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For the convenience of unlawful gain,
In forest purlieus; and the like are bred,
All England through, where nooks and slips of ground,
Purloined in times less jealous than our own,
From the green margin of the public way,
A residence afford them, mid the bloom
And gaiety of cultivated fields.
-Such (we will hope the lowest in the scale)
Do I remember oft-times to have seen
'Mid Buxton's dreary heights. Upon the watch,
Till the swift vehicle approach, they stand;
Then, following closely with the cloud of dust,
An uncouth feat exhibit, and are gone
Heels over head like Tumblers on a Stage.
-Up from the ground they snatch the copper coin,
And, on the freight of merry Passengers
Fixing a steady eye, maintain their speed ;
And spin—and pant-and overhead again,
Wild Pursuivants ! until their breath is lost,
Or bounty tires,—and every face, that smiled
Encouragement, hath ceased to look that way.
-But, like the Vagrants of the Gypsy tribe,
These, bred to little pleasure in themselves,
Are profitless to others. Turn we then
To Britons born and bred within the pale
Of civil polity, and early trained
To earn, by wholesome labour in the field,
The bread they eat. A sample should I give
Of what this stock produces to enrich
And beautify the tender age
of life, A sample fairly culled, ye would exclaim, “ Is this the whistling Plough-boy whose shrill notes Impart new gladness to the morning air?"
Forgive me! if I venture to suspect That many, sweet to hear of in soft verse, Are of no finer frame:-his joints are stiff; Beneath a cumbrous frock that to the knees Invests the thriving churl, his legs appear, Fellows to those which lustily upheld The wooden stools, for everlasting use, On which our Fathers sate. And mark his brow! Under whose shaggy canopy are set Two eyes, not dim, but of a healthy stare; Wide, sluggish, blank, and ignorant, and strange ; Proclaiming boldly that they never drew A look or motion of intelligence
From infant conning of the Christ-cross-row,
Or puzzling through a Primer, line by line,
Till perfect mastery crown the pains at last.
- What kindly warmth from touch of fostering hand,
What penetrating power of sun or breeze,
Shall e’er dissolve the crust wherein his soul
Sleeps, like a caterpillar sheathed in ice?
This torpor is no pitiable work
Of modern ingenuity; no Town
Nor crowded City may be taxed with aught
Of sottish vice or desperate breach of law,
To which in after years he may be rouzed.
- This Boy the Fields produce: his spade and hoe,
The Carter's whip which on his shoulder rests
In air high-towering with a boorish pomp,
The sceptre of his sway; his Country's name,
Her equal rights, her churches and her schools,
What have they done for him? And, let me ask,
For tens of thousands uninformed as he ?
In brief, what liberty of mind is here?"
This cheerful sally pleased the mild good Man, To whom the appeal couched in those closing words
Was pointedly addressed ; and to the thoughts
Which,in assent or opposition, rose
Within his mind, he seemed prepared to give
Prompt utterance; but, rising from our seat,
The hospitable Vicar interposed
With invitation earnestly renewed.
-We followed, taking as he led, a Path
Along a Hedge of stately hollies framed,
Whose flexile boughs, descending with a weight
Of leafy spray, concealed the stems and roots
them nourishment. How sweet methought,
When the fierce wind comes howling from the north,
How grateful, this impenetrable screen!
Not shaped by simple wearing of the foot
On rural business passing to and fro
Was the commodious Walk; a careful hand
Had marked the line, and strewn the surface o'er
pure cerulean gravel, from the heights Fetched by the neighbouring brook.--Across the Vale The stately Fence accompanied our steps ; And thus the Pathway, by perennial green Guarded and graced, seemed fashioned to unite,
As by a beautiful yet solemn chain,
The Pastor's Mansion with the House of Prayer.
Like Image of solemnity conjoined With feminine allurement soft and fair The Mansion's self displayed ;-a reverend Pile With bold projections and recesses deep; Shadowy, yet gay and lightsome as it stood Fronting the noon-tide Sun. We paused to admire The pillared Porch, elaborately embossed ; The low wide windows with their mullions old ; The cornice richly fretted, of
grey stone; And that smooth slope from which the Dwelling rose, By beds and banks Arcadian of
And flowering shrubs, protected and adorned.
Profusion bright! and every flower assuming
A more than natural vividness of hue,
From unaffected contrast with the gloom
Of sober cypress, and the darker foil
Of yew, in which survived some traces, here
Not unbecoming, of grotesque device
And uncouth fancy. From behind the roof