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THE FAITHFUT FRIEND.
THE green-house is my summer seat; My shrubs, displaced from that retreat, Enjoyed the open air;
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?
Instinct is never quite suppressed;
And Dick felt some desires,
Which, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain
A pass between the wires.
The open windows seemed to invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;
But Tom was still confined;
And Dick, although bis way was clear,
Was much too generous and sincere
To leave his friend behind.
For, settling on his grated roof,
He chirped and kissed him, giving proof That he desired no more;
Nor would forsake his cage at last,
Till gently seized, I shut him fast
A prisoner as before.
Oh ye, who never knew 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.
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,
Resolved to solace many a neighbouring 'squire,
That he may follow them through brake and briar,
Contusion hazarding of neck and 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,
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 Kilwick* and all Dingle-derry* rang.
Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq.
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
But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
The 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,
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 perriwigs 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 'em, 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 howlings 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, we 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 bear, "That owns a carcase, and not quake for fear? "Dæmons produce them, doubtless, brazen-clawed "And fanged with brass the dæmons 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 dæmons 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.
THERE was a time when Ætna's silent fire
Slept unperceived, the mountain yet entire :
When, conscious of no danger from below,
She towered a cloud-capt pyramid of snow.
No thunders shook with deep intestine sound
The blooming groves, that girdled her around.
Her unctuous olives, and her purple vines,
(Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines)
The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assured,
In peace upon her sloping sides matured.
When on a day, like that of the last doom,
A conflagration labouring in her womb,
She teemed and heaved with an infernal birth,
That shook the circling seas and solid earth.
Dark and voluminous the vapours rise,
And hang their horrors in the neighbouring skies,
While through the stygian veil that blots the day,
In dazzling streaks the vivid lightnings play.
But oh! what muse, and in what powers of song,
Can trace the torrent as it burns along?
Havoc and devastation in the van,
It marches o'er the prostrate works of man,