The character of this man was described to me, and the incident
upon which the verses turn was told me, by Mr. Pool of Nether
Stowey, with whom I became acquainted through our common friend,
S. T. Coleridge. During my residence at Alfoxden I used to see
much of him and had frequent occasions to admire the course of his
daily life, especially his conduct to his labourers and poor
neighbours: their virtues he carefully encouraged, and weighed
their faults in the scales of charity. If I seem in these verses
to have treated the weaknesses of the farmer, and his
transgression, too tenderly, it may in part be ascribed to my
having received the story from one so averse to all harsh
judgment. After his death, was found in his escritoir a lock of
grey hair carefully preserved, with a notice that it had been cut
from the head of his faithful shepherd, who had served him for a
length of years. I need scarcely add that he felt for all men as
his brothers. He was much beloved by distinguished persons--Mr.
Coleridge, Mr. Southey, Sir H. Davy, and many others; and in his
own neighbourhood was highly valued as a magistrate, a man of
business, and in every other social relation. The latter part of
the poem, perhaps, requires some apology as being too much of an
echo to the "Reverie of Poor Susan."
With this picture, which was taken from real life, compare the
imaginative one of "The Reverie of Poor Susan"; and see (to make
up the deficiencies of this class) "The Excursion," 'passim'.