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West Country Poets

CHRISTOPER JONES (fl. 1772-1782)

Christopher JONES is described on the title-page of his volume of poems as 'an uneducated journeyman wool-comber,' probably a native of Crediton, but certainly chiefly resident in Exeter.  He says of himself, 'that a small country school, in his mere childhood, was all the advantage of education he ever received; nor does he yet know the rudiments of the English grammar.'

His earliest effusions appeared in the 'poets corner' of the local newspapers; but when trade declined 'in the woollen-way,' and having a large family to support (he was married in 1772), he was induced to bring his poetic trifles more prominently before a discriminating public.  He published, therefore, in 1782 a volume entitled 'The Miscellaneous Poetic Attempts of C. Jones'; and this venture, if we may judge by the large number of subscribers, was highly successful.  Judged by a lofty poetic standard, his poems might be found wanting in many respects; but, considering his lack of education and other advantages, they possess powers of no mean  order, as our readers will judge by the extracts appended.  He also wrote 'Sowton:  a Village Conference; occasioned by a late Law Decision.' By a Journeyman Wool-comber (C. Jones).  Crediton, 1775.  Mr.  James DAVIDSON, in 'Bibliotheca Devoniensis,' p.128, says this related to an alleged 'will-fraud.'  His poems are of the 'occasional' order, and relate chiefly to passing events towards the close of the last century.

THE LAMB FORGOT
(A RURAL SKETCH)

The sky its azure vest displayed,
  And hushed was ev'ry breeze
Save one that round a blooming maid
  Soft whispered through the trees.

With ardent mien the virgin stood,
  The graces flushed her cheek,
As in the too sequestered wood
  She came her lamb to seek.

The lamb young Corydon, 'tis said,
(  Presented to the fair,
To show how innocently led
  He'd make the nymph his care.)

'Ah! was my sportive rover found,'
  She cried, 'my heart 'twould cheer;'
The sweetest birds flew list'ning round,
  Her sweeter voice to hear.

'But oh!" the beauteous maid rejoined,
  'The woodlands all deceive;
My fleecy wanton flies unkind,
  And leaves me thus to grieve!

'Ye powers, did Corydon - but hark!
  Approaching steps I hear'.
From woodbine thicket rushed her spark,
  By Cupid ushered there!

With rapture fired, the blooming fair
  In ecstasy he pressed;
To soothe with kisses all her care,
  He thus the maid addressed:

'To seek its dam, beneath yon brake,
   Your lamb, my dear, is flown:
Though strayed the gift, the giver take,
  Again it is your own!'

Love laughed to see her blush consent;
  From church they reached his cot;
Ere half the blissful night was spent
  The lamb was quite forgot.

Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt from: Wright, W. H. K.,(1896) West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works. London: Elliot Stock, pp.48-51

Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.

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