258476Care and Generosity. Fable XVII.Christopher Smart1751
CARE and GENEROSITY.
Old Care with Industry and Art,
At length so well had play'd his part;
He heap'd up such an ample store,
That Av'rice cou'd not sigh for more: 5Ten thousand flocks his shepherd told,
His coffers overflow'd with gold;
The land all round him was his own,
With corn his crowded granaries groan.
In short so vast his charge and gain, 10That to possess them was a pain:
With happiness oppress'd he lies,
And much too prudent to be wise.
Near him there liv'd a beauteous maid,
With all the charms of youth array'd; 15Good, amiable, sincere and free,
Her name was Generosity.
'Twas her's the largess to bestow
On rich and poor, on friend and foe.
Her doors to all were open'd wide, 20The pilgrim there might safe abide:
For th'hungry and the thirsty crew,
The bread she broke, the drink she drew;
There Sickness laid her aching head,
And there Distress cou'd find a bed.— 25Each hour with an all-bounteous hand,
Diffus'd she blessings round the land:
Her gifts and glory lasted long,
And numerous was th'accepting throng.
At length pale Penury seiz'd the dame, 30And Fortune fled, and Ruin came,
She found her riches at an end,
And that she had not made one friend.—
All curs'd her for not giving more,
Nor thought on what she'd done before; 35She wept, she rav'd, she tore her hair,
When lo! to comfort her came Care.—
And cry'd, my dear, if you will join
Your hand in nuptial bonds with mine;
All will be well—you shall have store, 40And I be plagu'd with Wealth no more.—
Tho' I restrain your bounteous heart,
You still shall act the generous part.—
The Bridal came—great was the feast,
And good the pudding and the priest; 45The bride in nine moons brought him forth
A little maid of matchless worth:
Her face was mix'd of Care and Glee,
They christen'd her Œconomy;
And styled her fair Discretion's Queen, 50The mistress of the golden mean.
Now Generosity confin'd,
Perfectly easy in her mind;
Still loves to give, yet knows to spare,
Nor wishes to be free from Care.
First published in The Midwife; or The Old Woman's Magazine (ii. 277-8, Sept. 1751). Reprinted 1752, 1756, 1791.
Reviews: "Sweetly elegant and pretty..." Fanny Burney, (Early Diary, Ed. A. R. Ellis, 1907 i. 28). "One of the most beautiful allegories that ever been imagined. Charles Burney, (Monthly Rev. Jan. 1792, p. 38).