« PreviousContinue »
'A friend!' Horatio cried, and seemed to start-
'Yea, marry shalt thou, and with all my heart.
6 And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw,
'I'll see him too-the first I ever saw.'
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;
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.
Oh, 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,
Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.
ON AN INKGLASS ALMOST DRIED IN THE SUN.
PATRON of all those luckless brains,
That to the wrong side leaning,
Indite much metre with much pains,
And little or no meaning.
Ah! why, since oceans, rivers, streams,
That water all the nations,
Pay tribute to thy glorious beams,
In constant exhalations;
Why, stooping from the noon of day
Too covetous of drink,
Apollo, hast thou stolen away
A poet's drop of ink?
Upborne into the viewless air,
It floats a vapour now,
Impelled through regions dense and rare
By all the winds that blow.
Ordained perhaps, ere summer flies,
Combined with millions more,
To form an Iris in the skies,
Though black and foul before.
Illustrious drop! and happy then,
Beyond the happiest lot
Of all that ever passed my pen,
So soon to be forgot.
Phœbus, if such be thy design,
To place it in thy bow,
Give wit, that what is left may shine
With equal grace below.
Fandango, ball, and rout!
Blush when I tell you how a bird
A prison with a friend preferred
To Liberty without.
PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.
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 e'en 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 chanced then on a winter's day,
But warm, and bright, and calm as May,
The birds, conceiving a design
To forestall sweet St. Valentine,
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 Bullfinch, who could boast
More years and wisdom than the most,
Entreated, opening wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, silence publicly enjoined,
Delivered 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 marriage means, thus pert replied:
'Methinks the gentleman,' quoth she, 'Opposite in the apple-tree,
By his good will would keep us single,
Till yonder heaven 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 sideling,
Attested, glad, his approbation
Of an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments so well expressed
Influenced mightily the rest,
All paired, 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 smiled on theirs.
The wind, of late breathed 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 chilled, their eggs were addled:
Soon every father-bird and mother
Grew quarrelsome, and pecked each other,
Parted without the least regret,
Except that they had ever met,
And learned in future to be wiser,
Than to neglect a good adviser.
MORAL. Misses! the tale that I relate
This lesson seems to carry— Choose not alone a proper mate, But proper time to marry.