Smart, Christopher

Britain, (1722-1771)

The Pig
a fable

  1. In ev’ry age, and each profession,
  2. Men err the most by prepossession;
  3. But when the thing is clearly shown,
  4. And fairly stated, fully known,
  5. We soon applaud what we deride,
  6. And penitence succeeds to pride.–
  7. A certain Baron on a day
  8. Having a mind to show away,
  9. Invited all the wits and wags,
  10. Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates, and Skeggs,
  11. And built a large commodious stage,
  12. For the Choice Spirits of the age;
  13. But above all, among the rest,
  14. There came a Genius who profess’d
  15. To have a curious trick in store,
  16. Which never was perform’d before.
  17. Thro’ all the town this soon got air,
  18. And the whole house was like a fair;
  19. But soon his entry as he made,
  20. Without a prompter, or parade,
  21. ’twas all expectance, all suspense,
  22. And silence gagg’d the audience.
  23. He hid his head behind his wig,
  24. With with such truth took off a Pig,
  25. All swore ’twas serious, and no joke,
  26. For doubtless underneath his cloak,
  27. He had conceal’d some grunting elf,
  28. Or was a real hog himself.
  29. A search was made, no pig was found–
  30. With thund’ring claps the seats resound,
  31. And pit and box and galleries roar,
  32. With–“O rare! bravo!” and “Encore!”
  33. Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
  34. Who yet knew something of the town,
  35. Beheld the mimic and his whim,
  36. And on the morrow challeng’d him.
  37. Declaring to each beau and bunter
  38. That he’d out-grunt th’egregious grunter.
  39. The morrow came–the crowd was greater–
  40. But prejudice and rank ill-nature
  41. Usurp’d the minds of men and wenches,
  42. Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
  43. The mimic took his usual station,
  44. And squeak’d with general approbation.
  45. “Again, encore! encore!” they cry–
  46. ’twas quite the thing–’twas very high;
  47. Old Grouse conceal’d, amidst the racket,
  48. A real Pig berneath his jacket–
  49. Then forth he came–and with his nail
  50. He pinch’d the urchin by the tail.
  51. The tortur’d Pig from out his throat,
  52. Produc’d the genuine nat’ral note.
  53. All bellow’d out–“’twas very sad!
  54. Sure never stuff was half so bad!
  55. That like a Pig!”–each cry’d in scoff,
  56. “Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off! Off! Off!”
  57. The mimic was extoll’d, and Grouse
  58. Was hiss’d and catcall’d from the house.–
  59. “Soft ye, a word before I go,”
  60. Quoth honest Hodge–and stooping low
  61. Produc’d the Pig, and thus aloud
  62. Bespoke the stupid, partial crowd:
  63. “Behold, and learn from this poor creature,
  64. How much you Critics know of Nature.”

About the Poet

Christopher Smart (1722-1771), British poet, also wrote copy for periodicals and composed songs for the popular theater.

In the 1750s Smart developed a form of religious mania that compelled him to continuous prayer and he was confined in various hospitals the rest of his life. And though he wrote what many see as his most original and lasting works while confined, he died in debt. Works include: Jubilate Agno and A Song to David. [DES-6/03]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.