Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
The Nimmers
By John Byrom (1692–1763)
TWO foot-companions once in deep discourse—
‘Tom,’ says the one, ‘Let ’s go and steal a horse.’
‘Steal!’ says the other in a huge surprise,
‘He that says I ’m a thief, I say he lies.’
‘Well, well,’ replies his friend, ‘No such affront!        5
I did but ask ye. If you won’t, you won’t.’
So they jogged on, till in another strain
The querist moved to honest Tom again:
‘Suppose,’ says he, ‘for supposition’s sake
(’Tis but a supposition that I make!)        10
Suppose that we should filch a horse, I say?’
‘Filch? filch?’ quoth Tom, demurring by the way,
‘That ’s not so bad as downright theft, I own,
But yet—methinks,—’twere better let alone.
It soundeth something pitiful and low.        15
Shall we go filch a horse, you say? Why, no!
I ’ll filch no filching;—and I ’ll tell no lie:
Honesty ’s the best policy, say I!’
Struck with such vast integrity quite dumb,
His comrade paused. At last, says he, ‘Come, come,        20
Thou art an honest fellow, I agree.
Honest and poor.—Alas, that should not be!—
And dry into the bargain! And no drink!
Shall we go nim a horse, Tom? What dost think?’
How clear are things when liquor ’s in the case!        25
Tom answers quick, with casuistic grace,
‘Nim? yes, yes, yes! Let ’s nim, with all my heart.
I see no harm in nimming, for my part.
Hard is the case, now I look sharp into ’t,
That honesty should trudge i’ th’ dirt afoot!        30
So many empty horses round about,
That honesty should wear its bottoms out!
Besides, shall honesty be choked with thirst?
Were it my Lord Mayor’s horse, I ’d nim it first!
And, by the bye, my lad, no scrubby tit!        35
There is the best that ever wore a bit
Not far from hence.’—‘I take ye,’ quoth his friend,
‘Is not yon stable, Tom, our journey’s end?’—
Good wits will jump; both meant the very steed,
The top o’ the country both for shape and breed.        40
So to ’t they went, and with a halter round
His feathered neck they nimmed him off the ground.
*        *        *        *        *
’Twixt right and wrong how many gentle trimmers
Will neither steal nor filch, but will be plaguy Nimmers!

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.