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The Donkey And His Panniers [A Fable]
by [?]

–“fessus jam sudat asellus,
“parce illi; vestrum delicium est asinus.”

A donkey whose talent for burdens was wondrous,
So much that you’d swear he rejoiced in a load,
One day had to jog under panniers so ponderous,
That–down the poor Donkey fell smack on the road!

His owners and drivers stood round in amaze
What! Neddy, the patient, the prosperous Neddy,
So easy to drive thro’ the dirtiest ways
For every description of job-work so ready!

One driver (whom Ned might have “hailed” as a “brother”)[1]
Had just been proclaiming his Donkey’s renown
For vigor, for spirit, for one thing or other–
When, lo! mid his praises the Donkey came down!
But how to upraise him?–one shouts, t’other whistles,
While Jenky, the Conjuror, wisest of all,
Declared that an “over-production of thistles[2]–
(Here Ned gave a stare)–was the cause of his fall.”

Another wise Solomon cries as he passes–
“There, let him alone and the fit will soon cease;
“The beast has been fighting with other jack-asses,
“And this is his mode of ‘transition to peace.'”

Some lookt at his hoofs, and with learned grimaces
Pronounced that too long without shoes he had gone–
“Let the blacksmith provide him a sound metal basis,”
(The wise-acres said), “and he’s sure to jog on.”

Meanwhile, the poor Neddy in torture and fear
Lay under his panniers, scarce able to groan;
And–what was still dolefuller–lending an ear
To advisers whose ears were a match for his own.

At length a plain rustic whose wit went so far
As to see others’ folly, roared out, as he past–
“Quick–off with the panniers, all dolts as ye are,
“Or your prosperous Neddy will soon kick his last!”

October, 1826.

[1] Alluding to an early poem of Mr. Coleridge’s, addressed to an Ass, and
beginning, “I hail thee, brother!”

[2] A certain country gentleman having said in the House, “that we must
return at last to the food of our ancestors,” somebody asked Mr. T. “what
food the gentleman meant?”–“Thistles, I suppose,” answered Mr. T.