WHO'S THE ASS?
Once on a Time it by Chance came to Pass,
That a Man and his Son were leading an Ass.
Cries a Passerby, Neighbor, you're shrewdly put to't,
To lead an Ass empty, and trudge it on foot.
Nay, quoth the old Fellow, if Folk do so mind us
I'll e'en climb the Ass, and Boy mount behind us:
But as they jogged on, they were laughed at and hissed,
What, two booby Lubbers on one sorry Beast!
This is such a figure as never was known;
'Tis a sign that the Ass is none of your own.
Then down gets the Boy, and walks by the Side,
Till another cries, What you old Fool must you ride?
When you see the poor Child that's weakly and young
Forced through thick and thin to trudge it along.
Then down gets the Father, and up gets the Son;
If this cannot please them we ne'er shall have done.
They had not gone far, but a Women cries out,
O you young graceless Imp, you'll be hanged, no doubt!
Must you ride an Ass, and your Father that's grey
E'en foot it, and pick out the best of his Way?
So now to please all they but one trick lack,
And that was to carry the Ass pick-pack:
But when that was tried, it appeared such a Jest,
It occasioned more Laughter by half then the rest.
Thus he who'd please all, and their Good-liking gain,
Shows a deal of Good-Nature, but labors in vain.
This is from Fart Proudly, a book of Benjamin Franklin's writings. It was published in 1990.
This story can be found on page 32.