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Thou hadst an industry in doing good,
Such was thy charity, — no sudden start,
Thy bounties all were Christian, and I make
MORTUARY STANZAS FOR 1790.
Ne commonentem recta sperne. BUCHANAN.
He who sits from day to day,
Where the prison'd lark is hung,
Hardly knows that he has sung.
Where the watchman in his round
Nightly lifts his voice on high, None, accustom'd to the sound,
Wakes the sooner for his cry.
So your verse-man I, and clerk,
Yearly in my voice proclaim Death at hand— yourselves his mark
And the foe's unerring aim.
Duly at my time I come,
Publishing to all aloud, -
And your only suit a shroud.
But the monitory strain,
Oft repeated in your ears, Seems to sound too much in vain,
Wins no notice, wakes no fears.
Can a truth, by all confess'd,
Of such magnitude and weight, Grow, by being oft express’d,
Trivial as a parrot's prate ?
Pleasure's call attention wins,
Hear it often as we may; New as ever seem our sins,
Though committed every day.
Death and judgment, heaven and hell —
These alone, so often heard, No more move us than the bell
When some stranger is interr’d.
Oh, then, ere the turf or tomb
Cover us from every eye, Spirit of instruction, come,
Make us learn that we must die.
THE JUDGMENT OF THE POETS.
Two nymphs, both nearly of an age,
Of numerous charms possess’d,
Whose temper was the best.
The worth of each had been complete,
Had both alike been mild;
Frown'd oftener than she smiled.
And in her humour, when she frown’d,
Would raise her voice, and roar, And shake with fury to the ground
The garland that she wore.
The other was of gentler cast,
From all such frenzy clear,
And never proved severe.
To poets of renown in song
The nymphs referr'd the cause, Who, strange to tell, all judged it wrong,
And gave misplaced applause.
They gentle callid, and kind and soft,
The flippant and the scold, And though she changed her mood so oft,
That failing left untold.
No judges, sure, were e'er so mad,
Or so resolved to err-
Then thus the god whom fondly they
Their great inspirer call,
To reprimand them all.
“ Since thus ye have combined,” he said,
“ My favourite nymph to slight, Adorning May, that peevish maid,
With June's undoubted right,
“ The minx shall, for your folly's sake,
Still prove herself a shrew,
And pinch your noses blue.”
THE RETIRED CAT.
[This poem was written in the autumn of 1791; its subject is mentioned with praise by the poet, as a promising kitten, in 1787.]
A Poet's Cat, sedate and grave
I know not where she caught the trick
Nature perhaps herself had cast her In such a mould philosophique,
Or else she learn'd it of her master. Sometimes ascending, debonnair, An apple-tree, or lofty pear, Lodged with convenience in the fork, She watch'd 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 Apparell’d 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 feel as 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 wish'd, 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, Survey'd the scene, and took possession.