On a Spaniel Called "Beau" Killing a Young Bird

by William Cowper

A spaniel, Beau, that fares like you,
Well fed, and at his ease,
Should wiser be than to pursue
Each trifle that he sees.
But you have killed a tiny bird,
Which flew not till to-day,
Against my orders, whom you heard
Forbidding you the prey.
Nor did you kill that you might eat,
And ease a doggish pain;
For him, though chased with furious heat,
You left where he was slain.
Nor was he of the thievish sort,
Or one whom blood allures;
But innocent was all his sport
Whom you have torn for yours.
My dog! what remedy remains,
Since, teach you all I can,
I see you, after all my pains,
So much resemble man?


Sir, when I flew to seize the bird
In spite of your command,
A louder voice than yours I heard,
And harder to withstand.
You cried—"Forbear!" but in my breast
A mightier cried—"Proceed!"—
'Twas Nature, sir, whose strong behest
Impelled me to the deed.
Yet much as Nature I respect,
I ventured once to break
(As you perhaps may recollect)
Her precept for your sake;
And when your linnet on a day,
Passing his prison door,
Had fluttered all his strength away,
And panting pressed the floor:
Well knowing him a sacred thing,
Not destined to my tooth,
I only kissed his ruffled wing,
And licked the feathers smooth.
Let my obedience then excuse
My disobedience now,
Nor some reproof yourself refuse
From your aggrieved Bow-wow;
If killing birds be such a crime,
(Which I can hardly see),
What think you, sir, of killing Time
With verse addressed to me!