A Commentary On The Eastern Wise Men
Three pedlers traveling to a fair,
To see the fun and what was there,
And sell their merchandise;
They stopp'd upon the road to chat,
Refresh, and ask of this and that,
That they might be more wise.
'And pray,' the landlord says to them,
'Where go ye, sirs?' 'To Bethlehem,'
The citizens replied.
'You're merchants, sirs?” to them said he,
'We are,' replied the pedlers three,
'And Eastern men beside.'
pray, what have you in your packs?
If worth the while I will go snacks,'
To them quoth Major Domo;
'We've buckles, buttons, spectacles,
And everything a merchant sells,'
Replied the travelling trio.
These things are very well,' said he,
'For beaux and those who cannot see
Much further than their knuckles;
But Bethlehem fair's for boys and girls
Who never think of spectacles,
cannot buy your buckles:
'I have a pack of toys,' quoth he,
A travelling merchant left with me,
Who could not pay his score,
And you shall have them on condition
You sell them at a cheap commission,
And make the money sure.'
'There's one of us win stay in pawn,
Until the other two return,
If you suspect our faith,' said they;
The landlord thought this was a plan
To leave upon his hands the man,
And therefore he said 'Nay.'
They truck'd however for the pack,
Which one of them took on his back,
And off the merchants traveled;
And here the tale the apostles told
Of wise men and their gifts of gold,
Will fully be unravelled.
The star in the East that shines so bright,
As might be seen both day and night,
If you will credit them,
It was no other than a sign
To a public house where pedlers dine,
In East Street, Bethlehem.
These wise men were the pedlers three,
As you and all the world may see,
By reading to the end;
For commentators have mistook,
In paraphrasing on a book
They did not understand.
Our travellers coming to a house,
Scarce fit to entertain a mouse,
Inquired to have a room;
The landlord said he was not able,
To give them any but astable,
So many folks were come.
'I pray, whom have you here, say they,
' And how much money must we pay,
For we have none to spare.
'Why, there's one Joseph and a wench,
Who are to go before the bench
About a love affair.
'Somehow or other, in a manger,
A child exposed to every danger
Was found, as if 't was sleeping:
The girl she swears that she's a maid,
So says the man, but I'm afraid
On me will fall the keeping:
'Now if you 'II set your wits about
To find this knotty matter out,
I 'II pay whate'er it may be.”
Then on the trav'ling pedlers went,
To pay their birthday compliment,
And talk about the baby.
They then unpack'd their pack of toys,
Some were for show and some for noise,
But mostly for the latter;
One gave a rattle, one a whistle,
And one a trumpet made of gristle,
To introduce the matter:
One squeaked away, the other blew,
The third played on the rattle too,
To keep the bantling easy;
And hence this story comes to us,
Of which some people make such fuss,
About the Eastern Magi -
Farmer Short's Dog Porter: A Tale
Three Justices (so says my tale)
Once met upon the public weal.
For learning, law, and parts profound,
Their fame was spread the county round;
Each by his wondrous art could tell
Of things as strange as Sydrophel ;
Or by the help of sturdy ale,
So cleverly could tell a tale,
That half the gaping standers by
Would laugh aloud. The rest would cry.
Or by the help of nobler wine,
Would knotty points so nice define,
That in an instant right was wrong,
Yet did not hold that station long,
For while they talk'd of wrong and right,
The question vanish'd out of sight.
Each knew by practise where to turn
To every powerful page in Burn,
And could by help of note and book
Talk law like Littleton and Coke.
Each knew by instinct when and where
A farmer caught or kill'd a hare;
Could tell if any man had got
One hundred pounds per ann. or not;
Or what was greater, could divine
If it was only ninety-nine.
For when the hundred wanted one,
They took away the owner's gun.
Knew by the leering of an eye
If girls had lost their chastity,
And if they had not-would divine
Some way to make their virtue shine.
