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The Hannah More Project

Computational Analysis, Author Attribution, and the Cheap Repository Tracts of the 18th Century

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King Dionysius and Squire Damocles

KING DIONYSIUS AND SQUIRE DAMOCLES; A New Song on an Old Story. Proper to be sung at all Feasts and Merry-makings.

THERE was a heathen man, sir,

Belonging to a King;

And still it was his plan, sir,

To covet every thing.

And if you don’t believe me,

I’ll name him if you please,

For let me not deceive ye,

‘Twas one Squire Damocles.

He thought that jolly living

Must every joy afford,

And knew of no misgiving,

While round the festive board.

He wanted to be great, sir,

And fed on fare delicious,

And have his feasts in state, sir,

Just like King Dionysius.

The King, to cure his longing,

Prepar’d a feast so fine,

That all the Court were thronging

To see the Courtier dine.

And there to tempt his eye, sir,

Was fish, and flesh, and fowl,

And when he was a-dry, sir,

He had a brimming bowl.

Nor did the King forbid him

From drinking all he could;

The Monarch never chid him,

But fill’d him with his food.

O then, to see the pleasure

Squire Damocles exprest!

‘Twas joy beyond all measure;

Was ever man so blest?

With greedy eyes the Squire

Devour’d each costly dainty;

You’d think he did aspire

To eat as much as twenty.

But just as he prepar’d, sir,

Of bliss to take his swing;

O, how the man was scar’d, sir!

By this so cruel King!

When he to eat intended,

Lo! just above his head,

He spied a sword suspended

All by a single thread.

How did it change the feasting

To wormwood and to gall,

To think, while he was tasting,

The pointed sword might fall.

Then in a moment’s time, sir,

He loath’d the luscious feast;

And dreaded, as a crime, sir,

The brimming bowl to taste.

Now, if you’re for applying

The story I have told,

I think there’s no denying

‘Tis worth its weight in gold.

Ye gay, who view this stranger,

And pity his sad case;

And think there was great danger

In Damocles’s case;

Come let this aweful truth

In all your minds be stor’d;

That DEATH o’er every youth

Hangs like a pointed sword.

And tho’ you see no reason,

To check your mirth at all;

In some sad drunken season

The sword on you may fall.

So learn, while at your ease

You drink down draughts delicious,

To think of Damocles,

And old King Dionysius.

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