« EelmineJätka »
Shall compass thee around, die at thy feet,
Or hew thy passage through th' embattled foe,
And clear thy way to fame: inspir'd by thee,
The nobler chase of glory shall pursue
Is bred the perfect hound, in scent and speed
As yet unrivall'd, while in other climes
Their virtue fails, a weak degenerate race.
In vain malignant steams and winter fogs
Through fire, and smoke, and blood, and fields of Load the dull air, and hover round our coasts:
Nature, in her productions slow, aspires
By just degrees to reach perfection's height:
So mimic Art works leisurely, till time
Improve the piece, or wise Experience give
The proper finishing. When Nimrod bold,
That mighty hunter, first made war on beasts,
And stain'd the woodland-green with purple dye,
New, and unpolish'd was the huntsman's art;
No stated rule, his wanton will his guide.
With clubs and stones, rude implements of war,
He arm'd his savage bands, a multitude
Untrain'd; of twining osiers form'd, they pitch
Their artless toils, then range the desert hills,
And scour the plains below; the trembling herd
Start at th' unusual sound, and clamorous shout
Unheard before; surpris'd, alas! to find
Man now their foe, whom erst they deem'd their lord,
But mild and gentle, and by whom as yet
Secure they graz'd. Death stretches o'er the plain
Wide-wasting, and grim slaughter red with blood:
Urg'd on by hunger keen, they wound, they kill,
Their rage licentious knows no bound; at last,
Encumber'd with their spoils, joyful they bear
Upon their shoulders broad the bleeding prey.
Part on their altars smoke a sacrifice
To that all-gracious Power, whose bounteous
Supports his wide creation; what remains
On living coals they broil, inelegant
Of taste, nor skill'd as yet in nicer arts
Of pamper'd luxury. Devotion pure,
And strong necessity, thus first began
The huntsman, ever gay, robust, and bold,
Defies the noxious vapor, and confides
In this delightful exercise, to raise
His drooping herd, and cheer his heart with joy.
Ye vigorous youths, by smiling Fortune blest
With large demesnes, hereditary wealth,
Heap'd copious by your wise forefathers' care,
Hear and attend! while I the means reveal
T' enjoy those pleasures, for the weak too strong,
Too costly for the poor: To rein the steed
Swift stretching o'er the plain, to cheer the pack
Opening in concerts of harmonious joy,
But breathing death. What though the gripe severe
Of brazen-fisted Time, and slow disease
Creeping through every vein, and nerve unstrung,
Afflict my shatter'd frame, undaunted still,
Fix'd as a mountain ash, that braves the bolts
Of angry Jove; though blasted, yet unfallen;
Still can my soul in Fancy's mirror view
Deeds glorious once, recall the joyous scene
In all its splendors deck'd, o'er the full bowl
Recount my triumphs past, urge others on
With hand and voice, and point the winding way:
Pleas'd with that social sweet garrulity,
The poor disbanded veteran's sole delight.
First let the kennel be the huntsman's care, handUpon some little eminence erect,
The chase of beasts: though bloody was the deed,
Yet without guilt. For the green herb alone
Unequal to sustain man's laboring race,
Now every moving thing that liv'd on Earth
Was granted him for food.* So just is Heaven,
To give us in proportion to our wants.
Or chance or industry in after-time
Some few improvements made, but short as yet
Of due perfection. In this isle remote
Our painted ancestors were slow to learn,
To arms devote, of the politer arts
And fronting to the ruddy dawn; its courts
On either hand wide opening to receive
The Sun's all-cheering beams, when mild he shines
And gilds the mountain tops. For much the pack
(Rous'd from their dark alcoves) delight to stretch
And bask in his invigorating ray:
Warn'd by the streaming light and merry lark,
Forth rush the jolly clan; with tuneful throats
They carol loud, and in grand chorus join'd
Salute the new-born day. For not alone
The vegetable world, but men and brutes
Own his reviving influence, and joy
At his approach. Fountain of light! if chance
Some envious cloud veil thy refulgent brow,
In vain the Muses' aid; untouch'd, unstrung,
Lies my mute harp, and thy desponding bard
Nor skill'd nor studious; till from Neustria's coasts Sits darkly musing o'er th' unfinish'd lay.
