The Mastiffs

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Those who in quarrels interpose,
Must often wipe a bloody nose.
   A mastiff, of true English blood,
Loved fighting better than his food.
When dogs were snarling for a bone,
He longed to make the war his own,
And often found (when two contend)
To interpose obtained his end;
He gloried in his limping pace;
The scars of honour seamed his face;

In every limb a gash appears,
And frequent fights retrenched his ears.
   As, on a time, he heard from far
Two dogs engaged in noisy war,
Away he scours and lays about him,
Resolved no fray should be without him.
   Forth from his yard a tanner flies,
And to the bold intruder cries:
   'A cudgel shall correct your manners,
Whence sprung this cursed hate to tanners?

While on my dog you vent your spite,
Sirrah! 'tis me you dare not bite.'
To see the battle thus perplexed,
With equal rage a butcher vexed,
Hoarse-screaming from the circled crowd,
To the cursed mastiff cries aloud:
   'Both Hockley-hole and Mary-bone
The combats of my dog have known.
He ne'er, like bullies coward-hearted,
Attacks in public, to be parted.

Think not, rash fool, to share his fame:
Be his the honour, or the shame.'
   Thus said, they swore, and raved like thunder;
Then dragged their fastened dogs asunder;
While clubs and kicks from every side
Rebounded from the mastiff's hide.
   All reeking now with sweat and blood,
Awhile the parted warriors stood,
Then poured upon the meddling foe;
Who, worried, howled and sprawled below.

He rose; and limping from the fray,
By both sides mangled, sneaked away.

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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