Some few words are necessary by way of explanation, in submitting the present volume to the reader. It is enough to state, as regards its object, that a wish was conveyed to his family by certain of the late Mr. Barham’s friends, and through them by many also who knew him only from his writings, that a collection should be made of the remaining “Ingoldsby Legends,” and printed uniformly with the first and second series, and that at the same time a more complete Memoir of his Life should be prefixed than any that had hitherto appeared in the public prints. Such a request was of course entitled to every attention; the more so, as it came strongly backed by the judgment of the gentleman who proposed to undertake the publication in question.
It may, perhaps, be questioned whether, under any circumstances, a very near relative is a fit person to fill the office of Biographer: independently of the prepossession by which he must almost necessarily be swayed, and of the restraint which a consciousness of its existence induces, expressions both of eulogy and the reverse seem to fall ungracefully from his pen. The writer has no immunity to plead in the present instance from the effects of this law. There were considerations, however, which precluded his entrusting the task to another; among the most weighty of which was an unwillingness to submit correspondence and memoranda, written with that unguarded openness for which Mr. Barham was remarkable, to the eye of a third person: 423 the unavoidable exposure indeed of matters of confidence, of which he was the depositary, would have rendered it highly improper to do so.
There are two classes of readers, in particular, to whom this imperfect sketch will doubtless prove unsatisfactory: those who may take it up in the expectation of finding a budget of confidential letters and private anecdotes of the gifted individuals still living, with whom it was the lot of its subject to be associated; and those who may desire a more regular and detailed biography, and who may be apt to consider the following pages of too unconnected and too light a character to answer to the title which they bear. For the first of these we have no answer; but we would entreat the second to bear in mind that it is only in a literary point of view—only as a poet, whose wit and originality attracted no ordinary notice—only, in short, as “Thomas Ingoldsby,” that Mr. Barham is brought before the public at all; and it is to these traits of character that we have been mainly confined, as being alone of sufficient general interest to demand or bear illustration.
On the other hand, should it be urged that the poetical trifles here appended are not of a quality to advance the author’s reputation, we must reply, at the risk of being taxed with a tendency to argue in a circle, that a reputation of the kind was not an object of his ambition. To say that he was indifferent to applause and censure, would be to invest him with a degree of stoicism which he was among the last either to profess or feel; but the fact of all his productions having appeared either anonymously or pseudonymously, is sufficient to show that he possessed no inordinate craving after fame. Writing, in a word, was to him an amusement, the more agreeable if it chanced to conduce to that of others. It is in a similar spirit that the present collection is laid before the public: and a hope is entertained that it may not altogether do discredit to the partiality of those at whose suggestion it has been made.
Most of these poems have been previously published in various periodicals; some few are now printed for the first 424 time. In the selection of the former, which are of an evanescent character, for the most part bearing upon the gossip of the day, attention has almost of necessity been paid more to the comparative notoriety of the subject than to the degree of humour evinced in the performance.
There remains, in conclusion, but to express a hope that no one will feel aggrieved by the appearance of any of the historiettes, etc., which have been inserted; the great variety of amusing matter of this kind contained in Mr. Barham’s memoranda, furnished perpetual temptations to transgress; how they have been resisted it is for others to decide. The anecdotes recorded of living persons are few in number, and refer principally to men raised by their genius above the common level of society, and who, as a necessary condition to the eminence they enjoy, must be content to dispense with much of that privilege of privacy which their less distinguished brethren have a right to claim; it is a kind of quit-rent of popularity which they are doubtless not indisposed to pay. R. H. D. BARHAM.
Lolworth, Nov. 17, 1847.
Since Richard Barham died before the Third Series was published, the remaining Legends generally won’t have the transitional prose passages of the first two Series. Where there is introductory prose, it was part of the serial publication.
Most of these poems have been previously published in various periodicals
[But not, apparently, in Bentley’s Miscellany; I couldn’t find any after Volume XIII (first half of 1843).]
“Veluti in speculum.”—Theatre Royal, Cov. Gard.
COUNT RAYMOND rules in Languedoc,
O’er the champaign fair and wide,
With town and stronghold many a one,
Wash’d by the wave of the blue Garonne,
And from far Auvergne to Rousillon,
And away to Narbonne,
And the mouths of the Rhone;
And his Lyonnois silks, and his Narbonne honey,
Bring in his lordship a great deal of money.425
A thousand lances, stout and true,
Attend Count Raymond’s call;
And Knights and Nobles of high degree,
From Guienne, Provence, and Burgundy,
Before Count Raymond bend the knee,
And vail to him one and all.
