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FABLE [23] XXIII.

The Old Woman and her Cats.

1 Who friendship with a knave hath made
2 Is judg'd a partner in the trade.
3 The matron, who conducts abroad
4 A willing nymph, is thought a bawd;
5 And if a modest girl is seen
6 With one who cures a lover's spleen,
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7 We guess her, not extreamly nice,
8 And only wish to know her price.
9 'Tis thus, that on the choice of friends
10 Our good or evil name depends.
11 A wrinkled hag, of wicked fame,
12 Beside a little smoaky flame
13 Sate hov'ring, pinch'd with age and frost;
14 Her shrivell'd hands, with veins embost,
15 Upon her knees her weight sustains,
16 While palsie shook her crazy brains;
17 She mumbles forth her backward prayers,
18 An untam'd scold of fourscore years.
19 About her swarm'd a num'rous brood
20 Of Cats, who lank with hunger mew'd.
21 Teaz'd with their crys her choler grew,
22 And thus she sputter'd. Hence, ye crew.
23 Fool that I was, to entertain
24 Such imps, such fiends, a hellish train!
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25 Had ye been never hous'd and nurst,
26 I, for a witch, had ne'er been curst.
27 To you I owe, that crouds of boys
28 Worry me with eternal noise;
29 Straws laid across my pace retard,
30 The horse-shoe's nail'd (each threshold's guard)
31 The stunted broom the wenches hide,
32 For fear that I should up and ride;
33 They stick with pins my bleeding seat,
34 And bid me show my secret teat.
35 To hear you prate would vex a saint,
36 Who hath most reason of complaint?
37 Replys a Cat. Let's come to proof.
38 Had we ne'er starv'd beneath your roof,
39 We had, like others of our race,
40 In credit liv'd, as beasts of chace.
41 'Tis infamy to serve a hag;
42 Cats are thought imps, her broom a nag;
43 And boys against our lives combine,
44 Because, 'tis said, your cats have nine.

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Title (in Source Edition): FABLE [23] XXIII. The Old Woman and her Cats.
Author: John Gay
Themes: animals
Genres: fable

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Source edition

FABLES. By Mr. GAY. London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts, MDCCXXVII., 1727, pp. 78-80. [14],173,[1]p.: ill.; 4°. (ESTC T13818)

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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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