Cotton, Nathaniel

England, (1707?-1788)

The Lamb and the Pig; or nature and education

  1. Consult the moralist, you’ll find
  2. That education forms the mind.
  3. But education ne’er supply’d
  4. What ruling nature has denied.
  5. If you’ll the following page pursue,
  6. My tale shall prove this doctrine true.
  8. Since to the Muse all brutes belong,
  9. The lamb shall usher in my song;
  10. Whose snowy fleece adorn’d her skin,
  11. Emblem of native white within.
  12. Meekness and love possess’d her soul.
  13. And innocence had crown’d the whole.
  15. It chanc’d in some unguarded hour,
  16. (Ah ! purity, precarious flower!
  17. let maidens of the present age
  18. Tremble, when they peruse my page)
  19. It chanc’d upon a luckless day,
  20. The little wanton, full of play,
  21. Rejoic’d a thymy bank to gain,
  22. But short the triumphs of her reign;
  23. The teacherous slopes her faite foretell,
  24. And soon the pret’ty trifler fell.
  25. Beneath, a dirty ditch impress’d
  26. Its mire upon her spotless vest.
  27. What greater ill could lamb betide,
  28. The butcher’s barb’rous knife beside?
  30. The shepherd, wounded with her cries.
  31. Straight to the bleating sufferer flies.
  32. The lambkin in his arms he took,
  33. And bore her to a neighbouring brook.
  34. The silver streams her wool retin’d,
  35. Her fleece in virgin whiteness shin’d.
  37. Cleans’d from pollution’s every stain,
  38. She join’d her fellows on the plain;
  39. And saw afar the stinking shore,
  40. But ne’er approach’d those dangers more.
  41. The shepherd bless’d the kind event,
  42. And view’d his Hook with sweet content.
  44. To market next he shap’d his way,
  45. And bought provisions for the day.
  46. But made, for winter’s rich supply,
  47. A purchase from a farmer’s sty.
  48. The children round their parent crowd.
  49. And testify their mirth aloud.
  50. They saw the stranger with surprise,
  51. And all admir’d his little eyes.
  52. Familiar grown he shar’d their joys,
  53. Shar’d too the porridge with the boys.
  54. The females o’er his dress preside,
  55. They wash his face and scour his hide.
  56. But daily more a swine he grew,
  57. For all these housewives e’er could do.
  59. Hence let my youthful reader know.
  60. That once a hog, and always so.

Samuel Johnson and Alexander Chalmers. The works of the English poets, from Chaucer to Cowper, vol. 18, London, 1810.

About the Poet

Nathaniel Cotton, M.D. (1707?-1788), English physician and poet. Cotton specialized in the care of patients with mental health issues. He established a mental health asylum known as The Collage in the town of St Albans in southern Hertfordshire, England. William Cowper was one of his patients and he held Cotton in high regard.

Cotton was also a published poet. He published his poems in the book Visions in Verse in 1751; and a two volume complete collection of his prose and poetry was published in posthumously in 1791.

The Scottish editor and biographer, Alexander Chalmers, said of Cotton:

His abilities as a poet demand no parade of criticism. He appears to have written with ease, and had a happy turn for decorating his reflections in familiar verse: but we find very little that is original, fanciful, or vigorous. He scarcely ever attempts imagery, or description, and nowhere rises beyond a certain level diction adapted to the class of readers whom he was most anxious to please. Yet his Visions have been popular, and deserve to continue so. Every sensible and virtuous mind acquiesces in the truth and propriety of his moral reflections, and will love the poems for the sake of the writer.”

Works of the English Poets, vol. 18, (1810).

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