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Soon the sagacious brute, his curling tail
Flourish'd in air, low bending plies around
His busy nose, the steaming vapour 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,
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 vapours 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 rarified
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
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.
Argument. Of the power of instinct in brutes. Two remark
able 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 thuse 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 ardour, 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,
Each 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 chuse 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 ver’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