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Old Arthur's board: on the capacious round

“ These fellowships are pretty things, Some British pen bas sketch'd the names renown'd,

We live indeed like petty kings: In marks obscure, of his immortal peers.

But who can bear to waste his whole age Though join'd by magic skill with many a rhyme,

Amid the dullness of a college, The Druid frame unhonour'd falls a prey

Debarr'd the common joys of life, To the slow vengeance of the wizard time,

And that prime bliss-a loving wise ! And fade the British characters away ;

O! what's a table richly spread Yet Spenser's page, that chaunts in verse sublime

Without a woman at its head! Those chiefs, shall live unconscious of decay.

Would some snug benefice but fall,

Ye feasts, ye dinners! farewell all!

To officers I'd bid adieu,
Of Dean, Vice Pres.—of Bursar too;

Come joys, that rural quiet yields,
Ah! what a weary race my feet have run,

Come, tithes, and house, and fruitful fields!" Since first I trod thy banks with alders crown'd, Too fond of freedom and of ease And thought my way was all through fairy ground,

A patron's vanity to please, Beneath thy azure sky and golden sun :

Long time he watches, and by stealth, Where first my Muse to lisp her notes begun ! Each frail incumbent's doubtful health ; While pensive memory traces back the round, At length-and in his fortieth year, Which fills the varied interval between ;

A living drops-two hundred clear ! Much pleasure, more of sorrow, marks the scene. With breast elate beyond expression, Sweet native stream! those skies and suns so pure He hurries down to take possession, No more return, to cheer my evening road!

With rapture views the sweet retreatYet still one joy remains, that not obscure,

“ What a convenient house! how neat! Nor useless, all my vacant days have flow'd,

For fuel here's sufficient wood:
From youth's gay dawn to manhood's prime mature; Pray God the cellars may be good!
Nor with the Muse's laurel unbestow'd.

The garden—that must be new plano'd-
Shall these old-fashion'd yew-trees stand?

O'er yonder vacant plot shall rise
THE PROGRESS OF DISCONTENT. 1746. The flow'ry shrub of thousand dyes:-

Yon wall, that feels the southern ray,
When now mature in classic knowledge,

Shall blush with ruddy fruitage gay:
The joyful youth is sent to college,
His father comes, a vicar plain,

While thick beneath its aspect warm
At Oxford bred-in Anna's reign,

O'er-well-rang'd hives the bees shall swarm,

From which, ere long, of golden gleam And thus, in form of humble suitor,

Metheglin's luscious juice shall stream: Bowing accosts a reverend tutor.

This awkward hut, o'ergrown with ivy, “ Sir, I'm a Glo'stershire divine,

We'll alter to a modern privy:
And this my eldest son of vine ;
My wife's ambition and my own

Up yon green slope, of hazels trim,
Was that this child should wear a gown ;

An avenue so cool and dim,

Shall to an arbour, at the end,
I'll warrant that his good behaviour
Will justify your future favour;

In spite of gout, entice a friend.
And for his parts, to tell the truth,

My predecessor lov'd devotionMy son's a very forward youth ;

But of a garden had no notion." Has Horace all by heart-you'd wonder

Continuing this fantastic farce on, And mouths out Homer's Greek like thunder.

He now commences country parson.

To make his character entire,
If you'd examine—and admit him,

He weds--a cousin of the 'squire;
A scholarship would nicely fit him:
That he succeeds 'tis ten to one;

Not over weighty in the purse,
Your vote and interest, Sir!"- 'Tis done.

But many doctors have done worse: Our pupil's hopes, though twice defeated,

And though she boasts no charms divine,

Yet she can carve and make birch wine. Are with a scholarship completed:

Thus fixt, content he taps his barrel,
A scholarship but half maintains,
And college rules are heavy chains:

Exhorts his neighbours not to quarrel;

Finds his church-wardens have disceruing In garret dark he smokes and puns,

Both in good liquor and good learning; A prey to discipline and duns;

With tithes his barns replete he sees,
And now intent on new designs,

And chuckles o'er luis surplice fees;
Sighs for a fellowship—and fines.
When nine full tedious winters past,

Studies to find out latent dues,
That utmost wish is crown'd at last :

