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My breath is as sweet as the breath of blown roses,
While you are a nuisance where'er you appear;

There is nothing but snivelling and blowing of noses,
Such a noise as turns any man's stomach to hear.

Then lifting his lid in a delicate way,

And opening his mouth with a smile quite engaging, The box in reply was heard plainly to say,

What a silly dispute is this we are waging!

If you have a little of merit to claim,

You may thank the sweet-smelling Virginian weed; And I, if I seem to deserve any blame,

The before-mentioned drug in apology plead.

Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own,
No room for a sneer, much less a cachinnus;

We are vehicles, not of tobacco alone,
But of anything else they may choose to put in us.

THE COLUBRIAD.

1783.

Close by the threshold of a door nailed fast

Three kittens sat; each kitten looked aghast;

I passing swift and inattentive by,

At the three kittens cast a careless eye,

Not much concerned to know what they did there,

Not deeming kittens worth a poet's care.

But presently a loud and furious hiss

Caused me to stop and to exclaim, "What's this?"

When lo! upon the threshold met my view,

With head erect, and eyes of fiery hue,

A viper, long as Count de Grasse's queue.

Forth from his head his forked tongue he throws,

Darting it full against a kitten's nose,

Who having never seen, in field or house,

The like, sat still and silent as a mouse;

Only projecting with attention due,

Her whiskered face, she asked him, "Who are you?'

On to the hall went I, with pace not slow,

But swift as lightning, for a long Dutch hoe,

With which well armed I hastened to the spot,

To find the viper,—but I found him not;

And turning up the leaves, and shrubs around,

Found only, that he was not to be found.

But still the kittens, sitting as before,

Sat watching close the bottom of the door.

"I hope," said I, "the villain I would kill

Has slipped between the door and the door sill;

And if I make despatch and follow hard,

No doubt but I shall find him in the yard ;"

For long ere now it should have been rehearsed,

'Twas in the garden that I found him first.

Even there I found him, there the full-grown cat

His head, with velvet paw, did gently pat,

As curious as the kittens erst had been

To learn what this phenomenon might mean,

Filled with heroic ardour at the sight,

And fearing every moment he would bite,

And rob our household of our only cat

That was of age to combat with a rat,

With outstretched hoe I slew him at the door,

And taught him Never To Come There No More.

ON FRIENDSHIP.

Amicitia nisi inter bonos esse non potest.

Cicero.
1782.

What virtue can we name, or grace,
But men unqualified and base

Will boast it their possession?
Profusion apes the noble part
Of liberality of heart,

And dulness of discretion.

But as the gem of richest cost
Is ever counterfeited most,

So, always, imitation
Employs the utmost skill she can
To counterfeit the faithful man,

The friend of long duration.

Some will pronounce me too severe,
But long experience speaks me clear;

Therefore that censure scorning,
I will proceed to mark the shelves
On which so many dash themselves,

And give the simple warning.

Youth, unadmonished by a guide,
Will trust to any fair outside, —

An error soon corrected;
For who but learns with riper years,
That man, when smoothest he appears,

Is most to be suspected?

But here again a danger lies,
Lest, thus deluded by our eyes,

And taking trash for treasure,
We should, when undeceived, conclude
Friendship imaginary good,

A mere Utopian pleasure.

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An acquisition rather rare
Is yet no subject of despair;

Nor should it seem distressful,
If either on forbidden ground,
Or where it was not to be found,

We sought it unsuccessful.

No friendship will abide the test
That stands on sordid interest

And mean self-love erected;
Nor such as may awhile subsist
'Twixt sensualist and sensualist,

For vicious ends connected.

Who hopes a friend, should have a heart
Himself well furnished for the part,

And ready on occasion
To show the virtue that he seeks;
For 'tis a union that bespeaks

A just reciprocation.

A fretful temper will divide

The closest knot that may be tied,

By ceaseless sharp corrosion: A temper passionate and fierce May suddenly your joys disperse

At one immense explosion.

In vain the talkative unite

With hope of permanent delight;

The secret just committed They drop through mere desire to prate, Forgetting its important weight,

And by themselves outwitted.

How bright soe'er the prospect seems,
All thoughts of friendship are but dreams,

If envy chance to creep in;
And envious man, if you succeed,
May prove a dangerous foe indeed,

But not a friend worth keeping.

As envy pines at good possessed,
So jealousy looks forth distressed,

On good that seems approaching,
And if success his steps attend,
Discerns a rival in a friend,

And hates him for encroaching.

Hence authors of illustrious name,
(Unless belied by common fame,)

Are sadly prone to quarrel:
To deem the wit a friend displays
So much of loss to their own praise,

And pluck each other's laurel.

A man renowned for repartee
Will seldom scruple to make free

With friendship's finest feeling
Will thrust a-dagger at your breast,
And tell you 'twas a special jest,

By way of balm for healing.

Beware of tattlers; keep your ear
Close stopt against the tales they hear,—

Fruits of their own invention;
The separation of chief friends
Is what their kindness most intends;

Their sport is your dissension.

Friendship that wantonly admits
A joco-serious play of wits

In brilliant altercation,
Is union such as indicates,
Like hand-in-hand insurance plates,

Danger of conflagration.

Some fickle creatures boast a soul
True as the needle to the pole;

Yet shifting, like the weather,
The needle's constancy forego
For any novelty, and show

Its variations rather.

Insensibility makes some
Unseasonably deaf and dumb

When most you need their pity;
'Tis waiting till the tears shall fall
From Gog and Magog in Guildhall,—

Those playthings of the city.

The great and small but rarely meet
On terms of amity complete:

The attempt would scarce be madder,
Should any, from the bottom, hope
At one huge stride to reach the top

Of an erected ladder.

Courtier and patriot cannot mix
Their heterogeneous politics

Without an effervescence,
Such as of salts with lemon-juice,
But which is rarely known to induce,

Like that, a coalescence.

Religion should extinguish strife,
And make a calm of human life:

But even those who differ
Only on topics left at large,
How fiercely will they meet and charge!

No combatants are stiffer.

To prove, alas ! my main intent,
Needs no great cost of argument,

No cutting and contriving;
Seeking a real friend, we seem
To adopt the chymist's golden dream

With still less hope of thriving.

Then judge, or ere you choose your man, As circumspectly as you can,

And, having made election, See that no disrespect of yours, Such as a friend but ill endures,

Enfeeble his affection.

It is not timber, lead and stone,
An architect requires alone,

To finish a great building;
The palace were but half complete,
Could he by any chance forget

The carving and the gilding.

As similarity of mind,

Or something not to be defined,

First rivets our attention;
So, manners, decent and polite,
The same we practised at first sight,

Must save it from declension.

The man who hails you Tom or Jack,
And proves by thumping on your back,

His sense of your great merit,
Is such a friend, that one had need
Be very much his friend, indeed,
. To pardon, or to bear it.

Some friends make this their prudent plan"Say little, and hear all you can ;"

Safe policy, but hateful;
So barren sands imbibe the shower,
But render neither fruit nor flower,

Unpleasant and ungrateful.

They whisper trivial things, and small:
But, to communicate at all

Things serious, deem improper;
Their feculence and froth they show,
But keep the best contents below,

Just like the simmering copper.

These samples (for alas! at last
These are but samples, and a taste

Of evils yet unmentioned ;)
May prove the task, a task indeed,
In which 'tis much, if we succeed,

However well-intentioned.

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