"The Young Rat and his Dam, the Cock and the Cat" by Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661 - 1720)
Who follow'd him with utmost reach of Sight,
Then, lost in Tears, and in abandon'd Plight,
Turn'd to her mournful Cell, and bid the World Good-Night.
But Fortune, kinder than her boding Thought,
In little time the Vagrant homewards brought,
Rais'd in his Mind, and mended in his Dress,
Who the Bel-air did every way confess,
Had learnt to flow'r his Wigg, nor brusht away
The falling Meal, that on his Shoulders lay;
And from a Nutshell, wimbl'd by a Worm,
Took Snuff, and cou'd the Government reform.
The Mother, weeping from Maternal Love,
To see him thus prodigiously improve,
Expected mighty Changes too, within,
And Wisdom to avoid the Cat, and Gin.
Whom did you chiefly note, Sweetheart, quoth she,
Of all the Strangers you abroad did see?
Who grac'd you most, or did your Fancy take?
The younger Rat than curs'd a noisy Rake,
That barr'd the best Acquaintance he cou'd make;
And fear'd him so, he trembl'd ev'ry Part;
Nor to describe him, scarce cou'd have the Heart.
High on his Feet (quoth he) himself he bore,
And terribly, in his own Language, swore;
A feather'd Arm came out from either Side,
Which loud he clapp'd, and Combatants defy'd,
And to each Leg a Bayonette was ty'd:
And certainly his Head with Wounds was sore;
For That, and both his Cheeks a Sanguine Colour wore.
Near Him there lay the Creature I admir'd,
And for a Friend by Sympathy desir'd:
His Make, like Ours, as far as Tail and Feet,
With Coat of Furr in parallel do meet;
Yet seeming of a more exalted Race,
Tho' humble Meekness beautify'd his Face:
A purring Sound compos'd his gentle Mind,
Whilst frequent Slumbers did his Eye-lids bind;
Whose soft, contracted Paw lay calmly still,
As if unus'd to prejudice, or kill.
I paus'd a while, to meditate a Speech,
And now was stepping just within his reach;
When that rude Clown began his hect'ring Cry,
And made me for my Life, and from th' Attempt to fly.
Indeed 'twas Time, the shiv'ring Beldam said,
To scour the Plain, and be of Life afraid.
Thou base, degen'rate Seed of injur'd Rats,
Thou veriest Fool (she cry'd) of all my Brats;
Would'st thou have shaken Hands with hostile Cats,
And dost not yet thine Own, and Country's Foe,
At this expence of Time, and Travel know?
Alas! that swearing, staring, bullying Thing,
That tore his Throat, and blustered with his Wing,
Was but some paltry, Dunghill, Craven Cock,
Who serves the early Household for a Clock.
And We his Oats, and Barley often steal,
Nor fear, he shou'd revenge the pilfer'd Meal:
Whilst that demure, and seeming harmless Puss
Herself, and mewing Chits regales with Us.
If then, of useful Sense thou'st gain'd no more,
Than ere thou'dst past the Threshold of my Door;
Be here, my Son, content to Dress and Dine,
Steeping the List of Beauties in thy Wine,
And neighb'ring Vermin with false Gloss outshine.
Amongst Mankind a Thousand Fops we see,
Who in their Rambles learn no more than Thee;
Cross o'er the Alpes, and make the Tour of France,
To learn a paltry Song, or antick Dance;
Bringing their Noddles, and Valizes pack'd
With Mysteries, from Shops and Taylors wreck'd:
But what may prejudice their Native Land;
Whose Troops are raising, or whose Fleet is mann'd,
Ne'er moves their Thoughts, nor do they understand.
Thou, my dear Rattlehead, and such as These
Might keep at home, and brood on Sloth and Ease:
Whilst Others, more adapted to the Age,
May vig'rously in Warlike Feats engage,
And live on foreign Spoils, or dying thin the Stage.