Victorious William, to more decent rules
Subdu'd our Saxon fathers, taught to speak
The proper dialect, with horn and voice
To cheer the busy hound, whose well-known cry
His listening peers approve with joint acclaim.
From him successive huntsmen learn'd to join
In bloody social leagues, the multitude
Dispers'd; to size, to sort their various tribes;
To rear, feed, hunt, and discipline the pack.
Hail, happy Britain! highly favor'd isle,
And Heaven's peculiar care! To thee 'tis given
To train the sprightly steed, more fleet than those
Begot by winds, or the celestial breed
That bore the great Pelides through the press
Of heroes arm'd, and broke their crowded ranks;
Which, proudly neighing, with the Sun begins
Cheerful his course; and ere his beams decline,
Has measur'd half thy surface unfatigued.
In thee alone, fair land of liberty!
Let no Corinthian pillars prop the dome,
A vain expense, on charitable deeds
Better dispos'd, to clothe the tatter'd wretch,
Who shrinks beneath the blast, to feed the poor
Pinch'd with afflictive want. For use, not state,
Gracefully plain, let each apartment rise.
O'er all let cleanliness preside, no scraps
Bestrew the pavement, and no half-pick'd bones
To kindle fierce debate, or to disgust
That nicer sense, on which the sportsman's hope,
And all his future triumphs, must depend.
Soon as the growling pack with eager joy
Have lapp'd their smoking viands, morn or eve,
From the full cistern lead the ductile streams,
To wash thy court well pav'd, nor spare thy pains,
For much to health will cleanliness avail.
Seek'st thou for hounds to climb the rocky steep,
And brush th' entangled covert, whose nice scent
O'er greasy fallows and frequented roads
Can pick the dubious way? Banish far off
Each noisome stench, let no offensive smell
Invade thy wide inclosure, but admit
The nitrous air and purifying breeze.
Water and shade no less demand thy care:
In a large square th' adjacent field inclose,
There plant in equal ranks the spreading elm,
Or fragrant lime; most happy thy design,
If at the bottom of thy spacious court,
A large canal, fed by the crystal brook,
From its transparent bosom shall reflect
Downward thy structure and inverted grove.
Here when the Sun's too potent gleams annoy
The crowded kennel and the drooping pack,
Restless, and faint, loll their unmoisten'd tongues,
And drop their feeble tails, to cooler shades
Lead forth the panting tribe; soon shalt thou find
The cordial breeze their fainting hearts revive:
Tumultuous soon they plunge into the stream,
There lave their reeking sides, with greedy joy
Gulp down the flying wave, this way and that
From shore to shore they swim, while clamor loud
And wild uproar torments the troubled flood:
Then on the sunny bank they roll and stretch
Their dripping limbs, or else in wanton rings
Coursing around, pursuing and pursued,
The merry multitude disporting play.
But here with watchful and observant eye,
Attend their frolics, which too often end
In bloody broils and death. High o'er thy head
Wave thy resounding whip, and with a voice
Fierce-menacing o'errule the stern debate,
And quench their kindling rage; for oft in sport
Begun, combat ensues, growling they snarl,
Then on their haunches rear'd, rampant they seize
Each other's throats, with teeth and claws in gore
Besmear'd, they wound, they tear, till on the ground,
Panting, half dead the conquer'd champion lies:
Then sudden all the base ignoble crowd
Loud-clamoring seize the helpless worried wretch,
And, thirsting for his blood, drag different ways
His mangled carcass on th' ensanguin'd plain.
O beasts of pity void! t' oppress the weak,
To point your vengeance at the friendless head,
And with one mutual cry insult the fall'n!
Emblem too just of man's degenerate race.
Others apart, by native instinct led,
Knowing instructor! 'mong the ranker grass
Cull each salubrious plant, with bitter juice
Concoctive stor'd, and potent to allay
Each vicious ferment. Thus the hand divine
Of Providence, beneficent and kind
To all his creatures, for the brutes prescribes
A ready remedy, and is himself
Their great physician. Now grown stiff with age,
And many a painful chase, the wise old hound,
Regardless of the frolic pack, attends
His master's side, or slumbers at his ease
Beneath the bending shade; there many a ring
Runs o'er in dreams; now on the doubtful foil
Puzzles perplex'd, or doubles intricate
Cautious unfolds, then, wing'd with all his speed,
Bounds o'er the lawn to seize his panting prey,
And in imperfect whimperings speaks his joy.
