« PreviousContinue »
THE POOR OF THE BOROUGH.
Was a sordid soul,
Such as does murder for a meed:
Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd
Shakspeare. Richard III.
The times have been,
That when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
The Father of Peter a Fisherman-Peter's early Conduct-His Grief for the old Man-He takes an Apprentice-The Boy's Suffering and Fate-A second Boy: how he died-Peter acquitted-A third Apprentice-A Voyage by Sea: the Boy does not return-Evil Report on Peter: he is tried and threatened-Lives alone-His Melancholy and incipient Madness-Is observed and visited-He escapes and is taken : is lodged in a Parish-house: women attend and watch him -He speaks in a Delirium: grows more collected-His Account of his Feelings and visionary Terrors previous to his Death.
OLD Peter Grimes made fishing his employ,
At first refused, then added his abuse:
His father's love he scorn'd, his power defied,
But being drunk, wept sorely when he died.
Yes! then he wept, and to his mind there came Much of his conduct, and he felt the shame,
How he had oft the good old man reviled,
He in contempt and anger left the shed:
"It is the word of life," the parent cried;
"Thy mother left me in a happy time,
"Thou kill'dst not her-Heav'n spares the double crime."
On an inn-settle, in his maudlin grief,
This he revolved, and drank for his relief.
Now lived the youth in freedom, but debarr'd
Oft in the night has Peter dropp'd his oar,
Bearing the orchard's produce in a sack,
Or farm-yard load, tugg'd fiercely from the stack; And as these wrongs to greater numbers rose, The more he look'd on all men as his foes.
He built a mud-wall'd hovel, where he kept His various wealth, and there he oft-times slept; But no success could please his cruel soul, He wish'd for one to trouble and control; He wanted some obedient boy to stand And bear the blow of his outrageous hand; And hoped to find in some propitious hour A feeling creature subject to his power.
Peter had heard there were in London then,Still have they being!-workhouse-clearing men, Who, undisturb'd by feelings just or kind, Would parish-boys to needy tradesmen bind: They in their want a trifling sum would take, And toiling slaves of piteous orphans make.
Such Peter sought, and when a lad was found, The sum was dealt him, and the slave was bound. Some few in town observed in Peter's trap A boy, with jacket blue and woollen cap;