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(11 April 1770 – 8 August 1827 / London, England)

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The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder

Friend of Humanity

1'Needy Knife-grinder! whither are you going?
2Rough is the road, your wheel is out of order-
3Bleak blows the blast;-your hat has got a hole in't,
4 So have your breeches!

5'Weary Knife-grinder! little think the proud ones,
6Who in their coaches roll along the turnpike{\-}
7-road, what hard work 'tis crying all day 'knives and
8 'scissors to grind O!'

9'Tell me, Knife-grinder, how you came to grind knives?
10Did some rich man tyranically use you?
11Was it the squire? or parson of the parish?
12 Or the attorney?

13'Was it the squire, for the killing of his game? or
14Covetous parson, for his tithes distraining?
15Or roguish lawyer, made you lose your little
16 All in a lawsuit?

17'(Have you not read the Rights of Man, by Tom Paine?)
18Drops of compassion tremble on my eyelids,
19Ready to fall, as soon as you have told your
20 Pitiful story.'

Knife-grinder

21'Story! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir,
22Only last night a-drinking at the Chequers,
23This poor old hat and breeches, as you see, were
24 Torn in a scuffle.

25'Constables came up for to take me into
26Custody; they took me before the justice;
27Justice Oldmixon put me in the parish{\-}
28 Stocks for a vagrant.

29'I should be glad to drink your Honour's health in
30A pot of beer, if you will give me sixpence;
31But for my part, I never love to meddle
32 With politics, sir.'

Friend of Humanity

33'I give thee sixpence! I will see thee damn'd first-
34Wretch! whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to vengeance-
35Sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded,
36 Spiritless outcast!'

[Kicks the Knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and exit in a transport of Republican enthusiasm and universal philanthropy.

Submitted: Friday, April 06, 2012
Edited: Friday, April 06, 2012


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