Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FRIEND OF HUMANITY AND THE KNIFE-GRINDER, by GEORGE CANNING



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THE FRIEND OF HUMANITY AND THE KNIFE-GRINDER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Needy knife-grinder! Whither are you going?
Last Line: And universal philanthropy.)
Variant Title(s): Sapphics
Subject(s): Southey, Robert (1774-1843)


FRIEND OF HUMANITY.
NEEDY knife-grinder! whither are you going?
Rough is the road; your wheel is out of order.
Bleak blows the blast; -- your hat has got a hole
in't;
So have your breeches!
Weary knife-grinder! little think the proud ones,
Who in their coaches roll along the turnpike-
Road, what hard work 't is crying all day,
"Knives and
Scissors to grind O!"

Tell me, knife-grinder, how came you to grind
knives?
Did some rich man tyrannically use you?
Was it the squire? or parson of the parish?
Or the attorney?

Was it the squire for killing of his game? or
Covetous parson for his tithes distraining?
Or roguish lawyer made you lose your little
All in a lawsuit?

(Have you not read the Rights of Man, by Tom
Paine?)
Drops of compassion tremble on my eyelids,
Ready to fall as soon as you have told your
Pitiful story.

KNIFE-GRINDER.
Story! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir;
Only, last night, a-drinking at the Chequers,
This poor old hat and breeches, as you see, were
Torn in a scuffle.

Constables came up for to take me into
Custody; they took me before the justice;
Justice Oldmixon put me into the parish
Stocks for a vagrant.

I should be glad to drink your honor's health in
A pot of beer, if you will give me sixpence;
But for my part, I never love to meddle
With politics, sir.

FRIEND OF HUMANITY.
I give thee sixpence! I will see thee damned
first, --
Wretch! whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to
vengeance, --
Sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded,
Spiritless outcast!
(Kicks the knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and
exit in a transport of republican enthusiasm
and universal philanthropy.)




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