My dear Sir,
You tell me that “a generous and enlightened Public” has given a favourable reception to those extracts from our family papers, which, at your suggestion, were laid before it some two years since;—and you hint, with all possible delicacy, that a second volume might not be altogether unacceptable at a period of the year when “auld-warld stories” are more especially in request. With all my heart,—the old oak chest is not yet empty; in addition to which I have recently laid my hand upon a long MS. correspondence of my great-uncle, Sir Peregrine Ingoldsby, a cadet of the family, who somehow contrived to attract the notice of George the Second, and received from his “honour-giving-hand” the accolade of knighthood. To this last-named source I am indebted for several of the accompanying histories, while my inestimable friend Simpkinson has bent all the powers of his mighty mind to the task. From Father John’s stories I have drawn largely. Our “Honourable” friend Sucklethumbkin—by the way, he has been beating our covers lately, when he shot a woodcock, and one of the Governor’s pointers—gives a graphic account of the Operatic “row” in which he was heretofore so conspicuous; while even Mrs. Barney Maguire (née Mademoiselle Pauline), whose horror of Mrs. Botherby’s cap has no jot diminished, 222 furnishes me with the opening Legend of the series from the historiettes of her own belle France.
Why will you not run down to Tappington this Christmas?—We have been rather busy of late in carrying into execution the enclosure of Swingfield Minnis under the auspices of my Lord Radnor, and Her Majesty’s visit to the neighbourhood has kept us quite alive: the Prince in one of his rides pulled up at the end of the avenue, and, as A * * told Sucklethumbkin, was much taken with the picturesque appearance of our old gable ends. Unluckily we were all at Canterbury that morning, or proud indeed should we have been to offer his Royal Highness the humble hospitalities of the Hall,—and then—fancy Mrs. Botherby’s “My Gracious!” By the way, the old lady tells me you left your nightcap here on your last visit; it is laid up in lavender for you;—come and reclaim it. The Yule log will burn bright as ever in the cedar room. Bin No. 6 is still one liquid ruby—the old October yet smiles like mantling amber, in utter disdain of that vile concoction of camomile which you so pseudonymously dignify with the title of “Bitter Ale.”—Make a start then;—pitch printer’s-ink to old Harry,—and come and spend a fortnight with
Yours, till the crack of doom,
Dec. 16, 1842.
our family papers . . . some two years since
[The dedication of the first series was dated January 1840, making it closer to “some three years”. Since the present dedication is dated 16 December, Beethoven’s birthday, it would have been pleasant if the first one had been dated 27 January, Mozart’s birthday. But alas, he was a week too soon.]
FRANÇOIS XAVIER AUGUSTE was a gay Mousquetaire,
The Pride of the Camp, the delight of the Fair:
He’d a mien so distingué and so debonnaire,
And shrugg’d with a grace so recherché and rare,
And he twirl’d his moustache with so charming an air,
—His moustaches I should say, because he’d a pair,—
And, in short, show’d so much of the true sçavoir faire,
All the ladies in Paris were wont to declare,
That could any one draw
Them from Dian’s strict law,
Into what Mrs. Ramsbottom calls a “Fox Paw,”
It would be François Xavier Auguste de St. Foix.
Now, I’m sorry to say,
At that time of day,
The Court of Versailles was a little too gay;
The Courtiers were all much addicted to Play,
To Bourdeaux, Chambertin, Frontignac, St. Peray,
Lafitte, Chateau Margaux,
And Sillery (a cargo
On which John Bull sensibly (?) lays an embargo),
While Louis Quatorze
Kept about him, in scores,
What the Noblesse, in courtesy, term’d his “Jane Shores,”
—They were call’d by a much coarser name out of doors.
This, we all must admit, in
A King’s not befitting!
For such courses, when followed by persons of quality,
Are apt to detract on the score of morality.
François Xavier Auguste acted much like the rest of
Dress’d, drank, and fought, and chassée’d with the best of them;
Took his œil de perdrix
Till he scarcely could see,
He would then sally out in the streets for a “spree;”
His rapier he’d draw,
Pink a Bourgeois
(A word which the English translate “Johnny Raw”),
For your thorough French Courtier, whenever the fit he’s in,
Thinks it prime fun to astonish a citizen;224
And perhaps it’s no wonder that this kind of scrapes,
In a nation which Voltaire, in one of his japes
Defines “an amalgam of Tigers and Apes,”
Should be merely considered as “Little Escapes.”
But I’m sorry to add,
Things are almost as bad
A great deal nearer home, and that similar pranks
Amongst young men who move in the very first ranks,
Are by no means confined to the land of the Franks.
Be this as it will,
In the general, still,
Though blame him we must,
It is really but just
To our lively young friend, François Xavier Auguste,
To say, that howe’er
Well known his faults were,
At his Bacchanal parties he always drank fair,
And, when gambling his worst, always play’d on the square;
So that, being much more of pigeon than rook, he
Lost large sums at faro (a game like “Blind Hookey”),
And continued to lose,
And to give I O U’s
Till he lost e’en the credit he had with the Jews;
And, a parallel if I may venture to draw
Between François Xavier Auguste de St. Foix,
And his namesake, a still more distinguished François,
Who wrote to his “sœur”1
From Pavia, “Mon Cœur,
I have lost all I had in the world fors l’honneur.”
So St. Foix might have wrote
No dissimilar note,
“Vive la bagatelle! toujours gai—idem semper—
I’ve lost all I had in the world but—my temper!”
From the very beginning,
Indeed of his sinning,
His air was so cheerful, his manners so winning,
That once he prevailed—or his friends coin the tale for him—
On the bailiff who “nabbed” him, himself to “go bail” for him.225
Well—we know in these cases
Your “Crabs” and “Deuce Aces”
Are wont to promote frequent changes of places;
Town doctors, indeed, are most apt to declare
That there’s nothing so good as the pure “country air,”
Whenever exhaustion of person, or purse, in
An invalid cramps him, and sets him a-cursing;
A habit, I’m very much grieved at divulging,
François Xavier Auguste was too prone to indulge in.
But what could be done?
It’s clear as the sun,
That, though nothing’s more easy than say, “Cut and run!”
Yet a Guardsman can’t live without some sort of fun—
E’en I or you,
If we’d nothing to do,
Should soon find ourselves looking remarkably blue.
And, since no one denies
What’s so plain to all eyes,
It won’t, I am sure, create any surprise,
That reflections like these half reduced to despair
François Xavier Auguste, the gay Black Mousquetaire.
Patience par force!
He considered, of course,
But in vain—he could hit on no sort of resource—
They would each of them do,
There’s excitement enough in all four, but in none he
Could hope to get on sans l’argent—i.e. money.
Love?—no;—ladies like little cadeaux from a suitor.
Liquor?—no,—that won’t do, when reduced to “the Pewter.”—
Then Law?—’tis the same;
It’s a very fine game,
But the fees and delays of “the Courts” are a shame,
As Lord Brougham says himself—who’s a very great name,
Though the Times made it clear he was perfectly lost in his
Classic attempt at translating Demosthenes,
And don’t know his “particles.”—
Who wrote the articles,
Showing his Greek up so, is not known very well;
Many thought Barnes, others Mitchell—some Merivale;
But it’s scarce worth debate,
Because from the date
Of my tale one conclusion we safely may draw,
Viz.: ’twas not François Xavier Auguste de St. Foix!226
Loo?—No;—that he had tried;
’Twas, in fact, his weak side,
But required more than any a purse well supplied.
“Love?—Liquor?—Law?—Loo? No! ’tis all the same story.
Stay! I have it—Ma foi! (that’s “Odd’s Bobs!”) there is Glory!
Away with dull care!
Vive le Roi! Vive la Guerre!
Peste! I’d almost forgot I’m a Black Mousquetaire!
When a man is like me,
Sans six sous, sans souci,
A bankrupt in purse,
And in character worse,
With a shocking bad hat, and his credit at zero,
What on earth can he hope to become,—but a Hero?
What a famous thought this is!
I’ll go as Ulysses
Of old did—like him I’ll see manners and know countries;2
Cut Paris,—and gaming,—and throats in the Low Countries.”
So said, and so done—he arranged his affairs,
And was off like a shot to his Black Mousquetaires.
Now it happen’d just then
That Field-Marshal Turenne
Was a good deal in want of “some active young men,”
To fill up the gaps
Which through sundry mishaps,
Had been made in his ranks by a certain “Great Condé,”
A General unrivall’d—at least in his own day—
Whose valour was such,
That he did not care much
If he fought with the French,—or the Spaniards,—or Dutch,—
A fact which has stamped him a rather “Cool hand,”
Being nearly related to Louis le Grand.
It had been all the same had that King been his brother;
He fought sometimes with one, and sometimes with another;
For war, so exciting,
He took such delight in,
He did not care whom he fought, so he was fighting.
And, as I’ve just said, had amused himself then
By tickling the tail of Field-Marshal Turenne;
Since which, the Field-Marshal’s most pressing concern
Was to tickle some other Chief’s tail in his turn.
What a fine thing a battle is!—not one of those
Which one saw at the late Mr. Andrew Ducrow’s,227
Where a dozen of scene-shifters, drawn up in rows,
Would a dozen more scene-shifters boldly oppose,
Taking great care their blows
Did not injure their foes,
And alike, save in colour and cut of their clothes,
Which were varied, to give more effect to “Tableaux,”
While Stickney the Great
Flung the gauntlet to Fate,
And made us all tremble, so gallantly did he come
On to encounter bold General Widdicombe—
But a real good fight, like Pultowa, or Lützen
(Which Gustavus the Great ended all his disputes in),
Or that which Suwarrow engaged without boots in,
Or Dettingen, Fontenoy, Blenheim, or Minden,
Or the one Mr. Campbell describes, Hohenlinden,
Where “the sun was low,”
The ground all over snow,
And dark as mid-winter the swift Iser’s flow,—
Till its colour was altered by General Moreau:
While the big drum was heard in the dead of the night,
Which rattled the Bard out of bed in a fright,
And he ran up the steeple to look at the fight.
’Twas in just such another one
(Names only bother one—
Dutch ones indeed are sufficient to smother one),—
In the Netherlands somewhere—I cannot say where—
Suffice it that there
La Fortune de guerre
Gave a cast of her calling to our Mousquetaire.
One fine morning, in short, François Xavier Auguste,
After making some scores of his foes “bite the dust,”
Got a mouthful himself of the very same crust;
And though, as the Bard says, “No law is more just
Than for Necis artifices,”—so they call’d fiery
Soldados at Rome,—“arte suâ perire,”
Yet Fate did not draw
This poetical law
To its fullest extent in the case of St. Foix.
His Good Genius most probably found out some flaw,
And diverted the shot
From some deadlier spot
To a bone which, I think, to the best of my memory, ’s
Call’d by Professional men the228
And the ball being one of those named from its shape,
And some fancied resemblance it bears to the grape,
St. Foix went down,
With a groan and a frown,
And a hole in his small-clothes the size of a crown.—
—Stagger’d a bit
By this “palpable hit,”
He turn’d on his face, and went off in a fit.
Yes! a Battle’s a very fine thing while you’re fighting,
These same Ups-and-Downs are so very exciting.
But a sombre sight is a Battle-field
To the sad survivor’s sorrowing eye,
Where those, who scorn’d to fly or yield,
In one promiscuous carnage lie;
When the cannon’s roar
Is heard no more,
And the thick dun smoke has roll’d away.
And the victor comes for a last survey
Of the well-fought field of yesterday!
No triumphs flush that haughty brow,—
No proud exulting look is there,—
His eagle glance is humbled now,
As, earthward bent, in anxious care
It seeks the form whose stalwart pride
But yester-morn was by his side!
And there it lies!—on yonder bank
Of corses, which themselves had breath
But yester-morn—now cold and dank,
With other dews than those of death!
Powerless as it had ne’er been born
The hand that clasp’d his—yester-morn!
And there are widows wand’ring there,
That roam the blood-besprinklcd plain,
And listen in their dumb despair
For sounds they ne’er may hear again!
One word, however faint and low,—
Ay, e’en a groan,—were music now!229
And this is Glory!—Fame!—
Miss Muse, you’re growing sentimental;
Besides, such things we never saw;
In fact they’re merely Continental.
And then your Ladyship forgets
Some widows came for epaulettes.
So go back to your canter; for one, I declare,
Is now fumbling about our capsized Mousquetaire,
A beetle-browed hag,
With a knife and a bag,
And an old tatter’d bonnet which, thrown back, discloses
The ginger complexion, and one of those noses
Peculiar to females named Levy and Moses,
Such as nervous folks still, when they come in their way, shun,
Old vixen-faced tramps of the Hebrew persuasion.
You remember, I trust,
François Xavier Auguste,
Had uncommon fine limbs, and a very fine bust.
Now there’s something—I cannot tell what it may be—
About good-looking gentlemen turn’d twenty-three,
Above all when laid up with a wound in the knee,
Which affects female hearts in no common degree,
With emotions in which many feelings combine,
Very easy to fancy, though hard to define;
Ugly or pretty,
Stupid or witty,
Young or old, they experience, in country or city,
What’s clearly not Love—yet it’s warmer than Pity—
And some such a feeling, no doubt, ’tis that stays
The hand you may see that old Jezebel raise,
Arm’d with the blade,
So oft used in her trade
The horrible calling e’en now she is plying,
Despoiling the dead, and despatching the dying!
For these “nimble Conveyancers,” after such battles,
Regarding as treasure trove all goods and chattels,
Think nought, in “perusing and settling” the titles,
So safe as six inches of steel in the vitals.230
Now don’t make a joke of,
That feeling I spoke of;
For, as sure as you’re born, that same feeling,—whate’er
It may be, saves the life of the young Mousquetaire!—
The knife, that was levell’d erewhile at his throat,
Is employ’d now in ripping the lace from his coat,
And from what, I suppose, I must call his culotte;
And his pockets, no doubt,
Being turned inside out,
That his mouchoir and gloves may be put “up the spout”
(For of coin, you may well conceive, all she can do
Fails to ferret out even a single écu);
As a muscular Giant would handle an elf,
The virago at last lifts the soldier himself,
And, like a She-Samson, at length lays him down
In a hospital form’d in the neighbouring town!
I am not very sure,
But I think ’twas Namur;
And there she now leaves him, expecting a cure.
I abominate physic—I care not who knows
That there’s nothing on earth I detest like “a dose,”—
That yellowish-green-looking fluid, whose hue
I consider extremely unpleasant to view,
With its sickly appearance, that trenches so near
On what Homer defines the complexion of Fear;
δεος, I mean,
A nasty pale green,
Though for want of some word that may better avail,
I presume, our translators have rendered it “pale;”
For consider the cheeks
Of those “well-booted Greeks,”
Their Egyptian descent was a question of weeks;
Their complexion, of course, like a half-decayed leek’s;
And you’ll see in an instant the thing that I mean in it,
A Greek face in a funk had a good deal of green in it.
I repeat, I abominate physic; but then,
If folks will go campaigning about with such men
As the Great Prince de Condé and Marshal Turenne,
They may fairly expect
To be now and then check’d231
By a bullet, or sabre-cut. Then their best solace is
Found, I admit, in green potions and boluses;
So, of course, I don’t blame
St. Foix, wounded and lame,
If he swallowed a decent quant. suff. of the same;
Though I’m told, in such cases, it’s not the French plan
To pour in their drastics as fast as they can,
The practice of many an English Savan,
But to let off a man
With a little ptisanne,
And gently to chafe the patella (knee-pan).
“Oh, woman!” Sir Walter observes, “when the brow
’s wrung with pain, what a minist’ring Angel art thou!”
Thou’rt a “minist’ring Angel” in no less degree,
I can boldly assert, when the pain’s in the knee:
And medical friction
Is, past contradiction,
Much better performed by a She than a He.
A fact which, indeed, comes within my own knowledge,
For I well recollect, when a youngster at College,
And, therefore, can quote
A surgeon of note,
Mr. Grosvenor of Oxford, who not only wrote
On the subject a very fine treatise, but, still as his
Patients came in, certain soft-handed Phyllises
Were at once set to work on their legs, arms, and backs,
And rubbed out their complaints in a couple of cracks.—
Now, they say,
To this day,
When sick people can’t pay
On the Continent, many of this kind of nurses
Attend, without any demand on their purses;
And these females, some old, others still in their teens,
Some call “Sisters of Charity,” others “Beguines.”
They don’t take the vows; but, half-Nun and half-Lay,
Attend you; and when you’ve got better, they say,
“You’re exceedingly welcome! There’s nothing to pay.
Our task is now done;
You are able to run.
We never take money; we cure you for fun!”
Then they drop you a court’sy, and wish you good day,
And go off to cure somebody else the same way.232
—A great many of these, at the date of my tale,
In Namur walk’d the hospitals, workhouse, and jail.
Among them was one,
A most sweet Demi-nun,
Her cheek pensive and pale; tresses bright as the Sun,—
Not carroty—no; though you’d fancy you saw burn
Such locks as the Greeks lov’d, which moderns call auburn.
These were partially seen through the veil which they wore all,
Her teeth were of pearl, and her lips were of coral;
Her eye-lashes silken; her eyes, fine large blue ones,
Were sapphires (I don’t call these similes new ones;
But, in metaphors, freely confess I’ve a leaning
To such, new or old, as convey best one’s meaning).—
Then, for figure? In faith it was downright barbarity
To muffle a form
Might an anchorite warm
In the fusty stuff gown of a Sœur de la Charité;
And no poet could fancy, no painter could draw
One more perfect in all points, more free from a flaw,
Than hers who now sits by the couch of St. Foix,
With such care,
And so dove-like an air,
His leg, till her delicate fingers are charr’d
With the Steer’s opodeldoc, joint-oil, and goulard;
—Their Dutch appellations are really too hard
To be brought into verse by a transmarine Bard.—
Now you’ll see,
I am certain, with me,
When a young man’s laid up with a wound in his knee
And a Lady sits there,
On a rush-bottom’d chair,
To hand him the mixtures his doctors prepare,
And a bit of lump-sugar to make matters square;
Above all, when the Lady’s remarkably fair,
And the wounded young man is a gay Mousquetaire,
It’s a ticklish affair, you may swear, for the pair,
And may lead on to mischief before they’re aware.
I really don’t think, spite of what friends would call his
“Penchant for liaisons,” and graver men “follies”233
(For my own part, I think planting thorns on their pillows,
And leaving poor maidens to weep and wear willows,
Is not to be classed among mere peccadillos),
His “faults,” I should say—I don’t think François Xavier
Entertain’d any thoughts of improper behaviour
Tow’rds his nurse, or that once to induce her to sin he meant
While superintending his draughts and his liniment:
But, as he grew stout,
And was getting about,
Thoughts came into his head that had better been out;
While Cupid’s an urchin
We know deserves birching,
He’s so prone to delude folks, and leave them the lurch in.
’Twas doubtless his doing
That absolute ruin
Was the end of all poor dear shampooing.—
’Tis a subject I don’t like to dwell on; but such
Things will happen—ay, e’en ’mongst the phlegmatic Dutch.
“When Woman,” as Goldsmith declares, “stoops to folly,
And finds out too late that false man can betray,”
She is apt to look dismal, and grow “melan-choly,”
And, in short, to be anything rather than gay.
He goes on to remark that “to punish her lover,
Wring his bosom, and draw the tear into his eye,
There is but one method” which he can discover
That’s likely to answer—that one is “to die!”
He’s wrong—the wan and withering cheek;
The thin lips, pale, and drawn apart;
The dim yet tearless eyes, that speak
The misery of the breaking heart;
The wasted form, th’ enfeebled tone
That whispering mocks the pitying ear;
Th’ imploring glances heaven-ward thrown
As heedless, helpless, hopeless here;
These wring the false one’s heart enough,
If “made of penetrable stuff.”
And poor Therèse
Thus pines and decays,
Till, stung with remorse, St. Foix takes a post-chaise234
With, for “wheelers,” two bays,
And, for “leaders,” two greys,
And soon reaches France, by the help of relays.
Flying shabbily off from the sight of his victim,
And driving as fast as if Old Nick had kick’d him.
She, poor sinner,
Grows thinner and thinner,
Leaves off eating breakfast, and luncheon, and dinner,
Till you’d really suppose she could have nothing in her.—
One evening—’twas just as the clock struck eleven—
They saw she’d been sinking fast ever since seven,—
She breath’d one deep sigh, threw one look up to Heaven,
And all was o’er!—
Poor Therèse was no more—
She was gone!—the last breath that she managed to draw
Escaped in one half-utter’d word—’twas “St. Foix!”
Who can fly from himself? Bitter cares, when you feel ’em,
Are not cured by travel—as Horace says, “Cœlum
Non animum mutant qui currunt trans mare!”
It’s climate, not mind, that by roaming men vary—
Remorse for temptation to which you have yielded, is
A shadow you can’t sell as Peter Schlemil did his;
It haunts you for ever—in bed and at board.—
Ay, e’en in your
And you can’t find, it seems,
Any proof that a guilty man ever yet snored!
It is much if he slumbers at all, which but few,
—François Xavier Auguste was an instance—can do.
Indeed, from the time
He committed the crime
Which cut off poor sister Therèse in her prime,
He was not the same man that he had been—his plan
Was quite changed—in wild freaks he no more led the van;
He’d scarce sleep a wink in
A week; but sit thinking,
From company shrinking—
He quite gave up drinking.
At the mess-table, too, where now seldom he came,
Fish, fricassee, fricandeau, potage, or game,
Dindon aux truffes, or turbot à la crême,
No!—he still shook his head,—it was always the same,
Still he never complained that the cook was to blame!235
’Twas his appetite fail’d him—no matter how rare
And recherché the dish, how delicious the fare,—
What he used to like best he no longer could bear;
But he’d there sit and stare
With an air of despair;
Took no care, but would wear
Boots that wanted repair;
Such a shirt too! you’d think he’d no linen to spare.
He omitted to shave; he neglected his hair,
And look’d more like a Guy than a gay Mousquetaire.
One thing, above all, most excited remark;
In the evening he seldom sat long after dark.
Not that then, as of yore, he’d go out for “a lark”
With his friends; but when they,
After taking café,
Would have broiled bones and kidneys brought in on a tray,
—Which I own I consider a very good way,
If a man’s not dyspeptic, to wind up the day—
No persuasion on earth could induce him to stay;
But he’d take up his candlestick, just nod his head,
By way of “Good evening!” and walk off to bed.
Yet even when there he seem’d no better off,
For he’d wheeze, and he’d sneeze, and he’d hem! and he’d cough.
And they’d hear him all night,
Sometimes sobbing outright,
While his valet, who often endeavoured to peep,
Declared that “his master was never asleep!
But would sigh, and would groan, slap his forehead, and weep;
That about ten o’clock
His door he would lock,
And then never would open it, let who would knock!—
He had heard him,” he said,
“Sometimes jump out of bed,
And talk as if speaking to one who was dead!
He’d groan, and he’d moan,
In so piteous a tone,
Begging some one or other to let him alone,
That it really would soften the heart of a stone
To hear him exclaim so, and call upon Heaven
Then—The bother began always just at eleven!”
François Xavier Auguste, as I’ve told you before,
I believe was a popular man in his corps,236
And his comrades, not one
Of whom knew of the Nun,
Now began to consult what was best to be done.
Count Cordon Bleu
And the Sieur de la Roue
Confess’d they did not know at all what to do:
But the Chevalier Hippolyte Hector Achille
Alphonse Stanislaus Emile de Grandville
Made a fervent appeal
To the zeal they must feel
For their friend, so distinguished an officer, ’s weal,
“The first thing,” he said, “was to find out the matter
That bored their poor friend so, and caused all this clatter—
Mort de ma vie!”
—Here he took some rappee—
“Be the cause what it may, he shall tell it to me!”—
He was right, sure enough—in a couple of days
He worms out the whole story of Sister Therèse,
Now entomb’d, poor dear soul! in some Dutch Père la Chaise
—“But the worst thing of all,” François Xavier declares,
“Is, whenever I’ve taken my candle up stairs,
There’s Therèse sitting there—upon one of those chairs!
Such a frown, too, she wears,
And so frightfully glares,
That I’m really prevented from saying my pray’rs,
While an odour,—the very reverse of perfume,—
More like rhubarb or senna, pervades the whole room!”
When he heard him talk so felt an odd sort of feel;
Not that he cared for Ghosts—he was far too genteel—
Still a queerish sensation came on when he saw
Him, whom, for fun,
They’d, by way of a pun
On his person and principles, nick-named Sans Foi,
A man whom they had, you see,
Mark’d as a Sadducee,—
In his horns, all at once, so completely to draw,
And to talk of a Ghost, with such manifest awe!—
It excited the Chevalier Grandville’s surprise;
He shrugg’d up his shoulders, he turned up his eyes,
And he thought with himself that he could not do less
Than lay the whole matter before the whole Mess.
So, as you’re best able,
Paint to yourself the effect at the Mess-table—237
How the bold Brigadiers
Prick’d up their ears,
And received the account, some with fears, some with sneers.
How the Sieur de la Roue
Said to Count Cordon Bleu,
“Ma foi—c’est bien drôle—Monseigneur, what say you?”—
How Count Cordon Bleu
Declared he “thought so too;”—
How the Colonel affirm’d that “the case was quite new;”—
How the Captains and Majors
Began to lay wagers
How far the Ghost part of the story was true;—
How, at last, when asked “What was the best thing to do?”
Everybody was silent,—for nobody knew!—
And how, in the end, they said, “No one could deal
With the matter so well, from his prudence and zeal,
As the Gentleman who was the first to reveal
This strange story—viz. Hippolyte Hector Achille
Alphonse Stanislaus Emile de Grandville!”
I need scarcely relate
The plans, little and great,
Which came into the Chevalier Hippolyte’s pate
To rescue his friend from his terrible foes,
Those mischievous Imps, whom the world, I suppose
From extravagant notions respecting their hue,
Has strangely agreed to denominate “Blue,”
Inasmuch as his schemes were of no more avail
Than those he had, early in life, found to fail,
When he strove to lay salt on some little bird’s tail.
In vain did he try
With strong waters to ply
His friend, on the ground that he never could spy
Such a thing as a Ghost, with a drop in his eye;
St. Foix never would drink now unless he was dry;
Besides, what the vulgar call “sucking the monkey”
Has much less effect on a man when he’s funky.
In vain did he strive to detain him at table
Till his “dark hour” was over—he never was able,
Save once, when at Mess,
With that sort of address,
Which the British call “Humbug,” and Frenchmen “Finesse”
(It’s “Blarney” in Irish—I don’t know the Scotch),
He fell to admiring his friend’s English watch.3238
He examined the face,
And the back of the case,
And the young Lady’s portrait there, done on enamel, he
“Saw by the likeness was one of the family;”
(With his tongue in his cheek)—
Then he open’d the case, just to take a peep in it, and
Seized the occasion to pop back the minute hand.
With a demi-congé, and a shrug, and a grin, he
Returns the bijou and—c’est une affaire finie—
“I’ve done him,” thinks he, “now, I’ll wager a
It happen’d that day
They were all very gay,
’Twas the Grand Monarque’s birthday—that is, ’twas St. Louis’s,
Which in Catholic countries, of course, they would view as his—
So when Hippolyte saw
Him about to withdraw,
He cried, “Come—that won’t do, my fine fellow, St. Foix,—
Give us five minutes longer, and drink Vive le Roi!”
François Xavier Auguste,
Without any mistrust,
Of the trick that was play’d, drew his watch from his fob,
Just glanced at the hour, then agreed to “hob-nob,”
Fill’d a bumper, and rose
With “Messieurs, I
He paused—his blanch’d lips fail’d to utter the toast.
’Twas eleven!—he thought it half-past ten at most—
Ev’ry limb, nerve, and muscle grew stiff as a post,—
His jaw dropp’d—his eyes
Swell’d to twice their own size—
And he stood as a pointer would stand—at a Ghost!
—Then shriek’d, as he fell on the floor like a stone,
“Ah! Sister Therèse! now—do let me alone!”
It’s amazing by sheer perseverance what men do,—
As water wears stone by the “Sæpe cadendo,”
If they stick to Lord Somebody’s motto, “Agendo!”
Was it not Robert Bruce?—I declare I’ve forgot,
But I think it was Robert—you’ll find it in Scott—
Who, when cursing Dame Fortune, was taught by a Spider,
“She’s sure to come round, if you will but abide her.”239
Then another great Rob,
Called “White-headed Bob,”
Whom I once saw receive such a thump on the “nob”
From a fist which might almost an elephant brain,
That I really believed, at the first, he was slain,
For he lay like a log on his back on the plain,
Till a gentleman present accustomed to train,
Drew out a small lancet, and open’d a vein
Just below his left eye, which relieving the pain,
He stood up like a trump, with an air of disdain,
While his “backer” was fain—
For he could not refrain
(He was dress’d in pea-green, with a pin and gold chain,
And I think I heard somebody call him “Squire Hayne”),—
To whisper ten words one should always retain,
—“Take a suck at the lemon and at him again!!!”—
A hint ne’er surpass’d, though thus spoken at random,
Since Teucer’s apostrophe—Nil desperandum!
Granville acted on it, and order’d his Tandem,
He had heard St. Foix say,
That no very great way
From Namur was a snug little town called Grandpré,
Near which, a few miles from the banks of the Maese,
Dwelt a pretty twin-sister of poor dear Therèse,
Of the same age, of course, the same father, same mother,
And as like to Therèse as one pea to another;
She liv’d with her Mamma,
Having lost her Papa,
Late of contraband schnaps an unlicensed distiller,
And her name was Des Moulins (in English, Miss Miller).
Now, though Hippolyte Hector
Could hardly expect her
To feel much regard for her sister’s “protector,”
When she’d seen him so shamefully leave and neglect her;
Still, he very well knew
In this world there are few
But are ready much Christian forgiveness to ,
For other folk’s wrongs—if well paid so to do—
And he’d seen to what acts “Res angustæ” compel beaux
And belles, whose affairs have once got out at elbows,
With the magic effect of a handful of crowns
Upon people whose pockets boast nothing but “240
A few francs well applied
He’d no doubt would decide
Miss Agnes Des Moulins to jump up and ride
As far as head-quarters, next day, by his side;
For the distance was nothing, to speak by comparison,
To the town where the Mousquetaires now lay in garrison;
Then he thought, by the aid
Of a veil, and gown made
Like those worn by the lady his friend had betray’d,
They might dress up Miss Agnes so like to the Shade,
Which he fancied he saw, of that poor injured maid,
Come each night, with her pale face, his guilt to upbraid;
That if once introduced to his room, thus array’d,
And then unmask’d as soon as she’d long enough stay’d,
’Twould be no very difficult task to persuade
Him the whole was a scurvy trick, cleverly play’d,
Out of spite and revenge, by a mischievous jade!
With respect to the scheme—though I do not call that a gem—
Still I’ve known soldiers adopt a worse stratagem,
And that, too, among the decided approvers
Of General Sir David Dundas’s “Manœuvres.”
There’s a proverb, however,
I’ve always thought clever,
Which my Grandmother never was tired of repeating,
“The proof of the Pudding is found in the eating!”
We shall see, in the sequel, how Hector Achille
Had mix’d up the suet and plums for his meal.
The night had set in;—’twas a dark and a gloomy one:—
Off went St. Foix to his chamber; a roomy one.
Five stories high,
The first floor from the sky,
And lofty enough to afford great facility
For playing a game, with the youthful nobility,
Of “crack corps,” a deal in
Request, when they’re feeling,
In dull country quarters, ennui on them stealing;
A wet wafer’s applied
To a sixpence’s side,
Then it’s spun with the thumb up to stick on the ceiling;
Intellectual amusement, which custom allows old troops,—
I’ve seen it here practised at home by our Household troops.
He’d a table, and bed,
And three chairs; and all’s said.—241
A bachelor’s barrack, where’er you discern it, you’re
Sure not to find overburthen’d with furniture.
François Xavier Auguste lock’d and bolted his door
With just the same caution he’d practised before;
Little he knew
That the Count Cordon Bleu,
With Hector Achille, and the Sieur de la Roue,
Had been up there before him, and drawn ev’ry screw!
And now comes the moment—the watches and clocks
All point to eleven!—the bolts and the locks
Give way—and the party turn out their bag-fox!—
With step noiseless and light,
Though half in a fright,
A cup in her left hand, a draught in her right,
In her robe long and black, and her veil long and white,
Ma’amselle Agnes de Moulins walks in as a sprite!—
She approaches the bed
With the same silent tread,
Just as though she had been at least half a year dead!
Then seating herself on the “rush-bottom’d chair,”
Throws a cold stony glance on the Black Mousquetaire.
If you’re one of the “play-going public,” kind reader,
And not a Moravian or rigid Seceder,
You’ve seen Mr. Kean,
I mean in that scene
Of Macbeth,—by some thought the crack one of the piece,
Which has been so well painted by Mr. M‘Clise,—
When he wants, after having stood up to say grace,4
To sit down to his haggis, and can’t find a place;
You remember his stare
At the high-back’d arm-chair,
Where the Ghost sits that nobody else knows is there,
And how, after saying “What man dares I dare!”
He proceeds to declare
He should not so much care
If it came in the shape of a “tiger” or “bear,”
But he don’t like it shaking its long gory hair!
While the obstinate Ghost, as determined to brave him,242
With a horrible grin,
Sits, and cocks up his chin,
Just as though he was asking the tyrant to shave him.
And Lennox and Rosse
Seem quite at a loss
If they ought to go on with their sheep’s head and sauce;
And Lady Macbeth looks uncommonly cross,
And says in a huff,
It’s all “Proper stuff!”—
All this you’ll have seen, Reader, often enough;
So perhaps ’twill assist you in forming some notion
Of what must have been François Xavier’s emotion
If you fancy what troubled
Macbeth to be doubled,
And, instead of one Banquo to stare in his face
Without “speculation,” suppose he’d a brace!
I wish I’d poor Fuseli’s pencil, who ne’er I bel-
ieve was exceeded in painting the terrible,
Or that of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, who was so a-
droit in depicting it—vide his piece
Descriptive of Cardinal Beaufort’s decease,
Where that prelate is lying,
With the King and his suite,
Standing just at his feet,
And his hands, as Dame Quickly says, fumbling the sheet;
While, close at his ear, with the air of a scorner,
“Busy, meddling,” old Nick’s grinning up in the corner.
But painting’s an art I confess I am raw in,
The fact is, I never took lessons in drawing,
Had I done so, instead
Of the lines you have read,
I’d have giv’n you a sketch should have fill’d you with dread!
François Xavier Auguste squatting up in his bed,
His hands widely spread,
His complexion like lead,
Ev’ry hair that he has standing up on his head,
As when, Agnes des Moulins first catching his view,
Now right, and now left, rapid glances he threw,
Then shriek’d with a wild and unearthly holloo,
“Mon Dieu! v’là deux!
By the Pope there are two!!!”
He fell back—one long aspiration he drew.
In flew De la Roue,
And Count Cordon Bleu,243
Pommade, Pomme-de-terre, and the rest of their crew,
He stirr’d not,—he spoke not,—he none of them knew!
And Achille cried “Odzooks!
I fear by his looks,
Our friend, François Xavier, has popp’d off the hooks!”
’Twas too true!
It was done!—he had ended his earthly career,—
He had gone off at once with a flea in his ear;
—The Black Mousquetaire was as dead as Small-beer!!
A moral more in point I scarce could hope
Than this, from Mr. Alexander Pope.
If ever chance should bring some Cornet gay
And pious Maid,—as, possibly, it may,—
From Knightsbridge Barracks, and the shades serene
Of Clapham Rise, as far as Kensal Green;
O’er some pale marble when they join their heads
To kiss the falling tears each other sheds;
Oh! may they pause!—and think, in silent awe,
He, that reads the words, “Ci gît St. Foix!”
She, that the tombstone which her eye surveys
Bears this sad line,—“Hic jacet Sœur Therèse!”—
Then shall they sigh, and weep, and murmuring say,
“Oh! may we never play such tricks as they!”—
And if at such a time some Bard there be,
Some sober Bard, addicted much to tea
And sentimental song—like Ingoldsby—
If such there be—who sings and sips so well,
Let him this sad, this tender story tell!
Warn’d by the tale, the gentle pair shall boast,
“I’ve ’scaped the Broken Heart!”—“and I the Ghost!!”
1 Mrs. Ingoldsby, who is deeply read in Robertson, informs me that this is a mistake; that the lady to whom this memorable billet was delivered by the hands of Pennalosa, was the unfortunate monarch’s mamma, and not his sister. I would gladly rectify the error, but, then,—what am I to do for a rhyme?—On the whole, I fear I must content myself, like Talleyrand, with admitting that “it is worse than a fault—it’s a blunder!” for which enormity,—as honest old Pepys says when he records having kissed his cookmaid,—“I humbly beg pardon of Heaven, and Mrs. Ingoldsby!”2
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes.
Who viewed men’s manners, Londons, Yorks, and Derbys.
3 “Tompion’s, I presume?”—Farquhar.4
‘Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
And health on both.’—Macbeth.
And, in short, show’d so much of the true sçavoir faire
[According to Google’s ngram viewer, the spellings sçavoir and savoir ran neck-and-neck through the first half of the 18th century. They then diverged sharply; by 1800 or so, the modern savoir had gained full ascendancy. So our Ingoldsby’s spelling is decidedly archaic. It does fit in well with Louis Quatorze, though.]
Into what Mrs. Ramsbottom calls a “Fox Paw”
[Some years back, a Gentle Reader wrote in to Miss Manners asking for an explanation of “phopah”. Anomalously, she had heard the term but had never seen it written.]
François Xavier Auguste acted much like the rest of them,
text has . for ,
Who wrote to his “sœur”1
[Footnote marker supplied from Bentley’s.]
Call’d by Professional men the “os femoris;”
close quote missing
And there she now leaves him, expecting a cure.
[Bentley’s has a final stanza to wrap up Canto I:
There, too,—as the Frog, when he “ask’d for a song,”
Said, “Miss Mouse, give us something that is not too long!”
Even so, Mr. Bentley
Now hints to me gently,
With slightly elongated visage, I must
Leave, myself, till next month, François Xavier Auguste. ]
Χλωρον δεος, I mean
text has Χλορον
[Corrected from Bentley’s. (If the periodical had also misspelled it, you would have seen a “spelling unchanged” notation here. Either way, you will not find me complaining about the absence of diacritics.)]
Was the end of all poor dear Therèse’s shampooing.
[He will spell it like this throughout. And no use correcting from Bentley’s; over there he didn’t even use the grave accent, though the various rhymes clearly warrant it.]
“When Woman,” as Goldsmith declares, “stoops to folly
[In Chapter XXIV of The Vicar of Wakefield. On this site I find the lines are quoted in works ranging from Emma to The Old Curiosity Shop.]
Ay, e’en in your dreams,
text has . for final ,
Dindon aux truffes
[Turkey, that is. The bird got this name because the French absurdly thought it came from India (d’Inde), while the better-informed English knew perfectly well it really came from . . . uh . . .]
“I’ve done him,” thinks he, “now, I’ll wager a guinea!”
final close quote missing
With “Messieurs, I propose—”
close quote missing
But are ready much Christian forgiveness to shew
text has show
[The printer must have been tone-deaf; it only rhymes if you use the archaic form, as Bentley’s did.]
Upon people whose pockets boast nothing but “browns:”
close quote missing
The next in order of these “lays of many lands” refers to a period far earlier in point of date, and has for its scene the banks of what our Teutonic friends are wont to call their “own imperial River!” The incidents which it records afford sufficient proof (and these are days of demonstration), that a propensity to flirtation is not confined to age or country, and that its consequences were not less disastrous to the mail-clad Ritter of the dark ages than to the silken courtier of the seventeenth century. The whole narrative bears about it the stamp of truth, and from the papers among which it was discovered, I am inclined to think it must have been picked up by Sir Peregrine in the course of one of his valetudinary visits to “The German Spa.”
SIR RUPERT THE FEARLESS, a gallant young knight,
Was equally ready to tipple or fight,
Crack a crown, or a bottle,
Cut sirloin, or throttle!
In brief, or, as Hume says, “to sum up the tottle,”
Unstain’d by dishonour, unsullied by fear,
All his neighbours pronounced him a preux chevalier.
Despite these perfections, corporeal and mental,
He had one slight defect, viz., a rather lean rental;
Besides, as ’tis own’d there are spots in the sun,
So it must be confessed that Sir Rupert had one;
Being rather unthinking,
He’d scarce sleep a wink in
A night, but addict himself sadly to drinking,
And what moralists say,
Is as naughty—to play,
To Rouge et Noir, Hazard, Short Whist, Ecarté;
Till these, and a few less defensible fancies
Brought the Knight to the end of his slender finances.
When at length through his boozing,
And tenants refusing
Their rents, swearing “times were so bad they were losing,”245
His steward said, “O, sir,
It’s some time ago, sir,
Since aught through my hands reach’d the baker or grocer,
And the tradesmen in general are grown great complainers,”
Sir Rupert the Brave thus address’d his retainers:
“My friends, since the stock
Of my father’s old hock
Is out, with the Kürchwasser, Barsac, Moselle,
And we’re fairly reduced to the pump and the well,
I presume to suggest,
We shall all find it best
For each to shake hands with his friends ere he goes,
Mount his horse, if he has one, and—follow his nose;
As to me, I opine,
Left sans money or wine,
My best way is to throw myself into the Rhine,
Where pitying trav’llers may sigh, as they cross over,
‘Though he lived a roué, yet he died a philosopher.’”
