Recantation

I
An Ox, long fed with musty hay,
And work'd with yoke and chain,
Was turn'd out an April day,
When fields are in their best array,
And growing grasses sparkle gay
At once with Sun and rain.
II

The grass was fine, the Sun was bright--
With truth I may aver it;
The ox was glad, as well he might,
Thought a green meadow no bad sight,
And frisk'd, to shew his huge delight,
Much like a beast of spirit.
III

'Stop, neighbours, stop, why these alarms?
The ox is only glad!'
But still they pour from cots and farms--
'Halloo!' the parish is up in arms,
(A hoaxing-hunt has always charms)
'Halloo! the ox is made.'
IV

The frighted beast scamper'd about--
Plunge! through the hedge he drove:
The mob pursue with hideous rout,
A bull-dog fastens on his snout;
'He gores the dog! his tongue hangs out!
He's mad, he's mad, by Jove!'
V

'Stop, neighbours, stop!' aloud did call
A sage of sober hue.
But all at once, on him they fall,
And women squeak and children squall,
'What? would you have him toss us all?
And dam'me, who are your?'
VI

Oh! hapless sage! his ears they stun,
And curse him o'er and o'er!
'You bloody-minded dog! (cries one),
To slit your windpipe were good fun,
'Od blast you for an impious son
Of a Presbyterian wh--re!'
VII

'You'd have him gore the Parish-priest,
And run against the altar!
You fiend!' the sage his warnings ceas'd,
And north and south, and west and east,
Halloo! they follow the poor beast,
Mat, Dick, Tom, Bob and Walter.
VIII

Old Lewis ('twas his evil day),
Stood trembling in his shoes;
The ox was his--what cou'd he say?
His legs were stiffen'd with dismay,
The ox ran o'er him mid the fray,
And gave him his death's bruise.
IX

The frighted beast ran on--but here,
(No tale, tho' in print, more true is)
My Muse stops short in mid career--
Nay, gentle Reader, do not sneer!
I cannot chuse but drop a tear,
A tear for good old Lewis!
X

The frighted beast ran through the town,
All followd'd, boy and dad,
Bull-dog, parson, shopman, clown:
The publicans rush'd from the Crown,
'Halloo! hamstring him! cut him down!'
They drove the poor Ox mad.
XI

Should you a Rat to madness tease
Why ev'n a Rat may plague you:
There's no Philosopher but sees
That Rage and Fear are one disease--
Though that may burn, and this may freeze,
They're both alike the Ague.
XII

And so this Ox, in frantic mood,
Fac'd round like any Bull!
The mob turn'd tail, and he pursued,
Till they with heat and fright were stew'd,
And not a chick of all this brood
But had his belly full!
XIII

Old Nick's astride the beast, 'tis clear!
Old Nicholas, to a tittle!
But all agree he'd disappear,
Would but the Parson venture near,
And through his teeth, right o'er the steer,
Squirt out some fasting-spittle.
XIV

Achilles was a warrior fleet,
The Trojans he could worry:
Our Parson too was swift of feet,
But shew'd it chiefly in retreat:
The victor Ox scour'd down the street,
The mob fled hurry-scurry.
XV

Through gardens, lanes and fields new plough'd,
Through his hedge, and through her hedge,
He plung'd and toss'd and bellow'd loud--
Till in his madness he grew proud
To see his helter-skelter crowd
That had more wrath than courage!
XVI

Alas! to mend the breaches wide
He made for these poor ninnies,
They all must work, whate'er betide,
Both days and months, and pay beside
(Sad news for Av'rice and for Pride),
A sight of golden guineas!
XVII

But here once more to view did pop
The man that kept his senses;
And now he cried,--'Stop, neighbours, stop!
The Ox is mad! I would not swop,
No! not a school-boy's farthing top
For all the parish-fences,'
XVIII

'The Ox is mad! Ho! Dick, Bob, Mat!'
What means this coward fuss?
'Ho! stretch this rope across the plat--
'Twill trip him up--or if not that,
Why, dam'me,! we must lay him flat--
See! here's my blunderbuss.'
XIX

'A lying dog! just now he said
The Ox was only glad--
Let's break his Presbyterian head!'
'Hush! quoth the sage, 'you've been misled;
No quarrels now! let's all make head,
You drove the poor Ox mad.'
XX

As thus I sat, in careless chat,
With the morning's wet newspaper,
In eager haste, without his hat,
As blind and blund'ring as a bat,
In came that fierce Aristocrat,
Our pursy Woollen-draper.
XXI

And so my Muse perforce drew bit;
And in he rush'd and panted!
'Well, have you heard?' No, not a whit.
'What, ha'nt you heard?' Come, out with it!
'That Tierney votes for Mister Pitt,
And Sheridan's recanted!'
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