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I.

THE OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR.

The class of Beggars, to which the Old Man here described belongs, will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, and, mostly, old and infirm persons, who confined themselves to a stated round in their neighbourhood, and had certain fixed days, on which, at different houses, they regularly received alms, sometimes in money, but mostly in provisions.

I SAW an aged Beggar in my walk;
And he was seated, by the highway side,
On a low structure of rude

masonry

Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they

Who lead their horses down the steep rough road
May thence remount at ease. The aged Man
Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone
That overlays the pile; and, from a bag

All white with flour, the dole of village dames,
He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one;
And scanned them with a fixed and serious look
Of idle computation. In the sun,

Upon the second step of that small pile,
Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills,
He sat, and ate his food in solitude:

And ever, scattered from his palsied hand,
That, still attempting to prevent the waste,
Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers
Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds,
Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal,
Approached within the length of half his staff.

Him from my childhood have I known; and then He was so old, he seems not older now; He travels on, a solitary Man,

So helpless in appearance, that for him

The sauntering Horseman-traveller does not throw With careless hand his alms upon the ground,

But stops, that he may safely lodge the coin

Within the old Man's hat; nor quits him so,

But still, when he has given his horse the rein,
Watches the aged Beggar with a look

Sidelong - and half-reverted. She who tends
The Toll-gate, when in summer at her door
She turns her wheel, if on the road she sees
The aged Beggar coming, quits her work,
And lifts the latch for him that he may pass.
The Post-boy, when his rattling wheels o'ertake
The aged Beggar in the woody lane,

Shouts to him from behind; and, if thus warned
The old Man does not change his course, the Boy
Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,
And passes gently by - without a curse
Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.

He travels on, a solitary Man;

His age has no companion. On the ground
His eyes are turned, and, as he moves along,
They move along the ground; and, evermore,
Instead of common and habitual sight
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale,
And the blue sky, one little span of earth
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,
Bow-bent, his eyes for ever on the ground,
He plies his weary journey; seeing still,
And seldom knowing that he sees, some straw,
Some scattered leaf, or marks which, in one track,

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The nails of cart or chariot-wheel have left

Impressed on the white road,

in the same line,

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At distance still the same. Poor Traveller!
His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still

In look and motion, that the cottage curs,
Ere he have passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and Girls,

The vacant and the busy, Maids and Youths,

And Urchins newly breeched - all pass him by Him even the slow-paced Waggon leaves behind.

:

But deem not this Man useless.-Statesmen! ye Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye

Who have a broom still ready in your hands
To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate
Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not
A burthen of the earth! 'Tis Nature's law
That none, the meanest of created things,
Of forms created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good - a spirit and pulse of good,
A life and soul, to every mode of being

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