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And nearer, nearer, yet more near,
“Describe the Borough”—though our idle tribe May love description, can we so describe, That you shall fairly streets and buildings trace, And all that gives distinction to a place 1 This cannot be; yet, moved by your request, A part I paint—let fancy form the rest.
Cities and towns, the various haunts of men, Require the pencil—they defy the pen: Could he, who sang so well the Grecian fleet So well have sung of alley, lane, or street? Can measured lines these various buildings show, The Town-hall Turning, or the Prospect Row? Can I the seats of wealth and want explore, And lengthen out my lays from door to door?
Then let thy fancy aid me: I repair, From this tall mansion of our last-year's mayor, Till we the outskirts of the borough reach, And these half-buried buildings next the beach; Where hang at open doors the net and cork, While squalid sea-dames mend the meshy work; Till comes the hour, when, fishing through the tide, The weary husband throws his freight aside; A living mass, which now demands the wife, Th' alternate labours of their humble life.
Can scenes like these withdraw thee from thy
Thy upland forest or thy valley's flood!
With ceaseless motion comes and goes the tide, Flowing, it fills the channel vast and wide; Then back to sea, with strong majestic sweep It rolls, in ebb yet terrible and deep; Here sampire banks and saltwort bound the flood, There stakes and seaweeds withering on the mud; And higher up, a ridge of all things base, Which some strong tide has roll'd upon the place.
Thy gentle river boasts its pigmy boat, Urged on by pains, half grounded, half afloat; While at her stern an angler takes his stand, And marks the fish he purposes to land; From that clear space, where, in the cheerful ray Of the warm sun, the scaly people play.
Far other craft our prouder river shows, Hoys, pinks, and sloops; brigs, brigantines, and Nor angler we on our wide stream descry, [snows; But one poor dredger where his oysters lie: He, cold and wet, and driving with the tide, Beats his weak arms against his tarry side, Then drains the remnant of diluted gin, To aid the warmth that languishes within ; Renewing oft his poor attempts to beat His tingling fingers into gathering heat.
He shall again be seen when evening comes, And social parties crowd their favourite rooms: Where on the table pipes and papers lie, The steaming bowl or foaming tankard by ; 'Tis then, with all these comforts spread around, They hear the painful dredger's welcome sound; And few themselves the savoury boon deny, The food that feeds, the living luxury.
Yon is our quay ! those smaller hoys from town, Its various wares, for country use, bring down; Those laden wagons, in return, impart The country produce to the city mart; Hark! to the clamour in that miry road, Bounded and narrow'd by yon vessel's load; The lumbering wealth she empties round the place, Package and parcel, hogshead, chest, and case : While the loud seamen and the angry hind, Mingling in business, bellow to the wind.
Near these a crew amphibious, in the docks, Rear, for the sea, those castles on the stocks: See the long keel, which soon the waves must hide; See the strong ribs which form the roomy side; Bolts yielding slowly to the sturdiest stroke, And planks which curve and crackle in the smoke. Around the whole rise cloudy wreaths, and far Bear the warm pungence of o'er-boiling tar.
Dabbling on shore half-naked seaboys crowd, Swim round a ship, or swing upon the shroud; Or in a boat purloin'd, with paddles play, And grow familiar with the watery way: Young though they be, they feel whose sons they are, They know what British seamen do and dare; Proud of that same, they rise and they enjoy The rustic wonder of the village boy.
Before you bid these busy scenes adieu, Behold the wealth that lies in public view,
Those far-extended heaps of coal and coke,
Thy walks are ever pleasant; every scene Is rich in beauty, lively, or serene : Rich is that varied view with woods around, , Seen from the seat, within the shrubb’ry bound; Where shines the distant lake, and where appear From ruins bolting, unmolested deer; Lively the village green, the inn, the place Where the good widow schools her infant race. Shops, whence are heard the hammer and the saw, And village pleasures unreproved by law; Then how serene ! when in your favourite room, Gales from your jasmines sooth the evening gloom; When from your upland paddock you look down, And just perceive the smoke which hides the town; When weary peasants at the close of day Walk to their cots, and part upon the way; When cattle slowly cross the shallow brook, scrook. And shepherds pen their folds, and rest upon their
We prune our hedges, prime our slender trees, And nothing looks untutor'd and at ease ; . On the wide heath, or in the flow'ry vale, We scent the vapours of the sea-born gale; Broad-beaten paths lead on from stile to stile, And sewers from streets the roadside banks defile; Our guarded fields a sense of danger show, Where garden-crops with corn and clover grow; Fences are form'd of wreck and placed around (With tenters tipp'd), a strong, repulsive bound; Wide and deep ditches by the gardens run, And there in ambush lie the trap and gun; Or yon broad board, which guards each tempting “Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies.” [prize, There stands a cottage with an open door, Its garden undefended blooms before : Her wheel is still, and overturn'd her stool, While the lone widow seeks the neighbouring pool: This gives us hope, all views of town to shun— No here are tokens of the sailor son; That old blue jacket, and that shirt of check, And silken kerchief for the seaman's neck; Sea-spoils and shells from many a distant shore, And furry robe from frozen Labrador.
Our busy streets and sylvan walks between Fen, marshes, bog, and heath all intervene ; Here pits of crag, with spongy, plashy base, To some enrich th' uncultivated space: For there are blossoms rare, and curious rush, The gale's rich balm, and sun-dew's crimson blush, Whose velvet leaf with radiant beauty dress'd, Forms a gay pillow for the plover's breast.
Not distant far, a house commodious made
Turn to the watery world ! but who to thee (A wonder yet unview’d) shall paint the sea! Various and vast, sublime in all its forms, When lull'd by zephyrs, or when roused by storms; In colours changing, when from clouds and sun Shades after shades upon the surface run; Embrown'd and horrid now, and now serene, In limpid blue and evanescent green ; And oft the soggy banks on ocean lie, Lift the fair sail, and cheat th' experienced eye. *