The Village Wit.

Rob Shankland was a light and limber blade1
Smart in his dress—a tailor to his trade ;2
To him Dame Nature, in a merry hour,3
Gave all the smart endowments in her power4
Nor grudg’d the number of her various gifts,5
But graced him, like a cat, with many shifts :6
Rob was a Wit, as every neighbour knew7
Yet Rob could argue long, and reason too.8
On Fiddle he performed with wondrous skill,9
And on the Flute he fingered better still ;10
At Quoits, or Putting, he could brag the place,11
And, if he ran, he always won the race.12
Rob loved a wedding—dearly loved a fair,13
Where’er the fun was hatching, Rob was there.14
His voice was queer—his very look was droll ;15
Of every social club Rob was the soul16
Could ape a neighbour’s manner, voice or gait ;17
Grind razors on the outside of a plate18
With solemn, wrinkled, sacerdotal face,19
Pour forth the fervour of a “ Highland grace ; ”20
Or rave you Daggerwood in “ cloud-capt towers ; ”—21
So vast the compass of his social powers.22
Not deeply read in books or Roman lore,23
Rob learned the Rudiments, but learned no more24
Had figured far through Hutton’s various rules,25
Read all Collections that are read in schools.26
Letters of every kind he could indite,27
And if the Lover could not, he could write,28
Of slighted faith the anger due express29
For sweet-heart glow with sweet-heart tenderness ;30
Old Aunty Kate he could assist to tell31
How she her late-come groceries should sell,32
To profit by the bargain. Could there be33
A youth more useful, more alert than he ?34

† This feat is performed by placing a plate edge-ways under the blade of a razor—so
as to represent a Cutler’s wheel at work, accompanying this demonstration, all along, by
a hissing noise, such as the action of grinding produces, through the teeth.
But customers were pressing—could not stay35
They had been long put off from day to day ;36
They liked his wit—his talents they admired :37
But these were not the qualities required.38
Rob promised—broke his word—again transgressed39
Essayed to rest at home, but could not rest40
Became impatient of restraint, and swore41
He’d fairly kick the custom to the door42
Absconded—listed—crossed the Stygian shore.43