The knight, having bow’d out his friends thus politely,
Got into his skiff, the full moon shining brightly,
By the light of whose beam,
He soon spied on the stream
A dame, whose complexion was fair as new cream;
Pretty pink silken hose
Cover’d ankles and toes,
In other respects she was scanty of clothes;
For, so says tradition, both written and oral,
Her one garment was loop’d up with bunches of coral.
Full sweetly she sang to a sparkling guitar,
With silver chords stretch’d over Derbyshire spar,
And she smiled on the Knight,
Who, amazed at the sight,
Soon found his astonishment merged in delight;
But the stream by degrees
Now rose up to her knees,
Till at length it invaded her very chemise,
While the heavenly strain, as the wave seem’d to swallow her,
And slowly she sank, sounded fainter and hollower;
—Jumping up in his boat
And discarding his coat,
“Here goes,” cried Sir Rupert, “by jingo, I’ll follow her!”
Then into the water he plunged with a souse
That was heard quite distinctly by those in the house.246
Down, down, forty fathom and more from the brink,
Sir Rupert the Fearless continues to sink,
And, as downward he goes,
Still the cold water flows
Through his ears, and his eyes, and his mouth, and his nose,
Till the rum and the brandy he’d swallow’d since lunch
Wanted nothing but lemon to fill him with punch;
Some minutes elapsed since he enter’d the flood,
Ere his heels touch’d the bottom, and stuck in the mud.
But oh! what a sight
Met the eyes of the Knight,
When he stood in the depth of the stream bolt upright!—
A grand stalactite hall,
Like the cave of Fingal,
Rose above and about him;—great fishes and small
Came thronging around him, regardless of danger,
And seem’d all agog for a peep at the stranger.
Their figures and forms to describe, language fails—
They’d such very odd heads, and such very odd tails;
Of their genus or species a sample to gain,
You would ransack all Hungerford market in vain;
E’en the famed Mr. Myers,
Would scarcely find buyers,
Though hundreds of passengers doubtless would stop
To stare, were such monsters exposed in his shop.
But little reck’d Rupert these queer-looking brutes,
Or the efts and the newts
That crawled up his
For a sight, beyond any of which I’ve made mention,
In a moment completely absorb’d his attention.
A huge crystal bath, which, with water far clearer
Than George Robins’ filters, or Thorpe’s (which are dearer),
Have ever distill’d,
To the summit was fill’d,
Lay stretch’d out before him,—and every nerve thrill’d
As scores of young women
Were diving and swimming,
Till the vision a perfect quandary put him in;—
All slightly accoutred in gauzes and lawns,
They came floating about him like so many prawns.
Sir Rupert, who (barring the few peccadilloes
Alluded to) ere he into the billows247
Possessed irreproachable morals, began
To feel rather queer, as a modest young man;
When forth stepp’d a dame, whom he recognised soon
As the one he had seen by the light of the moon,
And lisp’d, while a soft smile attended each sentence,
“Sir Rupert, I’m happy to make your acquaintance;
My name is Lurline,
And the ladies you’ve seen
All do me the honour to call me their Queen;
I’m delighted to see you, sir, down in the Rhine here,
And hope you can make it convenient to dine here.”
The Knight blush’d and bow’d
As he ogled the crowd
Of subaqueous beauties, then answer’d aloud:
“Ma’am, you do me much honour,—I cannot express
The delight I shall feel—if you’ll pardon my dress.—
May I venture to say, when a gentleman jumps
In the river at midnight for want of ‘the dumps,’
He rarely puts on his knee-breeches and pumps;
If I could but have guess’d—what I sensibly feel—
Your politeness—I’d not have come en deshabille,
But have put on my silk tights in lieu of my steel.”
Quoth the lady, “Dear sir, no apologies, pray,
You will take our ‘pot-luck’ in the family way;
We can give you a dish
Of some decentish fish,
And our water’s thought fairish; but here in the Rhine
I can’t say we pique ourselves much on our wine.”
The Knight made a bow more profound than before,
When a Dory-faced page oped the dining-room door,
And said, bending his knee,
“Madame, on a servi!”
Rupert tender’d his arm, led Lurline to her place,
And a fat little Mer-man stood up and said grace.
What boots it to tell of the viands, or how she
Apologised much for their plain water-souchy,
Want of Harvey’s, and Crosse’s,
And Burgess’s sauces?
Or how Rupert, on his side, protested, by Jove, he
Preferr’d his fish plain, without soy or anchovy.248
Suffice it the meal
Boasted trout, perch, and eel,
Besides some remarkably fine salmon peel.
The Knight, sooth to say, thought much less of the fishes
Than of what they were served on, the massive gold dishes;
While his eye, as it glanced now and then on the girls,
Was caught by their persons much less than their pearls,
And a thought came across him and caused him to muse,
“If I could but get hold
Of some of that gold,
I might manage to pay off my rascally Jews!”
When dinner was done, at a sign to the lasses,
The table was clear’d, and they put on fresh glasses;
Then the lady addrest
Her redoubtable guest
Much as Dido, of old, did the pious Eneas,
“Dear sir, what induced you to come down and see us?”—
Rupert gave her a glance most bewitchingly tender,
Loll’d back in his chair, put his toes on the fender,
And told her outright,
How that he, a young Knight,
Had never been last at a feast or a fight;
But that keeping good cheer,
Every day in the year,
And drinking neat wines all the same as small-beer,
Had exhausted his rent,
And, his money all spent,
How he borrow’d large sums at two hundred per cent;
How they follow’d—and then,
The once civillest of men,
Messrs. Howard and Gibbs, made him bitterly rue it he
’d ever raised money by way of annuity;
And, his mortgages being about to foreclose,
How he jump’d in the river to finish his woes!
Lurline was affected, and own’d, with a tear,
That a story so mournful had ne’er met her ear;
Rupert, hearing her sigh,
Look’d uncommonly sly,
And said, with some emphasis, “Ah! miss, had I
A few pounds of those metals
You waste here on kettles,
Then, Lord once again
Of my spacious domain,
A free Count of the Empire once more I might reign,
With Lurline at my side,
My adorable bride
(For the parson should come, and the knot should be tied);249
No couple so happy on earth should be seen
As Sir Rupert the Brave and his charming Lurline;
Not that money’s my object—No, hang it! I scorn it—
And as for my rank—but that you’d so adorn it—
I’d abandon it all
To remain your true thrall,
And instead of ‘the Great,’ be call’d ‘Rupert the
—To gain but your smiles, were I Sardanapalus,
I’d descend from my throne, and be boots at an alehouse.”5
Lurline hung her head,
Turn’d pale, and then red,
Growing faint at this sudden proposal to wed,
As though his abruptness, in “popping the question”
So soon after dinner, disturb’d her digestion.
Then, averting her eye,
With a lover-like sigh,
“You are welcome,” she murmur’d in tones most bewitching,
“To every utensil I have in my kitchen!”
Up started the Knight,
Half mad with delight,
Round her finely-form’d waist
He immediately placed
One arm, which the lady most closely embraced,
Of her lily-white fingers the other made capture,
And he press’d his adored to his bosom with rapture.
“And, oh!” he exclaim’d, “let them go catch my skiff, I
’ll be home in a twinkling and back in a jiffy,
Nor one moment procrastinate longer my journey
Than to put up the banns and kick out the attorney.”
One kiss to her lip, and one squeeze to her hand,
And Sir Rupert already was half-way to land,
For a sour-visaged Triton,
With features would frighten
Old Nick, caught him up in one hand, though no light one,
Sprang up through the waves, popp’d him into his funny,
Which some others already had half-fill’d with money;
In fact, ’twas so heavily laden with ore
And pearls, ’twas a mercy he got it to shore:
But Sir Rupert was strong,
And while pulling along,
Still he heard, faintly sounding, the water-nymphs’ song.250
“Away! away! to the mountain’s brow,
Where the castle is darkly frowning;
And the vassals, all in goodly row,
Weep for their lord a-drowning!
Away! away! to the steward’s room,
Where law with its wig and robe is;
Throw us out John Doe and Richard Roe,
And sweetly we’ll tickle their tobies!”
The unearthly voices scarce had ceased their yelling,
When Rupert reach’d his old baronial dwelling.
What rejoicing was there!
How the vassals did stare!
The old housekeeper put a clean shirt down to air,
For she saw by her lamp
That her master’s was damp,
And she fear’d he’d catch cold, and lumbago and cramp;
But, scorning what she did,
The Knight never heeded
Wet jacket or trousers, nor thought of repining,
Since their pockets had got such a delicate lining,
But oh! what dismay
Fill’d the tribe of Ca Sa,
When they found he’d the cash, and intended to pay!
Away went “bills,” “bonds,” and “escheats,”—
Rupert clear’d off all scores, and took proper receipts.
Now no more he sends out
For pots of brown stout,
Or schnaps, but resolves to do henceforth without,
Abjure from this hour all excess and ebriety,
Enrol himself one of a Temp’rance Society,
All riot eschew,
Begin life anew,
And new-cushion and hassock the family pew!
Nay to strengthen him more in his new mode of life,
He boldly determines to take him a wife.
Now, many would think that the Knight, from a nice sense
Of honour, should put Lurline’s name in the licence,251
And that, for a man of his breeding and quality,
To break faith and troth,
Confirm’d by an oath,
Is not quite consistent with rigid morality;
But whether the nymph was forgot, or he thought her
From her essence scarce wife, but at best wife-and-water.
And declined as unsuited,
A bride so diluted—
Be this as it may,
He, I’m sorry to say
(For, all things consider’d, I own ’twas a rum thing),
Made proposals in form to Miss Una Von—something
(Her name has escaped me), sole heiress, and niece
To a highly respectable Justice of Peace.
“Thrice happy’s the wooing
That’s not long a-doing!”
So much time is saved in the billing and cooing—
The ring is now bought, the white favours, and gloves,
And all the et cetera which crown people’s loves;
A magnificent bride-cake comes home from the baker,
And lastly appears, from the German Long Acre,
That shaft which the sharpest in all Cupid’s quiver is,
A plum-colour’d coach, and rich Pompadour liveries.
’Twas a comely sight
To behold the Knight,
With his beautiful bride, dress’d all in white,
And the bridesmaids fair with their long lace veils,
As they all walk’d up to the altar rails,
While nice little boys, the incense dispensers,
March’d in front with white surplices, bands, and gilt censers.
With a gracious air, and a smiling look,
Mess John had opened his awful book,
And had read so far as to ask if to wed he meant?
And if “he knew any just cause impediment?”
When from base to turret the castle shook!!!
Then came a sound of a mighty rain
Dashing against each storied pane,
The wind blew loud,
And a coal-black cloud
O’ershadowed the church, and the party, and crowd;
How it could happen they could not divine,
The morning had been so remarkably fine!252
Still the darkness increased, till it reach’d such a pass!
That the sextoness hasten’d to turn on the gas;
But harder it pour’d,
And the thunder roar’d,
As if heaven and earth were coming together:
None ever had witness’d such terrible weather.
Now louder it crash’d,
And the lightning flash’d,
Exciting the fears
Of the sweet little dears
In the veils, as it danced on the brass chandeliers;
The parson ran off, though a stout-hearted Saxon,
When he found that a flash had set fire to his caxon.
Though all the rest trembled, as might be expected,
Sir Rupert was perfectly cool and collected,
And endeavour’d to cheer
His bride, in her ear
Whisp’ring tenderly, “Pray don’t be frighten’d, my dear;
Should it even set fire to the castle, and burn it, you’re
Amply insured both for buildings and furniture.”
But now, from without,
A trustworthy scout
Rush’d hurriedly in,
Wet through to the skin,
Informing his master “the river was rising,
And flooding the grounds in a way quite surprising.”
He’d no time to say more,
For already the roar
Of the waters was heard as they reach’d the church-door,
While, high on the first wave that roll’d in, was seen,
Riding proudly, the form of the angry Lurline;
And all might observe, by her glance fierce and stormy,
She was stung by the spretæ injuria formæ.
What she said to the Knight, what she said to the bride,
What she said to the ladies who stood by her side,
What she said to the nice little boys in white clothes,
Oh, nobody mentions,—for nobody knows;
For the roof tumbled in, and the walls tumbled out,
And the folks tumbled down, all confusion and rout,
The rain kept on pouring,
The flood kept on roaring,
The billows and water-nymphs roll’d more and more in;
Ere the close of the day
All was clean wash’d away—253
One only survived who could hand down the news,
A little old woman that open’d the pews;
She was borne off, but stuck,
By the greatest good luck,
In an oak-tree, and there she hung, crying and screaming,
And saw all the rest swallow’d up the wild stream in;
In vain, all the week,
Did the fishermen seek
For the bodies, and poke in each cranny and creek;
In vain was their search,
After aught in the church,
They caught nothing but weeds, and perhaps a few perch;
The Humane Society
Tried a variety
Of methods, and brought down, to drag for the wreck, tackles,
But they only fish’d up the clerk’s tortoiseshell spectacles.
This tale has a moral. Ye youths, oh, beware
Of liquor, and how you run after the fair!
Shun playing at shorts—avoid quarrels and jars—
And don’t take to smoking those nasty cigars!
—Let no run of bad luck, or despair for some Jewess-eyed
Damsel, induce you to contemplate suicide!
Don’t sit up much later than ten or eleven!—
Be up in the morning by half after seven!
Keep from flirting—nor risk, warn’d by Rupert’s miscarriage,
An action for breach of a promise of marriage;—
Don’t fancy odd fishes!
Don’t prig silver dishes!
And to sum up the whole, in the shortest phrase I know,
Beware of the Rhine, and take care of the Rhino!
5 “Sardanapalus” and “Boots,” the Zenith and Nadir of human society.
“Sir Rupert the Fearless” originally appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 35 no. 4 (April 1834) as “Family Poetry No. V: A Tale of the Rhine”.
Is out, with the Kürchwasser, Barsac, Moselle
[He means Kirschwasser, but Blackwood’s has the same spelling.]
Down, down, forty fathom and more from the brink
[Climate change is getting worse than I thought. The highest figure I find for the depth of the Rhine is 20-25m, or around 10-12 fathoms.]
Or the efts and the newts / That crawled up his boots,
text has . for ,
ere he leapt into the billows
text has lept
My name is Lurline
[Today I Learned . . . that “Lurline”, which I have always thought of as a quintessentially White Trash Name, is an anglicized form of “Lorelei”. There was even an English-language opera by that name in 1860 or so. Up until the mid-1920s, the name occasionally cracked the Top 1000 in the US.]
Want of Harvey’s, and Crosse’s, / And Burgess’s sauces
[Dunno about Crosse and Burgess, but Harvey’s sauce was a staple of the 19th-century English kitchen. Eliza Acton and Isabella Beeton both cite it many times, while Wilkie Collins’s “The Cruise of the Tomtit” lists it among the essentials for even a small boat’s galley.]
Away went “cognovits,” “bills,” “bonds,” and “escheats,”—
close quote after “cognovits” missing
With his beautiful bride, dress’d all in white
[Victoria’s wedding is four years in the future, so she must not have been all that much of a trend-setter after all.]
And if “he knew any just cause or impediment?”
text has cause of
And now for “Sunny Italy,”—the “Land of the unforgotten brave,”—the land of blue skies and black-eyed Signoras.—I cannot discover from any recorded memoranda that “Uncle Perry” was ever in Venice, even in Carnival time,—that he ever saw Garrick in Shylock I do not believe, and am satisfied that he knew nothing of Shakspeare, a circumstance that would by no means disqualify him from publishing an edition of that Poet’s works. I can only conclude that, in the course of his Continental wanderings, Sir Peregrine had either read, or heard of the following history, especially as he furnishes us with some particulars of the eventual destination of his dramatis personæ which the Bard of Avon has omitted. If this solution be not accepted, I can only say, with Mr. Puff, that probably “two men hit upon the same idea, and Shakspeare made use of it first.”
. . . Of the Merchant of Venice there are two 4to editions in 1600, one by Heyes and the other by Roberts. The Duke of Devonshire and Lord Francis Egerton have copies of the edition by Heyes, and they vary importantly.
. . . It must be acknowledged that this is a very easy and happy emendation, which does not admit of a moment’s doubt or dispute.
. . . Readers in general are not at all aware of the nonsense they have in many cases been accustomed to receive as the genuine text of Shakspeare!
Reasons for a New Edition of Shakspeare’s Works, by J. Payne Collier.
I BELIEVE there are few
But have heard of a Jew,
Named Shylock, of Venice, as arrant a “screw”
In money transactions as ever you knew;
An exorbitant miser, who never yet lent
A ducat at less than three hundred per cent,
Insomuch that the veriest spendthrift in Venice,
Who’d take no more care of his pounds than his pennies,
When press’d for a loan, at the very first sight
Of his terms, would back out, and take refuge in Flight.255
It is not my purpose to pause and inquire
If he might not, in managing thus to retire,
Jump out of the frying-pan into the fire;
Suffice it, that folks would have nothing to do,
Who could possibly help it, with Shylock the Jew.
But, however discreetly one cuts and contrives,
We’ve been most of us taught in the course of our lives,
That “Needs must when the Elderly Gentleman drives!”
In proof of this rule,
A thoughtless young fool,
Bassanio, a Lord of the Tomnoddy school,
Who, by showing at Operas, Balls, Plays, and Court,
A “swelling” (Payne Collier would read “swilling”) “port,”
And inviting his friends to dine, breakfast, and sup,
Had shrunk his “weak means,” and was “stump’d” and “hard up,”
Took occasion to send
To his very good friend
Antonio, a merchant whose wealth had no end,
And who’d often before had the kindness to lend
Him large sums, on his note, which he’d managed to spend.
“Antonio,” said he,
“Now listen to me;
I’ve just hit on a scheme which, I think you’ll agree,
All matters consider’d, is no bad design,
And which, if it succeeds, will suit your book and mine.
“In the first place, you know all the money I’ve got,
Time and often, from you has been long gone to pot,
And in making those loans you have made a bad shot;
Now do as the boys do when, shooting at sparrows
And tom-tits, they chance to lose one of their arrows,
—Shoot another the same way—I’ll watch well its track,
And, turtle to tripe, I’ll bring both of them back!—
So list to my plan,
And do what you can
To attend to and second it, that’s a good man!
“There’s a Lady, young, handsome, beyond all compare, at
A place they call Belmont, whom, when I was there, at
The suppers and parties my friend Lord Mountferrat
Was giving last season, we all used to stare at.256
Then, as to her wealth, her solicitor told mine,
Besides vast estates, a pearl-fishery, and gold mine,
Her iron strong box
Seems bursting its locks,
It’s stuffed so with shares in ‘Grand Junctions’ and ‘Docks,’
Not to speak of the money she’s got in the Stocks,
French, Dutch, and Brazilian,
Columbian, and Chilian,
In English Exchequer-bills full half a million,
Not ‘kites,’ manufactured to cheat and inveigle,
But the right sort of ‘flimsy,’ all signed by Monteagle.
Then I know not how much in Canal-shares and Railways,
And more speculations I need not detail, ways
Of vesting which, if not so safe as some think ’em.
Contribute a deal to improving one’s income;
In short, she’s a Mint!
—Now I say, deuce is in’t
If, with all my experience, I can’t take a hint,
And her ‘eye’s speechless messages,’ plainer than print
At the time that I told you of, known from a squint.
In short, my dear Tony,
My trusty old crony,
Do stump up three thousand once more as a loan—I
Am sure of my game—though, of course there are brutes,
Of all sorts and sizes, preferring their suits
To her, you may call the Italian Miss Coutts,
Yet Portia—she’s named from that daughter of Cato’s—
Is not to be snapp’d up like little potatoes,
And I have not a doubt
I shall rout every lout
Ere you’ll whisper Jack Robinson—cut them all out—
Surmount every barrier,
Carry her, marry her!
—Then hey! my old Tony, when once fairly noosed,
For her Three-and-a-half per Cents—New and Reduced!”
With a wink of his eye
His friend made reply
In his jocular manner, sly, caustic, and dry.
“Still the same boy, Bassanio—never say ‘die’!
—Well—I hardly know how I shall do ’t, but I’ll try,—
Don’t suppose my affairs are at all in a hash,
But the fact is, at present I’m quite out of cash;
The bulk of my property, merged in rich cargoes, is
Tossing about, as you know, in my Argosies,257
Tending, of course, my resources to cripple,—I
‘ve one bound to England,—another to Tripoli—
A sixth, by the way,
I consigned t’other day
To Sir Gregor M‘Gregor, Cacique of Poyais,
A country where silver ’s as common as clay.
Meantime, till they tack,
And come, some of them, back,
What with Custom-house duties, and bills falling due,
My account with Jones and Co. looks rather blue;
While, as for the ‘ready,’ I’m like a Church-mouse,—
I really don’t think there’s five pounds in the house.
But, no matter for that,
Let me just get my hat,
And my new silk umbrella that stands on the mat,
And we’ll go forth at once to the market—we two,—
And try what my credit in Venice can do;
I stand well on ’Change, and, when all’s said and done, I
Don’t doubt I shall get it for love or for money.”
They were going to go,
When, lo! down below,
In the street, they heard somebody crying, “Old Clo’!”
—“By the Pope, there’s the man for our purpose!—I knew
We should not have to search long. Solanio, run you,
—Salarino,—quick!—haste! ere he get out of view,
And call in that scoundrel, old Shylock the Jew!”
With a pack,
Like a sack
Of old clothes at his back,
And three hats on his head, Shylock came in a crack,
Saying, “Rest you fair, Signior Antonio!—vat, pray,
Might your vorship be pleashed for to vant in ma vay?”
—“Why, Shylock, although,
As you very well know,
I am what they call ‘warm,’—pay my way as I go,
And, as to myself, neither borrow nor lend,
I can break through a rule to oblige an old friend;
And that’s the case now—Lord Bassanio would raise
Some three thousand ducats—well,—knowing your ways,
And that nought’s to be got from you, say what one will,
Unless you’ve a couple of names to the bill,258
Why, for once, I’ll put mine to it,
Yea, seal and sign to it—
Now, then, old Sinner, let’s hear what you’ll say
As to ‘doing’ a bill at three months from to-day?
Three thousand gold ducats, mind—all in good bags
Of hard money—no sealing-wax, slippers, or rags?”
“—Vell, ma tear,” says the Jew,
“I’ll see vat I can do!
But Mishter Antonio, hark you, funny
You say to me, ‘Shylock, ma tear, ve’d have money!’
Ven you very vell knows,
How you shpit on my clothes,
And use naughty vords—calls me Dog—and avouch
Dat I put too much int’resht py half in ma pouch,
And vhile I, like de resht of ma tribe, shrug and crouch,
You find fault mit ma pargains, and say I’m a Smouch.
—Vell!—no matters, ma tear,—
Von vord in your ear!
I’d be friends mit you bote—and to make dat appear,
Vy, I’ll find you de monies as soon as you vill,
Only von littel joke musht be put in de pill;—
Ma tear, you musht say,
If on such and such day
Such sum or such sums, you shall fail to repay,
I shall cut vhere I like, as de pargain is proke,
A fair pound of your flesh—chest by vay of a joke.”
So novel a clause
Caused Bassanio to pause;
But Antonio, like most of those sage “Johnny Raws”
Who care not three straws
About Lawyers or Laws,
And think cheaply of “Old Father Antic,” because
They have never experienced a gripe from his claws,
“Pooh pooh’d” the whole thing.—“Let the Smouch have his way,
Why, what care I, pray,
For his penalty?—Nay,
It’s a forfeit he’d never expect me to pay:
And, come what come may,
I hardly need say
My ships will be back a full month ere the day.”
So, anxious to see his friend off on his journey,
And thinking the whole but a paltry concern, he
Affix’d with all speed
His name to a deed,
Duly stamp’d and drawn up by a sharp Jew attorney.259
Thus again furnish’d forth, Lord Bassanio, instead
Of squandering the cash, after giving one spread,
With fiddling and masques, at the Saracen’s Head,
In the morning “made play,”
And without more delay,
Started off in the steamboat for Belmont next day.
But scarcely had he
From the harbour got free,
And left the Lagunes for the broad open sea,
Ere the ’Change and Rialto both rung with the news
That he’d carried off more than mere cash from the Jew’s.
Though Shylock was old,
And, if rolling in gold,
Was as ugly a dog as you’d wish to behold,
For few in his tribe ’mongst their Levis and Moseses
Sported so Jewish an eye, beard, and nose as his,
Still, whate’er the opinions of Horace and some be,
Your aquilæ generate sometimes Columbæ,6
Like Jephthah, as Hamlet says, he’d “one fair daughter,”
And every gallant, who caught sight of her, thought her
A jewel—a gem of the very first water;
A great many sought her,
Till one at last caught her,
And, upsetting all that the Rabbis had taught her,
To feelings so truly reciprocal brought her,
That the very same night
Bassanio thought right
To give all his old friends that farewell “invite,”
And while Shylock was gone there to feed out of spite,
On “wings made by a tailor” the damsel took flight.
By these “wings” I’d express
A grey duffle dress,
With brass badge and muffin cap, made, as by rule,
For an upper-class boy in the National School.
Jessy ransack’d the house, popp’d her breeks on, and when so
Disguised, bolted off with her beau—one Lorenzo,
An “Unthrift,” who lost not a moment in whisking
Her into the boat,
And was fairly afloat
Ere her Pa had got rid of the smell of the griskin.260
Next day, while old Shylock was making a racket,
And threatening how well he’d dust every man’s jacket
Who’d help’d her in getting aboard of the packet,
Bassanio at Belmont was capering and prancing,
And bowing, and scraping, and singing, and dancing,
Making eyes at Miss Portia, and doing his best
To perform the polite, and to cut out the rest;
And, if left to herself, he no doubt had succeeded.
For none of them waltz’d so genteelly as he did;
But an obstacle lay,
Of some weight, in his way,
The defunct Mr. P. who was now turned to clay,
Had been an odd man, and, though all for the best he meant,
Left but a queer sort of “Last will and testament,”—
Bequeathing her hand,
With her houses and land,
&c., from motives one don’t understand,
As she rev’renced his memory, and valued his blessing,
To him who should turn out the best hand at guessing!
Like a good girl, she did
Just what she was bid,
In one of three caskets her picture she hid,
And clapp’d a conundrum a-top of each lid.
A couple of Princes, a black and a white one,
Tried first, but they both fail’d in choosing the right one,
Another from Naples, who shoe’d his own horses;
A French Lord, whose graces might vie with Count D’Orsay’s;—
A young English Baron;—a Scotch Peer his neighbour:—
A dull drunken Saxon, all moustache and sabre;
All follow’d, and all had their pains for their labour.
Bassanio came last—happy man be his dole!
Put his conjuring cap on,—considered the whole,—
The gold put aside as
Mere “hard food for Midas,”
The silver bade trudge
As a “pale common drudge;”
Then choosing the little lead box in the middle,
Came plump on the picture, and found out the riddle.
Now, you’re not such a goose as to think, I dare say,
Gentle Reader, that all this was done in a day,261
Any more than the dome
Of St. Peter’s at Rome
Was built in the same space of time; and, in fact,
Whilst Bassanio was doing
His billing and cooing,
Three months had gone by ere he reach’d the fifth act;
Meanwhile that unfortunate bill became due,
Which his Lordship had almost forgot, to the Jew,
And Antonio grew
In a deuce of a stew,
For he could not cash up, spite of all he could do
(The bitter old Israelite would not renew);
What with contrary winds, storms, and wrecks, and embargoes, his
Funds were all stopp’d, or gone down in his argosies,
None of the set having come into port,
And Shylock’s attorney was moving the Court
For the forfeit supposed to be set down in sport.
The serious news
Of this step of the Jew’s,
And his fixed resolution all terms to refuse,
Gave the newly-made Bridegroom a fit of “the Blues,”
Especially, too, as it came from the pen
Of his poor friend himself on the wedding-day,—then,
When the Parson had scarce shut his book up, and when
The Clerk was yet uttering the final Amen.
“Dear Friend,” it continued, “all’s up with me—I
Have nothing on earth now to do but to die!
And, as death clears all scores, you’re no longer my debtor;
I should take it as kind
Could you come—never mind—
If your love don’t persuade you, why,—don’t let this letter!”
I hardly need say this was scarcely read o’er
Ere a post-chase and four
Was brought round to the door,
And Bassanio, though, doubtless, he thought it a bore,
Gave his lady one kiss, and then started at score.
But scarce in his flight
Had he got out of sight
Ere Portia, addressing a groom, said, “My lad, you a
Journey must take on the instant to Padua;262
Find out there Bellario, a Doctor of Laws,
Who, like Follett, is never left out of a cause,
And give him this note,
Which I’ve hastily wrote,
Take the papers he’ll give you—then push for the ferry
Below, where I’ll meet you, you’ll do’t in a wherry,
If you can’t find a boat on the Brenta with sails to it
—Stay, bring his Gown too, and wig with three tails to
Giovanni (that’s Jack)
Brought out his hack,
Made a bow to his mistress, then jump’d on its back,
Put his hand to his hat, and was off in a crack.
The Signora soon follow’d, herself, taking, as her
Own escort, Nerissa, her maid, and Balthasar.
“The Court is prepared, the Lawyers are met,
The Judges all ranged, a terrible show!”
As Captain Macheath says,—and when one’s in debt,
The sight’s as unpleasant a one as I know.
Yet still not so bad after all, I suppose,
As if, when one cannot discharge what one owes,
They should bid people cut off one’s toes or one’s nose;
Yet here, a worse fate,
Stands Antonio, of late
A Merchant, might vie e’en with Princes in state.
With his waistcoat unbutton’d, prepared for the knife,
Which, in taking a pound of flesh, must take his life;
—On the other side Shylock, his bag on the floor,
And three shocking bad hats on his head, as before,
As he waits their commands
With his scales and his great snicker-snee in his hands:
—Between them, equipt in a wig, gown, and bands,
With a very smooth face, a young dandified Lawyer,
Whose air, ne’ertheless, speaks him quite a top-sawyer,
Though his hopes are but feeble,
Does his possible
To make the hard Hebrew to mercy incline,
And in lieu of his three thousand ducats take nine,
Which Bassanio, for reasons we well may divine,
Shows in so many bags all drawn up in a line.
But vain are all efforts to soften him—still263
He points to the bond
He so often has conn’d,
And says in plain terms he’ll be shot if he will.
So the dandified Lawyer, with talking grown hoarse,
Says, “I can say no more—let the law take its course.”
Just fancy the gleam of the eye of the Jew,
As he sharpen’d his knife on the sole of his shoe
From the toe to the heel,
And grasping the steel,
With a business-like air was beginning to feel
Whereabouts he should cut, as a butcher would veal,
When the dandified Judge put a spoke in his wheel.
“Stay, Shylock,” says he,
“Here’s one thing—you see
This bond of yours gives you here no jot of blood!
—The words are ‘A pound of flesh,’—that’s clear as mud—
Slice away, then, old fellow—but mind!—if you spill
One drop of his claret that’s not in your bill,
I’ll hang you, like Haman!—by Jingo, I will!”
When apprised of this flaw,
You never yet saw
Such an awfully mark’d elongation of jaw
As in Shylock, who cried, “Plesh ma heart! ish dat law?”—
Off went his three hats,
And he look’d as the cats
Do, whenever a mouse has escaped from their claw.
“—Ish’t the law?”—why the thing won’t admit of a query—
“No doubt of the fact,
Only look at the Act;
Acto quinto, cap: tertio, Dogi Falieri—
Nay, if, rather than cut, you’d relinquish the debt,
The Law, Master Shy, has a hold on you yet.
See Foscari’s ‘Statutes at large’—‘If a Stranger
A Citizen’s life shall, with malice, endanger,
The whole of his property, little or great,
Shall go, on conviction, one half to the State,
And one to the person pursued by his hate;
And, not to create
Any farther debate,
The Doge, if he pleases, may cut off his pate.’
So down on your marrowbones, Jew, and ask mercy!
Defendant and Plaintiff are now wisy wersy.”264
What need to declare
How pleased they all were
At so joyful an end to so sad an affair?
Or Bassanio’s delight at the turn things had taken,
His friend having saved, to the letter, his bacon?—
How Shylock got shaved, and turn’d Christian, though late,
To save a life-int’rest in half his estate?
How the dandified Lawyer, who’d managed the thing,
Would not take any fee for his pains but a ring
Which Mrs. Bassanio had given to her spouse,
With injunctions to keep it on leaving the house?—
How when he, and the spark
Who appeared as his clerk,
Had thrown off their wigs, and their gowns, and their jetty coats,
There stood Nerissa and Portia in petticoats?—
How they pouted, and flouted, and acted the cruel,
Because Lord Bassanio had not kept his jewel?—
How they scolded and broke out,
Till, having their joke out,
They kissed, and were friends, and, all blessing and blessed,
Drove home by the light
Of a moonshiny night,
Like the one in which Troilus, the brave Trojan knight,
Sat astride on a wall, and sigh’d after his Cressid?—
All this, if ’twere meet,
I’d go on to repeat,
But a story spun out so’s by no means a treat,
So, I’ll merely relate what, in spite of the pains
I have taken to rummage among his remains,
No edition of Shakspeare, I’ve met with, contains;
But, if the account which I’ve heard be the true one,
We shall have it, no doubt, before long, in a new one.
In an MS., then, sold
For its full weight in gold,
And knock’d down to my friend, Lord Tomnoddy, I’m told
It’s recorded that Jessy, coquettish and vain,
Gave her husband, Lorenzo, a good deal of pain;
Being mildly rebuked, she levanted again,
Ran away with a Scotchman, and, crossing the main,
Became known by the name of the “Flower of Dunblane.”265
That Antonio, whose piety caused, as we’ve seen,
Him to spit upon every old Jew’s gaberdine,
And whose goodness to paint
All colours were faint,
Acquired the well-merited prefix of “Saint,”
And the Doge, his admirer, of honour the fount,
Having given him a patent, and made him a Count,
He went over to England, got nat’ralis’d there,
And espous’d a rich heiress in Hanover Square.
That Shylock came with him, no longer a Jew,
But converted, I think may be possibly true,
But that Walpole, as these self-same papers aver,
By changing the y in his name into er,
Should allow him a fictitious surname to dish up,
And in Seventeen-twenty-eight make him a Bishop,
I cannot believe—but shall still think them two men
Till some Sage proves the fact “with his usual acumen.”
From this tale of the
Bard It’s uncommonly hard
If an editor can’t draw a moral.—’Tis clear,
Then,—In ev’ry young wife-seeking Bachelor’s ear
A maxim, ’bove all other stories, this one drums,
“Pitch Greek to old Harry, and stick to Conundrums!!”
To new-married Ladies this lesson it teaches,
“You’re ‘no that far wrong’ in assuming the breeches!”
Monied men upon ’Change, and rich Merchants it schools
To look well to assets—nor play with edge tools!
Last of all, this remarkable History shows men,
What caution they need when they deal with old-clothesmen!
So bid John and Mary
To mind and be wary,
And never let one of them come down the are’!
Nec imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquilæ columbam.—Hor.
“The Merchant of Venice” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XI no. 4 (April 1842). The periodical includes an illustration by George Cruikshank, recognizably the source of one of the two illustrations in the book:
John Payne Collier (1789–1883) was—it says here—“a respected Shakespeare scholar and editor”. With emphasis on was, past tense. Between 1842 and 1844, or at just the time this part of the Ingoldsby Legends came out, he published a new edition of Shakespeare, incorporating emendations from notes in a newly discovered folio known as the Perkins Folio. At first, nobody but Collier and his patron, the Duke of Devonshire, was allowed to see this rare, valuable and fragile text. But in 1858 the Duke died and bequeathed the book to the British Museum . . . whereupon it all went belly-up. It didn’t help that Collier heatedly denied forging the folio’s hand-written annotations—before anyone had actually accused him of doing so.
My account with Jones Lloyd and Co. looks rather blue
text has Loyd
But Mishter Antonio, hark you,’tish funny
Stay, bring his Gown too, and wig with three tails to it.”
close quote missing
With his scales and his great snicker-snee in his hands
[I’ll be darned. I thought W. S. Gilbert had just made that up.]
From St. Mark to St. Lawrence—from the Rialto to the Escurial—from one Peninsula to another!—it is but a hop, step, and jump—your toe at Genoa, your heel at Marseilles, and a good hearty spring pops you down at once in the very heart of Old Castille. That Sir Peregrine Ingoldsby, then a young man, was at Madrid soon after the peace of Ryswick, there is extant a long correspondence of his to prove. Various passages in it countenance the supposition that his tour was partly undertaken for political purposes; and this opinion is much strengthened by certain allusions in several of his letters addressed, in after life, to his friend, Sir Horace Mann, then acting in the capacity of Envoy to the Court of Tuscany. Although the Knight spent several months in Spain, and visited many of her principal cities, there is no proof of his having actually “seen Seville,” beyond the internal evidence incidentally supplied by the following legend. The events to which it alludes were, of course, of a much earlier date, though the genealogical records of the “Kings of both the Indies” have been in vain consulted for the purpose of fixing their precise date, and even Mr. Simpkinson’s research has failed to determine which of the royal stock rejoicing in the name of Ferdinand is the hero of the legend. The conglomeration of Christian names usual in the families of the haute noblesse of Spain adds to the difficulty; not that this inconvenient accumulation of prefixes is peculiar to the country in question, witness my excellent friend Field-Marshal Count Herman Karl Heinrich Socrates von der Nodgerrie Pfefferkorn, whose appellations puzzled the recording clerk of one of our Courts lately,—and that not a little.
That a splendid specimen of the genus Homo, species Monk, flourished in the earlier moiety of the fifteenth century, under the appellation of Torquemada, is notorious,—and this fact might seem to establish the era of the story; but then his name was John—not Dominic—though he was a Dominican, and hence the mistake, if any, may perhaps have originated—but then again the Spanish Queen to whom he was Confessor was called Isabella, and not Blanche—it is a puzzling affair altogether.
From his own silence on the subject it may well be doubted whether the worthy transcriber knew himself the date of the transactions 267 he has recorded; the authenticity of the details, however, cannot be well called in question.—Be this as it may, I shall make no further question, but at once introduce my “pensive public” to
WITH a moody air, from morn till noon,
King Ferdinand paces the royal saloon;
From morn till eve
He does nothing but grieve;
Sighings and sobbings his midriff heave,
And he wipes his eyes with his ermined sleeve,
And he presses his feverish hand to his brow,
And he frowns and he looks I can’t tell you how;
And the Spanish Grandees, in their degrees,
Are whispering about in twos and in threes,
And there is not a man of them seems at his ease,
But they gaze on the monarch, as watching what he does,
With their very long whiskers, and longer Toledos.
Don Caspar, Don Gusman, Don Juan, Don Diego,
Don Gomez, Don Pedro, Don Bias, Don Rodrigo,
Don Jerome, Don Giacomo join Don Alphonso
In making inquiries
Of grave Don Ramirez,
The Chamberlain, what it is makes him take on so;
A Monarch so great that the soundest opinions
Maintain the sun can’t set throughout his dominions.
But grave Don Ramirez
In guessing no nigher is
Than the other grave Dons who propound these inquiries;
When, pausing at length, as beginning to tire, his
Majesty beckons, with stately civility.
To Señor Don Lewis
Who in birth, wealth, and consequence second to few is,
And Señor Don Manuel, Count de Pacheco,
A lineal descendant from King Pharaoh Neco,
Both Knights of the Golden Fleece, highborn Hidalgos,
With whom e’en the King himself quite as a “pal” goes.268
“Don Lewis,” says he,
“Just listen to me;
And you, Count Pacheco,—I think that we three
On matters of state, for the most part agree,—
Now you both of you know
That some six years ago,
Being then, for a King, no indifferent Beau,
At the altar I took, like my forbears of old,
The Peninsula’s paragon,
Fair Blanche of Aragon,
For better, for worse, and to have and to hold—
And you’re fully aware,
When the matter took air,
How they shouted, and fired the great guns in the Square,
Cried ‘Viva!’ and rung all the bells in the steeple,
And all that sort of thing
The mob do when a King
Brings a Queen-Consort home for the good of his people.
“Well!—six years and a day
Have flitted away
Since that blessed event, yet I’m sorry to say—
In fact it’s the principal cause of my pain—
I don’t see any signs of an Infant of Spain!—
Now I want to ask you,
And Counsellors sage—what the deuce shall I do?—
The State—don’t you see?—hey?—an heir to the throne—
Every monarch, you know, should have one of his own—
Disputed succession—hey?—terrible Go!—
Hum—hey?—Old fellows—you see!—don’t you
Now Reader, dear,
If you’ve ever been near
Enough to a Court to encounter a Peer
When his principal tenant’s gone off in arrear,
And his brewer has sent in a long bill for beer,
And his butcher and baker, with faces austere,
Ask him to clear
Off, for furnish’d good cheer,
Bills, they say, “have been standing for more than a
And the tailor and shoemaker also appear
With their “little account”
Of “trifling amount,”
For Wellingtons, waistcoats, pea-jackets, and—gear
Which to name in society’s thought rather queer,—
While Drummond’s chief clerk, with his pen in his ear,
And a kind of a sneer, says, “We’ve no effects here!”
