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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, Reservd to solace many a neighb’ring squire, That he may follow them through brake and brier, 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 gulf 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, wintry 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,
The Sun, accomplishing his early march,
Sheep graz’d the field; some with soft bosom
The herb as soft, while nibbling stray'd the rest ;
But when the huntsman, with distended cheek,
* Two woods belonging to John Throckmorton, Esq.
But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
The man to solitude accustom'd long
This truth premis'd was needful as a text, To win due credence to what follows next.
A while they mus’d ; surveying ev'ry face, Thou hadst suppos’d them of superiour 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 academick tutors, teaching youths, Sure ne'er to them, mathematick truths ; When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest, A ram, the ewes and wethers sad address d.
Friends! we have livd 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 ha e 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, Fór such a cause, to feel the slightest fear. Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders rolld, All night, me resting quiet in the fold. Or heard we that tremendous bray alone, I could expound the melancholy tone; Should deem it by our old companion made, The ass ; for he, we know, has lately stray'd, And being lost perhaps, and wand'ring wide, Might be suppos’d to clamour for a guide. But ah ! those dreadful yells what soul can hear That owns a carcase, and not quake for fear ? Dæmons produce them doubtless, brazen-claw'd And fang’d with brass the dæmons are abroad ; I hold it therefore wisest and most fit, That, life to save, we leap into the pit.
Him answer'd then his loving mate and true,
How ! leap into the pit our life to save ?
Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray,
While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals,