Part 1 out of 2
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Robert Prince and Distributed Proofreaders
BY WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
FOUNDED ON ANECDOTES RELATING TO ANIMALS,
WITH PRINTS, DESIGNED AND ENGRAVED BY WILLIAM BLAKE.
Three words of Horace may form an introduction to the following pages,
the very words, which that amiable physician and poet, the late
Dr. Cotton of St. Alban's, prefixed as a motto to his elegant and
moral little volume of Visions in Verse:
"VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE CANTO."
Or in plainer English prose:--The book is intended for young Readers.
BALLAD THE FIRST.
Of all the speechless friends of man
The faithful dog I deem
Deserving from the human clan
The tenderest esteem:
This feeling creature form'd to love,
To watch, and to defend,
Was given to man by powers above,
A guardian, and a friend!
I sing, of all e'er known to live
The truest friend canine;
And glory if my verse may give,
Brave Fido! it is thine.
A dog of many a sportive trick,
Tho' rough and large of limb.
Fido would chase the floating stick
When Lucy cried, "go swim."
And what command could Lucy give,
Her dog would not obey?
For her it seemed his pride to live,
Blest in her gentle sway!
For conscious of her every care
He strain'd each feeling nerve,
To please that friend, his lady fair
Commanded him to serve.
Of many friends to Lucy dear,
One rose above the rest;
Proclaim'd, in glory's bright career.
The monarch of her breast.
Tender and brave, her Edward came
To bid his fair adieu;
To India call'd, in honour's name,
To honour he was true.
The farewell rack'd poor Lucy's heart,
Nor pain'd her lover less;
And Fido, when he saw them part,
Seem'd full of their distress.
Lucy, who thro' her tears descried
His sympathetic air,
"Go! with him, Fido!" fondly cried,
"And make his life thy care!"
The dog her order understood,
Or seem'd to understand,
It was his glory to make good
Affection's kind command.
How he obeyed;--the price how great
His brave obedience cost,
Fancy would faulter to relate,
In wild conjecture lost.
But Truth and Love, the upright pair,
Who witnessed Fido's worth,
His wond'rous virtue shall declare,
A lesson to the earth!
Not in the battle's gory tide,
Nor in the stormy seas,
No! Fido's noble faith was tried
In scenes of sportive ease.
Often in India's sultry soil
To brace the languid limb,
'Twas Edward's pleasure, after toil,
To take a fearless swim.
Bold in a flood he lov'd to leap.
When full the current flow'd;
Nor dreamt the water, dark, and deep.
The crocodile's abode.
And fearless he and Fido oft,
Along the stream would glide;
Their custom from the bank aloft
To vault into the tide!
But once, when Edward had begun
To cast his clothes aside,
Round him his dog would anxious run,
And much to check him tried.
So much, that had dumb Fido said
"Avoid the stream to day!"
Those words could scarce have plainer made
What duty wish'd to say.
Edward, too eager to enjoy
The sport, where danger lay,
Scolds him for gestures, that annoy,
And beats his guard away:
And naked now, and dreaming not
How cruel was that blow,
He hurries to the lofty spot,
In haste to plunge below,
His faithful friend, with quicker pace,
And now with silent tongue,
Out-stript his master in the race,
And swift before him sprung.
Heaven! how the heart of Edward swell'd
Upon the river's brink,
When his brave guardian he beheld
A glorious victim sink!
Sink in a watery monster's jaw,
That near the river's side
Too late th' astonish'd Edward saw,
And shriek'd, as Fido died.
In vain he shriek'd; and soon his tears
His heart-felt loss deplore;
"Lucy!" he cries, as if she hears,
"Thy Fido is no more!"
"Calamitously lost, his form,
So often thy delight!
No artist's hand, with genius warm,
Can rescue for thy sight;"
"But if 'tis sung by friendly bard
How he resign'd his breath;
Thy dog must win the world's regard,
Immortal in his death!"
'Twas thus the feeling Edward griev'd,
Nor could his grief divine,
What honours, by pure love conceived,
Brave Fido, would be thine!
When Lucy heard of Fido's fate,
What showers of tears she shed!
No cost would she have thought too great
To celebrate the dead.
But gold had not the power to raise
A semblance of her friend;
Yet kind compassion, who surveys,
Soon bids her sorrow end.
A sculptor, pity's genuine son!
Knew her well-founded grief;
And quickly, tho' he promised none,
Gave her the best relief;
He, rich in Lucy's sister's heart,
By love and friendship's aid,
Of Fido, with the happiest art,
A secret statue made.
By stealth in Lucy's chamber plac'd,
It charm'd the mourner there,
Till Edward, with new glory grac'd,
Rejoin'd his faithful fair.
The marble Fido in their sight,
Enhanc'd their nuptial bliss;
And Lucy every morn, and night,
Gave him a grateful kiss.
* * * * *
BALLAD THE SECOND.
Say, nature, on whose wond'rous reign
Delighted fancy dwells,
Of all thy numerous brutal train
What animal excells?
What quadruped most nobly vies
In virtue with mankind,
Like man deliberately wise,
And resolutely kind?
Beneath a form vast and uncouth
Such excellence is found:
Sagacious Elephant! thy truth,
Thy kindness is renown'd.
More mild than sanguinary man,
Whose servant thou hast prov'd,
Oft in his frantic battle's van
Thy bulk has stood unmoved:
There oft thy spirit griev'd, to see
His murd'rous rage encrease,
'Till mad himself, he madden'd thee.
Thou nobler friend to peace!
Acts of thy courage might occur
To grace heroic song;
But I thy gentle deeds prefer,
Thou strongest of the strong!
Where India serves the British throne,
In scenes no longer wild,
A menial Elephant was known,
Most singularly mild!
It was his custom, fresh and gay
By his attendant led,
Walking to water, every day,
To pass a gard'ner's shed,
This gard'ner, of good natured fame,
Admir'd the noble beast;
And gave him, whensoe'er he came,
A vegetable feast.
Some dainty, from his stall bestow'd,
So made the beast his friend;
'Twas joy to see, at this abode,
His blythe proboscis bend.
Not coarsely eager for his food,
He seem'd his love to court,
And oft delighted, as he stood.
