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Disputes have been, and still prevail,
From whence his rays proceed; Some give that honour to his tail,
And others to his head.
But this is sure—the hand of night,
That kindles up the skies, Gives him a modicum of light
Proportioned to his size. Perhaps indulgent Nature meant,
By such a lamp bestowed,
Be careful where he trod :
He sees that this great roundabout, The world, with all its motley rout,
Church, army, physic, law, Its customs, and its business,
no concern at all of his,
And says—what says he ?-Caw. Thrice happy bird! I too have seen Much of the vanities men;
And, sick of having seen 'em, Would cheerfully these limbs resign For such a pair of wings as thine,
And such a head between 'em.
Nor crush a worm, whose useful light
Might serve, however small, To show a stumbling-stone by night,
And save him from a fall.
Whate'er she meant, this truth divine
Is legible and plain, 'Tis power almighty bids him shine,
Nor bids him shine in vain.
III. THE CRICKET. Little inmate, full of mirth, Chirping on my kitchen hearth, Wheresoe'er be thine abode, Always harbinger of good, Pay me for thy warm retreat With a song more soft and sweet; In return thou shalt receive Such a strain as I can give. Thus thy praise shall be expressed, Inoffensive, welcome guest! While the rat is on the scout, And the mouse with curious snout, With what vermin else infest Every dish, and spoil the best; Frisking thus before the fire, Thou hast all thine heart's desire.
Ye proud and wealthy, let this theme
Teach humbler thoughts to you, Since such a reptile has its gem,
And boasts its splendour too.
II. THE JACKDAW.
There is a bird, who by his coat, And by the hoarseness of his note,
Might be supposed a crow; A great frequenter of the church, Where bishop-like he finds a perch,
And dormitory too.
Above the steeple shines a plate,
From what point blows the weather, Look up-your brains begin to swim, 'Tis in the clouds—that pleases him,
He chooses it the rather.
Though in voice and shape they be Formed as if akin to thee, Thou surpassest, happier far, Happiest grasshoppers that are; Theirs is but a summer's song, Thine endures the winter long, Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear, Melody throughout the year. Neither night, nor dawn of day, Puts a period to thy play: Sing then--and extend thy span Far beyond the date of man. Wretched man whose years are spent In repining discontent, Lives not, aged though he be, Half a span, compared with thee.
Fond of the speculative height, Thither he wings his airy flight,
And thence securely sees The bustle and the rareeshow That occupy mankind below
Secure and at his ease.
You think, no doubt, he sits and muses
If he should chance to fall.
Or troubles it at all.
IV. THE PARROT. In painted plumes superbly dressed, A native of the gorgeous east,
By many a billow tossed, Poll gains at length the British shore, Part of the captain's precious store,
A present to his toast.
VI. RECIPROCAL KINDNESS.
Belinda's maids are soon preferred, To teach him now and then a word,
As Poll can master it; But 'tis her own important charge, To qualify him more at large,
And make him quite a wit.
THE PRIMARY LAW OF NATURE.
Sweet Poll! his doating mistress cries, Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies;
And calls aloud for sack. She next instructs him in the kiss; 'Tis now a little
like Miss, And now a hearty smack.
At first he aims at what he hears;
Just catches at the sound;
And stuns the neighbours round.
He scolds, and gives the lie.
Poor Poll is like to die!
ANDROCLES from his injured lord, in dread
Of instant death, to Libya's desert fled. Tired with his toilsome flight, and parched with
heat, He spied, at length, a cavern's cool retreat; But scarce had given to rest his weary frame When hugest of his kind, a lion came: He roared approaching: but the savage din To plaintive murmurs changed, arrived within, And with expressive looks his lifted paw Presenting, aid implored from whom he saw. The fugitive, through terror at a stand, Dared not awhile afford his trembling hand, But bolder grown, at length inherent found A pointed thorn, and drew it from the wound. The cure was wrought; he wiped the sanious
his healer, pauses on his way, And softened by remembrance into sweet And kind composure, crouches at his feet.
Mute with astonishment th' assembly gaze: But why, ye Romans? Whence your muta amaze ? All this is natural: nature bade him rend An enemy; she bids him spare a friend.
Belinda and her bird! 'tis rare
The language and the tone,
And both in unison.
When children first begin to spell,
We think them tedious creatures;
And women are the teachers.
V. THE THRACIAN. Thracian parents, at his birth,
Mourn their babe with many a tear, But with undissembled mirth
Place him breathless on his bier.
Greece and Rome, with equal scorn,
O the savages!' exclaim, Whether they rejoice or mourn, Well entitled to the name!'
VII. A MANUAL. More ancient than the Art of Printing, and not to be found in
any Catalogue. There is a book, which we may call
(Its excellence is such) Alone a library, though small;
The ladies thumb it much.
But the cause of this concern,
And this pleasure would they trace, Even they might somewhat learn
From the savages of Thrace.
Words none, things numerous it contains:
And, things with words compared, Who needs be told, that has his brains,
Which merits most regard ?
Ofttimes its leaves of scarlet hue
A golden edging boast; And opened, it displays to view
Twelve pages at the most.
VIII. AN ENIGMA,
Nor name, nor title, stamped behind,
Adorns his outer part;
A magazine of art.
The whitest hands that secret hoard
Oft visit: and the fair
As with a miser's care.
