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Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun,)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time, an emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed, that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once, should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare:
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
O happy Britain! we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else, could a law like that which I relate
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few that I have known in days of old,
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold;
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man, close buttoned to the chin,
Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.
TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON, ON HIS RETURN FROM RAMSGATE.
That ocean you of late surveyed,
Those rocks, I too have seen,
But I afflicted and dismayed,
You tranquil and serene.
You from the flood-controlling steep
Saw stretched before your view,
With conscious joy, the threatening deep,
No longer such to you.
To me the waves that ceaseless broke
Upon the dangerous coast,
Hoarsely and ominously spoke
Of all my treasure lost.
Your sea of troubles you have past,
And found the peaceful shore ;
I, tempest-tossed, and wrecked at last,
Come home to port no more.
ON THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE.-WRITTEN WHEN
THE NEWS ARRIVED.
Toll for the brave!
The brave that are no more !
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore !
Eight hundred of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
And laid her on her side.
A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was overset ;
Down went the Royal George,
With all her crew complete.
Toll for the brave!
Brave Kempenfelt is gone;
His last sea-fight is fought;
His work of glory done.
It was not in the battle;
No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak;
She ran upon no rock.
His sword was in its sheath;
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfelt went down
With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up,
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup
The tears that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again
Full charged with England's thunder,
And plough the distant main.
But Kempenfelt is gone,
His victories are o'er ;
And he and his eight hundred
Shall plough the wave no more.
EPITAPH ON A HARE.
Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's halloo;
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nursed with tender care, And to domestic bounds confined, Was still a wild Jack hare.
Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance every night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.
His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw;
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.
On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
On pippins' russet peel,
And, when his juicy salads failed,
Sliced carrot pleased him well.
A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he loved to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.
His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear,
But most before approaching showers,
Or when a storm drew near.
Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And every night at play.
I kept him for his humour's sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.
But now beneath this walnut shade
He finds his long last home,
And waits, in snug concealment laid,
Till gentler Puss shall come.
He, still more agèd, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. THROCKMORTON'S BULLFINCHL
Ye Nymphs, if e'er your eyes were red
With tears o'er hapless favourites shed,
Oh share Maria's grief!
Her favourite, even in his cage
(What will not hunger's cruel rage?)
Assassined by a thief.
Where Rhenus strays his vines among
The egg was laid from which he sprung;
And though by nature mute,
Or only with a whistle blessed,
Well-taught, he all the sounds expressed
Of flageolet or flute.
The honours of his ebon poll
Were brighter than the sleekest mole,
His bosom of the hue
With which Aurora decks the skies,
When piping winds shall soon arise
To sweep away the dew.
Above, below, in all the house,
Dire foe alike of bird and mouse,
No cat had leave to dwell;
And Bully's cage supported stood
On props of smoothest-shaven wood,
Large built and latticed well.
Well latticed, but the grate, alas!
Not rough with wire of steel or brass,
For Bully's plumage sake,
But smooth with wands from Ouse's side,
With which, when neatly peeled and dried,
The swains their baskets make.
Night veiled the pole; all seemed secure ;
When, led by instinct sharp and sure,
Subsistence to provide,
A beast forth sallied on the scout,
Long backed, long tailed, with whiskered snout, And badger-coloured hide.
He, entering at the study door,
Its ample area 'gan explore;
And something in the wind
Conjectured, sniffing round and round,
Better than all the books he found,
Food chiefly for the mind.