And regulates the state of pews; But the rich prize no sooner got,

Rides a sleek mare with purple housing, Again he quarrels with his lot:

To share the monthly club's carousing;

Or Oxford pranks facetious tells,

When calm around the common room And—but on Sundays-hears no bells;

puff’d my daily pipe's perfume! Sends presents of his choicest fruit,

Rode for a stomach, and inspected, And prunes himself each sapless shoot;

At annual botilings, corks selected : Plants cauliflow’rs, and boasts to rear

And din'd untax'd, untroubled, under The earliest melons of the year;

The portrait of our pious founder! Thinks alteration charming work is,

When impositions were supply'd Keeps bantam cocks, and feeds his turkies;

To light my pipe-or soothe my prideBuilds in his copse a fav’rite bench,

No cares were then for forward peas, And stores the pond with carp and tench.

A yearly-longing wife to please; But ah! too soon his thoughtless breast

My thoughts no christ'ning dinners crost, By cares domestic is opprest;

No children cry'd for butter'd toast; And a third butcher's bill, and brewing,

And ev'ry night I went to bed, Threaten inevitable ruin:

Without a modus in my head!” For children fresh expenses yet,

Oh! trilling head, and fickle heart ! And Dicky now for school is fit.

Chagrin'd at whatsoe'er thou art; Why did I sell my college life

A dupe to follies yet untry'd, (He cries) for benefice and wife?

And sick of pleasures scarce enjoy'd ! Return, ye days! when endless pleasure

Each prize possess'd, thy transport ceases, I found in reading, or in leisure !

And in pursuit alone it pleases.

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I am out of humanity's reach,

I must finish my journey alone, Never hear the sweet music of speech,

I start at the sound of my own. The beasts, that roam over the plain,

My form with indifference see; They are so unacquainted with man,

Their tameness is shocking to me.

Society, friendship, and love,

Divinely bestowed upon man, Oh, had I the wings of a dove,

How soon would I taste you again! My sorrows I then might assuage

In the ways of religion and truth; Might learn from the wisdom of age,

And be cheered by the sallies of youth.

Religion! what treasure untold

Resides in that heavenly word! More precious than silver and gold,

Or all that this earth can afford. But the sound of the church-going bell

These vallies and rocks never heard, Never sighed at the sound of a knell,

Or smiled when a sabbath appeared.


MORTON'S BULFINCH. Ye nymphs! if e'er your eyes were red With tears o'er hapless favourites shed,

O share Maria's gries!
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 blest,
Well-taught he all the sounds exprest

Of flagelet 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 up all the dew.
Above, below, in all the house,
Dire foe alike to 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 withi 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,

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Ye winds, that have made me your sport,

Convey to this desolate shore Some cordial endearing report

Of a land, I shall visit no more. My friends, do they now and then send

A wish or a thought after me? O tell me I yet have a friend,

Though a friend I am never to see.

How fleet is a glance of the mind !

Compared with the speed of its flight, The tempest itself lags behind,

And the swift-winged arrows of light.

A beast forth-sallied on the scout,

THE POET'S NEW-YEAR'S GIFT Long-backed, long-tailed, with whisker'd snout, And badger-coloured hide.

TO MRS. (NOW LADY) THROCKMORTON. He, entering at the study-door,

Maria! I have every good
Its ample area ’gan explore ;

For thee wished many a time,
And something in the wind

Both sad, and in a cheerful mood,
Conjectured, sniffing round and round,

But never yet in rhyme.
Better than all the books he found,

To wish thee fairer is no need,
Food chiefly for the mind.

More prudent, or more sprightly,
Just then, by adverse fate imprest,

Or more ingenious, or more freed
A dream disturbed poor Bully's rest;

From temper-flaws unsightly.
In sleep he seemed to view

What favour then not yet possest
A rat, fast-clinging to the cage,

Can I for thee require,
And screaming at the sad presage,

In wedded love already blest,
Awoke and found it true.

To thy whole heart's desire?
For, aided both by ear and scent,

None here is happy but in part:
Right to his mark the monster went-

Full bliss is bliss divine;
Ah, Muse! forbear to speak

There dwells some wish in every heart, Minute the horrors that ensued;

And doubtless one in thine.
His teeth were strong, the cage was wood-
He left poor Bully's beak.