A different hound for every different chase
Select with judgment; nor the timorous hare
O'ermatch'd destroy, but leave that vile offence
To the mean, murderous, coursing crew; intent
On blood and spoil. O blast their hopes, just
And all their painful drudgeries repay
With disappointment and severe remorse.
But husband thou thy pleasures, and give scope
To all her subtle play: by Nature led,
A thousand shifts she tries; t' unravel these
Th' industrious beagle twists his waving tail,
Through all her labyrinths pursues, and rings
Her doleful knell. See there with countenance
And with a courtly grin, the fawning hound
Salutes thee cowering, his wide-opening nose
Upward he curls, and his large sloe-black eyes
Melt in soft blandishments and humble joy;
His glossy skin, or yellow-pied, or blue,
In lights or shades by Nature's pencil drawn,
Reflects the various tints; his ears and legs
Fleckt here and there, in gay enamell'd pride,
Rival the speckled pard; his rush-grown tail
O'er his broad back bends in an ample arch;
On shoulders clean, upright and firm he stands;
His round cat foot, straight hams, and wide-spread
And his low-dropping chest, confess his speed,
His strength, his wind, or on the steepy hill,
Or far-extended plain; in every part
So well proportion'd, that the nicer skill
Of Phidias himself can't blame thy choice.
Of such compose thy pack. But here a mean
Observe, nor the large hound prefer, of size
Gigantic; he in the thick-woven covert
Painfully tugs, or in the thorny brake
Torn and embarrass'd bleeds: But if too small,
The pigmy brood in every furrow swims;
Moil'd in the clogging clay, panting they lag
Behind inglorious; or else shivering creep
Benumb'd and faint beneath the sheltering thorn
For hounds of middle size, active and strong,
Will better answer all thy various ends,
And crown thy pleasing labors with success.
As some brave captain, curious and exact,
By his fix'd standard forms in equal ranks
His gay battalion, as one man they move
Step after step, their size the same, their arms,
Far-gleaming, dart the same united blaze:
Reviewing generals his merit own;
How regular! how just! And all his cares
Are well repaid, if mighty George approve.
So model thou thy pack, if honor touch
Thy generous soul, and the world's just applause
But above all take heed, nor mix thy hounds
Of different kinds; discordant sounds shall grate
Thy ears offended, and a lagging line
Of babbling curs disgrace thy broken pack.
But if the amphibious otter be thy chase,
Or stately stag, that o'er the woodland reigns;
Or if the harmonious thunder of the field
Delight thy ravish'd ears; the deep-flew'd hound
Breed up with care, strong, heavy, slow, but sure;
Whose ears down-hanging from his thick round head
Shall sweep the morning dew, whose clanging voice
Awake the mountain Echo in her cell,
And shake the forests: The bold Talbot kind
Of these the prime; as white as Alpine snows;
And great their use of old. Upon the banks
Of Tweed, slow winding through the vale, the seat
Of war and rapine once, ere Britons knew
The sweets of peace, or Anna's dread commands
To lasting leagues the haughty rivals aw'd,
There dwelt a pilfering race; well train'd and skill'd
In all the mysteries of theft, the spoil
Their only substance, feuds and war their sport:
Not more expert in every fraudful art
The arch-felon* was of old, who by the tail
Drew back his lowing prize: in vain his wiles,
In vain the shelter of the covering rock,
In vain the sooty cloud, and ruddy flames
That issued from his mouth; for soon he paid
His forfeit life: a debt how justly due
To wrong'd Alcides, and avenging Heaven!
