The Ox Over Driven; An Original Fable

Twas on a Smithfield Market-day,
Two Drovers, full of ale and play,
An Ox were driving out to graze;
Thro’ various streets, thro’ various ways,
Gentle and harmless on he went,
No harm he thought—no mischief he meant,
Till beat and prick’d and goaded sore,
The beast began to run and roar;
In every street where he appear’d,
The cry, ‘Mad Ox, Mad Ox’ was heard,
Men, Women, Boys and Bawling throngs,
Pursued the fugitive along;
This way and that he took his course,
And all submitted to his force,
Stalls, China, everything came down,
And terror ran thro’ half the town;
Still roaring, foaming, running, kicking,
The Drovers still behind him pricking:—
When, suddenly, he turned around,
And hurl’d both Drovers from the ground,
A lost in air they sprawled amain,
Their bones came rattling down again;
And as they pour’d their parting breath,
Just in the agonies of death,
They groaned out this—‘How just our fate!
‘Though now repentance is too late!
‘Had we drove mildly on we know,
‘We ne’er had made the Ox our foe;
‘But, from our cruelty, we find,
‘We both are justly paid in kind.’

The fable told—the Moral’s next,
At which some people may be vex’d;
But what care I for their vexation,
Themselves must make the application:
The Ox the PEOPLE plain discovers,
Suppose the MINISTRY the Drovers;
Who having gall’d and prick’d the nation,
Have found, at last, to their vexation,
That Britons may obey through love,
They may be led, but won’t be drove.
—Then, let the Drovers of the State,
Beware the Smithfield Drovers fate,
And cease their galling, base oppression,
Ere they be brought to their confession!

By A Reformer of Sheffield

Printed in the Sheffield Register No. 321,  26 July 1793 (currently held in Sheffield University Library Special Collections)

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