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- The Parish Register - 2/13 -


And cluster'd nuts for neighbouring market stand. Nor thus concludes his labour; near the cot, The reed-fence rises round some fav'rite spot; Where rich carnations, pinks with purple eyes, Proud hyacinths, the least some florist's prize, Tulips tall-stemm'd and pounced auriculas rise. Here on a Sunday-eve, when service ends, Meet and rejoice a family of friends; All speak aloud, are happy and are free, And glad they seem, and gaily they agree. What, though fastidious ears may shun the speech, Where all are talkers, and where none can teach; Where still the welcome and the words are old, And the same stories are for ever told; Yet theirs is joy that, bursting from the heart, Prompts the glad tongue these nothings to impart; That forms these tones of gladness we despise, That lifts their steps, that sparkles in their eyes; That talks or laughs or runs or shouts or plays, And speaks in all their looks and all their ways. Fair scenes of peace! ye might detain us long, But vice and misery now demand the song; And turn our view from dwellings simply neat, To this infected Row, we term our Street. Here, in cabal, a disputatious crew Each evening meet; the sot, the cheat, the shrew; Riots are nightly heard: --the curse, the cries Of beaten wife, perverse in her replies; While shrieking children hold each threat'ning hand, And sometimes life, and sometimes food demand: Boys, in their first-stol'n rags, to swear begin, And girls, who heed not dress, are skill'd in gin: Snarers and smugglers here their gains divide; Ensnaring females here their victims hide; And here is one, the Sibyl of the Row, Who knows all secrets, or affects to know. Seeking their fate, to her the simple run, To her the guilty, theirs awhile to shun; Mistress of worthless arts, depraved in will, Her care unblest and unrepaid her skill, Slave to the tribe, to whose command she stoops, And poorer than the poorest maid she dupes. Between the road-way and the walls, offence Invades all eyes and strikes on every sense; There lie, obscene, at every open door, Heaps from the hearth, and sweepings from the floor, And day by day the mingled masses grow, As sinks are disembogued and kennels flow. There hungry dogs from hungry children steal; There pigs and chickens quarrel for a meal; Their dropsied infants wail without redress, And all is want and woe and wretchedness; Yet should these boys, with bodies bronzed and bare, High-swoln and hard, outlive that lack of care - Forced on some farm, the unexerted strength, Though loth to action, is compell'd at length, When warm'd by health, as serpents in the spring, Aside their slough of indolence they fling. Yet, ere they go, a greater evil comes - See! crowded beds in those contiguous rooms; Beds but ill parted, by a paltry screen Of paper'd lath, or curtain dropt between; Daughters and sons to yon compartments creep, And parents here beside their children sleep: Ye who have power, these thoughtless people part, Nor let the ear be first to taint the heart. Come! search within, nor sight nor smell regard; The true physician walks the foulest ward. See on the floor, where frousy patches rest! What nauseous fragments on yon fractured chest! What downy dust beneath yon window-seat! And round these posts that serve this bed for feet; This bed where all those tatter'd garments lie, Worn by each sex, and now perforce thrown by! See! as we gaze, an infant lifts its head, Left by neglect and burrow'd in that bed; The Mother-gossip has the love suppress'd An infant's cry once waken'd in her breast; And daily prattles, as her round she takes (With strong resentment), of the want she makes. Whence all these woes?--From want of virtuous will, Of honest shame, of time-improving skill; From want of care t'employ the vacant hour, And want of every kind but want of power. Here are no wheels for either wool or flax, But packs of cards--made up of sundry packs; Here is no clock, nor will they turn the glass, And see how swift th' important moments pass; Here are no books, but ballads on the wall, Are some abusive, and indecent all; Pistols are here, unpair'd; with nets and hooks, Of every kind, for rivers, ponds, and brooks; An ample flask, that nightly rovers fill With recent poison from the Dutchman's still; A box of tools, with wires of various size, Frocks, wigs, and hats, for night or day disguise, And bludgeons stout to gain or guard a prize. To every house belongs a space of ground, Of equal size, once fenced with paling round; That paling now by slothful waste destroyed, Dead gorse and stumps of elder fill the void; Save in the centre-spot, whose walls of clay Hide sots and striplings at their drink or play: Within, a board, beneath a tiled retreat, Allures the bubble and maintains the cheat; Where heavy ale in spots like varnish shows, Where chalky tallies yet remain in rows; Black pipes and broken jugs the seats defile, The walls and windows, rhymes and reck'nings vile; Prints of the meanest kind disgrace the door, And cards, in curses torn, lie fragments on the floor. Here his poor bird th' inhuman Cocker brings, Arms his hard heel and clips his golden wings; With spicy food th' impatient spirit feeds, And shouts and curses as the battle bleeds. Struck through the brain, deprived of both his eyes, The vanquished bird must combat till he dies; Must faintly peck at his victorious foe, And reel and stagger at each feeble blow: When fallen, the savage grasps his dabbled plumes, His blood-stain'd arms, for other deaths assumes; And damns the craven-fowl, that lost his stake, And only bled and perished for his sake. Such are our Peasants, those to whom we yield Praise with relief, the fathers of the field; And these who take from our reluctant hands What Burn advises or the Bench commands. Our Farmers round, well pleased with constant gain, Like other farmers, flourish and complain. - These are our groups; our Portraits next appear, And close our Exhibition for the year.

