Old English Hospitality

We may not praise the good old times
For all that they record,
When Wrong was Right, if saucy Might
Affirmed it with the sword.
The gate and bridge, the moat and tower,
Were best defences then,
Rough hearts were served by sturdy hands,
And Force was king of men.
But though our sires had errors great,
Their virtues let us own;
They made the poor their welcome guests—
They hushed the widow's moan.

When redbreasts sought the garden plot,
To pick the scanty crumb;
When winds blew cold o'er frozen wold,
And all the groves were dumb;
When poverty and age were sad,
To see the drifting flakes;
When widows kissed their orphan babes,
And shuddered for their sakes;
Then glowed the fire upon the hearth;
In many an ancient hall
The tables shook—the platters smoked—
The poor were welcome all.

The Ancient Virtue is not dead,
And long may it endure;
May wealth in England never fail,
Nor pity for the poor.
Though cold inhospitable skies
O'erarch us as we stand,
They cannot dull the genial hearts
That glow within the land.
And evermore when winds blow cold
We'll imitate our sires—
We'll spread the board—we'll feed the poor—
We'll light the cottage fires.
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