Spring

The Farmer’s Boy

Spring

ARGUMENT.

Invocation, &c. Seed time. Harrowing. Morning walks. Milking. The Dairy. Suffolk Cheese. Spring coming forth. Sheep fond of changing. Lambs at play. The Butcher, &c.

SPRING.

I.

O Come, blest Spirit! whatsoe’er thou art,
Thou rushing [1]  warmth that hovers [2]  round my heart,
Sweet inmate, hail! thou source of sterling joy,
That poverty itself cannot destroy,
Be thou my Muse; and faithful still to me,5
Retrace the paths of wild obscurity.
No deeds of arms my humble lines [3]  rehearse,
No Alpine wonders thunder through my verse,
The roaring cataract, the snow-topt hill,
Inspiring awe, till breath itself stands still:10
Nature’s sublimer scenes ne’er charm’d mine eyes,
Nor Science led me through the boundless skies;
From meaner objects far my raptures flow:
O point these [4]  raptures! bid my bosom glow!
And lead my soul to ecstacies of praise15
For all the blessings of my infant days!
Bear me through regions where gay Fancy dwells;
But mould to Truth’s fair form what Memory tells.
Live, trifling incidents, and grace my song,
That to the humblest menial belong;20
To him whose drudgery unheeded goes,
His joys unreckon’d as his cares or woes:
Though joys and cares in every path are sown,
And youthful minds have feelings of their own;
Quick springing sorrows, transient as the dew;25
Delights from trifles, trifles ever new.
’Twas thus with Giles: [5]  meek, fatherless, and poor;
Labour his portion, but he felt no more;
No stripes, no tyranny his steps pursu’d;
His life was constant, cheerful, servitude;30
Strange to the world, he wore a bashful look,
The Fields his study, Nature was his book;
And, as revolving Seasons chang’d the scene
From heat to cold, tempestuous to serene,
Though every change still varied his employ,35
Yet each new duty brought its share of joy.
Where noble Grafton spreads his rich domains,
Round Euston’s water’d vale, and sloping plains,
Where woods and groves in solemn grandeur rise,
Where the kite brooding, unmolested flies;40
The woodcock and the painted pheasant race,
And sculking foxes, destin’d for the chace;
There Giles, untaught and unrepining, stray’d
Through every copse, and grove, and winding glade;
There his first thoughts to Nature’s charms inclin’d,45
That stamps devotion on th’inquiring mind.
A little farm his generous Master till’d,
Who with peculiar grace his station fill’d;
By deeds of hospitality endear’d,
Serv’d from affection, for his worth rever’d:50
A happy offspring blest his plenteous board,
His fields were fruitful, and his barns well stor’d,
And fourscore ewes he fed, a sturdy team,
And lowing kine that grazed beside the stream:
Unceasing industry he kept in view;55
And never lack’d a job for Giles to do.
Fled now the sullen murmurs of the North,
The splendid raiment of the Spring peeps forth;
Her universal green, and the clear sky,
Delight still more and more the gazing eye.60
Wide o’er the fields, in rising moisture strong,
Shoots up the simple flower, or creeps along
The mellow’d soil; imbibing as it goes [6] 
Fresh [7]  sweets from frequent showers and evening dews;
That summon [8]  from its [9]  shed the slumb’ring ploughs, [10] 65
While health impregnates every breeze that blows.
No wheels support the diving pointed share;
No groaning ox is doom’d to labour there;
No helpmates [11]  teach the docile steed his road;
(Alike unknown the plow-boy and the goad;)70
But, unassisted through each toilsome day,
With smiling brow the plowman cleaves his way,
Draws his fresh parallels, and wid’ning still,
Treads slow the heavy dale, or climbs the hill:
Strong on the wing his busy followers play,75
Where writhing earth-worms meet th’unwelcome day;
Till all is chang’d, and hill and level down
Assume [12]  a livery of sober brown:
Again disturb’d, when Giles with wearying strides
From ridge to ridge the ponderous harrow guides;80
His heels deep sinking every step he goes,
Till dirt usurp the empire of his [13]  shoes.
Welcome green headland! firm beneath his feet;
Welcome the friendly bank’s refreshing seat!
There, warm with toil, his panting horses browse85
Their shelt’ring canopy of pendent boughs,
