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THE NEEDLESS ALARM.

A TALE.

THERE is a field through which I often pafs, Thick overfpread with mofs and filky grafs, Adjoining close to Kilwick's echoing wood, Where oft the bitch-fox hides her hapless brood, Referv'd to folace many a neighb'ring 'fquire, That he may follow them through brake and briar, Contufion hazarding of neck or fpine, Which rural gentlemen call sport divine. A narrow brook by rufhy banks conceal'd, Runs in a bottom, and divides the field; Oaks intersperse it, that had once a head, But now wear crests of oven-wood instead; And where the land flops to its wat'ry bourn, Wide yawns a gulf beside a ragged thorn; Bricks line the fides, but fhiver'd long ago, And horrid brambles intertwine below; A hollow fcoop'd, I judge in ancient time, For baking earth, or burning rock to lime.

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Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry gueft, is fed;
Nor autumn yet had brush'd from ev'ry spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away;
But corn was hous'd, and beans were in the stack,
Now, therefore, iffued forth the fpotted pack,
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats
With a whole gamut fill'd of heav'nly notes,
For which, alas! my deftiny fevere,

Though ears fhe gave me two, gave me no car.
The fun, accomplishing his early march,
His lamp now planted on heav'n's topmaft arch,
When, exercife and air my only aim,

And heedlefs whither, to that field I came,
Ere yet with ruthlefs joy the happy hound
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found,
Or with the high-rais'd horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick and all Dingle-derry rang.

*

Sheep graz'd the field; fome with foft bofom prefs'd The herb as foft, while nibbling ftray'd the reft; Nor noife was heard but of the hafty brook, Struggling, detain'd in many a petty nook. All feem'd fo peaceful, that from them convey'd To me, their peace by kind contagion fpread.

*Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Efq.

But when the huntfman, with diftended check, 'Gan make his inftrument of mufic fpeak, And from within the wood that crash was heard, Though not a hound from whom it burst appear'd, The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that graz'd, All huddling into phalanx, ftood and gaz'd, Admiring, terrified, the novel ftrain,

Then cours'd the field around, and cours'd it round again;
But, recollecting with a fudden thought,

That flight in circles urg'd advanc'd them nought,
They gather'd clofe around the old pit's brink,
And thought again-but knew not what to think.
The man to folitude accustom❜d long,
Perceives in ev'ry thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but fhrubs and trees,
Have fpeech for him, and understood with ease;
After long drought, when rains abundant fall,
He hears the herbs and flowers rejoicing all;
Knows what the freshness of their hue implies,
How glad they catch the largenefs of the skies;
But with precision nicer ftill, the mind
He scans of ev'ry loco-motive kind;

Birds of all feather, beafts of ev'ry name,

That ferve mankind, or fhun them, wild or tame;
The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears
Have, all, articulation in his ears;

He spells them true by intuition's light,
And needs no gloffary to fet him right.

This truth premis'd was needful as a text,
To win due credence to what follows next.
Awhile they mus'd; furveying ev'ry face,
Thou hadft fuppos'd them of fuperior race;
Their periwigs of wool, and fears combin'd,
Stamp'd on each countenance fuch marks of mind,
That fage they feem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at laft they puzzle out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,

Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths;
When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers, fad, address'd.
Friends! we have liv'd too long. I never heard
Sounds fuch as thefe, fo worthy to be fear'd.
Could I believe, that winds for ages pent
In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent,
And from their prifon-house below arise,
With all these hideous howlings to the skies,
I could be much compos'd, nor fhould appear
For fuch a caufe to feel the flightest fear.
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders roll'd
All night, me refting quiet in the fold.
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone,
I could expound the melancholy tone;

Should deem it by our old companion made,
The afs; for he, we know, has lately flray'd,
And being loft, perhaps, and wand'ring wide,
Might be fuppos'd to clamour for a guide.
But, ah! thofe dreadful yells what foul can hear,
That owns a carcase, and not quake for fear?
Dæmons produce them, doubtless, brazen-claw'd
And fang'd with brass the dæmons are abroad;
I hold it, therefore, wifest and most fit,
That, life to fave, we leap into the pit.

Him anfwer'd then his loving mate and true,
But more difcreet than he, a Cambrian ewe.
How? leap into the pit our life to fave?
To fave our life leap all into the grave?
For can we find it lefs? Contemplate first
The depth how awful! falling there, we burst;
Or fhould the brambles, interpos'd, our fall
abate, that happiness were small;

In

part

For with a race like theirs no chance I fee

Of

peace or eafe to creatures clad as we. Meantime, noife kills not. Be it Dapple's bray, Or be it not, or be it whofe it may,

And rush thofe other founds, that feem by tongues Of dæmons utter'd, from whatever lungs,

Sounds are but founds, and till the caufe appear, We have at least commodious ftanding here.

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