A wonderful ancient tradition of a little family who lived in a vinegar cruet, faithfully related by F:R:
There was a little Man
(’Twas so the story ran)
Who the wonder rais’d of many fold that knew it;
For he house had none at all
But a dwelling very small.
It was nothing but a vinegar cruet.
His little wife beside
Did there with him reside
And their children (nine in number) squeezed into it;
Tho’ the space it was confin’d
Yet as all were of a mind,
They found they’d room in plenty in the cruet.
This very little blade
Was a fisherman by trade
And his skill it was with envy all did view it;
Christen’d Alamon was he
And surnam’d Tippeny
Widely famous for his vinegar cruet.
Now the story it went on
That the good Alamon
One morning in the sea his net threw it;
But the finny tribe that day,
Kept all out of the way
And he fail’d of his provision for the cruet.
When a young eel not aware
Nor taught to mind the snare
Where the net was slyly laid, jump’d into it;
Wise Tippenny he said
“Half loaf’s better than no bread
So I’ll take this little fish home to my cruet.
The young fish then in a fright
When she found her dismal plight
Her imprudence began now to rue it;
To the fisherman she said
Ah thou worthy little blade
Take me not to your vinegar cruet.
Alamon with a sigh
Thought of his little fry
And says he, “We to others should do it
What done to us we wish,
So I’ll spare thee little fish
From death in my vinegar cruet.
No sooner this he cries
When lo! to his surprise
The young eel her skin quickly slipped through it
And poor Tippanny afraid
Saw arise a fairy maid
How he wish’d him in his vinegar cruet.
The fairy in her hand
Wav’d a white coral wand
With an air as tho’ the world she could subdue it
Yet was but a tiny elf
Less than Alamon himself
Or his own little folk in his cruet.
She said, “Be not in a fright
I’m a young fairy sprite,
And my form I can at pleasure renew it
But in fish’s form
Had your pity not been warm
I’d been serv’d up today in your cruet.
Now because you have been kind
And to mercy were inclined
Whatsoever you shall wish, will I do it
Hie home your wife consult
And bring me the result
Of debates in your vinegar cruet.
Then home he hurried fast
His wife told what had passed
(Who at first scarce knew what to say to it)
But at last her vote she gave
They a spacious house should crave
And leave the little vinegar cruet.
“Wife,” (cried the little blade)
“You a foolish choice have made”
And the fairy said so too, when she knew it.
“To your wish I yield consent”
Cried she, “but you’ll repent
And wish you in your vinegar cruet.”
She wav’d her wand then thrice
And a car rose in a trice,
And the Tippennys she put all into it
At a stately house they light
Where they enter with delight
And forget the little vinegar cruet.
Yet tho’ all was quite enchanting
Still our wife found something wanting
And a wish if once in view would pursue it
“Husband” (cries she) “hie away
And go seek the little fay
Who brought usfrom our vinegar cruet.”
“Say our dresses are so mean
I’m ashamed we should be seen;
And your own is as bad, when I view it,
And there’s nothing one so loathes,
As the wearing shabby clothes,
They were scarcely good enough for the cruet.
Then away the husband went
And expressed her discontent
To the fairy who already will knew it
And who rising from the wave
Said, “You wife her wish shall have
Tho’ grown vain since she has quitted the cruet.”
Then home the husband hies,
And on lifting up his eyes
Towards his window he saw peeping tho’ it
His wife and children nine
All dressed out very fine
They had never seen such clothes in their cruet.
But this pleasure quickly passed
And prepared as did the last
For something which still must ensue it
Mrs Tippanny would vie
With all the great and high
Times nine changed since she quitted her cruet.
“Dear husband,” she exclaimed
“Pray let me not be blamed
If I beg you your suit to renew it
With the fairy to bestow
Some wealth to make us go
Or we soon must return to our cruet.
The little man once more
Went back to the sea shore
Tho’ sorry he again was to do it;
And the fairy he besought her
To keep them above water,
For sink or swim they’d not return to the cruet.
“What still another wish?”
Replied the fairy fish,
“Discontent I begin to see thro’ it,
But your wants shall be supplied,
Tho’ they’re greatly multiplied
Since you left your old abode the snug cruet.
Now of wealth our wife possessed
She might have been quite blessed
If content had been added unto it.
But tho’ finishing each day
With op’ra ball and play
She was not half so blithe as in her cruet.
Amidst her ample store
She still pin’d for something more
Grudg’d prosperity in others to view it,
Good to other folk she eyed
As if to her denied
Grown so selfish since she quitted her cruet.
Not contented then with wealth,
Domestic peace and health
Tho’ envied by every one who knew it;
This restless little dame
At fashion now did aim,
And to make folk forget the old cruet.
So tickets fly about
For Mrs Tippanny’s grand rout,
“All the world,” (she declared) “should come to it”
With apartments gay and many,
She had scarce more room if any,
Than when living in her vinegar cruet.
Tho’ her company was gay,
And very late did stay
Yet her pillow she with tears did bedew it;
For among her party one
Had said she was outdone:
Such thoughts ne’er broke her out in the cruet.
But her discontent to hide
Mrs Tippenny still tried,
With the great who with laughter did view it,
Tho’ her suppers they commended,
Yet they sneered that she pretended
To fashion, who had risen from a cruet.
Still for equipage she sigh’d,
But the fay who wealth supplied
Said, “A carriage she should ne’er get into it;
Unless that she would take
For old remembrance sake
Her crest the little vinegar cruet.”
This condition hurt her pride
Yet at last she did decide
For the carriage (tho’ much she did rue it)
Yet when finish’d ’twas so neat
And in all things so complete
She hop’d nobody would think of the cruet.
But alas! to her pain
Came the wind and the rain,
And the sun his bright beam he withdrew it,
And she fear’d her coach to use,
Lest its beauty it should lose,
And look as shabby as the vinegar cruet.
Her spouse again she sent
To give her sorrows vent;
(He was loathe his complaint to renew it)
“Ask the fairy for bright weather
To ride out all together,
Or we might as well be still in our cruet.
High swell’d the angry wave,
And deep sighs the wind it gave,
Poor Tippanny fear’d ill would ensue it;
And indeed his fears came right,
For in frowns arose the sprite,
Who brought him and all his tribe from the cruet.
“I think the more you have
The more you seem to crave”
Said the fay, “but you shortly shall rue it
Since I no more can grant
To every idle want:
Wants which ne’er you dreamt upon in your cruet.
There little you desir’d,
And little you requir’d,
And your trade you with glee did pursue it;
Then little was your pain,
And if little was your gain
Yet a little was enough for the cruet.
A great house when you did crave,
And when great wealth I gave
Great increase of your wants did ensue it;
And you greatly did encroach,
And to your great reproach
Were a great deal less content than in your cruet.
Since you know not when to stop
Nor where your suit to drop
My power of course I withdraw it
For my bounty was abused,
And to no good purpose used,
So I’ve vow’d to send you back to your cruet.
The fay her wand then wav’d,
The gay mansion disappear’d,
To the wonder of all who did view it;
To pieces now it goes,
And from the ruins rose
The humble little vinegar cruet.
Here a new distress befell,
For they all had fared so well
That hardly could they now squeeze into it;
“A short time,” the fairy cries
“Will reduce you to its size,
And fit you for your vinegar cruet.
Establish’d there once more,
Not less happy than before
Now Tippenny his trade did renew it,
And tho’ some disputes arose,
(’Tis so the story goes)
That they lived and they died in their cruet.