—Or if ever you’ve seen
An Alderman keen
After turtle, peep into a silver tureen,269
In search of the fat call’d par excellence “green,”
When there’s none of the meat left—not even the lean!—
—Or if ever you’ve witnessed the face of a sailor
Return’d from a voyage, and escaped from a gale, or
Poeticè “Boreas,” that “blustering railer,”
To find that his wife, when he hastens to “hail” her,
Has just run away with his cash—and a tailor—
If one of these cases you’ve ever survey’d,
You’ll, without my aid,
To yourself have portray’d
The beautiful mystification display’d,
And the puzzled expression of manner and air
Exhibited now by the dignified pair,
When thus unexpectedly ask’d to declare
Their opinions as Councillors, several and joint,
On so delicate, grave, and important a point.
Señor Don Lewis
At length forced a smile ’twixt the prim and the grim,
And look’d at Pacheco—Pacheco at him—
Then, making a rev’rence, and dropping his eyes,
Cough’d, hemm’d, and deliver’d himself in this wise:
“My Liege!—unaccustom’d as I am to speaking
In public—an art I’m remarkably weak in—
I feel I should be—quite unworthy the name
Of a man and a Spaniard—and highly to blame,
Were there not in my breast
What—can’t be exprest,—
And can therefore,—your Majesty,—only be guess’d—
—What I mean to say is—since your Majesty deigns
To ask my advice on your welfare—and Spain’s—
And on that of your Majesty’s Bride—that is, Wife—
It’s the—as I may say—proudest day of my life!
But as to the point—on a subject so nice
It’s a delicate matter to give one’s advice,
When one don’t clearly view
The best mode of proceeding,—or know what to do;
My decided opinion, however, is this,
And I fearlessly say that you can’t do amiss,
If, with all that fine tact
Both to think and to act,270
In which all know your Majesty so much excels—
You are graciously pleased to—ask somebody else!”
Here the noble Grandee
Made that sort of congée,
Which, as Hill used to say, “I once happen’d to see”
The great Indian conjuror, Ramo Samee,
Make, while swallowing what all thought a regular choker,
Viz. a small sword as long and as stiff as a poker.
Then the Count de Pacheco,
Whose turn ’twas to speak, o-
mitting all preface, exclaim’d with devotion,
“Sire, I beg leave to second Don Lewis’s motion!”
Now a Monarch of Spain
Of course could not deign
To expostulate, argue, or, much less, complain
Of an answer thus giv’n, or to ask them again;
So he merely observ’d, with an air of disdain,
“Well, Gentlemen,—since you both shrink from the task
Of advising your Sovereign—pray whom shall I ask?”
Each felt the rub,
And in Spain not a Sub,
Much less an Hidalgo, can stomach a snub,
So the noses of these
Rise at once in an angle of several degrees,
Till the under-lip’s almost becoming the upper,
Each perceptibly grows, too, more stiff in the crupper;
Their right hands rest
On the left side the breast,
While the hilts of their swords, by their left hands deprest,
Make the ends of their scabbards to cock up behind,
Till they’re quite horizontal instead of inclined,
And Don Lewis, with scarce an attempt to disguise
The disgust he experiences, gravely replies,
“Sire, ask the Archbishop—his Grace of Toledo!—
He understands these things much better than we do!”
Each turns off in a huff,
This twirling his moustache, that fingering his ruff,
Like a blue-bottle fly on a rather large scale,
With a rather large corking-pin stuck through his tail.
King Ferdinand paces the royal saloon,
With a moody brow, and he looks like a “Spoon,”271
And all the Court Nobles, who form the ring,
Have a spoony appearance, of course, like the King,
All of them eyeing King Ferdinand
As he goes up and down, with his watch in his hand,
Which he claps to his ear as he walks to and fro,—
“What is it can make the Archbishop so slow?”
Hark!—at last there’s a sound in the courtyard below,
Where the Beefeaters all are drawn up in a row,—
I would say the “Guards,” for in Spain they’re in chief eaters
Of omelettes and garlick, and can’t be call’d Beefeaters;
In fact, of the few
Individuals I knew
Who ever had happened to travel in Spain,
There has scarce been a person who did not complain
Of their cookery and dishes as all bad in grain,
And no one, I’m sure, will deny it who’s tried a
Vile compound they have that’s called Olla podrida.
’s a mere rhyme to the eye,
For in Spanish the i is pronounced like an e,
And they’ve not quite our mode of pronouncing the d.
In Castille, for instance, it’s given through the teeth,
And what we call Madrid, they sound more like Madreeth.)
Of course you will see in a moment they’ve no men
That at all correspond with our Beefeating Yeomen;
So call them “Walloons,” or whatever you please,
By their rattles and slaps they’re not “standing at ease,”
But, beyond all disputing,
Engaged in saluting,
Some very great person among the Grandees;—
Here a Gentleman Usher walks in and declares,
“His Grace the Archbishop’s a-coming up stairs!”
The Most Reverend Don Garcilasso Quevedo
Was just at this time, as he
Now held the Primacy
(Always attached to the See of Toledo),
A man of great worship officii virtute
Versed in all that pertains to a Counsellor’s duty,
Well skill’d to combine
Civil laws with divine;
As a statesman, inferior to none in that line;
As an orator, too,
He was equall’d by few;272
Uniting, in short, in tongue, head-piece, and pen,
The very great powers of three very great men,
Talleyrand,—who will never drive down Piccadilly more
To the Travellers’ Club-House!—Charles Phillips—and Phillimore.
Not only at home,
But even at Rome,
There was not a Prelate among them could cope
With the Primate of Spain in the eyes of the Pope.
(The Conclave was full, and they’d not a spare hat, or he
’d long since been Cardinal, Legate à latere,
A dignity fairly his due, without flattery,
So much he excited among all beholders
Their marvel to see
At his age—thirty-three
Such a very old head on such very young shoulders.)
No wonder the King, then, in this his distress,
Should send for so sage an adviser express,
Who, you’ll readily guess,
Could not do less
Than start off at once, without stopping to dress,
In his haste to get Majesty out of a mess.
His Grace the Archbishop comes up the back way—
Set apart for such Nobles as have the entrée,
Viz. Grandees of the first class, both cleric and lay—
Walks up to the monarch, and makes him a bow,
As a dignified clergyman always knows how,
Then replaces the mitre at once on his brow;
For in Spain, recollect,
As a mark of respect
To the Crown, if a Grandee uncovers, it’s quite
As a matter of option, and not one of right;
A thing not conceded by our Royal Masters,
Who always make noblemen take off their “castors,”
Except the heirs male
Of John Lord Kinsale,
A stalwart old Baron, who, acting as Henchman
To one of our early Kings, kill’d a big Frenchman;
A feat which his Majesty deigning to smile on,
Allow’d him thenceforward to stand with his “tile” on;
And all his successors have kept the same privilege
Down from those barbarous times to our civil age.273
Returning his bow with a slight demi-bob,
And replacing the watch in his hand in his fob,
“My Lord,” said the King, “here’s a rather tough job,
Which it seems, of a sort is,
To puzzle our Cortes,
And since it has quite flabbergasted that Diet, I
Look to your Grace with no little anxiety
Concerning a point
Which has quite out of joint
Put us all with respect to the good of society:—
Your Grace is aware
That we’ve not got an Heir.
Now, it seems, one and all, they don’t stick to declare
That of all our advisers there is not in Spain one
Can tell, like your Grace, the best way to obtain one;
So put your considering cap on—we’re curious
To learn your receipt for a Prince of Asturias.”
One without the nice tact
Of his Grace would have backt
Out at once, as the Noblemen did,—and, in fact
He was, at the first, rather pozed how to act—
One moment—no more!—
Bowing then as before,
He said, “Sire, ’twere superfluous for me to acquaint
The ‘Most Catholic King’ in the world that a Saint
Is the usual resource
In these cases,—of course
Of their influence your Majesty well knows the force
If I may be, therefore, allowed to suggest
The plan which occurs to my mind as the best,
Your Majesty may go
At once to St. Jago,
Whom, as Spain’s patron Saint, I pick out from the rest:
If your Majesty looks
Into Guthrie, or Brooks,
In all the approved Geographical books
You will find Compostella laid down in the maps
Some two hundred and sev’nty miles off; and, perhaps,
In a case so important you may not decline
A pedestrian excursion to visit his shrine;
And, Sire, should you choose
To put peas in your shoes,
The Saint, as a Gentleman, can’t well refuse
So distinguish’d a Pilgrim, especially when he
Considers the boon will not cost him one penny!”274
His speech ended, his Grace bow’d, and put on his mitre
As tight as before, and perhaps a thought tighter,
“Pooh! pooh!” says the King,
“I shall do no such thing!
It’s nonsense,—Old fellow—you see—no use talking—
The peas set apart, I abominate walking—
Such a deuced way off too—hey?—walk there—what, me?
Pooh!—it’s no Go, Old fellow!—you know—don’t you see?”
“Well, Sire,” with much sweetness the Prelate replied,
“If your Majesty don’t like to walk, you can ride!
And then, if you please,
In lieu of the peas,
A small portion of horse-hair, cut fine, we’ll insert,
As a substitute under your Majesty’s shirt;
Then a rope round your collar instead of a laced band,—
A few nettles tuck’d into your Majesty’s waistband,—
Assafœtida mix’d with your bouquet and civet,
I’ll warrant you’ll find yourself right as a trivet!”
I tell you,”
Quoth the King, “It won’t do!”—
A cold perspiration began to bedew
His Majesty’s cheek, and he grew in a stew,
When Jozé de Humez, the King’s privy-purse-keeper
(Many folks thought it could scarce have a worse keeper),
Came to the rescue, and said with a smile,
“Sire, your Majesty can’t go—’twould take a long while,
And you won’t post it under TWO SHILLINGS A MILE!!
Twenty-seven pounds ten
To get there—and then
Twenty-seven pounds ten more to get back agen!!
Sire, the tottle’s enormous—you ought to be King
Of Golconda as well as the Indies, to fling
Such a vast sum away upon any such thing!”
At this second rebuff
The Archbishop look’d gruff,
And his eye glanc’d on Humez as if he’d say “Stuff!”
But seeing the King seem’d himself in a huff,
He chang’d his demeanour, and grew smooth enough;
Then taking his chin ’twixt his finger and thumb,
As a help to reflection, gave vent to a “Hum!”275
’Twas the pause of an instant—his eye assumed fast
That expression which says, “Come, I’ve got it at last!”
“There’s one plan,” he resumed, “which with all due respect to
Your Majesty, no one, I think, can object to—
—Since your Majesty don’t like the peas in the shoe—or to
Travel—what say you to burning a Jew or two?
Of all cookeries, most,
The Saints love a roast!
And a Jew’s of all others the best dish to toast;
And then for a Cook
We have not far to look—
Father Dominic’s self, Sire, your own Grand Inquisitor,
Luckily now at your Court is a visitor;
Of his Rev’rence’s functions there is not one weightier
Than Heretic-burning—in fact, ’tis his métier.
Who still follows his heels,
He has always familiars enough at his beck at home,
To pick you up Hebrews enough for a hecatomb!
And depend on it, Sire, such a glorious specific
Would make every Queen throughout Europe prolific!”
Says the King, “That’ll do!
Pooh! pooh!—burn a Jew?
Burn half a score Jews—burn a dozen—burn two—
Your Grace, it’s a match!
Burn all you can catch,
Men, women, and children—Pooh! pooh!—great and small—
Old clothes—slippers—sealing-wax—Pooh!—burn them all!
For once we’ll be gay,
A grand Auto-da-fé
Is much better fun than a ball or a play!”
So the warrant was made out without more delay,
Drawn, seal’d, and delivered, and
YO EL RE!
There is not a nation in Europe but labours
To toady itself and to humbug its neighbours—
“Earth has no such folks—no folks such a city.
So great or so grand, or so fine, or so pretty,”276
Said Louis Quatorze,
“As this Paris of ours!”
—Mr. Daniel O’Connell exclaims, “By the Pow’rs,
Ould Ireland’s on all hands admitted to be
The first flow’r of the earth, and first Gim of the sea!”—
—Mr. Bull will inform you that Neptune,—a lad he,
With more of affection than rev’rence, styles, “Daddy,”—
Did not scruple to “say
To Freedom, one day,”
That if ever he chang’d his aquatics for dry land,
His home should be Mr. B.’s “Tight little Island.”—
He adds, too, that he,
The said Mr. B.,
Of all possible Frenchmen can fight any three;
That, with no greater odds, he knows well how to treat them,
To meet them, defeat them, and beat them, and eat them.—
—In Italy, too, ’tis the same to the letter;
There each Lazzarone
Will cry to his crony,
“See Naples, then die!7 and the sooner the better!”
The Portuguese say, as a well understood thing,
“Who has not seen Lisbon8 has not seen a good thing!”—
While an old Spanish proverb runs glibly as under,
Quien no ha visto sevilla
No ha visto maravilla!
“He who ne’er has viewed Seville has ne’er view’d a
And from all I can learn this is no such great blunder.
In fact, from the river,
The famed Guadalquiver,
Where many a knight’s had cold steel through his liver,9
The prospect is grand. The Iglesia Mayor
Has a splendid effect on the opposite shore,
With its lofty Giralda, while two or three score
Of magnificent structures around, perhaps more,
As our Irish friends have it, are there “to the fore:”
Then the old Alcazar,
More ancient by far,277
As some say, while some call it one of the palaces
Built in twelve hundred and odd by Abdalasis,
With its horse-shoe shaped arches of Arabesque tracery,
Which the architect seems to have studied to place awry,
Saracenic and rich;
And more buildings “the which,”
As old Lilly, in whom I’ve been looking a bit o’ late,
Says, “You’d be bored should I now recapitulate;”10
In brief, then, the view
Is so fine and so new,
It would make you exclaim, ’twould so forcibly strike ye,
If a Frenchman, “Superbe!”—if an Englishman, “Crikey!”
’Yes! thou art “Wonderful!”—but oh,
’Tis sad to think, ’mid scenes so bright
As thine, fair Seville, sounds of woe,
And shrieks of pain and wild affright,
And soul-wrung groans of deep despair,
And blood, and death should mingle there!
Yes! thou art “Wonderful!”—the flames
That on thy towers reflected shine,
While earth’s proud Lords and high-born Dames,
Descendants of a mighty line,
With cold unalter’d looks are by
To gaze, with an unpitying eye,
On wretches in their agony.
All speak thee “Wonderful”—the phrase
Befits thee well—the fearful blaze
Of yon piled faggots’ lurid light,
Where writhing victims mock the sight,—
The scorch’d limb shrivelling in its chains,—
The hot blood parch’d in living veins,—
The crackling nerve—the fearful knell
Wrung out by that remorseless bell,—
Those shouts from human fiends that swell,—
That withering scream,—that frantic yell,—278
All, Seville,—all too truly tell
Thou art a “Marvel”—and a Hell!
God!—that the worm whom thou hast made
Should thus his brother worm invade!
Count deeds like these good service done,
And deem THINE eye looks smiling on!!
Yet there at his ease, with his whole Court around him,
King Ferdinand sits “in his Glory”—confound him!—
Leaning back in his chair,
With a satisfied air,
And enjoying the bother, the smoke and the smother,
With one knee cocked carelessly over the other;
His pouncet-box goes
To and fro at his nose,
As somewhat misliking the smell of old clothes,
And seeming to hint, by this action emphatic,
That Jews, e’en when roasted, are not aromatic;
There, too, fair Ladies
From Xeres, and Cadiz,
Catalinas, and Julias, and fair Iñesillas,
In splendid lace veils, and becoming mantillas;
Elviras, Antonias, and Claras, and Floras,
And dark-eyed Jacinthas and soft Isidoras,
Are crowding the “boxes,” and looking on coolly as
Though ’twas but one of their common tertulias,
Partaking, as usual, of wafer and ices,
Snow-water, and melons cut out into slices,
And chocolate,—furnished at coffee-house prices;
While many a suitor,
And gay coadjutor
In the eating-and-drinking line scorns to be neuter;
One, being perhaps just return’d with his tutor
From travel in England, is tempting his “future”
With a luxury neat as imported, “The Pewter,”
And charming the dear Violantes and Iñeses
With a three-corner’d Sandwich, and soupçon of “Guinness’s;”
While another, from Paris but newly come back,
Hints “the least taste in life” of the best cogniac.
Such ogling and eyeing,
In short, and such sighing,
And such complimenting (one must not say l——g),
Of smart Cavaliers with each other still vying,279
Mix’d up with the crying,
And groans of the dying,
All hissing, and spitting, and broiling, and frying,
Form a scene which, although there can be no denying
To a bon Catholique it may prove edifying,
I doubt if a Protestant smart Beau, or merry Belle,
Might not shrink from it as somewhat too terrible.
It’s a question with me if you ever survey’d a
More stern-looking mortal than old Torquemada,
Renown’d Father Dominic, famous for twisting dom-
estic and foreign necks all over Christendom;
Morescoes or Jews,
Not a penny to choose,
If a dog of a heretic dare to refuse
A glass of old port, or a slice from a griskin,
The good Padre soon would so set him a frisking,
That I would not, for—more than I’ll say—be in his skin.
’Twas just the same thing with his own race and nation,
And Christian Dissenters of every persuasion,
Muggletonian or Quaker,
Or Jumper or Shaker,
No matter with whom in opinion partaker,
George Whitfield, John Bunyan, or Thomas Gat-acre,
They’d no better chance than a Bonze or a Fakir;
If a woman, it skill’d not—if she did not deem as he
Bade her to deem touching Papal supremacy.
By the Pope, but he’d make her!
From error awake her,
Or else—pop her into an oven and bake her!
No one, in short, ever came half so near, as he
Did, to the full extirpation of heresy;
And if, in the times of which now I am treating,
There had been such a thing as a “Manchester Meeting,”
“Pretty pork” he’d have made “Moderator” and “Minister,”
Had he but caught them on his side Cape Finisterre;—
Pye Smith, and the rest of them once in his bonfire, hence-
forth you’d have heard little more of the “Conference.”
And—there on the opposite side of the ring,
He, too, sits “in his Glory,” confronting the King,
With his cast-iron countenance frowning austerely
That matched with his en bon point body but queerly,280
For, though grim his visage, his person was pursy,
Belying the rumour
Of fat folks’ good humour;
Above waves his banner of “Justice and Mercy,”
Below and around stand a terrible band ad-
ding much to the scene—viz. The “Holy Hermanidad,”
That’s “Brotherhood,”—each looking grave as a .
Within the arena
Before them is seen a
Strange, odd-looking group, each one dress’d in a garment
Not “dandified” clearly, as certainly “varment,”
Being all over vipers and snakes, and stuck thick
With multiplied silhouette profiles of Nick;
And a cap of the same,
All devils and flame,
Extinguisher-shaped, much like Salisbury Spire,
Except that the latter’s of course somewhat higher;
A long yellow pin-a-fore,
Hangs down each chin afore,
On which, ere the wearer had donn’d it, a man drew
The Scotch badge, a Saltire, or Cross of St. Andrew;
Though I fairly confess I am quite at a loss
To guess why they should choose that particular cross,
Or to make clear to you
What the Scotch had to do
At all with the business in hand,—though it’s true
That the vestment aforesaid, perhaps from its hue,
Viz. yellow, in juxta-position with blue
(A tinge of which latter tint could but accrue
On the faces of wretches, of course, in a stew
As to what their tormentors were going to do),
Might make people fancy, who no better knew,
They were somehow connected with Jeffrey’s Review;
As it’s certain that few
Things would make Father Dominic blither or happier
Than to catch hold of it, or its Chef, Macvey Napier.—
No matter for that—my description to crown,
All the flames and the devils were turn’d upside down
On this habit, facetiously term’d San Benito,
Much like the dress suit
Of some nondescript brute
From the show-van of Wombwell (not George) or Polito.
And thrice happy they,11
Dress’d out in this way
To appear with éclat at the Auto-da-fé,—
Thrice happy indeed whom the good luck might fall to
Of devils tail upward, and “Fuego revolto,”
For, only see there,
In the midst of the Square,
Where, perch’d up on poles six feet high in the air
Sit, chained to the stake, some two, three, or four pair
Of wretches, whose eyes, nose, complexion, and hair,
Their Jewish descent but too plainly declare,
Each clothed in a garment more frightful by far, a
Smock-frock sort of gaberdine, call’d a Samarra,
With three times the number of devils upon it,—
A proportion observed on the sugar-loaf’d bonnet,
With this further distinction—of mischief a proof—
That every fiend Jack stands upright on his hoof!
While the pictured flames, spread
Over body and head,
Are three times as crooked, and three times as red!
All, too, pointing upwards, as much as to say,
“Here’s the real bonne bouche of the Auto-da-fé.”
With his cold, cruel smile,
Sits looking on calmly, and watching the pile,
As his hooded “Familiars” (their names, as some tell, come
From their being so much more “familiar” than “welcome”)
Have, by this time, begun
To be “poking their fun,”
And their firebrands, as if they were so many posies
Of lilies and roses,
Up to the noses
Of Lazarus Levi and Money Ben Moses;
While similar treatment is forcing out hollow moans
From Aby Ben Lasco and Ikey Ben Solomons,
Whose beards—this a black, that inclining to grizzle—
Are smoking, and curling, and all in a fizzle;
The King, at the same time, his Dons and his visitors,
Sit, sporting smiles, like the Holy Inquisitors,——
Thank Heaven, ’tis o’er!
The tragedy’s done! and we now draw a veil
O’er a scene which makes outraged humanity quail;282
The last fire’s exhausted, and spent like a rocket,
The last wretched Hebrew’s burnt down in his socket,
The Barriers are open, and all, saints and sinners,
King, Court, Lords, and Commons, gone home to their dinners,
With a pleasing emotion
Produced by the notion
Of having exhibited so much devotion,
All chuckling to think how the Saints are delighted
At having seen so many “Smouches” ignited:—
All, save Privy-purse Humez,
Who sconced in his room is,
And, Cocker in hand, in his leather-backed chair,
Is puzzling to find out how much the “affair”
(By deep calculations, the which I can’t follow) cost,—
The tottle, in short, of the whole of the Holocaust.
Perhaps you may think it a rather odd thing,
That, while talking so much of the Court and the King,
In describing the scene
Through which we’ve just been
I’ve not said one syllable as to the Queen;
Especially, too, as her Majesty’s “Whereabouts,”
All things considered, might well be thought thereabouts;
The fact was, however, although little known,
Sa Magestad had hit on a plan of her own,
And suspecting, perhaps, that an Auto alone
Might fail in securing this “Heir to the throne,”
Had made up her mind,
Although well inclined
Towards galas and shows of no matter what kind,
For once to retire,
And bribe the Saints higher
Than merely by sitting and seeing a fire,—
A sight, after all, she did not much admire;
So she locked herself up,
Without platter or cup,
In her Oriel, resolved not to take bite or sup,
Not so much as her matin-draught (our “early purl”),
Nor put on her jewels, nor e’en let the girl,
Who helped her to dress, take her hair out of curl,
But to pass the whole morning in telling her beads,
And in reading the lives of the Saints, and their deeds,283
And in vowing to visit, without shoes or sandals,
Their shrines, with unlimited orders for candles,
Holy water, and Masses of Mozart’s and Handel’s.12
And many a Pater, and Ave, and Credo
Did She, and her Father Confessor, Quevedo
(The clever Archbishop, you know, of Toledo)
Who came, as before, at a very short warning,
Get through, without doubt, in the course of that morning:
Shut up, as they were,
With nobody there
To at all interfere with so pious a pair;
And the Saints must have been stony-hearted indeed,
If they had not allow’d all these pains to succeed.
Nay, it’s not to me, but their very ability
Might, Spain throughout,
Have been brought into doubt,
Had the Royal bed still remain’d cursed with sterility;
St. Jago, however, who always is jealous
In Spanish affairs, as their best authors tell us,
And who, if he saw
Anything like a flaw
In Spain’s welfare, would soon sing, “Old Rose, burn the bellows!”
Set matters to rights like a King of good fellows:
By his interference,
Three-fourths of a year hence,
There was nothing but capering, dancing, and singing,
Cachucas, Boleros, and bells set a ringing,
In both the Castilles,
Rope-dancing, and tumbling, and somerset-flinging,
While ev’ry gun bang goes;
And all the way through, from Gibraltar to Biscay,
Figueras and Sherry make all the Dons frisky
(Save Moore’s “Blakes and O’Donnells,” who stick to the whisky);
All the day long
The dance and the song
Continue the general joy to prolong;
And even long after the close of the day284
You can hear little else but “Hip! hip! hurray!”
The Escurial, however, is not quite so gay,
For, whether the Saint had not perfectly heard
The petition the Queen and Archbishop preferred,—
Or whether his head, from his not being used
To an Aufo-da-fé, was a little confused,—
Or whether the King, in the smoke and the smother,
Got bother’d, and so made some blunder or other,
I am sure I can’t say;
All I know is, that day
There must have been some mistake!—that I’m afraid, is
Only too clear,
Inasmuch as the dear
Royal Twins,—though fine babies,—proved both little Ladies!
Reader!—Not knowing what your “persuasion” may be,
Mahometan, Jewish, or even Parsee,
Take a little advice which may serve for all three!
First—“When you are at Rome, do as Rome does!” and note all her
Ways—drink what She drinks! and don’t turn Tee-totaller!
In Spain, raison de plus,
You must do as they do,
Inasmuch as they’re all there “at sixes and sevens,”
Just, as you know,
They were some years ago,
In the days of Don Carlos and Brigadier Evans;
Don’t be nice, then—but take what they’ve got in their shops,
Whether griskins or sausages, ham or pork-chops!
Next—Avoid Fancy-trousers!—their colours and shapes
Sometimes, as you see, may lead folks into scrapes!
For myself, I confess
I’ve but small taste in dress,
My opinion is, therefore, worth nothing—or less—
But some friends I’ve consulted,—much given to watch one’s
It’s by far the best way,
And the safest, to do as Lord Brougham does—buy Scotch ones!
I might now volunteer some advice to a King,—
Let Whigs say what they will, I shall do no such thing,
But copy my betters, and never begin
Until, like Sir Robert, “I’m duly CALLED IN!”
7 “Vedi Napoli e poi mori!”8
“Quem não tem visto Lisboa
Não tem visto cousa boa.”
“Rio verde, Rio verde, etc.”
“Glassy water, glassy water,
Down whose current clear and strong,
Chiefs, confused in mutual slaughter,
Moor and Christian, roll along.”—
Old Spanish Romance.
10 Propria quæ maribus.
11 O fortunati nimium sua si bona nôrint!12
“That is, She would have ordered them—but none are known, I fear, as his,
For Handel never wrote a Mass, and so She’d David Perez’s—
Bow! wow! wow! Fol, lol, etc. etc.”
(Posthumous Note by the Ghost of James Smith, Esq.)
Field-Marshal Count Herman Karl Heinrich Socrates von der Nodgerrie zü Pfefferkorn, whose appellations puzzled the recording clerk of one of our Courts lately
[They puzzle me too. Since the introductory passage was, as always, added for the book, there’s no telling who gets the blame for the umlaut in “zü”. “Nodgerrie” is also not German, but it can’t be helped.]
“Well!—six years and a day
[Stanza break added from Bentley’s. This, in turn, explains the open quote.]
Bills, they say, “have been standing for more than a year,”
close quote missing
TWO SHILLINGS A MILE!! / Twenty-seven pounds ten
[I don’t understand where the extra ten shillings came from. The stated distance of 270 miles makes twenty-seven pounds even. Granted, that’s as the crow flies. By road it’s more like 300 miles, so the privy purse keeper may actually be underestimating the cost.]
Did not scruple to “say
[The quotation mark is in this unexpected place because it’s a paraphrase of Thomas Dibdin’s 1818 “The Snug Little Island”. Opening stanza:
Daddy Neptune, one day, to Freedom did say,
If ever I lived upon dry land,
The spot I should hit on would be little Britain!
Says Freedom, “Why, that’s my own island!”
O, it ’s a snug little island!
A right little, tight little island!
Search the globe round, none can be found
So happy as this little island. ]
That’s ”Brotherhood,”—each looking grave as a Grand-dad.
text has spurious open-quote before “Grand-dad”
The tottle, in short, of the whole of the Holocaust.
And many a Pater, and Ave, and Credo
[Stanza break supplied from Bentley’s.]
Nay, it’s not clear to me, but their very ability
[The book has “Nay, it’s not quite clear to me”, which breaks the metre.]
Royal Twins,—though fine babies,—proved both little Ladies!
[So? Spain didn’t follow Salic law.]
In the windows of the great Hall, as well as in those of the long gallery, and the Library at Tappington, are, and have been many of them from a very early period, various “storied panes” of stained glass, which, as Blue Dick’s13 exploits did not extend beyond the neighbouring city, have remained unfractured down to the present time. Among the numerous escutcheons there displayed, charged with armorial bearings of the family and its connections, is one in which a chevron between three eagles’ cuisses, sable, is blazoned quarterly with the engrailed saltire of the Ingoldsbys. Mr. Simpkinson from Bath,—whose merits as an antiquary are so well known and appreciated as to make eulogy superfluous, not to say impertinent,—has been for some time bringing his heraldic lore to bear on these monumenta vetusta. He pronounces the coat in question to be that of a certain Sir Ingoldsby Bray who flourished temp. Ric. I. and founded the Abbey of Ingoldsby, in the county of Kent and diocese of Rochester, early in the reign of that monarch’s successor. The history of the origin of that pious establishment has been rescued from the dirt and mildew in which its chartularies have been slumbering for centuries, and is here given. The link of connection between the two families is shown by the accompanying extract from our genealogical tree.
In this document it will be perceived that the death of Lady Alice Ingoldsby is attributed to strangulation superinduced by suspension, whereas in the veritable legend annexed no allusion is made to the intervention of a halter. Unluckily Sir Ingoldsby left no issue, or we might now be “calling Cousins” with (ci-devant) Mrs. Otway Cave, in whose favour the abeyance of the old Barony of Bray has recently been determined by the Crown. To this same Barony we ourselves were not without our pretensions, and, teste Simpkinson, had “as good a right to it as any body else.” The “Collective wisdom of the Country” has, however, decided the point, and placed us among that very numerous class of claimants who are “wrongfully kept out of their property and dignities—by the right owners.”
I seize with pleasure this opportunity of contradicting a malicious report that Mr. Simpkinson has, in a late publication, confounded King Henry the Fifth with the Duke of Monmouth, and positively deny that he has ever represented Walter Lord Clifford (father to Fair Rosamond), as the leader of the O. P. row.
13 Richard Culmer, parson of Chartham, commonly so called, distinguished himself, while Laud was in the Tower, by breaking the beautiful windows in Canterbury Cathedral, “standing on the top of the city ladder, near sixty steps high, with a whole pike in his hand, when others would not venture so This feat of Vandalism the cærulean worthy called “rattling down proud Becket’s glassie bones.”
When a transitional passage is long enough to have its own footnote, it must also merit its own Notes and Corrections section. As usual, the whole thing—including the complicated family tree—was not present in Bentley’s but was added for the book.
the accompanying extract from our genealogical tree
[The names in plain text:
Peter de Ingoldsby, Lord of Tappington, temp: Stephen, killed at the battle of Lincoln ex parte regis.
Vitalis de Engaine.
Alice de Lizures, 2d wife.
Geoffrey de Brai.
Joan only dau.
Richard Ingoldsby of Tappington aforesaid. A quo Hodiernus Ingoldsby.
Alicia dau. & heir, sus: per coll:
Ingoldsby de Bray, Chiv’ler, afterwards assumed his mother’s name, founder of Ingoldsby Abbey, A.D. 1202. ob. S. P. circiter 1214.
Reginald de Bray, 2d son, heir to his brother, from whom descended Edmund, Lord Bray, summoned to Parliament 21 to 28 Hen. 8. ]
the death of Lady Alice Ingoldsby is attributed to strangulation superinduced by suspension
[I’ll be darned. I had only just succeeded in convincing myself that “sus: per coll:” could not possibly mean “hanged by the neck”.]
Mrs. Otway Cave, in whose favour the abeyance of the old Barony of Bray has recently been determined by the Crown
[Anomalously, “Cave” was her own—i.e. her father’s—surname while “Otway” was her husband’s. In 1839 the Braye peerage was revived in Sarah Otway-Cave’s favor after almost three centuries in abeyance. (This kind of thing is a side effect of male-only primogeniture. If a title is heritable in the female line, but there is more than one daughter, everything goes into limbo until it can be shown that only one survivor remains—no matter how many generations that takes.)]
[Footnote] when others would not venture so high.”
close quote missing
“I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him!”—Shakspeare.
OUT and spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
A stalwart knight, I ween, was he,
“Come east, come west,
Come lance in rest,
Come falchion in hand, I’ll tickle the best
Of all the Soldan’s Chivalrie!”
Oh! they came west, and they came east,
Twenty-four Emirs and Sheiks at the least,
And they hammer’d away
At Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
Fall back, fall edge, cut, thrust, and point,—
But he topp’d off head, and he lopp’d off joint;
Twenty and three!
Of high degree,287
Lay stark and stiff on the crimson’d lea,
All—all save one—and he ran up a tree!
“Now count them, my squire, now count them and see!”
“Twenty and three!
Twenty and three!—
All of them Nobles of high degree:
There they be lying on Ascalon
Out and Spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
“What news? what news? come, tell to me!
What news? what news, thou little Foot-page?—
I’ve been whacking the foe, till it seems an age
Since I was in Ingoldsby Hall so free!
What news? what news from Ingoldsby Hall?
Come tell me now, thou Page so small!”
“Oh, Hawk and Hound
Are safe and sound,
Beast in byre and Steed in stall;
And the Watch-dog’s bark,
As soon as it’s dark,
Bays wakeful guard around Ingoldsby Hall!”
—“I care not a pound
For Hawk or for Hound,
For Steed in stall, or for Watch-dog’s bay:
Fain would I hear
Of my dainty dear;
How fares Dame Alice, my Lady gay?”—
Sir Ingoldsby Bray, he said in his rage,
“What news? what news? thou naughty Foot-page!”—
That little Foot-page full low crouch’d he,
And he doff’d his cap, and he bended his knee,
“Now lithe and listen, Sir Bray, to me:
Lady Alice sits lonely in bower and hall,
Her sighs they rise, and her tears they fall:
She sits alone,
And she makes her moan;
Dance and song
She considers quite wrong;
Feast and revel
Mere snares of the devil;
She mendeth her hose, and she crieth ‘Alack!
When will Sir Ingoldsby Bray come back?’”288
“Thou liest! thou liest, thou naughty Foot-page,
Full loud dost thou lie, false Page, to me!
There, in thy breast,
’Neath thy silken vest,
What scroll is that, false Page, I see?”
Sir Ingoldsby Bray in his rage drew near,
That little Foot-page he blench’d with fear;
“Now where may the Prior of Abingdon lie?
King Richard’s Confessor, I ween, is he,
And tidings rare
To him do I bear,
And news of price from his rich Ab-bee!”
“Now nay, now nay, thou naughty Page!
No learned clerk, I trow, am I,
But well, I ween,
May there be seen
Dame Alice’s hand with half an eye;
Now nay, now nay, thou naughty Page,
From Abingdon Abbey comes not thy news;
Although no clerk,
Well may I mark
The particular turn of her P’s and her Q’s!”
Sir Ingoldsby Bray, in his fury and rage,
By the back of the neck takes that little Foot-page;
The scroll he seizes,
The Page he squeezes,
And buffets,—and pinches his nose till he sneezes;
Then he cuts with his dagger the silken threads
Which they used in those days, ’stead of little Queen’s-heads.
When the contents of the scroll met his view,
Sir Ingoldsby Bray in a passion grew,
Backward he drew
His nailed shoe,
And he kicked that naughty Foot-page, that he flew
Like a cloth-yard shaft from a bended yew,
I may not say whither—I never knew.
“Now count the slain
Upon Ascalon plain,—
Go count them, my Squire, go count them again!”289
“Twenty and three!
There they be,
Stiff and stark on that crimson’d lea!—
Twenty and three?—
—Stay—let me see!
Stretched in his gore
There lieth one more!
By the Pope’s triple crown there are twenty and four!
Twenty-four trunks, I ween, are there,
But their heads and their limbs are no-body knows where!
Ay, twenty-four corses, I rede, there be,
Though one got away and ran up a tree!”
“Look nigher, look nigher,
My trusty Squire!”—
“One is the corse of a bare-footed Friar!!”
Out and spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
“A boon, a boon, King Richard,” quoth he,
“Now Heav’n thee save,
A boon I crave,
A boon, Sir King, on my bended knee;
A year and a day
Have I been away,
King Richard, from Ingoldsby Hall so free;
Dame Alice, she sits there in lonely guise,
And she makes her moan, and she sobs and she sighs,
And tears like rain-drops fall from her eyes,
And she darneth her hose, and she crieth ‘Alack!
Oh! when will Sir Ingoldsby Bray come back?’
A boon, a boon, my Liege,” quoth he
“Fair Ingoldsby Hall I fain would see!”
“Rise up, rise up, Sir Ingoldsby Bray,”
King Richard said right graciously,
“Of all in my host
That I love the most,
I love none better, Sir Bray, than thee!
Rise up, rise up, thou hast thy boon;
But—mind you make haste, and come back again soon!”
Pope Gregory sits in St. Peter’s chair.
Pontiff proud, I ween, is he,
And a belted Knight,
In armour dight,
Is begging a boon on his bended knee,290
With signs of grief and sounds of woe
Featly he kisseth his Holiness’ toe.
“Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave,
O Holy Father, pardon and grace!
In my fury and rage
A little Foot-page
I have left, I fear me, in evil case:
A scroll of shame
From a faithless dame
Did that naughty Foot-page to a paramour bear:
I gave him a ‘lick’
With a stick,
And a kick,
That sent him—I can’t tell your Holiness where!
Had he as many necks as hairs,
He had broken them all down those perilous stairs!”
“Rise up, rise up. Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
Rise up, rise up, I say to thee;
A soldier, I trow,
Of the Cross art thou;
Rise up, rise up from thy bended knee!
Ill it beseems that a soldier true
Of holy Church should vainly sue:—
—Foot-pages, they are by no means rare,
A thriftless crew, I ween, be they,
Well mote we spare
A Page—or a pair,
For the matter of that—Sir Ingoldsby Bray.
But stout and true
Soldiers, like you,
Grow scarcer and scarcer every day!
Be prayers for the dead
Let a mass be sung, and a pater be said;
So may your qualms of conscience cease,
And the little Foot-page shall rest in peace!”
“Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave,
O Holy Father, pardon and grace!
Dame Alice, my wife,
The bane of my life,
I have left, I fear me, in evil case!
A scroll of shame in my rage I tore,
Which that caitiff Page to a paramour bore;
’Twere bootless to tell how I storm’d and swore;
Alack! alack! too surely I knew
The turn of each P, and the tail of each Q,
And away to Ingoldsby Hall I flew!291
Dame Alice I found,—
She sank on the ground,—
I twisted her neck till I twisted it round!
With jibe and jeer, and mock, and scoff,
I twisted it on—till I twisted it off!—
All the King’s Doctors and all the King’s Men
Can’t put fair Alice’s head on agen!”
Sir Ingoldsby Bray
Why really I hardly know what to say:—
Foul sin, I trow, a fair Ladye to slay,
Because she’s perhaps been a little too gay.—
—Monk must chant and Nun must pray
For each mass they sing, and each pray’r they say,
For a year, and a day,
Sir Ingoldsby Bray
A fair rose-noble must duly pay!
So may his qualms of conscience cease,
And the soul of Dame Alice may rest in peace!”
“Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave,
O Holy Father, pardon and grace!
No power could save
That paramour knave;
I left him, I wot, in evil case!
There, ’midst the slain
Upon Ascalon plain,
Unburied, I trow, doth his body remain,
His legs lie here, and his arms lie there,
And his head lies—I can’t tell your Holiness where!”
“Now out and alas! Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
Foul sin it were, thou doughty Knight,
To hack and to hew
A champion true
Of Holy Church in such pitiful plight!
Foul sin her warriors so to slay,
When they’re scarcer and scarcer every day!—
—A chantry fair,
And of Monks a pair,
To pray for his soul for ever and aye,
Thou must duly endow, Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
And fourteen marks by the year must thou pay
For plenty of lights
To burn there o’ nights—292
None of your rascally ‘dips’—but sound,
Round, ten-penny moulds of four to the pound!—
And a shirt of the roughest and coarsest hair
For a year and a day, Sir Ingoldsby, wear!
So may your qualms of conscience cease,
And the soul of the Soldier shall rest in peace!”
“Now nay, Holy Father, now nay, now nay!
Less penance may serve!” quoth Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
“No champion free of the Cross was he;
No belted Baron of high degree;
No Knight nor Squire
Did there expire;
He was, I trow, but a bare-footed Friar!
And the Abbot of Abingdon long may wait
With his monks around him, and early and late
May look from loop-hole, and turret, and gate
He hath lost his Prior—his Prior his pate!”
“Now Thunder and turf!” Pope Gregory said,
And his hair rais’d his triple crown right off his head—
“Now Thunder and turf! and out and alas!
A horrible thing has come to pass!
What!—cut off the head of a reverend Prior,
And say he was ‘only (!!!) a bare-footed Friar!’—
‘What Baron or Squire,
Or Knight of the shire
Is half so good as a holy Friar?’
Never, I trow, have the Servi servorum
Had before ’em
Such a breach of decorum,
Such a gross violation of morum bonorum,
And won’t have again sæcula sæculorum!—
Come hither to me,
My Cardinals three,
My Bishops in partibus,
Masters in Artibus,
Hither to me, A.B. and D.D.
