I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast-rooted against every rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough,
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.

When, cry the botanists, and stare,
Did plants called sensitive grow there?
No matter when—a poet's muse is
To make them grow just where she chooses.

You shapeless nothing in a dish,
You that are but almost a fish,
I scorn your coarse insinuation,
And have most plentifr' occasion
To wish myself the rock " view,
Or such another dolt as yon.
For many a grave and learned clerk,
And many a gay unlettered spark,
With curious touch examines me,
If I can feel as well as he;
And when I bend, retire, and shrink,
Says, well—'tis more than one would think.—
Thus life is spent, oh fie upon't!
In being touched, and crying don't.

A poet in his evening walk,
O'erheard and checked this idle talk.
And your fine sense, he said, and yours,
Whatever evil it endures,
Deserves not, if so soon offended,
Much to be pitied or commended.
Disputes though short, are far too long,
Where both alike are in the wrong;
Your feelings in their full amount,
Are all upon your own account.

You in your grotto-work enclosed
Complain of being thus exposed,
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat,
Save when the knife is at your throat,
Wherever driven by wind or tide,
Exempt from every ill beside.

And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
Who reckon every touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around,
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all, not you.
The noblest minds their virtue prove
By pity, sympathy, and love;
These, these are feelings truly fine,
And prove their owner half divine.

His censure reached them as he dealt it,
And each by shrinking showed he felt it.



Unwin, I should but ill repay

The kindness of a friend,
Whose worth deserves as warm a lay

As ever friendship penned,
Thy name omitted in a page
That would reclaim a vicious age.

An union formed, as mine with thee,

Not rashly or in sport,
May be as fervent in degree,

And faithful in its sort,
And may as rich in comfort prove,
As that of true fraternal love.

The bud inserted in the rind,

The bud of peach or rose,
Adorns, though differing in its kind,

The stock whereon it grows
With flower as sweet or full as fair
As if produced by nature there.

Not rich, I render what I may,

I seize thy name in haste,
And place it in this first essay,

Lest this should prove the last.
'Tis where it should be, in a plan
That holds in view the good of man.

The poet's lyre, to fix his fame,

Should be the poet's heart;
Affection lights a brighter flame

Than ever blazed by art.
No muses on these lines attend
I sink the poet in the friend.


Dear Joseph,—five and twenty years ago—
Alas! how time escapes—'tis even sol—
With frequent intercourse and always sweet
And always friendly we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour,—and now we never meet,
As some grave gentleman in Terence says,
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days,)
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings,—
Strange fluctuation of all human things!
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart:
And were I called to prove the assertion true,
One proof should serve, a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life,

Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife,

We find the friends we fancied we had won,

Though numerous once, reduced to few or none?

Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch?

No. Gold they seemed, but they were never such.

Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe

Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge,

Dreading a negative, and overawed

Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.

Go, fellow !—whither ?—turning short about—

Nay. Stay at home ;—you're always going out.

'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.—

For what ?—An please you, sir, to see a friend.

A friend? Horatio cried, and seemed to start,—

Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart—

And fetch my cloak, for though the night be raw

I'll see him too—the first I ever saw.

I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,

And was his plaything often when a child;

But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,

Else he was seldom bitter or morose:

Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,

His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;

Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth,

The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.

Howe'er it was, his language in my mind

Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.

But not to moralise too much, and strain

To prove an evil of which all complain,

(I hate long arguments, verbosely spun,)

One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.

Once on a time, an Emperor, a wise man,

No matter where, in China or Japan,

Decreed that whosoever should offend

Against the well-known duties of a friend,

Convicted once, should ever after wear

But half a coat, and show his bosom bare;

The punishment importing this, no doubt,

That all was naught within, and all found out.

Oh happy Britain! we have not to fear

Such hard and arbitrary measures here;

Else could a law like that which I relate,

Once have the sanction of our triple state,

Some few1 that I have known in days of old

Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold.

While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,

1 In a letter to Mr. Newton (July o, 1785), Cowper tells him that Thurlow and Colman are the former friends to whom he particularly alludes in these lines, "and it is possible," he adds, "that they may take to themselves a censure that they so well deserve. If not, it matters not; for I shall never have any communication with them hereafter." After the success of his second volume, however, their acquaintance was renewed, and Cowper forgave the unkindness of their neglect.

Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man, close-buttoned to the chin,
Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.



John Giipin was a citizen

Of credit and renown,
A train-band Captain eke was he

Of famous London town.

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,

—Though wedded we have been These twice ten tedious years, yet we

No holiday have seen.

To-morrow is our wedding-day,

And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton,

All in a chaise and pair.

My sister and my sister's child,

Myself and children three
Will fill the chaise, so you must ride

On horseback after we.

He soon replied—I do admire

Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear,

Therefore it shall be done.

I am a linen-draper bold,

As all the world doth know,
And my good friend the Callender

Will lend his horse to go.

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin—That's well said;

And for that wine is dear,
We will be furnished with our own,

Which is both bright and clear.

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife,

O'erjoyed was he to find
That though on pleasure she was bent,

She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought,

But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all

Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stayed,
Where they did all get in.

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