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THE THREE WARNINGS:

A TALE.

1 THE tree of deepest root is found
2 Least willing still to quit the ground;
3 'Twas therefore said by antient sages,
4 That love of life increas'd with years
5 So much, that in our latter stages,
6 When pains grow sharp, and sickness rages,
7 The greatest love of life appears.
8 This great affection to believe,
9 Which all confess, but few perceive,
10 If old assertions can't prevail,
11 Be pleas'd to hear a modern tale.
12 When sports went round, and all were gay
13 On neighbour Dobson's wedding-day,
14 Death call'd aside the jocund groom
15 With him into another room:
16 And looking grave, "You must, says he,
17 " Quit your sweet bride, and come with me. "
18 " With you, and quit my Susan's side!
19 "With you! the hapless husband cry'd:
20 " Young as I am! 'tis monstrous hard!
21 "Besides, in truth, I'm not prepar'd:
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22 " My thoughts on other matters go,
23 "This is my wedding-night, you know."
24 What more he urg'd I have not heard,
25 His reasons could not well be stronger;
26 So Death the poor delinquent spar'd,
27 And left to live a little longer.
28 Yet calling up a serious look,
29 His hour-glass trembled while he spoke,
30 "Neighbour, he said, farewell: No more
31 " Shall Death disturb your mirthful hour;
32 "And further, to avoid all blame
33 " Of cruelty upon my name,
34 "To give you time for preparation,
35 " And fit you for your future station,
36 "Three several Warnings you shall have,
37 " Before you're summon'd to the grave:
38 "Willing for once I'll quit my prey,
39 " And grant a kind reprieve;
40 "In hopes you'll have no more to say,
41 " But when I call again this way,
42 "Well-pleas'd the world will leave."
43 To these conditions both consented,
44 And parted perfectly contented.
45 What next the hero of our tale befell,
46 How long he liv'd, how wise, how well,
47 How roundly he pursu'd his course,
48 And smok'd his pipe, and strok'd his horse,
49 The willing Muse shall tell:
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50 He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
51 Nor once perceiv'd his growing old,
52 Nor thought of Death as near;
53 His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
54 Many his gains, his children few,
55 He pass'd his hours in peace;
56 But while he view'd his wealth increase,
57 While thus along Life's dusty road
58 The beaten track content he trod,
59 Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
60 Uncall'd, unheeded, unawares,
61 Brought on his eightieth year.
62 And now one night in musing mood,
63 As all alone he sate,
64 Th' unwelcome messenger of Fate
65 Once more before him stood.
66 Half kill'd with anger and surprize,
67 "So soon return'd! old Dobson cries."
68 "So soon, d'ye call it! Death replies:
69 " Surely, my friend, you're but in jest.
70 "Since I was here before,
71 " 'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
72 "And you are now fourscore."
73 "So much the worse, the Clown rejoin'd:
74 " To spare the aged would be kind:
75 "However, see your search be legal;
76 " And your authority Is't regal?
77 "Else you are come on a fool's errand,
78 " With but a ecretary's warrant.
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79 "Besides, you promis'd me Three Warnings,
80 " Which I have look'd for nights and mornings.
81 "But for that loss of time and ease,
82 " I can recover damages. "
83 " I know, cries Death, that at the best,
84 "I seldom am a welcome guest;
85 " But don't be captious, friend, at least;
86 "I little thought you'd still be able
87 " To stump about your farm and stable;
88 "Your years have run to a great length,
89 " I wish you joy tho' of your strength. "
90 " Hold, says the Farmer, not so fast,
91 "I have been lame these four years past."
92 "And no great wonder, Death replies,
93 " However, you still keep your eyes;
94 "And sure to see one's loves and friends,
95 " For legs and arms would make amends. "
96 " Perhaps, says Dobson, so it might,
97 "But latterly I've lost my sight."
98 "This is a shocking story, faith,
99 " Yet there's some comfort still, says Death;
100 "Each strives your sadness to amuse;
101 " I warrant you hear all the news. "
102 " There's none, cries he; and if there were,
103 "I'm grown so deaf I could not hear."
104 "Nay then, the spectre stern rejoin'd,
105 " These are unjustifiable yearnings;
106 "If you are lame, and deaf, and blind,
107 " You've had your three sufficient Warnings.
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108 "So come along, no more we'll part:"
109 He said, and touch'd him with his dart;
110 And now old Dobson turning pale,
111 Yields to his fate so ends my tale.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE THREE WARNINGS: A TALE.
Themes: advice; moral precepts
Genres: fable
References: DMI 30826

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. III. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 258-262. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1136; OTA K093079.003)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.