Fable 6. The Little Grand Lama -



Novella , a young Bolognese,
The daughter of a learned Law Doctor,
Who had with all the subtleties
Of old and modern jurists stockt her,
Was so exceeding fair, 't is said,
And over hearts held such dominion,
That when her father, sick in bed,
Or busy, sent her, in his stead,
To lecture on the Code Justinian,
She had a curtain drawn before her,
Lest, if her charms were seen, the students
Should let their young eyes wander o'er her,
And quite forget their jurisprudence.
Just so it is with Truth, when seen ,
Too dazzling far, — 't is from behind
A light, thin allegoric screen,
She thus can safest teach mankind.


In Thibet once there reigned, we 're told,
A little Lama, one year old —
Raised to the throne, that realm to bless,
Just when his little Holiness.
Had cut — as near as can be reckoned —
Some say his first tooth, some his second .
Chronologers and Nurses vary,
Which proves historians should be wary.
We only know the important truth,
His Majesty had cut a tooth.
And much his subjects were enchanted, —
As well all Lamas' subjects may be,
And would have given their heads, if wanted,
To make tee-totums for the baby.
Throned as he was by Right Divine —
(What Lawyers call Jure Divino ,
Meaning a right to yours and mine
And everybody's goods and rhino,)
Of course, his faithful subjects purses
Were ready with their aids and succors;
Nothing was seen but pensioned Nurses,
And the land groaned with bibs and tuckers.

Oh! had there been a Hume or Bennet,
Then sitting in the Thibet Senate,
Ye Gods! what room for long debates
Upon the Nursery Estimates!
What cutting down of swaddling-clothes
And pinafores, in nightly battles!
What calls for papers to expose
The waste of sugar-plums and rattles!
But no — if Thibet had M.P.s,
They were far better bred than these;
Nor gave the slightest opposition,
During the Monarch's whole dentition.

But short this calm; — for, just when he
Had reached the alarming age of three,
When Royal natures and no doubt
Those of all noble beasts break out —
The Lama, who till then was quiet,
Showed symptoms of a taste for riot;
And, ripe for mischief, early, late,
Without regard for Church or State,
Made free with whosoe'er came nigh;
Tweakt the Lord Chancellor by the nose,
Turned all the Judges' wigs awry,
And trod on the old Generals' toes;
Pelted the Bishops with hot buns,
Rode cock-horse on the City maces,
And shot from little devilish guns,
Hard peas into the subjects' faces.
In short, such wicked pranks he played,
And grew so mischievous, God bless him!
That his Chief Nurse — with even the aid
Of an Archbishop — was afraid,
When in these moods, to comb or dress him.
Nay, even the persons most inclined
Thro' thick and thin, for Kings to stickle,
Thought him (if they 'd but speak their mind,
Which they did not ) an odious pickle.

At length some patriot lords — a breed
Of animals they 've got in Thibet,
Extremely rare and fit indeed
For folks like Pidcock, to exhibit —
Some patriot lords, who saw the length
To which things went, combined their strength,
And penned a manly, plain and free
Remonstrance to the Nursery;
Protesting warmly that they yielded
To none that ever went before 'em,
In loyalty to him who wielded
The hereditary pap-spoon o'er 'em;
That, as for treason, 't was a thing
That made them almost sick to think of —
That they and theirs stood by the King,
Throughout his measles and his chincough.
When others, thinking him consumptive,
Had ratted to the Heir Presumptive! —
But, still — tho' much admiring Kings
(And chiefly those in leading-strings),
They saw, with shame and grief of soul,
There was no longer now the wise
And constitutional control
Of birch before their ruler's eyes;
But that of late such pranks and tricks
And freaks occurred the whole day long,
As all but men with bishoprics
Allowed, in even a King, were wrong.
Wherefore it was they humbly prayed
That Honorable Nursery,
That such reforms be henceforth made,
As all good men desired to see; —
In other words (lest they might seem
Too tedious), as the gentlest scheme
For putting all such pranks to rest,
And in its bud the mischief nipping —
They ventured humbly to suggest
His Majesty should have a whipping!

When this was read, no Congreve rocket,
Discharged into the Gallic trenches
E'er equalled the tremendous shock it
Produced upon the Nursery benches,
The Bishops, who of course had votes,
By right of age and petticoats,
Were first and foremost in the fuss —
" What, whip a Lama! suffer birch.
" To touch his sacred — infamous!
" Deistical! — assailing thus
" The fundamentals of the Church! —
" No — no — such patriot plans as these,
" (So help them Heaven — and their Sees!)
" They held to be rank blasphemies. "

The alarm thus given, by these and other
Grave ladies of the Nursery side,
Spread thro' the land, till, such a pother,
Such party squabbles, far and wide,
Never in history's page had been
Recorded, as were then between
The Whippers and Non-whippers seen.
Till, things arriving at a state,
Which gave some fears of revolution,
The patriot lords' advice, tho' late,
Was put at last in execution.
The Parliament of Thibet met —
The little Lama, called before it,
Did, then and there, his whipping get,
And (as the Nursery Gazette
Assures us) like a hero bore it.

And tho', 'mong Thibet Tories, some
Lament that Royal Martyr d om
(Please to observe, the letter D
In this last word 's pronounced like B),
Yet to the example of that Prince
So much is Thibet's land a debtor,
That her long line of Lamas, since,
Have all behaved themselves much better.
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