The Old Gentry

A poem by Matthew Prior

That all from Adam first began,
None but ungodly Whiston doubts,
And that his son and his son's son
Were all but ploughmen, clowns, and louts.

Each when his rustic pains began
To merit pleaded equal right;
'Twas only who left off at noon,
Or who went on to work till night.

But coronets we owe to crowns,
And favour to a court's affection;
By nature we are Adam's sons,
And sons of Anstis by election.

Kingsale! eight hundred years have roll'd
Since thy forefathers had the plough;
When this in story shall be told,
Add, that my kindred do so now.

The man who by his labour gets
His bread in independent state,
Who never begs, and seldom eats,
Himself can fix or change his fate.

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