Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

THE TRLANT DOVE, A FABLE, FROM LA FONTAINE.

A mountain stream its channel deep
Beneath a rock's rough base had torn;
The cliff, like a vast castle wall was steep
By fretting rains in many a crevice worn;
But the fern war'd there, and the mosses crept,
And o'er the summit where the wind
Peel'd from their stems the silver rind,
Depending birches wept-
Tbvre, rufts of broom a footing used to find,
And hath and straggling grass to grow,
And half way down from roots enwreathing, broke
The branches of a scathed oak
And seein'd to guard the cave below,
Where each revolving year,
'Their tvirs tu o faithful loves were wont to rear:
Choice never join'd : fonder pair;
To cach then simple hoe was dear,
Vo discorsi crer enter'd there';
But there the soft alicctions duo!l'il,
And three returning springs beheld
Seeure viilin their fortress high
The little happy fanıily.
" 'Toujours perdrir, messieurs, ne ralent rien"?
So did a Gallic monarch once harangrie,
And evil was the day whereon our bird
This saying heard,
From certain new acquaintance he had found.
Who at their perfect ease',
Amid a field of peas
Boasted to him that all the country round,
The wheat, and oats, and barley, rye and tares,
Quite to the neighbouring sea were theirs;
And theirs the oak, and beech woods far and near,
Tor their right noble owner was a peer,
And they themselves luxuriantly were stored
In a great dove cote-to amuse my lord.
Toujours perdrix ne valent rien."

That's strange:
When people onee are happy, wherefore change?
So thought our stock dove, but communication
With birds in his new friend's exalted station,

Whose means of information,
And knowledge of all sorts, must be so ample;
Who saw great folks, and follow'd their example,
Made on the dweller of the cave, impression,
And soon, whatever was his best possession,
His sanctuary within the rock's deep breast,
His soft ey'd partner, and her nest,
He thought of with indifference, then with loathing;
So much insipid love was good for nothing: -
But sometimes tenderness return’d; his dame
So long belov’d, so mild, so free from blame,
How should he tell her, he had learn’d to cavil
At happiness itself, and longed to travel?
His heart still smote hin, so much wrong to do her,
He knew not how to break the matter to her.
But love, though blind himself, makes some discerning;
His frequent absence, and his late returning,
With ruffled plumage, and with altered eyes,
His careless short replies,
And to their couplets, coldness or neglect
Had made his gentle wife suspect,
All was not right; but she forbore to tease hin,
Which would but give him an excuse to l'ove:
She therefore tried by every art to please him,
Endur'd his peevish starts with patient love,
And, when, like other husbands from a tavern
Of his new notions full, he sought his cavern,
She, with dissembled cheerfulness, “beguild
The thing she was,” and gayly coo'd and smil'd.
"Tis not in this most motley sphere uncommon,
For man, and so, of course, more feeble woman,
Most strongly to suspect, what they're pursuing
Will lead them to inevitable ruin,
Yet rush with open eyes to their undoing:
Thus felt the dove; but in the cant of fashion
He talk'd of fate and of predestination,
And, in a grave oration,
He to his much affrighted mate related,
How he, yet slumbering in the egg, was fated,
To gather knowledge, to instruct his kind,
Bv obfervation elevate his mind,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And give new impulse to Columbian life;
“ If it be so," exclaimed his hapless wife,
“It is my fute, to pass my days in pain,
To mourn your love estrang'd, and mourn in vain;
Here in our once dear hut, to wake and weep,
When thy unkindness shall have 'murder'd sleep;'
And never that dear hut shall I prepare,
And wait with fondness your arrival there,
While me, and mine forgetting, you will go,
To some new love."

Why, no, I tell you n0,-
What shall I say such foolish fears to cure?
I only mean to make a little tour,
Just-- just to see the world around me; then
With new delight, I shall come home again;
Such tours are quite the rage--at my return
I shall have much to tell, and you to learn;
of fashions--some becoining, some grotesque
Of change of empires, and ideas novel;
Of buildings, Grecian, Gothic, Arabesque,
And scenery sublime and picturesque;
And all these things with pleasure we'll discuss"?

Ah, me! and what are all these things to us?"
“So then, you'd have a bird of genius grovel,
And never see beyond a farmer's lovel.
Even the sand-martin, that inferior creature,
Goes once a year abroad."