To yield his children sport.
As if to thank them for each gift,
With tender, touching care,
The boys he to his back would lift,
And still caress them there.
In short his placid gambols seem'd
Affection so profound,
His friendship for this man was deem'd
A wonder all around.
But O! can humour's giddy range
Mislead the brutal mind?
Can elephants their friendship change,
As fickle as mankind?
See now the hero of my song,
That theme of every tongue!
Alone, and fierce, he stalks along,
As if with frenzy stung:
See! to the gard'ner's well-known shed
Impetuous he flies;
Seizes his friend in silent dread,
And lifts him to the skies.
High as his trunk the man can bear,
Th' astonish'd man he bore,
Who vainly struggled in the air,
And trembled more and more.
So wild, so swift, the monster past,
All deem'd him mad and fled.--
Thro' a high window gently cast,
With terror almost dead,
The astounded gard'ner view'd with awe
The savage speed away;
But soon with gratitude he saw
The source of his dismay:
Unthought of source! for now inflam'd
A ravenous tyger sprung,
And at the window vainly aim'd
To which he trembling clung.
And now with joy his heart strings swell,
And blest he deems his lot;
For the foil'd tyger as he fell,
A latent marksman shot.
The Elephant returns:--O Heaven!
How tender was his air,
Seeing the friend, whose life was given
To his preserving care!
For, conscious of the danger, he,
Most providently kind,
From unseen ill to set him free,
Such rescue had designed.
Ye, whom a friend's dark perils pain,
When terrors most unnerve him,
Learn from this Elephant to strain
Your sinews to preserve him.
* * * * *
BALLAD THE THIRD.
Nature, what heart may here by thee,
Most truly brave be styled?
The tender mother's it must be,
When struggling for her child!
A Scottish tale, of serious truth,
Will make the maxim clear,
I heard it from a shepherd youth,
As nature's self sincere.
On Scotland's wildest, loneliest ground,
The subject of my tale
Liv'd, where incumbent mountains frown'd
High o'er her peaceful vale.
The heroine of nature, she
No vain ambition knew,
Her bairns and goats she nurs'd with glee,
To love and labour true.
Her hut within the valley stood,
Where thin grass grew alone,
No shade had she from lofty wood.
But much from towering stone.
For o'er her vale a mountain's crown,
In loftiest horror, hung,
A ravenous Eagle half way down,
Nurs'd her imperial young.
Jessy herself, so was she call'd,
Possess'd an eagle's eye,
And her quick vision unappall'd
Had mark'd the nest on high.
But of a fearless heart, she deem'd
The royal bird her friend,
Nor thought its rage, tho' fierce it scream'd,
Would to her vale descend.
With plunder borne thro' distant air,
She saw it stain the rock,
Yet trusted it would nobly spare
Her little neighbouring flock.
Ah Jessy, oft the fancied friend,
Commits a cruel wrong;
Weak neighbours seldom should depend
On kindness from the strong.
No manly guard hast thou with thee
A savage foe to scare,
For thy good man far off to sea
The distant billows bear.
That best of guards thou oft has known,
But of his aid bereft,
Two little boys with thee alone
Are all thy treasures left.
The eldest grew with manly grace,
His years yet barely seven,
A stripling of a sweeter face,
Has never gaz'd on Heaven.
He was indeed a friend most rare,
To chear his lonely mother,
And aid her in her constant care
His little baby-brother.
With these to Jessy much endear'd,
Whom from the world she hid,
Three nurslings more she fondly rear'd,
Two lambkins and a kid.
Most tender playmates all the five,
None stray'd the vale beyond,
They were the happiest imps alive,
All of each other fond.
And Jessy all with joy survey'd,
With joy her heart ran o'er,
When they their little gambols play'd,
She spinning at her door.
But how mischance will intervene:
This spot of sweet delight,
One eventide, became a scene
Of anguish and affright.
The elder boy, gay Donald, chanc'd,
Far from the door to play,
Lest, now within the vale advanc'd,
His kid might roam away.
The mother sat to watch the vale,
Nor yet his sport forbid;
But starts to see the Eagle sail
Above the trembling kid.
The kid began to quake and cry;
Not so the braver boy,
The full-winged savage to defy
Was his heroic joy.
Still nearer sail'd the undaunted bird,
Its destin'd deed undone,
And when its ravenous scream she heard
The mother join'd her son.
Their shouts united, and each arm
In bold protection spread,
Secur'd the kid from real harm,
Tho' now with fear half dead,
Some furlongs from their cottage sill,
Now pass'd this anxious scene;
There they had left, as safe from ill,
The sleeping babe serene.
The savage bird the kid renounc'd,
But round the cottage oft
Rapid he wheel'd, and there he pounc'd,
And bore the babe aloft.
Ah!--who can now that impulse paint,
Which fires the mother's breast?
Nor toil, nor danger, makes her faint;
She seeks this Eagle's nest.
But first with courage clear, tho' warm,
As guides the martial shock,
When British tars prepare to storm
A fortress on a rock.
She bids, to mark the Eagle's flight,
Young Donald watch below,
While she will mount the craggy height,
And to his aerie go.
With filial hope her son, who knew
Her courage and her skill,
Watch'd to parental orders true,
And now, his mother out of sight,
He fixt his piercing eye
On crags, that blaz'd in solar light,
Whence eagles us'd to fly.
He saw, as far as eye may ken,
A crag with blood defil'd,
And entering this aerial den
The Eagle and the child.
The boy, tho' trusting much in God,
With generous fear was fill'd;
Aware, that, if those crags she trod,
His mother might be kill'd.
His youthful mind was not aware
How nature may sustain
Life, guarded by maternal care
From peril, and from pain.
And now he sees, or thinks he sees
(His heart begins to pant)
A woman crawling on her knees,
Close to the Eagle's haunt.
It is thy mother, gallant boy,
Lo! up her figure springs:
She darts, unheard, with speechless joy
Between the Eagle's wings.
Behold! her arms its neck enchain,
And clasp her babe below:
Th' entangled bird attempts in vain
Its burthen to o'erthrow.