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WITH evil omen we that year begin: A Child of Shame,--stern Justice adds, of Sin, Is first recorded;--I would hide the deed, But vain the wish; I sigh, and I proceed: And could I well th'instructive truth convey, 'Twould warn the giddy and awake the gay. Of all the nymphs who gave our village grace, The Miller's daughter had the fairest face: Proud was the Miller; money was his pride; He rode to market, as our farmers ride, And 'twas his boast, inspired by spirits, there, His favourite Lucy should be rich as fair; But she must meek and still obedient prove, And not presume, without his leave, to love. A youthful Sailor heard him;--"Ha!" quoth he, "This Miller's maiden is a prize for me; Her charms I love, his riches I desire, And all his threats but fan the kindling fire; My ebbing purse no more the foe shall fill, But Love's kind act and Lucy at the mill." Thus thought the youth, and soon the chase began, Stretch'd all his sail, nor thought of pause or plan: His trusty staff in his bold hand he took, Like him and like his frigate, heart of oak; Fresh were his features, his attire was new; Clean was his linen, and his jacket blue: Of finest jean his trousers, tight and trim, Brush'd the large buckle at the silver rim. He soon arrived, he traced the village-green, There saw the maid, and was with pleasure seen; Then talk'd of love, till Lucy's yielding heart Confess'd 'twas painful, though 'twas right to part. "For ah! my father has a haughty soul; Whom best he loves, he loves but to control; Me to some churl in bargain he'll consign, And make some tyrant of the parish mine: Cold is his heart, and he with looks severe Has often forced but never shed the tear; Save, when my mother died, some drops expressed A kind of sorrow for a wife at rest: - To me a master's stern regard is shown, I'm like his steed, prized highly as his own; Stroked but corrected, threatened when supplied, His slave and boast, his victim and his pride." "Cheer up, my lass! I'll to thy father go, The Miller cannot be the Sailor's foe; Both live by Heaven's free gale, that plays aloud In the stretch'd canvass and the piping shroud; The rush of winds, the flapping sails above, And rattling planks within, are sounds we love; Calms are our dread; when tempests plough the deep, We take a reef, and to the rocking sleep." "Ha!" quoth the Miller, moved at speech so rash, "Art thou like me? then where thy notes and cash? Away to Wapping, and a wife command, With all thy wealth, a guinea in thine hand; There with thy messmates quaff the muddy cheer, And leave my Lucy for thy betters here." "Revenge! revenge!" the angry lover cried, Then sought the nymph, and "Be thou now my bride." Bride had she been, but they no priest could move To bind in law the couple bound by love. What sought these lovers then by day by night? But stolen moments of disturb'd delight; Soft trembling tumults, terrors dearly prized, Transports that pain'd, and joys that agonised;


The Parish Register - 2/13

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