Veil'd in the shades of night they ford the stream,
Then prowling far and near, whate'er they seize
Becomes their prey: nor flocks nor herds are safe,
Nor stalls protect the steer, nor strong-barr'd doors
Secure the favorite horse. Soon as the morn
Reveals his wrongs, with ghastly visage wan
The plunder'd owner stands, and from his lips
A thousand thronging curses burst their way:
He calls his stout allies, and in a line
His faithful hound he leads, then with a voice
That utters loud his rage, attentive cheers:
Soon the sagacious brute, his curling tail
Flourish'd in air, low bending plies around
His busy nose, the steaming vapor snuffs
Inquisitive, nor leaves one turf untried,
Till, conscious of the recent stains, his heart
Beats quick; his snuffling nose, his active tail,
Attest his joy; then with deep opening mouth,
That makes the welkin tremble, he proclaims
Th' audacious felon; foot by foot he marks
His winding way, while all the listening crowd
Applaud his reasonings. O'er the watery ford,
Dry sandy heaths, and stony barren hills,
O'er beaten paths, with men and beasts distain'd,
Unerring he pursues; till at the cot
Arriv'd, and seizing by his guilty throat
The caitiff vile, redeems the captive prey:
So exquisitely delicate his sense!
Should some more curious sportsman here inquire
Whence this sagacity, this wondrous power
Of tracing, step by step, or man or brute?
What guide invisible points out their way
O'er the dank marsh, bleak hill, and sandy plain?
The courteous Muse shall the dark cause reveal.
The blood that from the heart incessant rolls
In many a crimson tide, then here and there
In smaller rills disparted, as it flows
Propell'd, the serous particles evade
Through th' open pores, and with the ambient air Entangling mix. As fuming vapors rise, And hang upon the gently purling brook, There by th' incumbent atmosphere compress'd: The panting Chase grows warmer as he flies, And through the net-work of the skin perspires; Leaves a long-streaming trail behind, which by The cooler air condens'd, remains, unless By some rude storm dispers'd, or rarefied By the meridian Sun's intenser heat. To every shrub the warm effluvia cling, Hang on the grass, impregnate earth and skies. With nostrils opening wide, o'er hill, o'er dale The vigorous hounds pursue, with every breath Inhale the grateful steam, quick pleasures sting Their tingling nerves, while they their thanks repay, And in triumphant melody confess The titillating joy. Thus on the air Depend the hunter's hopes. When ruddy streaks At eve forebode a blustering stormy day, Or lowering clouds blacken the mountain's brow, When nipping frosts, and the keen biting blasts Of the dry parching east, menace the trees
Cacus, VIRG. En. lib. viii.
With tender blossoms teeming, kindly spare
Thy sleeping pack, in their warm beds of straw
Low-sinking at their ease; listless they shrink
Into some dark recess, nor hear thy voice
Though oft invok'd; or haply if thy call
Rouse up the slumbering tribe, with heavy eyes
Glaz'd, lifeless, dull, downward they drop their tails
Inverted; high on their bent backs erect
Their pointed bristles stare, or 'mong the tufts
Of ranker weeds, each stomach-healing plant
Curious they crop, sick, spiritless, forlorn.
These inauspicious days, on other cares
Employ thy precious hours; th' improving friend
With open arms embrace, and from his lips
Glean science, season'd with good-natur'd wit.
But if the inclement skies and angry Jove
Forbid the pleasing intercourse, thy books
Invite thy ready hand, each sacred page
Rich with the wise remarks of heroes old.
Converse familiar with th' illustrious dead;
With great examples of old Greece or Rome,
Enlarge thy free-born heart, and bless kind Heaven,
That Britain yet enjoys dear Liberty,
That balm of life, that sweetest blessing, cheap
Though purchas'd with our blood. Well-bred,
Credit thy calling. See! how mean, how low,
The bookless sauntering youth, proud of the skut
That dignifies his cap, his flourish'd belt,
And rusty couples gingling by his side.
Be thou of other mould; and know that such
Transporting pleasures were by Heaven ordain'd
Wisdom's relief, and Virtue's great reward.
Of the power of instinct in brutes. Two remarkable instances in the hunting of the roe-buck, and in the hare going to seat in the morning. Of the variety of seats or forms of the hare, according to the change of the season, weather, or wind. Description of the hare-hunting in all its parts, interspersed with rules to be observed by those who follow that chase. Transition to the Asiatic way of hunting, particularly the magnificent manner of the Great Mogul, and other Tartarian princes, taken from Monsieur Bernier, and the history of Gengiscan the Great. Concludes with a short reproof of tyrants and oppressors of mankind.
