the glowworm.


Beneath the hedge, or near the stream,

A worm is known to stray,

That shows by night a lucid beam,

Which disappears by day.


Disputes have been, and still prevail,

From whence his rays proceed;

Some give that honour to his tail,

And others to his head.


But this is sure—the hand of night

That kindles up the skies,

Gives him a modicum of light

Proportion’d to his size.


Perhaps indulgent Nature meant,

By such a lamp bestow’d,

To bid the traveller, as he went,

Be careful where he trod:


Nor crush a worm, whose useful light

Might serve, however small,

To show a stumbling stone by night,

And save him from a fall.


Whate’er she meant, this truth divine

Is legible and plain,

‘Tis power almighty bids him shine,

Nor bids him shine in vain.


Ye proud and wealthy, let this theme

Teach humbler thoughts to you,

Since such a reptile has its gem,

And boasts its splendour too.



the jackdaw.


There is a bird who, by his coat

And by the hoarseness of his note,

Might be supposed a crow;

A great frequenter of the church,

Where, bishop-like, he finds a perch,

And dormitory too.


<pb n=“437”/>Above the steeple shines a plate,

That turns and turns, to indicate

From what point blows the weather.

Look up—your brains begin to swim,—

‘Tis in the clouds—that pleases him,

He chooses it the rather.


Fond of the speculative height,

Thither he wings his airy flight,

And thence securely sees

The bustle and the rareeshow,

That occupy mankind below,

Secure and at his ease.


You think, no doubt, he sits and muses

On future broken bones and bruises,

If he should chance to fall.

No; not a single thought like that

Employs his philosophic pate,

Or troubles it at all.


He sees that this great roundabout,

The world, with all its motley rout,

Church, army, physic, law,

Its customs and its businesses,

Is no concern at all of his,

And says—what says he?—Caw.


Thrice happy bird!  I too have seen

Much of the vanities of men;

And, sick of having seen ‘em,

Would cheerfully these limbs resign

For such a pair of wings as thine

And such a head between ‘em.



the cricket.


Little inmate, full of mirth,

Chirping on my kitchen hearth,

Wheresoe’er be thine abode,

Always harbinger of good,

Pay me for thy warm retreat

With a song more soft and sweet;

In return thou shalt receive

Such a strain as I can give.


Thus thy praise shall be express’d,

Inoffensive, welcome guest!

While the rat is on the scout,

And the mouse with curious snout,

With what vermin else infest

Every dish, and spoil the best;

Frisking thus before the fire,

Thou hast all thine heart’s desire.


<pb n=“438”/>Though in voice and shape they be

Form’d as if akin to thee,

Thou surpassest, happier far,

Happiest grasshoppers that are;

Theirs is but a summer’s song,

Thine endures the winter long,

Unimpair’d, and shrill, and clear,

Melody throughout the year.


Neither night nor dawn of day

Puts a period to thy play:

Sing, then—and extend thy span

Far beyond the date of man.

Wretched man, whose years are spent

In repining discontent,

Lives not, aged though he be,

Half a span, compared with thee.



the parrot.


In painted plumes superbly dress’d,

A native of the gorgeous east,

By many a billow toss’d;

Poll gains at length the British shore,

Part of the captain’s precious store,

A present to his toast.


Belinda’s maids are soon preferr’d,

To teach him now and then a word,

As poll can master it;

But ‘tis her own important charge,

To qualify him more at large,

And make him quite a wit.


Sweet Poll! his doting mistress cries,

Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies,

And calls aloud for sack.

She next instructs him in the kiss;

‘Tis now a little one, like Miss,

And now a hearty smack.


At first he aims at what he hears;

And, listening close with both his ears,

Just catches at the sound;

But soon articulates aloud,

Much to the amusement of the crowd,

And stuns the neighbours round.


A querulous old woman’s voice

His humorous talent next employs,

He scolds, and gives the lie.

And now he sings, and now is sick,

Here, Sally, Susan, come, come quick,

Poor Poll is like to die!


Belinda and her bird! ‘tis rare

To meet with such a well match’d pair,

<pb n=“439”/>The language and the tone,

Each character in every part

Sustain’d with so much grace and art,

And both in unison.


