My little dears who learn to read, pray early learn to shun
That very silly thing indeed, which people call a pun.
Read Entick’s rules, and ’twill be found, how simple an offence
It is to make the self-same sound afford a double sense.
For instance, ale may make you ail, your aunt an ant may kill,
You in a vale may buy a veil and Bill may pay the bill.
Or, if to France your bark may steer, at Dover it may be,
A peer appears upon the pier, who, blind, still goes to sea.
Thus, one might say, when to a treat good friends accept our greeting,
‘Tis meet that men who meet to eat should eat their meat when meeting.
Brawn on the board’s no bore indeed although from boar prepared;
Nor can the fowl, on which we feed, foul feeding he declared.
Thus, one ripe fruit may be a pear, and yet be pared again,
And still no one, which seemeth rare until we do explain.
It therefore should be all your aim to spell with ample care;
For who, however fond of game, would choose to swallow hair?
A fat man’s gait may make us smile, who has no gate to close;
The farmer, sitting on his stile no stylish person knows.
Perfumers, men of scents must be, some Scilly men are bright;
A brown man oft deep read we see, a black a wicked wight.
Most wealthy men good manors have, however vulgar they;
And actors still the harder slave the oftener they play.
So poets can’t the baize obtain, unless their tailors choose;
While grooms and coachmen not in vain each evening seek the Mews.
The dyer, who by dying lives, a dire life maintains;
The glazier, it is known, receives his profits for his panes.
By gardeners thyme is tied, ’tis true, when spring is in its prime; But time and tide won’t wait for you if you are tied for time.
Thus now you see, my little dears, the way to make a pun;
A trick which you, through coming years, should sedulously shun.
The fault admits of no defence, for wheresoe’er ’tis found,
You sacrifice the sound for sense; the sense is never sound.
So let your words and actions, too, one single meaning prove,
And just in all you say or do, you’ll gain esteem and love.
In mirth and play no harm you’ll know when duty’s task is done;
But parents ne’er should let ye go unpunished for a Pun.