Now Heaven defend thee, mother bold,
Thy peril is extreme:
Thou'rt dead, if thou let go thy hold,
Scar'd by that savage scream;
And bravely if thou keep it fast,
What yet may be thy doom!
This very hour may be thy last,
That aerie prove thy tomb.
No! No! thank Heaven! O nobly done!
O marvellous attack!
I see thee riding in the sun,
Upon the Eagle's back.
In vain it buffets with its wings,
In vain it wheels around;
Still screaming, in its airy rings,
It sinks towards the ground.
Run, Donald, run! she has not stirr'd,
And she is deadly pale:
She's dead; and with the dying bird
Descending to the vale.
Lo! Donald flies.--She touches earth:
O form'd on earth to shine!
O mother of unrivall'd worth,
And sav'd by aid divine!
She lives unhurt--unhurt too lies
The baby in her clasp;
And her aerial tyrant dies
Just strangled in her grasp.
What triumph swelled in Donald's breast,
And o'er his features spread.
When he his living mother prest,
And held the Eagle dead!
Angels, who left your realms of bliss.
And on this parent smil'd,
Guard every mother brave as this,
In rescuing her child!
* * * * *
BALLAD THE FOURTH.
Blest be the boy, by virtue nurst,
Who knows not aught of fear's controul,
And keeps, in peril's sudden burst,
The freedom of an active soul.
Such was a lively Tuscan boy,
Who lived the youthful Tasso's friend,
Friendship and verse his early joy,
And music, form'd with love to blend.
Love had inspir'd his tender frame,
His years but two above eleven,
The sister of his friend his flame!
A lovely little light of Heaven!
Born in the same propitious year,
Together nurst, together taught;
Each learn'd to hold the other dear,
In perfect unison of thought.
Their forms, their talents, and their talk,
Seem'd match'd by some angelic powers,
Ne'er grew upon a rose's stalk
A sweeter pair of social flowers.
Fortunio was the stripling's name,
Cornelia his affection's queen,
Both to all eyes, where'er they came,
Endear'd by their attractive mien.
For like a pair of fairy sprites,
Endued with soft aetherial grace,
Enrapt in musical delights
They hardly seem'd of mortal race!
Often the youth, in early morn,
Awak'd a social sylvan flute.
To notes as gay, as Dian's horn,
Or tender, as Apollo's lute.
Then, at his side, his sovereign fair
Appear'd the rising day to greet,
Uniting to his dulcet air
Devotion's song divinely sweet.
A fund of joys, that never waste,
Nature to this sweet pair had given;
Invention, harmony, and taste,
And fancy, brightest gift of Heaven!
In quest of many a new device,
Thro' pathless scenes they joy'd to roam,
Composing songs most wildly sweet,
Heard, with parental pride, at home.
Delighted in a wood to rove,
That near their native city spread;
There of its gayest flowers they wove,
A garland for each other's head.
One morn when this dear task was done,
And just as each the other crown'd,
Seeking deep, shade to 'scape the sun,
A piteous spectacle they found.
It was a dead disfigur'd fawn,
Its milk white haunch some monster tore;
It perish'd in that morning's dawn,
Nor had the sun yet dried its gore!
Cornelia, nature's genuine child,
Caress'd the dead, with pity pale;
It's mangled limb, with gesture mild,
She shrouded in her sea-green veil.
The sympathetic pair agreed,
To form a grave without a spade;
Bury their fawn beneath a tree,
And chaunt a requiem to his shade.
Fortunio had a rustic knife,
With this their feeling task they plann'd,
And often in a friendly strife,
They claim'd it from each other's hand.
But ere their tedious toil advanc'd,
Towards its kind and tender end,
Cornelia, as her quick eye glanc'd,
Saw, what escap'd her toiling friend.
It was a sight that well might shake,
A little heart of stouter mould;
A sight, that made Cornelia quake,
And all her quivering fibres cold!
A furious Stag advancing sprung,
Eager along the echoing wood,
As if vindictive for his young,
To reach the spot, where now they stood.
Cornelia scarce could stand, for she
Began her guardian to entreat;
Seizing his busy arm, to flee
Far from the fawn before her feet.
The youth her painful terror saw,
And with a manly sterness said,
In a firm voice, inspiring awe,
"Cornelia I must be obeyed."
"True love is brave, whate'er may chance--
Behind this tree's protecting bole
Stand thou--nor fear the Stag's advance,
But trust to thy Fortunio's soul!"
The faithful maid, in double dread,
Fear'd to offend him more than death;
And now, as near the fierce foe sped,
Behind the tree, she pants for breath.
Yet peeping thence in fond alarm,
Most trembling for her guardian's life,
She looks, expecting that his arm
Would brandish his defensive knife.
Amazement kept the trembler mute,
To see him hurl it far away,
And from his bosom pluck his flute,
And fearlessly begin to play.
The furious parent of the dead,
Marking him near his blood-stain'd young,
Aim'd at his breast with hostile head,
As near the dauntless boy he sprung.
But ere the branching horns could reach,
That object of ill-founded ire,
Sounds of resistless magic teach
Submission to the savage sire.
The young musician richly pour'd
Notes from his pipe, so wond'rous sweet,
A rav'nous pard must have ador'd,
And melted at the minstrel's feet.
So softly plaintive was the strain,
No living thing unmov'd could hear,
What took from terror all its pain,
And mixt delight with sorrow's tear.
The Stag with a pathetic grace
Look'd up, most eloquently mute;
And sighing in Fortunio's face,
Now lick'd the hand, that held his flute.
Cornelia saw, with blest relief,
The scene that every fear dismist;
And sharing all his love and grief,
Her foe, so humaniz'd, she kist.
Then by her brave musician's side,
She fondly claspt his honour'd hand.
"And give me credit now," she cried,
"For staying at thy stern command."
"Henceforth, tho' plung'd in perils new,
I shrink from none, if thou art near,
But feel our sacred maxim true,
That perfect love will cast out fear!"
"This Stag to thee will ever shew
The gratitude, thy strains inspire!
And those, who soothe a parent's woe,
Are dear to Heaven's all-soothing sire."
"Our duty to this hapless fawn
We will perform, and often fly
To hail his grave at early dawn;
Youth and misfortune claim a sigh!"