Till rest, delicious, chase each transient pain,
And new-born vigour swell in every vein.
Hour after hour, and day to day succeeds,
Till every clod and deep-drawn furrow spreads90
To crumbling mould; a level surface clear,
And strew’d with corn to crown the rising year;
And o’er the whole Giles once transverse [14]  again,
In earth’s moist bosom buries up the grain.
The work is done; no more to man is given;95
The grateful farmer trusts the rest to Heaven.
Yet oft with anxious heart he looks around,
And marks the first green blade that breaks [15]  the ground:
In fancy sees his trembling oats uprun,
His tufted barley yellow with the sun;100
Sees clouds propitious shed their timely store,
And all his harvest gather’d round his door.
But still unsafe the big swoln grain below,
A fav’rite morsel with the rook and crow; [16] 
From field to field the flock increasing goes;105
To level crops most formidable foes:
Their danger well the wary plunderers know,
And place a watch on some conspicuous bough;
Yet oft the sculking gunner by surprise
Will scatter death amongst them as they rise.110
These, hung in triumph round the spacious field,
At best will but a short-lived terror yield:
Nor guards of property; (not penal law,
But harmless riflemen of rags and straw); [17] 
Familiariz’d to these, they boldly rove,115
Nor heed such centinels [18]  that never move.
Let then your birds lie prostrate on the earth,
In dying posture, and with wings stretch’d forth;
Shift them at eve or morn from place to place,
And death shall terrify the pilfering race;120
In the mid air, while circling round and round,
They’ll call their lifeless comrades from the ground;
With quick’ning wing, and notes of loud alarm,
Warn the whole flock to shun the impending harm.
This task had Giles, in fields remote from home:125
Oft has he wish’d the rosy morn to come.
Yet never fam’d was he nor foremost found
To break the seal of sleep; his sleep was sound:
But when at day-break summon’d from his bed,
Light as the lark that carol’d o’er his head,130
His sandy way deep-worn by hasty showers,
O’er-arch’d with oaks that form’d fantastic bow’rs, [19] 
Waving aloft their tow’ring branches proud,
In borrow’d tinges from the eastern cloud,
(Whence [20]  inspiration, pure as ever flow’d,135
And genuine transport in his bosom glow’d) [21] 
His own shrill matin join’d the various notes
Of Nature’s music, from a thousand throats:
The blackbird strove with emulation sweet,
And Echo answer’d from her close retreat;140
The sporting white-throat on some twig’s end borne,
Pour’d hymns to freedom and the rising morn;
Stopt in her song perchance the starting thrush
Shook a white [22]  shower from the black-thorn bush,
Where dew-drops thick as early blossoms hung,145
And trembled as the minstrel sweetly sung.
Across his path, in either grove to hide,
The timid rabbit scouted by his side;
Or bold cock-pheasant [23]  stalk’d along the road,
Whose gold and purple tints alternate glow’d.150
But groves no farther fenc’d the devious way;
A wide-extended heath before him lay,
Where on the grass the stagnant shower had run,
And shone a mirror to the rising sun,
(Thus doubly seen) lighting [24]  a distant wood,155
Giving [25]  new life to each expanding bud;
Effacing quick [26]  the dewy foot-marks found,
Where prowling Reynard trod his nightly round;
To shun whose thefts ’twas Giles’s evening care,
His feather’d victims to suspend in air,160
High on the [27]  bough that nodded o’er his head,
And thus each morn to strew the field with dead.
His simple errand done, he homeward hies;
Another instantly its place supplies.
The clatt’ring dairy-maid immers’d in steam,165
Singing and scrubbing midst her milk and cream,
Bawls out, ‘Go fetch the cows:…’ he hears no more;
For pigs, and ducks, and turkies, throng the door,
And sitting hens, for constant war prepar’d;
A concert strange to that which late he heard.170
Straight to the meadow then he whistling goes:
With well-known halloo calls his lazy cows:
Down the rich pasture heedlessly they graze,
Or hear the summon with an idle gaze;
For well they know the cow-yard yields no more175
Its tempting fragrance, nor its wint’ry store.
