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I am an innkeeper, and know my grounds,
And study them; Brain o' man, I study them.
I must have jovial guests to drive my ploughs,
And whistling boys to bring my harvests home,
Or I shall hear no flails thwack. THE NEW INN.
It is the privilege of tale-tellers to open their story in an
inn, the free rendezvous of all travellers, and where the humour
of each displays itself without ceremony or restraint. This is
specially suitable when the scene is laid during the old days of
merry England, when the guests were in some sort not merely the
inmates, but the messmates and temporary companions of mine Host,
who was usually a personage of privileged freedom, comely
presence, and good-humour. Patronized by him the characters of
the company were placed in ready contrast; and they seldom
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