Archive for August 29th, 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Last Sayings of a Mouse, Lately Starved in a Cupboard. As they were taken in Short-hand by a Zealous Rat-catcher, who listned at the Key-hole of the Cupboard Door by Jane Barker

Wretch that I am! and is it come to this?
O short continuance of Earthly bliss.
Did I for this forsake my Country Ease,
My Liberty, my Bacon, Beans, and Pease?
Call ye me this the breeding of the Town,
Which my young Master bragg’d when he came down?
Fool that I was! I heard my Father say
(A Rev’rend Mouse he was, and his Beard gray)
“Young Hunt-crum1, mark me well, you needs must rome,
“And leave me and your Mother here at home:
“Great is your Spirit, at high food you aim,
“But have a care—believe not lying Fame;
“Vast Bodies oft are mov’d by slender Springs,
Great Men and Tables are two diff’rent things:
“Assure thy self, all is not Gold that shines;
“He that looks always far, not always dines:
“For oft I’ve seen one strut in laced Cloak,
“And at th’ same instant heard his Belly croak.”

By sad experience now I find too well,
Old Hunt-crum was an arrant Sydrophel2.
And must I dye? and is there no relief?
No Cheese, though I give over thoughts of Beef.
Where is grave Madge3, and brisk Grimalkin4 now,
Before whose Feet our Race was wont to bow?
No Owl, no Cat, to end my wofull days?
No Gresham Engine5 my lean Corps to squeese?
I’d rather fall to Foes a noble prey,
Than squeek my Soul out under Lock and Key.
What’s this? a pissing Candles latter end,
My dear beloved Country-Save-all Friend?
Thou dreadfull Emblem of Mortality,
Which nothing savour’st of solidity:
Detested Droll’ry of my cruel Fate!
This shadow of a Comfort comes too late.

Now you my Brethren Mice, if any be
As yet unstarv’d in all our Family,
From your obscure Retreats rise and appear,
To your, or to your Ghosts I now draw near.
Unto my pristine dust I hast apace,
Observe my hollow Eyes, and meager Face;
And learn from me the sad reverse of Fate,
‘Tis better to be innocent than great.
Good Consciences and Bellies full, say I,
Exceed the pomp that only fills the Eye.
Farewell you see (my friends) that knew me once
Pamper’d and smooth, reduc’d to Skin and Bones.
Poor as a Church-Mouse! O I faint! I dye!
Fly, fly from Cat in shape of Famine, fly;
VVhilst at my Death I my Ambition rue,
In this my Cupboard, and my Coffin too;
Farewell to Victuals, Greatness, and to you.

1Hunt-crum – mouse.
2Sydrophel – character in Samuel Butler’s poem, Hudibras, considered to be a conjurer, fortune teller, impostor and rascal.
3Madge – owl.
4Grimalkin – cat.
5Gresham Engine – mouse trap, specifically a spring trap baited with cheese.

From: Barker, Jane, Poetical recreations consisting of original poems, songs, odes, &c. with several new translations : in two parts / part I, occasionally written by Mrs. Jane Barker, part II, by several gentlemen of the universities, and others, 1688, Benjamin Crayle: London, pp. 59-61.

Date: 1688

By: Jane Barker (1652-1732)