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The dinner comes, and down they sit:
Were e'er such hungry folk?
There's little talking, and no wit;
It is no time to joke.
One wipes his nose upon his sleeve,
One spits upon the floor,
Yet, not to give offence or grieve,
Holds up the cloth before.
The punch goes round, and they are dull,
And lumpish still as ever;
Like barrels with their bellies full,
They only weigh the heavier.
At length the busy time begins,
'Come, neighbours, we must wag' The money chinks, down drop their chins, Each lugging out his bag.
One talks of mildew and of frost,
And one of storms of hail,
And one of pigs that he has lost
By maggots at the tail.
Quoth one, 'A rarer man than you
In pulpit none shall hear:
But yet, methinks, to tell you true,
You sell it plaguy dear.'
Oh! why are farmers made so coarse,
Or clergy made so fine?
A kick that scarce would move a horse,
May kill a sound divine.
Then let the boobies stay at home;
'Twould cost him, I dare say,
Less trouble taking twice the sum
Without the clowns that pay.
ADDRESSED TO LADY HESKETH.
THIS cap, that so stately appears,
With ribbon-bound tassel on high,
Which seems by the crest that it rears
Ambitious of brushing the sky:
This cap to my cousin I owe,
She gave it, and gave me beside,
Wreathed into an elegant bow,
The ribbon with which it is tied.
This wheel-footed studying chair,
Contrived both for toil and repose,
Wide-elbowed, and wadded with hair,
In which I both scribble and dose,
Bright-studded to dazzle the eyes,
And rival in lustre of that
In which, or astronomy lies,
Fair Cassiopeïa sat:
These carpets, so soft to the foot,
Caledonia's traffic and pride!
Oh spare them, ye knights of the boot,
Escaped from a cross country ride!
This table and mirror within,
Secure from collision and dust,
At which I oft shave cheek and chin,
And periwig nicely adjust:
This moveable structure of shelves,
For its beauty admired and its use,
And charged with octavos and twelves,
The gayest I had to produce;
Where, flaming in scarlet and gold,
My poems enchanted I view,
And hope, in due time, to behold
My Iliad and Odyssey too:
This china that decks the alcove,
Which here people call a buffet,
But what the gods call it above
Has ne'er been revealed to us yet:
These curtains, that keep the room warm
Or cool, as the season demands,
These stoves that for pattern and form
Seem the labour of Mulciber's hands.
All these are not half that I owe
To one, from our earliest youth,
To me ever ready to show
Benignity, friendship, and truth;
For Time, the destroyer declared
And foe of our perishing kind,
If even her face he has spared,
Much less could he alter her mind.
Thus compassed about with the goods
And chattels of leisure and ease,
I indulge my poetical moods
In many such fancies as these;
And fancies I fear they will seem-
Poets' goods are not often so fine;
The poets will swear that I dream
When I sing of the splendour of mine.
THE POET'S NEW-YEAR'S GIFT.
MARIA! I have every good
For thee wished many a time,
Both sad and in a cheerful mood,
But never yet in rhyme.
To wish thee fairer is no need,
More prudent, or more sprightly,
Or more ingenious, or more freed
From temper-flaws unsightly.
What favour then not yet possessed
Can I for thee require,
In wedded love already blest,
To thy whole heart's desire?
None here is happy but in part:
Full bliss is bliss divine;
There dwells some wish in every heart,
And doubtless one in thine.
That wish on some fair future day,
Which fate shall brightly gild,
('Tis blameless, be it what it may)
I wish it all fulfilled.
THE NEGRO'S COMPLAINT.
FORCED from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn;
To increase a stranger's treasures,
O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though slave they have enrolled me,
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task?
Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same.
Why did all-creating Nature
Make the plant for which we toil?
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters iron-hearted,
Lolling at your jovial boards,
Think how many backs have smarted,
For the sweets your cane affords.
Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
Is there One who reigns on high? Has He bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne, the sky? Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood-extorting screws, Are the means that duty urges Agents of his will to use?
Hark! He answers-Wild tornadoes,
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks,
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
Are the voice with which He speaks.
He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo, Fixed their tyrants' habitations
Where his whirlwinds answer-'No.'
By our blood in Afric wasted,
Ere our necks received the chain;
By the miseries that we tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main;
By our sufferings, since ye brought us
To the man-degrading mart;
All sustained by patience, taught us
Only by a broken heart;