Fables of John Gay (somewhat altered).
Our friend Dan Prior had, you know, A tale exactly a propos ; Name a town life — and, in a trice, He had a story of two mice. Once upon a time (so runs the fable) A country mouse — right hospitable — Received a town mouse at his board, Just as a farmer might a lord. A frugal mouse upon the whole, Yet loved his friend, and had a soul; Knew what was handsome, and would do 't On just occasion coute qui coute. He brought him bacon nothing lean, Pudding that might have pleased a Dean ; Cheese, such as men of Suffolk make, But wished it Stilton for his sake. Yet to his guest by no means sparing, He munched himself the rind and paring. Our courtier scarce could touch a bit, But showed his breeding and his wit, And did his best to seem to eat — And said : " I vow you're mighty neat ; But, my dear friend, this savage scene! — I pray you come and live with men. Consider mice, like men, must die ; Then crop the rosy hours that fly." The veriest hermit in the nation May yield, all know, to strong temptation : Away they went, through thick and thin, To a tall house near Lincoln's Inn. The moonbeam fell upon the wall, And tipped with silver roof and all, — Palladian walls, Venetian doors, Grotesco roofs and stucco floors ; And, let it in one word be said, The moon was up — the men abed — The guests withdrawn had left, though late, When down the mice sat tete a tete. Our courtier walks from dish to dish, And tastes of flesh, and fowl, and fish ; Tells all their names, lays down the law, " Que ca est bon ! Ah, goutez ca ! That jelly's rich, this malmsey's healing, Pray dip your whiskers and your tail in ! " Was ever such a happy swain — He stuffs, and sips, and stuffs again ! " I'm quite ashamed— 'tis mighty rude To eat so much— all is so good." But as he spoke, bounce from the hall Bushed chaplain, butler, dogs, and all. Oh! for the heart of Homer's mice Or gods, to save them in a trice ; It was by miracle they think, For Roman stucco has no chink. " But, please your honour," said the peasant, " This same dessert is not so pleasant : Give me again my hollow tree, A crust of bread, and liberty ! "
John Benson Rose
William Clowes and sons
borrows from Alexander Pope (43) which makes it very similar to (34) and (44) which also borrow from this version