These learned brothers being assembled,
(At which the county feared and trembled),
A warrant sent to bring before 'em,
One Farmer Short, who dwelt at Shoreham,
Upon a great and heavy charge,
Which we shall here relate at large,
That those who were not there may read,
In after days, the mighty deed:
“That he, the 'foresaid Farmer Short,
Being by the devil moved, had not
One hundred pounds per annum got;
That having not (in form likewise)
The fear of God before his eyes,
By force and arms did keep and cherish,
Within the aforesaid town and parish,
Against the statute so provided,
A dog. And there the dog abided.
That he, this dog, did then and there
Pursue, and take, and kill a hare;
Which treason was, or some such thing,
Against our SOVEREIGN LORD THE KING
The constable was bid to jog,
And bring the farmer-not the dog.
But fortune, whose perpetual wheel
Grinds disappointment sharp as steel,
On purpose to attack the pride
Of those who over others ride,
So nicely brought the matter round,
That Farmer Short could not be found,
Which plunged the bench in so much doubt
They knew not what to go about.
But after pondering pro and con,
And mighty reasonings thereupon,
They found, on opening of the laws,
That he, the dog aforesaid, was
By being privy to the fact,
Within the meaning of the act,
And since the master had withdrawn,
And was the Lord knows whither gone,
They judged it right, and good in law,
That he, the dog, should answer for
Such crimes as they by proof could show,
Were acted by himself and Co.
The constable again was sent,
To bring the dog; or dread the event.
Poor Porter, right before the door,
Was guarding of his master's store;
And as the constable approach'd him,
He caught him by the leg and broach'd him;
Poor Porter thought (if dogs can think)
He came to steal his master's chink.
The man, by virtue of his staff,
Bid people help; not stand and laugh;
On which a mighty rout began;
Some blamed the dog, and some the man.
Some said he had no business there,
Some said he had business everywhere.
At length the constable prevail'd,
And those who would not help were jail'd;
And taking Porter by the collar,
Commanded all the guards to follow.
The justices received the felon,
With greater form than I can tell on,
And quitting now their wine and punch,
Began upon him all at once.
At length a curious quibble rose,
How far the law could interpose,
For it was proved, and rightly too,
That he, the dog, did not pursue
The hare with any ill intent,
But only followed by the scent;
And she, the hare, by running hard,
Thro' hedge and ditch, without regard,
Plunged in a pond and there was drown'd,
And by a neighboring justice found;
Wherefore, though he the hare annoy'd,
It can't be said that he destroy'd;
It even can't be proved he beat her,
And 'to destroy' must mean 'to eat her.'
Did you e'er see a gamester struck,
With all the symptoms of ill luck?
Or mark the visage which appears,
When even Hope herself despairs?
So look'd the bench, and every brother
Sad pictures drew of one another;
Till one more learned than the rest
Rose up, and thus the court address'd:
'Why, Gentlemen, I'll tell ye how,
Ye may clear up this matter now,
For I am of opinion strong
The dog deserves, and should be hung.
I'll prove it by as plain a case,
As is the nose upon your face.
“Now if, suppose, a man, or so,
Should be obliged, or not, to go
About, or not about, a case,
To this, or that, or t'other place;
And if another man, for fun,
Should fire a pistol (viz.) a gun,
And he, the first, by knowing not
That he, the second man, had shot,
Should undesign'dly meet the bullet,
Against the throat (in Greek) the gullet,
And get such mischief by the hit
As should unsense him of his wit,
And if that, after that he died,
D'ye think the other may n't be tried?
Most sure he must, and hang'd, because
He fired his gun against the laws:
For 't is a case most clear and plain,
Had A not shot, B had not been slain:
So had the dog not chased the hare,
She never had been drown'd-that's clear.'
This logic, rhetoric, and wit,
So nicely did the matter hit,
That Porter, though unheard, was cast,
And in a halter breathed his last.
The justices adjourned to dine,
And whet their logic up with wine.