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None reasoned thus; and some, on hearing cries,
Said calmly, "Grimes is at his exercise."

Pined, beaten, cold, pinched, threatened, and abused,
His efforts punished and his food refused,
Awake tormented, soon aroused from sleep,
Struck if he wept and yet compelled to weep,
The trembling boy dropped down and strove to pray,
Received a blow, and trembling turned away,
Or sobbed and hid his piteous face, while he,
The savage master, grinned in horrid glee:
He'd now the power he ever loved to show,
A feeling being subject to his blow.
Thus lived the lad, in hunger, peril, pain,
His tears despised, his supplications vain;
Compelled by fear to lie, by need to steal,
His bed uneasy, and unblest his meal,
For three sad years the boy his tortures bore,
And then his pains and trials were no more.
"How died he, Peter?" when the people said,

He growled, "I found him lifeless in his bed,"
Then tried for softer tone, and sighed, "Poor Sam is dead."
Yet murmurs were there, and some questions asked-
How he was fed, how punished, and how tasked?
Much they suspected, but they little proved,
And Peter passed untroubled and unmoved.

Another boy with equal ease was found,
The money granted, and the victim bound.
And what his fate? One night it chanced he fell
From the boat's mast and perished in her well,
Where fish were living kept and where the boy
(So reasoned men) could not himself destroy.
"Yes! so it was," said Peter; "in his play

(For he was idle both by night and day)

He climbed the main-mast and then fell below;" Then showed his corpse, and pointed to the blow. "What said the jury?" They were long in doubt,

But sturdy Peter faced the matter out;
So they dismissed him, saying at the time,

"Keep fast your hatchway when you've boys who


This hit the conscience, and he coloured more







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Than for the closest questions put before.

Thus all his fears the verdict set aside,
And at the slave-shop Peter still applied.
Then came a boy of manners soft and mild.
Our seamen's wives with grief beheld the child:
All thought (the poor themselves) that he was one
Of gentle blood, some noble sinner's son,
Who had, belike, deceived some humble maid,
Whom he had first seduced and then betrayed.
However this, he seemed a gracious lad,
In grief submissive and with patience sad.
Passive he laboured, till his slender frame
Bent with his loads, and he at length was lame.
Strange that a frame so weak could bear so long
The grossest insult and the foulest wrong;
But there were causes: in the town they gave
Fire, food, and comfort to the gentle slave;
And though stern Peter, with a cruel hand
And knotted rope, enforced the rude command,
Yet he considered what he'd lately felt,
And his vile blows with selfish pity dealt.

One day such draughts the cruel fisher made
He could not vend them in his borough-trade,
But sailed for London-mart. The boy was ill,
But ever humbled to his master's will;
And on the river, where they smoothly sailed,
He strove with terror and awhile prevailed;
But, new to danger on the angry sea,

He clung affrightened to his master's knee.
The boat grew leaky, and the wind was strong,
Rough was the passage, and the time was long;
His liquor failed, and Peter's wrath arose-
No more is known: the rest we must suppose,
Or learn of Peter. Peter, says he, "spied
The stripling's danger, and for harbour tried;
Meantime the fish, and then th' apprentice died."
The pitying women raised a clamour round,
And weeping said, "Thou hast thy 'prentice drowned."
Now the stern man was summoned to the hall,
To tell his tale before the burghers all;
He gave th' account, professed the lad he loved,









And kept his brazen features all unmoved.
The mayor himself with tone severe replied,
"Henceforth with thee shall never boy abide;
Hire thee a freeman, whom thou durst not beat,
But who, in thy despite, will sleep and eat.
Free thou art now!-again shouldst thou appear,
Thou 'lt find thy sentence, like thy soul, severe."
Alas for Peter, not an helping hand,
So was he hated, could he now command:
Alone he rowed his boat, alone he cast
His nets beside, or made his anchor fast;
To hold a rope or hear a curse was none;
He toiled and railed, he groaned and swore, alone.
Thus by himself compelled to live each day,
To wait for certain hours the tide's delay,

At the same times the same dull views to see:
The bounding marsh-bank and the blighted tree;
The water only, when the tides were high,
When low, the mud half-covered and half-dry;
The sunburned tar that blisters on the planks,
And bankside stakes in their uneven ranks;
Heaps of entangled weeds that slowly float,
As the tide rolls by the impeded boat.

