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The Farmer's Boy A Rural Poem   By: (1766-1823)

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The Third Edition

LONDON: Printed for Vernor and Hood, Poultry and sold by T.C. Rickman, 7, Upper Mary Le Bone Street; Ingram, and Dingle, Bury; Booth, Norwich; Hill, Edinburgh; Archer, and Dugdale, Dublin.


A sonnet has come to my hands, the production, and nearly the first poetical Production, of a very young Lady. I have not the Author's consent to publish it: and there is no time to ask it. But I cannot omit adding such a flower to the Wreath of Glory of my Friend. I have therefore ventured to publish it without waiting permission; with one or two slight alterations.

C. L.

25 Aug. 1800.



If wealth, if honour, at command were mine, And every boast Ambition could desire, The pompous Gifts, sweet Bard, I would resign For the aft Music of thy tuneful Lyre,


Which speaks the soul awake to every charm That Nature open'd from thy humble cot: Speaks powers chill Indigence could not disarm; Proof to Humanity's severest lot.


Thou Friend to Nature, and of Man the Friend; Of every generous and benignant cause; The accents of thy glowing worth, unfeign'd, Live in the cadence of each feeling pause. Here thought, alternate, in the noble Plan Admires the POET, and reveres the Man.

25 Aug. 1800.


Having the satisfaction of introducing to the Public this very pleasing and characteristic POEM, the FARMER'S BOY, I think it will be agreeable to preface it with a short Account of the manner in which it came into my hands: and, which will be much more interesting to every Reader, a little History of the Author, which has been communicated to me by his Brother, and which I shall very nearly transcribe as it lies before me.

In November last year [Footnote: This was written in 1799.] I receiv'd a MS. which I was requested to read, and to give my opinion of it. It had before been shewn to some persons in London : whose indifference toward it may probably be explain'd when it is consider'd that it came to their hands under no circumstances of adventitious recommendation. With some a person must be rich, or titled, or fashionable as a literary name, or at least fashionable in some respect, good or bad, before any thing which he can offer will be thought worthy of notice.

I had been a little accustom'd to the effect of prejudices: and I was determin'd to judge, in the only just and reasonable way, of the Work, by the Work itself.

At first I confess, seeing it divided into the four Seasons, I had to encounter a prepossession not very advantageous to any writer: that the Author was treading in a path already so admirably trod by THOMSON; and might be adding one more to an attempt already so often, but so injudiciously and unhappily made, of transmuting that noble Poem from Blank Verse into Rhime; ... from its own pure native Gold into an alloyed Metal of incomparably less splendor, permanence, and worth.

I had soon, however, the pleasure of finding myself reliev'd from that apprehension: and of discovering, that, although the delineation of RURAL SCENERY naturally branches itself into these divisions, there was little else except the General Qualities of a musical ear, flowing numbers, Feeling, Piety, poetic Imagery and Animation, a taste for the picturesque, a true sense of the natural and pathetic, force of thought, and liveliness of imagination, which were in common between Thomson and this Author. And these are qualities which whoever has the eye, the heart, the awakened and surrounding intellect, and the diviner sense of the Poet, which alone can deserve the name, must possess.

But, with these general Characters of true Poetry, " The Farmer's Boy " has, as I have said, a character of its own. It is discriminated as much as the circumstances and habits, and situation, and ideas consequently associated, which are so widely diverse in the two Authors, could make it different... Continue reading book >>

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