Mrs. Abigail and the Dumb Waiter

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Mrs. Abigail and the Dumb Waiter. Fable XV (1755)
by Christopher Smart

From Fables.

242026Mrs. Abigail and the Dumb Waiter. Fable XV1755Christopher Smart




With frowning brow and aspect low'ring,
As Abigail one day was scow'ring,
From chair to chair she past along,
Without soliloquy or song;
5Content, in humdrum mood, t'adjust
Her matters to disperse the dust. —
Thus plodded on the sullen fair,
'Till a Dumb-Waiter claim'd her care;
She then in rage, with shrill salute,
10 Bespoke the inoffensive mute: —
"Thou stupid tool of vapourish asses,
With thy brown shelves for pots and glasses;
Thou foreign whirligigg, for whom
US honest folks must quit the room;
15And, like young misses at a christ'ning,
Are forc'd to be content with list'ning;
Tho' thou'rt a fav'rite of my masters,
I'll set thee gadding on thy castors."
This said — with many a rough attack,
20 She scrubb'd him 'till she made him crack;
Insulted stronger still and stronger,
The poor dumb thing, could hold no longer. —
"Thou drab, born mops and brooms to dandle,
Thou haberdasher of small scandal,
25Factor of family abuse,
Retailer of domestic news;
My lord, as soon as I appear,
Confines thee in thy proper sphere;
Or else, at ev'ry place of call,
30 The chandler's shop, or cobler's stall,
Or ale-house, where (for petty tales,
Gin, beer, and ale are constant vails)
Each word at table that was spoke,
Wou'd soon become the public joke,
35And chearful innocent converse,
To scandal warp'd — or something worse. —
Whene'er my master I attend,
Freely his mind he can unbend; —
But when such praters fill my place,
40 Then nothing should be said — but grace."



First published in The Gentleman's Magazine (Feb. 1755). Reprinted 1791.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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