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The Rape of the TRAP,

a BALLAD; written at College, 1736.

1 'TWAS in a land of learning,
2 The Muse's favourite station,
3 Such pranks, of late,
4 Were play'd by a rat,
5 As gave them consternation!
6 All in a college-study,
7 Where books were in great plenty,
8 This rat would devour
9 More sense, in an hour,
10 Than I could write in twenty.
11 His breakfast, half the morning,
12 He constantly attended;
13 And, when the bell rung
14 For evening-song,
15 His dinner scarce was ended.
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16 Huge tomes of geo-graphy,
17 And maps lay all in flutter;
18 A river or a sea
19 Was to him a dish of tea,
20 And a kingdom bread and butter.
21 Such havoc, spoil, and rapine,
22 With grief my Muse rehearses;
23 How freely he would dine
24 On some bulky school-divine,
25 And for desert eat verses.
26 He spar'd not ev'n heroics,
27 On which we poets pride us:
28 And would make no more
29 Of King Arthurs, by the score,
30 Than all the world beside does.
31 But if the desperate potion,
32 Might chance to over-dose him;
33 To check its rage,
34 He took a page
35 Of logic, to compose him.
36 A trap in haste and anger,
37 Was bought, you need not doubt on't;
38 And such was the gin,
39 Were a lion once in,
40 He could not, I think, get out on't.
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41 With cheese, not books, 'twas baited;
42 The fact, I'll not bely it;
43 Since none, I tell ye that,
44 Whether scholar or rat,
45 Minds books, when he has other diet.
46 No more of trap and bait, sir,
47 Why should I sing or either?
48 Since the rat, with mickle pride,
49 All their sophistry defy'd;
50 And dragg'd them away together.
51 Both trap and bait were vanish'd,
52 Thro' a fracture in the flooring;
53 Which, tho' so trim
54 It now may seem,
55 Had then a doz'n, or more in.
56 Then answer this, ye sages;
57 (Nor think I mean to wrong ye)
58 Had the rat, who thus did seize on
59 The trap, less claim to reason,
60 Than many a sage among ye?
61 Dan Prior's mice, I own it,
62 Were vermin of condition;
63 But the rat, who chiefly learn'd
64 What rats alone concern'd,
65 Was the deeper politician.
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66 That England's topsy-turvy,
67 Is clear from these mishaps, sir,
68 Since traps, we may determine,
69 Will no longer take our vermin;
70 But vermin take our traps, sir.
71 Let sophs, by rats infested,
72 Then trust in cats to catch 'em;
73 Lest they prove the utter bane
74 Of our studies, where, 'tis plain,
75 No mortal sits to watch 'em.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): The Rape of the TRAP, a BALLAD; written at College, 1736.
    Themes: animals; food; drink
    Genres: ballad metre
    References: DMI 27237

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    Source edition

    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. V. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 42-45. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.005)

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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.

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