CAW! CAW! - The Chronicle of Crows, A Tale of the Spring-time
by RM
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The Chronicle of Crows A Tale of the Spring-time

by RM

Illustrated by JB


In the merry spring time, thus says my song, When the sun shines bright and the days grow long, And the crocuses brilliant, in purple and gold, Bloom in the gardens in numbers untold; When in the fields the grass grows green, And a few early lambs are seen; When daffodils in gaudy gowns Look gay upon the verdant downs, And fair spring flowers of each degree In every sheltered nook you see,

Upon a bright and sunny day The Crows to one-another say, "CAW! CAW! our nests now let us build." Away they fly: each beak is fill'd With little sticks of beechen wood, With which they build their houses good: When all is done, with joy they see The work of their community.

And, circling widely, CAW! they say, CAW! CAW! our eggs now let us lay. Two spotted eggs in every nest For warmth await the mother's breast. And all the Crows around them fly With flapping wings and joyful cry: "CAW! CAW!" they say, "now it is fit That we upon our eggs should sit."

The patient Crows for many a week No other occupation seek; But, while one sits and looks around, The other makes the woods resound With cawings loud, or frequent brings Worms, seeds, or such delicious things, And kindly feeds his brooding mate From early morn till evening late.

Till, to reward their anxious care, A gentle sound the parents hear Of tapping from within the shell: This sound doth please the mother well, And, fondly helping with her bill, She hears the voices weak and shrill. "Caw! Caw!" the downy young ones say, "How lovely is this peep of day, Oh what a glorious sight is this, There can be nothing here but bliss." "CAW! CAW!" replies the mother crow, "There is no joy unmixed with woe."

The father crows with tender heart In the parental cares take part— "CAW! CAW!" they say, "for food we'll fly Before our young ones hungry cry." In course direct they fly afar To where the ploughmen lab'ring are, And, seeking in the upturn'd soil, They meet with many a wormy spoil; And, filling their capacious beak, Straightway their forest homes they seek.

The young crows see them homeward fly, And stretch their skinny necks on high; And gulping down the luscious food, "Caw! Caw!" they say, "'tis very good." So daily every parent flies, Each young one grows in strength and size; Till seated on a branch at length, Exulting in increasing strength, "Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw!" they proudly cry, "We shall be flying by and bye;" But ah, poor Crows, there's many a slip Between the cup and longing lip.

The farmer heard the cawing sound, And sent to all his neighbours round, Begging of them every one To bring a rifle or a gun, If they would come the sport to see Of shooting at the rookery; And try to check the rural pest, Which did the country so infest, And stop the robbery of corn, Which was no longer to be borne.

For though the farmers had a plan To scare them with the form of man, The Crows, at first much terrified, And wheeling high in circles wide, Had soon become too bold for that; And even perched upon the hat, And loud in mockery cried "CAW! CAW! 'Tis nothing but a man of straw."

The next day, as the picture shows, The farmers met to shoot the Crows— Their rustling underneath the trees The young ones thought was but the breeze; But an old Crow's experienced eye Discovered soon their enemy; Whose purpose was not left in doubt, For, uttering a murderous shout, The shooters levelled each his gun— Bang! Bang! the slaughter is begun.

Bang! Bang! again for every ball Wounded or dead the young Crows fall; The old Crows wheeling in the skies Helpless behold their agonies, And, piteous cawing up on high, Answer their young ones dying cry— Who fall, poor little suffering things, With broken legs and wounded wings.

At last the sun begins to sink, And soon is on the very brink Of setting in the quiet sea; The ploughing horses leave the lea, The weary workman homeward goes Thinking of supper and repose; And darkness closes o'er the scene, Where late the murderous sport had been: The moon, with pale and pitying looks, Shines on the slaughter-field of rooks: The owlets hoot, from ivy bower, In the grey embattled tower— "Tuwit, tuwit, towhoo!" they say, And echoing through the ruins grey, The sound disturbs the daily sleep Of bats who dwell in dungeon keep, Who 'mong the ruins nightly flit, And under aged arches sit.