The lovely nymph prophetic spoke;
The Stag, as taught by powers above,
Oft met them at their fav'rite oak,
And seem'd to bless their tender love.
Here oft the little fair retir'd;
Here lov'd from gayer scenes withdrawn,
To breathe, what harmony inspir'd--
A dirge to memorize the fawn!
* * * * *
BALLAD THE FIFTH.
Who can forget fair freedom's bird,
That has her genuine praises heard,
Confirm'd by frequent proof?
The patriot stork is sure to share
The brave Batavian's generous care,
While breeding on his roof,
In all her early, brightest, days,
When Holland won immortal praise
Her Spanish tyrant's dread!
She play'd not her heroic part
With spirit, nobler than the heart,
Of one mild bird she bred.
It was a female Stork, whose mind
Shew'd all the mother, bravely kind,
In trial's fiercest hour;
This bird had blest her happy lot,
High-nested on a fisher's cot,
As stedfast as a tower.
Her host, a man benignly mild,
Was happy in a darling child
Who now had woman's air;
Her face intelligent and sweet,
And her soft bosom was the seat
Of kind courageous care.
The lovely girl was call'd Catau,
She joy'd to make her neat hearth glow,
For her returning sire;
When from his distant toil he hied,
To banquet by his daughter's side,
Before his evening fire.
The child and parent liv'd alone:
Each to the other long had shewn
Such pure and perfect love,
Comrades they wanted none beside,
Both cherishing, with tender pride,
Their Stork, who built above.
To their high chimney's top she sprung,
Protecting there three callow young,
Too feeble to descend:
But oft she visited the ground,
And in her youthful hostess found
A playmate, and a friend.
In scenes of social care endear'd,
As sure as supper time appear'd,
The Stork a ready guest,
Was constant at the damsel's side,
And she with dainties was supplied,
To carry to her nest.
But how among the dearest brood
Calamity will oft intrude,
And fairest hopes prevent;
How quick can desolation's storm
With horrid agonies deform,
The scene of sweet content!
As early one autumnal eve,
Catau was eager to receive
Her father to his feast;
She look'd without her door, and saw
Aloft a little blaze of straw,
That in the wind encreas'd.
Alas! from her high chimney's top
A dangerous spark had chanc'd to drop,
And fir'd the fav'rite nest!
She sees the affrighted parent fly,
Around her young, and seem to cry
"Oh succour the distrest!"
Catau was an heroic maid,
Most apt to lend a sufferer aid;
With quick-ey'd zeal she found
A ladder, and a triple fork,
On which to lift each callow Stork,
And guide them to the ground.
With pity's just, and dauntless, haste,
She mounts the ladder rightly plac'd,
She rears the guardian fork;
Her heart expands, with hope elate,
That she shall kindly snatch from fate
Each tender little Stork.
Dear virtuous damsel, vainly brave,
Thou must resign thy hopes to save
These innocents from death!
The faithless ladder breaks--the maid
Escaping by angelic aid,
Now scarce retains her breath.
Forgetting selfish fear, her eye
Is fixt upon the scene on high,
With anguish and despair;
The dauntless bird, with wond'rous skill,
A parent's duty to fulfil,
Toils in the troubled air.
Two of the callow young she lays,
Beyond the peril of the blaze;
But while the last she rears,
The other little ones distrest
Crawl back within the burning nest,
And aggravate her fears.
Now in the vex'd and heated air,
She draws fresh courage from despair;
She sees them gasp for breath;
Tho' fiercer flames around her sprung,
She settles on her dying young,
And welcomes social death!
"My glorious bird," exclaims the maid,
Who her brave fav'rite survey'd,
While she expir'd above:
"I will not at thy lot repine,
But rather pray it may be mine,
To die with those I love!"
BALLAD THE SIXTH.
Maternal love! thou wond'rous power,
By no base fears controul'd,
Tis truly thine, in danger's hour,
To make the tender bold!
And yet, more marvellous! thy sway,
Amid the pathless wild,
Can humanize the beast of prey!
And make the savage mild!
A traveller, on Afric's shore.
Near to a forest's side,
That shook with many a monster's roar,
With hasty caution hied.
But suddenly, full in his way,
A Panther he descries;
Athwart his very road she lay,
And fixt his fearful eyes.
With backward step, and watchful stare
If refuge there may be;
He hopes to gain, with trembling care,
The refuge of a tree.
A fruitless hope--the Panther moves,
Perceiving his intent,
And vain his utmost caution proves
Her purpose to prevent.
But no fierce purpose to destroy
The dreadful beast impells;
Her gesture, blending grief and joy,
Far other motive tells.
Round him she fawns, with gentle pace;
Her actions all entreat:
She looks imploring in his face,
And licks his hands and feet!
The traveller, a Roman born,
Was of a generous mind;
He never view'd distress with scorn,
To all that breath'd most kind.
And soon all selfish fear apart,
His native spirit rose,
The suffering Panther won his heart,
He only felt her woes.
"Jove help thee gracious beast," he cried,
"Some evil wounds thee sore,
And it shall be my joy and pride,
Thy sorrows to explore!"
The beast his kindness understood,
Fix'd on his robe a claw,
And gently to the neighb'ring wood,
Appear'd her friend to draw.
How little is the want of speech,
When kindness rules the heart;
Gesture will then all lessons teach,
That language can impart!
The Roman, Caelius, was his name,
By brave compassion sway'd,
Conjectur'd all the Panther's aim,
And gave her willing aid.
For in the forest with his guide,
He hears her wailing young,
To whom the tender beast replied.
With a maternal tongue.
He sees them only in his thought,
For in a curious snare,
The hapless little creatures caught,
Could only murmur there.
Deep in an earthy trap they lay,
An iron grate above,
Precluded them from chearful day,
And from a mother's love!
But quicken'd by the touching sound,
The little captives made,
The generous Caelius clear'd the ground.
And all the snare display'd.
Two vigorous cubs spring up to light,
And to their parent haste;
Caelius a third, in tenderer plight,
Within the pit embrac'd!
For in he leap'd, to save the young,
That seem'd to suffer harm;
And swiftly from the pit he sprung,
The cub beneath his arm.