When children first begin to spell,

And stammer out a syllable,

We think them tedious creatures;

But difficulties soon abate,

When birds are to be taught to prate,

And women are the teachers.



the thracian.


Thracian parents, at his birth,

Mourn their babe with many a tear,

But, with undissembled mirth,

Place him breathless on his bier.


Greece and Rome, with equal scorn,

“O the savages!” exclaim,

“Whether they rejoice or mourn,

Well entitled to the name!”


But the cause of this concern

And this pleasure would they trace,

Even they might somewhat learn

From the savages of Thrace.



reciprocal kindness the primary law of nature.


Androcles, from his injured lord, in dread

Of instant death, to Lybia’s desert fled,

Tired with his toilsome flight, and parch’d with heat,

He spied at length a cavern’s cool retreat;

But scarce had given to rest his weary frame,

When, hugest of his kind, a lion came:

He roar’d approaching:  but the savage din

To plaintive murmurs changed—arrived within,

And with expressive looks, his lifted paw

Presenting, and implored from whom he saw.

The fugitive, through terror at a stand,

Dared not awhile afford his trembling hand;

But bolder grown, at length inherent found

A pointed thorn, and drew it from the wound.

The cure was wrought; he wiped the sanious blood,

And firm and free from pain the lion stood.

Again he seeks the wilds, and day by day

Regales his inmate with the parted prey.

Nor he disdains the dole, though unprepared,

Spread on the ground, and with a lion shared.

But thus to live—still lost—sequester’d still—

Scarce seem’d his lord’s revenge a heavier ill.

Home! native home!  O might he but repair!

He must—he will, though death attends him there.

<pb n=“440”/>He goes, and doom’d to perish on the sands

Of the full theatre unpitied stands:

When lo! the selfsame lion from his cage

Flies to devour him, famish’d into rage.

He flies, but viewing in his purposed prey

The man, his healer, pauses on his way,

And, soften’d by remembrance into sweet

And kind composure, crouches at his feet.

Mute with astonishment, the assembly gaze:

But why, ye Romans?  Whence your mute amaze?

All this is natural:  nature bade him rend

An enemy; she bids him spare a friend.



a manual,


more ancient than the art of printing, and not to be found

in any catalogue.


There is a book, which we may call

(Its excellence is such)

Alone a library, though small;

The ladies thumb it much.


Words none, things numerous it contains:

And thing with words compared,

Who needs be told, that has his brains,

Which merits most regard?


Ofttimes its leaves of scarlet hue

A golden edging boast;

And open’d, it displays to view

Twelve pages at the most.


Nor name, nor title, stamp’d behind,

Adorns its outer part;

But all within ‘tis richly lined,

A magazine of art.


The whitest hands that secret hoard

Oft visit:  and the fair

Preserve it in their bosoms stored,

As with a miser’s care.


Thence implements of every size,

And form’d for various use

(They need but to consult their eyes),

They readily produce.


The largest and the longest kind

Possess the foremost page;

A sort most needed by the blind,

Or nearly such, from age.


The full charged leaf which next ensues,

Presents in bright array

The smaller sort, which matrons use,

Not quite so blind as they.


<pb n=“441”/>The third, the fourth, the fifth supply

What their occasions ask,

Who with a more discerning eye

Perform a nicer task.


But still with regular decrease,

From size to size they fall,

In every leaf grow less and less;

The last are least of all.


Oh! what a fund of genius, pent

In narrow space is here!

This volume’s method and intent

How luminous and clear!


It leaves no reader at a loss

Or posed, whoever reads:

No commentator’s tedious gloss,

Nor even index needs.


Search Bodley’s many thousands o’er!

No book is treasured there,

Nor yet in Granta’s numerous store,

That may with this compare.


No!—rival none in either host

Of this was ever seen,

Or, that contents could justly boast,

So brilliant and so keen.



an enigma.


A needle, small as small can be,

In bulk and use surpasses me,

Nor is my purchase dear;

For little, and almost for nought

As many of my kind are bought

As days are in the year.


