Who flatters most, is most believ'd.
A certain Piper, Prince his name,
Had with the town acquir'd some fame
For playing to Bathyllus' dance.
A scene, when shifting, fell by chance
And broke his leg: borne groaning home,
For many months he could not come.
The connoisseurs ask'd much about him,
Fancying, as in their way, without him
Bathyllus danc'd with less effect.
The manager, in their respect,
Soon as the motion he could bear,
Did all he could he should appear.
Of his arrival news was spread,
Some there that they had seen him said,
And others swore the man was dead.
In the first scene this verse occurr'd,
(Which Prince before had never heard)
O happy Rome thy Prince restor'd!
And was receiv'd with much applause.
Imagining himself the cause,
Poor Prince gets up, and smiling round,
Bows humbly to the very ground;
Some wits to smoke the jest began,
And saw the folly of the man.
Laughing, the passage they encore,
And clap much louder than before.
The Piper all for serious takes,
A thousand grateful curvets makes,
And thinks at least he shall be crown'd.
Now all the house the jest had found.
With leg in bandage white and new,
White tunic and white breeches too,
Believing all for his intent,
The flattery for Augustus meant,
Poor Prince, exulting more and more,
Is hustled headlong out of door.
Source: Boothby - Phaedrus 5.7.
(image source: actor holding a mask)
(not in Mille) Perry529