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145

A neighbour's madness, or his spouse's,
Or what's in either of the Houses :
But something much more our concern,
And quite a scandal not to learn :
Which is the happier, or the wiser,
A man of merit, or a miser ?
Whether we ought to chuse our friends,
For their own worth, or our own ends ?
What good, or better, we may call,
And what, the very best of all ?

Our friend Dan Prior told (you know)
A tale extremely à propos :
Name a town life, and in a trice,
He had a story of two mice.

150

155

NOTES.

yet very many noble and finished passages, and which has been so elegantly and classically translated by Dobson, as to reflect honour on the college of Winchester, where he was educated, and where he translated the first book as a school-exercise. I once heard him lament, that he had not at that time read Lucretius, which would have given a richness, and variety, and force to his verses ; the only fault of which, seems to be a monotony and want of different pauses, occasioned by translating a poem in rhyme, which he avoided in his Milton. It is one mark of a poem being intrinsically good, that it is capable of being well translated. The political conduct of Prior was blamed on account of the part he took in the famous Partition-Treaty; but in some valuable memoirs of his life, written by the Honourable Mr. Montague, his friend, which were also in the possession of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, this conduct is clearly accounted for, and amply defended. In those memoirs are many curious and interesting particulars of the history of that time.

This beautiful fable, not so much now admired, because so well known, is not in the collection of those called Æsop's, whose composition it certainly was, as appears from the collection of the VOL. VI.

fragments

2 E

Rusticus urbanum murem mus paupere fertur
Accepisse cavo, veterem vetus hospes amicum ;
Asper, et attentus quæsitis; ut tamen arctum
Solveret hospitiis animum. Quid multa ? neque ille
Sepositi ciceris, nec longæ invidit avenæ :
Aridum et ore ferens acinum, semesaque lardi
Frusta dedit, cupiens variâ fastidia cæna
Vincere tangentis malè singula dente superbo:
Cùm pater ipse domûs paleâ porrectus in hornâ,
Esset ador loliumque, dapis meliora relinquens.
Tandem urbanus ad hunc, Quid te juvat, inquit,

amice,
Prærupti nemoris patientem vivere dorso ?

NOTES.

fragments of Babrius, which the learned Mr. Tyrrwhit published, and which are a most valuable curiosity.

Warton. The reader, perhaps, will be pleased to peruse the following letter from Prior; the original of which is among the Townsend papers, communicated by the kindness of Mr. Coxe. At the time when Pope paid Prior this compliment, Prior was envoy at Paris.

Bowles. “ MY LORD,

Fontainbleau, Oct. -, 1714. “ I am sure you will not think I make a compliment of form only, when I congratulate you on the honour of being Secretary of State; for, bonâ fide, I had rather you had the seals than any man in England, except myself, and I wish you most sincerely all satisfaction and prosperity in the course of your business, and in every part of your private life. I need not ask you for your favour, for taking it for granted that you

think me an honest man, I assure myself of every thing from you that is good-natured and generous. How I am, or am not to be, HERE, or when I am to be recalled, your Lordship will soonest know. Pray, my Lord, do me all the good you can, and if, as we say here, the names of party and faction are to be lost, pray get me pricked down for one of the first that is desirous to come into so happy an agreement ;

and

Once on a time (so runs the fable)
A country mouse, right hospitable,
Received a town mouse at his board,
Just as a farmer might a Lord.

160
A frugal mouse upon the whole,
Yet loved his friend, and had a soul,
Knew what was handsome, and would do't,
On just occasion, coute qui coute.
He brought him bacon, nothing lean, 165
Pudding, that might have pleased a Dean ;
Cheese, such as men in Suffolk make,
But wish'd it Stilton for his sake;
Yet, to his guest though no way sparing,
He eat himself the rind and paring.

170
Our courtier scarce could touch a bit,
But show'd his breeding and his wit ;
He did his best to seem to eat,
And cried, “I vow you're mighty neat.
But Lord, my friend, this savage scene! 175
For God's sake, come, and live with men :

NOTES.

and as I know so good a design as the obtaining an ensuing PEACE, * suits admirably well with the sweetness of your Lordship’s temper, I'll take my oath on it, it graduates extremely well with my present disposition and circumstances. I cannot presume to hope the happiness of seeing you very soon, for though I should be recalled to-morrow, I shall savour so strong of a French court, that

I must make my quarantine in some Kentish village, before I aare - come near the Cockpit. In every place and estate, I am,

My Lord, &c. &c.

“ M. Prior.”

* The Peace of Utrecht.

Vis tu homines urbemque feris præponere sylvis ?
Carpe viam (mihi crede) comes: terrestria quando
Mortales animas vivunt sortita, neque ulla est,
Aut magno aut parvo, lethi fuga. Quo, bone, circa
Dum licet, in rebus jucundis vive beatus :
Vive memor qudm sis ævi brevis. Hæc ubi dicta
Agrestem pepulêre, domo levis exsilit. Inde
Ambo propositum peragunt iter, urbis aventes
Monia nocturni subrepere. Jamque tenebat
Nox medium coeli spatium, cùm ponit uterque
In locuplete domo vestigia : rubro ubi cocco
Tincta super lectos canderet vestis eburnos;
Multaque de magnâ superessent fercula cænå,
Quæ procul exstructis inerant hesterna canistris.
Ergo ubi purpureâ porrectum in veste locavit
Agrestem, veluti succinctus cursitat hospes,
Continuatque dapes : nec non verniliter ipsis
Fungitur officiis, prælibans omne quod affert.

NOTES.

Ver. 177. like men, must die,] The parody on Dryden's poem on the Hind and Panther, alluding to the City and Country Mouse, was the first of Prior's performances, in conjunction with his friend Montague.

Warton.

Consider, mice, like men, must die,
Both small and great, both you and I:
Then spend your life in joy and sport:
This doctrine, friend, I learn'd at court.” 180
The veriest hermit in the nation
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Away they come, through thick and thin,
To a tall house near Lincoln's Inn;
'Twas on the night of a debate,

185 When all their Lordships had sate late.

Behold the place, where, if a poet Shined in description, he might show it; Tell how the moonbeam trembling falls, And tips with silver all the walls;

190 Palladian walls, Venetian doors, Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors : But let it, in a word, be said, The moon was up, and men a-bed, The napkins white, the carpet red; 195 The guests withdrawn had left the treat, And down the mice sat, téte à tête.

Our courtier walks from dish to dish, Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish; Tells all their names, lays down the law, 200

Que ça est bon! Ah, goutez ça! That jelly's rich, this Malmsey healing, Pray, dip your whiskers and your tail in.” Was ever such a happy swain? He stuffs and swills, and stuffs again. 205 “ I'm quite ashamed—’tis mighty rude To eat so much-but all's so good.

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