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THE POACHER.

WELCOME, grave Stranger, to our green retreats,
Where health with exercise and freedom meets !
Thrice welcome, Sage, whose philosophic plan
By nature's limits metes the rights of man;
Generous as he, who now for freedom bawls,
Now gives full value for true Indian shawls;
O'er court, o'er customhouse, his shoe who flings,
Now bilks excisemen, and now bullies kings.
Like his, I ween, thy comprehensive mind
Holds laws as mouse-traps baited for mankind;
Thine eye, applausive, each sly vermin sees,
That balks the snare, yet battens on the cheese ;
Thine ear has heard, with scorn instead of awe,
Our buckskinn'd justices expound the law,
Wire-draw the acts that fix for wires the pain,
And for the netted partridge noose the swain ;
And thy vindictive arm would fain have broke
The last light fetter of the feudal yoke,
To give the denizens of wood and wild
Nature's free race, to each her free-born child.
Hence hast thou mark’d, with grief, fair London's race,
Mock'd with the boon of one poor Easter chase,
And long'd to send them forth as free as when
Pour'd o'er Chantilly the Parisian train,
When musket, pistol, blunderbuss, combined,
And scarce the field-pieces were left behind !

A squadron's charge each leveret's heart dismay'd
On every covey fired a bold brigade:
La Douce Humanité approved the sport,
For great the alarm indeed, yet small the hurt;
Shouts patriotic solemnized the day,
And Seine re-echo'd Vive la Liberté!
But mad Citoyen, meek Monsieur again,
With some few added links resumes his chain.
Then since such scenes to France no more are known,
Come, view with me a hero of thine own!
One, whose free actions vindicate the cause
Or sylvan liberty o'er feudal laws.

is seen,

Seek we yon glades, where the proud oak o'ertops Wide-waving seas of birch and hazel copse, Leaving between deserted isles of land, Where stunted heath is patch'd with ruddy sand; And lonely on the waste the yew Or straggling hollies spread a brighter green. Here, little worn, and winding dark and steep, Our scarce mark'd path descends yon dingle deep: Follow -- but heedful, cautious of a trip,In earthly mire philosophy may slip. Step slow and wary o'er that swampy stream, Till, guided by the charcoal's smothering steam, We reach the frail yet barricaded door Of hovel formed for poorest of the poor; No hearth the fire, no vent the smoke receives, The walls are wattles, and the covering leaves; For, if such hut, our forest statutes say, Rise in the progress of one night and day, (Though placed where still the Conqueror's hests o'er

awe, And his son's stirrup shines the badge of law.)

The builder claims the unenviable boon,
To tenant dwelling, framed as slight and soon
As wigwam wild, that shrouds the native frore
On the bleak coast of frost-barr'd Labrador.'

Approach, and through the unlatticed window peepNay, shrink not back, the inmate is asleep; Sunk 'mid yon sordid blankets, till the sun Stoop to the west the plunderer's toils are done. Loaded and primed, and prompt for desperate hand, Rifle and fowling-piece beside him stand, While round the hut are in disorder laid The tools and booty of his lawless trade; For force or fraud, resistance or escape, The crow, the saw, the bludgeon, and the crape. His pilfer'd powder in yon nook he hoards, And the filch'd lead the church's roof affords(Hence shall the rector's congregation fret, That while bis sermon's dry his walls are wet.) The fish-spear barb’d, the sweeping net are there, Doe-hides, and pheasant plumes, and skins of hare, Cordage for toils, and wiring for the snare. Barter'd for game from chase or warren won, Yon cask holds moonlight,” run when moon was none;

Such is the law in the New Forest, Hampshire, tending greatly to increase the various settlements of thieves, smugglers, and deer-stealers, who infest it. In the forest courts the presiding judge wears as a badge of office an antique stirrup, said to have been that of William Rufus. See Mr. William Rose's spirited poem, entitled, “ The Red King."

[" To the bleak coast of savage Labrador.” FALCONER.) ? A cant term for smuggled spirits. Vol. L. 29

And late-snatch'd spoils lie stow'd in hutch apart,
To wait the associate higgler's evening cart.

Look on his pallet foul, and mark his rest: What scenes perturb'd are acting in his breast ! His sable brow is wet and wrung with pain, And his dilated nostril toils in vain; For short and scant the breath each effort draws, And 'twixt each effort Nature claims a pause. Beyond the loose and sable neckcloth stretch'd, His sinewy throat seems by convulsion twitch'd, While the tongue falters, as to utterance loath, Sounds of dire import — watchword, threat, and oath. Though, stupified by toil, and drugg'd with gin, The body sleep, the restless guest within Now plies on wood and wold his lawless trade, Now in the fangs of justice wakes dismay'd. —

“ Was that wild start of terror and despair,
Those bursting eyeballs, and that wilder'd air,
Signs of compunction for a murder'd hare?
Do the locks bristle and the eyebrows arch,
For grouse or partridge massacred in March ?” —

No, scoffer, no! Attend, and mark with awe, There is no wicket in the gate of law ! He, that would e'er so lightly set ajar That awful portal, must undo each bar; Tempting occasion, habit, passion, pride, Will join to storm the breach, and force the barrier

wide.

That ruffian, whom true men avoid and dread, Whom bruisers, poachers, smugglers, call Black Ned,

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