1802
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Deserted Blackbird's Nest. The Nest restored.

Lady's Monthly Museum 9 (September 1802) 205-07.

Dr. William Perfect


A pair of sentimental pastoral ballads, signed "Dr. Perfect." The poet, who was also a naturalist, has his hands full in attempting to defend his songbirds from the depredations of cats, fowlers, and schoolboys: "My bird has forsaken her nest, | Her eggs are all taken and gone; | The school-boy, her foe so profess'd, | This work of destruction has done." The bird's nest had become something of a commonplace of sentimental poetry since Shenstone had used it in his Pastoral Ballad. Doctor Perfect, now long in years, was the chief poet of the Lady's Monthly Museum of this period, supplying both new and old material, most of it in the anapestic meter to which he was devoted.



His losses, by sea and by land,
The merchant may weep and bewail;
Misfortune his terrors expand,
In varied complexion assail:
But let not Indifference smile,
On my sorrows, with Apathy's sneer,
When the Muse, in reciting her toil,
Shall draw from her poet a tear.

My bird has forsaken her nest,
Her eggs are all taken and gone;
The school-boy, her foe so profess'd,
This work of destruction has done.
Sly rogue, who committed this deed,
Might I thy correction command,
Unpity'd for this shouldst thou bleed
By thy master's inveterate hand.

For this thy week's pittance withheld,
Not a toy nor a tart should be thine;
To a task's triple length then compell'd,
And not till 'twas done shouldst thou dine.
I saw the poor hen with the dawn,
Collecting materials to build;
And heard the loud cock in the lawn,
As his notes in soft melody thrill'd.

The fabric was gradually rais'd,
Till compleat in the head of my bow'r;
How often with pleasure I've gaz'd,
And watch'd it from hour to hour!
But all my delight's at an end,
The truant has marr'd all my joy:
Had I seen the young caitiff ascend,
With purpose to rob and annoy,

Remonstrance, perhaps, were in vain,
His heart much too harden'd to melt;
But a discipline meet from my cane
The spoiler should surely have felt.


Dear minstrel, fair architect, skill'd
The aerial structure to rear,
Again have you ventur'd to build,
My recent despondence to cheer?
How finish'd your work, and compleat,
So well intertwin'd and compress'd;
How snug and how round is your seat!
O what a most beautiful nest!

My hopes that in peace you may dwell,
Your eggs e'er in safety remain;
The filbert shall bower your cell,
And screen it from storms and from rain.
Thy partner's sweet warblings I hear;
Go teach him the orchard to shun;
The cherry so tempting to spare,
For fear of the merciless gun.

'Twas summer, in splendour array'd,
When I in the hawthorn espied,
Envelop'd amidst its calm shade,
A nest, of two blackbirds the pride:
Well nurtur'd by mutual care,
The younglings were ready to fly;
But Fate hover'd o'er the sad pair;
The sire was devoted to die.

He dar'd from the bough to purloin,
Where pendant the cherry display'd
Its rubies deliciously fine,
That crimson'd its relative shade.
From his post the sly fowler, unseen,
The poor plumy felon descry'd;
Nor was there a moment between,
E'er he flutter'd, he fell, and he dy'd.

No more from the spray pour'd his strain;
His poor widow'd mate was distress'd;
And, unable her brood to sustain,
They languish'd, and dy'd in the nest.
May no such misfortune attend
The theme that my muse now employs:
Myself their protector and friend,
Shall guard them from all that annoys.

From grimalkin's nocturnal patrole,
On ravage ferociously bent;
And truants, escap'd from control,
On mischievous errand intent:
And when to maturity brought,
Your offspring of plume and of song,
Their notes, by warm gratitude taught,
My praise in the shade shall prolong.

And farther I ask as a meed,
As Summer revolves in his round,
From care and calamity freed,
Their nests in my filberts be found.

[pp. 205-07]