Doctors and Proctors of every degree.
Go fetch me a book!—go fetch me a bell
As big as a dustman’s!—and a candle as well—
I’ll send him—where good manners won’t let me tell!”293
—“Pardon and grace!—now pardon and grace!”
—Sir Ingoldsby Bray fell flat on his face—
“Meâ culpâ!—in sooth I’m in pitiful case.
Peccavi! peccavi!—I’ve done very wrong!
But my heart it is stout, and my arm it is strong,
And I’ll fight for Holy Church all the day long;
And the Ingoldsby lands are broad and fair,
And they’re here, and they’re there, and I can’t tell you where,
And Holy Church shall come in for her share!”
Pope Gregory paused, and he sat himself down,
And he somewhat relaxed his terrible frown,
And his Cardinals three they pick’d up his crown.
“Now, if it be so that you own you’ve been wrong,
And your heart is so stout, and your arm is so strong,
And you really will fight like a trump all day long;
If the Ingoldsby lands do lie here and there,
And Holy Church shall come in for her share,—
Why, my Cardinals three,
That it gives a new turn to the whole affair,
And I think that the Penitent need not despair!
—If it be so, as you seem to say,
Rise up, rise up, Sir Ingoldsby Bray!
Abbey so fair Sir Bray shall found.
Whose innermost wall’s encircling bound
Shall take in a couple of acres of ground;
And there in that Abbey all the year round,
A full choir of monks, and a full choir of nuns,
Shall live upon cabbage and hot-cross buns.
And Sir Ingoldsby Bray,
Shall hie him again
To Ascalon plain,
And gather the bones of the foully slain:
And shall place said bones, with all possible care,
In an elegant shrine in his Abbey so fair;294
And plenty of lights
Shall be there o’ nights;
None of your rascally ‘dips’ but sound,
Best superfine wax-wicks, four to the pound;
And Monk and Nun
Shall pray, each one,
For the soul of the Prior of Abingdon!
And Sir Ingoldsby Bray, so bold and so brave,
Never shall wash himself, comb, or shave,
Nor adorn his body,
Nor drink gin-toddy,
Nor indulge in a pipe,—
But shall dine upon tripe,
And blackberries gathered before they are ripe,
And for ever abhor, renounce, and abjure
Rum, hollands, and brandy, wine, punch, and
(Sir Ingoldsby Bray
Here gave way
To a feeling which prompted a word profane,
But he swallow’d it down, by an effort, again,
And his Holiness luckily fancied his gulp a
Mere repetition of O, meâ culpâ!)
“Thrice three times upon Candlemas-day
Between Vespers and Compline, Sir Ingoldsby Bray
Shall run round the Abbey, as best he may,
Subjecting his back
To thump and to thwack,
Well and truly laid on by a bare-footed Friar,
With a stout cat-o’-ninetails of whipcord and wire;
And nor he, nor his heir14
Shall take, use, or bear
Any more, from this day,
The surname of Bray,
As being dishonour’d; but all issue male he has
Shall, with himself, go henceforth by an alias!
So his qualms of conscience at length may cease,
And Page, Dame, and Prior shall rest in peace!”
Sir Ingoldsby (now no longer Bray)
Is off like a shot away and away,
Over the brine
To far Palestine,
To rummage and hunt over Ascalon plain
For the unburied bones of his victim slain.295
“Look out, my squire,
Look higher and nigher,
Look out for the corpse of a bare-footed Friar!
And pick up the arms, and the legs, of the dead,
And pick up his body, and pick up his head!”
Ingoldsby Abbey is fair to see,
It hath manors a dozen, and royalties three,
With right of free warren (whatever that be);
Rich pastures in front, and green woods in the rear,
All in full leaf at the right time of year;
About Christmas, or so, they fall into the sear,
And the prospect, of course, becomes rather more drear;
But it’s really delightful in spring-time,—and near
The great gate Father Thames rolls sun-bright and clear;
Cobham woods to the right,—on the opposite shore
Laindon Hills in the distance, ten miles off or more;
Then you’ve Milton and Gravesend behind,—and before
You can see almost all the way down to the Nore.15
So charming a spot
It’s rarely one’s lot
To see, and when seen it’s as rarely forgot.
Yes, Ingoldsby Abbey is fair to see,
And its Monks and its Nuns are fifty and three,
And there they all stand each in their degree,
Drawn up in the front of their sacred abode,
Two by two in their regular mode,
While a funeral comes down the Rochester road.
Palmers twelve, from a foreign strand,
Cockle in hat, and staff in hand.
Come marching in pairs, a holy band!296
Little boys twelve, dressed all in white,
Each with his brazen censer bright,
And singing away with all their might,
Follow the Palmers—a goodly sight;
Next high in air
Twelve Yeomen bear
On their sturdy necks, with a good deal of care,
A patent sarcophagus firmly rear’d
Of Spanish mahogany (not veneer’d),
And behind walks a Knight with a very long beard.
Close by his side
Is a Friar, supplied
With a stout cat-o’-ninetails of tough cow-hide,
While all sorts of queer men
Bring up the rear—Men-
at-arms, Nigger captives, and Bow-men, and Spear-men.
It boots not to tell
What you’ll guess very well,
How some sang the requiem, some toll’d the bell;
Suffice it to say,
’Twas on Candlemas-day
The procession I speak about reach’d the Sacellum;
And in lieu of a supper
The Knight on his crupper
Received the first taste of the Father’s flagellum;
That, as chronicles tell
He continued to dwell
All the rest of his days in the Abbey he’d founded,
By the pious of both sexes ever surrounded,
And, partaking the fare of the Monks and the Nuns,
Ate the cabbage alone, without touching the buns;
—That year after year, having run round the Quad
With his back, as enjoin’d him, exposed to the rod,
Having not only kiss’d it, but bless’d it, and thank’d it, he
Died, as all thought, in the odour of sanctity,
When,—strange to relate!—and you’ll hardly believe
What I’m going to tell you,—next Candlemas Eve
The Monks and the Nuns in the dead of the night
Tumble, all of them, out of their beds in affright,
Alarm’d by the bawls,
And the calls, and the squalls
Of some one who seem’d running all round the walls!
Looking out, soon
By the light of the moon,
There appears most distinctly to ev’ry one’s view,
And making, as seems to them, all this ado,
The form of a Knight with a beard like a Jew,
As black as if steep’d in that “Matchless!” of Hunt’s,
And so bushy, it would not disgrace Mr. Muntz;
A bare-footed Friar stands behind him, and shakes
A flagellum, whose lashes appear to be snakes;
While, more terrible still, the astounded beholders
Perceive the said Friar has NO HEAD ON HIS SHOULDERS,
But is holding his pate
In his left hand, out straight,
As if by a closer inspection to find
Where to get the best cut at his victim behind,
With the aid of a small “bull’s-eye lantern,”—as placed
By our own New Police,—in a belt round his waist.
All gaze with surprise,
Scarce believing their eyes,
When the Knight makes a start like a race-horse, and flies
From his headless tormentor, repeating his cries,—
In vain,—for the Friar to his skirts closely sticks,
“Running after him,”—so said the Abbot,—“like Bricks!”
Thrice three times did the Phantom Knight
Course round the Abbey as best he might,
Be-thwack’d and be-smack’d by the headless Sprite,
While his shrieks so piercing made all hearts thrill,—
Then a whoop and a halloo,—and all was still!
Ingoldsby Abbey has passed away,
And at this time of day,
One can hardly survey
Any traces or track, save a few ruins, grey
With age, and fast mouldering into decay,
Of the structure once built by Sir Ingoldsby Bray;
But still there are many folks living who say
That on every Candlemas Eve, the Knight,
Accoutred and dight
In his armour bright,
With his thick black beard,—and the clerical Sprite,
With his head in his hand, and his lantern alight,
Run round the spot where the old Abbey stood,
And are seen in the neighbouring glebe-land and wood;298
More especially still, if it’s stormy and windy,
You may hear them for miles kicking up their wild shindy;
And that once in a gale
Of wind, sleet, and hail,
They frighten’d the horses, and upset the mail.
What ’tis breaks the rest
Of these souls unblest
Would now be a thing rather hard to be guess’d,
Though some say the Squire, on his death-bed, confess’d
That on Ascalon plain,
When the bones of the slain
Were collected that day, and pack’d up in a chest
Caulk’d and made water-tight,
By command of the Knight,
Though the legs and the arms they’d got all pretty right,
And the body itself in a decentish plight,
Yet the Friar’s Pericranium was nowhere in sight;
So, to save themselves trouble, they pick’d up instead,
And popp’d on the shoulders a Saracen’s Head!
Thus the Knight in the terms of his penance had fail’d,
And the Pope’s absolution, of course, nought avail’d.
Now though this might be,
It don’t seem to agree
With one thing which, I own, is a poser to me,—
I mean, as the miracles wrought at the shrine
Containing the bones brought from far Palestine
Were so great and notorious, ’tis hard to combine
This fact with the reason these people assign,
Or suppose that the head of the murder’d Divine
Could be aught but what Yankees would call “genu-ine.”
’Tis a very nice question—but be’t as it may,
The Ghost of Sir Ingoldsby (ci-devant Bray),
It is boldly affirmed, by the folks great and small
About Milton, and Chalk, and around Cobham Hall,
Still on Candlemas-day haunts the old ruin’d wall,
And that many have seen him, and more heard him squall.
So, I think, when the facts of the case you recall,
My inference, reader, you’ll fairly forestall,
Viz.: that, spite of the hope
Held out by the Pope,
Sir Ingoldsby Bray was d—d after all!299
Foot-pages, and Servants of ev’ry degree,
In livery or out of it, listen to me!
See what comes of lying! don’t join in a league
To humbug your master, or aid an intrigue!
Ladies!—married and single, from this understand
How foolish it is to send letters by hand!
Don’t stand for the sake of a penny,—but when you
’ve a billet to send
To a lover or friend,
Put it into the post, and don’t cheat the revenue!
Reverend gentlemen!—you who are given to roam,
Don’t keep up a soft correspondence at home!
But while you’re abroad lead respectable lives;
Love your neighbours, and welcome,—but don’t love their wives!
And, as bricklayers cry from the tiles and the leads
When they’re shovelling the snow off, “Take care of your
Knights!—whose hearts are so stout, and whose arms are so strong,
Learn,—to twist a wife’s neck is decidedly wrong!
If your servants offend you, or give themselves airs,
Rebuke them—but mildly—don’t kick them down stairs!
To “Poor Richard’s” homely old proverb attend,
“If you want matters well managed, Go!—if not, Send!”
A servant’s too often a negligent elf;
—If it’s business of consequence, Do it yourself!
The state of society seldom requires
People now to bring home with them unburied Friars,
But they sometimes do bring home an inmate for life;
Now—don’t do that by proxy!—but chose your own wife!
For think how annoying ’twould be, when you’re wed,
To find in your bed,
On the pillow, instead
Of the sweet face you look for—A Saracen’s Head!
14 His brother Reginald, it would seem by the pedigree, disregarded this prohibition.
15 Alas! one might almost say that of this sacred, and once splendid, edifice, periêrunt etiam ruinæ. An elderly gentleman, however, of ecclesiastical cut, who oscillates between the Garrick Club and the Falcon in Gravesend, and is said by the host to be a “foreigneering Bishop,” does not scruple to identify the ruins still to be seen by the side of the high Dover road, about a mile and a half below the town, with those of the haunted Sacellum. The general features of the landscape certainly correspond, and tradition, as certainly, countenances his conjecture.
“The Ingoldsby Penance” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. X no. 1 (July 1841) as “County Legends No. IV: The Ingoldsby Penance! A Legend of West Kent”.
[The “Fytte I” heading is absent from Bentley’s, though there will be a Fytte II and Fytte III.]
There they be lying on Ascalon lea!”
close quote missing
“An Abbey so fair Sir Bray shall found.
open quote missing
[If you’re going to add a stanza break—there wasn’t one in Bentley’s—you’ll have to put in a supplemental open-quote as well.]
Rum, hollands, and brandy, wine, punch, and liqueur:”
close quote missing
When they’re shovelling the snow off, “Take care of your heads!”
close quote missing
[Footnote] His brother Reginald
[The footnote refers back to the introductory material, and was therefore added for the book.]
Alas, for Ingoldsby Abbey!—Alas that one should have to say
Periêrunt etiam Ruinæ!
Its very Ruins now are tiny!
There is a something in the very sight of an old Abbey—family associations apart—as Ossian says (or Macpherson for him), “pleasing yet mournful to the soul!” nor could I ever yet gaze on the roofless walls and ivy-clad towers of one of these venerable monuments of the piety of bygone days without something very like an unbidden tear rising to dim the prospect. Something of this, I think, I have already hinted in recording our pic-nic with the Seaforths at Bolsover. Since then I have paid a visit to the beautiful remains of what once was Netley, and never experienced the sensation to which I have alluded in a stronger degree;—if its character was somewhat changed before we parted—it is not my fault. Still, be the drawbacks what they may, I shall ever mark with a white stone the day on which I for the first time beheld the time-worn cloisters of
I SAW thee, Netley, as the sun
Across the western wave
Was sinking slow,
And a golden glow
To thy roofless towers he gave;
And the ivy sheen,
With its mantle of green,
That wrapt thy walls around,
Shone lovelily bright,
In that glorious light,
And I felt ’twas holy ground.
Then I thought of the ancient time—
The days of the Monks of old,—
When to Matin and Vesper, and Compline chime,
The loud Hosanna roll’d,301
And thy courts, and “long-drawn aisles” among,
Swell’d the full tide of sacred song.
And then a vision pass’d
Across my mental eye;16
And silver shrines, and shaven crowns,
And delicate Ladies, in bombazeen gowns,
And long white veils, went by;
Stiff, and staid, and solemn, and sad,—
—But one, methought, wink’d at the Gardener-lad!
Then came the Abbot, with mitre and ring,
And pastoral staff, and all that sort of thing,
And a monk with a book, and a Monk with a bell
And “dear little souls,”
In clean linen stoles,
Swinging their censers, and making a smell.—
And see where the Choir-master walks in the rear,
With front severe,
And brow austere,
Now and then pinching a little boy’s ear
When he chaunts the responses too late, or too soon,
Or his Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La’s not quite in tune.
(Then you know,
They’d a “moveable Do,”
Not a fix’d one as now—and of course never knew
How to set up a musical Hullah-baloo.)
It was, in sooth, a comely sight,
And I welcom’d the vision with pure delight.
But then “a change came o’er”
My spirit—a change of fear—
That gorgeous scene I beheld no more,
But deep beneath the basement floor
A dungeon dark and drear!
And there was an ugly hole in the wall—
For an oven too big,—for a cellar too small!
And mortar and bricks
All ready to fix,
And I said, “Here’s a Nun has been playing some tricks!—
That horrible hole!—it seems to say,
‘I’m a grave that gapes for a living prey!’”302
And my heart grew sick, and my brow grew sad—
And I thought of that wink at the Gardener-lad.
Ah me! ah me!—’tis sad to think
That Maiden’s eye, which was made to wink,
Should here be compell’d to grow blear, and blink,
Or be closed for aye
In this kind of way,
Shut out for ever from wholesome day,
Wall’d up in a hole with never a chink,
No light,—no air,—no victuals,—no drink!—
And that Maiden’s lip,
Which was made to sip,
Should here grow wither’d and dry as a chip!
—That wandering glance and furtive kiss,
Exceedingly naughty, and wrong, I wis,
Should yet be consider’d so much amiss
As to call for a sentence severe as this!—
And I said to myself, as I heard with a sigh,
The poor lone victim’s stifled cry,17
“Well, I can’t understand
How any man’s hand
Could wall up that hole in a Christian land!
Why a Mussulman Turk
Would recoil from the work,
And though, when his ladies run after the fellows, he
Stands not on trifles, if madden’d by jealousy,
Its objects, I’m sure, would declare, could they speak,
In their Georgian, Circassian, or Turkish, or Greek,
‘When all’s said and done, far better it was for us,
Tied back to back,
And sewn up in a sack,
To be pitch’d neck-and-heels from a boat in the Bosphorus!’
—Oh! a Saint ’twould vex
To think that the sex
Should be treated no better than Combe’s double X!
Sure some one might run to the Abbess, and tell her
A much better method of stocking her cellar.”
If ever on polluted walls
Heaven’s red right arm in vengeance falls,
If e’er its justice wraps in flame
The black abodes of sin and shame,
That justice, in its own good time,
Shall visit for so foul a crime,
Ope desolation’s floodgate wide,
And blast thee, Netley, in thy pride!
Lo where it comes!—the tempest lours,—
It bursts on thy devoted towers;
Ruthless Tudor’s bloated form
Rides on the blast, and guides the storm;
I hear the sacrilegious cry,
“Down with the nests, and the rooks will fly!”
Down! down they come—a fearful fall—
Arch, and pillar, and roof-tree, and all,
Stained pane, and sculptured stone,
There they lie on the greensward strown—
Mouldering walls remain alone!
Mitre, and Crozier, and all are flown!
And yet, fair Netley, as I gaze
Upon that grey and mouldering wall,
The glories of thy palmy days
Its very stones recall!—
They “come like shadows, so depart”—
I see thee as thou wert—and art—
Sublime in ruin!—grand in woe!
Lone refuge of the owl and bat;
No voice awakes thine echoes now!
No sound—Good Gracious!—what was that?
Was it the moan,
The parting groan
Of her who died forlorn and alone,
Embedded in mortar, and bricks, and stone?—304
Full and clear
On my listening ear
It comes—again—near, and more near—
Why, ’zooks! it’s the popping of Ginger Beer!
—I to the door—
I tread the floor,
By Abbots and Abbesses trodden before,
In the good old chivalric days of yore,
And what see I there?—
In a rush-bottom’d chair
A hag, surrounded by crockery-ware,
Vending, in cups, to the credulous throng,
A nasty decoction miscall’d Souchong,—
And a squeaking fiddle and “wry-neck’d fife”
Are screeching away, for the life!—for the life!—
Danced to by “All the World and his Wife.”
Tag, Rag, and Bobtail, are capering there,
Worse scene, I ween, than Bartlemy Fair!—
Two or three Chimney-sweeps, two or three Clowns,
Playing at “pitch and toss,” sport their “Browns,”
Two or three damsels, frank and free,
Are ogling, and smiling, and sipping Bohea.
Parties below, and parties above,
Some making tea, and some making love.
Then the “toot—toot—toot”
Of that vile demi-flute,—
The detestable din
Of that crack’d violin,
And the odours of “Stout,” and tobacco, and gin.
“—Dear me!” I exclaim’d, “what a place to be in!”
And I said to the person who drove my “shay”
(A very intelligent man, by the way),
“This, all things consider’d, is rather too gay!
It don’t suit my humour,—so take me away!
Dancing! and drinking!—cigar and song!
If not profanation, it’s ‘coming it strong,’
And I really consider it all very wrong.—
—Pray, to whom does this property now belong?”
—He paused, and said,
Scratching his head,
“Why, I really do think he’s a little to blame,
But I can’t say I knows the Gentleman’s name!”305
“Well—well!” quoth I,
As I heaved a sigh,
And a tear-drop fell from my twinkling eye,
“My vastly good man, as I scarcely doubt
That some day or other you’ll find it out,
Should he come in your way,
Or ride in your ‘shay’
(As perhaps he may),
Be so good as to say
That a Visitor, whom you drove over one day,
Was exceedingly angry, and very much scandalised,
Finding these beautiful ruins so Vandalised,
And thus of their owner to speak began,
As he order’d you home in haste,
‘No doubt he’s a very respectable man,
But—I can’t say much for his taste.’”18
16 “In my mind’s eye, Horatio!”—Hamlet.
17 About the middle of the last century a human skeleton was discovered in a recess in the wall among the ruins of Netley. On examination the bones were pronounced to be those of a female. Teste James Harrison, a youthful but intelligent cab-driver of Southampton, who “well remembers to have heard his grandmother say that ‘Somebody told her so.’”
18 Adieu, Monsieur Gil Blas; je vous souhaite toutes sortes de prospérités, avec un peu plus de gout!—Gil Blas.
“Netley Abbey” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XII no. 2 (August 1842) as “Netley Abbey” (without subtitle).
Periêrunt etiam Ruinæ!
[These two lines appeared in Bentley’s, although the surrounding prose didn’t.]
Then you know, / They’d a “moveable Do,” / Not a fix’d one as now
[Say what now? With a “fixed Do”, Do is always C, Re is D, Mi is E and so on. With a “movable Do”, Do is the first note of the scale in whatever key you happen to be in. I can’t think of any language but French that uses a fixed Do—meaning that, say, you could have a symphony in “Fa majeur”. There might be others, though; the 1980 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music says “in the Romance languages”.]
—I rush’d to the door— / I tread the floor
[Bentley’s has “I rush”, agreeing with the following line’s “I tread”.]
My very excellent brother-in-law, Seaforth, late of the Bombay Fencibles (lucky dog to have quitted the service before this shocking Affghan business!), seems to have been even more forcibly affected on the evening when he so narrowly escaped being locked in at Westminster Abbey, and when—but let him describe his own feelings, as he has done, indeed, in the subjoined
A FEELING sad came o’er me as I trod the sacred ground
Where Tudors and Plantagenets were lying all around:
I stepp’d with noiseless foot, as though the sound of mortal tread
Might burst the bands of the dreamless sleep that wraps the mighty dead!
The slanting ray of the evening sun shone through those cloisters pale,
With fitful light on regal vest, and warrior’s sculptured mail,306
As from the stain’d and storied pane it danced with quivering gleam,
Each cold and prostrate form below seem’d quickening in the beam.
Now, sinking low, no more was heard the organ’s solemn swell,
And faint upon the listening ear the last Hosanna fell:
It died—and not a breath did stir;—above each knightly stall
Unmoved, the banner’d blazonry hung waveless as a pall.
I stood alone!—a living thing ’midst those that were no more—
I thought on ages past and gone—the glorious deeds of yore—
On Edward’s sable panoply, on Cressy’s tented plain,
The fatal Roses twined at length—on great Eliza’s reign.
I thought on Naseby—Marston Moor—on Worc’ster’s “crowning fight;”
When on mine ear a sound there fell—it chill’d me with affright,
As thus in low, unearthly tones I heard a voice begin,
“—This here’s the Cap of Giniral Monk!—Sir! please put summut in!”
“Fragment” originally appeared in Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country Vol. IV no. 2 (September 1831) as “The Abbey: A Fragment”, with no named author. The conclusion, replacing “I thought on Naseby”, runs:
I thought on Blenheim—when, at once, upon my startled ear
There came a sound; it chilled my veins, it froze my heart with fear,
As from a wild unearthly voice I heard these accents drop—
“Sarvice is done—it’s tuppence now for them as vants to stop!"
A grisly wight * * * * *
That Seaforth’s nervous system was powerfully acted upon on this occasion I can well believe. The circumstance brings to my recollection a fearful adventure—or what might perhaps have proved one—of my own in early life while grinding Gerunds at Canterbury. A sharp touch of the gout, and the reputed sanatory qualities of a certain spring in St. Peter’s Street, then in much repute, had induced my Uncle to take up a temporary abode within the Cathedral “Precinct.” It was on one of those temporary visits which I was sometimes permitted to pay on half-holidays, that, in self-defence, I had to recount the following true narrative. I may add, that this tradition is not yet worn out: a small maimed figure of a female in a sitting position, and holding something like a frying-pan 307 in her hand, may still be seen on the covered passage which crosses the Brick Walk, and adjoins the house belonging to the sixth prebendal stall.—There are those whom I know who would, even yet, hesitate at threading the dark entry on a Friday— “not” of course, “that they believe one word about”
“From the ‘Brick Walk’ branches off to the right a long narrow vaulted passage, paved with flagstones, vulgarly known by the name of the ‘Dark Entry.’ Its eastern extremity communicates with the cloisters, crypt, and, by a private staircase, with the interior of the cathedral. On the west it opens into the ‘Green-court,’ forming a communication between it and the portion of the ‘Precinct’ called the ‘Oaks.’”—A Walk round Canterbury, etc.
[Scene—A back parlour in Mr. John Ingoldsby’s house in the Precinct.—A blazing fire.—Mine Uncle is seated in a high-backed easy chair, twirling his thumbs, and contemplating his list shoe.—Little Tom, the ‘King’s Scholar,’ on a stool opposite.—Mrs. John Ingoldsby at the table, busily employed in manufacturing a cabbage-rose (cauliflower?) in many-coloured worsteds.—Mine Uncle’s meditations are interrupted by the French clock on the mantel-piece.—He prologiseth with vivacity.]
“HARK! listen, Mrs. Ingoldsby,—the clock is striking nine!
Give Master Tom another cake, and half a glass of wine,
And ring the bell for Jenny Smith, and bid her bring his coat,
And a warm bandana handkerchief to tie about his throat.
“And bid them go the nearest way, for Mr. Birch has said
That nine o’clock’s the hour he’ll have his boarders all in bed;
And well we know when little boys their coming home delay,
They often seem to walk and sit uneasily next day!”
“—Now, nay, dear Uncle Ingoldsby, now send me not, I pray,
Back by that Entry dark, for that you know’s the nearest way;
I dread that Entry dark with Jane alone at such an hour,
It fears me quite—it’s Friday night!—and then Nell Cook hath pow’r!”308
“And who’s Nell Cook, thou silly child?—and what’s Nell Cook to thee?
That thou should’st dread at night to tread with Jane that dark entrée?”
—“Nay, list and hear, mine Uncle dear! such fearsome things they tell
Of Nelly Cook, that few may brook at night to meet with Nell!
“It was in bluff King Harry’s days,—and Monks and Friars were then,
You know, dear Uncle Ingoldsby, a sort of Clergymen.
They’d coarse stuff gowns, and shaven crowns—no shirts,— and no cravats,
And a cord was placed about their waist—they had no shovel hats!
“It was in bluff King Harry’s days, while yet he went to shrift,
And long before he stamped and swore, and cut the Pope adrift;
There lived a portly Canon then, a sage and learned clerk;
He had, I trow, a goodly house, fast by that Entry dark!
“The Canon was a portly man—of Latin and of Greek,
And learned lore, he had good store,—yet health was on his cheek.
The Priory fare was scant and spare, the bread was made of rye,
The beer was weak, yet he was sleek—he had a merry eye.
“For though within the Priory the fare was scant and thin,
The Canon’s house it stood without;—he kept good cheer within;
Unto the best he prest each guest with free and jovial look,
And Ellen Bean ruled his cuisine.—He called her ‘Nelly Cook.’
“For soups, and stews, and choice ragouts, Nell Cook was famous still!
She’d make them even of old shoes, she had such wond’rous skill:309
Her manchets fine were quite divine, her cakes were nicely brown’d,
Her boil’d and roast, they were the boast of all the ‘Precinct’ round;
“And Nelly was a comely lass, but calm and staid her air,
And earthward bent her modest look—yet was she passing fair;
And though her gown was russet brown, their heads grave people shook:
—They all agreed no Clerk had need of such a pretty Cook.
“One day, ’twas on a Whitsun-Eve—there came a coach and four;—
It passed the ‘Green-Court’ gate, and stopped before the Canon’s door;
The travel-stain on wheel and rein bespoke a weary way,—
Each panting steed relax’d its speed—out stept a Lady gay.
“‘Now, welcome! welcome! dearest Niece,’—the Canon then did cry,
And to his breast the Lady prest—he had a merry eye,—
‘Now, welcome! welcome! dearest Niece! in sooth, thou’rt welcome here,
’Tis many a day since we have met—how fares my Brother dear?’—
“‘Now, thanks, my loving Uncle,’ that Lady gay replied:
‘Gramercy for thy benison!’—then ‘Out, alas!’ she sighed;
‘My father dear he is not near; he seeks the Spanish Main;
He prays thee give me shelter here till he return again!’—
“‘Now, welcome! welcome! dearest Niece; come lay thy mantle by!’
The Canon kiss’d her ruby lip—he had a merry eye,—
But Nelly Cook askew did look,—it came into her mind
They were a little less than ‘kin,’ and rather more than ‘kind.’310
“Three weeks are gone and over—full three weeks and a day,
Yet still within the Canon’s house doth dwell that Lady gay;
On capons fine they daily dine, rich cates and sauces rare,
And they quaff good store of Bordeaux wine,—so dainty is their fare.
“And fine upon the virginals is that gay Lady’s touch.
And sweet her voice unto the lute, you’ll scarce hear any such;
But is it ‘O Sanctissima!’ she sings in dulcet tone?
Or ‘Angels ever bright and —Ah, no!—it’s ‘Bobbing Joan!’
“The Canon’s house is lofty and spacious to the view;
The Canon’s cell is ordered well—yet Nelly looks askew;
The Lady’s bower is in the tower,—yet Nelly shakes her head—
She hides the poker and the tongs in that gay Lady’s bed!
“Six weeks were gone and over—full six weeks and a day,
Yet in that bed the poker and the tongs unheeded lay!
From which, I fear, it’s pretty clear that Lady rest had none;
Or, if she slept in any bed—it was not in her own.
“But where that Lady pass’d her night, I may not well divine,
Perhaps in pious oraisons at good St. Thomas’ Shrine,
And for her father far away breathed tender vows and true—
It may be so—I cannot say—but Nelly look’d askew.
“And still at night, by fair moonlight, when all were lock’d in sleep,
She’d listen at the Canon’s door,—she’d through the keyhole peep—
I know not what she heard or saw, but fury fill’d her eye—
—She bought some nasty Doctor’s-stuff, and she put it in a pie!
“It was a glorious summer’s eve—with beams of rosy red
The Sun went down—all Nature smiled—but Nelly shook her head.311
Full softly to the balmy breeze rang out the Vesper bell—
—Upon the Canon’s startled ear it sounded like a knell!
“‘Now here’s to thee, mine Uncle! a health I drink to thee!
Now pledge me back in Sherris sack, or a cup of Malvoisie!’—
The Canon sigh’d—but, rousing, cried, ‘I answer to thy call,
And a Warden-pie’s a dainty dish to mortify withal!’
“’Tis early dawn—the matin chime rings out for morning pray’r—
And Prior and Friar is in his stall—the Canon is not there!
Nor in the small Refect’ry hall, nor cloister’d walk is he—
All wonder—and the Sacristan says, ‘Lauk-a-daisy-me!’
“They’ve search’d the aisles and Baptistry—they’ve search’d above—around—
The ‘Sermon House’—the ‘Audit Room’—the Canon is not found.
They only find that pretty Cook concocting a ragout,
They ask her where her master is—but Nelly looks askew.
“They call for crow-bars—‘jemmies’ is the modern name they bear—
They burst through lock, and bolt, and bar—but what a sight is there!—
The Canon’s head lies on the bed—his Niece lies on the floor!
—They are as dead as any nail that is in any door!
“The livid spot is on his breast, the spot is on his back!
His portly form, no longer warm with life, is swoln and black!—
The livid spot is on her cheek,—it’s on her neck of snow,
And the Prior sighs, and sadly cries, ‘Well—here’s a pretty Go!’
“All at the silent hour of night a bell is heard to toll,
A knell is rung, a requiem ’s sung as for a sinful soul,
And there’s a grave within the Nave; it’s dark, and deep, and wide,
And they bury there a Lady fair, and a Canon by her side!312
“An Uncle—so ’tis whisper’d now throughout the sacred fane,—
And a Niece—whose father’s far away upon the Spanish Main—
The Sacristan, he says no word that indicates a doubt,
But he puts his thumb unto his nose, and spreads his fingers out!
“And where doth tarry Nelly Cook, that staid and comely lass?
Ay, where?—for ne’er from forth that door was Nelly known to pass.
Her coif and gown of russet brown were lost unto the view,
And if you mention’d Nelly’s name—the Monks all looked askew!
“There is a heavy paving-stone fast by the Canon’s door,
Of granite grey, and it may weigh some half a ton or more,
And it is laid deep in the shade within that Entry dark,
Where sun or moonbeam never play’d, or e’en one starry spark.
“That heavy granite stone was moved that night, ’twas darkly said,
And the mortar round its sides next morn seem’d fresh and newly laid,
But what within the narrow vault beneath that stone doth lie,
Or if that there be vault or no—I cannot tell—not I!
“But I’ve been told that moan and groan, and fearful wail and shriek
Came from beneath that paving-stone for nearly half a week—
For three long days and three long nights came forth those sounds of fear;
Then all was o’er—they never more fell on the listening ear.
“A hundred years have gone and past since last Nell Cook was seen,
When worn by use, that stone got loose, and they went and told the Dean.—313
—Says the Dean, says he, ‘My Masons three! now haste and fix it tight;’
And the Masons three peep’d down to see, and they saw a fearsome sight.
“Beneath that heavy paving-stone a shocking hole they found—
It was not more than twelve feet deep, and barely twelve feet round;
—A fleshless, sapless skeleton lay in that horrid well!
But who the deuce ’twas put it there those Masons could not tell.
“And near this fleshless skeleton a pitcher small did lie,
And a mouldy piece of ‘kissing crust,’ as from a Warden-pie!
And Doctor Jones declared the bones were female bones and, ‘Zooks!
I should not be surprised,’ said he, ‘If these were Nelly Cook’s!’
“It was in good Dean Bargrave’s days, if I remember right,
Those fleshless bones beneath the stones these Masons brought to light;
And you may well in the ‘Dean’s Chapelle’ Dean Bargrave’s portrait view,
‘Who died one night,’ says old Tom Wright, ‘in sixteen forty-two!’
“And so two hundred years have passed since that these Masons three,
With curious looks, did set Nell Cook’s unquiet spirit free;
That granite stone had kept her down till then—so some suppose,—
—Some spread their fingers out, and put their thumbs unto their nose.
“But one thing’s clear—that all the year, on every Friday night
Throughout that Entry dark doth roam Nell Cook’s unquiet Sprite:314
On Friday was that Warden-pie all by that Canon tried;
On Friday died he, and that tidy Lady by his side!
“And though two hundred years have flown, Nell Cook doth still pursue
Her weary walk, and they who cross her path the deed may rue;
Her fatal breath is fell as death! the Simoom’s blast is not
More dire—(a wind in Africa that blows uncommon hot).
“But all unlike the Simoom’s blast, her breath is deadly cold,
Delivering quivering, shivering shocks unto both young and old,
And whoso in that Entry dark doth feel that fatal breath,
He ever dies within the year some dire untimely death!
“No matter who—no matter what condition, age, or sex.
But some ‘get shot,’ and some ‘get drown’d,’ and some ‘get’ broken necks;
Some ‘get run over’ by a coach;—and one beyond the seas
‘Got’ scraped to death with oyster-shells among the Caribbees!
“Those Masons three, who set her free, fell first!—it is averred
That two were hang’d on Tyburn tree for murdering of the third:
Charles Storey,19 too, his friend who slew, had ne’er, if truth they tell,
Been gibbeted on Chatham Downs, had they not met with Nell!
“Then send me not, mine Uncle dear, oh! send me not, I pray,
Back through that Entry dark to-night, but round some other way!315
I will not be a truant boy, but good, and mind my book,
For Heaven forfend that ever I foregather with Nell Cook!”
The class was call’d at morning tide, and Master Tom was there;
He looked askew, and did eschew both stool, and bench, and chair.
He did not talk, he did not walk, the tear was in his eye,—
He had not e’en that sad resource, to sit him down and cry.
Hence little boys may learn, when they from school go out to dine,
They should not deal in rigmarole, but still be back by nine;
For if, when they’ve their greatcoat on, they pause before they part,
To tell a long and prosy tale,—perchance their own may smart.
—A few remarks to learned Clerks in country and in town—
Don’t keep a pretty serving-maid, though clad in russet brown!—
Don’t let your Niece sing “Bobbing Joan!”—don’t, with a merry eye,
Hob-nob in Sack and Malvoisie,—and don’t eat too much pie!!
And oh! beware that Entry dark,—Especially at night,—
And don’t go there with Jenny Smith all by the pale moonlight!—
So bless the Queen and her Royal Weans,—And the Prince whose hand she took,—
And bless us all, both great and small,—and keep us from Nell Cook!
19 In or about the year 1780, a worthy of this name cut the throat of a journeyman paper-maker, was executed on Oaten Hill, and afterwards hung in chains near the scene of his crime. It was to this place, as being the extreme boundary of the City’s jurisdiction, that the worthy Mayor with so much naïveté wished to escort Archbishop M * * * on one of his progresses, when he begged to have the honour of “attending his Grace as far as the gallows.”
“Nell Cook” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. IX no. 1 (January 1841) as “County Legends No. II: Nell Cook!! A Tale of the “Dark Entry”: The King’s Scholar’s Story.
Or ‘Angels ever bright and fair’?—Ah, no!—it’s ‘Bobbing Joan!’
text has fair?’ in that order
[Corrected from Bentley’s. The following Bobbing Joan should have been punctuated the same way, with the exclamation mark outside the quotation marks, but it can’t be helped.]
Or, if she slept in any bed—it was not in her own
[It also indicates that the Canon has the world’s worst housemaids, allowing six weeks to pass without making a bed.]
Kind, good-hearted, gouty Uncle John! how well I remember all the kindness and affection which my mischievous propensities so ill repaid—his bright blue coat and resplendent gilt buttons—his “frosty pow” si bien poudré—his little quill-like pigtail!—Of all my praiseworthy actions—they were “like angel visits, few and far between”—the never-failing and munificent rewarder; of my naughty deeds—they were multitudinous as the sands on the sea-shore—the ever-ready palliator; my intercessor, and sometimes even my defender against punishment, “staying harsh justice in its mid career!”—Poor Uncle John! he will ever rank among the dearest of my
I REMEMBER, I remember,
When I was a little Boy,
One fine morning in September
Uncle brought me home a toy.
I remember how he patted
Both my cheeks in kindliest mood;
“Then,” said he, “you little Fat-head,
There’s a top because you’re good.”
Grandmamma—a shrewd observer—
I remember gazed upon
My new top, and said with fervour,
“Oh! how kind of Uncle John!”
While mamma, my form caressing,—
In her eye the tear-drop stood,
Read me this fine moral lesson,
“See what comes of being good!”
I remember, I remember,
On a wet and windy day,
One cold morning in December,
I stole out and went to play;317
I remember Billy Hawkins
Came, and with his pewter squirt
Squibb’d my pantaloons and stockings,
Till they were all over dirt!
To my mother for protection
I ran, quaking every limb:
—She exclaimed, with fond affection,
“Gracious Goodness! look at him!”—
Pa cried, when he saw my garment,
—’Twas a newly-purchased dress—
“Oh! you nasty little Warment,
How came you in such a mess?”
Then he caught me by the collar,
—Cruel only to be kind—
And to my exceeding dolour,
Gave me—several slaps behind.
Grandmamma, while yet I smarted,
As she saw my evil plight,
Said—’twas rather stony-hearted—
“Little rascal! sarve him right!”
I remember, I remember,
From that sad and solemn day,
Never more in dark December
Did I venture out to play.
And the moral which they taught, I
Well remember; thus they said—
“Little Boys, when they are naughty.
Must be whipped and sent to bed!”
“Nursery Reminiscences” originally appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 37 no. 6 (June 1835) as “Family Poetry No. VI: Nursery Reminiscences”. It was introduced with the tagline “Macduff.—I cannot but remember such things were!”—Shakespeare.
I REMEMBER, I remember . . . One fine morning in September
[Songs and poems that rhyme “September” with “remember” are as numerous as the sands upon the shore. —Ed.]
Poor Uncle John!
“After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well,”
in the old family vault in Denton chancel—and dear Aunt Fanny too!—the latter also “loo’d me weel,” as the Scotch song has it,—and since, at this moment, I am in a most soft and sentimental humour—(—whisky toddy should ever be made by pouring the boiling fluid—hotter if possible—upon the thinnest lemon-peel,—and then—but everybody knows “what then—”) I dedicate the following “True History” to my beloved
“Virginibus, Puerisque canto.”—Hor.
Old Maids, and Bachelors I chant to!—T. I.
I SING of a Shirt that never was new!
In the course of the year Eighteen hundred and two,
Aunt Fanny began,
Upon Grandmamma’s plan,
To make one for me, then her “dear little man.”—
—At the epoch I speak about, I was between
A man and a boy,
A fat, little, punchy concern of sixteen,—
Just beginning to flirt,
And ogle,—so pert,
I’d been whipt every day had I had my desert,
—And Aunt Fan volunteer’d to make me a shirt!
I’ve said she began it,—
Some unlucky planet
No doubt interfered,—for, before she, and Janet
Completed the “cutting-out,” “hemming,” and “stitching,”
A tall Irish footman appear’d in the kitchen;—
—This took off the maid,
And I’m sadly afraid,
My respected Aunt Fanny’s attention, too, stray’d;
For, about the same period, a gay son of Mars,
Cornet Jones of the Tenth (then the Prince’s) Hussars,
With his fine dark eyelashes,
And finer moustaches,
And the ostrich plume work’d on the corps’ sabre-tasches319
(I say nought of the gold-and-red cord of the sashes,
Or the boots far above the Guards’ vile spatterdashes),—
So eyed, and so sigh’d, and so lovingly tried
To engage her whole ear as he lounged by her side,
Looking down on the rest with such dignified pride,
That she made up her mind
She should certainly find
Cornet Jones at her feet, whisp’ring “Fan, be my bride!”—
—She had even resolved to say “Yes,” should he ask it,
—And I—and my Shirt—were both left in the basket.
