Pig (Smart)

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The Pig. Fable XVIII.  (1752) 
by Christopher Smart
From Fables.

                        The PIG.                       


FABLE XVIII.

       In every age, and each profession,
Men err the most by prepossession;
But when the thing is clearly shown,
And fairly stated, fully known,
5 We soon applaud what we deride,
And penitence succeeds to pride.—
       A certain baron on a day,
Having a mind to shew away,
Invited all the wits and wags,
10 Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates and Skeggs,[1]
And built a large commodious stage,
For the Choice Spirits of the age;
But above all, among the rest,
There came a Genius who profess'd
15 To have a curious trick in store,
Which never was perform'd before.
       Thro' all the town this soon got air,
And the whole house was like a fair;
But soon his entry as he made,
20 Without a prompter, or parade,
'Twas all expectance, all suspence,
And silence gagg'd the audience.
He hid his head behind his wig,
And with such truth TOOK OFF a Pig,[2]
25 All swore 'twas serious, and no joke,
For doubtless underneath his cloak,
He had conceal'd some grunting elf,
Or, was a real hog himself.
A search was made, no pig was found—
30 With thund'ring claps the seats resound,
And pit, and box, and galleries roar,
With—O rare! Bravo! and Encore.
       Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
Who yet knew something of the town,
35 Beheld the mimic and his whim,
And on the morrow challeng'd him,
Declaring to each beau and bunter,
That he'd out-grunt th'egregious grunter.
       The morrow came—the croud was greater—
40 But prejudice and rank ill-nature
Usurp'd the minds of men and wenches,
Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
       The mimic took his usual station,
And squeak'd with general approbation.
45 Again, encore! encore! they cry—
'Twas quite THE THING—'twas VERY HIGH:
Old Grouse conceal'd, amidst the racket,
A real Pig beneath his jacket—
Then forth he came—and with his nail
50 He pinch'd the urchin by the tail.
The tortur'd Pig from out his throat,
Produc'd the genuine nat'ral note.
All bellow'd out—'twas very sad!
Sure never stuff was half so bad!
       55 That like a Pig!—each cry'd in scoff,
Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off! Off! Off![3]
The mimic was extoll'd; and Grouse
Was hiss'd, and catcall'd from the house.—
“Soft ye, a word before I go,”
60 Quoth honest Hodge—and stooping low
Produc'd the Pig, and thus aloud
Bespoke the stupid, partial croud:
BEHOLD AND LEARN FROM THIS POOR CREATURE,
HOW MUCH YOU CRITICS KNOW OF NATURE.


1752


Notes

First published in The Midwife; or The Old Woman's Magazine (iii. 77-9, Aug. 1752). Reprinted 1756, 1758, 1763, 1791. Untitled (1752, 1763). Title: The Critic Mistaken. A Tale (1756). Smart's revised version of the fable appears under the title The Buffoon and the Country Fellow in his translation of Phaedrus's Scurra and Rusticus.

Reviews:

  1. Well-known actors and performers of the London stage in the 1750s. (Karina Williamson's note).
  2. 24. And so exact TOOK OFF a Pig, (Text 1752).
  3. 56. Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Damn it! Off! (Text 1763).

Links

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.