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Thanks then to every gentle fair
Who will not come to peck me bare
As bird of borrow'd feather,
And thanks to one above them all,
The gentle fair of Pertenhall,
Who put the whole together.
THE LATE JOHN THORNTON, ESQ.
POETS attempt the noblest task they can,
Praising the author of all good in man,
And, next, commemorating worthies lost,
The dead in whom that good abounded most.
Thee, therefore, of commercial fame, but more
Famed for thy probity from shore to shore,
Thee, Thornton! worthy in some page to shine,
As honest and more eloquent than mine,
I mourn; or, since thrice happy thou must be,
The world, no longer thy abode, not thee.
Thee to deplore were grief misspent indeed;
It were to weep that goodness has its meed,
That there is bliss prepared in yonder sky,
And glory for the virtuous when they die.
What pleasure can the miser's fondled hoard
Or spendthrift's prodigal excess afford,
Sweet as the privilege of healing woe
By virtue suffer'd combating below? [means
That privilege was thine; Heaven gave thee
To illumine with delight the saddest scenes,
Till thy appearance chased the gloom, forlorn
As midnight, and despairing of a morn.
Thou hadst an industry in doing good,
Restless as his who toils and sweats for food;
Avarice in thee was the desire of wealth
By rust unperishable or by stealth,
And if the genuine worth of gold depend
On application to its noblest end,
Thine had a value in the scales of Heaven
Surpassing all that mine or mint had given.
And, though God made thee of a nature prone
To distribution boundless of thy own,
And still by motives of religious force
Impell'd thee more to that heroic course,
Yet was thy liberality discreet,
Nice in its choice, and of a temper'd heat;
And, though in act unwearied, secret still,
As in some solitude the summer rill
Refreshes where it winds, the faded green, [seen.
And cheers the drooping flowers, unheard, un-
Such was thy charity: no sudden start,
After long sleep of passion in the heart,
But stedfast principle, and, in its kind,
Of close relation to the Eternal Mind,
Traced easily to its true source above,
To him whose works bespeak his nature, love.
Thy bounties all were Christian, and I make This record of thee for the Gospel's sake; That the incredulous themselves may see Its use and power exemplified in thee. Nov., 1790.
THE FOUR AGES.
(A BRIEF FRAGMENT OF AN EXTENSIVE PROJECTED POEM.)
"I COULD be well content, allowed the use Of past experience, and the wisdom glean'd From worn-out follies, now acknowledged such,
To recommence life's trial, in the hope
Of fewer errors, on a second proof!"
Thus, while grey evening lull'd the wind, and call'd
Fresh odors from the shrubbery at my side,
Taking my lonely winding walk, I mused,
And held accustom'd conference with my heart;
When from within it thus a voice replied:
"Couldst thou in truth? and art thou taught at length
This wisdom, and but this, from all the past?
Is not the pardon of thy long arrear,
Time wasted, violated laws, abuse
Of talents, judgment, mercies, better far
Than opportunity vouchsafed to err
With less excuse, and, haply, worse effect?"
I heard, and acquiesced: then to and fro
Oft pacing, as the mariner his deck,
My gravelly bounds, from self to human kind
I pass'd, and next consider'd-what is man.
Knows he his origin? can he ascend
By reminiscence to his earliest date?
Slept he in Adam? And in those from him
Through numerous generations, till he found
At length his destined moment to be born?
Or was he not, till fashion'd in the womb?
Deep mysteries both! which schoolmen must
To unriddle, and have left them mysteries still. It is an evil incident to man,
And of the worst, that unexplored he leaves
Truths useful and attainable with ease
To search forbidden deeps, where mystery lies
Not to be solved, and useless if it might.
Mysteries are food for angels; they digest
With ease, and find them nutriment; but man,
While yet he dwells below, must stoop to glean His manna from the ground, or starve and die. May, 1791.
THE RETIRED CAT.*
A POET'S CAT,
sedate and grave,
As poet well could wish to have,
Was much addicted to inquire
For nooks to which she might retire,
And where, secure as mouse in chink,
She might repose, or sit and think.
I know not where she caught the trick-
Nature perhaps herself had cast her
In such a mould philosophique,
Or else she learn'd it of her master.
Sometimes ascending, debonair,
An apple tree, or lofty pear,
Lodged with convenience in the fork,
She watch'd the gardener at his work;
Sometimes her ease and solace sought
In an old empty watering pot:
* Cowper's partiality to animals is well known. Lady Hesketh, in one of her letters, states, "that he had, at one time, five rabbits, three hares, two guinea-pigs, a magpie, a jay, and a starling; besides two goldfinches, two canary birds, and two dogs. It is amazing how the three hares can find room to gambol and frolic (as they certainly do) in his small parlor ;" and she adds, "I forgot to enumerate a squirrel, which he had at the same time, and which used to play with one of the hares continually. One evening, the cat giving one of the hares a sound box on the ear, the hare ran after her, and, having caught her, punished her by drumming on her back with her two feet as hard as drum-sticks, till the creature would have actually been killed, had not Mrs. Unwin rescued her."
There, wanting nothing save a fan,
To seem some nymph in her sedan
Apparell'd in exactest sort,
And ready to be borne to court.
But love of change, it seems, has place
Not only in our wiser race;
Cats also feel, as well as we,
That passion's force, and so did she.
Her climbing, she began to find,
Exposed her too much to the wind,
And the old utensil of tin
Was cold and comfortless within:
She therefore wish'd instead of those
Some place of more serene repose,
Where neither cold might come, nor air
Too rudely wanton with her hair,
And sought it in the likeliest mode
Within her master's snug abode.
A drawer, it chanced, at bottom lined
With linen of the softest kind,
With such as merchants introduce
From India, for the ladies' use,
A drawer impending o'er the rest,
Half open in the topmost chest,
Of depth enough, and none to spare,
Invited her to slumber there;
Puss with delight beyond expression,
Survey'd the scene and took possession.
Recumbent at her ease, ere long,
And lull'd by her own humdrum song,
She left the cares of life behind,
And slept as she would sleep her last,
When in came, housewifely inclined,
The chambermaid, and shut it fast; By no malignity impell'd,
But all unconscious whom it held.