[Page 118]


1 The Scepticks think, 'twas long ago,
2 Since Gods came down Incognito,
3 To see Who were Their Friends or Foes,
4 And how our Actions fell or rose:
5 That since They gave Things their Beginning;
6 And set this Whirligig a Spinning;
7 Supine They in their Heav'n remain,
8 Exempt from Passion, and from Pain:
9 And frankly leave us Human Elves,
10 To cut and shuffle for our selves:
11 To stand or walk, to rise or tumble,
12 As Matter, and as Motion jumble.
13 The Poets now, and Painters hold
14 This Thesis both absurd and bold:
15 And your good-natur'd Gods, They say,
16 Descend some twice or thrice a-day:
17 Else all these Things We toil so hard in,
18 Would not avail one single Farthing:
19 For when the Hero We rehearse,
20 To grace His Actions, and Our Verse;
21 'Tis not by dint of Human Thought,
22 That to his Latium He is brought:
23 Iris descends by Fate's Commands,
24 To guide his Steps thro' Foreign Lands:
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25 And Amphitrite clears his Way
26 From Rocks and Quick-sands in the Sea.
27 And if You see Him in a Sketch;
28 (Tho' drawn by Paulo or Carache)
29 He shows not half his Force and Strength,
30 Strutting in Armour, and at Length:
31 That He may make his proper Figure,
32 The Piece must yet be four Yards bigger:
33 The Nymphs conduct Him to the Field:
34 One holds his Sword, and One his Shield:
35 Mars standing by asserts his Quarrel:
36 And Fame flies after with a Lawrel.
37 These Points, I say, of Speculation
38 (As 'twere to save or sink the Nation)
39 Men idly learned will dispute,
40 Assert, object, confirm, refute:
41 Each mighty angry, mighty right,
42 With equal Arms sustains the Fight;
43 'Till now no Umpire can agree 'em:
44 So both draw off, and sing Te Deum.
45 Is it in Equilibrio,
46 If Deities descend or no?
47 Then let th'Affirmative prevail,
48 As requisite to form my Tale:
49 For by all Parties 'tis confest,
50 That those Opinions are the best,
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51 Which in their Nature most conduce
52 To present Ends, and private Use.
53 Two Gods came therefore from above,
54 One Mercury, the t'other Jove:
55 The Humour was (it seems) to know,
56 If all the Favours They bestow,
57 Could from our own Perverseness ease Us;
58 And if our Wish injoy'd would please Us.
59 Discoursing largely on this Theme,
60 O'er Hills and Dales Their Godships came;
61 'Till well nigh tir'd at almost Night,
62 They thought it proper to alight.
63 Note here, that it as true as odd is,
64 That in Disguise a God or Goddess
65 Exerts no supernat'ral Powers;
66 But acts on Maxims much like Ours.
67 They spy'd at last a Country Farm,
68 Where all was snug, and clean, and warm;
69 For Woods before, and Hills behind
70 Secur'd it both from Rain and Wind:
71 Large Oxen in the Fields were lowing:
72 Good Grain was sow'd: good Fruit was growing:
73 Of last Year's Corn in Barns great Store;
74 Fat Turkeys gobbling at the Door:
75 And Wealth (in short) with Peace consented,
76 That People here should live contented:
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77 But did They in Effect do so?
78 Have Patience, Friend; and Thou shalt know.
79 The honest Farmer and his Wife,
80 To Years declin'd from Prime of Life,
81 Had struggl'd with the Marriage Noose;
82 As almost ev'ry Couple does:
83 Sometimes, My Plague! sometimes, My Darling!
84 Kissing to Day, to Morrow snarling;
85 Jointly submitting to endure
86 That Evil, which admits no Cure.
87 Our Gods the outward Gate unbarr'd:
88 Our Farmer met 'em in the Yard;
89 Thought They were Folks that lost their Way;
90 And ask'd them civily to stay:
91 Told 'em, for Supper, or for Bed
92 They might go on, and be worse sped.
93 So said, so done: the Gods consent:
94 All three into the Parlour went:
95 They complement: They sit: They chat;
