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TO THE HEROINE
OF A JUVENILE POEM, ENTITLED “HARVEST HOME.”
BY ROBERT STORY.*
HE few corn-fields that Craven sees,
Like patches on her landscape green, Wave yellow now in sun and breeze,
Inviting out the sickle keen.
But who the sickle bears afield ?
I see no fair and youthful band,
And clear—with mirth—the waving land.
A single reaper-(sight of grief!)
Plies awkwardly his lonely toil;
And rears the shock—without a smile!
Yet e'en this sight of single field
And single reaper, brings to me
A dream of Roddam fields and Thee!
On Roddam's Harvest-land, who now
Bid the hot day unheeded fly?
Is there a Lover fond as I ?
Dost recollect, when, side by side,
'Twas ours to lead the jovial band, With what delight and heart-felt pride
I saw thee grace my dexter hand ?
• Robert Story, the author of the above poem, is a native of Wooler, in Northumberland, and author of " Harvest Home,” “The Magic Fountain,” &c. &c. Many of his lyrical pieces are exquisitely beautiful, and would have enjoyed greater popularity, if their author had not unfortunately embarked as a violent political partizan, and injured his fame, by too often appearing before the public, as the writer of party ballads, having no recommendation whatever but their violence.
1 The author resided for some time at Gargrave, in Craven, Yorkshire.
Dost recollect-'mid sickles' jar
How rung, at jests, the laughter-chorus, Our line, the while, extending far,
And driving half a field before us!
Dost recollect, at resting time,
Announced by Roddam's village-clock, (Methinks e'en now I hear the chime!)
The squeeze beside the yellow shock ?
Dost recollect, when evening came,
The dance got up with ready glee ? How active grew each wearied frame!
How lightly then I danced with thee!
Dost recollect—when half asleep
Were grumbling sire, and easy motherThe pleasant watch we used to keep,
By fire thou took'st good care to smother ?
When e'en the fair Moon's radiance pure,
That trembled through the window blue, Along the cottage furniture
Too strong a light-for lovers—threw ?
But where art thou ? and where am I?
And Roddam's corn-fields, where are they ? Ah! where the days when thou wert nigh,
The Rainbow of my darkest day?
For fair thou wert; though ne'er perchance
So fair as my young fancy drew theeI see, e'en yet, the rougish glance
That linked my captive heart unto thee!
And when I think of thee, I scarce
Can think of thee as differing aught, From Her who once inspired my verse
Though in myself a change is wrought.
The reaper's part that once I bore
Untired, I could not bear again ; And did thy Sire make fast the door,
I could not thrid the window pane!
The toilsome day would slowly pass;
Reflection nought could bring but woe; And for the nightly dance, alas,
One reel would make me puff and blow.
Suppose us met in Roddam field,
I verging towards my fortieth year, And thou not far behind, to wield
One more the sickle keen and clear.
We could not choose but laugh--or weep:
The last would be our first employment, To feel emotions-long asleep
Re-wakening but to past enjoyment!
Is that the hand I loved to grasp!
Thine cannot be that cheek so wan! Nor thine that waist! I used to clasp
A waist that my two hands could span!
And so the truth we might have known,
But would not, flashes on us nowThat youth must fly-for it hath flown,
And ceased to love have I and Thou !
On Roddam fields another race
The parts we took of old, have ta’en; They toil or toy in each dear place,
That ne'er shall meet our glance again!
Thus when a boy on Beaumont Side,
(A scene that is not strange to thee) I saw the heath bloom in its pride,
Bend to the kiss of mountain bee:
And bees and blooms, no doubt, are rife
By Beaumont still; but never-neverShall those I saw in early life,
Be seen again by that sweet river !
Time does but to us award The fate, by millions felt before ; And I am “ Roddam's youthful bard,”
Thou « Calder's fairest Flower " no more!
" WAGS OF DURHAM,"
THEIR DIVERTING TRICKS, AND HOW THEY SET AT REST THE QUESTION “ WHO wrote.
THE LINES ON THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE?"
Dear friend I often ponder o'er
Those happy, happy days,
That kept the town a-blaze.
Not with regret! I don't repent
As says the sacred song-
More pleasantly along." MS. Epistle to
HE tricks and jokes of the North country farmers, have been already alluded to in the Table Book, but they must certainly yield to those of the “Wags of Durham," whose celebrated jokes, practical and otherwise, may be said to have commenced about the year 1821, and to have extended over a space of five or six years ; during this time
Fun and frivolity” were in the ascendant, in the good city of Durham, and caused no little amusement to many, and, we need scarcely add, considerable annoyance to others. Those were the times, when knockers made their nightly mysterious disappearances, when signs were altered and removed, and when Red Lions, and similar Heraldic monstrosities, were gifted with as great powers of locomotion, as the tawny inhabitant of an oriental forest himself—while ever and anon, Tradesmen were sent on sleeveless ” errands, and in some instances miles out of their way, having merely their labour for their pains. Those were the times, when the Market people were ready to split their sides at beholding Neptune* their genius loci, dressed in shirt and cravat!
• A figure of Neptune, is placed over the fountain or 'pant' in Durham Market place.
—those were the times, when ludicrous local songs, as “ St. Giles legend,” “ The garden of Eden,” &c., &c. were industriously put into circulation to convulse the lieges! and when ballads of a still more strange description, were written, and put into the hands of wandering songsters. Oh those street ballads! We have four lying besides us now.
Here is “The Bloody Squire, or the Derbyshire Tragedy,” “Nancy's ghost, or the Flintshire murder,” “The Damsel's lament for her Johnny” and the “Roundabout treadmill." Ye Wits of the present Day! ye Hoods and Fitzgeralds, match their bathos and pathos, if ye can! Here's a verge from “The Bloody Squire" “ After this foul deed he'd done, his conscience vexed him sore, He thought each night he saw her ghost, which made him for to roar ! A priest he call’d, and unto him his sin he did confess,
And he was hanged on a gallows tree all for his wickedness .!” take another sample from “ Nancy's Ghost" “ When he was tried, the judge unto the jurymen did say “ You cannot doubt he's guilty, lads ! a verdict find that way!
!" The jury found him guilty, as the judge did them advise, And they tucked him up on a gallows tree at the end of the assize!”
There is no matching the above; indeed the “Wags of Durham were glorious fellows, most choice spirits after all! But the “Wags” did not limit their exertions, to either the city or county of Durham, no! “Durham saw them spurn her bounded reign" and the London press had the full benefit of several of their tricks; hoax after hoax was perpetrated on the daily and weekly journals, till it was almost impossible to glance at a London paper, without meeting with paragraphs headed “The Wags of Durham again!”
The Religious Magazines of the day too, came in for their share of the jokes, and a remarkable conversion' which never occurred, and the interesting services connected with the opening a Dissenting chapel which was never built, obtained ready insertion in two respectable Dissenting periodicals, and gave no little annoyance to the members of their respective communions. The whole ‘press' of the country was up in arms, and many were the prophecies what would be the fate of the Durham Wags,' and even a minister of religion, proclaimed from the pulpit, that they were pursuing a course, which would inevitably end in their-being hanged! Very different however was their fate! The “Wags of Durham” like other wags played their mad pranks, sowed their wild oats, and one and all settled down into orderly and respectable members of society, so that at last, even their victims for