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THE HARE WITH MANY FRIENDS.1
Friendship, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care.
'Tis thus in friendship; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
A Hare, who, in a civil way,
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known by all the bestial train,
Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain.
Her care was, never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunters' cries,
And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies;
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath;
She hears the near advance of death;
She doubles, to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy round;
Till, fainting in the public way,
Half dead with fear she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the Horse appeared in view!
"Let me," says she, "your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend.
1 "This fable is a fair sample of Gay's manner; and it is of additional interest as being in some measure a personal utterance." - Austin Dobson.
You know my feet betray my flight;
To friendship every burden's light."
The Horse replied: "Poor honest Puss,
It grieves my heart to see thee thus;
Be comforted; relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear."
She next the stately Bull implored;
And thus replied the mighty lord.
"Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I may, without offence, pretend,
To take the freedom of a friend;
Love calls me hence; a favorite cow
Expects me near yon barley-mow:
And when a lady's in the case,
You know, all other things give place.
To leave you thus might seem unkind;
But see, the Goat is just behind."
The Goat remarked her pulse was high.
Her languid head, her heavy eye;
"My back," says he, "may do you harm;
The Sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.'
The Sheep was feeble, and complained
His sides a load of wool sustained:
Said he was slow, confessed his fears,
For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.
She now the trotting Calf addressed,
To save from death a friend distressed.
"Shall I," says he, "of tender age,
In this important care engage?
Older and abler passed you by ;
How strong are those, how weak am I!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence.
Excuse me, then. You know
You know my heart.
But dearest friends, alas! must part!
How shall we all lament: Adieu!
For see, the hounds are just in view."
THE FOX AT THE POINT OF DEATH.
A Fox, in life's extreme decay,
Weak, sick, and faint, expiring lay:
All appetite had left his maw,
And age disarm'd his mumbling jaw.
His numerous race around him stand,
To learn their dying sire's command:
He raised his head with whining moan,
And thus was heard the feeble tone:
"Ah, sons! from evil ways depart;
My crimes lie heavy on my heart.
See, see the murder'd geese appear!
Why are those bleeding turkeys here,
Why all around this cackling train,
Who haunt my ears for chickens slain?"
The hungry foxes round them stared,
And for the promised feast prepared:
"Where, Sir, is all this dainty cheer?
Nor turkey, goose, nor hen, is here.
These are the phantoms of your brain,
And your sons lick their lips in vain."
"O gluttons!" says the drooping sire,
"Restrain inordinate desire :
Your liquorish taste you shall deplore,
When peace of conscience is no more.
Does not the hound betray our pace,
And gins and guns destroy our race?
Thieves dread the searching eye of power,
And never feel the quiet hour.
Old age (which few of us shall know)
Now puts a period to my woe.
Would you true happiness attain,
Let honesty your passions reign:
So live in credit and esteem,
And the good name you lost redeem."
"The counsel's good," a Fox replies, "Could we perform what you advise. Think what our ancestors have done; A line of thieves from son to son: To us descends the long disgrace, And infamy hath mark'd our race. Though we, like harmless sheep, should feed, Honest in thought, in word, and deed; Whatever hen-roost is decreased, We shall be thought to share the feast. The change shall never be believed. A lost good name is ne'er retrieved."
"Nay, then," replies the feeble Fox; "But, hark! I hear a hen that clucks: Go, but be moderate in your food: A chicken too, might do me good."
THE DEATH AND DYING WORDS OF POOR MAILIE, THE AUTHOR'S ONLY PET YOWE:
An unco Mournfu' Tale.
BY ROBERT BURNS.1
As Mailie and her lambs thegither,
Were ae day nibbling on the tether,
Upon her cloot 2 she coost a hitch,3
And owre she warsled in the ditch:
There, groaning, dying, she did lie,
When Hughoc he cam doytin' 5 by.
Wi' glowering een 6 and lifted hands,
Poor Hughoc like a statue stands;
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, waes my heart! he could na mend it.
He gaped wide, but naething spak —
At length poor Mailie silence brak.
"Oh thou, whose lamentable face
Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
My dying words attentive hear,
And bear them to my master dear.
"Tell him, if e'er again he keep
As muckle gear as buy a sheep,
O bid him never tie them mair
Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!
1 Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, 1759; published first volume of poems, 1786; second volume, 1787; died, 1796.
2 foot, hoof.
8 coost a hitch, stumbled.
7 much money.