The conscious nursling lick'd his cheek,
With young endearment sweet,
He kiss'd, and laid it safe, tho' weak,
Before its parent's feet.
Too faint is language to describe,
The Panther's grateful glee,
Contemplating her little tribe,
From deadly bondage free.
By gesture, that with meaning glows,
All eloquence above,
She largely, on her friend, bestows,
Protection, thanks, and love!
Seeing him start, to hear a roar,
That spoke the lion near,
She guides him thro' her wood once more,
And banishes his fear.
Here (when she brought him to his road)
Her gesture said, "we part!"
With friendship all her features glow'd,
Each movement spoke her heart.
He shar'd her feelings. "Bless your den,"
He said, as he withdrew,
"For gratitude has fled from men,
And seems to live with you!"
* * * * *
THE GRATEFUL SNAKE.
BALLAD THE SEVENTH.
Ingratitude! of earth the shame!
Thou monster, at whose hated name,
The nerves of kindness ake;
Would I could drive thee from mankind,
By telling how a grateful mind,
Once dignified a snake.
The tale is antient, and is sweet,
To mortals, who with joy repeat,
What soothes the feeling heart;
The first of virtues, that may boast
The power to soothe, and please it most,
Sweet gratitude, thou art.
The reptile, whom thy beauties raise,
Has an unquestion'd claim to praise,
That justice will confirm!
The Muses, with a graceful pride,
May turn from thankless man aside,
To celebrate a worm!
In Arcady, grave authors write,
There liv'd a Serpent, the delight,
Of an ingenuous child;
Proud of his kindness, the brave boy.
Fed and caress'd it with a joy,
Pleased all his gambols to attend,
The snake, his playfellow, and friend,
Still in his sight he kept;
The reptile, ever at his side,
Obeys him waking, and with pride,
Would watch him, while he slept!
Once ere her darling was awake,
The anxious mother saw the snake,
So twin'd around his arm,
She begged her husband to convey
The fondling serpent far away,
For fear of casual harm.
The happy father of the child,
Himself a being bravely mild,
To her request attends;
Conscious such comrades could not part
Without great anguish of the heart,
He fear'd to wound the friends.
They both were young, and both had shewn
Affection into habit grown,
With feelings most acute;
Yet to a parent's duty just,
Tho' griev'd to part them, part he must,
The point bears no dispute.
But with a tenderness of mind
That prov'd him truly not inclined,
Their friendship to destroy;
He form'd a plan, and held it good;
To hurt as little as he could,
The Serpent, or the boy.
To sleep he both with opiates lur'd,
Then, in their slumber's bond secur'd,
See in his arms they go!
To woody scenes, where for the snake,
(There left entranc'd) when he shall wake,
Both food and shelter grow.
The slumbering boy awak'd at home,
And miss'd his friend, and wish'd to roam,
And seek the friend he miss'd:
But hearing all his sire had done,
Soon pacified, the grateful son,
Could not such love resist.
He promis'd, for his mother's sake,
Not to recall his exil'd snake,
Nor wander to his wood;
He was a boy of manly soul,
And true to honour's just controul,
He made his promise good.
Nature, to these divided friends
Now in their separate lot attends;
Time decks them as he flies;
The child, a graceful stripling grows,
And freedom on the snake bestows,
A formidable size.
And now it chanc'd the Arcadian youth,
Renown'd for courage, love and truth!
Had sought a favourite maid;
Led by her tender charms to roam,
Forgetting distance from his home,
Abroad too late he stay'd.
Sooner indeed he meant to start,
To save a watchful parent's heart,
And not one fear excite:
But oft, as nature's records tell,
Ere love can utter his farewell,
Day melts into the night.
Eager to take the shortest road,
That led to his remote abode,
He thro' a forest sped;
There, by the moon's slow rising beam,
He saw a robber's faulchion gleam,
High brandish'd o'er his head.
A hunter's javelin in his hand,
He scorn'd the ruffian's base demand,
And made the wretch recoil;
But numbers from a thicket spring,
The youth they hem within a ring,
And threaten to despoil.
He, then alarm'd, calls loud for aid,
And sudden from the rustling shade,
A wond'rous sound they hear.
The startled ruffians turned in dread;
Some shriek'd, some shouted, and some fled,
Their foe approaches near.
Against one wretch, of form uncouth,
Who basely struck the encircled youth,
And gave his foot a wound;
This shadowy foe, of silent tongue,
Had from his secret ambush sprung,
And beat him to the ground,
Another, as he fled in haste,
The youth's defender then embrac'd
With such a deadly clasp;
The villain fell, and in the strife
Groan'd out his miserable life,
In horror's speechless gasp.
Who can describe the youth's surprise,
When by the moon-beam he descries
The source of his escape!
That aid, who crush'd his murd'rous foes,
To meet his gratitude now rose.
And in a serpent's shape.
"My Zoe!" (hear him now exclaim)
The child had by that fondling name,
Been used his snake to call:
The reptile heard, and at the sound
Began, with pitying care, around
His wounded foot to crawl.
The blood she staunch'd, with tender tongue,
Then higher to his hand she sprung,
And lick'd with fond caress!
Her gestures all this truth declare,
"Thy Zoe makes thy life her care,
And joys in her success!"
The wasting night now wears away;
The youth's fond mother at his stay,
To fear maternal yields;
And doubting of some dire mischance,
She hurries, ere the morn's advance,
To seek him in the fields.
With what delight, with what amaze,
Her eye her smiling son surveys,
And rolling by his side,
A serpent of triumphant air,
Who seems his fond regard to share,
And serve him as a guide!
For faithful Zoe would attend
The footsteps of her wounded friend,
'Till he at home may rest;
His mother learnt her wond'rous truth,
And clasping the dear rescued youth,
His brave confederate blest!
Zoe no more condemn'd to roam,
Now grew an inmate of their home:
The snake at Athens rear'd,
The symbol of Minerva's power,
Lodg'd as her servant in her tower,
Was never more rever'd.
Zoe was the delight of all,
Obedient to each friendly call,
From all she honour won;
But her the mother most caresst,
And fondly shew'd to every guest,
The guardian of her son!
* * * * *
THE FATAL HORSE.
BALLAD THE EIGHTH.
