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('Tis clear that they were always able
To hold discourse, at least, in fable ;)
And e'en the child, who knows no better,
Than to interpret by the letter,
A story of a cock and bull,
Must have a most uncommon skull.

It chanced then on a winter's day,
But warm and bright, and calm as May,
The birds conceiving a design
To forestall sweet St. Valentine,
In many an orchard, copse, and grove,
Assembled on affairs of love,
And with much twitter and much chatter,
Began to agitate the matter.
At length a bulfinch, who could boast
More years and wisdom than the most,
Entreated, opening wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, silence publicly enjoined,
Delivered briefly thus his mind :

My friends! be cautious how ye treat
The subject, upon which ye meet;
I fear we shall have winter yet.

A finch, whose tongue knew no control,
With golden wing and satin poll,
A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried
What marriage means, thus pert replied :

Methinks the gentleman, quoth she,
Opposite in the apple-tree,
By his good will would keep us single
Till yonder heaven and earth shall mingle,
Or (which is likelier to befall)
Till death exterminate us all.
I marry without more ado;
My dear Dick Redcap, what say you?

Dick heard, and tweedling, ogling, bridling, Turning short round, strutting and sideling,

191

THE DOG AND THE WATER-LILY.
Attested, glad, his approbation
Of an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments so well expressed
Influenced mightily the rest,
All paired, and each pair built a nest.

But though the birds were thus in haste,
The leaves came on not quite so fast,
And destiny, that sometimes bears
An aspect stern on man's affairs,
Not altogether smiled on theirs.
The wind, of late breathed gently forth,
Now shifted east and east by north ;
Bare trees and shrubs but ill, you know,
Could sbelter them from rain or snow,
Stepping into their nests, they paddled,
Themselves were chilled, their eggs were addled ;
Soon every father bird and mother
Grew quarrelsome, and pecked each other,
Parted without the least regret,
Except that they had ever met,
And learned in future to be wiser,
Than to neglect a good adviser.

INSTRUCTION.
Misses! the tale that I relate

This lesson seems to carry-
Choose not alone a proper mate,

But proper time to marry.

THE DOG AND THE WATER LILY.

NO FABLE.
The noon was shady, and soft airs

Swept Ouse's silent tide,
When 'scaped from literary cares,

I wandered on his side.

192

THE DOG AND THE WATER-LILY. My spaniel, prettiest of his race,

And high in pedigree,
(Two nymphs * adorned with every grace

That spaniel found for me.)
Now wantoned lost in flags and reeds,

Now starting into sight,
Parsued the swallow o'er the meads

With scarce a slower flight.
It was the time when Oase displayed

His lilies newly blown!
Their beauties I intent surveyed,

And one I wished my own.
With cane extended far I sought

To steer it close to land ;
But still the prize, though nearly caught,

Escaped my eager hand.
Beau marked my unsuccessful pains

With fixed considerate face,
And puzzling sat his puppy brains

To comprehend the case.
But with a chirrup clear and strong,

Dispersing all his dream,
I thence withdrew, and followed long

The windings of the stream.
My ramble finished, I returned ;

Beau tottering far before
The floating wreath again discerned,

And plunging left the shore.
I saw him with that lily cropped

Impatient swim to meet
My quick approach, and soon he dropped

The treasure at my feet.

• Sir Robert Gunning's daughters.

193

THE POET, THE OYSTER, ETC.
Charmed at the sight, the world, I cried,

Shall hear of this thy deed :
My dog shall mortify the pride

Of man's superior breed ;
But chief myself I will enjoin,

Awake at duty's call,
To show a love as prompt as thine

To Him who gives me all.

THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSI.

TIVE PLANT.
An Oyster, cast upon the shore,
Was heard, though never heard before,
Complaining in a speech well worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded-

Ah, hapless wretch! condemned to dwell
For ever in my native shell;
Ordained to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
Bat tossed and buffetted about,
Now in the water and now out.
"Twere better to be born a stone,
Of rader shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine!
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast-rooted against every rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough;
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.

When, cry the botanists, and stare,
Did plants called sensitive grow there?
No matter when-a poet's muse is
To make them grow just where she chooses.

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19.4 THE POET, THE OYSTER, ETC.

You shapeless nothing in a dish,
You that are but almost a fish,
I scorn your coarse insinuation,
And have most plentiful occasion
To wish myself the rock I view,
Or such another dolt as you:
* For many a grave and learned clerk,
And many a gay unlettered spark,
With curious touch examines me,
If I can feel as well as he ;
And when I bend, retire, and shrink,
Says-Well, 'tis more than one would think!
Thus life is spent (oh, fie npon it!)
In being touched, and crying-Don't!

A poet, in his evening walk,
O'erheard and checked this idle talk.
And your fine sense, he said, and yours,
Whatever evil it endures,
Deserves not, if so soon offended,
Much to be pitied or commended.
Disputes, though short, are far too long,
Where both alike are in the wrong ;
Your feelings, in their full amount,
Are all upon your own account.

You, in your grotto work enclosed,
Complain of being this exposed;
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat,
Save when the knife is at your throat,
Wherever driven by wind or tide,
Exempt from

every ill beside.
And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
Who reckon every touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around,
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all-not you.

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