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Pan And Fortune Post by :sander4 Category :Poems Author :John Gay Date :May 2011 Read :1639

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Pan And Fortune

(_To a Young Heir._)


No sooner was thy father's death
Proclaimed to some, with bated breath,
Than every gambler was agog
To win your rents and gorge your prog.

One counted how much income clear
You had in "ready"--by the year.

Another cast his eyelid dark
Over the mansion and the park.
Some weighed the jewels and the plate,
And all the unentailed estate:
So much in land from mortgage free,
So much in personality.

Would you to highwaymen abroad
Display your treasures on the road?
Would you abet their raid of stealth
By the display of hoarded wealth?
And are you yet with blacklegs fain
With loaded dice to throw a main?
It is not charity--for shame!
The rascals look on you as game.
And you--you feed the rogues with bread--
By you rascality is fed.
Nay, more, you of the gallows cheat
The scoundrels who would be its meat.
The risks of the highway they shun,
Having your rents to prey upon.

Consider, ere you lose the bet,
That you might pay your duns and debt.
Consider, as the dice-box rattles,
Your honour and unpaid for chattels.
Think of to-morrow and its duns;
Usurious interest, how it runs;
And scoundrel sharpers, how they cheat you.
Think of your honour, I entreat you.

Look round, and see the wreck of play,--
Estate and honour thrown away:
Their one time owner, unconfined,
Wanders in equal wreck of mind,
Or tries to learn the trade by which
He ruined fell, and so grow rich:
But failing there, for want of cunning,
Subsists on charity by dunning.
Ah! you will find this maxim true:--
"Fools are the game which knaves pursue."

And now the sylvans groan: the wood
Must make the gamester's losses good.
The antique oaks, the stately elms,
One common ruin overwhelms.
The brawny arms of boor and clown
Cast with the axe their honours down,
With Echo's repetitive sounds
Complaining of the raided bounds.

Pan dropt a tear, he hung his head,
To see such desolation spread.
He said: "To slugs I hatred bear,
To locusts that devour the ear,
To caterpillars, fly, and lice;
But what are they to cursed dice?
Or what to cards? A bet is made,
Which ruin is to mount or glade;
My glory and my realm defaced,
And my best regions run to waste.
It is that hag's--that Fortune's--doing:
She ever meditates my ruin.
False, fickle jade! who more devours
Than frost, in merry May, eats flowers."

But Fortune heard Pan railing thus.
"Old Pan," said Fortune, "what's this fuss?
Am I the patroness of dice?
Is not she our fair cousin, Vice?
Do I cog dice or mark the cards?
Do gamesters offer me regards?
They trust to their own fingers' ends:
On Vice, not me, the game depends.
So would I save the fools, if they
Would not defy my rule by play.
They worship Folly, and the knaves
Own all her votaries for slaves.
They cast their elm and oak trees low:
'Tis Folly,--Folly is thy foe.
Dear Pan, then do not rail on me:
I would have saved him every tree."


(The end)
John Gay's poem: Pan And Fortune

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