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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 14. The Monkey Who Had Seen the World

  A Monkey, to reform the times,
  Resolved to visit foreign climes:
  For men in distant regions roam
  To bring politer manners home,
  So forth he fares, all toil defies:
  Misfortune serves to make us wise.
     At length the treach'rous snare was laid;
  Poor Pug was caught, to town conveyed,
  There sold. How envied was his doom,
  Made captive in a lady's room!

  Proud as a lover of his chains,
  He day by day her favour gains.
  Whene'er the duty of the day
  The toilet calls; with mimic play
  He twirls her knot, he cracks her fan,
  Like any other gentleman.
  In visits too his parts and wit,
  When jests grew dull, were sure to hit.
  Proud with applause, he thought his mind
  In every courtly art refined;

  Like Orpheus burnt with public zeal,
  To civilise the monkey weal:
  So watched occasion, broke his chain,
  And sought his native woods again.
     The hairy sylvans round him press,
  Astonished at his strut and dress.
  Some praise his sleeve; and others gloat
  Upon his rich embroidered coat;
  His dapper periwig commending,
  With the black tail behind depending;

  His powdered back, above, below,
  Like hoary frost, or fleecy snow;
  But all with envy and desire,
  His fluttering shoulder-knot admire.
     'Hear and improve,' he pertly cries;
  'I come to make a nation wise.
  Weigh your own words; support your place,
  The next in rank to human race.
  In cities long I passed my days,
  Conversed with men, and learnt their ways.

  Their dress, their courtly manners see;
  Reform your state and copy me.
  Seek ye to thrive? in flattery deal;
  Your scorn, your hate, with that conceal.
  Seem only to regard your friends,
  But use them for your private ends.
  Stint not to truth the flow of wit;
  Be prompt to lie whene'er 'tis fit.
  Bend all your force to spatter merit;
  Scandal is conversation's spirit.

  Boldly to everything attend,
  And men your talents shall commend.
  I knew the great. Observe me right;
  So shall you grow like man polite.'
     He spoke and bowed. With muttering jaws
  The wondering circle grinned applause.
  Now, warm with malice, envy, spite,
  Their most obliging friends they bite;
  And fond to copy human ways,
  Practise new mischiefs all their days.

     Thus the dull lad, too tall for school,
  With travel finishes the fool;
  Studious of every coxcomb's airs,
  He drinks, games, dresses, whores, and swears;
  O'erlooks with scorn all virtuous arts,
  For vice is fitted to his parts.

John Gay

John Gay's other poems:
  1. Sweet William's Farewell to Black-Ey'd Susan
  2. To a Young Lady, with Some Lampreys
  3. An Elegy on a Lap-dog
  4. If the Heart of a Man
  5. The Quidnunckis

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