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Recumbent at her ease ere long,
And lulld by her own humdrum song,

She left the cares of life behind,
And slept as she would sleep her last,

When in came, housewifely inclined,
The chambermaid, and shut it fast,
By no malignity impelld,
But all unconscious whom it held.

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 incurr'd.

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 :


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.


[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,

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.

As now,

It seems idolatry with some excuse,
When our forefather Druids in their oaks
Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet
Unpurified by an authentic act
Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine,
Loved not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom
Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste
Of fruit proscribed, as to a refuge, fled.

Thou wast a bauble once; a cup and ball,
Which babes might play with ; and the thievish jay,

Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs
And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp.
But fate thy growth decreed ; autumnal rains
Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil
Design'd thy cradle ; and a skipping deer,
With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe, prepared
The soft receptacle, in which, secure,
Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.

So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye oan,
Ye reasoners broad awake, whose busy search
Of argument, employ'd too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!

Thou fell’st mature ; and in the loamy clod
Swelling with vegetative force instinct
Did'st burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,
Now stars; two lobes, protruding, pair'd exact ;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fostering propitious, thou becamest a twig.

Who lived, when thou wast such ? Oh, couldst thou

As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.

By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
The clock of history, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts
Recovering, and mistated setting right -
Desperate attempt, till trees shall speak again!

Time made thee what thou wast - king of the woods ;
And Time hath made thee what thou art-a cave
For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs
O’erhung the champaign; and the numerous flocks

That grazed it, stood beneath that ample cope
Uncrowded, yet safe-shelter'd from the storm.
No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outlived
Thy popularity, and art become
(Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing
Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth.

While thus through all the stages thou hast push'd
Of treeship — first a seedling, hid in grass;
Then twig; then sapling; and, as century roll'd
Slow after century, a giant bulk
Of girth enormous, with moss-cushion'd root
Upheaved above the soil, and sides emboss'd
With prominent wens globose — till at the last
The rottenness, which time is charged to inflict
On other mighty ones, found also thee.

What exhibitions various hath the world
Witness'd of mutability in all
That we account most durable below!
Change is the diet on which all subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last
Destroys them. Skies uncertain now the heat
Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds
Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought,
Invigorate by turns the springs of life
In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads,
Fine passing thought, even in her coarsest works,
Delight in agitation, yet sustain
The force that agitates, not unimpair'd ;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.

Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still
The great and little of thy lot, thy growth
From almost nullity into a state
Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence,
Slow, into such magnificent decay.
Tiine was, when, settling on thy leaf, a fly

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