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I envy that unfeeling shrub,
When, cry the botanists, and stare,
You shapeless nothing in a dish,
A poet in his evening walk,
You in your grotto-work enclosed
And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
His censure reached them as he dealt it,
TO THE REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN.
Unwin, I should but ill repay
The kindness of a friend,
As ever friendship penned,
An union formed, as mine with thee,
Not rashly or in sport,
And faithful in its sort,
The bud inserted in the rind,
The bud of peach or rose,
The stock whereon it grows
Not rich, I render what I may,
I seize thy name in haste,
Lest this should prove the last.
The poet's lyre, to fix his fame,
Should be the poet's heart;
Than ever blazed by art.
AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Dear Joseph,—five and twenty years ago—
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,
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN,
SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN HE INTENDED, AND CAME SAFE HOME AGAIN.
John Giipin was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
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
All in a chaise and pair.
My sister and my sister's child,
Myself and children three
On horseback after we.
He soon replied—I do admire
Of womankind but one,
Therefore it shall be done.
I am a linen-draper bold,
As all the world doth know,
Will lend his horse to go.
Quoth Mrs. Gilpin—That's well said;
And for that wine is dear,
Which is both bright and clear.
John Gilpin kissed his loving wife,
O'erjoyed was he to find
She had a frugal mind.
The morning came, the chaise was brought,
But yet was not allowed
Should say that she was proud.
So three doors off the chaise was stayed,