To her grief and dismay
She discovered one day
Cornet Jones of the Tenth was a little too gay;
For, besides that she saw him—he could not say nay—
Wink at one of the actresses capering away
In a Spanish bolero, one night at the play,
She found he’d already a wife at Cambray;—
One at Paris,—a nymph of the corps de ballet;—
And a third down in Kent, at a place call’d Foot’s Cray.—
He was “viler than dirt!”—
Fanny vowed to exert
All her powers to forget him,—and finish my Shirt.
But, oh! lack-a-day!
How time slips away!—
Who’d have thought that while Cupid was playing these tricks,
Ten years had elapsed, and—I’d turn’d
“I care not a whit,—
He’s grown not a bit,”
Says my Aunt, “it will still be a very good fit,”
So Janet and She,
Now about thirty-three
(The maid had been jilted by Mr. Magee),
Each taking one end of “the Shirt” on her knee,
Again began working with hearty good-will,
“Felling the Seams,” and “whipping the Frill,”—
For, twenty years since, though the Ruffle had vanish’d,
A Frill like a Fan had by no means been banish’d;
People wore them at playhouses, parties, and churches,
Like overgrown fins of overgrown perches.—
Now, then, by these two thus laying their caps
Together, my “Shirt” had been finish’d, perhaps,320
But for one of those queer little three-corner’d straps,
Which the ladies call “Side-bits,” that sever the “Flaps;”
—Here unlucky Janet
Took her needle, and ran it
Right into her thumb, and cried loudly, “Ads cuss it!
I’ve spoiled myself now by that ’ere nasty Gusset!”
For a month to come
Poor dear Janet’s thumb
Was in that sort of state vulgar people call “Rum.”
At the end of that time,
A youth, still in his prime,
The Doctor’s fat Errand-boy,—just such a dolt as is
Kept to mix draughts, and spread plasters and poultices,
Who a bread-cataplasm each morning had carried her,
Sigh’d,—ogled,—proposed,—was accepted,—and married her!
Much did Aunt Fan
Disapprove of the plan;
She turn’d up her dear little snub at “the Man,”
She “could not believe it,”—
“Could scarcely conceive it
Was possible—What! such a place!—and then leave it!—
And all for a ‘Shrimp’ not as high as my hat—
A little contemptible ‘Shaver’ like that!!
With a broad pancake face, and eyes buried in fat!”
For her part, “She was sure
She could never endure
A lad with a lisp, and a leg like a skewer!—
Such a name too;—(’twas Potts!)—and so nasty a trade—
No, no,—she would much rather die an old maid!—
He a husband, indeed!—Well, mine, come what may come,
Shan’t look like a blister, or smell of Guaiacum!”
But there! She’d “declare,
It was Janet’s affair—
— à son goût
As she baked she might brew—
She could not prevent her—’twas no use in trying it—
Oh, no—she had made her own bed, and might lie in it.
They ‘repent at leisure who marry at random.’
No matter—De gustibus non disputandum!”
Consoling herself with this choice bit of Latin,
Aunt Fanny resignedly bought some white satin,321
And, as the Soubrette
Was a very great pet
After all,—she resolved to forgive and forget,
And sat down to make her a bridal rosette,
With magnificent bits of some white-looking metal
Stuck in, here and there, each forming a petal.—
—On such an occasion one couldn’t feel hurt,
Of course, that she ceased to remember—my Shirt!
Ten years,—or nigh,—
Had again gone by,
When Fan accidentally casting her eye
On a dirty old work-basket, hung up on high
In the store-closet where herbs were put by to dry,
Took it down to explore it—she didn’t know why.—
Within, a pea-soup colour’d fragment she spied,
Of the hue of a November fog in Cheapside,
Or a bad piece of ginger-bread spoilt in the baking.
—I still hear her cry,—
“I wish I may die
If here isn’t Tom’s Shirt, that’s been so long a-making!
My gracious me!
Well,—only to see!
I declare it’s as yellow as yellow can be!
Why, it looks as though’t had been soak’d in green tea!
Dear me, did you ever?
—But come—’twill be clever
To bring matters round; so I’ll do my endeavour—
‘Better late,’ says an excellent proverb, ‘than Never!’—
It is stain’d, to be sure; but ‘grass-bleaching’ will bring it
To rights ‘in a jiffy.’—We’ll wash it, and wring it;
Or, stay,—‘Hudson’s Liquor’
Will do it still quicker,
And——” Here the new maid chimed in, “Ma’am, Salt of Lemon
Will make it, in no time, quite fit for the Gemman!”
So they “set in the gathers,”—the large round the collar,
While those at the wristbands of course were much smaller,—
The button-holes now were at length “overcast;”
Then a button itself was sewn on—’twas the last!
Never under the sun
Was Shirt so late finish’d—so early begun!—322
—The work would defy
The most critical eye.
It was “bleach’d,”—it was wash’d,—it was hung out to dry,—
It was mark’d on the tail with a T, and an I!
On the back of a chair it
Was placed,—just to air it,
In front of the fire.—“Tom to-morrow shall wear it!”
—O cæca mens hominum!—Fanny, good soul,
Left her charge for one moment—but one—a vile coal
Bounced out from the grate, and set fire to the whole!
Had it been Doctor Arnott’s new stove—not a grate:—
Had the coal been a “Lord Mayor’s coal,”—viz. a slate;—
What a different tale had I had to relate!
And Aunt Fan—and my Shirt—been superior to Fate;—
One moment—no more!—
—Fan open’d the door!
The draught made the blaze ten times worse than before;
And Aunt Fanny sank down—in despair—on the floor!
You may fancy perhaps Agrippina’s amazement,
When, looking one fine moonlight night from her casement,
She saw, while thus gazing,
All Rome a-blazing,
And, losing at once all restraint on her temper, or
Feelings, exclaimed, “Hang that Scamp of an Emperor,
Although he’s my son!—
—He thinks it prime fun,
No doubt!—While the flames are demolishing Rome,
There’s my Nero a-fiddling and singing ‘Sweet Home!’”
—Stay—I’m really not sure ’twas that lady who said
The words I’ve put down, as she stepp’d into bed,—
On reflection, I rather believe she was dead;
But e’en when at College, I
Fairly acknowledge, I
Never was very precise in Chronology;
So, if there’s an error, pray set down as mine a
Mistake of no very great moment—in fine, a
Mere slip—’twas some Pleb’s wife, if not Agrippina.
You may fancy that warrior, so stern and so stony.
Whom thirty years since we all used to call BONEY,323
When, engaged in what he styled “fulfilling his destinies,”
He led his rapscallions across the Borysthenes,
And made up his mind
Snug quarters to find
In Moscow, against the catarrhs and the coughs
Which are apt to prevail ’mongst the “Owskis” and “Offs”
At a time of the year
When your nose and your ear
Are by no means so safe there as people’s are here,
Inasmuch as “Jack Frost,” that most fearful of Bogles,
Makes folk leave their cartilage oft in their “fogles.”
You may fancy, I say,
That same Boney’s dismay,
When Count Rostopchin
At once made him drop chin,
And turn up his eyes, as his rappee he took,
With a sort of mort-de-ma-vie kind of look,
On perceiving that “Swing,”
And “all that sort of thing,”
Was at work—that he’d just lost the game without knowing it:
That the Kremlin was blazing—the Russians “a-going it,”—
Every plug in the place frozen hard as the ground,
And the deuce of a Turn-cock at all to be found!
You may fancy King Charles at some Court Fancy-Ball
(The date we may fix
In Sixteen sixty-six),
In the room built by Inigo Jones at Whitehall,
Whence his father, the Martyr—(as such mourn’d by all
Who, in his, wept the Law’s and the Monarchy’s fall),—
Stept out to exchange regal robes for a pall—
You may fancy King Charles, I say, stopping the brawl,20
As burst on his sight the old church of St. Paul,
By the light of its flames, now beginning to crawl
From basement to buttress, and topping its wall—
—You may fancy old Clarendon making a call,
And stating in cold, slow, monotonous drawl,
“Sire, from Pudding Lane’s End, close by Fishmongers’ Hall,
To Pye Corner, in Smithfield, there is not a stall
There, in market, or street,—not a house, great or small
In which Knight wields his falchion, or Cobbler his awl,324
But’s on fire!!”—You may fancy the general squall,
And bawl as they all call for wimple and shawl!—
—You may fancy all this—but I boldly assert
You can’t fancy Aunt Fan—as she looked on MY SHIRT!!
Was’t Apelles? or Zeuxis?—I think ’twas Apelles,
That artist of old—I declare I can’t tell his
Exact patronymic—I write and pronounce ill
These Classical names—whom some Grecian Town-Council
Employ’d,—I believe, by command of the Oracle,—
To produce them a splendid piece, purely historical,
For adorning the wall
Of some fane, or Guildhall,
And who for his subject determined to try a
Large painting in oils of Miss Iphigenia
At the moment her Sire,
By especial desire
Of “that Spalpeen, O’Dysseus” (see Barney Maguire),
Has resolved to devote
Her beautiful throat
To old Chalcas’s knife, and her limbs to the fire;
—An act which we moderns by no means admire,—
An off’ring, ’tis true, to Jove, Mars, or Apollo, cost
No trifling sum in those days, if a holocaust,—
Still, although for economy we should condemn none,
In an αναξ ανδρων, like the great Agamemnon,
To give up to slaughter
An elegant daughter,
After all the French, Music, and Dancing they’d taught her,
And Singing,—at Heaven knows how much a quarter,—
In lieu of a Calf!—
It was too bad by half!
At a “nigger”21 so pitiful who would not laugh,
And turn up their noses at one who could find
No decenter method of “Raising the Wind?”
No doubt but he might,
Without any great Flight,
Have obtain’d it by what we call “flying a kite.”
Or on mortgage—or sure, if he couldn’t so do it, he
Must have succeeded “by way of annuity.”
But there—it appears,
His crocodile tears.
His “Oh! s,” and his “Ah! s,” his “Oh Law! s,” and “Oh dear! s,”325
Were all thought sincere,—so in painting his Victim
The Artist was splendid—but could not depict Him,
His features and phiz awry
Show’d so much misery,
And so like a dragon he
Look’d in his agony
That the foil’d Painter buried—despairing to gain a
Good likeness—his face in a printed Bandana.
—Such a veil is best thrown o’er one’s face when one’s hurt
By some grief which no power can repair or avert!—
—Such a veil I shall throw o’er Aunt Fan—and My Shirt!
And now for some practical hints from the story
Of Aunt Fan’s mishap, which I’ve thus laid before ye;
For, if rather too gay,
I can venture to say,
A fine vein of morality is in each lay
Of my primitive Muse, the distinguishing trait!
First of all—Don’t put off till to-morrow what may,
Without inconvenience, be managed to-day!
That golden occasion we call “Opportunity”
Rarely’s neglected by man with impunity!
And the “Future,” how brightly soe’er by Hood’s dupe colour’d,
Ne’er may afford
You a lost chance restored,
Till both you, and YOUR SHIRT, are grown old and pea-soup-colour’d!
I would also desire
You to guard your attire,
Young Ladies,—and never go too near the fire!—
—Depend on’t there’s many a dear little Soul
Has found that a Spark is as bad as a coal,—
And “in her best petticoat burnt a great hole!”
Last of all, gentle Reader, don’t be too secure!—
Let seeming success never make you “cock-sure!”
But beware!—and take care,
When all things look fair,
How you hang your Shirt over the back of your chair!—
—“There’s many a slip
’Twixt the cup and the lip!”
Be this excellent proverb, then, well understood,
And Don’t halloo before you’re quite out of the wood!!
“The brave Lord Keeper led the brawls,
The seals and maces danced before him.”—Gray.
—And truly Sir Christopher danced to some tune.
21 Hibernice “nigger,” quasi “niggard.” Vide B. Maguire passim.
“Aunt Fanny” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VII no. 4 (April 1840) as “Aunt Fanny: A Tale of a Shirt”.
I sing of a Shirt that never was new!
[In Bentley’s the words weren’t italicized.]
Ten years had elapsed, and—I’d turn’d twenty-six?—
text has close quote for final dash
Chacun à son goût
spelling unchanged: expected Châcun
[Footnote] Hibernice . . . “niggard.”
[Which is exactly why the word “niggard” has fallen out of use in recent decades.]
It is to my excellent and erudite friend, Simpkinson, that I am indebted for his graphic description of the well-known chalk-pit, between Acol and Minster in the Isle of Thanet, known by the name of the “Smuggler’s Leap.” The substance of the true history attached to it he picked up while visiting that admirable institution, the “Sea-bathing Infirmary,” of which he is a “Life Governor,” and enjoying his otium cum dignitate last summer at the least aristocratic of all possible watering-places.
Before I proceed to detail it, however, I cannot, in conscience, fail to bespeak for him the reader’s sympathy in one of his own
’TWAS in Margate last July, I walk’d upon the pier,
I saw a little vulgar Boy—I said, “What make you here?
The gloom upon your youthful cheek speaks anything but joy;”
Again I said, “What make you here, you little vulgar Boy?”
He frown’d, that little vulgar Boy,—he deem’d I meant to scoff—
And when the little heart is big, a little “sets it off;”
He put his finger in his mouth, his little bosom rose,—
He had no little handkerchief to wipe his little nose!—
“Hark! don’t you hear, my little man?—it’s striking Nine,” I said,
“An hour when all good little boys and girls should be in bed.
Run home and get your supper, else your Ma’ will scold— Oh! fie!
It’s very wrong indeed for little boys to stand and
The tear-drop in his little eye again began to spring,
His bosom throbb’d with agony,—he cried like anything!327
I stoop’d, and thus amidst his sobs I heard him murmur—“Ah!
I haven’t got no supper! and I haven’t got no Ma’!!—”
“My father, he is on the seas,—my mother’s dead and gone!
And I am here, on this here pier, to roam the world alone!
I have not had, this live-long day, one drop to cheer my heart,
Nor ‘brown,’ to buy a bit of bread with,—let alone a tart.
“If there’s a soul will give me food, or find me in employ,
By day or night, then blow me tight!” (he was a vulgar Boy)
“And now I’m here, from this here pier it is my fixed intent
To jump, as Mister Levi did from off the Monu-ment!”
“Cheer up! cheer up! my little man—cheer up!” I kindly said,
“You are a naughty boy to take such things into your head:
If you should jump from off the pier, you’d surely break your legs,
Perhaps your neck—then Bogey’d have you, sure as eggs are eggs!
“Come home with me, my little man, come home with me and sup;
My landlady is Mrs. Jones—we must not keep her up,—
There’s roast potatoes at the fire,—enough for me and you—
Come home, you little vulgar Boy—I lodge at Number 2.”
I took him home to Number 2, the house beside “The Foy,”
I bade him wipe his dirty shoes,—that little vulgar Boy,—
And then I said to Mistress Jones, the kindest of her sex,
“Pray be so good as go and fetch a pint of double X!”
But Mrs. Jones was rather cross, she made a little noise.
She said she “did not like to wait on little vulgar Boys,”—
She with her apron wiped the plates, and as she rubbed the delf,
Said I might “go to Jericho, and fetch my beer myself!”328
I did not go to Jericho—I went to Mr. Cobb22—
I changed a shilling—(which in town the people call “a Bob”)—
It was not so much for myself as for that vulgar child—
And I said, “A pint of double X, and please to draw it mild!”—
When I came back I gazed about—I gazed on stool and chair—
I could not see my little friend—because he was not there!
I peep’d beneath the table-cloth—beneath the sofa too—
I said, “You little vulgar Boy! why, what’s become of you?”
I could not see my table-spoons—I look’d, but could not see
The little fiddle-pattern’d ones I use when I’m at tea;
—I could not see my sugar-tongs—my silver watch—oh dear!
I know ’twas on the mantelpiece when I went out for beer.
I could not see my Macintosh—it was not to be seen!—
Nor yet my best white beaver hat, broad-brimm’d and lined with green;
My carpet-bag—my cruet-stand, that holds my sauce and soy,—
My roast potatoes!—all are gone!—and so’s that vulgar Boy!
I rang the bell for Mrs. Jones, for she was down below,
“Oh, Mrs. Jones! what do you think?—ain’t this a pretty go?—
—That horrid little vulgar Boy whom I brought here to-night,
—He’s stolen my things and run away!!”—Says she, “And sarve you right!!”
Next morning I was up betimes—I sent the Crier round,
All with his bell and gold-laced hat, to say I’d give a pound329
To find that little vulgar Boy, who’d gone and used me so;
But when the Crier cried, “O Yes!” the people cried, “O No!”
I went to “Jarvis’ Landing-place,” the glory of the town,
There was a common sailor-man a-walking up and down,
I told my tale—he seem’d to think I’d not been treated well,
And call’d me “Poor old Buffer!”—what that means I cannot tell.
That Sailor-man he said he’d seen that morning on the shore,
A son of—something—’twas a name I’d never heard before,
A little “gallows-looking chap”—dear me! what could he mean?
With a “carpet-swab” and “muckingtogs,” and a hat turned up with green.
He spoke about his “precious eyes,” and said he’d seen him “sheer,”
—It’s very odd that Sailor-men should talk so very queer—
And then he hitch’d his trousers up, as is, I’m told, their use,
—It’s very odd that Sailor-men should wear those things so loose.
I did not understand him well, but think he meant to say
He’d seen that little vulgar Boy, that morning, swim away
In Captain Large’s Royal George, about an hour before,
And they were now, as he supposed, “somewheres” about the Nore.
A landsman said, “I twig the chap—he’s been upon the Mill—
And ’cause he gammons so the flats, ve calls him Veeping Bill!”
He said, “he’d done me wery brown,” and nicely “stow’d the
—That’s French, I fancy, for a hat—or else a carpet-bag.
I went and told the constable my property to track;
He ask’d me if “I did not wish that I might get it back?”330
I answered, “To be sure I do!—it’s what I’m come about.”
He smiled and said, “Sir, does your mother know that you are out?”
Not knowing what to do, I thought I’d hasten back to town,
And beg our own Lord Mayor to catch the Boy who’d “done me brown.”
His Lordship very kindly said he’d try and find him out,
But he thought that there were several vulgar boys about.”
He sent for Mr. Withair then, and I describ’d “the swag,”
My Macintosh, my sugar-tongs, my spoons, and carpet-bag;
He promised that the New Police should all their powers employ!
But never to this hour have I beheld that vulgar Boy!
Remember, then, what when a boy I’ve heard my Grandma’ tell,
“Be warn’d in time by others’ harm, and you shall do full well!”
Don’t link yourself with vulgar folks, who’ve got no fixed abode,
Tell lies, use naughty words, and say “they wish they may be blow’d!”
Don’t take too much of double X!—and don’t at night go out
To fetch your beer yourself, but make the pot-boy bring your stout!
And when you go to Margate next, just stop, and ring the bell,
Give my respects to Mrs. Jones, and say I’m pretty well!
22 Qui facit per alium, facit per se—Deem not, gentle stranger, that Mr. Cobb is a petty dealer and chapman, as Mr. Simpkinson would here seem to imply. He is a maker, not a retailer of stingo,—and mighty pretty tipple he makes.
“Misadventures at Margate” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. X no. 6 (December 1841) as “Misadventures at Margate: An O’er True Tale”. It came with an introductory paragraph:
We have been visiting the Lakes, and my Muse has caught the maladie du pays. The fit is a sharp, but I trust will be a short one. She sends you the enclosed version of our single-minded friend Simpkinson’s mishap, by way of diagnostic.
Bowness, Nov. 14.
’TWAS in Margate last July, I walk’d upon the pier
[Bentley’s begins, more metrically, “I was in Margate last July”.]
It’s very wrong indeed for little boys to stand and cry!”
close quote missing
To jump, as Mister Levi did from off the Monu-ment!”
[I’ve had occasion to look up the Monument at least twice before this. Lyon Levi’s jump in 1810 was neither the first nor the last. In 1842, after yet another suicide—only months after Misadventures at Margate—the Monument was temporarily closed while a barrier was installed.]
But when the Crier cried, ”O Yes!” the people cried, ”O No!”
[It seems as if he ought to have been crying “O Yea!” (pronounced “Oyez!”) but perhaps I have missed the point. It wouldn’t be the first time.]
He said, “he’d done me wery brown,” and nicely “stow’d the swag,”
final close quote missing
He smiled and said, “Sir, does your mother know that you are out?”
[“Does your mother know you’re out?” must have been the catchphrase du jour; it shows up all over the place starting in 1837. We will see it again in “The Lay of the Old Woman Clothed in Grey”—or rather, we have already seen it, since the latter was originally published half a year earlier.
This, in turn, means we can add ABBA to the long list of pop song writers who use familiar phrases without understanding what they mean. (“You and I travel to the beat of a different drum”, say.) At least Björn and Benny have some excuse, not being native speakers.]
But he “rather thought that there were several vulgar boys about.”
open quote missing
[Bentley’s has the open quote but omits the word “he”, which makes it scan better.]
And now for his Legend, which, if the facts took place rather beyond “the memory of the oldest inhabitant,” are yet well known to have occurred in the neighbourhood “once on a time;” and the scene of them will be readily pointed out by any one of the fifty intelligent fly-drivers who ply upon the pier, and who will convey you safely to the spot for a guerdon which they term “three bob.”
“Near this hamlet (Acol) is a long-disused chalk-pit of formidable depth, known by the name of ‘The Smuggler’s Leap.’ The tradition of the parish runs, that a riding-officer from Sandwich, called Anthony Gill, lost his life here in the early part of the present (last) century, while in pursuit of a smuggler. A fog coming on, both parties went over the precipice. The smuggler’s horse only it is said, was found crushed beneath its rider. The spot has, of course, been haunted ever since.”—See “Supplement to Lewis’s History of Thanet, by the Rev. Samuel Pegg, A.M., Vicar of Gomersham.” W. Bristow, Canterbury, 1796, p. 127.
THE fire-flash shines from Reculver cliff,
And the answering light burns blue in the skiff,
And there they stand,
That smuggling band,
Some in the water and some on the sand,
Ready those contraband goods to land:
The night is dark, they are silent and still,
—At the head of the party is Smuggler Bill!
“Now lower away! come, lower away!
We must be far ere the dawn of the day.
If Exciseman Gill should get scent of the prey,
And should come, and should catch us here, what would he say?
Come, lower away, lads—once on the hill,
laugh, ho! ho! at Exciseman Gill!”
The cargo’s lower’d from the dark skiff’s side,
And the tow-line drags the tubs through the tide,
No trick nor flam,
But your real Schiedam.
“Now mount, my merry men, mount and ride!”
Three on the crupper and one before,
And the led-horse laden with five tubs more;332
But the rich point-lace,
In the oil-skin case
Of proof to guard its contents from ill,
The “prime of the swag,” is with Smuggler Bill!
Merrily now in a goodly row,
Away and away those smugglers go,
And they laugh at Exciseman Gill, ho! ho!
When out from the turn
Of the road to Herne,
Comes Gill, wide awake to the whole concern!
Exciseman Gill, in all his pride,
With his Custom-house officers all at his side!
—They were called Custom-house officers then,
There were no such things as “Preventive men.”
Sauve qui peut!
That lawless crew,
Away, and away, and away they flew!
Some dropping one tub, some dropping two;—
Some gallop this way, and some gallop that,
Through Fordwich Level—o’er Sandwich Flat,
Some fly that way, and some fly this,
Like a covey of birds when the sportsmen miss;
These in their hurry
Make for Sturry,
With Custom-house officers close in their rear,
Down Rushbourne Lane, and so by Westbere,
None of them stopping,
But shooting and popping,
And many a Custom-house bullet goes slap
Through many a three-gallon tub like a tap,
And the gin spirts out
And squirts all about,
And many a heart grew sad that day
That so much good liquor was so thrown away.
Sauve qui peut!
That lawless crew,
Away, and away, and away they flew!
Some seek Whitstable—some Grove Ferry,
Spurring and whipping like madmen—very—
For the life! for the life! they ride! they ride!
And the Custom-house officers all divide,
And they gallop on after them far and wide!
All, all, save one—Exciseman Gill,—
He sticks to the skirts of Smuggler Bill!
Smuggler Bill is six feet high,
He has curling locks, and a roving eye,
He has a tongue and he has a smile
Trained the female heart to beguile,
And there is not a farmer’s wife in the Isle,
From St. Nicholas quite
To the Foreland Light,
But that eye, and that tongue, and that smile will wheedle her
To have done with the Grocer and make him her Tea-dealer;
There is not a farmer there but he still
Buys gin and tobacco from Smuggler Bill.
Smuggler Bill rides gallant and gay
On his dapple-grey mare, away, and away,
And he pats her neck and he seems to say,
“Follow who will, ride after who may,
In sooth he had need
Fodder his steed,
In lieu of Lent-corn, with a Quicksilver feed;
—Nor oats, nor beans, nor the best of old hay,
Will make him a match for my own dapple-grey!
Ho! ho!—ho! ho!” says Smuggler Bill—
He draws out a flask and he sips his fill,
And he laughs “Ho! ho!” at Exciseman Gill.
Down Chislett Lane, so free and so fleet
Rides Smuggler Bill, and away to Up-street;
Sarre Bridge is won—
Bill thinks it fun;
“Ho! ho! the old tub-gauging son of a gun—
His wind will be thick, and his breeks be thin,
Ere a race like this he may hope to win!”
Goes the fleet dapple-grey,
Fresh as the breeze and free as the wind,
And Exciseman Gill lags far behind.
“I would give my soul,” quoth Exciseman Gill,
“For a nag that would catch that Smuggler Bill!—
No matter for blood, no matter for bone,
No matter for colour, bay, brown, or roan,
So I had but one!”
A voice cried, “Done!”334
“Ay, dun,” said Exciseman Gill, and he spied,
A Custom-house officer close by his side,
On a high-trotting horse with a dun-coloured hide.—
“Devil take me,” again quoth Exciseman Gill,
“If I had but that horse, I’d have Smuggler Bill!”
From his using such shocking expressions, it’s plain
That Exciseman Gill was rather profane.
He was, it is true,
As bad as a Jew,
A sad old scoundrel as ever you knew,
And he rode in his stirrups sixteen stone two.
—He’d just utter’d the words which I’ve mention’d to you,
When his horse coming slap on his knees with him, threw
Him head over heels, and away he flew,
And Exciseman Gill was bruised black and blue.
When he arose
His hands and his clothes
Were as filthy as could be,—he’d pitch’d on his nose,
And roll’d over and over again in the mud,
And his nose and his chin were all cover’d with blood;
Yet he screamed with passion, “I’d rather grill
Than not come up with that Smuggler Bill!”
—“Mount! Mount!” quoth the Custom-house officer, “get
On the back of my Dun, you’ll bother him yet.
Your words are plain, though they’re somewhat rough,
‘Done and Done’ between gentlemen’s always enough!—
I’ll lend you a lift—there—you’re up on him—so,
He’s a rum one to look at—a devil to go!”
Dash’d up the hill,
And mark’d not, so eager was he in pursuit,
The queer Custom-house officer’s queer-looking boot.
Smuggler Bill rides on amain,
He slacks not girth and he draws not rein,
Yet the dapple-grey mare bounds on in vain,
For nearer now—and he hears it plain—
Sounds the tramp of a horse—“’Tis the Gauger again!”
Dashes round by the mill
That stands near the road upon Monkton Hill,—335
“Now speed,—now speed,
My dapple-grey steed,
Thou ever, my dapple, wert good at need!
O’er Monkton Mead, and through Minster Level,
We’ll baffle him yet, be he gauger or devil!
For Manston Cave, away! away!
Now speed thee, now speed thee, my good dapple-grey,
It shall never be said that Smuggler Bill
Was run down like a hare by Exciseman Gill!”
Manston Cave was Bill’s abode;
A mile to the north of the Ramsgate road.
(Of late they say
It’s been taken away,
That is, levell’d and filled up with chalk and clay,
By a gentleman there of the name of Day.)
Thither he urges his good dapple-grey;
And the dapple-grey steed,
Still good at need,
Though her chest it pants, and her flanks they bleed,
Dashes along at the top of her speed;
But nearer and nearer Exciseman Gill
Cries, “Yield thee! now yield thee, thou Smuggler Bill!”
Smuggler Bill, he looks behind,
And he sees a Dun horse come swift as the wind,
And his nostrils smoke and his eyes they blaze
Like a couple of lamps on a yellow post-chaise!
Every shoe he has got
And sparks round his ears snap, crackle, and play,
And his tail cocks up in a very odd way;
Every hair in his mane seems a porcupine’s quill,
And there on his back sits Exciseman Gill,
Crying “Yield thee! now yield thee, thou Smuggler Bill!”
Smuggler Bill from his holster drew
A large horse-pistol, of which he had two!
Made by Nock;
He pull’d back the cock
As far as he could to the back of the lock;
The trigger he touch’d and the welkin rang
To the sound of the weapon, it made such a bang;
Smuggler Bill ne’er missed his aim,
The shot told true on the Dun—but there came336
From the hole where it enter’d—not blood,—but flame,
—He changed his plan,
And fired at the man;
But his second horse-pistol flashed in the pan!
And Exciseman Gill, with a hearty good-will,
Made a grab at the collar of Smuggler Bill.
The dapple-grey mare made a desperate bound
When that queer Dun horse on her flank she found,
Alack! and alas! on what dangerous ground!
It’s enough to make one’s flesh to creep,
To stand on that fearful verge, and peep
Down the rugged sides so dreadfully steep,
Where the chalk-hole yawns full sixty feet deep.
O’er which that steed took that desperate leap!
It was so dark then under the trees,
No horse in the world could tell chalk from cheese—
Down they went—o’er that terrible fall,—
Horses, Exciseman, Smuggler, and all!!
Below were found
Next day on the ground
By an elderly gentleman walking his round
(I wouldn’t have seen such a sight for a pound),
All smash’d and dash’d, three mangled corses,
Two of them human,—the third was a horse’s—
That good dapple-grey, and Exciseman Gill
Yet grasping the collar of Smuggler Bill!
But where was the Dun? that terrible Dun?
From that terrible night he was seen by none!—
There some people think, though I am not one,
That part of the story all nonsense and fun,
But the country-folks there,
One and all declare,
When the “Crowner’s ’Quest” came to sit on the pair,
They heard a loud Horse-laugh up in the air!—
—If in one of the trips
Of the steam-boat Eclipse
You should go down to Margate to look at the ships,
Or to take what the bathing-room people call “Dips,”
You may hear old folks talk
Of that quarry of chalk
Or go over—it’s rather too far for a walk,337
But a three-shilling drive will give you a peep
At that fearful chalk-pit—so awfully deep,
Which is call’d to this moment “The Smuggler’s Leap!”
Nay more, I am told, on a moonshiny night,
If you’re “plucky,” and not over subject to fright,
And go and look over that chalk-pit white,
You may see, if you will,
The Ghost of Old Gill
Grappling the Ghost of Smuggler Bill,
And the Ghost of the dapple-grey lying between ’em.—
I’m told so—I can’t say I know one who’s seen ’em!
And now, gentle Reader, one word ere we part,
Just take a friend’s counsel, and lay it to heart.
Imprimis, don’t smuggle!—if bent to please Beauty,
You must buy French lace,—purchase what has paid duty!
Don’t use naughty words, in the next place,—and ne’er in
Your language adopt a bad habit of swearing!
Never say “Devil take me!”
Or “shake me!”—or “bake me!”
Or such-like expressions—Remember Old Nick
To take folks at their word is remarkably quick.
Another sound maxim I’d wish you to keep,
Is, “Mind what you’re after, and—Look ere you leap!”
Above all, to my last gravest caution attend—
Never borrow a horse you don’t know of a friend!!
“The Smuggler’s Leap” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. X no. 3 (September 1841) as “The Smuggler’s Leap: A Tale of Thanet”.
We’ll laugh, ho! ho! at Exciseman Gill!”
text has We’l
There are some people think, though I am not one
text has are, with superfluous comma
[That is, there are some people who think, and so on.]
For the story which succeeds I am indebted to Mrs. Botherby. She is a Shropshire lady by birth, and I overheard her, a few weeks since, in the nursery, chanting the following, one of the Legends peculiar to her native county, for the amusement and information of Seaforth’s little boy, who was indeed “all ears.” As Ralph de Diceto, who alludes to the main facts, was Dean of St. Paul’s in 1183, about the time that the Temple Church was consecrated, the history is evidently as ancient as it is authentic, though the author 338 of the present paraphrase has many unauthorised, as well as “anachronismatical interpolations.”—For the interesting note on the ancient family of Ketch, I need scarcely say, I am obliged to the Simpkinson.
Hisce ferè temporibus, in agro Salopiensi, Quidam, cui nomen Johannes, Le Sanglaunt deinde nuncupatus, uxores quamplurimas ducit, enecat et (ita referunt) manducat; ossa solùm cani miræ magnitudinis relinquens. Tum demum in flagrante delicto, vel “manu rubrâ,” ut dicunt Jurisconsulti, deprensus, carnifice vix opprimitur.—Radulphus de Diceto.
OH! why doth thine eye gleam so bright,
Oh! why doth thine eye gleam so bright?—
The Mother’s at home,
The Maid may not roam,
She never will meet thee to-night!
By the light
Of the moon—it’s impossible—quite!
Yet thine eye is still brilliant and bright,
It gleams with a fiendish delight—
She is won!
Nothing under the sun
Can loose the charm’d ring, though it’s slight!
It fits so remarkably tight!”—
The wire is as thin as a thread,
The wire is as thin as a thread!—
“Though slight be the chain,
Again might and main,
Cannot rend it in twain—She is wed!
She is wed!
She is mine, be she living or dead!
Nay, laugh not, I pray thee, so loud,
Oh! laugh not so loud and so clear!
Though sweet is thy smile
The heart to beguile,
Yet thy laugh is quite shocking to hear,
It makes the blood curdle with fear!
The Maiden is gone by the glen,
She is gone by the glen and the wood—
It’s a very odd thing
She should wear such a ring,
While her tresses are bound with a snood.
By the rood!
It’s a thing that’s not well understood!
The Maiden is stately and tall,
And stately she walks in her pride;
But the young Mary-Anne
Runs as fast as she can,
To o’ertake her, and walk by her side!
Though she chide—
She deems not her sister a bride!
But the Maiden is gone by the glen,
Mary-Anne she is gone by the lea;
She o’ertakes not her sister,
It’s clear she has miss’d her,
And cannot think where she can be!
“Ho! ho!—We shall see! we shall see!”
Mary-Anne is gone over the lea,
Mary-Anne she is come to the Tower!
But it makes her heart quail,
For it looks like a jail,
A deal more than a fair Lady’s bower,
Its ugly grey walls seem to lour.340
For the barbican’s massy and high,
And the oak-door is heavy and brown;
And with iron it’s plated
To pour boiling oil and lead down;
How you’d frown
Should a ladle-full fall on your crown!
The rock that it stands on is steep,
To gain it one’s forced for to creep;
The Portcullis is strong,
And the Drawbridge is long,
And the water runs all round the Keep;
At a peep
You can see that the Moat’s very deep!
The Drawbridge is long, but it’s down,
And the Portcullis hangs in the air;
And no Warder is near,
With his horn and his spear,
To give notice when people come there.—
Mary-Anne has run into the Square!
The oak-door is heavy and brown,
But the oak-door is standing ajar.
And no one is there
To say, “Pray take a chair,
You seem tired, Miss, with running so far—
So you are—
With grown people you’re scarce on a par!”
But the young Mary-Anne is not tired,
She roams o’er your Tower by herself;
She runs through, very soon,
Each boudoir and saloon,
And examines each closet and shelf,
All your plate, and your china—and delf.341
She looks at your Arras so fine,
So rich, all description it mocks;
And she now and then pauses
To gaze at your vases,
Your pictures, and or-molu clocks;
Every cupboard, and drawer she unlocks.
She looks at the paintings so rare,
That adorn every wall in your house;
Your impayable pieces,
Your Paul Veroneses,
Your Rembrandts, your Guidos, and Dows,
Claude’s Landscapes,—and Landseer’s Bow-wows.
She looks at your Statues so fine,
And mighty great notice she takes
Of your Niobe crying,
Your Mirmillo dying,
Your Hercules strangling the snakes,—
How he shakes
The nasty great things as he wakes!
Your , his serpents and boys,
She views with some little dismay;
A copy of that I can
See in the Vatican,
Unless the Pope’s sent it away,
As they say,
In the Globe, he intended last May.23
There’s your Belvidere Phœbus, with which,
Mr. Milman says none other vies.
(His lines on Apollo
Beat all the rest hollow,
And gain’d him the Newdigate prize.)
How the eyes
Seem watching the shaft as it flies!342
There’s a room full of satins and silks,
There’s a room full of velvet and lace,
There are drawers full of rings
And a thousand fine things,
And a splendid gold watch with a case
O’er its face,
Is in every room in the place.
There are forty fine rooms on a floor,
And every room fit for a Ball,
It’s so gorgeous and rich,
With so lofty a pitch,
And so long, and so broad, and so tall;
Save the last one—and that’s very small!
It boasts not stool, table, or chair,
But one Cabinet, costly and grand,
Which has little gold figures
Of little gold Niggers,
With fishing-rods stuck in each hand.—
And it’s placed on a splendid buhl stand.
Its hinges and clasps are of gold,
And of gold are its key-hole and key,
And the drawers within
Have each a gold pin,
And they’re number’d with 1, 2, and 3,
You may see
All the figures in gold filigree!
Number 1’s full of emeralds green,
Number 2’s full of diamonds and pearl;
But what does she see
In drawer Number 3
That makes all her senses to whirl,
And each lock of her hair to uncurl?—343
Wedding fingers are sweet pretty things,
To salute them one eagerly strives,
When one kneels to “propose”—
It’s another quelque chose
When cut off at the knuckles with knives,
From our wives,
They are tied up in bunches of fives.
Yet there they lie, one, two, three, four!
There lie they, five, six, seven, eight!
And by them, in rows,
Lie eight little Great-Toes,
To match in size, colour, and weight!
From their state,
It would seem they’d been severed of late.
Beside them are eight Wedding-rings,
And the gold is as thin as a thread—
“Ho! ho!—She is mine—
This will make up the Nine!”
Dear me! who those shocking words said?—
To hide herself under the bed.
But, alas! there’s no bed in the room,
And she peeps from the window on high;
Only fancy her fright
And the terrible sight
Down below, which at once meets her eye!
She half utter’d,—but stifled her cry.
For she saw it was You and your Man,
And she heard your unpleasant “Haw! haw!!”
While her sister, stone dead,
By the hair of her head,
O’er the bridge you were trying to draw,
As she saw—
A thing quite contra-ry to law!344
Your man has got hold of her heels,
Bloudie Jacke! you’ve got hold of her hair!—
But nor Jacke nor his Man
Can see young Mary-Anne,
She has hid herself under the stair,
Is a horrid great Dog, I declare!
His eye-balls are bloodshot and blear,
He’s a sad ugly cur for a pet;
He seems of the breed
Of that “Billy,” indeed,
Who used to kill rats for a bet;
How many one morning he ate.
He has skull, ribs, and vertebræ there,
And thigh-bones;—and, though it’s so dim,
Yet it’s plain to be seen
He has pick’d them quite clean,—
She expects to be torn limb from limb,
He looks at her—and she looks at him.
She has given him a bun and a roll,
She has given him a roll and a bun,
And a Shrewsbury cake,
Of Pailin’s24 own make,
Which she happened to take ere her run
She’d been used to a luncheon at One.
It’s “a pretty particular Fix,”
—Above,—there’s the Maiden that’s dead;
Below—growling at her—
There’s that Cannibal Cur
Who at present is munching her bread,
Of her leg,—or her arm,—or her head.345
It’s “a pretty particular Fix,”
She is caught like a mouse in a trap;—
Stay!—there’s something, I think,
That has slipp’d through a chink,
And fall’n, by a singular hap,
Into poor little Mary-Anne’s lap!
It’s a very fine little gold ring,
Yet, though slight, it’s remarkably stout,
But it’s made a sad stain,
Which will always remain
On her frock—for Blood will not wash out;
Salts of Lemon won’t bring it about!
She has grasp’d that gold ring in her hand,
In an instant she stands on the floor,
She makes but one bound
O’er the back of the hound,
And a hop, skip, and jump to the door,
And she’s o’er
The drawbridge she’d traversed before!
Her hair’s floating loose in the breeze,
For gone is her “bonnet of blue.”
—Now the Barbican’s past!—
Her legs “go it” as fast
As two drumsticks a-beating tattoo,
As they do
At Réveille, Parade, or Review!
She has run into Shrewsbury town,
She has called out the Beadle and May’r,
And the Justice of Peace,
And the Rural Police,
Till “Battle Field” swarms like a Fair,—
And see there!—
E’en the Parson’s beginning to swear!!
There’s a pretty to-do in your Tower,
In your Tower there’s a pretty to-do!
All the people of Shrewsbury
Playing old gooseberry
With your choice bits of taste and vertu;
Is upset in their search after you!
They are playing the deuce with your things,
There’s your Cupid is broken in two,
And so too, between us, is
Each of your Venuses,
The “Antique” ones you bought of the Jew,
And the new
One, George Robins swears came from St. Cloud.
The Callipyge’s injured behind,
The De Medici’s injured before!
And the Anadyomene
’s injured in so many
Places, I think there’s a score,
If not more,
Of her fingers and toes on the floor.
