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Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed;
Nor autumn yet had brushed from every spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away;
But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack,
Now therefore iflued forth the spotted pack,
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats.
With a whole gamut filled of heavenly 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 heaven'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-raised horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick * and all Dingle-derry * rang.
Sheep grazed the field ; some with soft bosom preffed
The herb as soft, while nibbling ftrayed the reft;
Nor noise was heard but of the hafty brook,
Struggling, detained in many a petty nook.
All seemed so peaceful, that from them conveyed
To me, their peace by kind contagion spread.
* Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq.
But when the huntsman, with diftended cheek,
'Gan make his inftrument of music fpeak,
And from within the wood that crash was heard,
Though not a hound from whom it burft appeared,
The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that grazed,
All huddling into phalanx, ftood and gazed,
Admiring, terrified, the novel ftrain,
Then coursed the field around and coursedit round again;
But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urged advanced them nought,
They gathered close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again—but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustomed long,
Perceives in every thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees,
Have fpeech 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 largeness of the skies;
But, with precision nicer still, the mind
He scans of every loco-motive kind;
Birds of all feather, beafts of every 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 mused; surveying every face, Thou hadft supposed them of superior race; Their periwigs of wool, and fears combined, Stamped on each countenance such marks of mind, That sage they seemed, as lawyers o'er a doubt, Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out; Or academic tutors, teaching youths, Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths; When thus a mutton, statelier than the reft, A ram, the ewes and wethers fad, addressed.
Friends! we have lived too long. I never heard Sounds such as these, so worthy to be feared. 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 composed, nor should appear For such a cause to feel the slightest fear. Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders rolled All night, we resting quiet in the fold. Or heard we that tremendous bray alone,
could expound the melancholy tone;
Should deem it by our old companion made,
The als; for he, we know, has lately ftrayed,
And being loft perhaps, and wandering wide,
Might be supposed 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-clawed
And fanged with brass the dæmons are abroad;
I hold it therefore wiseft and most fit,
That life to save, we leap into the pit.
Him answered 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, interposed, our fall In part abate, that happiness were small; For with a race like theirs no chance I see Of peace or ease to creatures 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 uttered, from whatever lungs, Sounds are but founds, and till the cause appear We have at least commodious standing here.
Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blaft
From earth or hell, we can but plunge at laft.
While thus the fpake, I fainter heard the peals,
For Reynard, close attended at his heels
By panting dog, tired man, and fpattered horse,
Through mere good fortune, took a different course.
The flock grew calm again, and I, the road
Following, that led me to my own abode,
Much wondered that the filly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty found
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.