THE BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS.
| There is a curious poem extant-for a sight of which I am indebted to Mr. J. J. Colman, M.P-purporting to be the ' Life of a Fen-man ;' but, although it gives some interesting glimpses of the Fen-man's mode of life and occupation one hundred years ago, the author utterly fails to avail himself of the fine opportunity which offered of immortalizing himself.*|
"In the introduction, the author thus describes the isolated condition of the dwellers in the Fens:-' The Fen is a vast plain intersected with various natural and artificial rivers, defended with high banks to prevent the overflowing of the high country floods in their passage to the sea. On these banks the inhabitants, for their better security, erect their miserable dwellings, at a great distance sometimes from each other, and very remote from their parish churches, to which they rarely resort, unless to a wedding, a christening, or a burying. So that they seem to be cut off from the community, and are deprived of almost every advantage of social life. It is a rare thing to meet with a village of twenty houses together, unless in their towns, from which they are many miles distant. They are therefore excluded every opportunity of the very lowest education, and few of them arrive at a higher erudition than to be able to read and write.' The life of hardship and privation endured by this
|"'Humble race of men,|
Alike amphibious, by kind Nature's hand
Form'd to exist on water or on land,'
|is thus described by our Fen-Parson in one of his prose notes:-'The life of a North American savage is vastly preferable to his. They both live by their gun. The one traverses the woods and mountains in search of his prey, and retires at night to a warm cabin, with plenty of fuel to warm the rigour of the climate ; the other in a little skiff, which a puff of wind would overset, paddles about the water till the evening, and comes home wet and cold to his miserable hut, and lies scarcely dry and warm all night in his bed. The American Indian also bears a near resemblance to our hero ; as a fisherman he has his canoe, and ventures upon the shoals in search of fish ; he has also his favourite dog to attend him, and hopes that as he is his constant and faithful companion in this life, he will be in another.|
| "'But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,|
His faithful dog shall bear him company.'
| *'The Inundation; or The Life of a Fen-man: A Poem. Bv a Fen-Parson.' (Lynn: W. Whittingham.) 20 PP. 4to, No date, but published about the year 1771."|