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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,
Reserv'd to solace many a neighb'ring squire,
That he may follow them through brake and briar,
Contusion hazarding of neck or spine,
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine.
A narrow brook, by rushy banks conceal'd,
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 wat'ry bourne,
Wide yawns a gulph beside a ragged thorn;
Bricks line the sides, but shiver'd long ago,
And horrid brambles intertwine below;
A hollow scoop'd 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, wint'ry guest, is fed;
Nor autumn yet had brush'd from ev'ry spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away;
But corn was hous'd, 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 fill'd of heav nly 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 heav'n'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-rais'd horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick and all Dingle-derry* rang.
Sheep grazed the field; some with soft bosom press'd
The herb as soft, while nibbling stray'd the rest ;
Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook,
Struggling, detain'd in many a pretty nook.
All seem'd so peaceful, that from them convey'd
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,
Tho' not a hound from whom it burst appear'd,
The sheep incumbent, and the sheep that graz'd,
All huddled into phalanx, stood and gaz'd,
Admiring terrified, the novel strain,
Then cours'd the field around, and cours'd it round again;
But recollecting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urg'd advanc'd them nought,
They gather'd close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again-but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustom❜d long,
Perceives in ev'ry 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
* Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq. 1
He scans of every loco-motive kind ;
Birds of all feather, beasts of ev'ry 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 mus'd; surveying every face,
Thou hadst suppos'd them of superior race;
Their perriwigs of wool, and fears combin'd,
Stamp'd on each countenance such marks of mind,
That sage they seem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,
Sure never to want them, mathematic truths;
When thus a mutton, statlier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers, sad address'd.
Friends! we have liv'd too long. I never heard
Sounds such as these, so worthy to be fear'd.
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 compos'd nor should appear
For such a cause to feel the slightest fear.
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunder rolled
All night, we resting quiet in the fold.
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone;
1 should expound the melancholy tone ;
Should deem it by our old companion made,
The ass; for he we know, has lately stray'd,
And being lost, perhaps, and wand'ring wide,
Might be suppos'd to clamour for a guide.
But ah! those dreadful yells what soul can hear,
That owns a carcase, and not quake for fear?
Dæmons produce them doubtless, brazen claw'd
And fang'd with brass the dæmons are abroad;
I hold it, therefore, wisest and most fit,
That, life to save, we leap into the pit.
Him answer'd 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, interpos'd, our fall
In part abate, that happiness were small;
For with a race like theirs no chance I see
Of peace or ease to creature 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 utter'd, 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, tir'd man, and spatter'd horse,
Through mere good fortune, took a diff'rent course.
The flock grew calm again, and I, the road
Following that led me to my own abode,
Much wonder'd that the silly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty sound,
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Beware of desp'rate steps. The darkest day (Live till to-morrow) will have pass'd away.
THE MODERN RAKE'S PROGRESS.
THE young Tobias was his father's joy;
He train❜d him, as he thought, to deeds of praise,
He taught him virtue, and he taught him truth,
And sent him early to a public school.
Here as it seem'd (but he had none to blame)
Virtue forsook him, and habitual vice
Grew in his stead. He laugh'd at honesty,
Became a sceptic, and could raise a doubt
E'en of his father's truth. 'Twas idly done
To tell him of another world, for wits
Knew better; and the only good on earth
Was pleasure; not to follow that was sin.
"Sure he that made us, made us to enjoy ;
"And why said he, should my fond father prate
"Of virtue and religion. They afford
"No joys, and would abridge the scanty few
"Of nature. Nature be my deity,
"Her let me worship, as herself enjoins,
"At the full board of plenty." Thoughtless boy!
So to a libertine, he grew, a wit,
A man of honour, boasting empty names
That dignify the villain. Seldom seen,
And when at home, under a cautious mask
Concealing the lewd soul, his father thought
He grew in wisdom, as he grew in years.
He fondly deem'd he could perceive the growth
Of goodness and of learning, shooting up,
Like the young offspring of the shelter'd hop,
Unusual progress in a summer's night.
He call'd him home, with great applause dismiss'd