Reluctance marks their steps, sedate and slow;
The right of conquest all the law they know:
Subordinate they one by one succeed;
And one among them [28]  always takes the lead,180
Is ever foremost, wheresoe’er they stray;
Allow’d precedence, undisputed sway;
With jealous pride her station is maintain’d,
For many a broil that post of honour gain’d.
At home, the yard affords a grateful scene,185
For Spring makes e’en a miry cow-yard clean.
Thence from its chalky bed behold convey’d
The rich manure that drenching winter made,
Which [29]  pil’d near home, grows green with many a weed,
A promis’d nutriment for Autumn’s seed.190
Forth comes the Maid, and like the morning smiles;
The Mistress too, and follow’d close by Giles.
A friendly tripod [30]  forms their humble seat,
With pails bright scour’d, and delicately sweet.
Where shadowing elms obstruct the morning ray,195
Begins their work, begins the simple lay;
The full-charg’d udder yields its willing streams,
While Mary sings some lover’s amorous dreams;
And crouching Giles beneath a neighbouring tree
Tugs o’er his pail, and chants with equal glee:200
Whose hat with tatter’d brim, of knap so bare,
From the cow’s side purloins a coat of hair,
A mottled ensign of his harmless trade,
An unambitious, peaceable cockade.
As unambitious too that cheerful aid205
The mistress yields beside her rosy maid;
With joy she views her plenteous reeking store,
And bears a brimmer to the dairy door;
Her cows dismiss’d, the luscious mead to roam,
Till eve again recall them loaded home.210
And now the Dairy claims her choicest care,
And half her household find employment there:
Slow rolls the churn, its load of clogging cream
At once foregoes its quality and name;
From knotty particles first floating wide215
Congealing butter’s dash’d [31]  from side to side;
Streams of new milk [32]  through flowing coolers stray,
And snow-white curd abounds, and wholesome whey.
Due north th’unglazed windows, cold and clear,
For warming sunbeams are unwelcome here.220
Brisk goes the work beneath each busy hand,
And Giles must trudge, whoever gives command;
A Gibeonite, [33]  that serves them all by turns:
He drains the pump, from him the faggot burns;
From him the noisy hogs demand their food;225
While at his heels run many a chirping brood,
Or down his path in expectation stand,
With equal claims upon his strewing hand.
Thus wastes the morn, till each still pleasure sees
The bustle o’er, and press’d the new-made cheese.230
Unrivall’d stands thy country Cheese, O Giles!
Whose very name alone engenders smiles;
Whose fame abroad by every tongue is spoke,
The well-known butt of many a flinty joke,
That pass like current coin the nation through;235
And, ah! experience proves the satire true.
Provision’s grave, thou ever craving mart,
Dependant, huge Metropolis! where Art
Her poring thousands stows in breathless rooms,
Midst pois’nous smokes and steams, and rattling looms;240
Where Grandeur revels in unbounded stores;
Restraint, a slighted stranger at their doors!
Thou, like a whirlpool, drain’st [34]  the countries round,
Till London market, London price, resound
Through every town, round every passing load,245
And dairy produce throngs [35]  the eastern road:
Delicous veal, and butter, every hour,
From Essex lowlands, and the banks of Stour;
And further far, where numerous herds repose,
From Orwell’s brink, from Weveny, [36]  or [37]  Ouse. [38] 250
Hence Suffolk dairy-wives run mad for cream,
And leave their milk with nothing but its name;
Its name derision and reproach pursue,
And strangers tell of ‘three times skim’d sky-blue.’
To cheese converted, what can be its boast?255
What, but the common virtues of a post! [39] 
If drought o’ertake it faster than the knife,
Most fair it bids for stubborn length of life,
And, like the oaken shelf whereon ’tis laid,
Mocks the weak efforts of the bending blade;260
Or in the hog-trough rests in perfect spite,
Too big to swallow, and too hard to bite.
Inglorious victory! Ye Cheshire meads,
Or Severn’s flow’ry dales, where plenty treads,
Was your rich milk to suffer wrongs like these,265
Farewell your pride! farewell renowned cheese!