Yet though but little use we boast,

And are procured at little cost,

The labour is not light;

Nor few artificers it asks,

All skilful in their several tasks,

To fashion us aright,


One fuses metal o’er the fire,

A second draws it into wire,

The shears another plies;

Who clips in length the brazen thread

From him who, chafing every shred,

Gives all an equal size.


A fifth prepares, exact and round,

The knob with which it must be crown’d;

His follower makes it fast;

And with his mallet and his file

To shape the point, employs awhile

The seventh and the last.


<pb n=“442”/>Now, therefore, Œdipus! declare

What creature, wonderful, and rare,

A process that obtains

Its purpose with so much ado

At last produces!—tell me true,

And take me for your pains!



sparrows self-domesticated in trinity college,



None ever shared the social feast,

Or as an inmate or a guest,

Beneath the celebrated dome

Where once Sir Isaac had his home,

Who saw not (and with some delight

Perhaps he view’d the novel sight)

How numerous, at the tables there,

The sparrows beg their daily fare.

For there, in every nook and cell

Where such a family may dwell,

Sure as the vernal season comes

Their nest they weave in hope of crumbs,

Which kindly given, may serve with food

Convenient their unfeather’d brood;

And oft as with its summons clear

The warning bell salutes their ear,

Sagacious listeners to the sound,

They flock from all the fields around;

To reach the hospitable hall,

None more attentive to the call.

Arrived, the pensionary band,

Hopping and chirping, close at hand,

Solicit what they soon receive:

The sprinkled, plenteous donative.

Thus is a multitude, though large,

Supported at a trivial charge;

A single doit would overpay

The expenditure of every day,

And who can grudge so small a grace

To suppliants, natives of the place.



familiarity dangerous.


As in her ancient mistress’ lap

The youthful tabby lay,

They gave each other many a tap,

Alike disposed to play.


But strife ensues.  Puss waxes warm,

And with protruded claws

Ploughs all the length of Lydia’s arm,

Mere wantonness the cause.


<pb n=“443”/>At once, resentful of the deed,

She shakes her to the ground

With many a threat that she shall bleed

With still a deeper wound.


But, Lydia, bid thy fury rest:

It was a venial stroke:

For she that will with kittens jest

Should bear a kitten’s joke.



invitation to the redbreast.


Sweet bird, whom the winter constrains—

And seldom another it can—

To seek a retreat while he reigns

In the well-shelter’d dwellings of man,

Who never can seem to intrude,

Though in all places equally free,

Come oft as the season is rude,

Thou art sure to be welcome to me.


At sight of the first feeble ray

That pierces the clouds of the east,

To inveigle thee every day

My windows shall show thee a feast.

For, taught by experience, I know,

Thee mindful of benefit long;

And that, thankful for all I bestow,

Thou wilt pay me with many a song.


Then, soon as the swell of the buds

Bespeaks the renewal of spring,

Fly hence, if thou wilt to the woods,

Or where it shall please thee to sing:

And shouldst thou, compell’d by a frost,

Come again to my window or door,

Doubt not an affectionate host,

Only pay as thou paid’st me before.


This music must needs be confess’d

To flow from a fountain above;

Else how should it work in the breast

Unchangeable friendship and love?

And who on the globe can be found,

Save your generation and ours,

That can be delighted by sound,

Or boasts any musical powers?



strada’s nightingale.


The shepherd touch’d his reed; sweet Philomel

Essay’d, and oft essay’d to catch the strain,

And treasuring, as on her ear they fell,

The numbers, echo’d note for note again.


<pb n=“444”/>The peevish youth, who ne’er had found before

A rival of his skill, indignant heard,

And soon (for various was his tuneful store)

In loftier tones defied the simple bird.


She dared the task, and, rising as he rose,

With all the force that passion gives inspired,

Return’d the sounds awhile, but in the close

Exhausted fell, and at his feet expired.


Thus strength, not skill prevail’d.  O fatal strife,

By thee, poor songstress, playfully begun;

And, O sad victory, which cost thy life,

And he may wish that he had never won!



ode on the death of a lady,


who lived one hundred years, and died on her birthday, 1728.


Ancient dame, how wide and vast

To a race like ours appears,

Rounded to an orb at last,

All thy multitude of years!