NOR will it less delight th' attentive sage
T' observe that Instinct, which unerring guides
The brutal race, which mimics reason's lore, [swift
And oft transcends: Heaven-taught, the roe-buck
Loiters at ease before the driving pack
And mocks their vain pursuit; nor far he flies,
But checks his ardor, till the steaming scent
That freshens on the blade provokes their rage.
Urg'd to their speed, his weak deluded foes
Soon flag fatigued; strain'd to excess each nerve,
Fach slacken'd sinew fails; they pant, they foam,
Then o'er the lawn he bounds, o'er the high hills
Stretches secure, and leaves the scatter'd crowd
To puzzle in the distant vale below.
"Tis Instinct that directs the jealous hare
To choose her soft abode. With step revers'd
She forms the doubling maze; then, ere the morn
Peeps through the clouds, leaps to her close recess.
As wandering shepherds on th' Arabian plains
No settled residence observe, but shift
Their moving camp, now, on some cooler hill
With cedars crown'd, court the refreshing breeze;
And then, below, where trickling streams distil
From some penurious source, their thirst allay,
And feed their fainting flocks: so the wise hares
Oft quit their seats, lest some more curious eye
Should mark their haunts, and by dark treacherous
Plot their destruction; or perchance in hopes
Of plenteous forage, near the ranker mead,
Or matted blade, wary and close they sit.
When spring shines forth, season of love and joy,
In the moist marsh, 'mong beds of rushes hid,
They cool their boiling blood. When summer suns
Bake the cleft earth, to thick wide-waving fields
Of corn full-grown, they lead their helpless young:
But when autumnal torrents and fierce rains
Deluge the vale, in the dry crumbling bank
Their forms they delve, and cautiously avoid
The dripping covert: yet when winter's cold
Their limbs benumbs, thither with speed return'd
In the long grass they skulk, or shrinking creep
Among the wither'd leaves, thus changing still,
As fancy prompts them, or as food invites.
But every season carefully observ'd,
Th' inconstant winds, the fickle element,
The wise experienc'd huntsman soon may find
His subtle, various game, nor waste in vain
His tedious hours, till his impatient hounds,
With disappointment vex'd, each springing lark
Babbling pursue, far scatter'd o'er the fields.
Now golden Autumn from her open lap
Her fragrant bounties showers; the fields are shorn;
Inwardly smiling, the proud farmer views
The rising pyramids that grace his yard,
And counts his large increase; his barns are stor'd,
And groaning staddles bend beneath their load.
All now is free as air, and the gay pack
In the rough bristly stubbles range unblam'd;
No widow's tears o'erflow, no secret curse
Swells in the farmer's breast, which his pale lips
Trembling conceal, by his fierce landlord aw'd:
But courteous now he levels every fence,
Joins in the common cry, and halloos loud,
Charm'd with the rattling thunder of the field.
Oh bear me, some kind power invisible!
To that extended lawn, where the gay court
View the swift racers, stretching to the goal;
Games more renown'd, and a far nobler train,
Than proud Elean fields could boast of old.
Oh! were a Theban lyre not wanting here,
And Pindar's voice, to do their merit right!
Thy early meal, or thy officious maids,
The toilet plac'd, shall urge thee to perform
Th' important work. Me other joys invite,
The horn sonorous calls, the pack awak'd
Their matins chant, nor brook my long delay.
My courser hears their voice; see there, with ears
And tail erect, neighing he paws the ground;
Fierce rapture kindles in his reddening eyes,
And boils in every vein. As captive boys
Cow'd by the ruling rod and haughty frowns
Of pedagogues severe, from their hard tasks
If once dismiss'd, no limits can contain
The tumult rais'd within their little breasts,
But give a loose to all their frolic play:
So from their kennel rush the joyous pack;
A thousand wanton gaieties express
Their inward ecstacy, their pleasing sport
Once more indulg'd, and liberty restor❜d.
The rising Sun, that o'er th' horizon peeps,
As many colors from their glossy skins
Beaming reflects, as paint the various bow
When April showers descend. Delightful scene!
Where all around is gay, men, horses, dogs,
And in each smiling countenance appears
Fresh blooming health, and universal joy.
