Treasure Island

Christopher Smart

(11 April 1722 – 21 May 1771 / Kent, England)

The Pig


In ev'ry age, and each profession,
Men err the most by prepossession;
But when the thing is clearly shown,
And fairly stated, fully known,
We soon applaud what we deride,
And penitence succeeds to pride.--
A certain Baron on a day
Having a mind to show away,
Invited all the wits and wags,
Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates, and Skeggs,
And built a large commodious stage,
For the Choice Spirits of the age;
But above all, among the rest,
There came a Genius who profess'd
To have a curious trick in store,
Which never was perform'd before.
Thro' all the town this soon got air,
And the whole house was like a fair;
But soon his entry as he made,
Without a prompter, or parade,
'Twas all expectance, all suspense,
And silence gagg'd the audience.
He hid his head behind his wig,
With with such truth took off* a Pig, [imitated]
All swore 'twas serious, and no joke,
For doubtless underneath his cloak,
He had conceal'd some grunting elf,
Or was a real hog himself.
A search was made, no pig was found--
With thund'ring claps the seats resound,
And pit and box and galleries roar,
With--"O rare! bravo!" and "Encore!"
Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
Who yet knew something of the town,
Beheld the mimic and his whim,
And on the morrow challeng'd him.
Declaring to each beau and bunter
That he'd out-grunt th'egregious grunter.
The morrow came--the crowd was greater--
But prejudice and rank ill-nature
Usurp'd the minds of men and wenches,
Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
The mimic took his usual station,
And squeak'd with general approbation.
"Again, encore! encore!" they cry--
'Twas quite the thing--'twas very high;
Old Grouse conceal'd, amidst the racket,
A real Pig berneath his jacket--
Then forth he came--and with his nail
He pinch'd the urchin by the tail.
The tortur'd Pig from out his throat,
Produc'd the genuine nat'ral note.
All bellow'd out--"'Twas very sad!
Sure never stuff was half so bad!
That like a Pig!"--each cry'd in scoff,
"Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off! Off! Off!"
The mimic was extoll'd, and Grouse
Was hiss'd and catcall'd from the house.--
"Soft ye, a word before I go,"
Quoth honest Hodge--and stooping low
Produc'd the Pig, and thus aloud
Bespoke the stupid, partial crowd:
"Behold, and learn from this poor creature,
How much you Critics know of Nature."

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Douglas Scotney (12/11/2013 10:44:00 PM)

    surely a rhyme and rhythm scheme
    for a long poem that's easy to read.
    But does acting ruin one's appreciation of nature?
    It's pretty sick
    but natural
    to love a trick
    more than to love what's real (Report) Reply

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