The Watches

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

A knot of friends, invited to a feast,

At table sat--a loitering guest,

Who came long after all the rest,

Sought for his tardiness to make excuse:

And, by his comrades for a reason pressed,

Drew out his Watch, and, holding it on high,

Replied--"'Tis you are out of time, not I.

'Tis two precisely--wherefore this abuse?"

"Absurd!" they answered. "Friend, you
Watch is slow.

The rest of us came near an hour ago."

"But"--said the loiterer--"what needs argue more?

I trust my Watch, as I have said before."

Now let each wiser man this reference take

To foolish authors, who gross blunders make;

Then quote--in order to make good their stand--

The first authority that comes to hand.

But with our story we will now go on.

The guests all round next eagerly began

To pull their Watches out to test the fact,--

For all men like to prove their words exact;--

One at the quarter stood; at half, another;

One made it six and thirty minutes past;

This fourteen more, that ten less than the last.

No single Watch agreed with any other.

Then, all was doubt and question and vexation.

By luck, their entertainer chanced to be

A great proficient in astronomy.

He, his Chronometer by observation

Carefully set, consulted--and the hour

Was three o'clock and just two minutes more.

Thus he concluded all the disputation:

"To quote opinion and authority

Against the truth, if any one can see

The use--no point needs unsupported be.

For all can surely see, and must admit, forsooth,

Many opinions there may be--but only one is truth!"