They are hunting you up stairs and down,
Every person to pass is forbid,
While they turn out the closets
And all their deposits—
“There’s the dust-hole—come lift up the lid!”—
So they did—
But they could not find where you were hid!
Ah! Ah!—they will have you at last,
The chimneys to search they begin;—
They have found you at last!—
There you are, sticking fast,
With your knees doubled up to your chin,
Though you’re thin
—Dear me! what a mess you are in!—
What a terrible pickle you’re in,
Why, your face is as black as your hat!
Your fine Holland shirt
Is all over dirt!
And so is your point-lace cravat!
What a Flat
To seek such an asylum as that!
They can scarcely help laughing, I vow,
In the midst of their turmoil and strife;
You’re not fit to be seen!
—You look like Mr. Kean
In the play where he murders his wife!—
On my life
You ought to be scraped with a knife!
They have pull’d you down flat on your back,
They have pull’d you down flat on your back!
And they smack, and they thwack,
Till your “funny bones” crack,
As if you were stretched on the rack,
At each thwack!
Good lack! what a savage attack!
They call for the Parliament Man,
And the Hangman, the matter to clinch,
And they call for the Judge,
But others cry “Fudge!—
Don’t budge Mr. Calcraft,25 an inch!348
Will do very well at a pinch!”
It is useless to scuffle and cuff,
It is useless to struggle and bite!
And to kick and to scratch
You have met with your match,
And the Shrewsbury Boys hold you tight
Your determined attempts “to show fight.”
They are pulling you all sorts of ways,
They are twisting your right leg Nor-West,
And your left leg due South,
And your knee’s in your mouth,
And your head is poked down on your breast,
And it’s prest,
I protest, almost into your chest!
They have pulled off your arms and your legs,
As the naughty boys serve the blue flies;
And they’ve torn from their sockets,
And put in their pockets
Your fingers and thumbs for a prize!
And your eyes
A Doctor has bottled—from Guy’s.27349
Your Trunk, thus dismember’d and torn,
They hew, and they hack, and they chop;
And, to finish the whole,
They stick up a pole
In the place that’s still called the Wylde Coppe,
And they pop
Your grim gory head on the top!
They have buried the fingers and toes,
Of the victims so lately your prey.
From those fingers and eight toes
Sprang early potatoes,
“Ladyes’ Fyngers” they’re called to this day;
—So they say,—
And you usually dig them in May.
What became of the dear little girl?
What became of the young Mary-Anne?
Why, I’m sadly afraid
That she died an Old Maid,
For she fancied that every Young Man
Had a plan
To trepan her like “poor Sister Fan!”
So they say she is now leading apes,
And mends Bachelors’ small clothes below;
The story is old,
And has often been told,
But I cannot believe it is so—
Depend on’t the tale is “No Go!”
And now for the moral I’d fain,
That young Ladies should draw from my pen,—
It’s—“Don’t take these flights
Upon moon-shiny nights,
With gay, harum-scarum young men,
Down a glen!
You really can’t trust one in ten!”350
Let them think of your terrible Tower,
And don’t let them liberties take,
Whether Maidens or Spouses,
In Bachelors’ houses:
Or, some time or another, they’ll make
And lose—more than a Shrewsberrie Cake!!
23 “The Pope is said—this fact is hardly credible—to have sold the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvidere to the Emperor of Russia for nine millions of francs.”—Globe and Traveller.
24 O Pailin! Prince of cake-compounders! the mouth liquefies at thy very name—but there!
25 Arms.—1st and 4th, Quarterly, Argent and Sable; in the first quarter a Gibbet of the second, noosed proper, Callcraft. 2d, Sable, three Night-caps, Argent, tufted Gules, 2 and 1, Ketche. 3d, Or a Nosegay, fleurant, Kirby.
Supporters.—Dexter: A Sheriff in his pride, robed Gules, chained and collared Or.—Sinister: An Ordinary display proper, wigged and banded Argent, nosed Gules.
Motto—Sic itur ad astra!
26 The American Justinian, compiler of the “Yankee Pandects.”
27 A similar appropriation is said to have been made by an eminent practitioner of those of the late Monsieur Courvoisier.
“Bloudie Jacke of Shrewsberrie” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VIII no. 2 (August 1840) as “County Legends No. I: Bloudie Jacke of Shrewsberrie: The Shropshire Bluebeard: A Legend of ‘The Proud Salopians’”. Heads up: The Index at the end of the Bentley’s volume gives the page as 117; it is really 171.
Trivia: In Bentley’s, “Bloudie Jacke” was immediately preceded by a rather gloomy story called “The Fall of the House of Usher”, with no named author. Lack of international copyright is a wonderful thing.
the author of the present paraphrase has introduced
text has introducced
Your Laocoon, his serpents and boys,
spelling unchanged: expected Laocoön
[Footnote] The Pope is said—this fact is hardly credible—to have sold the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvidere
[For “hardly credible” read “hardly true”; the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere remain in the Vatican Museum.]
[Footnote] O Pailin!
[This footnote was added for the book.]
[Footnote] 1st and 4th, Quarterly, Argent and Sable; in the first quarter a Gibbet of the second, noosed proper. 2d, Sable, three Night-caps, Argent, tufted Gules, 2 and 1. 3d, Or a Nosegay, fleurant.
[Something like this, except that I don’t know what, if anything, the heraldic nosegay looks like.
We’ll stipulate the Sheriff (red robe with gold chain and collar) and Ordinary (white wig and bands, nose red).]
Her niece, of whom I have before made honourable mention, is not a whit behind Mrs. Botherby in furnishing entertainment for the young folks. If little Charles has the aunt to sol fa him to slumber, Miss Jenny is equally fortunate in the possession of a Sappho of her own. It is to the air of “Drops of Brandy” that Patty has adapted her version of a venerable ditty; which we have all listened to with respect and affection under its old title of
WHEN we were all little and good,—
A long time ago, I’m afraid, Miss—
We were told of the Babes in the Wood
By their false, cruel Uncle betray’d, Miss;
Their Pa was a Squire, or a Knight;
In Norfolk, I think, his estate lay—
That is, if I recollect right,
For I’ve not read the history lately.28
Rum ti, etc.
Their Pa and their Ma being seized
With a tiresome complaint, which, in some seasons,
People are apt to be seized
With, who’re not on their guard against plum-seasons,351
Their medical man shook his head,
As he could not get well to the root of it;
And the Babes stood on each side the bed,
While their Uncle, he stood at the foot of it.
“Oh, Brother!” their Ma whisper’d, faint
And low, for breath seeming to labour, “Who’d
Think that this horrid complaint,
That’s been going about in the neighbourhood,
Thus should attack me,—nay, more.
My poor husband besides,—and so fall on him!
Bringing us so near to Death’s door
That we can’t avoid making a call on him!
“Now think, ’tis your sister invokes
Your aid, and the last word she says is,
Be kind to those dear little folks
When our toes are turned up to the daisies!—
By the servants don’t let them be snubb’d,—
—Let Jane have her fruit and her custard,—
And mind Johnny’s chilblains are rubb’d
Well with Whitehead’s best essence of mustard.
“You know they’ll be pretty well off in
Respect to what’s called ‘worldly gear,’
For John, when his Pa’s in his coffin,
Comes in to three hundred a-year;
And Jane’s to have five hundred pound
On her marriage paid down, ev’ry penny,
So you’ll own a worse match might be found,
Any day in the week, than our Jenny!”
Here the Uncle pretended to cry,
And, like an old thorough-paced rogue, he
Put his handkerchief up to his eye,
And devoted himself to Old Bogey
If he did not make matters all right,
And said, should he covet their riches,
He “wished the old Gentleman might
Fly away with him, body and breeches!”352
No sooner, however, were they
Put to bed with a spade by the sexton,
Than he carried the darlings away
Out of that parish into the next one,
Giving out he should take them to town,
And select the best school in the nation,
That John might not grow a clown,
But receive a genteel education.
“Greek and Latin old twaddle I call!”
Says he, “While his mind’s ductile and plastic,
I’ll place him at Dotheboys Hall,
Where he’ll learn all that’s new and gymnastic.
While Jane, as, when girls have the dumps,
Fortune-hunters, by scores, to entrap ’em rise,
Shall go to those worthy old frumps,
The two Misses Tickler of Clapham Rise!”
Having thought on the How and the When
To get rid of his nephew and niece,
He sent for two ill-looking men,
And he gave them five guineas a-piece.—
Says he, “Each of you take up a child
On the crupper, and when you have trotted
Some miles through that wood lone and wild,
Take your knife out and cut its carotid!”
“Done” and “done” is pronounced on each side,
While the poor little dears are delighted
To think they a-cock-horse shall ride,
And are not in the least degree frighted;
They say their “Ta! Ta!” as they start,
And they prattle so nice on their journey,
That the rogues themselves wish to their heart
They could finish the job by attorney.
Nay, one was so taken aback
By seeing such spirit and life in them,
That he fairly exclaim’d, “I say, Jack,
I’m blow’d if I can put a knife in them!”—353
“Pooh!” says his pal, “you great dunce!
You’ve pouch’d the good gentleman’s money,
So out with your whinger at once,
And scrag Jane, while I spiflicate Johnny.”
He refused, and harsh language ensued,
Which ended at length in a duel,
When he that was mildest in mood
Gave the truculent rascal his gruel;
The Babes quake with hunger and fear,
While the ruffian his dead comrade, Jack, buries;
Then he cries, “Loves, amuse yourselves here
With the hips, and the haws, and the blackberries!
“I’ll be back in a couple of shakes;
So don’t, dears, be quivering and quaking,
I’m going to get you some cakes,
And a nice butter’d roll that’s a-baking!”
He rode off with a tear in his eye,
Which ran down his rough cheek, and wet it,
As he said to himself with a sigh,
“Pretty souls!—don’t they wish they may get it!!”
From that moment the Babes ne’er caught sight
Of the wretch who thus sought their undoing,
But pass’d all that day and that night
In wandering about and “boo-hoo”-ing.
The night proved cold, dreary, and dark,
So that, worn out with sighings and sobbings,
Next morn they were found stiff and stark,
And stone-dead, by two little Cock-Robins.
These two little birds it sore grieves
To see what so cruel a dodge I call,—
They cover the bodies with leaves,
An interment quite ornithological;
It might more expensive have been,
But I doubt, though I’ve not been to see ’em,
If among those in all Kensal Green
You could find a more neat Mausoleum.354
Now, whatever your rogues may suppose,
Conscience always makes restless their pillows,
And Justice, though blind, has a nose
That sniffs out all conceal’d peccadilloes.
The wicked old Uncle, they say,
In spite of his riot and revel,
Was hippish and qualmish all day,
And dream’t all night long of the d—l.
He grew gouty, dyspeptic, and sour,
And his brow, once so smooth and so placid,
Fresh wrinkles acquired every hour,
And whatever he swallow’d turn’d acid.
The neighbours thought all was not right,
Scarcely one with him ventured to parley,
And Captain Swing came in the night,
And burnt all his beans and his barley.
There was hardly a day but some fox
Ran away with his geese and his ganders:
His wheat had the mildew, his flocks
Took the rot, and his horses the glanders;
His daughters drank rum in their tea,
His son, who had gone for a sailor,
Went down in a steamer at sea,
And his wife ran away with a tailor!
It was clear he lay under a curse;
None would hold with him any communion;
Every day matters grew worse and worse,
Till they ended at length in The Union;
While his man being caught in some fact
(The particular crime I’ve forgotten),
When he came to be hanged for the act,
Split, and told the whole story to Cotton.
Understanding the matter was blown,
His employer became apprehensive
Of what, when ’twas more fully known,
Might ensue—he grew thoughtful and pensive;355
He purchased some sugar-of-lead,
Took it home, popp’d it into his porridge,
Ate it up, and then took to his bed,
And so died in the workhouse at Norwich.
Ponder well now, dear Parents, each word
That I’ve wrote, and when Sirius rages
In the dog-days, don’t be so absurd
As to blow yourselves out with Green-gages!
Of stone-fruits in general be shy,
And reflect it’s a fact beyond question
That Grapes, when they’re spelt with an i,
Promote anything else but digestion.—
—When you set about making your will,
Which is commonly done when a body’s ill,
Mind, and word it with caution and skill,
And avoid, if you can, any codicil!
When once you’ve appointed an heir
To the fortune you’ve made, or obtain’d, ere
You leave a reversion beware
Whom you place in contingent remainder!
Executors, Guardians, and all
Who have children to mind, don’t ill treat them,
Nor think that, because they are small
And weak, you may beat them, and cheat them;
Remember that “ill-gotten goods
Never thrive;” their possession’s but cursory,
So never turn out in the woods
Little folks you should keep in the nursery.
Be sure he who does such base things
Will ne’er stifle Conscience’s clamour;
His “riches will make themselves wings,”
And his property come to the hammer!
Then He,—and not those he bereaves,
Will have most cause for sighings and sobbings,
When he finds himself smother’d with leaves
(Of fat catalogues) heap’d up by Robins!
28 See Bloomfield’s History of the County of Norfolk, in which all the particulars of this lamentable history are (or ought to be) fully detailed, together with the names of the parties, and an elaborate pedigree of the family.
“The Babes in the Wood” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XII no. 4 (October 1842) as “The Norfolk Tragedy: An Old Song to a New Tune”.
It is to the air of “Drops of Brandy”
[In Bentley’s this information was given in a subhead as “Air—Drops of Brandy”. My usual perfunctory research suggests there are at least two different melodies by this name, both of them jigs in 9/8 time.]
I’ll place him at Dotheboys Hall
[Nicholas Nickleby was first published in 1838-39—though not, alas, in Bentley’s (as Oliver Twist had been.)]
The incidents recorded in the succeeding Legend were communicated to a dear friend of our family by the late lamented Sir Walter Scott. The names and localities have been scrupulously retained, as she is ready to testify. The proceedings in this case are, I believe, recorded in some of our law reports, though I have never been able to lay my hand upon them.
OH, Salisbury Plain is bleak and bare,—
At least so I’ve heard many people declare,
For I fairly confess I never was there;—
Not a shrub nor a tree,
Nor a bush can you see;
No hedges, no ditches, no gates, no stiles,
Much less a house, or a cottage for miles;—
It’s a very sad thing to be caught in the rain
When night’s coming on upon Salisbury Plain.
Now, I’d have you to know
That a great while ago,—
The best part of a century, may be, or so,—
Across this same plain, so dull and so dreary,
A couple of Travellers, way-worn and weary,
Were making their way;
Their profession, you’d say,
At a single glance did not admit of a query;
The pump-handled pig-tail, and whiskers worn then,
With scarce an exception, by sea-faring men,
The jacket,—the loose trousers “bows’d up together”—all
Guiltless of braces, as those of Charles Wetherall,—
The pigeon-toed step, and the rollicking motion,
Bespoke them two genuine sons of the Ocean,
And show’d in a moment their real charácters
(The accent so placed on this word by our Jack-Tars).
The one in advance was sturdy and strong,
With arms uncommonly bony and long,
And his Guernsey shirt
Was all pitch and dirt,
Which sailors don’t think inconvenient or wrong.357
He was very broad-breasted,
And very deep-chested;
His sinewy frame correspond with the rest did,
Except as to height, for he could not be more
At the most, you would say, than some five feet four,
And, if measured, perhaps had been found a thought lower.
Dame Nature, in fact,—whom some person or other,
—A Poet,—has call’d a “capricious step-mother,”—
You saw when beside him,
Had somehow denied him
In longitude what she had granted in latitude.
A trifling defect
You’d the sooner detect
From his having contracted a stoop in his attitude.
Square-built and broad-shoulder’d, good-humour’d and gay,
With his collar and countenance open as day,
The latter—’twas mark’d with small-pox, by the way,—
Had a sort of expression good-will to bespeak;
He’d a smile in his eye, and a quid in his cheek!
And, in short, notwithstanding his failure in height,
He was just such a man as you’d say, at first sight,
You would much rather dine, or shake hands, with than fight.
The other, his friend and companion, was taller,
By five or six inches, at least, than the smaller;—
From his air and his mien
It was plain to be seen,
That he was, or had been,
A something between
The real “Jack Tar” and the “Jolly Marine.”
For, though he would give an occasional hitch,
Sailor-like to his “slops,” there was something, the which,
On the whole savour’d more of the pipeclay than pitch.—
Such were now the two men who appear’d on the hill,
Harry Waters the tall one, the short “Spanking Bill.”
To be caught in the rain,
I repeat it again,
Is extremely unpleasant on Salisbury Plain;
And when with a good soaking shower there are blended
Blue lightnings and thunder, the matter’s not mended;
Such was the case
In this wild dreary place,
On the day that I’m speaking of now, when the brace
Of trav’llers alluded to quicken’d their pace,
Till a good steady walk became more like a race
To get quit of the tempest which held them in chase.358
Louder, and louder
Than mortal gunpowder,
The heav’nly artillery kept crashing and roaring,
The lightning kept flashing, the rain too kept pouring,
While they, helter-skelter,
In vain sought for shelter
From what I’ve heard term’d, “a regular pelter;”
But the deuce of a screen
Could be anywhere seen,
Or an object except that on one of the rises,
An old way-post show’d
Where the Lavington road
Branch’d off to the left from the one to Devizes;
And thither the footsteps of Waters seem’d tending,
Though a doubt might exist of the course he was bending,
To a landsman, at least, who, wherever he goes,
Is content, for the most part, to follow his nose;—
While Harry kept “backing”
And “filling”—and “tacking,”—
Two nautical terms which, I’ll wager a guinea, are
Meant to imply
What you, Reader, and I
Would call going zig-zag, and not rectilinear.
But here, once for all, let me beg you’ll excuse
All mistakes I may make in the words sailors use
’Mongst themselves, on a cruise,
Or ashore with the Jews,
Or in making their court to their Polls and their Sues,
Or addressing those slop-selling females afloat—women
Known in our navy as oddly named boat-women.
The fact is, I can’t say I’m versed in the school
So ably conducted by Marryat and Poole
(See the last-mention’d gentleman’s “Admiral’s Daughter”);
The grand vade mecum
For all who to sea come,
And get, the first time in their lives, in blue water;
Of course in the use of sea terms you’ll not wonder,
If I now and then should fall into some blunder,
For which Captain Chamier, or Mr. T. P. Cooke,
Would call me a “Lubber,” and “Son of a Sea-cook.”
To return to our muttons—This mode of progression
At length upon Spanking Bill made some impression,359
—“Hillo, messmate, what cheer?
How queer you do steer!”
Cried Bill, whose short legs kept him still in the rear.
“Why, what’s in the wind, Bo?—what is it you fear?”
For he saw in a moment that something was frightening
His shipmate much more than the thunder and lightning.
“Fear?” stammered out Waters, “why, Him!—don’t you see
What faces that Drummer-boy’s making at
—How he dodges me so
Wherever I go?—
What is it he wants with me, Bill,—do you know?”
“What Drummer-boy, Harry?” cries Bill in surprise
(With a brief explanation, that ended in “eyes”),
“What Drummer-boy, Waters?—the coast is all clear,
We haven’t got never no Drummer-boy here!”
—“Why, there!—don’t you see
How he’s following me?
Now this way, now that way, and won’t let me be!
Keep him off, Bill—look here—
Don’t let him come near!
Only see how the blood-drops his features besmear!
What, the dead come to life again!—Bless me!—Oh dear!”
Bill remark’d in reply, “This is all very queer—
What, a Drummer-boy—bloody, too—eh!—well, I never—
I can’t see no Drummer-boy here whatsumdever!”
“Not see him!—why there;—look!—he’s close by the post—
Hark!—hark!—how he drums at me now!—he’s a Ghost!”
“A what?” returned Bill,—at that moment a flash
More than commonly awful preceded a crash
Like what’s called in Kentucky “an Almighty Smash.”—
And down Harry Waters went plump on his knees,
While the sound, though prolong’d, died away by degrees;
In its last sinking echoes, however, were some
Which, Bill could not help thinking, resembled a drum!
“Hollo! Waters!—I says,”
Quoth he in amaze,
“Why, I never see’d nuffin in all my born days360
Half so queer
As this here,
And I’m not very clear
But that one of us two has good reason for fear—
You to jaw about drummers with nobody near us!—
I must say as how that I thinks it’s mysterus.”
“Oh, mercy!” roar’d Waters, “do keep him off, Bill,
And, Andrew, forgive!—I’ll confess all!—I will!
I’ll make a clean breast,
And as for the rest,
You may do with me just what the lawyers think best;
But haunt me not thus!—let these visitings cease,
And your vengeance accomplish’d, Boy, leave me in peace!”
—Harry paused for a moment,—then turning to Bill,
Who stood with his mouth open, steady and still,
Began “spinning” what nauticals term a “tough yarn,”
Viz. his tale of what Bill call’d “this precious consarn.”
“It was in such an hour as this,
On such a wild and wintry day,
The forked lightning seem’d to hiss,
As now, athwart our lonely way,
When first these dubious paths I tried—
Yon livid form was by my side!—
“Not livid then—the ruddy glow
Of life, and youth, and health it bore!
And bloodless was that gory brow,
And cheerful was the smile it wore,
And mildly then those eyes did shine—
—Those eyes which now are blasting mine!
“They beam’d with confidence and love
Upon my face,—and Andrew Brand
Had sooner fear’d yon frighten’d dove
Than harm from Gervase Matcham’s hand
—I am no Harry Waters—men
Did call me Gervase Matcham then.361
“And Matcham, though a humble name,
Was stainless as the feathery flake
From Heaven, whose virgin whiteness came
Upon the newly-frozen lake;
Commander, comrade, all began
To laud the Soldier,—like the Man.
“Nay, muse not, William,—I have said
I was a soldier—staunch and true
As any he above whose head
Old England’s lion banner flew;
And, duty done,—her claims apart,—
’Twas said I had a kindly heart.
“And years roll’d on, and with them came
In turn—I kept mine honest fame—
Our Colonel’s self,—whom men did call
The veriest Martinet—ev’n he,
Though cold to most, was kind to me!—
“One morn—oh! may that morning stand
Accursed in the rolls of fate
Till latest time!—there came command
To carry forth a charge of weight
To a detachment far away,—
—It was their regimental pay!—
“And who so fit for such a task
As trusty Matcham, true and tried,
Who spurn’d the inebriating flask,
With honour for his constant guide?—
On Matcham fell their choice—and He,—
‘Young Drum,’—should bear him company!
“And grateful was that sound to hear,
For he was full of life and joy,
The mess-room pet—to each one dear
Was that kind, gay, light-hearted boy
—The veriest churl in all our band
Had aye a smile for Andrew Brand.—362
—“Nay, glare not as I name thy name!
That threatening hand, that fearful brow
Relax—avert that glance of flame!
Thou see’st I do thy bidding now!
Vex’d Spirit, rest!—’twill soon be o’er,—
Thy blood shall cry to Heav’n no more!
“Enough—we journey’d on—the walk
Was long,—and dull and dark the day,—
And still young Andrew’s cheerful talk
And merry laugh beguiled the way;
Noon came, a sheltering bank was there,—
We paused our frugal meal to share.
“Then ’twas, with cautious hand, I sought
To prove my charge secure,—and drew
The packet from my vest, and brought
The glittering mischief forth to view,
And Andrew cried,—No!—’twas not He!
It was The Tempter spoke to me!
“But it was Andrew’s laughing voice
That sounded in my tingling ear,
—‘Now, Gervase Matcham, at thy choice,’
It seem’d to say, ‘are gauds and gear.
And all that wealth can buy or bring,
“‘No tedious drill, no long parade,
No bugle call at early dawn;
For guard-room bench, or barrack bed,
The downy couch, the sheets of lawn;
And I thy Page,—thy steps to tend,
Thy sworn companion,—servant,—friend!’
—“He ceased—that is, I heard no more,
Though other words pass’d idly by,
And Andrew chatter’d as before,
And laugh’d—I mark’d him not—not I.
‘’Tis at thy choice!’ that sound alone
Rang in mine ear—voice else was none.363
“I could not eat,—the untasted flask
Mock’d my parch’d lip,—I passed it by,
‘What ails the man?’ he seem’d to ask.—
I felt, but could not meet his eye.—
‘’Tis at thy choice!’—it sounded yet,—
A sound I never may forget.
—“‘Haste! haste! the day draws on,’ I cried,
‘And, Andrew, thou hast far to go!’—
‘Hast far to go!’ the Fiend replied
Within me,—’twas not Andrew—no!
’Twas Andrew’s voice no more—’twas He
Whose then I was, and aye must be!
—“On, on we went;—the dreary plain
Was all around us—we were Here!
Then came the storm,—the lightning,—rain,
No earthly living thing was near,
Save one wild Raven on the wing,
—If that, indeed, were earthly thing!
“I heard its hoarse and screaming voice
High hovering o’er my frenzied head,
‘’Tis, Gervase Matcham, at thy choice!
But he—the Boy!’ methought it said.
—Nay, Andrew, check that vengeful frown,—
I loved thee when I struck thee down!
“’Twas done! the deed that damns me—done
I know not how—I never knew;—
And Here I stood—but not alone,—
The prostrate Boy my madness slew.
Was by my side—limb, feature, name,
’Twas He!!—another—yet the same!
“Away! away! in frantic haste
Throughout that live-long night I flew—
Away! away!—across the waste,—
I know not how—I never knew.—
My mind was one wild blank—and I
Had but one thought,—one hope—to fly!364
“And still the lightning plough’d the ground,
The thunder roar’d—and there would come
Amidst its loudest bursts a sound
Familiar once—it was—A DRUM!—
Then came the morn,—and light,—and then
Streets,—houses,—spires,—the hum of men.
“And Ocean roll’d before me—fain
Would I have whelm’d me in its tide,
At once beneath the billowy main
My shame, my guilt, my crime to hide;
But He was there!—He cross’d my track,—
I dared not pass—He waved me back!
“And then rude hands detain’d me—sure
Justice had grasp’d her victim—no!
Though powerless, hopeless, bound, secure,
A captive thrall, it was not so;
They cry, ‘The Frenchman’s on the wave!’
The press was hot—and I a slave.
“They dragg’d me o’er the vessel’s side;
The world of waters roll’d below;
The gallant ship in all her pride
Of dreadful beauty sought her foe;
—Thou saw’st me, William, in the strife—
Alack! I bore a charmed life!
“In vain the bullets round me fly,
In vain mine eager breast I bare;
Death shuns the wretch who longs to die,
And every sword falls edgeless there!
Still He is near;—and seems to cry,
“Not here, nor thus, may Matcham die!’—
Thou saw’st me on that fearful day,
When, fruitless all attempts to save,
Our pinnace foundering in the bay,
The boat’s-crew met a watery grave,—
All, all—save ONE—the ravenous sea
That swallow’d all—rejected Me!365
“And now, when fifteen suns have each
Fulfill’d in turn its circling year,
Thrown back again on England’s beach,
Our bark paid off—He drives me Here!
I could not die in flood or fight—
He drives me Here!!”—
“And sarve you right.
“What! bilk your Commander!—desart—and then rob!
And go scuttling a poor little Drummer-boy’s nob;
Why, my precious eyes! what a bloodthirsty swab!
There’s old Davy Jones,
Who cracks Sailors’ bones
For his jaw-work would never, I’m sure, s’elp me Bob,
Have come for to go for to do sich a job!
Hark ye, Waters,—or Matcham,—whichever’s your purser-name,
—T’other, your own, is, I’m sartain, the worser name,—
Twelve years have we lived on like brother and brother!
Now—your course lays one way, and mine lays another!”
“No, William, it may not be so;
Blood calls for blood!—’tis Heaven’s decree!
And thou with me this night must go,
And give me to the gallows-tree!
Ha!—see—He smiles—He points the way!
On, William, on!—no more delay!”
Now Bill,—so the story, as told to me, goes
And who, as his last speech sufficiently shows,
Was a “regular trump,”—did not like to “turn Nose;”
But then came a thunder-clap louder than any
Of those that preceded, though they were so many;
And hark!—as its rumblings subside in a hum.
What sound mingles too?—By the hokey—A Drum!!
I remember I once heard my Grandfather say,
That some sixty years since he was going that way
When they show’d him the spot
Where the gibbet—was not—366
On which Matcham’s corse had been hung up to rot;
It had fall’n down—but how long before, he’d forgot;
And they told him, I think, at the Bear in Devizes,
The town where the Sessions are held,—or the ’Sizes,
That Matcham confess’d,
And made a clean breast
To the May’r; but that after he’d had a night’s rest,
And the storm had subsided, he “pooh-pooh’d” his friend,
Swearing all was a lie from beginning to end;
Said “he’d only been drunk”—
That his spirits had sunk
At the thunder—the storm put him into a funk,—
That, in fact, he had nothing at all on his conscience,
And found out, in short, he’d been talking great nonsense.—
But now one, Mr. Jones,
Comes forth and depones
That fifteen years since, he had heard certain groans
On his way to Stonehenge (to examine the stones
Described in a work of the late Sir John Soane’s),
That he’d follow’d the moans,
And, led by their tones,
Found a Raven a-picking a Drummer-boy’s bones!—
—Then the Colonel wrote word
From the King’s Forty-third,
That the story was certainly true which they’d heard,
For, that one of their drummers, and one Sergeant Matcham,
Had “brush’d with the dibs,” and they never could catch ’em.
So Justice was sure, though a long time she’d lagg’d,
And the Sergeant, in spite of his “Gammon,” got “scragg’d;”
And people averr’d
That an ugly black bird,
The Raven, ’twas hinted, of whom we have heard,
Though the story, I own, appears rather absurd,
Was seen (Gervase Matcham not being interr’d)
To roost all that night on the murderer’s gibbet;
An odd thing, if so, and it may be a fib—it,
However’s a thing Nature’s laws don’t prohibit.
—Next morning they add, that “black gentleman” flies out,
Having picked Matcham’s nose off, and gobbled his eyes out.
If you contemplate walking o’er Salisbury Plain,
Consult Mr. Murphy, or Moore, and refrain
From selecting a day when it’s likely to rain!
When trav’lling, don’t “flash”
Your notes or your cash
Before other people—it’s foolish and rash!
At dinner be cautious, and note well your party!—
There’s little to dread where the appetite’s hearty,—
But mind and look well to your purse and your throttle
When you see a man shirking, and passing his bottle!
If you chance to be needy,
Your coat and hat seedy,
In war-time especially never go out
When you’ve reason to think there’s a press-gang about!
Don’t chatter, nor tell people all that you think,
Nor blab secrets,—especially when you’re in drink.—
But keep your own counsel in all that you do!
—Or a Counsel may, some day or other, keep you.
Discard superstition!—and don’t take a post,
If you happen to see one at night, for a Ghost!
—Last of all, if by choice or convenience you’re led
To cut a man’s throat, or demolish his head,
Don’t do’t in a thunder-storm—wait for the summer!
And mind, above all things, the Man’s not a Drummer!!
“The Dead Drummer” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XI no. 2 (February 1842), “with an illustration by George Cruikshank”. The word “real” has to be pronounced, archaically, in two syllables.
To return to our muttons
[See notes to “The Bagman’s Dog”, the last selection in the First Series.]
What faces that Drummer-boy’s making at me?
text has at me?” with superfluous close quote
The press was hot—and I a slave.
[Pretty sure the Army would have something to say about that.]
Among a bundle of letters I find one from Sucklethumbkin, dated from London, and containing his version of perhaps the greatest theatrical Civil War since the celebrated “O. P. row.” As the circumstances are now become matter of history, and poor Doldrum himself has been, alas! for some time the denizen of a far different “House,” I have ventured to preserve it. Perhaps it may be unnecessary to add, that my Honourable friend has of late taken to Poetry, and goes without his cravat.
“Omnibus hoc vitium cantoribus.”—Hor.
DOL-DRUM the Manager sits in his chair,
With a gloomy brow and dissatisfied air,
And he says, as he slaps his hand on his knee,
“I’ll have nothing to do with Fiddle-de-dee!”
—“But Fiddle-de-dee sings clear and loud,
And his trills and his quavers astonish the crowd;
Such a singer as he
You’ll nowhere see;
They’ll all be screaming for Fiddle-de-dee!”
—“Though Fiddle-de-dee sings loud and clear,
And his tones are sweet, yet his terms are dear
The ‘glove won’t fit!’
The deuce a bit.
I shall give an engagement to Fal-de-ral-tit!”
The Prompter bow’d, and he went to his stall,
And the green baize rose at the Prompter’s call,
And Fal-de-ral-tit sang fol-de-rol-lol;
But, scarce had he done
When a “row” begun,
Such a noise was never heard under the sun.
—Where is he?
He’s the Artiste whom we all want to see!—
Bid the Manager come!
It’s a scandalous thing to exact such a sum369
For boxes and gallery, stalls and pit,
And then fob us off with a Fal-de-ral-tit!
Deuce a bit!
We’ll never submit!
Vive Fiddle-de-dee! à bas Fal-de-ral-tit!”
Dol-drum the Manager rose from his chair,
With a gloomy brow and dissatisfied air;
But he smooth’d his brow
As he well knew how,
And he walk’d on, and made a most elegant bow,
And he paused, and he smiled, and advanced to the lights,
In his opera-hat, and his opera tights;
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” then said he,
“Pray, what may you please to want with me?”
Folks of all sorts and of every degree,
Snob, and Snip, and haughty Grandee,
Duchesses, Countesses, fresh from their tea,
And Shopmen, who’d only come there for a spree,
Halloo’d, and hooted, and roar’d with glee
None but He!—
Subscribe to his terms, whatever they be!—
Agree, agree, or you’ll very soon see
In a brace of shakes we’ll get up an O.P.!”
Dol-drum the Manager, full of care,
With a gloomy brow and dissatisfied air,
And he bows his best,
And he puts his right hand on the side of his breast,
And he says,—says he,
“We can’t agree;
His terms are a vast deal too high for me.—
There’s the rent, and the rates, and the sesses, and taxes—
I can’t afford Fiddle-de-dee what he axes.
If you’ll only permit
The “Generous Public” cried “Deuce a bit!
We’ll none of us come.
It’s ‘No Go!’—it’s ‘Gammon!’—it’s ‘all a Hum:’—370
You’re a miserly Jew!—
He don’t ask too much, as you know—so you do—
It’s a shame—it’s a sin—it’s really too bad—
You ought to be ’shamed of yourself—so you had!”
Dol-drum the Manager never before
In his lifetime had heard such a wild uproar,
Dol-drum the Manager turn’d to flee;
But he says—says he,
“Mort de ma vie!
I shall nevare engage vid dat Fiddle-de-dee!”
Then all the gentlefolks flew in a rage,
And they jump’d from the Omnibus on to the Stage,
Lords, Squires, and Knights, they came down to the lights,
In their opera-hats, and their opera-tights.
Shook to her very toes,
She couldn’t hop on, so hopp’d off on her merry toes.
And the “evening concluded” with “Three times three!”
“Hip—hip!—hurrah! for Fiddle-de-dee!”
Dol-drum the Manager, full of care.
With a troubled brow and dissatisfied air,
Saddest of men,
Sat down, and then
Took from his table a Perryan pen,
And he wrote to the “News,”
How Mac Fuze and Tregooze,
Lord Tomnoddy, Sir Carnaby Jenks of the Blues,
And the whole of their tail, and the separate crews
Of the Tags and the Rags, and the No-one-knows-whos,
Had combined Monsieur Fal-de-ral-tit to abuse,
And make Dol-drum agree
Who was not a bit better singer than he.
—Dol-drum declared “he never could see,
For the life of him, yet, why Fiddle-de-dee,
Who in B flat, or C,
Or whatever the key,
Could never at any time get below G,
Should expect a fee the same in degree
As the great Burlybumbo who sings double D.”
Then slily he added a little N.B.,
“If they’d have him in Paris he’d not come to me!”371
The Manager rings,
And the Prompter springs
To his side in a jiffy, and with him he brings
A set of those odd-looking envelope things,
Where Britannia (who seems to be crucified) flings
To her right and her left, funny people with wings
Amongst Elephants, Quakers, and Catabaw Kings;
And a taper and wax
And small Queen’s heads in packs,
Which, when notes are too big, you’re to stick on their backs.
Dol-drum the Manager seal’d with care
The letter and copies he’d written so fair,
And sat himself down with a satisfied air;
He sent them away,
In time to appear in “our columns” next day!
Dol-drum the Manager, full of care,
Walk’d on to the stage with an anxious air.
And peep’d through the curtain to see who were there.
There was Mac Fuze,
And Lieutenant Tregooze,
And there was Sir Carnaby Jenks of the Blues,
And the Tags, and the Rags, and the No-one-knows-whos;
And the green-baize rose at the Prompter’s call,
And they all began to hoot, bellow, and bawl,
And cry “Cock-a doodle,” and scream and squall
Bid the Manager come!”
You’d have thought from the tones
Of their hisses and groans,
They were bent upon breaking his (Opera) bones.
And Dol-drum comes, and he says—says he,
“Pray, what may you please to want with me?”—
We’ll have nobody give us sol fa but He!
For he’s the Artiste whom we all want to see.”
—Manager Dol-drum says—says he—
(And he looks like an owl in “a hollow beech-tree”)—
“Well, since I see
The thing must be,
I’ll sign an agreement with Fiddle-de-dee!”
Then Mac Fuze, and Tregooze,
And Jenks of the Blues,
And the Tags, and the Rags, and the No-one-knows-whos,372
Extremely delighted to hear such good news,
Desist from their shrill “Cock-a-doodle-doos.”
Dol-drum and He!
They are jolly good fellows as ever need be!
And so’s Burlybumbo, who sings double D!
And whenever they sing, why, we’ll all come and see!”
So, after all
This terrible squall,
’s at the top of the tree,
And Dol-drum and Fal-de-ral-tit sing small!
Now Fiddle-de-dee sings loud and clear,
At I can’t tell you how many thousands a-year,
And Fal-de-ral-tit is considered “Small Beer;”
And Ma’am’selle Cherrytoes
Sports her merry toes,
Dancing away to the fiddles and flutes,
In what the folks call a “Lithuanian” in boots.
So here’s an end to my one, two, and three;
And bless the Queen—and long live She!
And grant that there never again may be
Such a halliballoo as we’ve happen’d to see
About nothing on earth but “Fiddle-de-dee!”
“A Row in an Omnibus (Box)” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VII no. 6 (June 1840) with the single-line title “A Row in an Omnibus” (only). It came with an introductory passage:
TO THE EDITOR OF BENTLEY’S MISCELLANY.
My Dear Sir,
I have just received the inclosed from Seaforth, in reply to an earnest supplication for news of your great City. You are aware that he has been bit by a mad Poet, and goes without his cravat. What is it all about?
Tappington, May 15.
Note the cravat, which will be recycled for the book’s introductory prose.
We come now to the rummaging of Father John’s stores. The extracts which I shall submit from them are of the same character as those formerly derived from the same source, and may be considered as theologico-historical, or Tracts for his times.
With respect to the first legend on this list, I have to remark that, though the good Father is silent on the subject, there is every reason to believe that the “little curly-wigged” gentleman, who plays, though passively, so prominent a part in it, had Ingoldsby blood in his veins. This conjecture is supported by the fact of the arms of Scroope, impaling Ingoldsby, being found, as in the Bray case, in one of the windows, and by a very old marriage-settlement nearly, or quite, illegible, a facsimile of the seal affixed to which is appended to this true history.
Nobilis quidam, cui nomen Monsr. Lescrop, Chivaler, cum invitasset convivas, et, hora convivii jam instante et apparatu facto, spe frustratus esset, excusantibus se convivis cur non compararent, prorupit iratus in hæc verba: “Veniant igitur omnes dæmones, si nullus hominum mecum esse potest!”
Quod cum fieret, et Dominus, et famuli, et ancillæ, a domo properantes, forte obliti, infantem in cunis jacentem secum non auferunt. Dæmones incipiunt comessari et vociferari, prospicereque per fenestras formis ursorum, luporum, felium, et monstrare pocula vino repleta. Ah, inquit pater, ubi infans meus? Vix cum hæc dixisset, unus ex Dæmonibus ulnis suis infantem ad fenestram gestat, etc.—Chronicon de Bolton.
IT’S in Bolton Hall, and the clock strikes One,
And the roast meat’s brown and the boil’d meat’s done,
And the barbecu’d sucking-pig’s crisp’d to a turn,
And the pancakes are fried, and beginning to burn;
The fat stubble-goose
Swims in gravy and juice,
With the mustard and apple-sauce ready for use;
Fish, flesh, and fowl, and all of the best,
Want nothing but eating—they’re all ready drest,
But where is the Host, and where is the Guest?
Pantler and serving-man, henchman and page,
Stand sniffing the duck-stuffing (onion and sage),
And the scullions and cooks,
With fidgety looks,
Are grumbling and mutt’ring, and scowling as black
As cooks always do when the dinner’s put back;
For though the board’s deckt, and the napery, fair
As the unsunn’d snow-flake, is spread out with care,
And the Dais is furnish’d with stool and with chair,
And plate of orféverie costly and rare,
Apostle-spoons, salt-cellar, all are there,
And Mess John in his place,
With his rubicund face,
And his hands ready folded, prepared to say Grace,
Yet where is the Host?—and his convives—where?374
The Scroope sits lonely in Bolton Hall,
And he watches the dial that hangs by the wall,
He watches the large hand, he watches the small,
And he fidgets and looks
As cross as the cooks,
And he utters—a word which we’ll soften to “’Zooks!”