Of creatures that to man attend,
His pastime, or his wealth;
The Horse we cherish as a friend,
To sickness and to health.
Bless them, who shield a steed from woe.
By age from toil releas'd!
And hated be the proud, who shew
No mercy to their beast!
A wretch once doom'd, tho' rich and strong,
His faithful horse to bleed,
But tell his fate, my moral song,
For that atrocious deed!
An antient knight, of Kentish race;
Of his athletic frame
Prone to indulge the passions base,
Sir Geoffrin his name,
Against a priest indulg'd his rage,
Who charitably good,
To shield a widow's helpless age,
His avarice withstood.
With abject choler fierce and hot,
The knight perforce would gain,
And blend her little garden plot,
With his superb domain.
The priest, who, on that very ground,
To soothe his wrath would strive,
In frantic passion's fit he bound,
And buried him alive!
The wretch was seiz'd with shame and fear,
Tho' he his crime would boast:
When suddenly he chanc'd to hear,
His king lay off the coast!
'Twas gallant Harold, in that day,
Elate with regal power;
Becalm'd his stately vessel lay,
Near Geoffrin's high tower.
The royal mercy to surprize,
He now resolves with speed;
"Haste, hither bring," he wildly cries,
"My strongest favourite steed."
It was a steed of noblest kind,
In spirit and in limb,
On which the desp'rate knight design'd
To the king's ship to swim!
Now by the swelling ocean's side,
He mounts his courser brave!
Spurs him with domineering pride,
And plunges in the wave!
Us'd to his bold caprices oft,
And equal to his weight,
The courser toss'd his mane aloft,
And swam with breast elate.
The knight now flourishes his sword,
As near the ship he draws;
The wond'rous sight strikes all on board,
Who throng to find the cause:
The sailors round their sov'reign croud,
Who on the vessels stern,
Now hails the knight's approach aloud,
Eager, his aim to learn.
"Provok'd by villains, one I slew,
And own him rashly slain;
Hence to thy clemency I flew,
My pardon to obtain!"
"Now by St. George, thou vent'rous knight,
Thy steed has nobly done;
Swim back, and pardon make thee light,
Thy pardon he has won!"
The knight now with a joyous spring
His horse's neck embrac'd;
Then blessing thrice his gracious king,
He steer'd him back in haste.
Now, as he touch'd his native sand,
And near his castle gate,
He saw the weeping widow stand,
And mock'd her mournful state.
"Woman, thy threats touch me no more,
I ride on safety's wing;
My brave horse brings me safe to shore,
With pardon from my king!"
"Kings seem to grant what God denies,
Trust my prophetic breath,"
(So the indignant dame replies)
"That horse shall prove thy death!"
She spoke, and with a voice so keen,
It search'd his inmost soul,
And caus'd a storm of fearful spleen,
Thro' his dark brain to roll
Half credulous, half wildly brave,
Now doubt, now rage prevails:
He stood like a black suspended wave,
Struck by two adverse gales.
A doubt by superstition nurst,
Made all just thoughts recede;
Frantic he wav'd his sword, and pierc'd
His life-preserving steed!
"Thy prophecies I thus destroy,"
He cried, "thou wretched crone;
Threats on my days no more employ,
But tremble for thy own."
Striding away, his steed he left
In his pure blood to roll,
He quickly, of all aid bereft,
Breath'd out his nobler soul.
The boastful knight, now gay with pride
By his successful crimes,
Floating on folly's golden tide,
Prosper'd in stormy times.
Ungrateful both to man and beast
His sovereign he betray'd,
And lent, ere Harold's empire ceas'd,
The Norman treacherous aid.
The Norman tyrant much carest
This proud and abject slave,
And lands, by worthier lords possest,
For his base succour gave.
Now years, since that eventful hour,
In which his courser bled,
Had pour'd increase of wealth, and pow'r
On his aspiring head.
As near, with much enlarged estate,
To his domain he drew;
He chanc'd, before his castle gate,
A signal scene to view.
The scene his war-steel'd nerves could shock,
Seated on mossy stones
The widow, leaning 'gainst a rock,
Wept o'er his horse's bones.
Enrag'd from his new steed he vaults,
Quick with his foot to spurn
These bones, that bid his bloody faults
To his base mind return.
The head, now bleach'd, his proud foot strikes
With such indignant speed,
The bone its fierce aggressor spikes;
It is his turn to bleed.
The trivial wound the wrathful knight
Disdains to search with care.
But soon he finds, the wound tho' slight,
Death lurks in ambush there.
Now to his bed of sorrow bound,
By penitential pain,
He seems, by this heart-reaching wound,
A purer mind to gain.
Near to his couch he bids, with care,
The widow to be brought,
And speaks to her, with soften'd air,
His self-correcting thought.
"True prophetess! I feel thee now;
So God my crimes forgive,
As I with thee true concord vow:
In comfort may'st thou live."
"Behold upon this charter'd scroll,
A pictur'd cottage stand,
I give it thee, with all my soul,
And its adjacent land."
"The only rent I will assume,
Be this. At close of day,
Sit thou, with pity, on my tomb,
And for my spirit pray!"
"That tomb be rais'd by sculpture's aid,
To warn men from my guilt;
My horse's head beside me laid,
Whose blood I basely spilt!"
He spoke, he died, the tomb was made,
His statue look'd to Heaven!
And daily then the widow pray'd,
His crimes might be forgiven!
* * * * *
BALLAD THE NINTH.
Lovely woman! how brave is thy soul,
When duty and love are combin'd!
Then danger in vain would controul
Thy tender, yet resolute mind.
Boulla thus in an African glade,
In her season of beauty and youth,
In the deadliest danger display'd
All the quick-sighted courage of truth.
Tho' the wife of a peasant, yet none
Her grandeur of heart rose above;
And her husband was nature's true son
In simplicity, labour, and love.
'Twas his task, and he manag'd it well,
The herd of his master to guide,
Where a marshy and desolate dell
Daily drink to the cattle supplied.
In this toil a dear playfellow shar'd,
A little, brave, sensible boy!
Who nobly for manhood prepar'd,
Made every kind office his joy.
