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THE FARMER OF TILSBURY VALE. 'Tis not for the unfeeling, the falsely refined, The squeamish in taste, and narrow of mind, And the small critic wielding his delicate pen, That I sing of old Adam, the pride of old men. He dwells in the centre of London's wide town; His staff is a sceptre-his gray hairs a crown ; Erect as a sunflower he stands, and the streak Of the unfaded rose still enlivens his cheek. Mid the dews, in the sunshine of morn, mid the joy Of the fields, he collected that bloom, when a boy ; There fashioned that countenance, which, in spite of a
stain That his life hath received, to the last will remain. A farmer he was ; and his house far and near Was the boast of the country for excellent cheer : How oft have I heard in sweet Tilsbury vale Of the silver-rimmed horn whence he dealt his mild ale! Yet Adam was far as the farthest from ruin, His fields seemed to know what their master was doing; And turnips, and corn-land, and meadow, and lea, All caught the infection-as generous as he. Yet Adam prized little the feast and the bowl, The fields better suited the ease of his soul : He strayed through the fields like an indolent wight, The quiet of nature was Adam's delight. For Adam was simple in thought, and the poor, Familiar with him, made an inn of his door : He gave them the best that he had ; or, to say What less may mislead you, they took it away.
Thus thirty smooth years did he thrive on his farm;
To the neighbours he went, all were free with their
money; For his hive had so long been replenished with honey, That they dreamt not of dearth; he continued his rounds, Knocked here, and knocked there, pounds still adding
to pounds. He paid what he could with this ill-gotten pelf, And something, it might be, reserved for himself: Then (what is too true), without hinting a word, Turned his back on the country ; and off like a bird.
You lift up your eyes ! but I guess that you frame
To London-a sad emigration I ween-
All trades, as need was, did old Adam assume,
He seems ten birthdays younger, is green and is stout;
For he's not like an old man that leisurely goes
In the throng of the town like a stranger is he,
This gives him the fancy of one that is young,
What's a tempest to him, or the dry parching heats?
Where proud Covent Garden, in desolate hours
Mid coaches and chariots, a waggon of straw,
Up the Haymarket hill he oft whistles his way,
But chiefly to Smithfield he loves to repair, -
THE SMALL CELANDINE, There is a flower, the lesser Celandine, That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain; And, the first moment that the sun may shine, Bright as the sun itself, 'tis out again! When hailstones have been falling, swarm on swarm, Or blasts the green field and the trees distressed, Oft have I seen it muffled up from harm, In close self-shelter, like a thing at rest. But lately, one rough day, this flower I passed And recognized it, though an altered form, Now standing forth an offering to the blast, And buffeted at will by rain and storm. I stopped, and said with inly-muttered voice, “It doth not love the shower, nor seek the cold: This neither is its courage nor its choice, But its necessity in being old. “The sunshine may not cheer it, nor the dew; It cannot help itself in its decay ; Stiff in its members, withered, changed of hue.” And, in my spleen, I smiled that it was gray.
To be a prodigal's favourite-then, worse truth,
THE TWO THIEVES;
OR, THE LAST STAGE OF AVARICE. Oh, now that the genius of Bewick were mine, And the skill which he learned on the banks of the Tyne! Then the muses might deal with me just as they chose, For I'd take my last leave both of verse and of prose. What feats would I work with my magical hand ! Book-learning and books should be banished the land : And, for hunger and thirst, and such troublesome calls, Every alehouse should then have a feast on its walls. The traveller would hang his wet clothes on a chair ; Let them smoke, let them burn, not a straw would he care! For the Prodigal Son, Joseph's Dream and his sheaves, Oh, what would they be to my tale of two thieves? The one, yet unbreeched, is not three birthdays old, His grandsire that age more than thirty times told; There are ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather Between them, and both go a-stealing together. With chips is the carpenter strewing his floor? Is a cart-load of turf at an old woman's door? Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide ! And his grandson's as busy at work by his side. Old Daniel begins, he stops short-and his eye, Through the lost look of dotage, is cunning and sly. 'Tis a look which at this time is hardly his own, But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown.