Hard by a green meadow a stream used to flow,
So clear, one might see the white pebbles below;
To this cooling stream the warm cattle would stray,
To stand in the shade on a hot summer's day.
A cow, quite oppressed with the heat of the sun,
Come here to refresh, as she often had done;
And standing stock still, leaning over the stream,
Was musing, perhaps, or perhaps she might dream.
But soon a brown ass, of respectable look.
Came trotting up also to taste of the brook,
And to nibble a few of the daisies and grass;
"How d' ye do?" said the cow; "How d' ye do?" said the ass.
"Take a seat," cried the cow, gently waving her hand;
"By no means, dear madam," said he, "while you stand;"
Then stooping to drink, with a complaisant bow,
"Ma'am, your health," said the ass; "thank you, sir," said the cow.
When a few of these compliments more had been past,
They laid themselves down on the herbage at last;
And, waiting politely, as gentlemen must,
The ass held his tongue, that the cow might speak first.
Then with a deep sigh, she directly began,
"Don't you think, Mr. Ass, we're injured by man?
'Tis a subject that lays with a weight on my mind:
We certainly are much oppressed by mankind.
"Now what is the reason (I see none at all)
That I always must go when Suke chooses to call;
Whatever I'm doing ('t is certainly hard)
At once I must go to be milked in the yard.
"I've no will of my own, but must do as they please,
And give them my milk to make butter and cheese:
I've often a vast mind to knock down the pail.
Or give Suke a box on the ear with my tail."
"But, ma'am," said the ass, "not presuming to teach—
Oh dear, I beg pardon—pray finish your speech;
I thought you had done, ma'am, indeed," said the swain,
"Go on, and I'll not interrupt you again."
"Why, sir, I was only a going to observe,
I'm resolved that these tyrants no longer I'll serve:
But leave them forever to do as they please,
And look somewhere else for their butter and cheese."
Ass waited a moment, to see if she'd done,
And then, "not presuming to teach," he began;
"With submission, dear madam, to your better wit,
I own I am not quite convinced of it yet.
"That you're of great service to them is quite true,
But surely they are of some service to you;
'T is their nice green pasture in which you regale,
They feed you in winter when grass and weeds fail.
'T is under their shelter you snugly repose,
When without it, dear ma'am, you perhaps might be froze.
For my part, I know, I receive much from man,
And for him, in return, I do all that I can."
The cow upon this cast her eye on the grass,
Not pleased at thus being reproved by an ass;
Yet, thought she, "I'm determined I'll benefit by 't,
For I really believe the fellow is right."