And Isabel of Arragon
He weds, the Pride of Spain,—
You might not find so rich a prize,
A Dame so “healthy, wealthy, and wise!”
So pious withal—with such beautiful eyes—
So exactly the Venus de Medicis size—
In all that wide domain.
Then his cellar is stored
As well as his board,
With the choicest of all La Belle France can afford;
Chambertin, Château Margaux, La Rose, and Lafitte,
With Champagne, “of the Comet year,” “neat
As imported,”—“fine sparkling,”—and not over sweet;
While his Chaplain, good man, when call’d in to say grace,
Would groan, and put on an elongated face,
At such turtle, such turbot, John Dory, and plaice;
Not without blushing, pronouncing a benison,
Worthy old soul! on such very fat venison,
Sighing to think
Such victuals and drink,
Are precisely the traps by which Satan makes men his own,
And grieving o’er scores
Of huge barbecued Boars,
Which he thinks should not darken a Christian man’s doors,
Though ’twas all very well Pagan Poets should rate ’em
As “Animal propter convivia natum.”
He was right, I must say,
For at this time of day,
When we’re not so precise, whether cleric or lay,
With respect to our food, as in time so passé,
We still find our Boars, whether grave ones or gay,
After dinner, at least, very much in the way
(We spell the word now with an E, not an A);
And as honest Père Jacques was inclined to spare diet, he
Gave this advice to all grades of society,
“Think less of pudding—and think more of piety.”426
As to his clothes,
Oh! nobody knows
What lots the Count had of cloaks, doublets, and hose,
Pantoufles, with bows
Each as big as a rose,
And such shirts with lace ruffles, such waistcoats and those
Indescribable garments it is not thought right
To do more than whisper to oreilles polite.
Still in spite of his power, and in spite of his riches,
In spite of his dinners, his dress, and his——which is
The strangest of all things—in spite of his Wife,
The Count led a rather humdrum sort of life.
He grew tired, in fact, of mere eating and drinking,
Grew tired of flirting, and ogling, and winking
At nursery maids
As they walked the Parades,
The Crescents, the Squares, and the fine Colonnades,
And the other gay places, which young ladies use
As their promenade through the good town of Thoulouse.
He was tired of hawking, and fishing, and hunting.
Of billiards, short-whist, chicken-hazard, and punting;
Of popping at pheasants,
Quails, woodcocks, and peasants;
Of smoking, and joking,
And soaking, provoking
Such headaches next day
As his fine St. Peray,
Though the best of all Rhone wines can never repay.
Till weary of war, women, roast-goose, and glory,
With no great desire to be “famous in story,”
All the day long,
This was his song,
“Oh dear! what will become of us?
Oh dear! what shall we do?
We shall die of blue devils if some of us,
Can’t hit on something that’s new!”
Meanwhile his sweet Countess, so pious and good,
Such pomps and such vanities stoutly eschew’d,
With all fermented liquors and high-seasoned food,
Devilled kidneys, and sweet-breads, and ducks and green peas,
Baked sucking-pig, goose, and all viands like these,
Hash’d calf’s-head included, no longer could please;427
A curry was sure to elicit a breeze,
So was ale, or a glass of port-wine after cheese.
Indeed, anything strong,
As to tipple, was wrong;
She stuck to “fine Hyson,” “Bohea,” and “Souchong,”
And similar imports direct from Hong-Kong.
In vain does the family doctor exhort her
To take with her chop one poor half-pint of porter;
She’s taken the pledges!
Determined to aid
In a gen’ral Crusade
Against publicans, vintners, and all of that trade,
And to bring in sherbet, ginger-pop, lemonade,
Eau sucrée, and drinkables, mild and home made;
So she claims her friends’ efforts, and vows to devote all hers
Solely to found “The Thoulousian Teetotallers.”
Large sums she employs
In dressing small boys
In long duffle jackets, and short corderoys,
And she boxes their ears when they make too much noise;
In short, she turns out a complete Lady Bountiful,
Filling with drugs and brown Holland the county full.
Now just at the time when our story commences.
It seems that a case
Past the common took place,
To entail on her ladyship further expenses,
In greeting with honour befitting his station
The Prior of Arles, with a Temperance Legation,
Despatched by Pope Urban, who seized this occasion
To aid in diluting that part of the nation.
