The sixth 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. 239 (1716-1717). This one derives from fables of fighting cocks, vicious dogs and pyrrhic victories; e.g, Rhys, "The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle," 16, "The Mischievous Dog," 43; perhaps Gay imitated and reversed Ann's text in his "The Mastiffs," No. 34 (the mastiff does not, however, emerge an unqualified victor, but must "limp" and "sneak" away from the "fray." A new amalgam in Pope's favor; Pope need not, and, therefore, ought not to conscend to quarrel with vermin. It's harsh in the manner of "The Toad Undrest," which it appeared with; written at the same time and for Pope.

The MASTIF and CURS. A Fable inscrib'd to Mr. POPE. By the same Hand, pp. 131-33.

A MASTY of our English breed
Allow'd all others to exceed,
In ample head and solid heart;
Strong, stately, true in ev'ry part;
March'd through the town with stedfast pace,
Like former heroes of his race.
Offending none; for in his mind
Candor with resolution join'd.
Yet over ev'ry threshold leapt
The little dogs by ladies kept,
Who snarl or flatter for reward,
The tea-pot and the slippers guard.
Whilst butchers curs forsake the stalls,
And each upon the masty falls,
With distant noise and threat'ning grin,
Tho' none durst fasten on his skin.
So well his greater strength they knew,
Who dirt and scandal on him threw.
For not a cat that had been torn,
Or hen that from the roost was born,
But to his charge they barking lay:
Tho' he despis'd that vulgar play,
Nor cou'd by ought be mov'd to rage,
But what was fit for Hockley's stage.
Who when he careless tost or rowl'd,
Was still superiour, stern and gold.
Couch'd at the door or on the green,
In him the masty still was seen.
Tho' now those rude assaults he bore,
And every moment look'd for more.
'Till on a day some gen'rous man,
To rouze his anger thus began.
How long will you endure these yelps,
From danes and lap-dogs, heartless whelps!
Revenge your self, amongst them start,
Break at each bite some lady's heart.
Make Sharper, Cupid, Fop and Beau,
Stretcht at your feet their folly know.
Or smartly crush each paper scull,
With such a pinch as mads the bull.
The masty now 'twas worth his while,
Reply'd with a disdainful smile.
To you, Sir, who our fate command,
Loo or restrain us with your hand.
Tis fit that some account I yield,
Why I'm so slow to take the field;
Or to employ my well known pow'r,
Such carping vermin to devour.
But whilst I keep them all in awe,
From their assaults this good I draw;
To make you men the diff'rence see,
Between this bawling troop and me.
Comparison your observation stirs,
I were no masty if there were no curs.

There is a close analogue in Gay's 1727 Fables XXXIV, "The Mastiff," Those, who in quarrels interpose… " suggesting there is some single source in an Aesopic tradition, although in her way Finch is probably very free in her "imitation." In Gay's version the mastiff gets the worse of the punishment as he is mangled by all sides (both dogs, both masters for interposing where he had no business). In her poem to Pope (THE Muse, of ev'ry heav'nly gift allow'd, 1717 Pope, Works, introd material) she also sees Pope as benefiting from comparison (there with herself and other eulogists)


Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003.