Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I long, 'mid all the fun of Rome,
To see how my farm goes on at home.”

Now his parts were renown'd

The world around, But he stuck to his turnips, wheat, and hops, And yet trust me if he grew such crops

As a thriving Suffolk yeoman.

Good freeholders, and stout were they
Who form'd our warlike realm's array,
When Europe trembled many a day

At the name of an English bowman;
The arm that drew the gallant bow
Could pitch on the rick and barley-mow;

They lov'd the tough yew,

And the spot where it grew, For that was near our good old church; “ And we'll never leave her in the lurch,"

Says my loyal Suffolk yeoman.

When George the Third adorn’d our throne,
His manly ways were just our own;
Then Britons stood in arms alone,

And defied each foreign foeman.
The good old king, he feard his God,
But he fear'd no man on earth who trod;

He lov'd his farm,

And he found a charm
In every useful sterling art,
And he wore the home-spun coat and heart

Of a manly Suffolk yeoman.
Since then the brave, the wise, and great,
Have been plain folks of our estate,
We claim a pride of ancient date,

A pride that will injure no man; Though Scotch philosophers and Jews Would starve us out, and our name abuse,

We'll stand by the king,

The church, and each thing That our loyal fathers honour'd most; And such shall be the pride and boast

Of a manly Suffolk yeoman.

A WISH.

SAMUEL ROGERS.

MINE be a cot beside the hill;

A bee-hive's hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook, that turns a mill,

With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch,

Shall twitter near her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,

And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivy'd porch shall spring,

Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing,

In russet gown and apron blue.
The village church, among the trees,

Where first our marriage vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze,

And point with taper spire to heaven.

THE PLOUGHSHARE OF OLD ENGLAND.

Eliza Cook. The sailor boasts his stately ship, the bulwark of the isle! The soldier loves his sword, and sings of tented plains the while ; But we will hang the ploughshare up within our fathers’ halls, And guard it as the deity of plenteous festivals. We'll pluck the brilliant poppies, and the far-famed barley-corn, To wreathe with bursting wheat-ears that outshine the saffron morn, We'll crown it with a glowing heart, and pledge our fertile land, The ploughshare of Old England, and the sturdy peasant band ! The work it does is good and blest, and may be proudly told, We see it in the teeming barns, and fields of waving gold: Its metal is unsullied, no blood-stain lingers there : God speed it well; and let it thrive unshackled everywhere. The bark may rest upon the wave, the spear may gather dust; But never may the prow that cuts the furrow lie and rust. Fill up, fill up, with glowing heart, and pledge our fertile land, The ploughshare of Old England, and the sturdy peasant band !

[graphic]

HE Bacchanalian and Convivial Songs of the English people are not of a high order of merit. The most elegant of them are translations, or paraphrases, of the Odes of Anacreon, the only author who has eminently succeeded in wreathing the flowers of fancy around the drinking-cup, or in rendering even tolerable, to the taste of a refined and civilized people, the praises of intoxication. But in borrowing from Anacreon, the English song-writers, with the exception of Thomas Moore, who added new graces even to Anacreon, too often forgot, or were unable to borrow his elegance and wit. The result is, that the greater portion of English drinking-songs would be more appropriate to the worship of Silenus than of Bacchus.

“ Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne," as depicted by Shakspeare, has been the divinity of song-writers, not one of whom seems to have had any idea of the intellectual Dionysus of the Greeks. Bacchus has been degraded by the moderns into a kind of superhuman Falstaff —a sensual monster-abusing the gifts of heaven instead of using them.

Some of the early drinking-songs are valuable for preserving traits of national manners, which might otherwise have been lost. Bishop Still's song of " Good Ale" is one of this class; and a few others are entitled to the same praise. But in the age succeeding that of Elizabeth—when the simple and the natural in poetry of all kinds began to decay—the convivial songs, like those in celebration of the passion of love, partook largely of the mythological character; and for more than two centuries, the vulgarized Bacchus, who sits astride upon a barrel on public-house signs, was the deity of topers, and presided over their feasts. The “ Muses” and the “ Graces were appealed to, to lend their aid; and “Care," an impersonation unknown to the ancients, was evermore called upon to let herself be drowned in the bowl. It was not till near the end of the eighteenth century that the song-worship of Bacchus began to decline; and when mythology went out of fashion in love songs, it was to a great extent driven from the drinking-songs also. Baron Dawson, the author of a lyric, entitled “Squire Jones,” published in the seventeenth century, though among the first to ridicule the constant mythological allusions of the versifiers, fell into the same fault himself when he spoke of drinking:

Ye poets who write,
And brag of your drinking famed Helicon's brook,

Though all ye get by 't
Is a dinner oft times,

In reward for your rhymes ;
With Humphrey the Duke,

Learn Bacchus to follow,

And quit your Apollo ;
Forsake all the muses—those senseless old crones,

Our jingling of glasses

Your rhyming surpasses,
When crowned with good claret and bumpers, Squire Jones!"

But the complaint which we feel bound to reiterate against the vulgarity of tone, and the unworthiness of the sentiments in our convivial songs is not a new one. “ There is nothing,” says Hugh Kelly, in the “ Babbler,” (No. 30), quoted in the introduction to the Rev. H. Plumptre's Collection of songs (1805), " at which I am more offended than the unpardonable vein of ignorance and brutality so generally introduced in our drinking-songs; nor any, thing in my opinion, which throws a greater reflection upon the understanding of a sensible society. If we examine the principal number of these pretty compositions, we shall find that absolute intoxication is recommended as the highest felicity in the world, and receive the most positive assurances of being upon an equality with angels, the very moment we sink ourselves into a situation considerably lower than men.

“It has been justly observed, that every nation, in proportion as it is civilized, has abolished intemperance in wine, and consequently must be barbarous in proportion as it is addicted to excess. The remark, I am rather apprehensive, will be found no very great compliment to the people of this kingdom. We are apt to place good 'fellowship in riot, and have but too natural a promptitude in imagining that the happiness of an evening is promoted by an extravagant circulation of the glass; hence are our songs of festivity (as I have already taken notice) fraught with continual encomiums on the pleasures of intoxication, and the whole tribe of bacchanalian lyrics perpetually telling us how wonderfully sensible it is to destroy our senses, and how nothing can be more rational in a human creature than to drink till he has not left himself a single glimmer of reason at all.

“ But if, abstracted from the brutal intention of our drinkingsongs in general, we should come to consider their merit as literary performances, how

very few of them should we find worth a station on a cobbler's stall, or deserving the attention of an auditory at

G

« AnteriorContinuar »