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Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song
Had been their mutual solace long,
Lived happy prisoners there.

They sang as blithe as finches sing
That flutter loose on golden wing,

And frolic where they list;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew,

And therefore never missed.

But nature works in every breast,
With force not easily suppressed;

And Dick felt some desires,
That, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain

A pass between his wires.

The open windows seemed to invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;

But Tom was still confined;
And Dick, although his way was clear,
Was much too generous and sincere

To leave his friend behind.

So settling on his cage, by play,

And chirp, and kiss, he seemed to say,

You must not live alone ;—
Nor would he quit that chosen stand
Till I, with slow and cautious hand,

Returned him to his own

Oh ye, who never taste the joys
Of friendship, satisfied with noise,

Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush when I tell you how a bird
A prison with a friend preferred

To liberty without.

THE NEEDLESS ALARM.

A TALE.

There is a field, through which I often pass,
Thick overspread with moss and silky grass,
Adjoining close to Kilwick's echoing wood,
Where oft the bitch fox hides her hapless brood,
Reserved to solace many a neighbouring squire,
That he may follow them through brake and brier,
Contusion hazarding of neck or spine,
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine.
A narrow brook, by rushy banks concealed,
Runs in a bottom, and divides the field;
Oaks intersperse it, that had once a head,

Ji

390 THE NEEDLESS ALARM.

But now wear crests of oven wood instead;
And where the land slopes to its watery bourn
Wide yawns a gulf beside a ragged thorn;
Bricks line the sides, but shivered long ago,
And horrid brambles intertwine below;
A hollow scooped, I judge, in ancient time,
For baking earth, or burning rock to lime.

Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed;
Nor Autumn yet had brushed from every spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away;
But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack;
Now therefore issued forth the spotted pack,
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats
With a whole gamut filled of heavenly notes,
For which, alas! my destiny severe,
Though ears she gave me two, gave me no ear.

The sun, accomplishing his early march,
His lamp now planted on heaven's topmost arch,
When, exercise and air my only aim,
And heedless whither, to that field I came,
Ere yet with ruthless joy the happy hound
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found,
Or with the high raised horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick1 and all Dinglederry1 rang.

Sheep grazed the field; some with soft bosom pressed
The herb as soft, while nibbling strayed the rest;
Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook,
Struggling, detained in many a petty nook.
All seemed so peaceful, that, from them conveyed,
To me their peace by kind contagion spread.

But when the huntsman, with distended cheek,
'Gan make his instrument of music speak,
And from within the wood that crash was heard,
Though not a hound from whom it burst appeared;
The sheep recumbent and the sheep that grazed,
All huddling into phalanx, stood and gazed,
Admiring, terrified, the novel strain,
Then coursed the field around, and coursed it round again;
But recollecting, with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urged advanced them nought,
They gathered close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again—but knew not what to think.

The man to solitude accustomed long, .
Perceives in every thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees
Have speech 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,

1 Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq.

How glad they catch the largess of the skies;

But, with precision nicer still, the mind

He scans of every locomotive kind;

Birds of all feather, beasts of every name,

That serve mankind, or shun 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 glossary to set him right.

This truth premised was needful as a text, To win due credence to what follows next.

Awhile they mused; surveying every face, Thou hadst supposed them of superior race; Their periwigs of wool and fears combined, Stamped on each countenance such marks of mind, That sage they seemed, as lawyers o'er a doubt, Which, puzzling long, at last 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 sad addressed:

Friends! we have lived too long. I never heard Sounds such as these, so worthy to be feared. Could I believe, that winds for ages pent In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent, And from their prison-house below arise, With all these hideous bowlings to the skies, I could be much composed, nor should appear, For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear. Yourselves have seen what time the thunders rolled All night, me resting 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 ass; for he, we know, has lately strayed, And being lost, perhaps, and wandering wide, Might be supposed to clamour for a guide. But ah! those dreadful yells what soul can hear, That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear? Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-clawed, And fanged with brass, the demons are abroad; I hold it therefore wisest and most fit That, life to save, we leap into the pit.

Him answered then his loving mate and true,
But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe.

How? leap into the pit our life to save? •
To save our life leap all into the grave?
For can we find it less? Contemplate first
The depth how awful! falling there, we burst;
Or should the brambles interposed our fall
In part abate, that happiness were small;
For with a race like theirs no chance I see

Of peace or ease to creatures clad as we.
Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray,
Or be it not, or be it whose it may,
And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues
Of demons uttered, from whatever lungs,
Sounds are but sounds, and, till the cause appear,
We have at least commodious standing here.
Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast
From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last.

While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals,
For Reynard, close attended at his heels
By panting dog, tired man, and spattered horse,
Through mere good fortune, took a different course.
The flock grew calm again, and I, the road
Following, that led me to my own abode,
Much wondered that the silly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty sound,
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.

Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.

INSCRIPTION FOR THE TOMB OF MR HAMILTON.

Pause here, and think; a monitory rhyme
Demands one moment of thy fleeting time.

Consult life's silent clock, thy bounding vein;
Seems it to say—" Health here has long to reign?"
Hast thou the vigour of thy youth? an eye
That beams delight? a heart untaught to sigh?
Yet fear I Youth ofttimes healthful and at ease,
Anticipates a day it never sees;
And many a tomb, like Hamilton's, aloud
Exclaims, '' Prepare thee for an early shroud!"

EPITAPH ON MRS. M HIGGINS, OF WESTON.

1791.

Laurels may flourish round the conqueror's tomb,
But happiest they who win the world to come:
Believers have a silent field to fight,
And their exploits are veiled from human sight.
They in some nook, where little known they dwell,
Kneel, pray in faith, and rout the hosts of hell;
Eternal triumphs crown their toils divine,
And all those triumphs, Mary, now are thine.

THE RETIRED CAT.

1791.

A Poet's cat, sedate and grave

As poet well could wish to have,

Was much addicted to inquire

For nooks to which she might retire,

And where, secure as mouse in chink,

She might repose, or sit and think.

I know not where she caught the trick,—

Nature perhaps herself had cast her

In such a mould Philosophique,

Or else she learned it of her master.

Sometimes ascending, debonnair,

An apple-tree, or lofty pear,

Lodged with convenience in the fork,

She watched the gardener at his work;

Sometimes her ease and solace sought

In an old empty watering-pot,

There wanting nothing, save a fan,

To seem some nymph in her sedan

Apparelled in exactest sort,

And ready to be borne to court.

But love of change it seems has place Not only in our wiser race, Cats also fee' ns well as we, That passion's, force, and so did she. Her climbing, she began to find, Exposed her too much to the wind, And the old utensil of tin Was cold and comfortless within: She therefore wished instead of those Some place of more serene repose, Where neither cold might come, nor air Too rudely wanton with her hair, And sought it in the likeliest mode Within her master's snug abode.

A drawer, it chanced, at bottom lined With linen of the softest kind, With such as merchants introduce From India, for the ladies' use, A drawer impending o'er the rest, Half-open in the topmost chest, Of depth enough, and none to spare, Invited her to slumber there; Puss with delight beyond expression Surveyed the scene and took possessionRecumbent at her ease ere long, And lulled by her own humdrum song, She left the cares of life behind, And slept as she would sleep her last,

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