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Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow, Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo',
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nurs'd with tender care,
And to domestic bourds confin’d,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.
Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance ev'ry night, He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.
His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.
On twigs of hawthorn he regal'd,
On pippins' russet peel;
Sliced carrot pleas'd him well.
A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he lov’d to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show'rs,
Or when a storm drew near.
Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And ev'ry night at play.
I kept him for his humour' sake,
For he would oft beguile
He finds his long, last home,
Till gentler Puss shall come.
He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.
Hic etiam jacet
Qui totum novennium vixit
Nec imbres nimii
Tamen mortuus est
Et moriar ego.
Memorandum found among Mr. Cowper's papers.
Tuesday, March 9, 1786.
This day died poor Puss, aged eleven years eleven months. She
died between twelve and one at noon, of mere old age, and apparently without pain.
In the year 1774, being much indisposed both in mind and body, incapable of diverting myself either with company or books, and yet in a condition that made some diversion necessary, I was glad of any thing that would engage my attention without fatiguing it. The children of a neighbour of mine had a leveret given them for a plaything; it was at that time about three months old. Understanding better how to tease the poor creature than to feed it, and soon becoming weary of their charge, they readily consented that their father, who saw it pining and growing leaner every day, should offer it to my acceptance. I was willing enough to take the prisoner under my protection, perceiving that in the management of such an animal, and in the attempt to tame it, I should find just that sort of employment which my case required. It was soon known among the neighbours that I was pleased with the present; and the consequence was, that in a short time I had as many leverets offered to me as would have stocked a paddock. I undertook the care of three, which it is necessary that I should here distinguish by the names I gave them—Puss, Tiney, and Bess. Notwithstanding the two feminine appellatives, I must inform you that they were all males. Immediately commencing carpenter, I built them houses to sleep in; each bad a separate apartment so contrived that their ordure would pass through the bottom of it; an earthen pan placed under each received whatsoever fell, which being duly emptied and washed, they were thus kept perfectly sweet and clean. In the day time they had the range of a hall, and at night retired each to his own bed, never intruding into that of another.
Puss grew presently familiar, would leap into my lap, raise himself upon his hinder feet, and bite the hair from my temples. He would suffer me to take him up and to carry him about in my arms, and has more than once fallen fast asleep upon my knee. He was ill three days, during which time I nursed him, kept him apart from his fellows that they might not molest bim, (for,