The farmers can no longer mark The Crows among the branches dark: Now let us homeward go, they say; And gathering up their slaughtered prey, His share each one in bundles ties, And takes them home to make crow pies.

Of Crows who were not shot, the few Far to the distant mountains flew, But found not there the expected rest: A longing seized them for their nest, "CAW! CAW!" with one accord they cry, "Let us directly homeward fly."

So in undeviating track, Like column huge of dotted black, Straightway their course they homeward bent, And meditating as they went— "CAW! CAW!" they say, "How well we know There is no joy unmixed with woe."


When the children have been good, That is, be it understood, Good at meal-times, good at play, Good all night, and good all day,— They shall have the pretty things Merry Christmas always brings. Naughty, romping girls and boys Tear their clothes and make a noise, Spoil their pinafores and frocks, And deserve no Christmas-box. Such as these shall never look At this pretty Picture-Book.


Just look at him! There he stands, With his nasty hair and hands. See! his nails are never cut; They are grim'd as black as soot; And the sloven, I declare, Never once has comb'd his hair; Any thing to me is sweeter Than to see Shock-headed Peter.


Here is cruel Frederick, see! A horrid wicked boy was he; He caught the flies, poor little things, And then tore off their tiny wings; He kill'd the birds, and broke the chairs, And threw the kitten down the stairs; And Oh! far worse than all beside, He whipp'd his Mary, till she cried.

The trough was full, and faithful Tray Came out to drink one sultry day; He wagg'd his tail, and wet his lip, When cruel Fred snatch'd up a whip, And whipp'd poor Tray till he was sore, And kick'd and whipp'd him more and more; At this, good Tray grew very red, And growl'd and bit him till he bled; Then you should only have been by, To see how Fred did stream and cry!

So Frederick had to go to bed; His leg was very sore and red! The Doctor came and shook his head, And made a very great to-do, And gave him nasty physic too.

But good dog Tray is happy now; He has no time to say "bow-wow!" He seats himself in Frederick's chair, And laughs to see the nice things there: The soup he swallows, sup by sup,— And eats the pies and puddings up.


It almost makes me cry to tell What foolish Harriet befell. Mamma and Nurse went out one day, And left her all alone at play; Now, on the table close at hand, A box of matches chanc'd to stand; And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her, That if she touch'd them, they should scold her. But Harriet said, "Oh, what a pity! For, when they burn, it is so pretty; They crackle so, and spit, and flame; Mamma, too, often does the same."

The pussy-cats heard this, And they began to hiss, And stretch their claws, And raise their paws; "Me-ow," they said, "me-ow, me-o You'll burn to death, if you do so".

But Harriet would not take advice, She lit a match, it was so nice! It crackled so, it burn'd so clear,— Exactly like the picture here. She jump'd for joy and ran about, And was too pleas'd to put it out.

The pussy-cats saw this, And said, "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!" And stretch'd their claws, And rais'd their paws; "'Tis very, very wrong, you know, Me-ow, Me-o, Me-ow, Me-o, You will be burnt, if you do so".

And see! Oh! what a dreadful thing! The fire has caught her apron-string; Her apron burns, her arms, her hair; She burns all over, every where.

Then how the pussy-cats did mew, What else, poor pussies, could they do? They scream'd for help, 'twas all in vain! So then, they said,—"we'll scream again; Make haste, make haste, me-ow, me-o She'll burn to death,—we told her so".

So she was burnt, with all her clothes, And arms, and hands, and eyes and nose; Till she had nothing more to lose Except her little scarlet shoes; And nothing else but these was found Among her ashes on the ground.

And when the good cats sat beside The smoking ashes, how they cried! "Me-ow, me-oo, me-ow, me-oo What will Mamma and Nursy do?" Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast, They made a little pond at last.


