by William Somervile
In a wild state of nature long
The Frogs at random liv'd,
The weak a prey unto the strong,
With anarchy oppress'd and griev'd.
At length the lawless rout,
Taught by their sufferings, grew devout;
An embassy to Jove they sent,
And begg'd his highness would bestow
Some settled form of government,
A king to rule the fens below.
Jove, smiling, grants their odd request;
A king the' indulgent pow'r bestow'd,
(Such as might suit their genius best)
A beam of a prodigious size,
With all its cumbrous load,
Came tumbling from the skies.
The waters dash against the shore,
The hollow caverns roar;
The rocks return the dreadful sound,
Convulsions shake the ground.
The multitude with horror fled,
And in his oozy bed
Each skulking coward hid his head.
When all is now grown calm again,
And smoothly glides the liquid plain,
A Frog more resolute and bold,
Peeping with caution from his hold,
Recover'd from his first surprise,
As o'er the wave his head he popp'd,
He saw — but scarce believ'd his eyes,
On the same bank where first he dropp'd
The imperial lubber lies,
Stretch'd at his ease, careless, content:
" Is this the monarch Jove has sent, "
Said he, " our warlike troops to lead?
Ay! 'tis a glorious prince indeed!
By such an active general led,
The routed mice our arms shall dread,
Subdued, shall quit their claim;
Old Homer shall recant his lays,
For us new trophies raise,
Sing our victorious arms, and justify our fame. "
Then laughing impudently loud,
He soon alarm'd the dastard crowd.
The croaking nations with contempt
Behold the worthless indolent,
On wings of wind swift scandal flies,
Libels, lampoons, and lies,
Hoarse treasons, tuneless blasphemies.
With active leap at last upon his back they stride,
And on the royal loggerhead in triumph ride.
Once more to Jove their pray'rs addrest;
And once more Jove grants their request.
A stork he sends, of monstrous size,
Red lightning flashing in his eyes;
Rul'd by no block, as heretofore,
The gazing crowds press'd to his court,
Admire his stately mien, his haughty port,
And only not adore.
Addresses of congratulation,
Sent from each loyal corporation,
Full-freight with truth and sense,
Exhausted all their eloquence.
But now, alas! 'twas night: kings must have meat:
The Grand Vizir first goes to pot,
Three Bassas next, happy their lot!
Gain'd Paradise by being ate
" And this, " said he, " and this is mine,
And this, by right divine. "
In short, 'twas all for public weal,
He swallow'd half a nation at a meal.
Again they beg almighty Jove
This cruel tyrant to remove.
With fierce resentment in his eves
The frowning Thunderer replies.
" Those evils which yourselves create,
Rash fools! ye now repent too late;
Made wretched by the public voice,
Not through necessity but choice!
Begone! — Nor wrest from Heav'n some heavier curse,
Better bear this, this stork, than worse. "
Oppress'd with happiness, and sick with ease,
Not Heav'n itself our fickle minds can please.
Fondly we wish, cloy'd with celestial store,
The leeks and onions which we loath'd before:
Still roving, still desiring, never pleas'd,
With plenty starv'd, and ev'n with health diseas'd.
With partial eyes each present good we view,
Nor covet what is best, but what is new.
Ye Pow'rs above! who make mankind your care,
To bless the supplicant reject his pray'r.
Last updated October 28, 2017