Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NIMMERS, by JOHN BYROM



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THE NIMMERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Two foot companions once in deep discourse
Last Line: "will neither steal, nor fileh,—but will be plaguy ""nimmers!"
Subject(s): Honesty


TWO Foot Companions once in deep discourse,—
Tom, says the one, let's go and steal a horse.
'Steal! says the other, in a huge surprise,
'He that says I'm a thief,—I say he lies.'
Well, well, replies his friend, no such affront,
I did but ask ye;—if you won't, you won't.
So they jogg'd on, till, in another strain,
The querist mov'd to honest Tom again;
Suppose, says he, for supposition's sake,
'Tis but a supposition that I make,
Suppose that we should filch a horse, I say?
'Filch! filch! quoth Tom, demurring by the way,
'That's not so bad as downright theft, I own;
'But—yet—methinks—'twere better let alone.
'It soundeth something pitiful and low;
'Shall we go filch a horse, you say,—why, no;
'I'll filch no filching, and I'll tell no lie;
'Honesty's the best policy, say I."

Struck with such vast integrity quite dumb,
His comrade paus'd;—at last say he, Come, come!
Thou art an honest fellow, I agree,
Honest and poor; alas! that should not be;
And dry into the bargain, and no drink!
Shall we go nim a horse?—What dost thou think?

How clear things are, when liquor's in the case!
Tom answers quick, with casuistic grace,
'Nim? yes, e'en let us nim with all my heart,
'I see no harm in nimming, for my part.
'Hard is the case, now I look sharp into 't,
'That honesty should trudge i'th' dirt on foot;
'That honesty should wear its bottoms out,
'So many empty horses round about.
'Besides, shall honesty be chok'd with thirst?
'Were it my Lord Mayor's horse.—I'd nim it first.
'And, by the bye, my lad, no scrubby tit—
'There is the best that ever wore a bit
'Not far from hence,'—I take you, quoth his friend,
Is not you stable, Tom, our journey's end?

Good wits will jump;—both meant the very steed,
The top o'th' country, both for shape and speed:
So to 't they went; and, with a halter round
His feather'd neck, they nimm'd him off the ground.

And now, good people, we should next relate
Of these adventurers the luckless fate:
Poor Tom!—but here the sequel is to seek,
Not being yet translated from the Greek.
Some say, that Tom would honestly have 'peach'd
But by his blabbing friend was over-reach'd;
Others insist upon't, that both the elves
Were, in like manner, halter-nimm'd themselves.

It matters not;—the moral is the thing,
For which our purpose, neighbours, was to sing.
If it should hit some few amongst the throng,
Let them not lay the fault upon the song.
Fair warning all;—he that has got a cap,
Now put it on, or else beware a rap;
'Tis but a short one, it is true, but yet
Has a long reach with it,—Videlicet,
"'Twixt right and wrong how many gentle trimmers
"Will neither steal, nor fileh,—but will be plaguy "nimmers!"





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