Fools find it hardest to affeer their wit;
For, having none, how can they know they lack it?
And, truly tricked, they tremble not to back it
Against what highest wisdom will admit.
To tell them this doth teach them not a whit;
For well they know within the bony jacket
That bounds our brains there’s little room to crack it.
Ah sad, how soon these fools our merits fit!
But surely this should bear a fruitful lesson —
That fools are ever first to point a fool.
’Twere very hard to put the needful stress on
This homely truth, yet first in Wisdom’s school.
Thus, what I preach within this simple sonnet
Will prompt some other fool to spit upon it!
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 46
affeer = confirm, decide, determine; to decide upon, fix, or settle an amount (especially of a court fine)
doth = (archaic) does
’twere = (archaic) a contraction of “it were”
whit = very little, a very tiny amount or part, the least amount; a bit, iota, jot, particle