When tides were neap, and in the sultry day
Through the tall bounding mud-banks made their way,
Which on each side rose swelling, and below
The dark warm flood ran silently and slow,
There anchoring, Peter chose from man to hide,
There hang his head, and view the lazy tide
In its hot slimy channel slowly glide,
Where the small eels, that left the deeper way
For the warm shore, within the shallows play,
Where gaping mussels, left upon the mud,
Slope their slow passage to the fallen flood.
Here, dull and hopeless, he'd lie down and trace
How sidelong crabs had scrawled their crooked race,
Or sadly listen to the tuneless cry

Of fishing gull or clanging golden-eye,

What time the sea-birds to the marsh would come,
And the loud bittern, from the bull-rush home,
Gave from the salt-ditch side the bellowing boom.









He nursed the feelings these dull scenes produce,
And loved to stop beside the opening sluice,
Where the small stream, confined in narrow bound,
Ran with a dull, unvaried, sadd'ning sound,
Where all presented to the eye or ear
Oppressed the soul with misery, grief, and fear.

Besides these objects, there were places three
Which Peter seemed with certain dread to see;
When he drew near them, he would turn from each,
And loudly whistle till he passed the reach.

A change of scene to him brought no relief:
In town, 't was plain, men took him for a thief;
The sailors' wives would stop him in the street,
And say, "Now, Peter, thou'st no boy to beat";
Infants at play, when they perceived him, ran,
Warning each other-"That's the wicked man!”
He growled an oath, and in an angry tone
Cursed the whole place, and wished to be alone.

Alone he was, the same dull scenes in view;
And still more gloomy in his sight they grew:
Though man he hated, yet, employed alone
At bootless labour, he would swear and groan,
Cursing the shoals that glided by the spot,
And gulls that caught them when his arts could not.
Cold, nervous tremblings shook his sturdy frame,
And strange disease-he couldn't say the name.
Wild were his dreams, and oft he rose in fright,
Waked by his view of horrors in the night—
Horrors that would the sternest minds amaze,
Horrors that demons might be proud to raise;
And though he felt forsaken, grieved at heart
To think he lived from all mankind apart,
Yet, if a man approached, in terrors he would start.

A winter passed since Peter saw the town,
And summer lodgers were again come down.
These, idly curious, with their glasses spied
The ships in bay as anchored for the tide,
The river's craft, the bustle of the quay,
And seaport views, which landmen love to see.
One up the river had a man and boat
Seen day by day, now anchored, now afloat;









Fisher he seemed, yet used no net nor hook;
Of sea-fowl swimming by no heed he took,
But on the gliding waves still fixed his lazy look;
At certain stations he would view the stream
As if he stood bewildered in a dream,

Or that some power had chained him for a time,
To feel a curse or meditate on crime.

This known, some curious, some in pity went,
And others questioned, "Wretch, dost thou repent?"
He heard, he trembled, and in fear resigned
His boat: new terror filled his restless mind;
Furious he grew and up the country ran,
And there they seized him-a distempered man.
Him we received; and to a parish-bed,
Followed and cursed, the groaning man was led.

Here when they saw him whom they used to shun,
A lost, lone man, so harassed and undone,
Our gentle females, ever prompt to feel,
Perceived compassion on their anger steal;
His crimes they could n't from their memories blot,
But they were grieved, and trembled at his lot.

A priest too came, to whom his words are told,
And all the signs they shuddered to behold:
"Look! look!" they cried; "his limbs with horror shake!
And as he grinds his teeth, what noise they make!
How glare his angry eyes, and yet he's not awake!
See! what cold drops upon his forehead stand,
And how he clenches that broad bony hand!"
The priest attending, found he spoke at times
As one alluding to his fears and crimes.
"It was the fall," he muttered; "I can show
The manner how-I never struck a blow":
And then aloud, "Unhand me, free my chain!
On oath, he fell it struck him to the brain!-
Why ask my father? that old man will swear
Against my life; besides, he wasn't there!
What, all agreed? Am I to die to-day?
My Lord, in mercy give me time to pray!"

Then, as they watched him, calmer he became,
And grew so weak he could n't move his frame,
But murmuring spake, while they could see and hear










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