Views in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire/Sapiston

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Views in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire by Edward Wedlake Brayley
An illustration of the Works of Robert Bloomfield: Sapiston

This pleasant village is worthy of notice from being the place where Bloomfield commenced his humble career as the ‘Farmer's Boy;' a situation which introduced him to the knowledge of those rural employments and occupations which he has delineated with so much felicity and correctness.

Here his first thoughts to Nature's charms inclin'd.
Which stamps devotion on th' inquiring mind.

It affords an instructive lesson, and is an agreeable retrospect, to trace the Poet from his present circumstances, as an author high in the public estimation, to the early years of his life, when he was employed in the field, which forms the foreground of the annexed Print, to scare birds from the corn; and where frequently, basking in the sun at the foot of that aged, and now almost sapless, elm, by the focus of a glass he consumed his paper, and his time, unconscious of the purposes to which they were destined by futurity. The scenery round the farm has been greatly injured within the last twenty-five or thirty years, by felling most of the timber.
"The Farm House at Sapiston."
The Farm House at Sapiston.

Here once a year Distinction low'rs its crest, 
The master servant and the merry guest,
Are equal all; ———

vide Farmers Boy.

"Sapiston Church.
Sapiston Church.

Mean Structure where no bones of heroes lie
The rude inelegance of poverty
Reigns here alone.———

vide The Farmers Boy.

Even at the time that Bloomfield resided here, ash and elm were much more abundant than now: the tall trees near the house are the remaining elms under which the cows were collected for the purpose of milking.

Forth comes the maid, and like the morning smiles;
The mistress too, and follow'd close by Giles.
A friendly tripod forms their humble seat.
With pails bright scour'd and delicately sweet.
Where shadowing elms obstruct the morning ray,
Begins their work, begins the simple lay:—
The full-charg'd udder yields its willing streams,
While Mary sings some lover's amorous dreams;
And crouching Giles beneath a neighbouring tree.
Tugs o'er his pail, and chants with equal glee.

The window seen at the gable end of the house admitted light into the usual dormitory of the Poet, where he (with the juniors of the family) was wont to find his way to bed at all seasons of the year without a candle. At a short distance from the farm-house stands Sapiston Church:

Hither, at times, with cheerfulness of soul.
Sweet village maids from neighbouring hamlets stroll.

* * * * * * * *

The pride of such a party, Nature's pride

Was lovely Poll.—

This was Mary Rainer, the distracted girl of Ixworth Thorpe, a small village near Sapiston; a character drawn by Bloomfield in the most exquisite and pathetic language: she still resides at Ixworth Thorpe, but is now in a state of perfect sanity: the Poet acknowledges that he proved an indifferent prophet, when he asserted—

Ill-fated maid ! thy guiding spark is fled,
And lasting wretchedness awaits thy bed.

* * * * * * *

For in life's road, though thorns abundant grow,

There still are joys poor Poll can never know.

Sapiston Church, like many others in Suffolk, is covered with thatch; from which circumstance it has many times been nearly unroofed by the pilfering of the jackdaws. In the churchyard lie buried Mr. Austin, the venerable master of Giles, Mrs. Austin, and nine of their infant children.