The skimmer dread, whose ravages alone
Thus turn the mead’s sweet nectar into stone.
Neglected now the early daisy lies;
Nor thou, pale primrose, bloom’st [40]  the only prize:270
Advancing Spring profusely spreads abroad
Flow’rs of all hues, with sweetest fragrance stor’d;
Where’er she treads, Love gladdens every plain,
Delight on tiptoe bears her lucid train;
Sweet Hope with conscious brow before her flies,275
Anticipating wealth from Summer skies;
All [41]  Nature feels her renovating sway;
The sheep-fed pasture, and the meadow gay;
And trees, and shrubs, no longer budding seen,
Display the new-grown branch of lighter green;280
On airy downs the shepherd idling [42]  lies,
And sees to-morrow in the marbled skies.
Here then, my soul, thy darling theme pursue,
For every day was Giles a shepherd too.
Small was his charge; no wilds had they to roam,285
But bright enclosures circling round their home.
Nor yellow-blossom’d furze, nor stubborn thorn,
The heath’s rough produce, had their fleeces torn;
Yet ever roving, ever seeking thee,
Enchanting spirit, dear Variety!290
O happy tenants, prisoners of a day!
Releas’d to ease, to pleasure, and to play;
Indulg’d through every field by turns to range,
And taste them all in one continual change.
For though luxuriant their grassy food,295
Sheep long confin’d but loathe the present good;
Instinctively they haunt the homeward gate, [43] 
And starve, and pine, with plenty at their feet.
Loos’d from the winding lane, a joyful throng,
See, o’er yon pasture how they pour along!300
Giles round their boundaries takes his usual stroll:
Sees every pass secur’d, and fences whole;
High fences, proud to charm the gazing eye,
Where many a nestling first assays to fly;
Where blows the woodbine, faintly streak’d with red,305
And rests on every bough its tender head;
Round the young ash its twining branches meet,
Or crown the hawthorn with its odours sweet.
Say, ye that know, ye who have felt and seen
Spring’s morning smiles, and soul-enliv’ning green,310
Say, did you give the thrilling transport way?
Did your eye brighten, when young lambs at play
Leap’d o’er your path with animated pride,
Or gaz’d in merry clusters by your side?
Ye who can smile, to wisdom no disgrace,315
At the arch meaning of a kitten’s face;
If spotless innocence, and infant mirth,
Excites to praise, or gives reflection birth;
In shades like these pursue your fav’rite joy,
Midst Nature’s revels, sports that never cloy.320
A few begin a short but vigorous race,
And indolence abash’d soon flies the place;
Thus challeng’d forth, see thither one by one,
From every side assembling playmates run;
A thousand wily antics mark their stay,325
A starting crowd, impatient of delay.
Like the fond dove from fearful prison freed,
Each seems to say, ‘Come, let us try our speed;’
Away they scour, impetuous, ardent, strong,
The green turf trembling as they bound along;330
Adown the slope, then up the hillock climb,
Where every molehill is a bed of thyme;
There panting stop; yet scarcely can refrain;
A bird, a leaf, will set them off again:
Or, if a gale with strength unusual blow.335
Scatt’ring the wild-brier roses into snow,
Their little limbs increasing efforts try,
Like the torn flower the fair assemblage fly.
Ah, fallen rose! sad emblem of their doom;
Frail as thyself, they perish while they bloom!340
Though unoffending innocence may plead,
Though frantic ewes may mourn the savage deed,
Their shepherd comes, a messenger of blood,
And drives [44]  them bleating from their sports and food.
Care loads his brow, and pity wrings his heart,345
For lo, the murd’ring butcher with his cart
Demands the firstlings of his flock to die,
And makes a sport of life and liberty!
His gay companions Giles beholds no more;
Clos’d are their eyes, their fleeces drench’d in gore;350
Nor can Compassion, with her softest notes,
Withhold the knife that plunges through their throats.
Down, indignation! hence, ideas foul!
Away the shocking image from my soul!
Let kindlier visitants attend my way,355
Beneath approaching Summer’s fervid ray;
Nor thankless glooms obtrude, nor cares annoy,
Whilst the sweet theme is universal joy. [45] 