As he had often done before, The woolly-headed black-a-moor One nice fine summer's day went out To see the shops and walk about; And as he found it hot, poor fellow, He took with him his green umbrella. Then Edward, little noisy wag, Ran out and laugh'd, and wav'd his flag; And William came in jacket trim, And brought his wooden hoop with him; And Arthur, too, snatch'd up his toys And join'd the other naughty boys; So, one and all set up a roar And laugh'd and hooted more and more, And kept on singing,—only think!— "Oh! Blacky, you're as black as ink."

Now tall Agrippa lived close by,— So tall, he almost touch'd the sky; He had a mighty inkstand too, In which a great goose-feather grew; He call'd out in an angry tone, "Boys, leave the black-a-moor alone! For if he tries with all his might, He cannot change from black to white." But ah! they did not mind a bit What great Agrippa said of it; But went on laughing, as before, And hooting at the black-a-moor.

Then great Agrippa foams with rage, Look at him on this very page! He seizes Arthur, seizes Ned, Takes William by his little head; And they may scream and kick, and call, Into the ink he dips them all; Into the inkstand, one, two, three, Till they are black, as black can be; Turn over now and you shall see.

See, there they are, and there they run! The black-a-moor enjoys the fun. They have been made as black as crows, Quite black all over, eyes and nose, And legs, and arms, and heads, and toes, And trowsers, pinafores, and toys,— The silly little inky boys! Because they set up such a roar, And teas'd the harmless black-a-moor.


This is the man that shoots the hares; This is the coat he always wears: With game-bag, powder-horn and gun, He's going out to have some fun.

He finds it hard, without a pair Of spectacles, to shoot the hare: The hare sits snug in leaves and grass, And laughs to see the green man pass.

Now, as the sun grew very hot, And he a heavy gun had got, He lay down underneath a tree And went to sleep, as you may see. And, while he slept like any top, The little hare came, hop, hop, hop,— Took gun and spectacles, and then On her hind legs went off again.

The green man wakes, and sees her place The spectacles upon her face; And now she's trying, all she can, To shoot the sleepy green-coat man. He cries and screams and runs away; The hare runs after him all day, And hears him call out every where, "Help! Fire! Help! The Hare! The Hare!"

At last he stumbled at the well Head over ears, and in he fell. The hare stopp'd short, took aim, and hark! Bang went the gun,—she miss'd her mark!

The poor man's wife was drinking up Her coffee in her coffee-cup; The gun shot cup and saucer through "O dear!" cried she, "what shall I do?" There liv'd close by the cottage there The hare's own child, the little hare; And while she stood upon her toes, The coffee fell and burn'd her nose, "O dear!" she cried, with spoon in hand, "Such fun I do not understand."


One day, Mamma said "Conrad dear, I must go out and leave you here. But mind now, Conrad, what I say, Don't suck your thumb while I'm away. The great tall tailor always comes To little boys that suck their thumbs; And ere they dream what he's about, He takes his great sharp scissars out And cuts their thumbs clean off,—and then, You know, they never grow again."

Mamma had scarcely turn'd her back, The thumb was in, Alack! Alack!

The door flew open, in he ran, The great, long, red-legg'd scissar-man. Oh! children, see! the tailor's come And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb. Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissars go; And Conrad cries out—Oh! Oh! Oh! Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast; That both his thumbs are off at last.

Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands, And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;— "Ah!" said Mamma, "I knew he'd come To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."


Augustus was a chubby lad; Fat ruddy cheeks Augustus had; And every body saw with joy The plump and hearty healthy boy. He ate and drank as he was told, And never let his soup get cold. But one day, one cold winter's day! He scream'd out—"Take the soup away! O take the nasty soup away! I won't have any soup to-day."

