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THE OLD HUNTSMAN;
WITH AN INCIDENT IN WHICH HE WAS CONCERNED.
[THIS old man had been huntsman to the squires of Alfoxden, which, at the time we occupied it, belonged to a minor. The old man's cottage stood upon the common, a little way from the entrance to Alfoxden Park. But it had disappeared. Many other changes had taken place in the adjoining village, which I could not but notice with a regret more natural than well-considered. Improvements but rarely appear such to those who, after long intervals of time, revisit places they have had much pleasure in. It is unnecessary to add, the fact was as mentioned in the poem; and I have, after an interval of forty-five years, the image of the old man as fresh before my eyes as if I had seen him yesterday. The expression when the hounds were out, "I dearly love their voice," was word for word from his own lips.]
IN the sweet shire of Cardigan,
No man like him the horn could sound,
In those proud days, he little cared
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
He all the country could outrun,
And still there's something in the world.
For when the chiming hounds are out,
But, oh the heavy change!-bereft
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty.
His Master's dead,-and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.
And he is lean and he is sick;
His legs are thin and dry.
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
This scrap of land he from the heath
Oft, working by her Husband's side,
And, though you with your utmost skill
'Tis little, very little-all
That they can do between them.
Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive
O Reader! had you in your mind
What more I have to say is short, you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should
you think, Perhaps a tale you'll make it.
One summer-day I chanced to see
The mattock tottered in his hand;
"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
I struck, and with a single blow
At which the poor old Man so long
The tears into his eyes were brought,
They never would have done.
-I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.
WRITTEN IN GERMANY,
ON ONE OF THE COLDEST DAYS OF THE CENTURY.
[A BITTER winter it was when these verses were composed by the side of my Sister, in our lodgings at a draper's house in the romantic imperial town of Goslar, on the edge of the Hartz Forest. In this town the German emperors of the Franconian line were accustomed to keep their court, and it retains vestiges of ancient splendour. So severe was the cold of this winter, that when we passed out of the parlour warmed by the stove, our cheeks were struck by the air as by cold iron. I slept in a room over a passage which was not ceiled. The people of the house used to say, rather unfeelingly, that they expected I should be frozen to death some night; but, with the protection of a pelisse lined with fur, and a dog's-skin bonnet, such as was worn by the peasants, I walked daily on the ramparts, or in a sort of public ground or garden, in which was a pond. Here, I had no companion but a kingfisher, a beautiful creature, that used to glance by me. I consequently became much attached to it. During these walks I composed the poem that follows.] The Reader must be apprised, that the Stoves in North-Germany generally have the impression of a galloping horse upon them, this being part of the Brunswick Arms.
A PLAGUE on your languages, German and Norse!
And the tongs and the poker, instead of that horse
See that Fly, a disconsolate creature! perhaps
And, sorrow for him! the dull treacherous heat