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He has outslept the winter, ventures forth,
To frisk awhile, and bask in the warm sun,
The squirrel, flippant, pert, and full of play; 315
He sees me, and at once, swift as a bird,
Ascends the neighb’ring beech ; there whisks his brush,
And perks his ears, and stamps, and cries aloud,
With all the prettiness of feign’d alarm,
And anger insignificantly fierce.
The heart is hard in nature, and unfit
For human fellowship, as being void
Of sympathy, and therefore dead alike
To love and friendship both, that is not pleas'd
With sight of animals enjoying life,
323 Nor feels their happiness augment his own. The bounding fawn, that darts across the glade When none pursues, through mere delight of heart And spirits buoyant with excess of glee; The horse as wanton, and almost as fleet,
330 That skims the spacious meadow at fall speed, Then stops, and snorts, and, throwing high his heels, Starts to the voluntary race again; The very kine that gambol at high noon, The total herd receiving first from one,
335 That leads the dance, a summons to be gay, Though wild their strange vagaries, and uncouth Their efforts, yet resolv'd, with one consent, To give such act and utt'rance as they may To ecstasy too big to be suppress'd—
340 These, and a thousand images of bliss, With which kind Nature graces ev'ry scene, Where cruel man defeats not her design, Impart to the benevolent, who wish All that are capable of pleasure pleas'd,
345 A far superiour happiness to theirs, The comfort of a reasonable joy.
Nan scarce had ris'n, obedient to his call Who form d him from the dust, his future grave, When he was crown'd as never king was since. 350
God set the diadem upon his head,
And angel choirs attended. Wond'ring stood
The new-made monarch, while before him pass'd,
All happy, and all perfect in their kind,
The creatures, summon'd from their various haunts,
To see their soy’reign, and confess his sway. +
Vast was his empire, absolute his pow'r,
Or bounded only by a law, whose force
'Twas his sublimest privilege to feel
And own the law of universal love.
He rul'd with meekness, they obey'd with joy ;
No cruel purpose lurk'd within his heart,
And no distrust of his intent in theirs.
So Eden was a scene of harmless sport,
Where kindness on his part who rul'd the whole, 365
Begat a tranquil confidence in all,
And fear as yet was not, nor cause for fear.
But sin marr'd all; and the revolt of man,
That source of evils not exhausted yet,
Was punish'd with revolt of his from him. 370
Garden of God, how terrible the change
Thy groves and lawns then witness'd! Ev'ry heart,
Each animal, of ev'ry name, conceiv'd
A jealousy and an instinctive fear,
And, conscious of some danger, either fled 375
Precipitate the loath'd abode of man,
Or growl'd defiance in such angry sort,
As taught him too to tremble in his turn.
Thus harmony and family accord
Were driv'n from Paradise ; and in that hour 380
The seeds of cruelty, that since have swellid
To such gigantick and enormous growth,
Were sown in human nature's fruitful soil.
Hence date the persecution and the pain,
That man inflicts on all inferiour kinds,
385 Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport, To gratify the frenzy of his wrath, Or his base gluttony, are causes good Vol. II.
And just in his account, why bird and beast
Should suffer torture, and the streams be died
With blood of their inhabitants impal'd.
Earth groans beneath the burden of a war
Wag'd with defenceless innocence, while he,
Not satisfied to prey on all around,
Adds tenfold bitterness to death by pangs
Needless, and first torments ere he devours.
Now happiest they that occupy the scenes
The most remote from his abhorr'd resort,
Whom once, as delegate of God on earth,
They fear'd, and as his perfect image, lov'd.
The wilderness is theirs, with all its caves,
Its hollow glens, its thickets, and its plains,
Unvisited by man. There they are free,
And howl and roar as likes them, uncontrollid;
Nor ask his leave to slumber or to play.
Wo to the tyrant, if he dare intrude
Within the confines of their wild domain :
The lion tells him-I am monarch here-
And if he spare him, spares him on the terms
Of royal mercy, and through gen'rous scorn
To rend a victim trembling at his foot.
In measure, as by force of instinct drawn,
Or by necessity constrain d, they live
Dependent upon man ; those in his fields,
These at his crib, and some beneath his roof.
They prove too often at how.dear a rate
He sells protection-Witness at his foot
The spaniel dying for some venial fault
Under dissection of the knotted scourge ;
Witness the patient ox, with stripes and yells
Driv'n to the slaughter, goaded, as he runs,
To madness; while the savage at his heels
Laughs at the frantick suff'rer's fury, spent
Upon the guiltless passenger o‘erthrown.
He too is witness, noblest of the train
That wait on man, the flight-performing horse ;
With unsuspecting readiness he takes
His murd'rer on his back, and, push'd all day
With bleeding sides and flanks that heave for life,
To the far distant goal arrives and dies.
430 So little mercy shows who needs so much! Does law, so jealous in the cause of man, Denounce no doom on the delinquent ? None. He lives and o'er his brimming beaker boasts (As if barbarity were high desert,)
435 Th’ inglorious feat, and clamorous in praise Of the poor brute, seems wisely to suppose The honours of his matchless horse his own. But many a crime, deem'd innocent on earth, Is register'd in Heav'n ; and these no doubt, 440 Have each their record, with a curse annex’d. Man
may dismiss compassion from his heart, But God will never. When he charg'd the Jew T'assist his foe's down-fallen beast to rise ; And when the bush-exploring boy, that seiz'd 445 The young, to let the parent bird go free ; Prov'd he not plainly, that his meaner works Are yet his care, and have an int’rest all, All, in the universal Father's love? On Noah, and in him on all mankind,
450 The charter was conferr’d by which we hold The flesh of animals in fee, and claim O'er all we feed on pow'r of life and death. But read the instrument, and mark it well: Th' oppression of a tyrannous control
455 Can find no warrant there. Feed then, and yield, Thanks for thy food. Carnivorous, through sin, Feed on the slain, but spare the living brute ?
The Governor of all, himself to all So bountiful, in whose attentive ear
460 The unflodg'd raven and the lion's whelp Plead not in vain for pity on the pangs Of hunger unassuag'd, has interpos’d, Not seldom, his avenging arm, to smite
Th’ injurious trampler upon Nature's law, 465
That claims forbearance even for a brute.
He hates the hardness of a Balaam's heart ;
And, prophet as he was, he might not strike
The blameless animal, without rebuke,
On which he rode. Her opportune offence 470
Sav'd him, or the unrelenting seer had died.
He sees that human equity is slack
To interfere, though in so just a cause :
And makes the task his own. Inspiring dumb
And helpless victims with a sense so keen 475
Of injury, with such knowledge of their strength
And such sagacity to take revenge,
That oft the beast has seem'd to judge the man.
An ancient, not a legendary tale,
By one of sound intelligence rehears'd,
480 (If such who plead for Providence may seem In modern eyes,) shall make the doctrine clear.
Where England, stretch'd towards the setting sun, Narrow and long, o'erlooks the western wave, Dwelt young Misagathus; a scorner he
485 Of God and goodness, atheist in ostent, Vicious in act, in temper savage-fierce. He journey'd: and his chance was, as he went, To join a trav'ller, of far different note, Evander, fam’d for piety, for years Deserving honour, but for wisdom more. Fame had not left the venerable man A stranger to the manners of the youth, Whose face, too, was familiar to his view. Their way was on the margin of the land, 495 O'er the green summit of the rocks, whose base Beats back the roaring surge, scarce heard so high. The charity that warm'd his heart, was mov'd At sight of the man-monster. With a smile Gentle and affable, and full of grace,
500 As fearful of offending whom he wish'd Much to persuade, he plied his ear with truths