XIII
The Disaster
Mary Savage

By Sparrows drawn, there’s now no chance,
To see your car-born friend advance.
A dire disaster—hang the cat;
Far better had she kill’d a rat.
Supinely seated in my chair,
And building castles in the air,
Contriving how to form the traces,
And where to fix the springs and braces,
To make my car secure and tight,
And guide the little flutt’rers right;
A buzzing fly sports round my head,
And strait the airy castle fled.

     My son with arm of mighty force,
Soon stopt the fly’s progressive course,
The trembling insect fast he held,
With joy elate his bosom swell’d,
And thus he spoke to Dick and Phill,
I give this victim to your will.
Then op’d the cage, that each might vie,
To seize the half expireing fly;
With wings out spread to try their chance,
The little chirpers soon advance:
With tail erect, and back raised high,
The cat appeared—her sparkling eye,
As green as is the emerald’s dye:
With out stretch’d paw, and lofty bound,
She gave poor dick a fatal wound.

     Oh! dire mishap oh! fell despair
His fleeting breath was lost in air;
Struck with the sight, fix’d pale and dumb,
(Like coward when he hears a drum.)
The youth remain’d—but kindled rage,
Glows on my cheeks—and war I wage;
While puss exulting o’er the prey,
Essays in vain to break away;
With hand of force, I grip’d her throat,
(Her life was then not worth a groat.)
Unfeeling wretch, declare I say,
Deep mischief brooding, where you lay;
Unloose thy hold, release the corse,
Nor tear those limbs with brutal force;
´Twas impious theft, that prompts the deed,
But impious theft, shall ne’er succeed;
Nor shalt thou bear the prize away,
Grimalkin hold—I charge thee stay.
Life now no longer swells his breast,
Yet safe entoomb’d my bird shall rest.

     But Cailif vile, live thou disgrac’d.
Nor ever more of sparrow taste,
Thy share of toast, and cream shall fail,
Or e’er in mirth pursue thy tail.
No tender mouse shall grace thy dish,
Nor shalt thou ever taste of fish;
At dreary eve of winters day,
Warm by the fire each cat shall lay,
Whilst thou shut out, shall mew in vain,
Expos’d to storms of wind and rain;
Through pools of wet be forc’d to tramp,
Thy limbs benumb’d with painful cramp.

     With trembling nerves and glaring eye,
She heard my threats without reply.

     Firm in my hand I held her still,
To show I had to power to kill;
Then rais’d her high, to strike the blow,
And lay the sprawling victim low;
But rage subsides—to give her pain,
Would not bring back poor dick again.
Grimalkin go—thy life I spare,
But never more my friendship share.

     His mate poor Phill, in silence mourns,
And pensive to the cage returns.
While I lament the fatal day,
That snatch’d my flatt’ring hopes away;
For never yet in one horse chair,
Did god or goddess mount in air;
And shall a mortal dare to fly,
With single sparrow thro’ the sky,
No—rather let me wait my doom
And in my husband’s chariot come.

From Mary Savage, Poems on Various Subjects and Occasions, Vol. 2 (London, 1777), 79-85.

Source: Eighteenth Century Collections Online