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THE RATS AND THE MICE.
OF THE DAYS OF KING ARTHUR,
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
THERE was a time, when Rats and Mice combined
They knew no toil—the Mice their burrows made,
So far—so good—the Mice, a humble race,
Persius hath told us how the dullest brute
“ Hush, babbler !" quoth an ancient Mouse, 66 The Rats are sitting, let us ask the House.”
They reached the Senate, where the Rats were met, To see what cheeses should be soonest eat; The tempting piles the lesser vermin saw, And their mouths watering washed away their awe. “ Behold!" they cried, “how fleshless we have grown, 66 And be that cheese—that Gloucester cheese our own!” “ Base Levellers!” cried a Rat; “ ungrateful ones, 66 That cheese is destined for our younger sons.” “ Forgive our prayer !" the Mice appall’d, replied; “ And grant— that Stilton on the other side.” “ Blaspheming Reprobates! that cheese is theirs 66 Who serve the Great Rat with their weekly prayers.” The Mice were shocked—“ That Cheshire, Noble Rats," “We keep in case of danger from the cats.” “ Enough!" the Mice replied, with fainting voice; “Give what you please, we leave to you the choice." “ To us—’tis right—'tis wise"—the Rats return; “ Our love for Mice you have not now to learn ! “We have done all we could the times to meet, “We've taken off the duty upon meat. “We've lowered the price of butter long ago, “ And cream is now scarce taxed at all you know. “ Three Rats too highly paid we did discard 6 Last week; we've just reduced the daily guard ! " In short, we have done all within the law. “ To meet your wishes ;—Gentlemen, withdraw.” “ Sir Rats!” replied a Mouse, “ though this be true, “ Alas! with meat we, Mice, have nought to do.
“ Or taxed or free, to us a baseless dream “ The hope of butter, or the thought of cream; “ As for the rest, you must, I think, perceive “ You do your Lordships—not poor Mice-relieve !" The Rats waxed wondrous wrath at this reply, And some suggested that the Mice should die; But on one hand—the creatures, though so small, Were strong in numbers nor would tamely fall. And on the other—when in due controul, The plagues were vastly useful on the whole. 'Twas not the case where force is wisely shown, We can't in all times give for bread a stone. The Rats most sagely therefore checked their ire, And answered, “ Well! what is it you desire ? “We've done our best-nor can contend with Fate, “ And all this cheese is wanted for the state; “ You would not steal it !"_“ Steal it, Sirs !” replied The little Hampden' on the starving side. “ Steal it !-Alas! it is not we who steal “ From the fat larders of the Public weal; “ But just to quite convince us nothing there “ To our distress the public wants may spare; “ Grant us the right these stores that we collect“ Nay--not to eat-but, like yourselves inspect. “Oh! could we send our delegates, no doubt “ Some crumb of comfort they would ferret out; “ For Rats, I fear--how kind soe’er this House, “ Take views for Mice quite different from a Mouse !" On this a Rat in a many a war well known, Bold-wary-sage--and hoary in renown ;More versed indeed, 'twas sometimes said politely, To beard a cat than carve a Stilton rightly; Better in Camps than Council—but of late Raised to control, and not defend, the State-With all the Patriot sparkling in his eyes, Starts up and thus indignantly replies:“O idle theorists or rebellious rogues ! “Dupes---dreamers---drivellers-dunces---demagogues--“ Think you the Rats to humbug, and enlist 'em “ Against the glories of the present system. “ What raised this happy nation to its height ? “What brought such phalanxed heroes to the fight? “ What--when our valour won returning ease“ Heaped all our treasuries with such loads of cheese ? “What made us grow so famous and so fat? “What fired the nations with the name of Rat ? “What favoured virtue? What subjected vice ? “What-but our mode of representing Mice ? “ Never in all my studies through the page “ Which lights the present, by a former, age “Seemed any Rats thus lucky in inventing “ The noble system of Mouse-representing.”