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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 heav'n and earth fhall 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
Of an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments so well expressid,
Influenc'd mightily the rest,
All pair’d, and each pair built a neft.
But though the birds were thus in hafte, The leaves came on not quite so fast,
And destiny, that sometimes bears
An aspect ftern on man's affairs,
Not altogether smild 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.
Mifles! 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 pals,
Thick overspread with moss and filky 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 briar,
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 its wat'ry bourn,
Wide yawns a gulph 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.
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 beans were in the stack,
Now, therefore, issued 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,
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'd
The herb as soft, while nibbling stray'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.
But when the huntsman, with distended cheek, 'Gan make his instrument of music speak, And from within the wood that crash was heard,
Though not a hound from whom it burst appear'd,
The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that graz’d,
All huddling into phalanx, stood and gaz’d,
Admiring, terrified, the novel strain,
Then cours'd the field around, and cours'd it round
But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urg'd advanc'd them nought,