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John Trumbull

No man e'er felt the halter draw, With good opinion of the law.

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But optics sharp it needs, I ween, To see what is not to be seen.

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As though there were a tie And obligation to posterity. We get them, bear them, breed, and nurse: What has posterity done for us. That we, lest they their rights should lose, Should trust our necks to gripe of noose?

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Beneath A Mountain's Brow

"Beneath a mountain's brow, the most remote
And inaccessible by Shepherds trod,
In a deep cave, dug by no mortals hands
An Hermit lived,--a melancholy man
Who was the wonder of our wand'ring swains:
Austere and lonely--cruel to himself
They did report him--the cold earth his bed,
Water his drink, his food the Shepherd's alms.
I went to see him, and my heart was touched
With reverence and pity. Mild he spake,
And entering on discourse, such stories told,
As made me oft re-visit his sad cell."

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The Country Clown

Bred in distant woods, the clown
Brings all his country airs to town;
The odd address, with awkward grace,
That bows with half-averted face;
The half-heard compliments, whose note
Is swallow'd in the trembling throat;
The stiffen'd gait, the drawling tone,
By which his native place is known;
The blush, that looks by vast degrees,
Too much like modesty to please;
The proud displays of awkward dress,
That all the country fop express:
The suit right gay, though much belated,
Whose fashion's superannuated;
The watch, depending far in state,
Whose iron chain might form a grate;
The silver buckle, dread to view,
O'ershadowing all the clumsy shoe;
The white-gloved hand, that tries to peep
From ruffle, full five inches deep;

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To A Young Lady

In vain, fair Maid, you ask in vain,
My pen should try th' advent'rous strain,
And following truth's unalter'd law,
Attempt your character to draw.
I own indeed, that generous mind
That weeps the woes of human kind,
That heart by friendship's charms inspired,
That soul with sprightly fancy fired,
The air of life, the vivid eye,
The flowing wit, the keen reply--
To paint these beauties as they shine,
Might ask a nobler pen than mine.


Yet what sure strokes can draw the Fair,
Who vary, like the fleeting air,
Like willows bending to the force,
Where'er the gales direct their course,
Opposed to no misfortune's power,
And changing with the changing hour.

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The Owl And The Sparrow

In elder days, in Saturn's prime,
Ere baldness seized the head of Time,
While truant Jove, in infant pride,
Play'd barefoot on Olympus' side,
Each thing on earth had power to chatter,
And spoke the mother tongue of nature.
Each stock or stone could prate and gabble,
Worse than ten labourers of Babel.
Along the street, perhaps you'd see
A Post disputing with a Tree,
And mid their arguments of weight,
A Goose sit umpire of debate.
Each Dog you met, though speechless now,
Would make his compliments and bow,
And every Swine with congees come,
To know how did all friends at home.
Each Block sublime could make a speech,
In style and eloquence as rich,
And could pronounce it and could pen it,
As well as Chatham in the senate.

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To Ladies Of A Certain Age

Ye ancient Maids, who ne'er must prove
The early joys of youth and love,
Whose names grim Fate (to whom 'twas given,
When marriages were made in heaven)
Survey'd with unrelenting scowl,
And struck them from the muster-roll;
Or set you by, in dismal sort,
For wintry bachelors to court;
Or doom'd to lead your faded lives,
Heirs to the joys of former wives;
Attend! nor fear in state forlorn,
To shun the pointing hand of scorn,
Attend, if lonely age you dread,
And wish to please, or wish to wed.


When beauties lose their gay appearance,
And lovers fall from perseverance,
When eyes grow dim and charms decay,
And all your roses fade away,

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M'Fingal - Canto III

Now warm with ministerial ire,
Fierce sallied forth our loyal 'Squire,
And on his striding steps attends
His desperate clan of Tory friends.
When sudden met his wrathful eye
A pole ascending through the sky,
Which numerous throngs of whiggish race
Were raising in the market-place.
Not higher school-boy's kites aspire,
Or royal mast, or country spire;
Like spears at Brobdignagian tilting,
Or Satan's walking-staff in Milton.
And on its top, the flag unfurl'd
Waved triumph o'er the gazing world,
Inscribed with inconsistent types
Of Liberty and thirteen stripes.
Beneath, the crowd without delay
The dedication-rites essay,
And gladly pay, in antient fashion,
The ceremonies of libation;

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M'Fingal - Canto I

When Yankies, skill'd in martial rule,
First put the British troops to school;
Instructed them in warlike trade,
And new manoeuvres of parade,
The true war-dance of Yankee reels,
And manual exercise of heels;
Made them give up, like saints complete,
The arm of flesh, and trust the feet,
And work, like Christians undissembling,
Salvation out, by fear and trembling;
Taught Percy fashionable races,
And modern modes of Chevy-Chases:
From Boston, in his best array,
Great 'Squire M'Fingal took his way,
And graced with ensigns of renown,
Steer'd homeward to his native town.


His high descent our heralds trace
From Ossian's famed Fingalian race:

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