The Pin and the Needle

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Fable XVI

A pin, who long had served a beauty,
Proficient in the toilet's duty,
Had formed her sleeve, confined her hair,
Or given her knot a smarter air,
Now nearest to her heart was placed,
Now in her mantua's tail disgraced:
But could she partial fortune blame,
Who saw her lovers served the same?
   At length from all her honours cast;
Through various turns of life she pass'd;

Now glittered on a tailor's arm;
Now kept a beggar's infant warm;
Now, ranged within a miser's coat,
Contributes to his yearly groat;
Now, raised again from low approach,
She visits in the doctor's coach;
Here, there, by various fortune toss'd,
At last in Gresham Hall was lost.
Charmed with the wonders of the show,
On every side, above, below,

She now of this or that enquires,
What least was understood admires.
'Tis plain, each thing so struck her mind.
Her head's of virtuoso kind.
   'And pray what's this, and this, dear sir?'
'A needle,' says the interpreter.
She knew the name. And thus the fool
Addressed her as a tailor's tool:
   'A needle with that filthy stone,
Quite idle, all with rust o'ergrown!

You better might employ your parts,
And aid the sempstress in her arts.
But tell me how the friendship grew
Between that paltry flint and you?'
   'Friend,' says the needle, 'cease to blame;
I follow real worth and fame.
Know'st thou the loadstone's power and art,
That virtue virtues can impart?
Of all his talents I partake,
Who then can such a friend forsake?

'Tis I directs the pilot's hand
To shun the rocks and treacherous sand:
By me the distant world is known,
And either India is our own.
Had I with milliners been bred,
What had I been? the guide of thread,
And drudged as vulgar needles do,
Of no more consequence than you.'



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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