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His object chosen, wealth or fame,
Or other sublunary game,
Imagination to his view
Presents it deck'd with ev'ry hue,
That can seduce him not to spare
His pow'rs of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigour to expend
On so desirable an end.
Ere long approach life's ev'ning shades,
The glow that fancy gave it fades;
And earn'd too late, it wants the grace
Which first engagéd him in the chase.

True, answer'd an angelic guide,
Attendant at the senior's side-
But whether all the time it cost
To urge the fruitless chase be lost,
Must be decided by the worth
Of that which calls his ardour forth.
Trifles pursu'd, whate'er th' event,
Must cause him shame, or discontent;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there, he wins a curse;
But he, whom ev'n in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid, at least in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd;
And if, ere he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent.
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early, or too late.

COWPER. CHAP. XXII.

THE FAITHFUL FRIEND.

The greenhouse is my summer seat;
My shrubs displac'd from that retreat,

Enjoy'd the open air ;
Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song
Had been their mutual solace long,

Liv'd happy pris'ners there.
They sang, as blithe as finches sing
That flutter loose on golden wing,

And frolic where they list;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew,

And therefore never miss'd.
But nature works in ev'ry breast ;
Instinct is never quite suppress’d;

And Dick felt some desires,
Which, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain

A pass between his wires.
The open’d windows seem'd t'invite
The freeman to a farewell flight;

But Tom was still confin'd;
And Dick, although his way was clear,
Was much too gen'rous and sincere,

To leave his friend behind.
For, settling on his grated roof,
He chirp'd and kiss'd him, giving proof

That he desir'd no more ;
Nor would forsake his cage at last,
Till, gently seiz'd, I shut him fast,

A pris'ner as before.
O ye, who tiever knew the joys
Of friendship, satisfied with noise,

Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush, when I tell you how a bird,
A prison, with a friend, preferr'd

To liberty without.

CONFER. CHAP. XXIII.

PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.

A FABLE.

I shałL not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau
If birds confabulate or no;
'Tis clear that they were always able
To hold discourse at least in fable;
And ev'n 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 forestal sweet St. Valentino,
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, op'ning wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, silence publicly 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 inarriage means, thus pert replied:

} }

* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philosopher, that all fables which ascribe reason and speech to animals should be withheld from children, as being only vehicles of deception. But what child was ever deceived by them, or can be, against the evidence of his senses?

“ 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, (wbich is likelier to befal,) « 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,
Influenc'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 smil'd 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 ever met;
And learn'd 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.

COWPER. CHAP. XXIV.

THE NEEDLESS ALARM.

A TALE.

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 brier,
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 it's watry bourn,
Wide yawns a gulf beside a ragged thorn;
Bricks line the sides, but shiver'd long ago,
And horrid brambles interwine below;
A hollow scoop’d, I judge, in ancient time,
For baking earth, or burning rock to lime.

Nor yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry 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 beaus were in the stack,
Now, therefore, issu'd forth the spotted pack,
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats
With a whole gamut fillid 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,

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