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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 chanc'd 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,
Assembed 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, op’ning wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, silence publickly enjoin'd,
Deliver'd briefly thus his mind :
My friends! be cautious how ye treat
The subject upon which we 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 Heav'n 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,
Attested, glad, his approbation
Of an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments, so well express’d,
Infinenc'd mightily the rest,
All pair’d, 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 smild on theirs.
The wind of late breath'd gently forth,
Now shifted east, and east by north ;
Bare trees and shrubs but ill, you know,
Could shelter them from rain or snow.
Stepping into their nests, they paddled,
Themselves were chill'd, their eggs were addled;
Soon ev'ry father bird and mother
Grew quarrelsome, and peck'd each other,
Parted without the least regret,
Except that they had never met;
And learn'd, in future, to be wiser
Than to neglect a good adviser.
Misses ! the tale that I relate
This lesson seems to carry-
Choose not alone a proper mate,
But proper time, to marry.
THE noon was shady, and soft airg
Swept Ouse's silent tide,
When, scap'd from literary cares,
I wander'd on his side.
My spaniel, prettiest of his race,
And high in pedigree, (Two nymphs* adorn'd with ev'ry grace
That spaniel found for me.)
Now wanton'd lost in flags and reods,
Now starting into sight,
Pursu'd the swallow o'er the meads
With scarce a slower flight.
It was the time when Ouse display'd
His lilies newly blown;
Their beauties I intent survey'd,
And one I wish'd my own.
With cane extended far I sought
To steer it close to land; But still the prize, though nearly caught, Escap'd my eager hand.
* Sir Robert Gunning's daughters.
Beau mark'd my unsuccessful pains
With fix'd considerate face, And puzzling set his puppy
To comprehend the case.
But with a cherup clear and strong,
Dispersing all his dream,
I thence withdrew, and follow'd long
The windings of the stream.
My ramble ended, I return’d;
Beau trotting far beforc,
The floating wreath again discern'd,
And plunging left the shore.
I saw him with that lily cropp'd,
Impatient swim to meet
My quick approach, and soon he dropp'd
The treasure at my feet.
Charm'd with the sight, the world, I cried,
Shall hear of this thy deed : My dog shall mortify the pride
Of man's superiour 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.
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 ;
Ordain'd to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease •
But toss'd, and buffetted about,
Now in the water, and now out.
"Twere better to be borne a stone,
Of ruder shape and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine!
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast rooted against ev'ry rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough ;
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.
Wher, cry the botanists, and stare, Did plants call’d sensitive grow there? No matter when-a poet's muse is, To make them grow just where she chooses
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, A many a gay unletter'd 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 ! Thuis life is spent, (oh fie upon't !) In being touch'd, and crying-Don't !
A poet in his ev’ning walk, O’erheard, and check'd this idle talk