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Full Online Book HomePoemsThe Pack-horse And The Carrier
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The Pack-horse And The Carrier Post by :Gizmo Category :Poems Author :John Gay Date :May 2011 Read :1754

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The Pack-horse And The Carrier

(_To a Young Nobleman._)

Begin, my lord, in early youth,
To bear with, nay encourage, truth.
And blame me not, for disrespect,
That I the flatterer's style reject.

Let Virtue be your first pursuit;
Is not the tree known by its fruit?
Set your great ancestry in view;
Honour the title from them due.
Assert that you are nobly born,
Viewing ignoble things with scorn.

My lord, your ancestry had not
The wealth and heirlooms you have got;
Yet was their conscience aye their own,
Nor ever pandered to the throne.
With hands by no corruption stained
They ministerial bribes disdained;
They served the Crown, upheld the laws,
And bore at heart their country's cause:
So did your sires adorn their name,
And raised the title unto fame.

My lord, 'tis not permitted you
To do what humbler men may do.
You may not be a dunce: your post
Is foremost, and before the host.
You may not serve a private end;
To jobs you may not condescend;
As from obscurity exempt,
So are you open to contempt.
Your name alone descends by birth,
Your fame is consequent on worth;
Nor deem a coronet can hide
Folly or overweening pride:
Learning, by toil and study won,
Was ne'er entailed from sire to son.
If you degenerate from your race,
Its merit heightens your disgrace.

A carrier, at night and morn,
Watched while his horses ate their corn:
It sunk the ostler's vales, 'tis true;
But then his horses got their due.
It were as well, in some like cases,
If Ministers watched over places.

And as he stood, the manger minding,
And heard the teeth continue grinding,
There was a racket; for a pack-horse
Foamed at the mouth, and was in rack hoarse.

"Why, zounds!" he cried; "where have I got?
Is, then, my high descent forgot?
Must I endure the vile attacks
Of carriers' drudges--common hacks?
May Roan and Dobbin poke their noses
In cribs where my great nose reposes?
Good gracious me! why, here's old Ball!--
No longer sacred is the stall.
I see Democracy and Devil
Will soon put all upon one level.
We have not been of race of Could-would,
At Epsom, Newmarket, and Goodwood;
Nor, by Dame Truth! I vow and pledge her,
Are we unknown at the St. Leger.
Unnumbered are our triumphs, told;
Unnumbered are the cups we hold;
Unnumbered are our laurels won;
And am I to be put upon
By carrier-nags of low degree?
O Fortune, do not let it be!"

"You stupid blockhead!" said the carrier;
"'Twixt you and us there is no barrier.
Your headstrong youth and wilful heart
Reduced you to a servile part;
And every carrier on the road
Avers your oats are ill-bestowed.
But, know that you do not inherit
From dam or sire any merit.
We give your ancestors their due,
But any ass is good as you.
As you are asinine and crass,
So do we treat you--as an ass."

(The end)
John Gay's poem: Pack-Horse And The Carrier

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