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WHEN THE CAT IS AWAY, THE MICE MAY PLAY.
A FABLE, INSCRIBED To DR SWIFT.
In domibus Mures avido dente omnia captant: In domibus Fures avida mente omnia raptant. 1 A LADY once (so stories say) By rats and mice infested, With gins and traps long sought to slay The thieves; but still they 'scaped away, And daily her molested.
2 Great havoc 'mongst her cheese was made,
And much the loss did grieve her;
At length Grimalkin to her aid
She called (no more of cats afraid),
And begged him to relieve her.
3 Soon as Grimalkin came in view,
The vermin back retreated;
Grimalkin swift as lightning flew,
Thousands of mice he daily slew,
Thousands of rats defeated.
4 Ne'er cat before such glory won;
All people did adore him;
Grimalkin far all cats outshone,
And in his lady's favour none
Was then preferred before him.
WHEN THE CAT IS AWAY, THE MICE MAY PLAY. 453
Her favourite lap-dog now was grown
Neglected; him she did bemoan,
And raved like any Tory.
6 She cannot bear, she swears she won't,
To see the cat regarded;
But firmly is resolved upon’t,
And vows, that, whatsoe'er comes on 't,
She’ll have the cat discarded.
7 She begs, she storms, she fawns, she frets,
Her arts are all employed,
And tells her lady, in a pet,
Grimalkin cost her more in meat
Than all the rats destroyed.
8 At length this spiteful waiting-maid
Produced a thing amazing;
The favourite cat’s a victim made,
To satisfy this prating jade,
And fairly turned a-grazing.
9 Now lap-dog is again restored
Into his lady's favour;
Sumptuously kept at bed and board,
And he (so Nab has given her word)
Shall from all vermin save her.
10 Nab much exults at this success,
And, overwhelmed with joy,
Her lady fondly does caress,
And tells her, Fubb can do no less
Than all her foes destroy.
11 But vain such hopes; the mice that fled Return now Grim's discarded;
Whilst Fubb till ten, on silken bed,
Securely lolls his drowsy head,
And leaves the cheese unguarded.
12 Nor rats nor mice the lap-dog fear,
Now uncontrolled their theft is;
And whatsoe'er the vermin spare,
Nab and her dog betwixt them share,
Nor pie nor pippin left is.
13 Meanwhile, to cover their deceit,
At once, and slander Grim;
Nab says, the cat comes, out of spite,
To rob her lady every night,
So lays it all on him.
14 Nor corn secure in garret high, Nor cheesecake safe in closet; The cellars now unguarded lie,
On every shelf the vermin prey;
And still Grimalkin does it.
15 The gains from corn apace decayed,
No bags to market go:
Complaints came from the dairy-maid,
The mice had spoiled her butter trade,
And eke her cheese also.
16 With this same lady once there lived
A trusty servant maid,
Who, hearing this, full much was grieved,
Fearing her lady was deceived,
And hastened to her aid.
At length she to the lady goes,
Discovers her domestic foes,
And opens all the cheat.
18 Struck with the sense of her mistake,
The lady, discontented,
Resolves again her cat to take,
And ne'er again her cat forsake,
Lest she again repent it.
THE WIDOW AND ELER CAT.
1 A WIDow kept a favourite cat,
At first a gentle creature;
But, when he was grown sleek and fat,
With many a mouse, and many a rat,
He soon disclosed his nature.
2 The fox and he were friends of old,
Nor could they now be parted;
They nightly slunk to rob the fold,
Devoured the lambs, the fleeces sold;
And puss grew lion-hearted.
3 He scratched the maid, he stole the cream,
He tore her best laced pinner;
Nor chanticleer upon the beam,
Nor chick, nor duckling, 'scapes, when Grim
Invites the fox to dinner.
4 The dame full wisely did decree, For fear he should dispatch more, * Some ascribe this to Swift.
That the false wretch should worried be;
But, in a saucy manner, he
Thus speeched it like a Lechmere: *
5 *Must I, against all right and law,
Like polecat vile be treated?
I, who so long with tooth and claw
Have kept domestic mice in awe,
And foreign foes defeated!
6 ‘Your golden pippins, and your pies,
How oft have I defended!
'Tis true, the pinner which you prize,
I tore in frolic; to your eyes
I never harm intended.
7 ‘I am a cat of honour.”—“Stay!”
Quoth she, “no longer parley;
Whate'er you did in battle slay,
By law of arms, became your prey:
I hope you won it fairly.
8 ‘Of this we’ll grant you stand acquit,
But not of your outrages:
Tell me, perfidious! was it fit
To make my cream a perquisite,
And steal, to mend your wages?
9 ‘So flagrant is thy insolence, So vile thy breach of trust is, That longer with thee to dispense, Were want of power, or want of sense— Here, Towzer!—do him justice.’ * The celebrated lawyer.