Story of a Cock and a Bull

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A Story of a Cock and a Bull. Fable XIII  (1756) 
by Christopher Smart

A STORY of a COCK and a BULL.



Yes—we excell in arts and arms,
In learning's lore and beauty's charms.
The seas wide empire we engross,
All nations hail the British cross;
5 The land of liberty we tread,
And woe to his devoted head,
Who dares the contrary advance,
One Englishman's worth ten of France.
These these are truths, what man won't write for,
10 Won't swear, won't bully, or won't fight for;
Yet (tho' perhaps I speak thro' vanity)
Wou'd we'd a little more humanity;
Too far, I fear, I've drove the jest,
So leave to Cock and Bull the rest.

      15 A Bull who'd listen'd to the vows
Of above fifteen hundred cows;
And serv'd his master fresh and fresh,
With hecatombs of special flesh,
Like to an hermit or a dervise,
20 (Grown old and feeble in the service)
Now left the meadow's green parade,
And sought a solitary shade.
The cows proclaim'd in mournful lowing,
The Bull's deficiency in wooing,
25 And to their disappointed master,
All told the terrible disaster.

      "Is this the case (quoth Hodge) O rare!
But hold, to-morrow is the fair.
Thou to thy doom, old boy, art fated,
30 To-morrow—and thou shalt be baited."
The deed was done—curse on the wrong!
Bloody description, hold thy tongue.—
Victorious yet the Bull return'd,
And with stern silence inly mourn'd.

      35 A vet'ran, brave, majestic Cock,
Who serv'd for hour glass, guard, and clock,
Who crow'd the mansion's first relief,
Alike from goblin and from thief;
Whose youth escap'd the Christmas skillet,
40 Whose vigour brav'd the Shrovetide billet,
Had just return'd in wounds and pain,
Triumphant from the barbarous main[1].—
By riv'let's brink, with trees o'er grown,
He heard his fellow sufferer's moan;
45 And greatly scorning wounds and smart,
Gave him three cheers with all his heart.

"Rise, neighbour, from that pensive attitude,
Brave witness of vile man's ingratitude;
And let us both with spur and horn,
50 The cruel reasoning monster scorn.—
Methinks at every dawn of day,
When first I chant my blithsome lay,
Methinks I hear from out the sky,
All will be better by and by;
55 When bloody, base, degenerate man,
Who deviates from his maker's plan;
Who nature and her works abuses,
And thus his fellow servants uses,
Shall greatly, and yet justly want,
60 The mercy he refus'd to grant;
And (while his heart his conscience purges)
Shall wish to be the brute he scourges.”



First published in The Literary Magazine (i. 102-3, Dec. 1756). Reprinted 1791.

  1. 42. main: (Text 1756): cock-fight; train: (Text 1791) instead.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.