By Oliver Goldsmith

© St. John, N.B.: John McMillan, 1834



COME here, Finnette, my great decree
From which no hope remains for thee,
This day resolves to take your life,
And end your barking, brawl, and strife;
Your black unkindness rives my heart,


Your baseness, cruelty, and art,
No longer shall protection find,
To guilt I’ll be no longer blind,
But for your crimes your life I’ll take,
And drown you in the briny lake,


That dogs may learn from your sad fate,
A warning lesson ere too late, [Page 83]
Whene’er they break their lord’s command,
And scorn the bounty of his hand,
That justice will not cease to trace,       


And punish all the canine race;
Therefore, at three, oh, fatal hour!
I’ll come, and with tremendous power,
Relentless by a dreadful whirl,
To shades below your body hurl!


    “My honored master, ever dear,
One moment my petition hear;
Oh say, for what untoward crime,
Unheard in young life’s opening prime,
Can you thus shorten all my days,


The whole too short to speak your praise;
Oh, tell me, what sad act of strife
Deserves so soon the loss of life?
Unconscious of the deed I’ve done,
How lost your love or anger won,


My wish has ever been to please,
Oh, take my life when that shall cease; [Page 84]
My thoughts no other master own,
No other patron have I known,
By actions I have tried to show,


The debt of gratitude I owe.
Can you forget, for your dear sake,
How often I have lain awake,
How often watched by your bed side,
From morning dawn till eventide?


How oft obedient to your call,
A stone I brought, or stick, or ball;
And while your pleasure you expressed,
Have fondly poor Finnette caressed.
Oh, think and still remember this,


That all my joy and highest bliss
Have been to love and you obey,
No wish beside could I betray.”
    Vile dog, this canting, lying tale,
No useful purpose can avail.


Your very words impel your fate,
And now repentance comes too late. [Page 85]
My best commands have met your slight,
Which kindly bade you not to fight.
Have I not chide your horrid noise,


When barking at the dirty boys?
Have I not told you not to stray,
And yet how oft you ran away?
Have you not often lain your head,
Upon my nice, clean, new-made bed?


And when I beat you for the fault,
Until I made you limp and halt,
You still contemned, despised my laws,
And laid again your filthy paws,
And left behind your nasty fleas,


To fatten on my feet and knees.
My servant’s heel did you not bite,
Until he roared with pain and spite?
At last you’ve reached so bad a state,
You growling, biting, vile ingrate,


That I’ve declared you shall not stay,
To shame my house another day. [Page 86]
    “Kind master still one moment hear,
If e’er Finnette to you were dear,
If ever by a sportive art,


I pleased your kind and tender heart,
Do not forsake me in despair,
Despise not now my humble prayer.
My guilt and folly stand confessed,
By shame and grief my heart’s oppressed,


And all my life could not atone,
For deeds of vice and riot done;
My life a forfeit to your rage,
Alas! too at an early age,
I ask not, nor do I complain,


That death will finish soon my pain.
Yet, oh! I leave my pups behind,
Four little pups which yet are blind,
Exposed to bitterness and want,
And left to seek some wretched haunt


Far from a mother’s care, indeed!
It makes my very heart-strings bleed. [Page 87]
Have mercy then, in pity spare
My life in peace until I rear
My gentle whelps, that they may know


How great my penitence and woe.”
    Your wish is late, your whelps can gain
No knowledge of their mother’s pain.
Their eyes are closed, their breath is fled,
Their bodies numbered with the dead,


Beneath the waves immersed they lie.
The sea is now their canopy.
Begone, like them the ocean’s wave
Shall be your sad and watery grave.
For when my daily toil is o’er,


I’ll send you to your puppies four,
About your neck a cord shall go,
A stone attached, and then I’ll throw
Your worthless body to the waves,
Fit place for dogs’ and puppies’ graves.


    “Tremendous thought! In young life’s bloom,
Stern death consigns me to the tomb, [Page 88]
A few short fleeting moments o’er,
And poor Finnette will be no more.
Oh, all ye dogs, my fate who learn,


This warning lesson do not spurn,
Ye dogs who snuff the northern air,
Ye greyhounds fleet who course the hare,
Ye poodles with your shaggy coats,
And bull dogs with your brazen throats,


Ye beagles, trained to beat the field,
And spaniels which obedience yield,
Ye pugs, and curs, and small turnspits,
The cook’s attendant, and the wit’s;
Mastiffs and whelps, and all who find


A safe abode with human kind,
Whether, on Lapland’s snows ye run,
Or pant beneath a scorching sun;
Whether ye grace a lady’s lap,
Or on the hearth-rug take a nap;


Whether ye guard the rich man’s gate,
Or cottage of an humbler state; [Page 89]
By my example wisdom learn,
And from your vicious habits turn,
Your lord’s affection try to share,


Your master’s wishes be your care.
And when to rest you feel inclined
Take such a place as is assigned,
And never, never, lay your head,
Upon your master’s new-made bed;


Remember, all who learn my fate,
And shun my errors ere too late.”
    She ceased—the stone from upward hurled
Removed poor Finnette from the world;
And now she rests beneath the main,


For ever free from guilt and pain. [Page 90]