Next day, now look, the picture shows How lank and lean Augustus grows! Yet, though he feels so weak and ill, The naughty fellow cries out still— "Not any soup for me, I say: O take the nasty soup away! I won't have any soup to-day."

The third day comes; Oh what a sin! To make himself so pale and thin. Yet, when the soup is put on table, He screams, as loud as he is able,— "Not any soup for me, I say: O take the nasty soup away! I won't have any soup to-day!"

Look at him, now the fourth day's come He scarcely weighs a sugar-plum; He's like a little bit of thread; And on the fifth day, he was—dead!


Let me see if Philip can Be a little gentleman; Let me see, if he is able To sit still for once at table: Thus Papa bade Phil behave; And Mamma look'd very grave. But fidgety Phil, He won't sit still; He wriggles And giggles, And then, I declare, Swings backwards and forwards And tilts up his chair, Just like any rocking horse;— "Philip! I am getting cross!"

See the naughty restless child Growing still more rude and wild, Till his chair falls over quite. Philip screams with all his might Catches at the cloth, but then That makes matters worse again. Down upon the ground they fall, Glasses, plates, knives, forks and all. How Mamma did fret and frown, When she saw them tumbling down! And Papa made such a face! Philip is in sad disgrace.

Where is Philip, where is he? Fairly cover'd up you see! Cloth and all are lying on him; He has pull'd down all upon him. What a terrible to-do! Dishes, glasses, snapt in two! Here a knife, and there a fork! Philip, this is cruel work. Table all so bare, and ah! Poor Papa, and poor Mamma Look quite cross, and wonder how They shall make their dinner now.


As he trudg'd along to school, It was always Johnny's rule To be looking at the sky And the clouds that floated by; But what just before him lay, In his way, Johnny never thought about; So that every one cried out— "Look at little Johnny there, Little Johnny Head-In-Air!"

Running just in Johnny's way, Came a little dog one day; Johnny's eyes were still astray Up on high, In the sky; And he never heard them cry— "Johnny, mind, the dog is nigh!" Bump! Dump! Down they fell, with such a thump. Dog and Johnny in a lump!

Once, with head as high as ever, Johnny walk'd beside the river. Johnny watch'd the swallows trying Which was cleverest at flying. Oh! what fun! Johnny watch'd the bright round sun Going in and coming out; This was all he thought about. So he strode on, only think! To the river's very brink, Where the bank was high and steep, And the water very deep; And the fishes, in a row, Stared to see him coming so.

One step more! Oh! sad to tell! Headlong in poor Johnny fell. And the fishes, in dismay, Wagg'd their tails and ran away.

There lay Johnny on his face, With his nice red writing-case; But, as they were passing by, Two strong men had heard him cry; And, with sticks, these two strong men Hook'd poor Johnny out again.

Oh! you should have seen him shiver When they pull'd him from the river. He was in a sorry plight, Dripping wet, and such a fright! Wet all over, every where, Clothes, and arms, and face, and hair: Johnny never will forget What it is to be so wet.

And the fishes, one, two, three, Are come back again, you see; Up they came the moment after, To enjoy the fun and laughter. Each popp'd out his little head. And, to tease poor Johnny, said "Silly little Johnny, look, You have lost your writing-book!"


When the rain comes tumbling down In the country or the town, All good little girls and boys Stay at home and mind their toys. Robert thought,—"No, when it pours, It is better out of doors." Rain it did, and in a minute Bob was in it. Here you see him, silly fellow, Underneath his red umbrella.

What a wind! Oh! how it whistles Through the trees and flow'rs and thistles! It has caught his red umbrella; Now look at him, silly fellow, Up he flies To the skies. No one heard his screams and cries; Through the clouds the rude wind bore him, And his hat flew on before him.

Soon they got to such a height, They were nearly out of sight! And the hat went up so high, That it really touch'd the sky. No one ever yet could tell Where they stopp'd, or where they fell: Only, this one thing is plain, Bob was never seen again!


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