Fashion decides in judgment's stead;
And men are driv'n, to their confusion,
To some ridiculous conclusion.
A rich man gave a public shew;
And to exhibit something new,
Engag'd the skill'd in comic arts,
With high rewards from various parts.
Amongst the rest a noted wag
Did of a talent loudly brag,
No theatre had seen, he said.
The mob, with novelty still led,
Soon fill'd the house. The man alone
Appear'd, and in a common gown;
While mute attention held the crowd,
His head into his robe he bow'd,
And so much like a porket squeal'd,
All cried he held a pig conceal'd.
With vast applause, when none was found,
Pit, box, and gallery resound.
A Clown, who came the sports to view,
Declaring he could better do,
Challeng'd the Farcer to appear
To-morrow, when he would be there.
Resolv'd their favourite to support,
Next day a greater crowd resort;
And not to judge the cause sit down,
But to deride the hapless Clown.
They come; the Farcer grunted first;
Applause from every quarter burst;
The Peasant, swelling then his cloak,
Seeming to hide a pig in poke,
Which in reality was there,
Began to pinch him by the ear,
And tweak'd so hard, that with the pain,
The creature squeak'd and squall'd amain.
Hisses and cat-calls pierce the air,
And loudly one and all declare,
The Farcer best, without compare.
The Rustic then his pig display'd,
And to the crest-fall'n audience said,
"Here you a damning proof may see
With what sound judgment you decree."
Source: Boothby - Phaedrus 5.5.
(not in Mille) Perry527