Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
The Dun
By John Philips (1676–1709)
 
From “The Splendid Shilling” (Parody on Milton)

THUS, while my joyless minutes tedious flow,
With looks demure, and silent pace, a dun—
Horrible monster! hated by gods and men—
To my aerial citadel ascends.
With vocal heel thrice thund’ring at my gate,        5
With hideous accent thrice he calls. I know
The voice ill-boding, and the solemn sound.
What should I do? or whither turn? Amaz’d,
Confounded, to the dark recess I fly
Of wood-hole; straight my bristling hairs erect        10
Thro’ sudden fear; a chilly sweat bedews
My shudd’ring limbs, and, wonderful to tell,
My tongue forgets her faculty of speech,
So horrible he seems! His faded brow
Entrench’d with many a frown, and conic beard,        15
And spreading band, admir’d by modern saints,
Disastrous acts forebode. In his right hand
Long scrolls of paper solemnly he waves,
With characters and figures dire inscrib’d,
Grievous to mortal eyes. Ye gods, avert        20
Such plagues from righteous men! Behind him stalks
Another monster not unlike himself,
Sullen of aspect, by the vulgar call’d
A catchpole, whose polluted hands the gods
With force incredible and magic charms        25
First have endu’d. If he his ample palm
Should haply on ill-fated shoulder lay
Of debtor, straight his body, to the touch
Obsequious as whilom knights were wont,
To some enchanted castle is convey’d,        30
Where gates impregnable, and coercive chains
In durance strict detain him, till, in form
Of money, Pallas sets the captive free.
  Beware ye debtors—when ye walk, beware!
Be circumspect! Oft with insidious ken        35
This caitiff eyes your steps aloof, and oft
Lies perdue in a nook or gloomy cave,
Prompt to enchant some inadvertent wretch
With his unhallow’d touch. So, poets sing,
Grimalkin to domestic vermin sworn        40
An everlasting foe, with watchful eye
Lies nightly brooding o’er a chinky gap,
Protending her fell claws, to thoughtless mice
Sure ruin. So her disembowel’d web
Arachne in a hall, or kitchen, spreads,        45
Obvious to vagrant flies; she secret stands
Within her woven cell; the humming prey,
Regardless of their fate, rush on the toils
Inextricable, nor will aught avail
Their arts, or arms, or shapes of lovely hue;        50
The wasp insidious, and the buzzing drone,
And butterfly proud of expanded wings
Distinct with gold, entangled in her snares,
Useless resistance make: with eager strides,
She tow’ring flies to her expected spoils;        55
Then, with envenom’d jaws the vital blood
Drinks of reluctant foes, and to her cave
Their bulky carcasses triumphant drags.
 
 
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