That wish on some fair future day,

Which fate shall brightly gild,
He left it-but he should have ta'en;
That beak, whence issued many a strain

("Tis blameless, be it what it may)
Of such mellifluous tone,

I wish it all fulfilled.
Might have repaid him well, I wote,
For silencing so sweet a throat,

Fast set within his own.!

Maria weeps—the Muses mourn-
So, when by Bacchanalians torn,

I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau,

If birds confabulate or no;
On Thracian Hebrus' side
The tree-enchanter Orpheus fell;

'Tis clear that they were always able His head alone remained to tell

To hold discourse, at least in fable;
The cruel death he died.

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,
The rose had been washed, just washed in a shower,

But warm, and bright, and calm as May, Which Mary to Anna conveyed,

The birds, conceiving a design

To forestall sweet St. Valentine,
The plentiful moisture incumbered the flower,
And weighed down its beautiful head.

In many an orchard, copse, and grove,

Assembled on affairs of love,
The cup was all filled, and the leaves were all wet; And with much twitter and much chatter,
And it seemed, to a fanciful view,

Began to agitate the matter.
To weep for the buds it had left with regret, At length a Bulfinch, who could boast
On the flourishing bush where it grew.

More years and wisdom than the most,

Entreated, opening wide his beak, I hastily seized it, unfit as it was

A moment's liberty to speak; For a nosegay, so dripping and drown'd,

And, silence publicly enjoined, And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas!

Delivered briefly thus his mind. I snapped it, it fell to the ground.

My friends! be cautious how ye treat

The subject upon which we meet;
And such, I exclaimed, is the pitiless part

I fear we shall have winter yet.
Some act by the delicate mind,
Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart

A Finch, whose tongue knew no control,

With golden wing, and satin pole, Already to sorrow resigned.

A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried
This elegant rose, had I shaken it less,

What marriage means, thus pert replied.
Might have bloomed with its owner a while, Methinks the gentleman, quoth she,
And the tear, that is wiped with a little address, Opposite in the apple-tree,
May be followed perhaps by a smile.

By his good will would keep us single,


He sees that this great roundabout

But 'tis her own important charge The world, with all its motley rout,

To qualify him more at large, Church, army, physic, law,

And make him quite a wit. Its customs, and its businesses,

Sweet Poll! his doating mistress cries, Is no concern at all of his,

Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies; And says—what says he ?-Caw.

And calls aloud for sack. Thrice happy bird! I too have seen

She next instructs him in the kiss; Much of the vanities of men;

'Tis now a little one, like Miss, And, sick of having seen 'em,

And now a hearty smack. Would cheerfully these limbs resign

At first he aims at what he bears; For such a pair of wings as thine,

And, listening close with both his ears,
And such a head between 'em.

Just catches at the sound;
But soon articulates aloud,

Much to the amusement of the crowd,
Little inmate, full of mirth,

And stuns the neighbours round.
Chirping on my kitchen hearth,
Wheresoe'er be thine abode,

A querulous old woman's voice
Always harbinger of good.

His humorous talent next employs, Pay me for thy warm retreat

He scolds and gives the lie. With a song more soft and sweet;

And now he sings, and now is sick, In return thou shalt receive

Here Sally, Susan, come, come quick, Such a strain as I can give.

Poor Poll is like to die!

Belinda and her bird ! 'tis rare
Thus thy praise shall be exprest,
Inoffensive, welcome guest!

To meet with such a well-matched pair,
While the rat is on the scout,

The language and the tone, And the mouse with curious snout,

Each character in every part With what vermin else infest

Sustained with so much grace and art,

And both in unison.
Every dish, and spoil the best;
Frisking thus before the fire,

When children first begin to spell,
Thou hast all thine heart's desire.

And stammer out a syllable,

We think them tedious creatures; Though in voice and shape they be

But difficulties soon abate, Formed as if akin to thee,

When birds are to be taught to prate,
Thou surpassest, happier far,

And women are the teachers.
Happiest grasshoppers that are;
Theirs is but a summer's song,
Thine endures the winter long,
Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear,
Melody throughout the year,




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