The Miser and Plutus

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Fable VI

The wind was high, the window shakes,
With sudden start the miser wakes;
Along the silent room he stalks;
Looks back, and trembles as he walks!
Each lock and every bolt he tries,
In every creek and corner prys,
Then opes the chest with treasure stored,
And stands in rapture o'er his hoard;
But, now with sudden qualms possess'd,
He wrings his hands, he beats his breast.

By conscience stung, he wildly stares;
And thus his guilty soul declares:
   'Had the deep earth her stores confined,
This heart had known sweet peace of mind.
But virtue's sold. Good gods, what price
Can recompense the pangs of vice!
O bane of good! seducing cheat!
Can man, weak man, thy power defeat?
Gold banished honour from the mind,
And only left the name behind;

Gold sowed the world with every ill;
Gold taught the murderer's sword to kill:
'Twas gold instructed coward hearts,
In treachery's more pernicious arts.
Who can recount the mischiefs o'er?
Virtue resides on earth no more!'
He spoke, and sighed. In angry mood,
Plutus, his god, before him stood.
The miser, trembling, locked his chest;
The vision frowned, and thus address'd:

   'Whence is this vile ungrateful rant?
Each sordid rascal's daily cant.
Did I, base wretch, corrupt mankind?
The fault's in thy rapacious mind.
Because my blessings are abused,
Must I be censured, cursed, accused?
Even virtue's self by knaves is made
A cloak to carry on the trade;
And power (when lodged in their possession)
Grows tyranny, and rank oppression.

Thus, when the villain crams his chest,
Gold is the canker of the breast;
'Tis avarice, insolence, and pride,
And every shocking vice beside.
But when to virtuous hands 'tis given,
It blesses, like the dews of heaven:
Like Heaven, it hears the orphan's cries,
And wipes the tears from widows' eyes;
Their crimes on gold shall misers lay,
Who pawned their sordid souls for pay?

Let bravoes then (when blood is spilt)
Upbraid the passive sword with guilt.'



The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
Introduction The Shepard and the Philosopher
Fable I The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V The wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII The Tame Stag
Fable XIV The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII The Jugglers
Fable XLIII The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX The Man and the Flea
Fable L The Hare and many Friends
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