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Sunday, March 03, 2013

A Character

  "A Bird, who mongst his other sins
    Had liv'd among the Jacobins,
    Tho' like a kitten amid Rats
    Or callow Tit in Nest of Bats
     He much abhorr'd all Democrats,
    Yet natheless stood in ill report
     Of wishing ill to Church and Court--
     Tho' he'd nor claw nor tooth nor sting--
      And learnt to pipe, God Save the King;
     Tho' each day did new feathers bring,
      All swore, he had but a leathern Wing--
     Nor polish'd wing nor feathered Tail
      Nor down-clad Thigh would aught avail--
      And tho' being tame, devoid of gall
      He civilly assur'd them all
      ' A Bird am I of Phoebus' Breed,
        And on the Sunflower cling and feed.
        My name, good Sirs! is Thomas Tit!'
      The Bats would have hail'd him Brother Cit,
      Or, at the farthest, Cousin German.
      At length the matter to determine
     He publicly disowned the vermin,
      He spared the Mouse, he praised the Owl
      But Bats were neither Flesh or Fowl.
      Blood-sucking Vampires, Harpy, Gouls,
      Came in full clatter from his throat,--
      Till his old Nest-mates chang'd their Note
      To Hireling, Traitor, and Turn-Coat--
      A base Apostate that had sold
      His very teeth and claws for Gold--
      And then his feathers!  smokes the jest.
      A tit indeed!  Aye, Tit for Tat
      With Places and Title, Brother Bat,
      We soon shall see how well he'll play
      Count Goldfinch or Sir Judas Jay!

      Alas poor Bird!  and ill-bestarr'd.
      Or rather let us say, poor Bard!
      And henceforth quit the Allegoric
       With Metaphor and Simile
      For simple facts and style historic--
      Alas, poor Bard!  no gold had he.
      Behind another's team he stept
      And plough'd and sowed, while others reapt;
      The work was his, but theirs the play.
      Sic vos non vobis,his whole story.
      Besides, whate'er he writ or said
      Came from his heart as well as head,
      And tho' he never left in lurch
      His King, his Country, or his Church,
      Twas but to humour his own cynical
      Contempt of doctrines Jacobinical,
      To his own Conscience only hearty
      Twas but by chance he served the party,
      The self-same things had said and writ
      Had Pitt been Fox and Fox been Pitt,
      Content his own applause to win
      Would never dash thro' thick and thin
      And he can make, so say the wise,
      No claim who makes no sacrifice--
      And bard still less;  what claim had he
      Who swore, it vex'd his soul to see
      So grand a Cause, so proud a realm
      With Goose and Goody at the Helm,
      Who long ago had fall'n asunder
      But for their Rival's baser blunders,
      The Coward Whine and Frenchified
      Slaver and Slang of th' other side--

      Thus, his own whim his only bribe,
      Our bard pursued his old A B C;
      Contented if he could subscribe
      In fullest sense his name, Estase
      (Tis Punic Greek, for He hath stood)
      --Whate'er the men, the cause was good--
      And therefore with a right good will
      Poor fool!  he fought their battles still.
      Tush!  squeaked the Bats;  --a mere bravado
      To whitewash that base renegado;
      Tis plain unless you're blind or mad,
      His conscience for the bays he barters;
      As true it is--as true as said--
      These circlets of green baize he had--
      But then, alas!  they were his garters!

      Ah silly Bard!  unfed, untended,
      His Lamp but glimmer'd in its socket:
      He liv'd, unhonour'd and unfriended
      With scarce a penny in his pocket:
      Nay, tho' he hid it from the Many,
      With scarce a pocket for his penny."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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