RICHARD AND KATE: OR, FAIR-DAY.
A Suffolk Ballad.
by Robert Bloomfield
'Come, Goody, stop your humdrum wheel,
Sweep up your orts, and get your Hat;
Old joys reviv'd once more I feel,
'Tis Fair-day;—ay, and more than that.
'Have you forgot, Kate, prithee say,
'How many Seasons here we've tarry'd?
'Tis Forty years, this very day,
'Since you and I, old Girl, were married
'Look out;—the Sun shines warm and bright,
'The Stiles are low, the paths all dry;
'I know you cut your corns last night:
'Come; be as free from care as I.
'For I'm resolv'd once more to see
'That place where we so often met;
'Though few have had more cares than we,
'We've none just now to make us fret.'
Kate scorn'd to damp the generous flame
That warm'd her aged Partner's breast;
Yet, ere determination came,
She thus some trifling doubts express'd.
'Night will come on; when seated snug,
'And you've perhaps begun some tale,
'Can you then leave your dear stone mug;
'Leave all the folks, and all the Ale?'
'Ay, Kate, I wool;—because I know,
'Though time has been we both could run,
'Such days are gone and over now;—
'I only mean to see the fun.'
She straight slipp'd off the Wall and Band, [Terms used in spinning]
And laid aside her Lucks and Twitches:
And to the Hutch [a chest] she reach'd her hand,
And gave him out his Sunday Breeches.
His Mattock he behind the door
And Hedging-gloves again replac'd;
And look'd across the yellow Moor,
And urg'd his tott'ring Spouse to haste.
The Walk to the Fair.
The day was up, the air serene,
The Firmament without a cloud;
The Bee humm'd o'er the level green
Where knots of trembling Cowslips bow'd.
And RICHARD thus, with heart elate,
As past things rush'd across his mind,
Over his shoulder, talk'd to KATE,
Who snug tuckt up, walk'd slow behind.
'When once a gigling Mawther you,
'And I a redfac'd chubby Boy,
'Sly tricks, you play'd me not a few;
'For mischief was your greatest joy.
'Once, passing by this very Tree,
'A Gotch [pitcher] of Milk I'd been to fill,
'You shoulder'd me; then laugh'd to see
'Me and my Gotch spin down the Hill'
Discourse on past Days.
'Tis true,' she said; 'but here behold,
'And marvel at the course of Time;
'Though you and I are both grown old,
'This Tree is only in its prime!'
'Well, Goody, don't stand preaching now;
'Folks don't preach Sermons at a FAIR:
'We've rear'd Ten Boys and Girls you know;
'And I'll be bound they'll all be there.'
Now friendly nods and smiles had they,
From many a kind Fair-going face:
And many a pinch KATE gave away;
While RICHARD kept his usual pace.
At length arriv'd amidst the throng,
Grand-children bawling hem'd them round;
And dragg'd them by the skirts along
Where gingerbread bestrew'd the ground.
The Arrival.—Country Sports.
And soon the aged couple spy'd
Their lusty Sons and Daughters dear:
When RICHARD thus exulting cried,
'Did'nt I tell you they'd be here?'
The cordial greetings of the soul
Were visible in every face;
Affection, void of all controul,
Govern'd with a resistless grace.
'Twas good to see the honest strife,
Which should contribute most to please;
And hear the long-recounted life,
Of infant tricks, and happy days.
But now, as at some nobler places,
Amongst the Leaders 'twas decreed
Time to begin the DICKY RACES;
More fam'd for laughter than for speed.
RICHARD look'd on with wond'rous glee,
And prais'd the Lad who ehanc'd to win;
'KATE, wan't I such a one as he?
'As like him, ay, as pin to pin?
'Full Fifty years are pass'd away
'Since I rode this same ground about:
'Lord! I was lively as the day!
'I won the High-lows out and out!
'I'm surely growing young again:
'I feel myself so kedge and plump.
'From head to foot I've not one pain;
'Nay, hang me if I cou'd 'nt jump.'
Thus spoke the ALE in RICHARD'S pate,
A very little made him mellow;
But still he lov'd his faithful KATE,
Who whisper'd thus, 'My good old fellow,
'Remember what you promis'd me:
'And see, the Sun is getting low;
'The Children want an hour ye see
'To talk a bit before we go.'
Like youthful Lover most complying
He turn'd, and chuckt her by the chin:
Then all across the green grass hieing,
Right merry faces, all akin,
Their farewell quart, beneath a
That droop'd its branches from above,
Awak'd the pure felicity
That waits upon PARENTAL LOVE.
KATE view'd her blooming Daughters round,
And Sons, who shook her wither'd hand;
Her features spoke what joy she found;
But utterance had made a stand.
An old Man's Joy.
The Children toppled on the green,
And bowl'd their fairings down the hill;
Richard with pride beheld the scene,
Nor could he for his life sit still.
A Father's uncheck'd feelings gave
A tenderness to all he said;
'My Boys, how proud am I to have
'My name thus round the Country spread!
'Through all my days I've labour'd hard,
'And could of pains and Crosses tell;
'But this is Labour's great reward,
'To meet ye thus, and see ye well.
'My good old Partner, when at home,
'Sometimes with wishes mingles tears;
'Goody, says I, let what wool come,
'We've nothing for them but our pray'rs.
Old Man's Joy continued.
'May you be all as old as I,
'And see you? Sons to manhood grow;
'And, many a time before you die,
'Be just as pleas'd as I am now.'
Then, (raising still his Mug and Voice,)
'An Old Man's weakness don't despise!
'I love you well, my Girls and Boys;
'GOD bless you all;'—so said his eyes——
For, as he spoke, a big round drop
Fell bounding on his ample sleeve;
A witness which he could not stop,
A witness which all hearts believe.
Thou, FILIAL PIETY, wert there;
And round the ring, benignly bright,
Dwelt in the luscious half-shed tear,
And in the parting word—Good Night.
The Return home.
With thankful Hearts and strengthen'd Love,
The poor old PAIR, supremely blest,
Saw the Sun sink behind the grove,
And gain'd once more their lowly rest.