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The Eagle And The Assembly Of Birds

from Moores Fables For Girls





To her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.


The moral lay, to beauty due,
I write, FAIR EXCELLENCE, to you;
Well pleas'd to hope my vacant hours
Have been employ'd to sweeten your's.
Truth under fiction I impart,
To weed out folly from the heart,
And shew the paths that lead astray
The wand'ring nymph from wisdom's way.

I flatter none. The great and good
Are by their actions understood;
Your monument if actions raise,
Shall I deface by idle praise?
I echo not the voice of Fame;
That dwells delighted on your name:
Her friendly tale, however true,
Were flatt'ry, if I told it you.

The proud, the envious, and the vain,
The jilt, the prude, demand my strain;
To these, detesting praise, I write,
And vent in charity my spite:
With friendly hand I hold the glass
To all, promiscuous, as they pass:
Should folly there her likeness view,
I fret not that the mirror's true;
If the fantastic form offend,
I made it not, but would amend.


Virtue, in ev'ry clime and age,
Spurns at the folly-soothing page;
While satire, that offends the ear
Of vice and passion, pleases her.

Premising this, your anger spare;
And claim the fable you who dare.

The BIRDS in place, by faction press'd,
To JUPITER their pray'rs address'd;
By specious lies the state was vex'd,
Their counsels libellers perplex'd;
They begg'd (to stop seditious tongues)
A gracious hearing of their wrongs.
JOVE grants their suit. The EAGLE sate,
Decider of the grand debate.

The PYE, to trust and pow'r preferr'd,
Demands permission to be heard.
Says he, 'Prolixity of phrase
You know I hate. This libel says,
"Some birds there are, who, prone to noise,
Are hir'd to silence WISDOM'S voice;
And, skill'd to chatter out the hour,
Rise by their emptiness to pow'r."
That this is aim'd direct at me,
No doubt, you'll readily agree:
Yet well this sage assembly knows,
By parts to government I rose;
My prudent counsels prop the state;
MAGPIES were never known to prate.'

The KITE rose up. His honest heart
In VIRTUE'S suff'rings bore a part.
That there were birds of prey he knew;
So far the libeller said true,
"Voracious, bold, to rapine prone,
Who knew no int'rest but their own;
Who, hov'ring o'er the farmer's yard,
Nor pigeon, chick, nor duckling spar'd."
This might be true--but if apply'd
To him, in troth, the sland'rer ly'd.
Since IGN'RANCE then might be misled,
Such things, he thought, were best unsaid.


The CROW was vext. As yester-morn
He flew across the new-sown corn,
A screaming boy was set for pay,
He knew, to drive the CROWS away:
SCANDAL had found him out in turn,
And buzz'd abroad--that CROWS love corn.

The OWL arose, with solemn face,
And thus harangu'd upon the case:
'That MAGPIES prate, it may be true;
A KITE may be voracious too;
CROWS sometimes deal in new-sown pease;
He libels not, who strikes at these;
The slander's here--"But there are birds,
Whose wisdom lies in looks, not words;
Blund'rers who level in the dark,
And always shoot beside the mark."
He names not me; but these are hints
Which manifest at whom he squints;
I were indeed that blund'ring fowl,
To question if he meant an OWL.'
"Ye wretches, hence!" the EAGLE cries,
"'Tis conscience, conscience that applies;
The virtuous mind takes no alarm,
Secur'd by innocence from harm;
While GUILT, and his associate, FEAR,
Are startled at the passing air."





Next: The Panther Horse And Other Beasts

Previous: The Viper And The Leech



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