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The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and His Circle, Edited By Tim Fulford and Lynda Pratt
TEI

'FRIENDLY HINTS AFFECTIONATELY ADDRESSED, BY AN OLD MAN TO THE LABOURING POOR OF SUFFOLK AND NORFOLK: Occasioned by reading the Accounts of the poor deluded Men who have suffered at Norwich and Ipswich, for burning Corn Stacks, &c.'* 

Hark! The dread cry of 'fire!' floats on the wind,
Start'ling the Villagers, in sleep reclined.
Behold! Convolving flame with smoak ascends,
And consternation far and wide extends!
The frantic Mother, seized with terror wild,
Flees from her home;—she clasps her darling Child;—
Her terrors still increase, as on they press,
For every face betrays severe distress,
And mingled horror each sad breast assails,
As the devouring element prevails!
The lonely trav'ler, far away, descries
The vivid light that darts athwart the skies.
His country's love, perchance, his bosom warms:—
'Ah whence!' he sighing cries, 'these dread alarms?
'Mid all the wonders of this earthly range,
Can wealth produce such ills? 'Tis passing strange!
Can fruitful seasons make our case the worse?
Can plenty prove our ruin, prove a curse?
How grateful is the task the mind t'employ;
To trace from wealth the blessings we enjoy;
Gratuitously view the healing art
To suffering indigence its aid impart!
The mild philanthropist delighted sees
Unnumbered hospitals for dire disease;
But the prime blessing of the present age
Is the diffusion of the sacred page!
Whilst learning to the infant poor is given,
Religion points the anxious mind to Heaven.
WEALTH, like all human good, has its alloy:
It can give comforts, and it can destroy.
When boundless commerce made Old England great,
Wealth, like a torrent, rush'd into the state;
Brown Industry stood forth;—no more are seen
The barren heaths, the flow'r-deck'd commons green:
Proud cultivation now adorns the land,
And thick with corn the hills and valleys stand!
But wealth's uncertain as an April day!
Riches make wings, and quickly fly away!
For the redundant produce of the land,
A glutted Market now has no demand.
Hence universal bankruptcies ensue;
Hence the appalling scenes that strike our view.
In vain the hapless Farmers seek relief:
Despair is their's, and unavailing grief!
They see their children beggar'd; wealth all gone;
Their prospects blighted, ruin'd and undone.
This, too, the dark incendiary views,
But views unmov'd with pity: crime imbues
His inmost soul, as, with malicious ire,
He gives their lives and properties to fire.
Our brave forefathers boasted hearts of steel;
They boldly fought and bled for Britain's weal;
In martial fields, by gallant WOLFE led on,
Their acts heroic deathless glory won.
Would they thro' paths of darkness thus have stray'd?
Would they such guilty projects ere have laid?
In War 'twas theirs to join with hand and heart—
Not play the midnight skulking coward's part!
Let not the hardy sons of Suffolk stain,
With foreign crimes, our GEORGE'S glorious reign!
Born a TRUE BRITON—bred in Britain's school—
He only in his people's hearts would rule!
Then, ever let his subjects' hands forego
The torch revengeful, and the assassin's blow;
And, sons of Norfolk, proud in manhood's boast,
Let not the honours of your name be lost;
But, cease, O cease, your sad misguided rage!
Blot not with guilt our fair historic page!
In manly fortitude sustain the blast—
The ills we suffer cannot,—will not last!
Since devastations evidently tend
To heighten woes they never can amend,
If want beset, if poverty enthral,
Consider those who had so far to fall;
Who, born to wealth, to every prospect fair,
Are sunk in gloom—in wretchedness—despair!
At death's approach, would you at last be blest,
O, keep a living conscience in your breast!—
Soon, soon, will this terrific storm blow o'er;—
Believe my words, though I am old and poor!

As I am of the Old School, firmly believing that Providence rewards good works, it has been my endeavour, in the preceding lines, to appeal to the best feelings of the human heart. I have ventured to say, that the present troubles “CANNOT, WILL NOT LAST.” When I reflect upon what the wealthy part of the community have done for the comfort of the unportioned poor, and upon the mental light which has been diffused around, my heart assures me that there is happiness in store for us; and, that we shall not, by a wanton destruction of property, and violation of the laws, be subjected to the severe punishment of returning to a savage state. Let us in humble confidence repose our trust in HIM, who “tempereth the wind to the shorn lamb.”

GEORGE BLOOMFIELD.

Bury St. Edmunds, May 16, 1822

* [George Bloomfield], Friendly Hints Affectionately Addressed, by an Old Man to the Labouring Poor of Suffolk and Norfolk (Bury: T. D. Dutton, Printer and Bookseller, [n.d.]) BACK

Published @ RC

September 2009