One day as the dell they drew near,
They perceiv'd all the cattle around
Starting wild, in tumultuous fear,
As if thunder had shaken the ground.
The peasant, in wonder and awe,
Keenly search'd for the cause of their fright;
Very soon it's just motive he saw,
And he shudder'd himself at the sight;
For couch'd in the midst of the glade
An enormous fierce Lion he view'd;
His eye-balls shot flame thro' the shade,
And with gore his vast jaw was imbru'd.
"Fly boy to thy mother, be sure!
Dear child do not tremble for me!
I fear not if thou art secure;
I shall 'scape in the limbs of a tree."
He spoke, flying light as the breeze,
His cattle were scatter'd before,
Them he thought that the Lion would seize,
And for human food hunger no more.
But athirst for the blood of a man,
All the herd he in fury disdain'd;
And leapt at the bough, as he ran,
Which the peasant had rapidly gain'd.
He leapt, but he fail'd of his prey;
For the peasant was happily higher:
Beneath him, indignant, he lay,
And watch'd him with vigilant ire.
The boy had his father obey'd,
And ran for his rustic abode;
And oft turning, that father survey'd,
And hardly remember'd his road.
But when, with a burst of delight.
His father he saw in a tree,
He lost all his sense of affright,
And his terror was turn'd into glee.
Then quick to his mother he sped,
And quickly his story he told:
As she heard it, she shudder'd with dread;
But love made her suddenly bold.
She remember'd, that oft to her boy
She a lesson of archery gave:
Then the bow she resolv'd to employ,
And by courage his father to save.
Soon forth from a curious old chest
A bundle of arrows she drew;
The gift of a warrior, their guest,
And ting'd with a poisonous glue!
With a bow, that the chief us'd alone,
Which her arm could not easily draw:
This bow she preferr'd to her own,
In these moments of hope and of awe.
And now they both haste from their cot,
The stripling his mother before,
And keenly he shew'd her the spot,
As the bow he exultingly bore.
More cautious as now they advance,
The boy, to his eager desire,
Espied, with a love-guided glance,
The half-shrouded head of his sire.
He leapt, with a rapturous joy;
But, marking the Lion below,
In silence the spirited boy
Made ready the powerful bow.
From his mother an arrow he caught,
In hope's youthful extacy hot;
And softly said, quick as his thought,
"O grant to my hand the first shot."
His entreaty she could not refuse,
Yet hardly had time to consent;
Impatient his aim not to lose,
The stripling the bow would have bent.
He labour'd to bend it in vain;
It surpass'd all the strength of his years:
The brave boy full of anguish and pain,
Let it fall to the ground with his tears.
His father beheld him with grief,
Seeing both, he yet more and more grieves,
While his eyes, as in search of relief,
Look forth from his refuge of leaves.
But Boulla, who caught his keen eye,
Now grasp'd her adventurous bow,
And, with prayers addrest to the sky,
She aim'd at the Lion below.
Good angels! her arrow direct!
On its flight these dear beings depend,
Whose kindness, by danger uncheck'd,
Has deserv'd to find Heaven their friend.
See the beast! Lo! his eye-balls yet burn,
On his prey he still gloats, with a yawn,
Yet the woman he does not discern;
And her bow is undauntedly drawn.
O love! it is thine to impart
Such force, as none else can bestow--
She has shot with the strength of her heart,
She has pierced her infuriate foe.
While his jaws were enormously spread,
(The truth of her archery see!)
Thro' his cheek her sure arrow has sped;
It fastens his flesh to the tree.
Too soon of her conquest secure,
She runs within reach of his claw,
But in tortures he cannot endure,
He has struck her to earth with his paw.
Lo! anxious the peasant descends:
Good peasant no more be afraid!
Heaven sent her the bravest of friends,
In the boy who has rush'd to her aid.
Before thou couldst spring to the ground,
Her boy made her triumph complete;
And contriving a marvellous wound,
He has stretch'd her foe dead at her feet.
From the tree by his struggles releas'd,
While he roll'd in his own blood afloat
Brave Demba ran up to the beast,
And darted ten shafts in his throat.
Their poisons collected afford
Lethargic relief to his pangs;
And Death! of all nature the lord!
Thy shadows now rest on his fangs.
Now love! thy own fancy employ!
For words are too feeble to trace
The father, the mother, the boy,
In triumph's extatic embrace.
* * * * *
BALLAD THE TENTH.
Kind Heaven will oft a lesson give
If mortals are inclined to learn;
To shew how simplest things that live,
To kindness make a rich return.
Tho' fiction speaks of dying notes,
Sung by the swan in death resign'd;
Is there a tribe, that flies or floats,
Of sense, or feeling, less refin'd?
Yet simple as this bird we deem,
My faithful ballad shall attest,
One Swan displayed on Thames's stream,
A feeling and a friendly breast
Cecilia liv'd on Thames's bank,
A young and lovely married fair;
To creatures kind of every rank,
A favourite Swan had own'd her care.
Her lord, a merchant, frank and young,
By probity was known to thrive;
Their bliss enliven'd every tongue,
They were the happiest pair alive;
For to increase their nuptial joy
And their domestic scene adorn;
Heaven crown'd their blessings with a boy,
A finer boy was never born.
His sportive life had only run
To six short months, how brief a date!
When gay Cecilia's darling son,
Was threaten'd with a deadly fate!
Her garden had a terrace fair,
Beneath it, full the river flow'd,
There she enjoyed the evening air,
Her favourite Swan there proudly row'd.
The mother in her active arms,
To make her boy benignly mild;
And nobly proof 'gainst all alarms,
There oft would exercise her child.
A boat-house by the terrace side,
Shelter'd a small and simple boat:
And sometimes half way o'er the tide
Chain'd to its home, it us'd to float.
Here she, her infant, and her maid,
Sport with the Swan, and give it bread;
While her gay boy, of nought afraid,
With lively transport sees it fed.
'Tis June--a sultry tempest wild
Impends, Cecilia would retire,
But checks herself to teach her child,
The vivid light'ning to admire.
Her noble mind delights to rear
In early fortitude, her boy;
That he the voice of God may hear,
With admiration's awful joy!
While to regain the vessel's shed,
Her maid an active pilot stands;
She to the music o'er her head,
Dances the child with dauntless hands.