A NEEDLE small as small can be,
Nor is my purchase dear;
As days are in the year.
The labour is not light,
To fashion us aright.
The shears another plies,
Gives all an equal size.
Thence implements of every size,
And formed for various use, (They need but to consult their eyes)
They readily produce.
The largest and the longest kind
Possess the foremost page, A sort most needed by the blind,
Or nearly such from age.
The full-charged leaf, which next ensues,
Presents, in bright array,
Not quite so blind as they.
A fifth prepares, exact and round,
His follower makes it fast:
The seventh and the last.
The third, the irth, the fifth supply
What their occasions ask, Who with a more discerning eye
Perform a nicer task.
Now, therefore, Edipus! declaro
A process that obtains
And take me for your pains !
But still with regular decrease
From size to size they fall, In every leaf grow less and less ;
The last are least of all.
IX. SPARROWS SELF-DOMESTI
IN TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
O! what a fund of genius, pent
In narrow space, is here! This volume's method and intent
How luminous and clear!
It leaves no reader at a loss
Or posed, whoever reads: No commentator's tedious gloss,
Nor even index needs.
Search Bodley's many thousands o'er,
Nor book is treasured there, Nor yet in Granta's numerous store,
That may with this compare. No! Rival none in either host
Of this was ever seen, Or, that contents could justly boast,
So brilliant and so keen.
NONE ever shared the social feast,
Sagacious listeners to the sound,
Then, soon as the swell of the buds
Bespeaks the renewal of spring, Fly hence, if thou wilt, to the woods,
Or where it shall please thee to sing : And shouldst thou, compelled by a frost,
Come again to my window or door, Doubt not an affectionate host,
Only pay as thou pay’dst me before. Thus music must needs be confest,
To flow from a fountain above; Else how should it work in the breast
Unchangeable friendship and love! And who on the globe can be found,
Save your generation and ours, That can be delighted by sound,
Or boasts any musical powers ?
X. FAMILIARITY DANGEROUS.
XII. STRADA'S NIGHTINGALE.
As in her ancient mistress' lap
The youthful tabby lay, They gave each other many a tap,
Alike disposed to play.
The Shepherd touched his reed; sweet Philomel
Essayed, and oft assayed to catch the strain, And treasuring, as on her ear they fell,
The numbers, echoed note for note again
But strife ensues. Puss waxes warm,
And with protruded claws Ploughs all the length of Lydia's arm,
Mere wantonness the cause.
At once, resentful of the deed,
She shakes her to the ground, With many a threat that she shall bleed
With still a deeper wound.
The peevish youth, who nc'er had found before
A rival of his skill, indignant heard,
In loftier tones defied the simple bird.
With all the force, that passion gives, inspired, Returned the sounds awhile, but in the close,
Exhausted fell, and at his feet expired. Thus strength, not skill, prevailed. O fatal strife,
By thee, poor songstress, playfully begun; And, O sad victory, which cost thy life,
And he may wish that he had never won!
But, Lydia, bid thy fury rest;
It was a venial stroke; For she that will with kittens jest,
Should bear a kitten's joke.
Seeds of merciless disease
Lurk in all that we enjoy; Some, that waste us by degrees,
Some, that suddenly destroy. And if life o'erleap the bourn
Common to the sons of men; What remains, but that we mourn,
Dream, and doat, and drivel then? Fast as moons can wax and wane,
Sorrow comes; and while we groan, Pant with anguish and complain,
Half our years are fled and gone. If a few, (to few 'tis given)
Lingering on this earthly stage, Creep, and halt with steps uneven,
To the period of an age. Wherefore live they but to see
Cunning, arrogance, and force, Sights lamented much by thee,
Holding their accustomed course! Oft was scen, in ages past,
All that we with wonder view; Often shall be to the last;
Earth produces nothing new. Thee we gratulate; content,
Should propitious Heaven design Life for us, has calmly spent,
Though but half the length of thine.
The same prolific season gives
XVI. THE INNOCENT THIEF.
Not a flower can be found in the fields,
Or the spot that we till for our pleasure, From the largest to least, but it yields
To the bee, never-wearied, a treasure.
Scarce any she quits unexplored,
With a diligence truly exact; Yet, steal what she may for her hoard,
Leaves evidence none of the fact.
XIV. THE CAUSE WON. Two neighbours furiously dispute: A field—the subject of the suit. Trivial the spot, yet such the rage With which the combatants engage, 'Twere hard to tell, who covets most The prize—at whatsoever cost. The pleadings swell. Words still suffice; No single word but has its price: No term but yields some fair pretence For novel and increased expense.
Defendant thus becomes a name, Which he that bore it, may disclaim; Since both, in one description blended, Are plaintiffs—when the suit is ended.
Her lucrative task she pursues,
And pilfers with so much address, That none of their odour they lose,
Nor charm by their beauty the less. Not thus inofiensively preys
The canker-worm, indwelling foe! His voracity not thus allays
The sparrow, the finch, or the crow. The worm, more expensively fed,
The pride of the garden devours; And birds pick the sced from the bed;
Still less to be spared than the flowers. But she with such delicate skill
Her pillage so fits for her use, That the chymist in vain with his still
Would labour the like to produce.
XV. THE SILKWORM.
The beams of April, ere it goes, A worm scarce visible, disclose; All winter long content to dwell The tenant of his native shell.