We, the herd of human kind,

Frailer and of feebler powers;

We, to narrow bounds confined,

Soon exhaust the sum of ours.


Death’s delicious banquet—we

Perish even from the womb,

Swifter than a shadow flee,

Nourish’d but to feed the tomb.


Seeds of merciless disease

Lurk in all that we enjoy;

Some that waste us by degrees,

Some that suddenly destroy.


And, if life o’erleap the bourn

Common to the sons of men,

What remains, but that we mourn,

Dream, and dote, and drivel then?


Fast as moons can wax and wane

Sorrow comes; and, while we groan,

Pant with anguish, and complain,

Half our years are fled and gone.


If a few (to few ‘tis given),

Lingering on this earthly stage,

Creep and halt with steps uneven

To the period of an age,


Wherefore live they, but to see

Cunning, arrogance, and force,

Sights lamented much by thee,

Holding their accustom’d course?


<pb n=“445”/>Oft was seen, in ages past,

All that we with wonder view;

Often shall be to the last;

Earth produces nothing new.


Thee we gratulate, content

Should propitious Heaven design

Life for us as calmly spent,

Though but half the length of thine.



the cause won.


Two neighbours furiously dispute;

A field—the subject of the suit.

Trivial the spot, yet such the rage

With which the combatants engage,

‘Twere hard to tell who covets most

The prize—at whatsoever cost.

The pleadings swell.  Words still suffice:

No single word but has its price.

No term but yields some fair pretence

For novel and increased expense.

Defendant thus becomes a name,

Which he that bore it may disclaim,

Since both in one description blended,

Are plaintiffs—when the suit is ended.



the silkworm.


The beams of April, ere it goes,

A worm, scarce visible, disclose;

All winter long content to dwell

The tenant of his native shell.

The same prolific season gives

The sustenance by which he lives,

The mulberry leaf, a simple store,

That serves him—till he needs no more!

For, his dimensions once complete,

Thenceforth none ever sees him eat;

Though till his growing time be past

Scarce ever is he seen to fast.

That hour arrived, his work begins.

He spins and weaves, and weaves and spins;

Till circle upon circle, wound

Careless around him and around,

Conceals him with a veil, though slight,

Impervious to the keenest sight.

Thus self-enclosed, as in a cask,

At length he finishes his task;

And, though a worm when he was lost,

Or caterpillar at the most,

When next we see him, wings he wears,

And in papilio pomp appears;

<pb n=“446”/>Becomes oviparous; supplies

With future worms and future flies

The next ensuing year—and dies!

Well were it for the world, if all

Who creep about this earthly ball,

Though shorter-lived than most he be,

Were useful in their kind as he.



the innocent thief.


Not a flower can be found in the fields,

Or the spot that we till for our pleasure,

From the largest to the least, but it yields

The bee never wearied a treasure.


Scarce any she quits unexplored

With a diligence truly exact;

Yet, steal what she may for her hoard

Leaves evidence none of the fact.


Her lucrative task she pursues,

And pilfers with so much address,

That none of their odour they lose,

Nor charm by their beauty the less.


Not thus inoffensively preys

The cankerworm, in-dwelling foe!

His voracity not thus allays

The sparrow, the finch, or the crow.


The worm, more expensively fed,

The pride of the garden devours;

And birds peck the seed from the bed,

Still less to be spared than the flowers.


But she with such delicate skill

Her pillage so fits for her use,

That the chemist in vain with his still

Would labour the like to produce.


Then grudge not her temperate meals,

Nor a benefit blame as a theft;

Since, stole she not all that she steals,

Neither honey nor wax would be left.



denner’s old woman.


In this mimic form of a matron in years,

How plainly the pencil of Denner appears!

The matron herself, in whose old age we see

Not a trace of decline, what a wonder is she!

No dimness of eye, and no cheek hanging low,

No wrinkle, or deep-furrow’d frown on the brow!

Her forehead indeed is here circled around

With locks like the ribbon with which they are bound;

While glossy and smooth, and as soft as the skin

Of a delicate peach, is the down of her chin;

<pb n=“447”/>But nothing unpleasant, or sad, or severe,

Or that indicates life in its winter—is here.

