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FABLE [06] VI.

The Miser and Plutus.

1 The wind was high; the window shakes,
2 With sudden start the Miser wakes,
3 Along the silent room he stalks,
4 Looks back and trembles as he walks,
5 Each lock and ev'ry bolt he trys,
6 In ev'ry creek and corner prys,
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7 Then opes the chest with treasure stor'd,
8 And stands in rapture o'er his hoard.
9 But now, with sudden qualms possest,
10 He wrings his hands, he beats his breast,
11 By conscience stung he wildly stares,
12 And thus his guilty soul declares.
13 Had the deep earth her stores confin'd,
14 This heart had known sweet peace of mind.
15 But virtue's sold. Good Gods, what price
16 Can recompense the pangs of vice!
17 O bane of good! seducing cheat!
18 Can man, weak man, thy power defeat?
19 Gold banish'd honour from the mind,
20 And only left the name behind;
21 Gold sow'd the world with ev'ry ill;
22 Gold taught the murd'rer's sword to kill;
23 'Twas gold instructed coward hearts
24 In treach'ry's more pernicious arts:
25 Who can recount the mischiefs o'er?
26 Virtue resides on earth no more!
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27 He spoke, and sigh'd. In angry mood
28 Plutus, his God, before him stood;
29 The Miser trembling lock'd his chest,
30 The Vision frown'd, and thus addrest.
31 Whence is this vile ungrateful rant?
32 Each sordid rascal's daily cant:
33 Did I, base wretch, corrupt mankind?
34 The fault's in thy rapacious mind.
35 Because my blessings are abus'd,
36 Must I be censur'd, curst, accus'd?
37 Ev'n virtue's self by knaves is made
38 A cloak to carry on the trade,
39 And power (when lodg'd in their possession)
40 Grows tyranny, and rank oppression.
41 Thus when the villain crams his chest,
42 Gold is the canker of the breast;
43 'Tis av'rice, insolence, and pride,
44 And ev'ry shocking vice beside.
45 But when to virtuous hands 'tis given,
46 It blesses, like the dews of Heaven,
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47 Like Heav'n, it hears the orphan's cries,
48 And wipes the tears from widows eyes.
49 Their crimes on gold shall misers lay,
50 Who pawn'd their sordid souls for pay?
51 Let bravos then (when blood is spilt)
52 Upbraid the passive sword with guilt.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): FABLE [06] VI. The Miser and Plutus.
Author: John Gay
Themes: animals
Genres: fable

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Source edition

Gay, John, 1685-1732. FABLES. By Mr. GAY. London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts, MDCCXXVII., 1727, pp. 18-21. [14],173,[1]p.: ill.; 4°. (ESTC T13818)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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