Huntsman, lead on! behind the clustering pack
Submiss attend, hear with respect thy whip
Loud-clanging, and thy harsher voice obey:
Spare not the straggling cur that wildly roves;
But let thy brisk assistant on his back
Imprint thy just resentments; let each lash
Bite to the quick, till howling he return,
And whining creep amid the trembling crowd.
Here on this verdant spot, where Nature kind
With double blessings crowns the farmer's hopes;
Where flowers autumnal spring, and the rank mead
Affords the wandering hares a rich repast;
Throw off thy ready pack. See, where they spread,
And range around, and dash the glittering dew.
If some staunch hound, with his authentic voice,
Avow the recent trail, the justling tribe
Attend his call, then with one mutual cry
The welcome news confirm, and echoing hills
Repeat the pleasing tale. See how they thread
The brakes, and up yon furrow drive along!
But quick they back recoil, and wisely check
Their eager haste; then o'er the fallow'd ground
How leisurely they work, and many a pause
Th' harmonious concert breaks; till more assur'd
With joy redoubled the low valleys ring.
What artful labyrinths perplex their way!
Ah! there she lies; how close! she pants, she doubts
If now she lives; she trembles as she sits,
With horror seiz'd. The wither'd grass that clings
Around her head, of the same russet hue,
Almost deceiv'd my sight, had not her eyes
Or to those spacious plains, where the strain'd eye, With life full-beaming her vain wiles betray'd.
In the wide prospect lost, beholds at last
Sarum's proud spire, that o'er the hills ascends,
And pierces through the clouds. Or to thy downs,
Fair Cotswold, where the well-breath'd beagle climbs
With matchless speed thy green aspiring brow,
And leaves the lagging multitude behind.
Hail, gentle Dawn! mild blushing goddess, hail!
Rejoic'd I see thy purple mantle spread
O'er half the skies, gems pave thy radiant way,
And orient pearls from every shrub depend.
Farewell, Cleora; here deep sunk in down
Slumber secure, with happy dreams amus'd,
Till grateful steams shall tempt thee to receive
At distance draw thy pack, let all be hush'd,
No clamor loud, no frantic joy be heard,
Lest the wild hound run gadding o'er the plain
Untractable, nor hear thy chiding voice.
Now gently put her off; see how direct
To her known mew she flies! Here, huntsman, bring
(But without hurry) all thy jolly hounds,
And calmly lay them in. How low they stoop,
And seem to plow the ground! then all at once
With greedy nostrils snuff the fuming steam
That glads their fluttering hearts. As winds let loose
From the dark caverns of the blustering god,
They burst away, and sweep the dewy lawn.
Hope gives them wings while she's spurr'd on by
The welkin rings, men, dogs, hills, rocks, and woods
In the full concert join. Now, my brave youths,
Stripp'd for the chase, give all your souls to joy!
See how their coursers, than the mountain roe
More fleet, the verdant carpet skim, thick clouds
Snorting they breathe, their shining hoofs scarce
The grass unbruis'd; with emulation fir'd
They strain to lead the field, top the barr'd gate,
O'er the deep ditch exulting bound, and brush
The thorny-twining hedge: the riders bend
O'er their arch'd necks; with steady hands, by turns
Indulge their speed, or moderate their rage.
Where are their sorrows, disappointments, wrongs,
Vexations, sickness, cares? All, all are gone,
And with the panting winds lag far behind.
Huntsman! her gait observe; if in wide rings
She wheel her mazy way, in the same round
Persisting still, she'll foil the beaten track.
But if she fly, and with the favoring wind
Urge her bold course; less intricate thy task:
Push on thy pack. Like some poor exil'd wretch,
The frighted Chase leaves her late dear abodes,
O'er plains remote she stretches far away,
Ah! never to return! For greedy Death
Hovering exults, secure to seize his prey.
And each clean courser's speed. We scour along
In pleasing hurry and confusion tost;
Oblivion to be wish'd. The patient pack
Hang on the scent unwearied, up they climb,
And ardent we pursue; our laboring steeds
We press, we gore; till once the summit gain'd,
Painfully panting, there we breathe awhile;
Then, like a foaming torrent, pouring down
Precipitant, we smoke along the vale.
