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TwelveByTwelve: Marko declaims THE FOX AND THE CAT

John Cunningham, pastoral poet, 1729-1773
John Cunningham (1729-1773)
The FOX and the CAT: A FABLE

By John Cunningham

THE Fox and the Cat, as they travelled one day,
With moral discourses cut shorter the way:
'Tis great, says the Fox, to make justice our guide!
How godlike is mercy, Grimalkin replied.

Whilst thus they proceeded, a Wolf from the wood,
Impatient of hunger, and thirsting for blood,
Rushed forth, as he saw the dull shepherd asleep,
And seized for his supper an innocent sheep.
In vain, wretched victim, for mercy you bleat,
When mutton's at hand, says the Wolf, I must eat.

Grimalkin's astonished, the Fox stood aghast,
To see the fell beast at his bloody repast.
What a wretch, says the Cat, 'tis the vilest of brutes:
Does he feed upon flesh, when there's herbage, and roots?
Cries the Fox — while our oaks give us acorns so good,
What a tyrant is this, to spill innocent blood?

Well, onward they marched, and they mora∣lized still,
'Till they came where some poultry picked chaff by a mill:
Sly Reynard surveyed them with gluttonous eyes,
And made (spite of morals) a pullet his prize.
A mouse too, that chanced from her covert to stray,
The greedy Grimalkin secured as her prey.

A Spider that sat in her web on the wall,
Perceived the poor victims, and pitied their fall;
She cried — of such murders how guiltless am I!
So ran to regale on a new taken fly.

The faults of our neighbors with freedom we blame,
But tax not ourselves, though we practice the same.