Notes

[1] Rushing] kindling 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[2] hovers] hover fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[3] humble lines] lowly tale {humble lines} fMS Eng 776; lowly tale fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[4] these] those fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[5] Throughout fMS Eng 776, Lofft has emended ‘Jiles’, Bloomfield’s spelling, to ‘Giles’. BACK

[6] As it goes] fairer hues 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[7] Fresh] Or 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[8] summon] summons fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[9] its] their 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[10] ploughs] plough fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[11] helpmates] helpmate fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[12] Assume] Assumes fMS Eng 776 BACK

[13] usurp the empire of his] adhesive loads his clouted 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] [fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note:] ‘This line past muster with Mr Lofft, but not without his owning its faults which he excus’d on account of its being almost a solitary instance of Bombast, and in his opinions admissible, (as he has since said by letter) But the Criticks thought otherwise on its being publish’d. For my part when it was written I had no precise idea of what constituted a fault of that kind. It was only good luck that such lines were not frequent in the Poem. BACK

[14] once transverse] transverse once fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[15] breaks] pierce fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[16]

[3rd–14th edns add a note by Capel Lofft (absent in Poems [Stereotype]):] In these verses, which have much of picturesque, there is a severe charge against Rooks and Crows, as very formidable depredators; and their destruction, as such, seems to be recommended. Such was the prevalent opinion some years back. It is less general now: and I am sure the humanity of the Author, and his benevolence to Animals in general, will dispose him to rejoice in whatever plea can be offered in stay of execution of this sentence. And yet more so, if it shall appear that Rooks, at least, deserve not only mercy, but protection and encouragement from the Farmer.

I shall quote a passage from Bewick’s interesting History of Birds: the narrative part of which is often as full of information as the embellishments cut in wood are beautiful… It is this.

Speaking of Birds of the Pie-kind in general, he says ‘Birds of this kind [p. 63] are found in every part of the known world, from Greenland to the Cape of Good Hope. In many respects they may be said to be of singular benefit to mankind: principally by destroying great quantities of noxious insects, worms, and reptiles. Rooks, in particular, are fond of the erucæ of the hedge-chaffer, or chesnut brown beetles for which they search with indefatigable pains. These insects,’ he adds in a note, ‘appear in hot weather in formidable numbers: disrobing the fields and trees of their verdure, blossoms, and fruit; spreading desolation and destruction wherever they go…They appeared in great numbers in Ireland during a hot summer, and committed great ravages. In the year 1747 whole meadows and corn-fields were destroyed by them in Suffolk. The decrease of Rookeries in that County was thought to be the occasion of it. The many Rookeries with us is in some measure the reason why we have so few of these destructive animals.’ [Wallis’s History of Northumberland.]

‘Rooks,’ he subjoins, ‘are often accus’d of feeding on the corn just after it has been sown, and various contrivances have been made both to kill and frighten them away; but, in our estimation, the advantages deriv’d from the destruction which they make among grubs, earth-worms, and noxious insects of various kinds, will greatly overpay the injury done to the future harvest by the small quantity of corn they may destroy in searching after their favourite food’. [Lofft further notes:] Mr. Bewick does not seem to have been quite aware that much of the mischief, as I have been informed by a sensible neighbouring Farmer and Tenant, is done in the grub-state of the chaffer by biting through the roots of grass, &c. A latent, and imperceptibly, but rapidly spreading mischief, against which the rooks and birds of similar instinct are, in a manner, the sole protection. C. L.]

‘In general they are sagacious, active, and faithful to each other. They live in pairs; and their mutual attachment is constant. They are a clamorous race: mostly build in trees, and form a kind of society in which there appears something like a regular government. A Centinel watches for the general safety, and gives notice on the appearance of danger.’

Under the Title, ‘Rooks,’ (p. 71) Mr. Bewick repeats his observations on the useful property of this Bird.

I confess myself solicitous for their safety and kind treatment. We have two which were lam’d by being blown down in a storm (a calamity which destroys great numbers almost every spring). One of them is perfectly domesticated. The other is yet more remarkable; since although enjoying his natural liberty completely, he recognizes, even in his flights at a distance from the house, his adoptive home, his human friends, and early protectors.

