Merry Andrew

A poem by Matthew Prior

Sly Merry Andrew, the last Southwark fair;
(At Bartholomew he did not much appear,
So peevish was the dict of the Mayor)
At Southwark, therefore, as his tricks he show'd,
To please our masters, and his friends the crowd,
A huge neat's tongue he in his right hand held,
His left was with a good black pudding fill'd.
With a grave look, in this odd equipage,
The clownish mimic traverses the stage:
Why, how now, Andrew! cries his brother droll,
To-day's conceit methinks is something dull.
Come on, Sir, to our worthy friends explain
What does your emblematic Worship mean?
Quoth Andrew, honest English let us speak;
Your emble, (what d'ye call it?) is Heathen Greek.
To tongue or pudding thou hast no pretence;
Learning thy talent is, but mine is sense.
That busy fool I was which thou art now,
Desirous to correct, not knowing how,
Blaming or praising things as I thought fit:
I for this conduct had what I deserved.
And dealing honestly was almost starved.
But thanks to my indulgent stars, I eat,
Since I have found the secret to be great.
O dearest Andrew, says the humble droll,
Henceforth may I obey and thou control;
Provided thou impart thy useful skill,
Bow then, says Andrew, and for once I will.
Be of your patron's mind, whate'er he says;
Sleep very much; think little, and talk less:
Mind neither good nor bad, nor right nor wrong,
But eat your pudding, slave, and hold your tongue.

A reverend prelate stopp'd his couch-and-six
To laugh a little at our Andrew's tricks:
But when he heard him give this golden rule,
Drive on (he cried) this fellow is no fool.

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