John Gay


Dame Doleful, as old stories say, 
Foresaw th’events of every day, 
And tho’ to Satan no relation, 
Dealt largely in prognostication: 
Whatever accident befel, 
She plainly could the cause foretell; 
A hundred reasons she could show, 
And finish with – “I told you so!”

One day her son (a waggish youth) 
Put on the serious face of truth, 
And feigning sorrow, to her ran – 
He thus his wond’rous tale began: 
“Oh mother! – mother! – What d’ye think? 
“Letting old Dobbin out to drink, 
“Poor beast, he neigh’d, and shook his mane, 
“And had such megrims in his brain, 
“That I did fear.” – Dame stopp’d him short 
Before half finished his report: 
“Ay, ay; thy mother all forsees – 
“Dobbin hath fall’n and broke his knees 
“I knew how ’twas; – I told you so.” 
In vain her son replied, “No, no; 
“Good mother, listen, hear me out – 
“As Dobbin, hungry, smelt about,” – 
“Boy, I foresee what thou would’st say, 
“Dobbin hath eat – the rick of hay!” 
“O worse than that! – He paw’d the ground, 
“And snorted, kick’d, and gallop’d round, 
“Then, wildly staring, ran to find 
“The stone on which our scythes we grind; 
“And knaw’d – and knaw’d – ah, woe betide! 
“He ope’d his hungry chops so wide, 
“And look’d so ravenous, d’ye see, 
“I was afraid he’d swallow me! – 
“At last”– “Ay, ay, I’m not surprised, 
“ ’Tis what I all along surmised, – 
“I knew ’twould be – I heard him groan – 
“Dobbin hath eat – the grinding – stone!”

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