; his prayer was heard.

Jove wonder'd at his bold addressing,

For how precarious is the blessing !

A wife he takes.   And now for heirs

Again he worries heav'n with prayers.

Jove nods assent.  Two hopeful boys

And a fine girle reward his joys.

Now more solicitous he grew,

And set their future lives in view;

He saw that all respect and duty

Were paid to wealth, to power, and beauty.

Once more, he cries, accept my prayer,

Make my lov'd progeny thy care:

Let my first hope, my fav'rite boy,

All fortune's richest gifts enjoy.

My next with strong ambition fire,

May favour teach him to aspire,

'Till he the step of power ascend,

And courtiers to their idol bend.

With ev'ry grace, with ev'ry charm

My daughter's perfect features arm.

If Heav'n approve, a father's blest.

Jove smiles, and grants his full request.

The first, a miser at the heart,

Studious of ev'ry griping art,

Heaps hoards on hoards with anxious pain,

And all his life devotes to gain.

He feels no joy, his cares encrease,

He neither wakes nor sleeps in peace.

In fancy'd want, ( a wretch compleat )

He starves, and yet he dares not eat.

The next to sudden honours grew,

The thriving art of courts he knew;

He reach'd the height of power and place,

Then fell, the victim of disgrace.

Beauty with early bloom supplies

His daughter's cheek, and points her eyes:

The vain coquette each suit disdains,

And glories in her lovers pains.

With age she fades, each lover flies,

Contemn'd , forlorn, she pines and dies.

When Jove the father's grief survey'd,

And heard him Heav'n and Fate upbraid,

Thus spoke the God.   By outward show

Men judge of happiness and woe:

Shall ignorance of good and ill

Dare to direct th' eternal will?

Seek virtue; and of that possest,

To Providence resign the rest.


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