96 Fight o'er the Wars; reform the State:
97 A thousand knotty Points They clear;
98 Till Supper and my Wife appear.
99 Jove made his Leg, and kiss'd the Dame:
100 Obsequious Hermes did the same.
101 Jove kiss'd the Farmer's Wife, You say.
102 He did but in an honest Way:
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103 Oh! not with half that Warmth and Life,
104 With which He kiss'd Amphitryon's Wife.
105 Well then, Things handsomly were serv'd:
106 My Mistress for the Strangers carv'd.
107 How strong the Beer, how good the Meat,
108 How loud They laught, how much They eat,
109 In Epic sumptuous would appear;
110 Yet shall be pass'd in Silence here:
111 For I should grieve to have it said,
112 That by a fine Description led,
113 I made my Episode too long,
114 Or tir'd my Friend, to grace my Song.
115 The Grace-Cup serv'd, the Cloth away,
116 Jove thought it time to show his Play:
117 Landlord and Landlady, He cry'd,
118 Folly and Jesting laid aside,
119 That Ye thus hospitably live,
120 And Strangers with good Chear receive,
121 Is mighty grateful to your Betters,
122 And makes ev'n Gods themselves your Debtors.
123 To give this Thesis plainer Proof,
124 You have to Night beneath your Roof
125 A Pair of Gods: (nay never wonder)
126 This Youth can Fly, and I can Thunder.
127 I'm Jupiter, and He Mercurius,
128 My Page, my Son indeed, but spurious.
129 Form then Three Wishes, You and Madam:
130 And sure, as You already had 'em,
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131 The Things desir'd in half an Hour
132 Shall all be here, and in your Pow'r.
133 Thank Ye, great Gods, the Woman says:
134 Oh! may your Altars ever blaze.
135 A Ladle for our Silver Dish
136 Is what I want, is what I Wish.
137 A Ladle! cries the Man, a Ladle!
138 'Odzooks, Corisca, You have pray'd ill:
139 What should be Great, You turn to Farce:
140 I Wish the Ladle in your A—.
141 With equal Grief and Shame my Muse
142 The Sequel of the Tale pursues:
143 The Ladle fell into the Room,
144 And stuck in old Corisca's Bum.
145 Our Couple weep Two Wishes past,
146 And kindly join to form the last,
147 To ease the Woman's aukward Pain,
148 And get the Ladle out again.
149 This Commoner has Worth and Parts,
150 Is prais'd for Arms, or lov'd for Arts:
151 His Head achs for a Coronet:
152 And Who is Bless'd that is not Great?
153 Some Sense, and more Estate, kind Heav'n
154 To this well-lotted Peer has giv'n:
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155 What then? He must have Rule and Sway:
156 And all is wrong, 'till He's in Play.
157 The Miser must make up his Plumb,
158 And dares not touch the hoarded Sum:
159 The sickly Dotard wants a Wife,
160 To draw off his last Dregs of Life.
161 Against our Peace We arm our Will:
162 Amidst our Plenty, Something still
163 For Horses, Houses, Pictures, Planting,
164 To Thee, to Me, to Him is wanting.
165 That cruel Something unpossess'd
166 Corrodes, and levens all the rest.
167 That Something, if We could obtain,
168 Would soon create a future Pain:
169 And to the Coffin, from the Cradle,
170 'Tis all a Wish, and all a Ladle.


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Title (in Source Edition): THE LADLE.
Author: Matthew Prior
Genres: answer/reply

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Source edition

Prior, Matthew, 1664-1721. Poems on Several Occasions [English poems only]. London: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's-Head over against Katharine-Street in the Strand, and JOHN BARBER upon Lambeth-Hill. MDCCXVIII., 1718, pp. 118-124. [42],506,[6]p.: ill.; 2°. (ESTC T075639) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [H 6.8 Art.].)

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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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