COWPER AND HIS HARES1
No one was fonder of animals, or kinder to them, than Cowper the poet, who lived towards the end of the last century; but of all creatures he loved hares best, perhaps because he, like them, was timid and easily frightened. He has left a very interesting account of three hares that were given to him when he was living in the country in the year 1774, and as far as possible the poet shall tell his own story of the friendship between himself and his pets — Puss, Tiney, and Bess, as he called them.
Cowper was not at all a strong man, and suffered terribly from fits of low spirits, and at these times he could not read, and disliked the company of people, who teased him by giving him advice or asking him questions. It was during one of these seasons of solitude and melancholy that he noticed a poor little hare belonging to the children of one of his neighbours, who, without meaning really to be unkind, had worried the little thing almost to death. Soon they got tired even of playing with it, and the poor hare was in danger of being starved to death, when their father, whose heart was more tender than theirs, proposed that it should be given to their neighbour Mr. Cowper.
Now Cowper, besides feeling pity for the poor little creature, felt that he should like to teach and train it, and as just then he was too unhappy to care for his usual occupations, he gladly accepted the present. In a very short time Puss was given two companions, Tiney and 1 From Bingley's British Quadrupeds.