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His hours of study closed at last,
And finish'd his concise repast,
Stoppled his cruse, replaced his book
Within its customary nook,
And, staff in hand, set forth to share
The sober cordial of sweet air,
Like Isaac, with a mind applied
To serious thought at eveningtide.
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees that fring'd his hill
Shades slanting at the close of day
Chilled more his else delightful way.
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favour'd place
Proceeding with his nimble pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reach'd it when the sun was set.

Your Hermit, young and jovial Sirs !
Learns something from whate'er occurs
And hence, he said, my mind computes
The real worth of man's pursuits.
His object chosen, wealth or fame,
Or other sublunary game,
Imagination to his view
Presents it deck'd with ev'ry hue
That can seduce him not to spare
His pow'rs of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigor to expend
On so desirable an end.
Eer long approach life's evening shades,
The glow that fancy gave it fades ;
And, earn'd' too late, it wants the grace
Which first engag’d him in the chase.

True, answer'd an angelic guide,
Attendant at the senior's side-

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But whether all the time it cost
To urge the fruitless chase be lost,
Must be decided by the worth
Of that which call'd his ardour forth.
Trifles pursu'd whate'er th' event,
Must cause him shame or discontent ;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there, he wins a curse ;
But he, whom e’en in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid, at least in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd ;
And if, e'er he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early or too late.

CowpER:

P110000

CHAP. XXII.

THE FAITHFUL FRIEND.

THE

green house is my summer seat ; My shrubs displac'd from that retreat

Enjoy'd the open air;
Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song
Had been their mutual solace long,

Lir'd happy pris'ners there.

They sang, as blithe as finches sing
That flutter loose on golden wing,

And frolic where they list ;
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true,
But that delight they never knew,

And, therefore, never miss'do

But Nature works in ev'ry breast ;
Instinct is never quite suppress'd;

And Dick felt some desires,
Which, after many an effort vain,
Instructed him at length to gain

A pass between his wires.

The open windows seem'd to invite
The freeman to a farewel flight ;

But Tom was still confin'd;
And Dick, although his way was clear,
Was much too gen'rous and sincere

To leave his friend behind.

For settling on his grated roof,
He chirp'd and kisa'd him, giving proof

That he desir'd no more ; Nor would forsake his cage at last, "Till gently seiz'd, I shut him fast,

A pris'ner as before.

Oh ye, who never knew the joys
Of Friendship, satisfied with noise,

Fandango, ball and rout !
Blush, when I tell you how a bird,
A prison, with a friend, preferr'd

To liberty without.

COWPER

CHAP. XXIII.

PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.

A FABLE,
*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 chanc'd then, on a winter's day,
But warm and bright, and calm as May,

The birds conceiving a design,
• To forestal 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 Bulfinch, who could boast,
More

years and wisdom than the most,
Entreated, op'ning wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak ;
And, silence publicly enjoin'd,
Deliver'd briefly thus his mind.
My friends! be cautious how to 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 sattin pole,

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* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philosopher 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: over deceived by them, or can be, against the evidence of his senses ?

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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 shall mingle,
Or, (which is likelier to befall)
"Till death exterminate us all,
I marry without more ado :
My dear Dick Red-cap, 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 express'd,
Influenced 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 mau'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 paddied,
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.

INSTRUCTION.
Misses ! the tale that I relate

This lesson seems to carry

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