The Farmer And The Rat

A Rat and Farmer were discussing a large harvest of grain. The Farmer was bragging; the Rat said much would go to waste and should be given out.

Share and share alike.


JN Fable 022

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: H. White (1828)

Within a barn, well filled with grain,
A Rat enjoy’d delicious reign;
Each part with various kinds was stor’d,
The choicest of the annual hoard;
With heart elate, at rosy morn,
The Farmer view’d his heaps of corn:
‘Why is it thus I feast my eyes?
‘What wealth the heavy crop supplies!
‘See, for years past, what stock on hand,
‘The produce of my teeming land,
‘Were it not, that I see with pain,
‘Some cursed Rat destroy the grain,
‘How blest my life! with treasure great,
‘And plenty on a large estate!
‘Zounds! had I but Grimalkin‘s art,
‘I’d search it well in ev’ry part;
‘My vengeance should he felt with speed,
‘And each rapacious robber bleed!’
‘Spare your reproof!’ a Rat replies,
Whose age and cunning made him wise;
‘Ere you exhaust your sland’rous breath,
‘And doom us to ignoble death;
‘Know, that these heaps which glut your pride,
‘And starve a multitude beside,
‘Are good for nought; laid long in store,
‘And kept from the afflicted poor!
‘Had you, when harvest’s yellow charm
‘Spread plenty o’er your fertile farm,
‘Reliev’d the cries that pierc’d the ear,
‘And drew from Pity’s fount a tear,
‘Your treasure would have paid your toil,
‘Nor hoarded in this barn to spoil!
‘You then had done a gen’rous deed,
‘But rogues in grain deserve to bleed;
‘In such I never put my trust,
‘For villains always are unjust:
‘Remember, while you live in pride,
‘Your av’rice spreads a famine wide!’


Be slow to censure; spare your blame,
Caprice may wound the fairest name:
Too prone is man to acts of spleen,
While in his breast what faults are seen!
Candour will always claim applause,
And judge aright in ev’ry cause!

JN Fable 022a

Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)