The seventh of eight poems by Finch which appear in the 1717 anonymous Poems on Several Occasions, or as it has come to be known since Norman Ault's 1935 reprint Pope's Own Miscellany. For full details and the list of poems by Finch see "Now blow, ye Southern winds…". See also an Annotated List matching each of Finch's fables with its sources; and an Annotated Bibliography: Primary and Secondary Sources for all Finch's translations (paraphrases), imitations and adaptations.

See Annotated Chronology No. 240 (1716-1717): Finch may be remembering some story of a man who tried to borrow someone's engine for saving his house, but she moralizes her story by combining two Aesopic types: fables of complaining orungrateful trees or timber used to build houses, e.g. 1692 L'Estrange, "Trees Streight and Crooked, No. 266, "The Oxen and a Piece of Timber," No. 265, "Oxen and Timber," No. 294; and fables (these are usually French) of peasants trying to save their houses, 1693 Esope en belle humeur, "D'un Paisan, et des Souris," 256; Finch is closer to the French: the cited fables shows a man who sets his house on fire and punishes his servants for laughing instead of helping him. It's amusing and effective, a third harsh fable late in life, impersonal quality of all three suggests they were written for publication.

A Fable. By the same, pp. 133-35.

A MAN whose house had taken fire.
Which did the engines help require,
Ran to the corner where it stood,
And thus besought the useful wood.
I beg you'd use your utmost sped,
To help a neighbour at his need.
My timber crackles in the flames,
Tho' it to yours relation claims:
In the same forrest it was bred,
From the same rot too, as 'tis said.
Then let a brother aid a brother,
Tho' fortune difers one from t'other
And justly you the foremost stand,
Who can two elements command.
Whilst my poor rafters lay supine,
In common use, nor wisht to shine.
But pray consider what I feel,
And quickly ply each spring and wheel.
In this tough leather and these ropes
and your good will lie all my hopes.
The engine this discourse endur'd,
But still uactive and immur'd.
And tho' petition'd, stirr'd no more,
From the church porch than the church-door.
Whilst in a rage the man went on,
And cry'd, I shall be quite undone!
Through your neglect must beg for life
My self, my chidren, and my wife.
I'le give you half of what you save --
The engine still was mute and grave.
And seem'd as haughty to distress
As men of rank who wealth possess
When all despairing now, the wretch
Fell into more reviling speech:
And told it, he the time could trace
When it had no such power or place,
But lay ev'n in his yard a log,
The scrubbing post of every hog:
Nor cou'd relieve or shield a friend,
No more than he who did depend.
And now implor'd it once for all,
To jog before his house should fall.
A passenger who heard him prate,
And found such help would come too late,
Told him, to end his noisy jear,
He must go bribe the Engineer.


Great men do our misfortunes see,
No more than this unsoftned tree.
Then lose not, on himself, a word,
But gain the man that sways my Lord.

Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003.