Yet all is express’d with fidelity due,

Nor a pimple or freckle conceal’d from the view.

Many fond of new sights, or who cherish a taste

For the labours of art, to the spectacle haste.

The youths all agree, that, could old age inspire

The passion of love, hers would kindle the fire,

And the matrons with pleasure confess that they see

Ridiculous nothing or hideous in thee.

The nymphs for themselves scarcely hope a decline,

O wonderful woman! as placid as thine.

Strange magic of art! which the youth can engage

To peruse, half enamour’d, the features of age;

And force from the virgin a sigh of despair,

That she when as old shall be equally fair!

How great is the glory that Denner has gain’d,

Since Apelles not more for his Venus obtain’d.



the tears of a painter.


Apelles, hearing that his boy

Had just expired—his only joy!

Although the sight with anguish tore him,

Bade place his dear remains before him.

He seized his brush, his colours spread;

And—“Oh! my child, accept,”—he said,

“(‘Tis all that I can now bestow,)

This tribute of a father’s woe!”

Then, faithful to the twofold part,

Both of his feelings and his art,

He closed his eyes with tender care,

And form’d at once a fellow pair.

His brow with amber locks beset,

And lips he drew not livid yet;

And shaded all that he had done

To a just image of his son.

Thus far is well.  But view again

The cause of thy paternal pain!

Thy melancholy task fulfil!

It needs the last, last touches still.

Again his pencil’s powers he tries,

For on his lips a smile he spies:

And still his cheek unfaded shows

The deepest damask of the rose.

Then, heedful to the finish’d whole,

With fondest eagerness he stole,

Till scarce himself distinctly knew

The cherub copied from the true.

Now, painter, cease!  Thy task is done.

Long lives this image of thy son;

Nor short-lived shall thy glory prove

Or of thy labour or thy love.



<pb n=“448”/>the maze.


From right to left, and to and fro,

Caught in a labyrinth you go,

And turn, and turn, and turn again,

To solve the mystery, but in vain;

Stand still, and breathe, and take from me

A clue, that soon shall set you free!

Not Ariadne, if you met her,

Herself could serve you with a better.

You enter’d easily—find where—

And make with ease your exit there!



no sorrow peculiar to the sufferer.


The lover, in melodious verses,

His singular distress rehearses;

Still closing with a rueful cry,

“Was ever such a wretch as I!”

Yes! thousands have endured before

All thy distress; some, haply, more.

Unnumber’d Corydons complain,

And Strephons, of the like disdain;

And if thy Chloe be of steel,

Too deaf to hear, too hard to feel;

Not her alone that censure fits,

Nor thou alone hast lost thy wits.



the snail.


To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,

The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,

As if he grew there, house and all



Within that house secure he hides,

When danger imminent betides

Of storm, or other harm besides

Of weather.


Give but his horns the slightest touch,

His self-collecting power is such,

He shrinks into his house, with much



Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,

Except himself has chattels none,

Well satisfied to be his own

Whole treasure.


Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads,

Nor partner of his banquet needs,

And if he meets one, only feeds

The faster.


Who seeks him must be worse than blind,

(He and his house are so combined,)

If, finding it, he fails to find

Its master.



<pb n=“449”/>the cantab.


With two spurs or one, and no great matter which,

Boots bought, or boots borrow’d, a whip or a switch,

Five shillings or less for the hire of his beast,

Paid part into hand;—you must wait for the rest.

Thus equipt, Academicus climbs up his horse,

And out they both sally for better or worse;

His heart void of fear, and as light as a feather;

And in violent haste to go not knowing whither.

Through the fields and the towns; (see!) he scampers along:

And is look’d at and laugh’d at by old and by young.

Till, at length overspent, and his sides smear’d with blood,

Down tumbles his horse, man and all in the mud.

In a wagon or chaise, shall he finish his route?

Oh! scandalous fate! he must do it on foot.

Young gentlemen, hear!—I am older than you;

The advice that I give I have proved to be true;

Wherever your journey may be, never doubt it,

The faster you ride, you’re the longer about it.