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There is a field through which I often pass,
Thick overspread with moss and silky 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,
follow them through brake and briar,
Contusion hazarding of neck or spine,
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine.
A narrow brook, by rushy banks conceald,
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.
Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wint’ry 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 topmast 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 Kilwicko and all Dingle-derry° rang.
Sheep graz’d the field; some with soft bosom
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
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
• Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq.
But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urg'd advanc'd them nought,
They gather'd close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again—but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustom'd long,
Perceives in ev'ry thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees,
Have speech for him, and understood with ease';
After long drought, when rains abundant fall,
He hears the herbs and flow’rs rejoicing all;
Knows what the freshness of their hue implies,
How glad they catch the largeness of the skies;
But, with precision nicer still, the mind
He scans of ev'ry loco-motive kind;
Birds of all feather, beasts of ev'ry name,
That serve mankind, or shun them, wild or tame;
The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears
Have, all, articulation in his ears;
He spells them true by intuition's light,
And needs no glossary to set him right.
Awhile they mus'd; surveying ev'ry face, Thou hadst suppos'd them of superior race; Their periwigs of wool, and fears combin'd, Stamp'd on each countenance such marks of mind, That sage they seem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt, Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out; Or academic tutors, teaching youths, Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths;
When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers, sad, address’d.
Friends! we have liv'd too long. I never heard Sounds such as these, so worthy to be fear’d. Could I believe, that winds for ages pent In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent,
And from their prison-house below arise, With all these hideous howlings to the skies, I could be much compos’d, nor should appear For such a cause to feel the slightest fear.