But whirlwinds rise: the vessel reel'd,
Heaven! the sweet parent is o'erthrown:
Her falling head she fails to shield,
Attentive to her child alone.
Tis the tornado's ruthless blast;
The mother stunn'd, the babe it bears
Far from her senseless frame! aghast
The maid, in speechless horror glares!
Yet swiftly to its proper shore,
The whirlwind now the vessel drives,
Where by the elemental roar
Alarm'd, Cecilia's lord arrives.
Into the boat behold him bound,
He lifts his lifeless wife upright:
She wakens to the thunder's sound;
Her opening eyes regain the light.
"Where is my child?" she faintly cries;
"Where is the child?" her lord rejoin'd:
Poor heart-struck Susan nought replies,
The child had vanished from her mind.
"My child! my child!" with terror's start
She shrieks, in accents wild and shrill;
And at her agony of heart,
The very tempest's self grew still!
"Say if you saw him sink!" she cried,
Wildly to Susan pale and wan:
When quick her roving eye descried,
The tall neck of her favourite Swan.
"My God! my God! 'tis thee I thank!"
Exclaim'd the now exulting fair;
"I see him wafted to the bank,
His cradle form'd by heavenly care!"
She spoke, and all who heard her cry,
Now saw the babe divinely nurst;
The extatic sight from every eye,
Made tears of grateful transport burst.
Between her silvery arching wings,
The guardian bird had lodg'd the child;
And forward as her broad foot springs,
At every stroke the infant smil'd.
And with a heaven-implanted pride,
Superbly rowing now to land;
The brave bird has her charge denied
To all, but to the mother's hand.
Cecilia feeling now no pains,
Leans o'er the boat's advancing end;
And aided by her lord reclaims,
The present of her feather'd friend.
Now with delight the rescued boy,
To her maternal bosom springs:
The conscious Swan partakes their joy,
And claps her proud triumphant wings.
Cecilia beads to weep and pray,
She weeps with joy, no longer wan;
And still on this returning day,
Blesses the heaven-directed Swan!
THE HERMIT'S DOG.
BALLAD THE ELEVENTH.
Of dogs who sav'd a living friend,
Most nobly, ye have read:
Now to a nobler still attend,
A guardian of the dead.
As o'er wild Alpine scenes I stray'd,
Not far from that retreat,
Where Bruno, with celestial aid,
First plann'd his sacred seat.
An anchorite of noble mien,
Attracted my regard;
Majestic as that savage scene,
Or as a Cambrian bard.
He to no silent dome belongs,
The rock is his domain;
It echoes to his nightly songs
Devotion's lonely strain.
His mansion is a tranquil grot,
Form'd in the living stone:
My view of the sequester'd spot,
I owe to chance alone.
For happening near his cell to rove,
Enamour'd of the wild;
I heard within a piny grove
What seem'd a plaintive child.
The distant cry so struck my ear,
I hasten'd to the ground,
But saw surpris'd, as I drew near,
The author of the sound.
No human form, yet one I thought,
With human feelings fill'd,
And from his tongue, by nature taught,
Strange notes of sorrow thrill'd.
Unseen myself, I clearly saw
A dog that couchant moan'd;
He struck the hard earth with his paw,
Then look'd at Heaven, and groan'd!
With silent caution I drew near,
To mark this friend of man,
Expressing grief in sobs so clear,
It through my bosom ran!
The noble beast was black as jet,
And as a lion large;
He look'd as on a tombstone set,
To hold the dead in charge.
Grand was his visage, round his neck
Broad silver rings he wore;
These rings, that his dark body deck,
The cross of Malta bore.
I gaz'd, but soon my steps, tho' soft,
Announced a stranger near;
The brave beast bounded up aloft,
Nor was I free from fear.
But soon his master's voice represt
And call'd him to his side:
And soon I was the hermit's guest,
He was my guard and guide.
My own intrusion to excuse,
The wond'rous dog I prais'd,
Whose milder mien my eye reviews,
Delighted and amaz'd!
"If I disturb thy calm retreat,
Divinely calm indeed,
The noble servant at thy feet,
May for my pardon plead."
"That noble servant in my sight
Whom strength and grace adorn,
Announces, if I read aright,
A master nobly born."
The sire replied, with graceful bend,
"No not my servant, he!
A noble independent friend,
He deigns to live with me!"
"But, stranger, if you kindly rest,
His story you shall hear,
And all that makes my sable guest,
Most singularly dear."
"Here it has been my chosen lot,
Some awful years to spend!
Few months have pass'd, since near this spot
I gain'd this signal friend."
"This friend, with whom to live and die,
Is now my dearest aim;
He likes the world no more than I,
And Hero is his name."
"Some two miles off, as near a wood,
Of deepest gloom I stray'd;
Struck by strange sounds, I wond'ring stood,
They echoed from the shade."
"First like a noise in troubled dreams,
But soon distinct I heard,
A dog's triumphant bark, and screams,
That spoke a dying bird."
"A bird of loud portentous note,
One of the vulture race,
Which shepherds will to death devote,
In sanguinary chace."
"I thought some shepherd's joy to share,
And hurried to the sound:
To what I had expected there
Far different scene I found."
"A man, of blood-bespotted vest,
I saw upon the earth;
And Malta's cross upon his breast,
Spoke him of noble birth."
"Misfortune long had press'd him sore;
I know not how he died;
He had been dead two days or more,
When I his corse descried."
"Him, as their prey, two vultures seek,
With ravenous rage abhorr'd;
But Hero guarded from their beak,
The visage of his lord!"
"When first my eyes on Hero glanc'd,
One vulture he had slain:
The second scar'd as I advanced,
Flew off in fearful pain."
"Enchanted with a guard so brave,
So faithful to the dead:
The wounded dog to soothe and save,
With beating heart I sped."
"He lick'd my hand, by me carest,
But him with grief I saw
Half famish'd, and his gallant breast
Gor'd by the vulture's claw!"
"Tho' anxious o'er his wounds I bend;
By kindness or by force,
I could not tempt this generous friend.
To quit the pallid corse!"
"The body to my cell I bear;
This mourner with it moved;
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