And he cries, “What on earth has become of them all?—
What can delay
De Vaux and De Saye?
What makes Sir Gilbert de Umfraville stay?
What’s gone with Poyntz, and Sir Reginald Braye?
Why are Ralph Ufford and Marny away?
And De Nokes, and De Styles, and Lord Marmaduke Grey,
And De Roe?
And De Doe?—
Poynings, and Vavasour—where be they?
Fitz-Walter, Fitz-Osbert, Fitz-Hugh, and Fitz-John,
And the Mandevilles, père et filz (father and son)?
Their cards said ‘Dinner precisely at One!’
There’s nothing I hate, in
The world, like waiting!
It’s a monstrous great bore, when a Gentleman feels
A good appetite, thus to be kept from his meals!”
It’s in Bolton Hall, and the clock strikes Two!
And the scullions and cooks are themselves in “a stew,”
And the kitchen-maids stand, and don’t know what to do,
For the rich plum-puddings are bursting their bags,
And the mutton and turnips are boiling to rags,
And the fish is all spoil’d,
And the butter’s all oil’d,
And the soup’s got cold in the silver tureen,
And there is nothing, in short, that is fit to be seen!
While Sir Guy Le Scroope continues to fume,
And to fret by himself in the tapestried room,
And still fidgets, and looks
More cross than the cooks,
And repeats that bad word, which we’ve soften’d to “’Zooks!”
Two o’clock’s come, and Two o’clock’s gone,
And the large and the small hands move steadily on,
Still nobody’s there,
No De Roos, or De Clare,
To taste of the Scroope’s most delicate fare,
Or to quaff off a health unto Bolton’s Heir,375
That nice little boy who sits there in his chair,
Some four years old, and a few months to spare,
With his laughing blue eyes, and his long curly hair,
Now sucking his thumb, and now munching his pear.
Again, Sir Guy the silence broke,
“It’s hard upon Three!—it’s just on the stroke!
Come, serve up the dinner!—A joke is a joke!”—
Little he deems that Stephen de Hoaques,29
Who “his fun,” as the Yankees say, everywhere “pokes,”
And is always a great deal too fond of his jokes,
Has written a circular note to De Nokes,
And De Styles, and De Roe, and the rest of the folks,
One and all,
Great and small,
Who were asked to the Hall
To dine there and sup, and wind up with a ball,
And had told all the party a great bouncing lie, he
Cook’d up, that “the fête was postponed sine die,
The dear little curly-wigg’d heir of La Scroope
Being taken alarmingly ill with the croup!”
When the clock struck Three,
And the Page on his knee
Said “An’t please you, Sir Guy Le Scroope, On a servi!”
And the Knight found the banquet-hall empty and clear,
With nobody near
To partake of his cheer,
He stamp’d, and he storm’d—then his language!—Oh dear!
’Twas awful to see, and ’twas awful to hear!
And he cried to the button-deck’d Page at his knee,
Who had told him so civilly “On a servi,”
“Ten thousand fiends seize them, wherever they be!
—The Devil take them! and the Devil take thee!
And the Devil may eat up the dinner for me!!”376
In a terrible fume
He bounced out of the room,
He bounced out of the house—and page, footman, and groom,
Bounced after their master; for scarce had they heard
Of this left-handed Grace the last finishing word,
Ere the horn at the gate of the Barbican tower
Was blown with a loud twenty-trumpeter power,
And in rush’d a troop
Of strange guests!—such a group
As had ne’er before darken’d the door of the Scroope!
This looks like De Saye—yet—it is not De Saye—
And this is—no, ’tis not—Sir Reginald Braye—
This has somewhat the favour of Marmaduke Grey—
But stay!—Where on earth did he get those long nails?
Why, they’re claws!—then Good Gracious!—they’ve all of them tails!
That can’t be De Vaux—why, his nose is a bill,
Or, I would say a beak!—and he can’t keep it still!—
Is that Poynings?—Oh, Gemini!—look at his feet!!
Why, they’re absolute hoofs!—is it gout or his corns
That have crumpled them up so?—by Jingo, he’s horns!
Run! run!—There’s Fitz-Walter, Fitz-Hugh, and Fitz-John,
And the Mandevilles, père et fils (father and son).
And Fitz-Osbert, and Ufford—they’ve all got them on!
Then their great saucer eyes—
It’s the Father of lies
And his Imps—run! run! run!—they’re all fiends in disguise,
Who’ve partly assumed, with more sombre complexions,
The forms of Sir Guy Le Scroope’s friends and connections,
And He—at the top there—that grim-looking elf—
Run! run! that’s the “muckle-horned Clootie” himself!
And now what a din
Without and within!
For the courtyard is full of them,—How they begin
To mop, and to mowe, and make faces, and grin!
Cock their tails up together,
Like cows in hot weather,
And butt at each other, all eating and drinking,
The viands and wine disappearing like winking.
And then such a lot
As together had got!
Master Cabbage, the steward, who’d made a machine
To calculate with, and count noses,—I ween377
The cleverest thing of the kind ever seen,—
Declared, when he’d made,
By the said machine’s aid,
Up, what’s now called, the “tottle” of those he survey’d,
There were just—how he proved it I cannot divine,—
Nine thousand, nine hundred, and ninety, and nine.
Exclusive of Him,
Who, giant in limb,
And black as the crow they denominate Jim,
With a tail like a bull, and a head like a bear,
Stands forth at the window,—and what holds he there,
Which he hugs with such care,
And pokes out in the air,
And grasps as its limbs from each other he’d tear?
Oh! grief and
I vow and declare
It’s Le Scroope’s poor, dear, sweet, little, curly-wigg’d Heir!
Whom the nurse had forgot, and left there in his chair,
Alternately sucking his thumb and his pear!
What words can express
The dismay and distress
Of Sir Guy, when he found what a terrible mess
His cursing and banning had now got him into?
That words, which to use are a shame and a sin too,
Had thus on their speaker recoil’d, and his malison
Placed in the hands of the Devil’s own “pal” his son!—
He sobb’d and he sigh’d,
And he scream’d, and he
And behaved like a man that is mad, or in liquor,—he
Tore his peaked beard, and he dash’d off his “Vicary,”30
Stamped on the jasey
As though he were crazy,
And staggering about just as if he were “hazy,”378
Exclaimed, “Fifty pounds!” (a large sum in those times)
“To the person, whoever he may be, that climbs
To that window above there, en ogive, and painted,
And bring down my curly-wi’——” here Sir Guy fainted!
With many a moan,
And many a groan,
What with tweaks of the nose, and some eau de Cologne,
He revived,—Reason once more remounted her throne,
Or rather the instinct of Nature,—’twere treason
To Her, in the Scroope’s case, perhaps, to say Reason,—
But what saw he then?—Oh! my goodness! a sight
Enough to have banished his reason outright!—
In that broad banquet hall
The fiends one and
Regardless of shriek, and of squeak, and of squall,
From one to another were tossing that small,
Pretty, curly-wigg’d boy, as if playing at ball:
Yet none of his friends or his vassals might dare
To fly to the rescue, or rush up the stair,
And bring down in safety his curly wigg’d Heir!
Well a day! Well a day!
All he can say
Is but just so much trouble and time thrown away;
Not a man can be tempted to join the mêlée,
E’en those words cabalistic, “I promise to pay
Fifty pounds on demand,” have, for once, lost their sway,
And there the Knight stands,
Wringing his hands
In his agony—when, on a sudden, one ray
Of hope darts through his midriff!—His Saint!—Oh, it’s funny,
And almost absurd,
That it never occurr’d!—
“Ay! the Scroope’s Patron Saint!—he’s the man for my money!
Saint—who is it?—really I’m sadly to blame,—
On my word I’m afraid,—I confess it with shame,—
That I’ve almost forgot the good Gentleman’s name,—
Cut—let me see—Cutbeard?—no!—Cuthbert!—egad!
St. Cuthbert of Bolton!—I’m right—he’s the lad!
Oh, holy St. Cuthbert, if forebears of mine—
Of myself I say little,—have knelt at your shrine,379
And have lashed their bare backs, and—no matter—with twine,
Oh! list to the vow
Which I make to you now,
Only snatch my poor little boy out of the row
Which that Imp’s kicking up with his fiendish bow-wow,
And his head like a bear, and his tail like a cow!
Bring him back here in safety!—perform but this task,
And I’ll give!—Oh!—I’ll give you whatever you ask!—
There is not a shrine
In the County shall shine
With a brilliancy half so resplendent as thine,
Or have so many candles, or look half so fine!—
Haste, holy St. Cuthbert, then,—hasten in pity!”—
—Conceive his surprise
When a strange voice replies,
“It’s a bargain!—but, mind, sir, The best Spermaceti!”—
Say, whose that voice?—whose that form by his side,
That old, old, grey man, with his beard long and wide,
In his coarse Palmer’s weeds,
And his cockle and beads?—
And, how did he come?—did he walk?—did he ride?
Oh! none could determine,—oh! none could decide,—
The fact is, I don’t believe any one tried,
For while ev’ry one stared, with a dignified stride,
And without a word more,
He march’d on before,
Up a flight of stone steps, and so through the front door,
To the banqueting-hall, that was on the first floor,
While the fiendish assembly were making a rare
Little shuttlecock there of the curly-wigg’d Heir.—
—I wish, gentle Reader, that you could have seen
The pause that ensued when he stepp’d in between,
With his resolute air, and his dignified mien,
And said, in a tone most decided, though mild,
“Come!—I’ll trouble you just to hand over that child!”
The Demoniac crowd
In an instant seem’d cowed;
Not one of the crew volunteer’d a reply,
All shrunk from the glance of that keen-flashing eye,
Save one horrid Humgruffin, who seem’d by his talk,
And the airs he assumed, to be Cock of the walk,380
He quailed not before it, but saucily met it,
And as saucily said, “Don’t you wish you may get it?”
My goodness!—the look that the old Palmer gave!
And his frown!—’twas quite dreadful to witness—“Why, slave!
You rascal!” quoth he,
“This language to ME!!
—At once, Mr. Nicholas! down on your knee,
And hand me that curly-wigg’d boy!—I command it—
Come!—none of your nonsense!—you know I won’t stand it.”
Old Nicholas trembled,—he shook in his shoes,
And seem’d half inclined, but afraid, to refuse.
“Well, Cuthbert,” said he,
“If so it must be,
—For you’ve had your own way from the first time I knew ye;—
Take your curly-wigg’d brat, and much good may he do ye!
But I’ll have in exchange”—here his eye flash’d with rage—
“That chap with the buttons—he gave me the Page!”
“Come, come,” the Saint answer’d, “you very well know
The young man’s no more his than your own to bestow—
Touch one button of his, if you dare, Nick—no! no!
Cut your stick, sir—come, mizzle! be off with you!—go!”—
The Devil grew hot—
“If I do I’ll be shot!
An you come to that, Cuthbert, I’ll tell you what’s what;
He has asked us to dine here, and go we will not!
Why, you Skinflint,—at least
You may leave us the feast!
Here we’ve come all that way from our brimstone abode,
Ten million good leagues, sir, as ever you strode,
And the deuce of a luncheon we’ve had on the road—
—‘Go!’—‘Mizzle!’ indeed—Mr. Saint, who are you,
I should like to know?—‘Go!’—I’ll be hanged if I do!
He invited us all—we’ve a right here—it’s known
That a Baron may do what he likes with his own—
Here, Asmodeus—a slice of that beef;—now the mustard!—
What have you got?—oh, apple-pie—try it with custard!”
The Saint made a pause
As uncertain, because
He knew Nick is pretty well “up” in the laws,
And they might be on his side—and then, he’d such claws!
On the whole, it was better, he thought, to retire
With the curly-wigg’d boy he’d pick’d out of the fire,
And give up the victuals—to retrace his path,
And to compromise—(spite of the Member for Bath).
So to old Nick’s appeal,
As he turn’d on his heel,
He replied, “Well, I’ll leave you the mutton and veal,
And the soup à la Reine, and the sauce Bechamel,
As The Scroope did invite you to dinner, I feel
I can’t well turn you out—’twould be hardly genteel—
But be moderate, pray,—and remember thus much,
Since you’re treated as Gentlemen, show yourselves such,
And don’t make it late,
But mind and go straight
Home to bed when you’ve finish’d—and don’t steal the plate!
Nor wrench off the knocker, or bell from the gate.
Walk away, like respectable Devils, in peace,
And don’t ‘lark’ with the watch, or annoy the police!”
Having thus said his say,
That Palmer grey
Took up little Le Scroope, and walk’d coolly away,
While the Demons all set up a “Hip! hip! hurray!”
Then fell, tooth and claw, on the victuals, as they
Had been guests at Guildhall upon Lord Mayor’s day,
All scrambling and scuffling for what was before ’em,
No care for precedence or common decorum.
Few ate more hearty
Than Madame Astarte,
And Hecate,—considered the Belles of the party.
Between them was seated Leviathan, eager
To “do the polite,” and take wine with Belphegor;
Here was Morbleu (a French devil), supping soup-meagre,
And there, munching leeks, Davy Jones of Tredegar
(A Welsh one), who’d left the domains of Ap Morgan
To “follow the sea,”—and next him Demogorgon,—
Then Pan with his pipes, and Fauns grinding the organ
To Mammon and Belial, and half a score dancers,
Who’d joined with Medusa to get up “the Lancers;”382
—Here’s Lucifer lying blind drunk with Scotch ale,
While Beelzebub’s tying huge knots in his tail,
There’s Setebos, storming because Mephistopheles
Gave him the lie,
Said he’d “blacken his eye,”
And dash’d in his face a whole cup of hot coffee-lees;—
Ramping and roaring,
Never was seen such a riot before in
A gentleman’s house, or such profligate revelling
At any soirée—where they don’t let the Devil in.
Hark!—as sure as fate
The clock’s striking Eight!
(An hour which our ancestors called “getting late”)
When Nick, who by this time was rather elate,
Rose up and addressed them.
“’Tis full time,” he said,
“For all elderly Devils to be in their bed;
For my own part, I mean to be jogging, because
I don’t find myself now quite so young as I was;
But, Gentlemen, ere I depart from my post,
I must call on you all for one bumper—the toast
Which I have to propose is—Our Excellent Host!
—Many thanks for his kind hospitality—may
We also be able,
To see at our table
Himself, and enjoy, in a family way,
His good company down stairs at no distant day!
You’d, I’m sure, think me rude
If I did not include
In the toast my young friend there, the curly-wigg’d Heir!
He’s in very good hands, for you’re all well aware
That St. Cuthbert has taken him under his care;
Though I must not say ‘bless,’—
—Why, you’ll easily guess,—
May our curly-wigg’d Friend’s shadow never be less!”
Nick took off his heel-taps—bow’d—smiled—with an air
Most graciously grim,—and vacated the chair.—
Of course the élite
Rose at once on their feet,
And followed their leader, and beat a retreat;
When a sky-larking Imp took the President’s seat,383
And, requesting that each would replenish his cup,
Said, “Where we have dined, my boys, there let us sup!”—
—It was three in the morning before they broke up!!!
I scarcely need say
Sir Guy didn’t delay
To fulfil his vow made to St. Cuthbert, or pay
For the candles he’d promised, or make light as day
The shrine he assured him he’d render so gay.
In fact, when the votaries came there to pray,
All said there was nought to compare with it—nay,
For fear that the Abbey
Might think he was shabby,
Four Brethren thenceforward, two cleric, two lay,
He ordained should take charge of a new-founded chantry,
With six marcs apiece, and some claims on the pantry;
In short, the whole County
Declared, through his bounty
The Abbey of Bolton exhibited fresh scenes
From any displayed since Sir William de Meschines,31
And Cecily Roumeli came to this nation
With William the Norman, and laid its foundation.
For the rest, it is said,
And I know I have read
In some Chronicle—whose, has gone out of my head—
That, what with these candles, and other expenses,
Which no man would go to if quite in his senses,
He reduced, and brought low
His property so,
That, at last, he’d not much of it left to bestow;
And that, many years after that terrible feast,
Sir Guy, in the Abbey, was living a Priest;
And there, in one thousand and—something,—deceased.
(It’s supposed by this trick
He bamboozled Old Nick,
And slipped through his fingers remarkably “slick.”)
While, as to young Curly-wig,—dear little Soul,
Would you know more of him, you must look at “The Roll,”
Which records the dispute,
And the subsequent suit,
Commenced in “Thirteen sev’nty-five,”—which took root384
In Le Grosvenor’s assuming the arms Le Scroope swore
That none but his ancestors, ever before,
In foray, joust, battle, or tournament wore.
To wit, “On a Prussian-blue Field, a Bend Or;”
While the Grosvenor averred that his ancestor bore
The same, and Scroope lied like a—somebody tore
Off the simile,—so I can tell you no more,
Till some A double S shall the fragment restore.32
This Legend sound maxims exemplifies—e.g.
Should anything tease you,
Annoy, or displease you,
Remember what Lilly says, “Animum rege!”33
And as for that shocking bad habit of swearing,—
In all good society voted past bearing,—
Eschew it! and leave it to dustmen and mobs,
Nor commit yourself much beyond “’Zooks!” or “Odsbobs!”
When asked out to dine by a Person of Quality,
Mind, and observe the most strict punctuality!
For should you come late,
And make dinner wait,
And the victuals get cold, you’ll incur, sure as fate,
The Master’s displeasure, the Mistress’s hate.
And—though both may, perhaps, be too well-bred to swear,—
They’ll heartily wish you—I need not say Where.
Look well to your Maid-servants!—say you expect them
To see to the children, and not to neglect them!
And if you’re a widower, just throw a cursory
Glance in, at times, when you go near the Nursery.385
—Perhaps it’s as well to keep children from plums,
And from pears in the season,—and sucking their thumbs!
To sum up the whole with a “Saw” of much use,
Be just and be generous—don’t be profuse!—
Pay the debts that you owe,—keep your word to your friends,
But—DON’T SET YOUR CANDLES ALIGHT AT BOTH ENDS!!—
For of this be assured, if you “go it” too fast,
You’ll be “dish’d” like Sir Guy,
And like him, perhaps, die
A poor, old, half-starv’d, Country Parson at last!
From a seal attached to an ancient deed penes Thomas Ingoldsby, Esq., preserved in the archives at Tappington Everard.
29 For a full account of this facetious “Chivaler,” see the late (oh! that we should have to say “late!”) Theodore Hook’s “History of the illustrious Commoners of Great Britain,” as quoted in the Memoirs of John Bragg, Esq., page 344 of the 75th Volume of the Standard Novels. In the third volume of Sir Harris Nicolas’s elaborate account of the Scroope and Grosvenor controversy, commonly called the “Scrope Roll,” a Stephen de Hoques, Ecuyer, is described as giving his testimony on the Grosvenor side.
30 A peruke so named from its inventor. Robert de Ros and Eudo Fitz-Vicari were celebrated perruquiers, who flourished in the eleventh century. The latter is noticed in the Battle-Abbey roll, and is said to have curled William the Conqueror’s hair when dressing for the battle of Hastings. Dugdale makes no mention of him, but Camden says, that Humfrey, one of his descendants, was summoned to Parliament, 26 Jan. 25 Edw. I. (1297). It is doubtful, however, whether that writ can be deemed a regular writ of summons to Parliament, for reasons amply detailed in the “Synopsis of the British Peerage.”—(Art. Fitz-John.) A writ was subsequently addressed to him as “Humfry Fitz-Vicari, Chivr.” 8 Jan. 6 Edw. II. (1313), and his descendants appear to have been regularly summoned as late as 5 and 6 of Philip and Mary, 1557-8. Soon after which Peter Fitz-Vicari dying, S. P. M. this barony went into abeyance between his two daughters, Joan, married to Henry de Truefit of Fullbottom, and Alice, wife of Roger Wigram, of Caxon Hall, in Wigton, co. Cumb. Esq., among whose representatives it is presumed to be still in abeyance.
31 Vide Dugdale’s Monasticon, Art. Prioratus de Bolton, in agro Eboracensi.
32 It is with the greatest satisfaction that I learn from Mr. Simpkinson this consummation, so devoutly to be wished, is about to be realised, and that the remainder of this most interesting document, containing the whole of the defendant’s evidence, will appear in the course of the ensuing summer, under the same auspices as the former portion. We shall look with eagerness for the identification of “Curly-wig.”
33 Animum rege! qui nisi paret, imperat.—Lilly’s Grammar.
“The Lay of St. Cuthbert” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XI no. 6 (June 1842), “with an illustration by George Cruikshank”. There it opened with a handsome drop capital “I” which didn’t make it into the book—and which I couldn’t work into the HTML.
Oh! grief and despair!
text has ? for final !
And he scream’d, and he cried,
text has . for final ,
The fiends one and all,
text has . for ,
[Illustration] From a seal attached to an ancient deed
[Though the drawing itself was in Bentley’s, the accompanying text was added for the book. The Arthur Rackham version is still fancier:]
[Footnote] It is with the greatest satisfaction
[Unlike the others, this footnote wasn’t in Bentley’s.]
For the Legend that follows Father John has, it will be seen, the grave authority of a Romish Prelate. The good Father, who, as I have before had occasion to remark, received his education at Douai, spent several years, in the earlier part of his life, upon the Continent. I have no doubt but that during this period he visited Blois, and there, in all probability, picked up, in the very scene of its locality, the history which he has thus recorded.
S. Heloïus in hac urbe fuit episcopus, qui, defunctus, sepulturus est a fidelibus. Nocte autem sequenti, veniens quidam paganus lapidem, qui sarcophagum tegebat, revolvit, erectumque contra se corpus Sancti spoliare, conatur. At ille, lacertis constrictum, ad se hominem fortiter amplexatur, et usque mane, populis spectantibus, tanquam constipatum lorls, ita miserum brachiis detinebat. * * * * Judex loci sepulchri violatorem jubet abstrahi, et legali pœnæ sententiâ condemnari; sed non laxabatur a Sancto. Tunc intelligens voluntatem defuncti, Judex, factâ de vitâ promissione, absolvit, deinde laxatur, et sic incolumis redditur: non vero fur demissus quin se vitam monastericam amplexurum spopondisset.
Greg.: de Gloriâ Confessorum.
Was the Bishop of Blois,
And a pitiful man was he,
He grieved and he pined
For the woes of mankind,
And of brutes in their degree,—
He would rescue the rat
From the claws of the cat,
And set the poor captive free;
Though his cassock was swarming
With all sorts of vermin,
He’d not take the life of a flea!—
Kind, tender, forgiving,
To all things living,
From injury still he’d endeavour to screen ’em,
Fish, flesh, or fowl,—no difference between ’em—
Nihil putavit a se alienum.
The Bishop of Blois was a holy man,—
A holy man was he!
For Holy Church
He’d seek and he’d search
As a Bishop in his degree.
From foe and from friend
He’d “rap and he’d rend,”
To augment her treasurie.
Nought would he give, and little he’d lend,
That Holy Church might have more to spend—387
“Count Stephen”34 (of Blois) “was a worthy Peer,
His breeches cost him but a crown,
He held them sixpence all dear,
And so he call’d the Tailor lown!”—
Had it been the Bishop instead of the Count,
And he’d overcharged him to half the amount,
He had knock’d that Tailor down!—
Not for himself!—
He despised the pelf;
He dress’d in sackcloth, he dined off delf;
And, when it was cold, in lieu of a surtout,
The good man would wrap himself up in his virtue.35
Alack! that a man so holy as he,
So frank and free in his degree,
And so good and so kind, should mortal be!
Yet so it is—for loud and clear
From St. Nicholas’ tower, on the listening ear,
With solemn swell
The deep-toned bell
Flings to the gale a funeral knell;
And hark!—at its sound,
As a cunning old hound,
When he opens, at once causes all the young whelps
Of the cry to put in their less dignified yelps,
So—the little bells all,
No matter how small,
From the steeples both inside and outside the wall,
With bell-metal throat
Respond to the note,
And join the lament that a prelate so pious is
Forced thus to leave his disconsolate diocese,
Or, as Blois’ Lord May’r
Is heard to declare,
“Should leave this here world for to go to that there.”
And see, the portals opening wide,
From the Abbey flows the living tide;
Forth from the doors
The torrent pours,
Acolytes, Monks, and Friars in scores,388
This with his chasuble, that with his rosary,
This from his incense-pot turning his nose awry,
Holy Father, and Holy Mother,
Holy Sister, and Holy Brother,
Holy Son, and Holy Daughter,
Holy , and Holy Water,
Every one drest
Like a guest in his best,
In the smartest of clothes they’re permitted to wear,
Serge, sackcloth, and shirts of the same sort of hair
As now we make use of to stuff an arm-chair,
Or weave into gloves at three shillings a pair,
And employ for shampooing in cases rheumatic,—a
Special specific, I’m told, for Sciatica.
Through groined arch, and by cloister’d stone,
With mosses and ivy long o’ergrown,
Slowly the throng
Come passing along,
With many a chaunt and solemn song,
Adapted for holidays, high-days, and Sundays,—
Dies iræ, and De profundis,
Miserere, and Domine dirige nos,
Such as, I hear, to a very slow tune are all
Commonly chaunted by Monks at a funeral,
To secure the defunct’s repose,
And to give a broad hint to Old Nick, should the news
Of a prelate’s decease bring him there on a cruise,
That he’d better be minding his P’s and his Q’s,
And not come too near,—since they can, if they choose,
Make him shake in his hoofs—as he does not wear shoes.
Still on they go,
A goodly show,
With footsteps sure, though certainly slow,
Two by two in a very long row;
With feathers, and Mutes
In mourning suits,
Undertaker’s men walking in hat-bands and boots.—
Then comes the Crosier, all jewels and gold,
Borne by a lad about eighteen years old;
Next, on a black velvet cushion, the Mitre,
Borne by a younger boy, ’cause it is lighter.389
Eight Franciscans, sturdy and strong,
Bear, in the midst, the good Bishop along;
Eight Franciscans, stout and tall,
Walk at the corners, and hold up the pall;
Eight more hold a canopy high over all,
With eight Trumpeters tooting the Dead March in Saul.—
Behind, as Chief Mourner, the Lord Abbot goes, his—
Monks coming after him, all with posies,
And white pocket-handkerchiefs up at their noses,
Which they blow whenever his Lordship blows his—
And oh! ’tis a comely sight to see
How Lords and Ladies, of high degree,
Vail, as they pass, upon bended knee,
While quite as polite are the Squires and the Knights,
In their helmets, and hauberks, and cast-iron tights.
Ay, ’tis a comely sight to behold,
As the company march
Through the rounded arch
Of that Cathedral old!—
Singers behind ’em, and singers before ’em,
All of them ranging in due decorum,
Around the inside of the Sanctum Sanctorum,
While brilliant and bright
An unwonted light
(I forgot to premise this was all done at night)
The links, and the torches, and flambeaux shed
On the sculptured forms of the Mighty Dead,
That rest below, mostly buried in lead,
And above, recumbent in grim repose,
With their mailed hose,
And their dogs at their toes,
And little boys kneeling beneath them in rows,
Their hands join’d in pray’r, all in very long clothes,
With inscriptions on brass, begging each who survives,
As they some of them seem to have led so-so lives,
To Praie for the Sowles of themselves and their wives.—
—The effect of the music, too, really was fine,
When they let the good prelate down into his shrine,390
And by old and young
The “Requiem” was sung:
Not vernacular French, but a classical tongue,
That is—Latin—I don’t think they meddled with Greek—
In short, the whole thing produced—so to speak—
What in Blois they would call a Coup d’œil magnifique!
Yet, surely, when the level ray
Of some mild eve’s descending sun
Lights on the village pastor, grey
In years ere ours had well begun—
As there—in simplest vestment clad,
He speaks, beneath the churchyard tree,
In solemn tones,—but yet not sad,—
Of what Man is—what Man shall be!
And clustering round the grave, half hid
By that same quiet churchyard yew,
The rustic mourners bend, to bid
The dust they loved a last adieu—
—That ray, methinks, that rests so sheen
Upon each briar-bound hillock green,
So calm, so tranquil, so serene,—
Gives to the eye a fairer scene,—
Speaks to the heart with holier breath
Than all this pageantry of Death.—
But chacun à son —this is talking at random—
We all know “De gustibus non disputandum!”
So canter back, Muse, to the scene of your story
The Cathedral of Blois—
Where the Sainted Aloys
Is by this time, you’ll find, “left alone in his glory,”
“In the dead of the night,” though with labour opprest,
Some “mortals” disdain “the calm blessings of rest;”
Your cracksman, for instance, thinks night-time the best
To break open a door, or the lid of a chest;
And the gipsy who close round your premises prowls,
To ransack your hen-roost, and steal all your fowls,
Always sneaks out at night with the bats and the owls,
—So do Witches and Warlocks, Ghosts, Goblins, and Ghouls,391
To say nothing at all of those troublesome “Swells”
Who come from the playhouses, “flash kens,” and “hells,”
To pull off people’s knockers, and ring people’s bells.
Well—’tis now the hour
Ill things have power!
And all who, in Blois, entertain honest views,
Have long been in bed, and enjoying a snooze,—
Nought is waking
Save Mischief and “Faking,”36
And a few who are sitting up brewing or baking,
When an ill-looking Infidel, sallow of hue,
Who stands in his slippers some six feet two
(A rather remarkable height for a Jew),
Creeps cautiously out of the churchwarden’s pew,
Into which, during service, he managed to slide himself—
While all were intent on the anthem, and hide himself.
From his lurking place,
With stealthy pace,
Through the “long-drawn aisle” he begins to crawl,
As you see a cat walk on the top of the wall,
When it’s stuck full of glass, and she thinks she shall fall.
—He proceeds to feel
For his flint and his steel
(An invention on which we’ve improved a great deal
Of late years—the substitute best to rely on
’s what Jones of the Strand calls his Pyrogeneion),
He strikes with despatch!—his
Now, where is his candle?—and where are his matches?—
’Tis done!—they are found!—
He stands up, and looks round
By the light of a “dip” of sixteen to the pound!
—What is it now that makes his nerves to quiver?—
His hand to shake—and his limbs to shiver?—
Fear?—Pooh!—it is only a touch of the liver—
All is silent—all is still—
It’s “gammon”—it’s “stuff!”—he may do what he will!
Carefully now he approaches the shrine,392
In which, as I’ve mentioned before, about nine,
They had placed in such state the lamented Divine!
But not to worship—No!—No such thing!—
His aim is—to “prig” the Pastoral Ring!!
Fancy his fright,
When, with all his might
Having forced up the lid, which they’d not fasten’d quite,
Of the marble sarcophagus—“All in white”
The dead Bishop started up, bolt upright
On his hinder end,—and grasped him so tight,
That the clutch of a kite
Or a bull-dog’s bite
When he’s most provoked and in bitterest spite,
May well be conceived in comparison slight,
And having thus “tackled” him—blew out his light!!
Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
The fright and the fear!—
No one to hear!—nobody near!—
In the dead of the night!—at a bad time of year!—
A defunct Bishop squatting upright on his bier,
And shouting so loud, that the drum of his ear
He thought would have split as these awful words met it—
“Ah! ha! my good friend! don’t you wish you may get it?”—
Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
’Twas a night of fear!
—I should just like to know, if the boldest man here,
In his situation would not have felt queer?
The wretched man bawls,
And he yells and he squalls,
But there’s nothing responds to his shrieks save the walls,
And the desk, and the pulpit, the pews, and the stalls
Held firmly at bay,
Kick and plunge as he may,
His struggles are fruitless—he can’t get away,
He really can’t tell what to do or to say,
And being a Pagan, don’t know how to pray;
Till through the east window, a few streaks of grey
Announce the approach of the dawn of the day!
Oh, a welcome sight
Is the rosy light
Which lovelily heralds a morning bright,393
Above all to a wretch kept in durance all night
By a horrid dead gentleman holding him tight,—
Of all sorts of gins that a trespasser can trap!
The most disagreeable kind of a man trap!
—Oh! welcome that bell’s
Matin chime, which tells
To one caught in this worst of all possible snares,
That the hour is arrived to begin Morning Prayers,
And the Monks and the Friars are coming down stairs!
Conceive the surprise
Of the Choir—how their eyes
Are distended to twice their original size,—
How some begin bless,—some anathematise,—
And all look on the thief as old Nick in disguise.
While the mystified Abbot cries, “Well!—I declare!—,
—This is really a very mysterious affair!—
Bid the bandy-legg’d Sexton go run for the May’r!”
The May’r and his suite
Are soon on their feet,—
(His worship kept house in the very same street),—
At once he awakes,
“His compliments” makes,
“He’ll be up at the church in a couple of shakes!”
Meanwhile the whole Convent is pulling and hauling,
And bawling and squalling
And terribly mauling
The thief whose endeavour to follow his calling
Had thus brought him into a grasp so enthralling.—
Now high, now low,
They drag “to and fro,”—
Now this way, now that way they twist him—but—No!—
The glazed eye of St. Aloys distinctly says “Poh!
You may pull as you please, I shall not let him go!”
Nay, more;—when his Worship at length came to say
He was perfectly ready to take him away,
And fat him to grace the next Auto-da-fé,
Still closer he prest
The poor wretch to his breast,
While a voice—though his jaws still together were jamm’d—
Was heard from his chest, “If you do, I’ll——” here slamm’d
The great door of the church,—with so awful a sound,
That the close of the good Bishop’s sentence was drown’d!
Out spake Frère Jehan,
A pitiful man,
Oh! a pitiful man was he!394
And he wept and he pined
For the sins of mankind,
As a Friar in his degree.
“Remember, good gentlefolks,” so he began,
“Dear Aloys was always a pitiful man!—
That voice from his chest
Has clearly exprest
He has pardoned the culprit—and as for the rest,
Before you shall burn him—he’ll see you all blest!”
The monks, and the Abbot, the Sexton, and Clerk,
Were exceedingly struck with the Friar’s remark,
And the Judge, who himself was by no means a shark
Of a Lawyer, and who did not do things in the dark,
But still leaned (having once been himself a gay spark)
To the merciful side,—like the late Allan Park,—
Agreed that, indeed,
The best way to succeed,
And by which this poor caitiff alone could be freed,
Would be to absolve him, and grant a free pardon,
On a certain condition, and that not a hard one,
Viz.—“That he, the said Infidel, straightway should ope
His mind to conviction, and worship the Pope,
And ‘ev’ry man Jack’ in an amice or cope;
And that, to do so,
He should forthwith go
To Rome, and salute there his Holiness’ toe;—
And never again
Read Voltaire or Tom Paine,
Or Percy Bysshe Shelley or Lord Byron’s Cain;—
His pilgrimage o’er, take St. Francis’s habit;—
If anything lay about never to ‘nab’ it;
Or, at worst, if he should light on articles gone astray,
To be sure and deposit them safe in the Monast’ry!”
The oath he took—
As he kiss’d the book,
Nave, transept, and aisle with a thunder-clap shook!
The Bishop sank down with a satisfied look,
And the Thief, releas’d
By the Saint deceas’d,
Fell into the arms of a neighbouring Priest!
It skills not now
To tell you how
The transmogrified Pagan perform’d his vow;
How he quitted his home,
Travell’d to Rome,
And went to St. Peter’s and look’d at the Dome,395
And obtain’d from the Pope an assurance of bliss,
And kiss’d—whatever he gave him to kiss—
Toe, relic, embroidery, nought came amiss;
And how Pope Urban
Had the man’s turban
Hung up in the Sistine chapel, by way
Of a relic—and how it hangs there to this day.—
Suffice it to tell,
Which will do quite as well,
That the whole of the Convent the miracle saw,
And the Abbot’s report was sufficient to draw
Ev’ry bon Catholique in la belle France to Blois,
Among others, the Monarch himself, François,
The Archbishop of Rheims, and his “Pious Jackdaw,”37
And there was not a man in Church, Chapel, or Meeting-house,
Still less in Cabaret, Hotel, or Eating-house,
But made an oration,
And said, “In the nation
If ever a man deserved canonisation,
It was the kind, pitiful, pious Aloys.”—
So the pope says—says he,
“Then a Saint he shall be!”—
So he made him a Saint,—and remitted the fee.
What became of the Pagan I really can’t say;
But I think I’ve been told,
When he’d enter’d their fold,
And was now a Franciscan some twenty days old,
He got up one fine morning before break of day,
Put the Pyx in his pocket—and then ran away.
I think we may coax out a moral or two
From the facts which have lately come under our view.
First—Don’t meddle with Saints!—for you’ll find if you do
They’re what Scotch people call, “kittle cattle to shoe!”
And when once they have managed to take you in tow,
It’s a deuced hard matter to make them let go!
Now to you, wicked Pagans!—who wander about,
Up and down Regent Street every night, “on the scout,”—
Recollect the Police keep a sharpish look-out,396
And if once you’re suspected, your skirts they will stick to
Till they catch you at last in flagrante delicto!—
Don’t the inference draw
That because he of Blois
Suffer’d one to bilk “Old father Antic the Law,”
That our May’rs and our Aldermen—and we’ve a City full—
Show themselves, at our Guildhall, quite so pitiful!
Lastly, as to the Pagan who play’d such a trick,
First assuming the tonsure, then cutting his stick,
There is but one thing which occurs to me—that
Is,—Don’t give too much credit to people who “rat!”
Early habit’s a net
Which entangles us all, more or less, in its mesh;
And “What’s bred in the bone won’t come out of the flesh!”
We must all be aware Nature’s prone to rebel, as
Old Juvenal tells us, Naturam expellas
Tamen usque recurret!
There’s no use making Her rat!
So that all that I have on this head to advance
Is,—whatever they think of these in France,
There’s a proverb, the truth of which each one allows here,
“You never can make a silk purse of a sow’s ear!”
34 Teste Messire Iago, a distinguished subaltern in the Venetian service, circiter A.D. 1580. His Biographer, Mr. William Shakspeare, a contemporary writer of some note, makes him say “King Stephen,” inasmuch as the “worthy peer” subsequently usurped the crown of England. The anachronism is a pardonable one.—Mr. Simpkinson of Bath.35
Virtute me involvo.”—Hor.
36 “Nix my dolly, pals, Fake away!”—words of deep and mysterious import in the ancient language of Upper Egypt, and recently inscribed on the sacred standard of Mehemet Ali. They are supposed to intimate, to the initiated in the art of Abstraction, the absence of all human observation, and to suggest the propriety of making the best use of their time—and fingers.
“The Lay of St. Aloys” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VIII no. 6 (December 1840) as “The Golden Legend No. 6: The Lay of St. Aloys”. Do not ask why this one gets an Arabic numeral, while all the other Golden Legends had Roman numerals.
Greg.: Turonens: de Gloriâ Confessorum.
text has Turnoens:
[William Savage’s ever-useful Printing Dictionary tells us that Turonis is Tours, France.]
He held them sixpence all too dear
text has to dear
Holy Wafer, and Holy Water
text has Waifer
[If Bentley’s had not had the expected spelling, I might well have taken it for a joke that went over my head.]
But chacun à son goût—this is talking at random
text has gout
[Footnote] Vide page 132.
[This footnote was even more essential in Bentley’s, since the referenced Legend was way back in Volume I, some three and a half years ago.]
In the succeeding Legend we come nearer home.—Father Ingoldsby is particular in describing its locality, situate some eight miles from the Hall—less, if you take the bridle-road by the Churchyard, and so along the valley by Mr. Fector’s Abbey.—In the enumeration of the various attempts to appropriate the treasure (drawn from a later source), is omitted one, said to have been undertaken by the worthy ecclesiastic himself, who, as Mrs. Botherby insinuates, is reported to have started for Dover, one fine morning, duly furnished with all the means and appliances of Exorcism. I cannot learn, however, that the family was ever enriched by his expedition.
ONCE there lived, as I’ve heard people say,
An “Old Woman clothed in grey,”
So furrow’d with care,
So haggard her air,
In her eye such a wild supernatural stare,
That all who espied her,
Immediately shied her,
And strove to get out of her way.
This fearsome Old Woman was taken ill;
—She sent for the Doctor—he sent her a pill,
And by way of a trial,
A two-shilling phial,
Of green-looking fluid, like lava diluted,
To which I’ve professed an abhorrence most rooted.38
One of those draughts they so commonly send us,
Labell’d “Haustus catharticus, mane sumendus;”—
She made a wry face,
And, without saying Grace,
Toss’d it off like a dram—it improved not her case.
—The Leech came again;
He now open’d a vein,
Still the little Old Woman continued in pain.
So her “Medical Man,” although loth to distress her,
Conceived it high time that her Father Confessor
Should be sent for to shrive, and assoilzie, and bless her,
That she might not slip out of these troublesome scenes
“Unaneal’d and Unhouseled,”—whatever that means.39
He calls to his aid
A bandy-legg’d neighbour, a “Tailor by trade,”40
Tells him his fears,
Bids him lay by his shears,398
His thimble, his goose, and his needle, and hie
With all possible speed to the Convent hard by,
Requests him to say
That he begs they’ll all pray,
Viz. The whole pious brotherhood, Cleric and Lay,
For the soul of an Old Woman clothed in grey,
Who was just at that time in a very bad way,
And he really believed couldn’t last out the day;—
And to state his desire
That some erudite Friar,
Would run over at once, and examine, and try her;
For he thought he would find
There was “something behind,”
A something that weigh’d on the Old Woman’s mind,—
“In fact, he was sure, from what fell from her tongue.
That this little Old Woman had done something wrong.”
—Then he wound up the whole with this hint to the man,
“Mind and pick out as holy a friar as you can!”