Happy the man who with unrivall'd speed
Can pass his fellows, and with pleasure view
The struggling pack; how in the rapid course
Alternate they preside, and jostling push
To guide the dubious scent; how giddy youth
Oft babbling errs, by wiser age reprov'd;
How, niggard of his strength, the wise old hound
Hangs in the rear, till some important point
Rouse all his diligence, or till the chase
Sinking he finds: then to the head he springs
With thirst of glory fir'd, and wins the prize.
Huntsman, take heed; they stop in full career.
Yon crowding flocks, that at a distance gaze,
Have haply foil'd the turf. See! that old hound,
How busily he works, but dares not trust
His doubtful sense; draw yet a wider ring.
Hark! now again the chorus fills. As bells
Sallied awhile, at once their peal renew,
And high in air the tuneful thunder rolls.
Hark! from yon covert, where those towering oaks See, how they toss, with animated rage
Above the humble copse aspiring rise,
What glorious triumphs burst in every gale
Upon our ravish'd ears! The hunters shout,
The clanging horns swell their sweet-winding notes,
The pack wide opening load the trembling air
With various melody; from tree to tree
The propagated cry redoubling bounds,
And winged zephyrs waft the floating joy
Through all the regions near: afflictive birch
No more the school-boy dreads; his prison broke,
Scampering he flies, nor heeds his master's call;
The weary traveller forgets his road,
And climbs th' adjacent hill; the plowman leaves
Th' unfinish'd furrow; nor his bleating flocks
Are now the shepherd's joy! men, boys, and girls
Desert th' unpeopled village; and wild crowds
Spread o'er the plain, by the sweet frenzy seiz'd.
Look, how she pants! and o'er yon opening glade
Slips glancing by! while, at the further end,
The puzzling pack unravel wile by wile,
Maze within maze. The covert's utmost bound
Slily she skirts; behind them cautious creeps;
And in that very track, so lately stain'd
By all the steaming crowd, seems to pursue
The foe she flies. Let cavillers deny
That brutes have reason; sure 'tis something more,
"Tis Heaven directs, and stratagems inspires
Beyond the short extent of human thought.
But hold-I see her from the covert break;
Sad on yon little eminence she sits;
Intent she listens with one ear erect,
Pondering, and doubtful what new course to take,
And how t' escape the fierce blood-thirsty crew,
That still urge on, and still in volleys loud
Insult her woes, and mock her sore distress.
As now in louder peals the loaded winds
Bring on the gathering storm, her fears prevail,
And o'er the plain, and o'er the mountain's ridge,
Away she flies; nor ships with wind and tide,
And all their canvas wings, scud half so fast.
Once more, ye jovial train, your courage try,
Recovering all they lost!-That eager haste
Some doubling wile foreshows.-Ah! yet once more
They're check'd,-hold back with speed-on either
They flourish round-ev'n yet persist-'Tis right,
Away they spring; the rustling stubbles bend
Beneath the driving storm. Now the poor Chase
Begins to flag, to her last shifts reduc'd.
From brake to brake she flies, and visits all
Her well-known haunts, where once she rang'd
With love and plenty blest. See! there she goes,
She reels along, and by her gait betrays
Her inward weakness. See, how black she looks!
The sweat, that clogs th'obstructed pores, scarce
A languid scent. And now in open view
See, see, she flies! each eager hound exerts
His utmost speed, and stretches every nerve.
How quick she turns! their gaping jaws eludes,
And yet a moment lives; till, round inclos'd
By all the greedy pack, with infant screams
She yields her breath, and there reluctant dies.
So when the furious Bacchanals assail'd
Threïcian Orpheus, poor ill-fated bard!
Loud was the cry; hills, woods, and Hebrus' banks,
Return'd their clamorous rage; distress'd he flies,
Shifting from place to place, but flies in vain;
For eager they pursue, till panting, faint,
By noisy multitudes o'erpower'd, he sinks
To the relentless crowd a bleeding prey.
The huntsman now, a deep incision made,
Shakes out with hands impure, and dashes down
Her reeking entrails and yet quivering heart.
These claim the pack, the bloody perquisite
For all their toils. Stretch'd on the ground she lies
A mangled corse; in her dim glaring eyes
Cold Death exults, and stiffens every limb.
Aw'd by the threatening whip, the furious hounds
Around her bay; or at their master's foot,
Each happy favorite courts his kind applause.