The Rats in Council
A certain colony of rats,
Was ravaged by a chief of cats,
The foe his rounds so slily went,
No rat his skill could circumvent;
So that, as none from home dare stray,
Their rations dwindled day by day;
And visions of that demon gaunt
Grim Famine, ‘gan their hearts to daunt.
One noon (’twas after a good dinner,
Which made the rat race somewhat thinner,)
Grimalkin, with complacent air,
Went forth to court a neighb’ring fair.
The coast is clear, with hearts elate,
The chiefs in council hold debate.
A knowing Rat, grown grey with age,
By all his brethren deem’d a sage,
Describes a remedy most pat,
Which is — forthwith to bell the Cat;
So that, the tinkling larum may show,
The whereabouts of the prowling foe.
Th’ assembled multitude agree
No means could shorter, surer be;
And, as the orator speaks well,
Propose to him to hang the bell.
To this, however, he demurr’d;
“I bell the Cat, the thing’s absurd!
Methinks, if I the plan devise,
Others the scheme should realize.”
From rat to rat the word goes round,
But not a volunteer is found,
With military pluck or zeal
To battle for the common weal.
Too oft we find that talkers fluent,
When call’d to action, play the truant.
From Old Saws, Newly Set: Fables in Verse, by George Linley the Younger
Available on the Internet Archive: Link
This is one of a series of neglected poems found on the Internet Archive.