Now I’d have you to know
That this story of woe,
Which I’m telling you, happen’d a long time ago;
I can’t say exactly how long, nor, I own,
What particular monarch was then on the throne,
But ’twas here in Old England: and all that one knows is,
It must have preceded the Wars of the Roses.41
Inasmuch as the times
Described in these rhymes,
Were as fruitful in virtues as ours are in crimes;
And if ’mongst the Laity
Sometimes betray’d an occasional taint or two,
At once all the Clerics
Went into hysterics,
While scarcely a convent but boasted its Saint or two;
So it must have been long ere the line of the Tudors,
As since then the breed
Of Saints rarely indeed
With their dignified presence have darken’d our pew doors.
—Hence the late Mr. Froude, and the live Dr. Pusey
We moderns consider as each worth a Jew’s eye;399
Though Wiseman and Dullman42 combine against Newman,
With Doctors and Proctors, and say he’s no true man.
—But this by the way.—The Convent I speak about
Had Saints in scores—they said Mass week and week about;
And the two now on duty were each, for their piety,
“Second to none” in that holy society,
And well might have borne
Those words which are worn
By our “Nulli Secundus” Club—poor dear lost muttons,—
Of Guardsmen—on Club days, inscribed on their buttons.—
They would read, write, and speak
Latin, Hebrew, and Greek,
A radish-bunch munch for a lunch,—or a leek;
Though scoffers and boobies
Ascribe certain rubies
That garnish’d the nose of the good Father Hilary
To the overmuch use of Canary and Sillery,
—Some said spirituous compounds of viler distillery—
Ah! little reck’d they
That with Friars, who say
Fifty Paters a night, and a hundred a day,
A very slight sustenance goes a great way—
Thus the consequence was that his colleague, Basilius,
Won golden opinions, by looking more bilious,
From all who conceived strict monastical duty
By no means conducive to personal beauty;
And being more meagre, and thinner, and paler,
He was snapt up at once by the bandy-legg’d Tailor.
The latter’s concern
For a speedy return
Scarce left the Monk time to put on stouter sandals,
Or go round to his shrines, and snuff all his Saints’ candles;
Still less had he leisure to change the hair-shirt he
Had worn the last twenty years—probably thirty,—
Which not being wash’d all that time, had grown dirty.
—It seems there’s a sin in
The wearing clean linen,
Which Friars must eschew at the very beginning,
Though it makes them look frowsy, and drowsy, and blowsy,
And—a rhyme modern etiquette never allows ye.—400
As for the rest,
E’en if time had not prest,
It didn’t much matter how Basil was drest,
Nor could there be any great need for adorning,
The Night being almost at odds with the morning.
Oh! sweet and beautiful is Night, when the silver moon is high,
And countless Stars, like clustering gems, hang sparkling in the sky,
While the balmy breath of the summer breeze comes whispering down the glen,
And one fond voice alone is heard—oh! Night is lovely then!
But when that voice, in feeble moans of sickness and of pain,
But mocks the anxious ear that strives to catch its sounds in vain,—
When silently we watch the bed, by the taper’s flickering light,
Where all we love is fading fast—how terrible is Night!!
More terrible yet,
If you happen to get
By an old woman’s bedside, who, all her life long,
Has been, what the vulgar call “coming it strong”
In all sorts of ways that are naughty and wrong.—
As Confessions are sacred, it’s not very facile
To ascertain what the old hag said to Basil;
But whatever she said,
It filled him with dread,
And made all his hair stand on end on his head,—
No great feat to perform, inasmuch as said hair
Being clipped by the tonsure, his crown was left bare,
So of course Father Basil had little to spare;
But the little he had
Seem’d as though ’t had gone mad,
Each lock, as by action galvanic, uprears
In the two little tufts on the tops of his ears.—
What the old woman said
That so “fill’d him with dread,”
We should never have known any more than the dead,
If the bandy-legg’d Tailor, his errand thus sped,
Had gone quietly back to his needle and thread,401
As he ought; but instead,
A feeling we all deem extremely ill-bred,—
He contrived to secrete himself under the bed!
—Not that he heard
One half, or a third
Of what passed as the Monk and the Patient conferred,
But he here and there managed to pick up a word,
Such as “Knife,”
And he thought she said “Wife,”
And “Money,” that “source of all evil and strife;”43
Then he plainly distinguished the words “Gore” and “Gash,”
Whence he deem’d—and I don’t think his inference rash—
She had cut some one’s throat for the sake of his cash!
Intermix’d with her moans,
And her sighs and her groans,
Enough to have melted the hearts of the stones,
Came at intervals Basil’s sweet, soft, silver tones,
For somehow it happened—I can’t tell you why—
The good Friar’s indignation,—at first rather high,—
To judge from the language he used in reply,
Ere the old woman ceas’d, had a good deal gone by;
And he gently address’d her in accents of honey,
“Daughter, don’t you despair!—WHAT’S BECOME OF THE MONEY?”
In one just at Death’s door, it was really absurd
To see how her eye lighted up at that word—
Indeed there’s not one in the language that I know
(Save its synonyms “Spanish,” “Blunt,” “Stumpy,” and “Rhino”),
Which acts so direct,
And with so much effect
On the human sensorium, or makes one erect
One’s ears so, as soon as the sound we detect—
It’s a question with me
Which of the three,
Father Basil himself, though a grave S.T.P.
(Such as he have, you see, the degree of D.D.),
Or the eaves-dropping, bandy-legged Tailor,—or She
Caught it quickest—however, traditions agree
That the Old Woman perk’d up as brisk as a bee.—402
’Twas the last quivering flare of the taper,—the fire
It so often emits when about to expire!
Her excitement began the same instant to flag,
She sank back, and whisper’d, “Safe!—Safe!—in the
Now I would not by any means have you suppose
That the good Father Basil was just one of those
Who entertain views
We’re so apt to abuse,
As neither befitting Turks, Christians, nor Jews,
Who haunt death-bed scenes,
By underhand means
To toady or tease people into a legacy,—
For few folk indeed, had such good right to beg as he,
Since Rome, in her pure Apostolical beauty,
Not only permits, but enjoins, as a duty,
Her sons to take care
That, let who will be heir,
The Pontiff shall not be choused out of his share,
Nor stand any such mangling of chattels and goods,
As, they say, was the case, with the late Jemmy Wood’s;
Her Conclaves, and Councils, and Synods in short main-
tain principles adverse to statutes of Mortmain;
Besides you’ll discern
It, at once, when you learn
That Basil had something to give in return,
Since it rested with him to say how she should burn,
Nay, as to her ill-gotten wealth, should she turn it all
To uses he named, he could say, “You shan’t burn at all,
Or nothing to signify,
Not what you’d dignify
So much as even to call it a roast,
But a mere little singeing, or scorching at most,—
What many would think not unpleasantly warm,—
Just to keep up appearance—mere matter of form.”
All this in her ear,
He declared, but I fear,
That her senses were wand’ring—she seem’d not to hear,
Or, at least, understand,—for mere unmeaning talk her
Parch’d lips babbled now,—such as “Hookey!”—and “Walker!”
—She expired, with her last breath expressing a doubt
If “his Mother were fully aware he was out?”403
Now it seems there’s a place they call Purgat’ry—so
I must write it, my verse not admitting the O—
But as for the venue, I vow I’m perplext
To say if it’s in this world, or if in the next—
Or whether in both—for ’tis very well known
That St. Patrick, at least, has got one of his own,
In a “tight little Island” that stands in a Lake
Call’d “Lough-dearg”—that’s “The Red Lake,” unless I mistake—
In Fermanagh—or Antrim—or Donegal—which
I declare I can’t tell,
But I know very well
It’s in latitude 54, nearly their pitch
(At Tappington, now, I could look in the Gazetteer,
But I’m out on a visit, and nobody has it here).
There are some, I’m aware,
Who don’t stick to declare
There’s “no differ” at all ’twixt “this here” and “that there,”
That it’s all the same place, but the Saint reserves his entry
For the separate use of the “finest of pisentry,”
And that his is no more
Than a mere private door
From the rez-de-chaussée—as some call the ground floor,—
To the one which the Pope had found out long before.
But no matter—lay
The locale where you may;
—And where it is no one exactly can say—
There’s one thing, at least, which is known very well,
That it acts as a Tap-room to Satan’s Hotel.
“Entertainment” there’s worse
Both for “Man and for Horse;”
For broiling the souls
They use Lord Mayor’s coals;—
Then the sulphur’s inferior, and boils up much slower
Than the fine fruity brimstone they give you down lower.
It’s by no means so strong—
Mere sloe-leaves to Souchong,
The “prokers” are not half so hot, or so long,
By an inch or two, either in handle or prong;
The Vipers and Snakes are less sharp in the tooth,
And the Nondescript Monsters not near so uncouth;—404
In short, it’s a place the good Pope, its creator,
Made for what’s called by Cockneys a “Minor The-átre.”
Better suited, of course, for a “minor performer,”
Than the “House,” that’s so much better lighted and warmer,
Below, in that queer place which nobody mentions,—
—You understand where
I don’t question—down there,
Where in lieu of wood blocks, and such modern inventions,
The Paving Commissioners use “Good Intentions,”
Materials which here would be thought on by few men,
With so many founts of Asphaltic bitumen
At hand, at the same time to pave and illumine.
To go on with my story,
This same Purga-tory
(There! I’ve got in the O, to my Muse’s great glory)
Is close lock’d, and the Pope keeps the key of it—that I can
Boldly affirm—in his desk in the Vatican;
—Not those of St. Peter—
These of which I now treat, are
A bunch by themselves, and much smaller and neater—
And so cleverly made, Mr. Chubb could not frame a
Key better contrived for its purpose—nor Bramah.
Now it seems that by these
Most miraculous keys
Not only the Pope, but his “clargy,” with ease
Can let people in and out just as they please;
And—provided you “make it all right” about fees,
There is not a friar, Dr. Wiseman will own, of them.
But can always contrive to obtain a short loan of them;
And Basil, no doubt,
Had brought matters about,
If the little old woman would but have “spoke out,”
So far as to get for her one of those tickets,
Or passes, which clear both the great gates and wickets;
So that after a grill,
Or short turn on the Mill,
And with no worse a singeing, to purge her iniquity,
Than a Freemason gets in the “Lodge of Antiquity,”
She’d have rubb’d off old scores,
Popp’d out of doors,
And sheer’d off at once for a happier port,
Like a white-wash’d Insolvent that’s “gone through the Court.”405
But Basil was one
Who was not to be done
By any one, either in earnest or fun;—
The cunning old beads-telling son of a gun,
In all bargains, unless he’d his quid for his quo,
Would shake his bald pate, and pronounce it “No Go.”
So unless you’re a dunce,
You’ll see clearly, at once,
When you come to consider the facts of the case, he,
Of course never gave her his Vade in pace;
And the consequence was, when the last mortal throe
Released her pale Ghost from these regions of woe,
The little old woman had nowhere to go!
For, what could she do?
She very well knew
If she went to the gates I have mention’d to you,
Without Basil’s, or some other passport to ,
The Cheque-takers never would let her go through;
While, as to the other place, e’en had she tried it,
And really had wished it, as much as she shied it
(For no one who knows what it is can abide it),
Had she knock’d at the portal with ne’er so much din,
Though she died in, what folks at Rome call, “Mortal sin,”
Yet Old Nick, for the life of him, daren’t take her in,
As she’d not been turn’d formally out of “the pale:”—
So much the bare name of the Pope made him quail,
In the times that I speak of, his courage would fail
Of Rome’s vassals the lowest and worst to assail,
Or e’en touch with so much as the end of his tail;
Though, now he’s grown older,
They say he’s much bolder,
And his Holiness not only gets the “cold shoulder,”
But Nick rumps him completely, and don’t seem to care a
Dump—that’s the word—for his triple tiara.
Well—what shall she do?—
What’s the course to pursue?—
“Try St. Peter?—the step is a bold one to take;
For the Saint is, there can’t be a doubt, ‘wide awake;’
But then there’s a quaint
Old proverb says ‘Faint
Heart ne’er won fair Lady,’ then how win a Saint?—406
I’ve a great mind to try—
One can but apply;
If things come to the worst he can but deny—
’s rather high
To be sure—but, now I
That cumbersome carcass of clay have laid by,
I am just in the ‘order’ which some folks—though why
I am sure I can’t tell you—would call ‘Apple-pie.’
Then ‘never say die,’
It won’t do to be shy,
So I’ll tuck up my shroud, and here goes for a fly!”
—So said and so done—she was off like a shot,
And kept on the whole way at a pretty smart trot.
When she drew so near
That the Saint could see her,
In a moment he frown’d, and began to look queer,
And scarce would allow her to make her case clear,
Ere he pursed up his mouth ’twixt a sneer and a jeer,
With “It’s all very well,—but you do not lodge here!”
Then, calling her everything but “My dear!”
He applied his great toe with some force au derrière,
And dismissed her at once with a flea in her ear.
“Alas! poor Ghost!”
It’s a doubt which is most
To be pitied—one doom’d to fry, broil, boil, and roast,—
Or one bandied about thus from pillar to post,—
To be all “abroad”—to be “stump’d” not to know where
To go—so disgraced
As not to be “placed,”—
Or, as Crocky would say to Jem Bland, “To be Nowhere.”—
However that be,
The affaire was finie,
And the poor wretch rejected by all, as you see!
Mr. Oliver Goldsmith observes—not the Jew—
That the “Hare whom the hounds and the huntsmen pursue,”
Having no other sort of asylum in view,
“Returns back again to the place whence she flew,”
A fact which experience has proved to be true.—
Mr. Gray,—in opinion with whom Johnson clashes,—
Declares that our “wonted fires live in our ashes.”44—407
These motives combined, perhaps, brought back the hag,
The first to her mansion, the last to her bag,
When only conceive her dismay and surprise,
As a Ghost how she open’d her cold stony eyes,
When there,—on the spot where she’d hid her “supplies,”—
In an underground cellar of very small size,
Working hard with a spade,
All at once she survey’d
That confounded old bandy-legg’d “Tailor by trade.”
Fancy the tone
Of the half moan, half groan,
Which burst from the breast of the Ghost of the crone!
As she stood there,—a figure ’twixt moonshine and stone,
Only fancy the glare in her eyeballs that shone!
Although, as Macbeth says, “they’d no speculation,”
While she utter’d that word
Which American Bird,
Or James Fenimore Cooper, would render “Tarnation!!”
At the noise which she made
Down went the spade!—
And up jump’d the bandy-legg’d “Tailor by ”
(Who had shrewdly conjectured, from something that fell, her
Deposit was somewhere conceal’d in the cellar);
Turning round at a sound
So extremely profound,
The moment her shadowy form met his view
He gave vent to a sort of a lengthened “Bo-o—ho-o!”—
With a countenance Keeley alone could put on,
Made one grasshopper spring to the door—and was gone!
As at Rome they would phrase it—
His flight was so swift, the eye scarcely could trace it,
Though elderly, bandy-legg’d, meagre, and sickly,
I doubt if the Ghost could have vanish’d more quickly;
He reach’d his own shop, and then fell into fits,
And it’s said never rightly recover’d his wits,
While the chuckling old Hag takes his place and there sits!
I’ll venture to say,
She’d sat there to this day,
Brooding over what Cobbett calls “vile yellow clay,”
Like a vulture, or other obscene bird of prey,
O’er the nest full of eggs she has managed to lay,
If, as legends relate, and I think we may trust ’em, her
Stars had not brought her another guess customer—408
’Twas Basil himself!—
Come to look for her pelf:
But not, like the Tailor, to dig, delve, and grovel,
And grub in the cellar with pickaxe and shovel:
Full well he knew
Such tools would not do,—
Far other the weapons he brought into play,
Viz. a Wax-taper “hallow’d on Candlemas-day,”
To light to her ducats,—
Holy water two buckets
(Made with salt—half a peck to four gallons—which brews, a
Strong triple X “strike,”—see Jacobus de Chusa).
With these, too, he took
His bell and his book—
Not a nerve ever trembled,—his hand never shook
As he boldly marched up where she sat in her nook,
Glow’ring round with that wild indescribable look,
Which Some may have read of, perchance, in “Nell Cook,”45
All, in “Martha the Gipsy,” by Theodore Hook.
And now, for the reason I gave you before,
Of what pass’d then and there I can tell you no more,
As no Tailor was near with his ear at the door;
But I’ve always been told,
With respect to the gold,
For which she her “jewel eternal” had sold,
That the old Harridan,
Who, no doubt, knew her man,
Made some compromise—hit upon some sort of plan,
By which Friar and Ghost were both equally pinn’d—
Heaven only knows how the “Agreement” got wind;
But its purpose was this,
That the things done amiss
By the Hag should not hinder her ultimate bliss:
The cash from this time is
The Church’s—impounded for good pious uses—
—Father B. shall dispose of it just as he chooses,
And act as trustee—
In the meantime that She,
The said Ghostess,—or Ghost,—as the matter may be,—
From ‘impediment,’ ‘hindrance,’ and ‘let’ shall be free,
To sleep in her grave, or to wander, as
The said Friar, with said Ghost, may hereafter agree.—
Of the said cash, or ‘cole,’
Shall be spent for the good of said Old Woman’s soul!409
“It is further agreed—while said cash is so spending,
Said Ghost shall be fully absolv’d from attending,
And shall quiet remain
In the grave, her domain,
To have, and enjoy, and uphold, and maintain,
Without molestation, or trouble or pain,
Hindrance, let, or impediment (over again)
From Old Nick, or from any one else of his train,
Whether Pow’r,—Domination,—or Princedom,—or Throne,46
Or by what name soever the same may be known,
Howsoe’er called by Poets, or styled by Divines,—
Himself,—his executors, heirs, and assigns.
All herein contain’d,—if whoever’s a hand in
Dispensing said cash,—or said ‘cole,’—shall dare venture
To misapply money, note, bill, or debenture
To uses not named in this present Indenture,
Then that such sum, or sums, shall revert, and come home again
Back to said Ghost,—who thenceforward shall roam again,
Until such time, or times, as the said Ghost produces
Some good man and true, who no longer refuses
To put sum, or sums, aforesaid, to said uses;
Which duly performed, the said Ghost shall have rest,
The full term of her natural death, of the best,
In full consideration of this, her bequest,
In manner and form aforesaid,—as exprest:—
In witness whereof, we, the parties aforesaid,
Hereunto set our hands and our seals—and no more said,
Being all that these presents intend to express,
“Sign’d, sealed, and deliver’d, this 20th of May,
Anno Domini, blank (though I’ve mentioned the day),
Old Woman (late) clothed in grey.”
Basil now, I am told,
Walking off with the gold,
Went and straight got the document duly enroll’d,
And left the testatrix to mildew and mould
In her sepulchre, cosy, cool,—not to say cold.
But somehow—though how I can hardly divine,—
A runlet of fine
Rich Malvoisie wine
Found its way to the convent that night before nine,
With custards, and “flawns,” and a “fayre florentine,”
Peach, apricot, nectarine, melon, and pine;—
And some half a score Nuns of the rule Bridgetine,
Abbess and all, were invited to dine
At a very late hour,—that is after Compline,—
—Father Hilary’s rubies began soon to shine
With fresh lustre, as though newly dug from the mine;
Through all the next year,
Indeed, ’twould appear
That the Convent was much better off, as to cheer,
Even Basil himself, as I very much fear,
No longer addicted himself to small beer;
His complexion grew clear,
While in front and in rear,
He enlarged so, his shape seem’d approaching a sphere.
No wonder at all, then, one cold winter’s night,
That a servant girl going down stairs with a light
To the cellar we’ve spoken of, saw, with affright
An Old Woman, astride on a barrel, invite
Her to take, in a manner extremely polite,
With her left hand, a bag she had got in her right;—
For tradition asserts that the Old Woman’s purse
Had come back to her scarcely one penny the worse!
The girl, as they say,
Ran screaming away,
Quite scared by the Old Woman clothed in grey;
But there came down a Knight, at no distant a day,
Sprightly and gay
As the bird on the spray,
One Sir Rufus Mountfardington, Lord of Foot’s-cray,
Whose estate, not unlike those of most of our “Swell” beaux
Was, what’s, by a metaphor, term’d “out at elbows;”
And the fact was, said Knight was now merely delay’d
From crossing the water to join the Crusade411
For converting the Pagans with bill, bow, and blade,
By the want of a little pecuniary aid
To buy arms and horses, the tools of his trade,
And enable his troop to appear on parade;
The unquiet Shade
Thought Sir Rufus, ’tis said,
Just the man for her money,—she readily paid
For the articles named, and with pleasure convey’d
To his hands every farthing she ever had made;
But alas! I’m afraid
Most unwisely she laid
Out her cash—the Beaux yeux of a Saracen maid
(Truth compels me to say a most pestilent jade)
Converted the gallant converter—betray’d
Him to do everything which a Knight could degrade,
—E’en to worship Mahound!—She required—He obey’d,—
The consequence was, all the money was wasted
On Infidel pleasures he should not have tasted;
So that, after a very short respite, the Hag
Was seen down in her cellar again with her bag.
Don’t fancy, dear Reader, I mean to go on
Seriatim through so many ages bygone,
And to bore you with names
Of the Squires and the Dames,
Who have managed, at times, to get hold of the sack,
But spent the cash so that it always came back;
The list is too long
To be given in my song,—
There are reasons beside would perhaps make it wrong;
I shall merely observe, in those orthodox days,
When Mary set Smithfield all o’er in a blaze,
And show’d herself very se-
-vere against heresy,
While many a wretch scorned to flinch, or to scream, as he
Burnt for denying the Papal supremacy,
Bishop Bonner the bag got,
And all thought the Hag got
Releas’d, as he spent all in fuel and faggot.—
But somehow—though how
I can’t tell you, I vow—
I suppose by mismanagement—ere the next reign
The Spectre had got all her money again.412
The last time, I’m told,
That the Old Woman’s gold
Was obtained,—as before, for the asking,—’twas had
By a Mr. O—Something—from Ballinafad;
And the whole of it, so ’tis reported, was sent
To John Wright’s, in account for the Catholic Rent,
And thus—like a great deal more money—it “went!”
So ’tis said at Maynooth,
But I can’t think it’s truth;
Though I know it was boldly asserted last season,
Still I can not believe it; and that for this reason,
It’s certain the cash has got back to its owner!
—Now no part of the Rent to do so e’er was known,—or,
In any shape, ever come home to the donor.
Gentle Reader!—you must know the proverb, I think—
“To a blind horse a Nod is as good as a Wink!”
Which some learned Chap,
In a square College cap,
Perhaps, would translate by the words “Verbum Sap!”
—Now should it so chance
That you’re going to France
In the course of next Spring, as you probably may,
Do pull up, and stay,
If but for a day,
At Dover, through which you must pass on your way,
At the York,—or the Ship,—where, as all people say,
You’ll get good wine yourself, and your horses good hay,
Perhaps, my good friend, you may find it will pay,
And you cannot lose much by so short a delay.
First Dine!—you can do
That on joint or ragoût—
Then say to the waiter,—“I’m just passing through—
Pray,—where can I find out the old
He’ll show you the street—(the French call it a Rue,
But you won’t have to give here a petit écu).
Well,—when you’ve got there,—never mind how you’re taunted,—
Ask boldly, “Pray, which is the house here that’s haunted?”
—I’d tell you myself, but I can’t recollect
The proprietor’s name; but he’s one of that sect
Who call themselves “Friends,” and whom others call “Quakers,”—
You’ll be sure to find out if you ask at the Baker’s,—413
Then go down with a light,
To the cellar at night!
And as soon as you see her don’t be in a fright!
But ask the old Hag,
At once, for the bag!—
If you find that she’s shy, or your senses would dazzle,
Say, “Ma’am, I insist!—in the name of St. Basil!”
If she gives it you, seize
It, and—do as you please—
But there is not a person I’ve ask’d but agrees,
You should spend—part at least—for the Old Woman’s ease!
—For the rest—if it must go back some day—why—let it!—
Meanwhile, if you’re poor, and in love, or in debt, it
May do you some good, and—I wish you may get it!!!
39 Alack for poor William Linley to settle the point! His elucidation of Macbeth’s “Hurly-burly” casts a halo around his memory. In him the world lost one of its kindliest Spirits, and the Garrick Club its acutest commentator.
40 All who are familiar with the Police Reports, and other Records of our Courts of justice, will recollect that every gentleman of this particular profession invariably thus describes himself, in contradistinction to the bricklayer, whom he probably presumes to be indigenous, and to the Shoemaker, born a Snob.
41 “An antient and most pugnacious family,” says our Bath Friend. “One of their descendants, George Rose, Esq., late M.P. for Christchurch (an elderly gentleman now defunct), was equally celebrated for his vocal abilities and his wanton destruction of furniture when in a state of excitement.—‘Sing old Rose, and burn the bellows!’ has grown into a
42 The worthy Jesuit’s polemical publisher.—I am not quite sure as to the orthography; it’s idem sonans, at all events.
43 “Effodiuntur Opes Irritamenta Malorum.”
44 “E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires!”—Gray.
“A position at which Experience revolts, Credulity hesitates, and even Fancy stares!”—Johnson.
46 Thrones! Dominations! Princedoms! Virtues!
“The Lay of the Old Woman clothed in Grey” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. IX no. 5 (Canto I: May 1841) and no. 6 (Canto II: June 1841) as “County Legends No. III: The Lay of the Old Woman clothed in Grey”. In fact Canto I is headed “County Legends No. II”. But the volume index gets it right: “Nell Cook” from earlier in the year is No. II, while the two parts of “Old Woman” are No. III.
To which I’ve professed an abhorrence most rooted.
[Bentley’s has this line in the present tense: “To which I profess”.]
She sank back, and whisper’d, “Safe!—Safe!—in the Bag!!”
close quote missing
If “his Mother were fully aware he was out?”
[See notes to “Misadventures at Margate”, earlier in this Second Series. In Bentley’s this line is followed by “End of Canto I”, although the beginning of Canto I was never identified as such.]
Now it seems there’s a place they call Purgat’ry
[Bentley’s begins a new installment here, headed “Canto II”.]
In a “tight little Island” that stands in a Lake
[See notes to “The Auto-da-Fé”, quoting Thomas Dibdin’s “Snug Little Island”.]
passport to shew
text has show
[The printer failed to notice that the old-fashioned spelling is needed in order to rhyme with “through” in the next line.]
And up jump’d the bandy-legg’d “Tailor by trade,”
another guess customer
[A phrase I last saw in The Vicar of Wakefield, from almost a century earlier. The OED says it’s a corruption of “anothergates”.]
To sleep in her grave, or to wander, as he,
final comma missing
Pray,—where can I find out the old Maison Dieu?”
text has — (dash) for ” (close quote)
[Footnote] Vide page 230.
[This footnote was added for the book. It refers to Canto II of “The Black Mousquetaire”, which was published some eight months earlier (September-October 1840) in the previous volume of Bentley’s.]
[Footnote] ‘Sing old Rose, and burn the bellows!’ has grown into a proverb.”
close quote missing
[That’s assuming the last part was meant to be a nested quotation. Bentley’s has two consecutive (double) open quotes:
“One of their and “Sing old Rose
but only one close quote:
burn the bellows!” ]
[Footnote] See page 307.
[In Bentley’s the footnote reads “See Miscellany, January, 1841.” Either way, the reference is—as the body text says—to “Nell Cook”.]
[Footnote] Thrones! Dominations! Princedoms! Virtues!
[Bentley’s has the full line, with attribution:
Thrones! Dominations! Princedoms! Virtues! Powers!
To whom is the name of Cornelius Agrippa otherwise than familiar, since a “Magician,” of renown not inferior to his own, has brought him and his terrible “Black Book” again before the world?—That he was celebrated, among other exploits, for raising the Devil, we are all well aware;—how he performed this feat,—at least one, and that, perhaps, the most certain method, by which he did it,—is thus described.
“AND hast thou nerve ” he said,
That grey Old Man, above whose head
Unnumber’d years had roll’d,—
“And hast thou nerve to view,” he cried,
“The incarnate Fiend that Heaven defied!
—Art thou indeed so bold?
“Say, canst Thou, with unshrinking gaze,
Sustain, rash youth, the withering blaze
Of that unearthly eye,
That blasts where’er it lights,—the breath
That, like the Simoom, scatters death
On all that yet can die!414
—“Darest thou confront that fearful form,
That rides the whirlwind, and the storm,
In wild unholy revel!
The terrors of that blasted brow,
Archangel’s once,—though ruin’d now—
—Ay,—dar’st thou face The Devil?”—
“I dare!” the desperate Youth replied,
And placed him by that Old Man’s side,
In fierce and frantic glee,
Unblench’d his cheek, and firm his limb
—“No paltry juggling Fiend, but
—The Devil!—I fain would see!—
“In all his Gorgon terrors clad.
His worst, his fellest shape!” the Lad
Rejoin’d in reckless tone.—
—“Have then thy wish!” Agrippa said,
And sigh’d and shook his hoary head,
With many a bitter groan.
He drew the mystic circle’s bound,
With skull and cross-bones fenc’d around;
He traced full many a sigil there;
He mutter’d many a backward pray’r,
That sounded like a curse—
“He comes!”—he cried with wild grimace,
“The fellest of Apollyon’s race!”—
—Then in his startled pupil’s face
He dash’d—an Empty Purse!!
“Raising the Devil” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XI no. 1 (January 1842) as “Raising the Devil: A Legend of Albertus Magnus”. Do not ask why the author decided Cornelius Agrippa made a better subject than Albertus Magnus.
“And hast thou nerve enough?” he said
text has ! for ?
“No paltry juggling Fiend, but Him!
text has . for !
“Have then thy wish!” Agrippa said
[Bentley’s has “Albertus”, matching the subtitle.]
One more legend, and then, gentle Reader, “A merry Christmas to you and a happy New Year!”—We have travelled over many lands together, and had many a good-humoured laugh by the way;—if we have, occasionally, been “more merry than wise,” at least we have not jostled our neighbours on the road,—much less have we kicked any one into a ditch.415
So, wishing you heartily all the compliments of the season,—and thanking you cordially for your good company, I, Thomas Ingoldsby, bid you heartily farewell, and leave you in that of
“Heus tu! inquit Diabolus, hei mihi! fessis insuper humeris reponenda est sarcina; fer opem quæso!”
“Le Diable a des vices;—c’est là ce qui le perd.—Il est gourmand. Il eut dans cette minute-là l’idée de joindre l’âme de Medard aux autres âmes qu’il allait emporter.—Se rejeter en arrière, saisir de sa main droite son poignard, et en percer l’outre avec une violence, et un rapidité formidable,—c’est ce que fit Medard. Le Diable poussa un grand cri. Les âmes délivrés s’enfuirent par l’issue que le poignard venait de leur ouvrir, laissant dans l’outre leurs noirceurs, leurs crimes, et leurs méchancetés,” etc. etc.
IN good King Dagobert’s palmy days,
When Saints were many, and sins were few,
Old Nick, ’tis said,
Was sore bested
One evening,—and could not tell what to do.—
He had been East, and he had been West,
And far had he journey’d o’er land and sea;
For women and men
Were warier then,
And he could not catch one where he’d now catch three.
He had been North, and he had been South,
From Zembla’s shores unto far Peru,
Ere he fill’d the sack
Which he bore on his back—
Saints were so many, and sins so few!
The way was long, and the day was hot;
His wings were weary; his hoofs were sore;
And scarce could he trail
His nerveless tail,
As it furrow’d the sand on the Red Sea shore!
The day had been hot, and the way was long;
—Hoof-sore, and weary, and faint, was he;
He lower’d his sack,
And the heat of his back,
As he lean’d on a palm-trunk, blasted the tree!416
He sat himself down in the palm-tree’s shade,
And he gazed, and he grinn’d in pure delight,
As he peep’d inside
The buffalo’s hide
He had sewn for a sack, and had crammed so tight.
For, though he’d “gone over a good deal of ground,”
And game had been scarce, he might well report
That still, he had got
A decentish lot,
And had had, on the whole, not a bad day’s sport.
He had pick’d up in France a Maître de danse,—
A Maîtresse en titre,—two smart Grisettes,
A Courtier at play,—
And an English Roué—
Who had bolted from home without paying his debts.—
—He had caught in Great Britain a Scrivener’s clerk,
A Quaker,—a Baker,—a Doctor of Laws,—
And a jockey of York—
But Paddy from Cork
“Desaved the ould divil,” and slipp’d through his claws!
In Moscow a Boyar knouting his wife
—A Corsair’s crew, in the Isles of Greece—
And, under the dome
Of St. Peter’s at Rome,
He had snapp’d up a nice little Cardinal’s Niece.—
He had bagg’d an Inquisitor fresh from Spain—
A mendicant Friar—of Monks a score,
A grave Don, or two,
And a Portuguese Jew,
Whom he nabb’d while clipping a new Moidore.
And he said to himself, as he lick’d his lips,
“Those nice little Dears!—what a delicate roast!—
—Then, that fine fat Friar,
At a very quick fire,
Dress’d like a Woodcock, and serv’d on toast!”
—At the sight of tit-bits so toothsome and choice
Never did mouth water more than Nick’s;
He had stuff’d his sack
So full that he found himself quite “in a fix:”417
For, all he could do, or all he could say,
When, a little recruited, he rose to go,
Alas! and alack!—
He could not get the sack
Up again on his shoulders “whether or no!”
Old Nick look’d East, Old Nick look’d West,
With many a stretch, and with many a strain,
He bent till his back
Was ready to crack,
And he pull’d, and he tugg’d,—but he tugg’d in vain.
Old Nick look’d North, Old Nick look’d South:
—Weary was Nicholas, weak and faint,—
And he was aware
Of an old man there,
In Palmer’s weeds, who look’d much like a Saint.
Nick eyed the Saint,—then he eyed the Sack—
The greedy old glutton!—and thought, with a grin,
“Dear heart alive!
If I could but contrive
To pop that elderly gentleman in!—
“For, were I to choose among all the ragoûts
The cuisine can exhibit—flesh, fowl, or fish,—
To myself I can paint
That a barbecued Saint
Would be for my palate the best side-dish!”
Now St. Medard dwelt on the banks of the Nile,
—In a Pyramis fast by the lone Red Sea.
(We call it “Semiramis,”
Why not say Pyramis?—
Why should we change the S into a D?)
St. Medard, he was a holy man,
A holy man I ween was he,
And even by day,
When he went to pray,
He would light up a candle, that all might see!
He salaam’d to the East,—He salaam’d to the West;—
—Of the gravest cut, and the holiest brown
Were his Palmer’s weeds,—
And he finger’d his beads
With the right side up, and the wrong side down.—
* * * * *
(Hiatus in MSS. valde deflendus.)418
St. Medard dwelt on the banks of the Nile;—
He had been living there years fourscore,—
And now, “taking the air,
And saying a pray’r,”
He was walking at eve on the Red Sea shore.
Little he deem’d—that holy man!—
Of Old Nick’s wiles, and his fraudful tricks,—
When he was aware
Of a Stranger there,
Who seem’d to have got himself into a fix.
Deeply that Stranger groan’d and sigh’d,
That wayfaring Stranger, grizzly and grey:—
“I can’t raise my sack
On my poor old back!—
Oh, lend me a lift, kind Gentleman, pray!—
“For I have been East, and I have been West,
Foot-sore, weary, and faint am I,
And, unless I get home
Ere the Curfew bome,
Here in this desert I well may die!”
“Now Heav’n thee save!”—Nick winced at the words,
As ever he winces at words divine—
“Now Heav’n thee save!—
What strength I have,—
It’s little, I wis,—shall be freely thine!
“For foul befall that Christian man
Who shall fail, in a fix,—woe worth the while!—
His hand to lend
To foe, or to friend,
Or to help a lame dog over a stile!”
—St. Medard hath boon’d himself for the task:
To hoist up the sack he doth well begin;
But the fardel feels
Like a bag full of eels,
For the folks are all curling, and kicking within.—
St. Medard paused—he began to “smoke”—
For a Saint,—if he isn’t exactly a cat,—
Has a very good nose,
As this world goes,
And not worse than his neighbour’s for “smelling a rat.”
The Saint look’d up, and the Saint look’d down;
He “smelt the rat,” and he “smoked” the trick;
—When he came to view
His comical shoe,
He saw in a moment his friend was Nick!
He whipp’d out his oyster-knife, broad and keen—
A Brummagem blade which he always bore,
To aid him to eat,
By way of a treat,
The “natives” he found on the Red Sea shore:—
He whipp’d out his Brummagem blade so keen,
And he made three slits in the Buffalo’s hide,
And all its contents,
Through the rents, and the vents,
Come tumbling out,—and away they all hied!
Away went the Quaker—away went the Baker,
Away went the Friar—That fine fat Ghost,
Whose marrow Old Nick
Had intended to pick,
Dress’d like a Woodcock, and served on toast!
—Away went the nice little Cardinal’s Niece,—
And the pretty Grisettes,—and the Dons from Spain—
And the Corsair’s crew,
And the coin-clipping Jew,—
And they scamper’d, like lamplighters, over the plain:—
—Old Nick is a black-looking fellow at best,
Ay, e’en when he’s pleased; but never before
Had he look’d so black
As on seeing his sack
Thus cut into slits on the Red Sea shore.
You may fancy his rage, and his deep despair,
When he saw himself thus befool’d by one
Whom, in anger wild,
He profanely styled,
“A stupid, old snuff-colour’d Son of a gun!”
Then his supper—so nice!—that had cost him such pains—
—Such a hard day’s work—now “all on the go!”
—’Twas beyond a joke,
And enough to provoke
The mildest, and best-temper’d, Fiend below!420
Nick snatch’d up one of those great, big stones,
Found in such numbers on Egypt’s plains,
And he hurl’d it straight
At the Saint’s bald pate,
To knock out “the gruel he call’d his brains.”
Straight at his pate he hurl’d the weight,
The crushing weight of that great, big stone;—
But St. Medard
Was remarkably hard,
And solid, about the parietal bone.
And, though the whole weight of that great, big stone,
Came straight on his pate, with a great, big thump,
It fail’d to graze
The skin,—or to raise
On the tough epidermis a lump, or bump!—
As the hail bounds off from the pent-house slope,—
As the cannon recoils when it sends its shot,—
As the finger and thumb
Of an old woman come
From the kettle she handles, and finds too hot;—
—Or, as you may see, in the Fleet, or the Bench,—
—Many folks do in the course of their lives,—
The well-struck ball
Rebound from the wall,
When the Gentlemen jail-birds are playing at “fives:”
All these,—and a thousand fine similes more,—
Such as all have heard of, or seen, or read
Recorded in print,
May give you a hint
How the stone bounced off from St. Medard’s head!
—And it curl’d, and it twirl’d, and it whirl’d in air,
As this great, big stone at a tangent flew!
—Just missing his crown,
It at last came down
Plump upon Nick’s Orthopedical shoe!
Oh! what a yell and a screech were there!—
How did he hop, skip, bellow, and roar!
—“Oh dear! oh dear!”
—You might hear him here,
Though we’re such a way off from the Red Sea shore!421
It smash’d his shin, and it smash’d his hoof,
Notwithstanding his stout Orthopedical shoe;
And this is the way
That, from that same day,
Old Nick became what the French call Boiteux!
Quakers, and Bakers, Grisettes, and Friars,
And Cardinal’s Nieces,—wherever ye be,
St. Medard bless;
You can scarcely do less
If you of your corps possess any esprit.
And, mind and take care, yourselves,—and beware
How you get in Nick’s buffalo bag!—if you do
I very much doubt
If you’ll ever get out,
Now sins are so many, and Saints so few!!
Gentle Reader, attend
To the voice of a friend!
And if ever you go to Herne Bay or Southend,
Or any gay wat’ring-place outside the Nore,
Don’t walk out at eve on the lone sea-shore!
—Unless you’re too saintly to care about Nick,
And are sure that your head is sufficiently thick!—
Learn not to be greedy!—and, when you’ve enough,
Don’t be anxious your bags any tighter to stuff—
Recollect that good fortune too far you may push,
And, “A BIRD IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN THE BUSH!”
Then turn not each thought to increasing your store,
Nor look always like “Oliver asking for more!”
Gourmandise is a vice—a sad failing, at least;—
So remember “Enough is as good as a feast!”
And don’t set your heart on “stew’d,” “fried,” “boil’d,” or “roast,”
Nor on delicate “Woodcocks served up upon toast!”
Don’t give people nicknames!—don’t even in fun,
Call any one “Snuff-colour’d Son of a gun!”
Nor fancy, because a man nous seems to lack,
That, whenever you please, you can “give him the sack!”
Last of all, as you’d thrive, and still sleep in whole bones,
If you’ve any glass windows never THROW STONES!!
“Saint Medard” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XIII no. 1 (January 1843) as “The Golden Legend No. VII: The Lay of St. Medard”, with the further notation “with an illustration by George Cruikshank”. (The second illustration, with the pyramids, was added for the book.) As with the First Series, this final selection in the Second Series was the last Bentley’s piece to make it into the book. The two from later in Volume XIII will have to wait for the Third Series.
“A merry Christmas to you and a happy New Year!”
[This passage only makes sense in the context of the serial publication: the January 1843 issue would have hit the newsstands in December 1842. But, like all introductory passages, it wasn’t present in Bentley’s.]
Why should we change the S into a D?
[There exists a straightforward answer to the question, but this margin is too small to hold it.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.