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Dog And Fox Post by :bswan Category :Poems Author :John Gay Date :May 2011 Read :1986

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Dog And Fox

(_To a Lawyer._)


My friend, the sophisticated tongue
Of lawyers can turn right to wrong;
And language, by your skill made pliant,
Can save an undeserving client.
Is it the fee directs the sense
To injure injured innocence?
Or can you, with a double face
Like Janus's, mistate a case?
Is scepticism your profession,
And justice absent from your session?
And is, e'en so, the bar supplied,
Where eloquence takes either side?

A man can well express his meaning,
Except in law deeds, where your gleaning
Must be first purchased--must be fee'd;
Engrossed, too, the too-prolix deed.
But do we shelter beneath law?
Ay, till your brother finds the flaw.
All wills pass muster, undisputed;
Dispute, and they are soon confuted:
And you, by instinct, flaws discover,
As dogs find coveys in the clover.

Sagacious Porta loved to trace
Likeness to brutes in lordly face--
To ape or owls his sketches liking,
Sent the laugh round--they were so striking.
So would I draw my satire true,
And fix it on myself or you.

But you dissent: you do not like
A portrait that shall rudely strike.
You write no libels on the state,
And party prejudice you hate;
But to assail a private name
You shrink, my friend, and deem it shame.
So be it: yet let me in fable
Knock a knave over; if I am able.
Shall not the decalogue be read,
Because the guilty sit in dread?
Brutes are my theme: am I to blame
If minds are brutish, men the same?
Whom the cap fits, e'en let him wear it--
And we are strong enough to bear it.

A shepherd's dog, unused to sporting,
Picked up acquaintance, all consorting.
Amongst the rest, a friendship grew
'Twixt him and Reynard, whom he knew.

Said Reynard: "'Tis a cruel case
That man will stigmatize my race:
Ah! there are rogues midst men and foxes--
You see that where the parish stocks is.
Still there are honest men and true--
So are there honest foxes too.
You see and know I've no disguise,
And that, like life, I honour prize."

The honest dog threw off distrust,
For talk like that seemed good and just.
On as they went one day with chatter
Of honour and such moral matter,
They heard a tramp. "Are hounds abroad?
I heard a clatter on the road."

"Nay," said the dog: "'tis market-day,
Dame Dobbin now is on her way.
That foot is Dun's, the pyebald mare:
They go to sell their poultry ware."

"Their poultry ware! Why poultry me?
Sir, your remark is very free.
Do I know your Dame Dobbin's farm?
Did I e'er do her hen-roost harm?"

"Why, my good friend, I never meant
To give your spirit discontent.
No lamb--for aught I ever knew--
Could be more innocent than you."

"What do you mean by such a flam?
Why do you talk to me of lamb?
They lost three lambs: you say that I--
I robbed the fold;--you dog, you lie!"

"Knave," said the dog, "your conscience tweaks:
It is the guilty soul that speaks."
So saying, on the fox he flies,
The self-convicted felon dies.


(The end)
John Gay's poem: Dog And Fox

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