The Rook is certainly a very beautiful and very sensible Bird; very confiding, and very much attach’d. It will give me a pleasure, in which I doubt not the Author of this delightful Poem will partake, if any thing here said shall avail them with the Farmer; and especially with the Suffolk Farmer. C. L.

BACK

[17] Straw)] In fMS Eng 776 the brackets are closed after ‘Law’ in the previous line BACK

[18] Such centinels] a Centinal fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[19] fMS Eng 776.1 adds note:] This description was the first part composed before I thought of making it a regular poem; This passage, and the Lambs at play allways pleased me best; and were recited with greater interest than any other lines in the piece; perhaps because they were the original efforts, as to the Farmers Boy, or perhaps because they brought the most pleasurable recollections to my mind. BACK

[20] (Whence] Gave fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1; 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] [fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note concerning Lofft’s emendations:] ‘and added the parenthesis in this and several other places’ BACK

[21] glow’d)] glow’d fMS Eng 776; 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[22] white] bright fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1, which adds a note: ‘I meant that the Bird in starting to fly, shook the dewdrops, and not the Blossoms from the Thorn. But perhaps the Blossoms is best.’ BACK

[23] bold cock-pheasant] pheasant boldly 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[24] (Thus doubly seen) lighting] Thus doubly seen to clear fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1; Thus doubly seen to light 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[25] Giving] To give {Giving} fMS Eng 776; And give fMS Eng 776.1; To give 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[26] Effacing quick] And chase away 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[27] the] a {the} fMS Eng 776; a fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[28] Subordinate they one by one succeed; / And one among them] Subbordination stage by stage succeed, / And one amongst fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1; The strong press on, the weak by turns succeed, / And one superior 8th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] [fMS Eng 776.1 adds note:] ‘As these two lines were troubled with an incurable lameness, perhaps amputation would have been better in this case’. BACK

[29] Which] And fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[30] fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note:] ‘Never was the word here used, but in Gays ‘Trivia’ where he speaks of the shoeblack having a stool’ [see John Gay, Trivia: or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London (1730), Book II, 159–61 ‘The God of day / A tripod gives, amid the crouded way / To raise the dirty foot, and ease his toil’]. BACK

[31] Butter’s dash’d] Butter dash fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[32] Streams of new milk] {Streams of} New milk around fMS Eng 776; New milk around fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[33] [A slave. The inhabitants of Gibeon were condemned by Joshua to be hewers of wood and drawers of water (Joshua, 9: 21).] BACK

[34] drain’st] drain{st} fMS Eng 776; drain fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[35] throngs] throng fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[36] Weveny] Waveny 5th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[37] or] and fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[38] [Three rivers in East Anglia.] BACK

[39] [Thin, watery milk which has been thoroughly skimmed and so has a bluish tinge to it. Suffolk cheese was notorious for its thin, hard quality, caused by skimming all the cream off the milk first to supply butter to the capital. This also made the cheese especially durable, and it was widely used in naval rations, the subject of bitter complaint by the sailors. See N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London, 1988).] BACK

[40] bloom’st] blooms fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[41] fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note:] ‘Here begins the Remains of the Original MS now in the hands of Mr Hill, so that two hundred and sixty lines are lost. / This information I have from Mr Park, long since I began writing these sheets. Mr Park I find has taken the pains to compare the MS (as far as he had it from Mr Hill) with the printed copy. And he has now seen this new MS that from it he might compleat the collation from my Memory. This he has done, and published the result in the ‘Monthly Mirror’ for last month, January 1802 – And in return, I have assisted my Memory from his notes, through the remainder of the Poem.’ BACK

[42] shepherd idling] idling shepherd 9th and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] BACK

[43] Instinctively they haunt the homeward gate,] Bleating around the homeward gate they meet 2nd and later edns; Poems [Stereotype] [fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note:] ‘This bad rhime amended in the 2d edition’. BACK

[44] Drives] drive fMS Eng 776; fMS Eng 776.1 BACK

[45] fMS Eng 776.1 adds a note:] ‘Composed between May and December 1796.’ BACK

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