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Recumbent at her ease ere long,
She left the cares of life behind,
When in came, housewifely inclined,
Awaken'd by the shock, cried Puss, “ Was ever cat attended thus ! The open drawer was left, I see, Merely to prove a nest for me, For soon as I was well composed Then came the maid, and it was closed. How smooth these 'kerchiefs and how sweet! Oh, what a delicate retreat ! I will resign myself to rest Till Sol declining in the west Shall call to supper, when, no doubt, Susan will come and let me out."
The evening came, the sun descended, And puss remain'd still uattended. The night rolld tardily away, (With her indeed 'twas never day) The sprightly morn her course renew'd, The evening gray again ensued, And puss came into mind no more Than if entomb’d the day before. With hunger pinch'd, and pinch’d for room, She now presaged approaching doom, Nor slept a single wink, or purr'd, Conscious of jeopardy incurrd.
That night, by chance, the poet watching, Heard an inexplicable scratching ; His noble heart went pit-a-pat, And to himself he said—“ What 's that ?" He drew the curtain at his side, And forth he peep'd, but nothing spied ;
Yet, by his ear directed, guess'd Something imprison'd in the chest, And, doubtful what, with prudent care Resolved it should continue there. At length, a voice which well he knew, A long and melancholy mew, Saluting his poetic ears, Consoled him, and dispell’d his fears ; He left his bed, he trod the floor, He 'gan in haste the drawers explore, The lowest first, and without stop The rest in order to the top. For 'tis a truth well known to most, That whatsoever thing is lost, We seek it, ere it come to light, In every cranny but the right. Forth skipp'd the cat, not now replete As erst with airy self-conceit, Nor in her own fond apprehension A theme for all the world's attention, But modest, sober, cured of all Her notions hyperbolical, And wishing for a place of rest Any thing rather than a chest. Then stepp'd the poet into bed With this reflection in his head :
MORAL. Beware of too sublime a sense · Of your own worth and consequence. The man who dreams himself so great, And his importance of such weight, That all around in all that 's done Must move and act for him alone, Will learn in school of tribulation The folly of his expectation.
· YARDLEY OAK.
[This is one of the most finished specimens of Cowper's blank verse, the finest passages of the Task not excepted. The history of the poem, which must have been begun and brought to its present state between the autumn of 1788, and the close of 1791, is curious. Contrary to his usual practice, Cowper had mentioned this composition to none of his friends; he probably began with the resolution of continuing the piece, but seems to have thrown aside and forgotten the manuscript. Some time after the poet's decease, Hayley, on turning over a boxful of his manuscripts, transmitted to him by the Rev. Dr Johnson, discovered this original among the rejected alterations of translated poetry. The copy had been more carefully corrected than was usual with Cowper, and written on loose half quires of quarto paper, with blanks apparently to be filled up. We find allusions to this tree in letters to Rose ; and in some loose memoranda in the poet's hand were the following :-“ Yardley oak, in girth, feet 22, inches 6. The oak at Yardley Lodge, feet 28, inches 5.” These refer to two different trees, the first “ the Yardley oak,” about five miles from Cowper's residence; the other the “ Judith oak,” from the niece of the Conqueror, who married the English Earl of Northampton, Waltheof, and, according to tradition, planted the oak.] SURVIVOR sole, and hardly such, of all That once lived here, thy brethren, at my birth, (Since which I number threescore winters past,) A shatter'd veteran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps, As now, and with excoriate forks deform, Relics of ages ! Could a mind, imbued With truth from Heaven, created thing adore, I might with reverence kneel and worship thee.
It seems idolatry with some excuse,
Thou wast a bauble once; a cup and ball,
Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye oan,
Thou fell’st mature ; and in the loamy clod
Who lived, when thou wast such ? Oh, couldst thou
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
Time made thee what thou wast - king of the woods ;
That grazed it, stood beneath that ample cope
While thus through all the stages thou hast push'd
What exhibitions various hath the world
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still