It is his nature,
But yours how different once!” and then she sigh'd,
" There was a time, Ah! would that I had died,
E’er you so chang'd! when you'd have perish'd rather
Than this poor breast should heave a single feather
With grief and care. And all this cant of fashion
Would but have rais'd your anger, or compassion,
O my dear love! You sought not then to range,
But on my changeful neck as fell the light,
You sweetly said, you wish'd no other change
Than that soft neck could show; to berries bright
Of mountain ash, you fondly could compare
My scarlet feet and bill; my share and air,
Ah, faithless flatterer, did you not declare
The soul of grace and beauty center'd there;
liy eyes you said, were opals, brightly pinka
Enchas d in onyx; and you seem'd tu think.

[ocr errors]

Each charm might then the coldest heart enthrall: Those charms were mine. Alas! I gave you all Your farthest wanderings then were but to fetch The pea, the tare, the beechmast, and the vetch, For my repast; within my rocky bower, With spleenwort shaded, and the blue-bell's flower, For prospects then you never wish'd to roam, But the best scenery was our happy home; And when, beneath my breast, then fair and young, Our first dear pair, our earliest nestlings sprung, And weakly, indistinctly, tried to coo~ Were not those oments picturesque to you?” “ Yes, faith, my dear; and all you say is true.” “Oh! hear me then; if thus we have been blest, If on these wings it was your joy to rest, Love must from habit still new strength be gaining." “From habit? 'tis of that, child, I'm complaining. This everlasting fondness will not be For birds of flesh and blood.

We sha'n't agree, So why dispute? now prithee don't torment me; I shall not long be gone; let that content ye: Pshaw! what a fuss! Come, no more sighs and groans, Keep up your spirits; mind your little ones; My journey won't be far my honour's pledgedI shall be back again before they're fledged: Give me a kiss; and now my dear, adicu!” So light of heart and plumes, away he few; And, as above the sheltering rock he springs, She listen'd to the echo of his wings; Those well-known sounds, so soothing heretofore, Which her heart whisper'd she should hear no more. Then to her cold and widow'd bed she crept, Clasp'd her half-orphan'd young, and wept! Her recreant mate, by other views attracted, A very different part enacted; He sought the dove-cote, aud was greeted there With all that's tonish, elegant, and rare, Among the pigeon tribes : and there the rover Lived quite in clover! His jolly comrades now, were blades of spirit; Their nymphs possess’d most fascinating merii; Vor fail'd our hero of the rock to prova, He thought not of inviolable love

To his poor spouse at home. He bow'd and sigh’d,
Now to a *fantail's, now a cropper's bride;
Then cow'ring low to a majestic pouter,
Declared he should not suffer life without her;
And then with upturn'd eyes, in phrase still humbler,
Implor'd the pity of an almond tumbler;
Next, to a beauteous carrier's feet he'd run,
And lived a week, the captive of a nun:
Thus far in measureless content he revels,
And blest the hour when he began his travels.
Yet some things soon occur'd not quite so pleasant;
He had observ'd that an unfeeling peasant,
It silence mounting on a ladder high,
Seiz'd certain pigeons just as they could fly,
Who never figur’d more, but in a pie;
That was but aukward; then, his lordship's son
Heard from the groom, that 'twould be famous fun
To try on others his unpractis'd gun;
Their fall, the rattling shot, his nerves perplex'd;
He thought perhaps it might be his turn next.
It has been seen cre now, that, much elated,
To be hy some great man caress'd and feted,
A youth of humble birth, and mind industrious,
Foregoes in evil hour his independance;
And, charm'd to wait upon his friend illustrious,
Cives up his time to flattery and attendance.
His patron, smiling at his folls, lets lim-
Some newer whim succeeds, and he forgets himn.
So fared our bird; his new friend's vacant stare,
Told him he scarce remember'd he was there;
And, when he talk'd of living more sccurely,
This very dear friend, yawning, answered, “Surely?
You are quite right to do what's most expedient,
So, au revoir!-Good bye! Your most obedient."
Allies in prosperous fortune thus he prov'd,
And left them, unregretting, unbelov'd;

* The varieties of pigeons here named, as Fantail, Carrier, Pouter, Almond Tumbler, and Nun, with many others, are varieties produced by art from the common pigeon. Societies exist in which prizes are given to those who produce birds nearest to the standard of imaginary perfec. tion, A Pouter is a bird of which the crop is capable of being so much distended with wind. that the animal appears to be without a head, on this enlargement of ille crop, depends the value and beauty of the bird.

These fanciers are to ornithologists what flower fanciers are to botanists

« IndietroContinua »