The FABLE of JOTHAM:
To the BOROUGH-HUNTERS.
Jotham's fable of the trees is the oldest that is extant, and as beautiful as any which have been made since that time. ADDISON.
JUDGES, Chap. ix. ver. 8.
1 OLD Plumb, who tho' blest in his Kentish retreat,
2 Still thrives by his oilshop in Leadenhall-street,
3 With a Portugal merchant, a knight by creation,
4 From a borough in Cornwall receiv'd invitation.
5 Well-assur'd of each vote, well equip't from the alley,
6 In quest of election-adventures they sally.
7 Tho' much they discours'd, the long way to beguile,
8 Of the earthquakes, the Jews, and the change of the stile,
9 Of the Irish, the stocks, and the lott'ry committee,
10 They came silent and tir'd into Exeter city.
11 "Some books, prithee landlord, to pass a dull hour;
12 "No nonsense of parsons, or methodists sour,
13 "No poetical stuff — a damn'd jingle of rhimes,
14 "But some pamphlet that's new, and a touch on the times. "
15 "O Lord! says mine host, you may hunt the town round,
16 "I question if any such thing can be found:
17 "I never was ask'd for a book by a guest;
18 "And I'm sure I have all the great folk in the West.
19 "None of these to my knowledge e'er call'd for a book;
20 "But see, Sir, the woman with fish, and the cook;
21 "Here's the fattest of carp, shall we dress you a brace?
22 "Would you have any soals, or a mullet, or plaice? "
23 "A place, quoth the knight, we must have to be sure,
24 "But first let us see that our borough's secure,
25 "We'll talk of the place when we've settled the poll:
26 "They may dress us for supper the mullet and soal.
27 "But do you, my good landlord, look over your shelves,
28 "For a book we must have, we're so tired of ourselves. "
29 "In troth, Sir, I ne'er had a book in my life,
30 "But the prayer book and bible I bought for my wife. "
31 "Well! the bible must do; but who don't you take in
32 "Some monthly collection? the new magazine?"
33 The bible was brought and laid out on the table,
34 And open'd at Jotham's most apposite fable.
35 Sir Freeport began with this verse, tho' no rhime —
36 "The trees of the forest went forth on a time,
37 (To what purpose our candidates scarce could expect,
38 For it was not, they found, to transplant — but ELECT)
39 "To the olive and fig-tree their deputies came,
40 "But by both were refus'd, and their answer the same:
41 "Quoth the olive, shall I leave my fatness and oil
42 "For an unthankful office, a dignified toil?
43 "Shall I leave, quoth the fig-tree, my sweetness and fruit,
44 "To be envy'd, or slav'd in so vain a pursuit?
45 "Thus rebuff'd and surpriz'd they apply'd to the vine,
46 "He answer'd: shall I leave my grapes and my wine,
47 "(Wine the sovereign cordial of god and of man)
48 "To be made or the tool or the head of a clan?
49 "At last, as it always falls out in a scramble,
50 "The mob gave the cry for a bramble! a bramble![Page 302]
51 "A bramble for ever! O! chance unexpected!
52 "But bramble prevail'd and was duly elected."
53 "O! ho! quoth the knight with a look most profound,
54 "Now I see there's some good in good books to be found.
55 "I wish I had read this same bible before:
56 "Of long miles at the least 'twould have sav'd us fourscore.
57 "You, Plumb, with your olives and oil might have staid,
58 "And myself might have tarried my wines to unlade.
59 "What have merchants to do from their business to ramble!
60 "Your electioneer-errant should still be a bramble. "
61 Thus ended at once the wise comment on Jotham,
62 And our citizens' jaunt to the borough of Gotham.