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I SHALL 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 moft 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 fweet St Valentine,
In many an orchard, copfe, and grove,
Assembled on affairs of love,
And with much twitter, and much chatter,
Began to agitate the matter.
* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philofopher, 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, os can be, against the evidence of his senses?
At length a Bulfinch, who could boast
and wisdom than the most,
Entreated, op'ning wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, Glence 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 controul,
With golden wing and fattin pole,
A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried
What marriage means, thus pert replied.
Methinks the gentleman, quoth the,
Opposite in the apple-tree,
By his good-will would keep us fingle,
Till yonder heav'n and earth shall mingle,
Or (which is likelier to befall)
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 fideling,
Attested, glad, his approbation
pf an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments fo 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 nefts, 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.
Miffes ! the tale that I relate
This lesson seems to carry Choose not alone a proper mate,
But proper time to marry.
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,
Resery'd to solace many a neighb'ring 'fquire,
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 conceald,
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 flops to its wat'ry bourn,
Wide yawns a gulf 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, wintry guest, is fed; Nor autumn yee 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 throa's 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 topmast 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 graz’d the field; some with soft bosom press'a The herb as foft, while nibbling Itray'd the rest; Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook, Struggling, detain’d in many a petty nook. All seem'd so peaceful, that from them convey'd To me, their peace by kind contagion spread.
Two woods belonging to Join Throckmorton, Elg.