Fable 42. The Jugglers -


A Juggler long through all the town
Had rais'd his fortune and renown;
You'd think (so far his art transcends)
The devil at his fingers' ends.
Vice heard his fame, she read his bill;
Convinc'd of his inferior skill,
She sought his booth, and from the croud
Defy'd the man of art aloud.
Is this then he so famed for slight,
Can this slow bungler cheat your sight,
Dares he with me dispute the prize?
I leave it to impartial eyes.
Provok'd, the Juggler cry'd, 'tis done.
In science I submit to none.
Thus said. The cups and balls he play'd;
By turns, this here, that there, convey'd:
The cards, obedient to his words,
Are by a fillip turn'd to birds;
His little boxes change the grain,
Trick after trick deludes the train.
He shakes his bag, he shows all fair,
His fingers spread, and nothing there,
Then bids it rain with showers of gold,
And now his iv'ry eggs are told,
But when from thence the hen he draws,
Amaz'd spectators humm applause.
Vice now stept forth and took the place,
With all the forms of his grimace.
This magick looking-glass, she cries,
(There, hand it round) will charm your eyes:
Each eager eye the sight desir'd,
And ev'ry man himself admir'd.
Next, to a senator addressing;
See this Bank-note ; observe the blessing:
Breathe on the bill. Heigh, pass! 'Tis gone.
Upon his lips a padlock shone.
A second puff the magick broke,
The padlock vanish'd, and he spoke.
Twelve bottles rang'd upon the board,
All full, with heady liquor stor'd,
By clean conveyance disappear,
And now two bloody swords are there.
A purse she to a thief expos'd;
At once his ready fingers clos'd;
He opes his fist, the treasure 's fled,
He sees a halter in its stead.
She bids Ambition hold a wand,
He grasps a hatchet in his hand.
A box of charity she shows:
Blow here; and a church-warden blows,
'Tis vanish'd with conveyance neat,
And on the table smoaks a treat.
She shakes the dice, the board she knocks,
And from all pockets fills her box.
She next a meagre rake addrest;
This picture see; her shape, her breast!
What youth, and what inviting eyes!
Hold her, and have her. With surprise,
His hand expos'd a box of pills;
And a loud laugh proclaim'd his ills.
A counter, in a miser's hand,
Grew twenty guineas at command;
She bids his heir the summ retain,
And 'tis a counter now again.
A guinea with her touch you see
Take ev'ry shape but Charity;
And not one thing, you saw, or drew,
But chang'd from what was first in view.
The Juggler now, in grief of heart,
With this submission own'd her art.
Can I such matchless slight with-stand?
How practice hath improv'd your hand!
But now and then I cheat the throng:
You ev'ry day, and all day long.
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