An excellent man,
One who stuck to his can
Of cold water “without”—and he’d take such a lot of it;
None of your sips
That just moistens the lips;
At one single draught he’d toss off a whole pot of it,—
No such bad thing
By the way, if they bring
It you iced, as at Verey’s, or fresh from the spring,
When the Dog Star compels folks in town to take wing,
Though I own even then I should see no great sin in it,
Were there three drops of Sir Felix’s gin in
Well, leaving the lady to follow her pleasure,
And finish the pump with the Prior at leisure,428
Let’s go back to Raymond, still bored beyond measure,
And harping away
On the same dismal lay,
“Oh dear! what will become of us?
Oh dear! what can we do?
We shall die of blue devils if some of us
Can’t find out something that’s
At length, in despair of obtaining his ends
By his own mother wit, he takes courage and sends,
Like a sensible man as he is, for his friends,
Not his Lyndhursts or Eldons, or any such high sirs,
But only a few of his “backstairs” advisers;
“Come hither,” says he,
“My gallants so free,
My bold Rigmarole, and my brave Rigmaree,
And my grave Baron Proser, now listen to me!
You three can’t but see I’m half dead with ennui.
What’s to be done?
I must have some fun,
And I will too, that’s flat—ay, as sure as a gun,
So find me out ‘something new under the sun,’
Or I’ll knock your three jobbernowls all into one!
Come, what shall it be?
Resolve me—propound in three skips of a flea!”
Rigmarole gave a “Ha!” Rigmaree gave a “Hem!”
They look’d at Count Raymond—Count Raymond at them,
As much as to say “Have you nihil ad rem?”
At length Baron Proser
Responded, “You know, sir,
That question’s some time been a regular poser;
Dear me!—let me see,—
In the way of a ‘spree’
Something new?—Eh?—No!—Yes! No!—’tis really no go, sir.”
Says the Count, “Rigmarole,
You’re as jolly a soul,
On the whole, as King Cole, with his pipe and his bowl;
Come, I’m sure you’ll devise something novel and droll.”—
In vain,—Rigmarole, with a look most profound,
With his hand to his heart and his eye to the ground,
Shakes his head as if nothing was there to be found.
“I can only remark,
That as touching a ‘lark’
I’m as much as your highness can be, in the dark;429
I can hit on no novelty—none, on my life,
Unless, peradventure, you’d ‘tea’ with your wife!”
Quoth Raymond, “Enough!
Rigmarole, you’re an ass,—you’re a regular Muff!
Drink tea with her ladyship?—I?—not a bit of it!
Call you that fun?—faith, I can’t see the wit of it;
Mort de ma vie!
My dear Rigmaree,
You’re the man, after all,—come, by way of a fee,
If you will but be bright, from the simple degree
Of a knight I’ll create you at once a Mar-quis!
Put your conjuring cap on—consider and see,
If you can’t beat that stupid old ‘Sumph’ with his ‘tea!’”
“That’s the thing! that will do!
Ay, marry, that’s new!”
Cries Rigmaree, rubbing his hands, “that will please—
My ‘Conjuring cap’—it’s the thing;—it’s ‘the cheese!’
It was only this morning I pick’d up the news;
Please your Highness, a Conjuror’s come to Thoulouse;
I’ll defy you to name us
A man half so famous
For devildoms,—Sir, it’s the great Nostradamus!
Cornelius Agrippa, ’tis said, went to school to him,
Gyngell’s an ass, and old Faustus a fool to him.
Talk of Lilly, Albertus, Jack Dee!—pooh! all six
He’d soon put in a pretty particular fix;
Why, he’d beat, at digesting a sword, or ‘Gun tricks’
The great Northern Wizard himself all to sticks!
I should like to see you
Try to sauter le coup
With this chap at short whist, or unlimited loo,
By the Pope, you’d soon find it a regular ‘Do.’
Why, he does as he likes with the cards,—when he’s got ’em,
There’s always an Ace or a King at the bottom;
Then for casting Nativities!—only you look
At the volume he’s published,—that wonderful book!
In all France not another, to swear I dare venture, is
Like, by long chalks, his ‘Prophetical Centuries’—
Don’t you remember how, early last summer, he
Warn’d the late King ’gainst the Tournament mummery?430
Didn’t his Majesty call it all flummery,
And get the next morning
His poke in the eye from that clumsy Montgomery?
Why, he’ll tell you before
You’re well inside his door,
All your Highness may wish to be up to, and more!”
“Bravo!—capital!—come, let’s disguise ourselves—quick!
—Fortune’s sent him on purpose here, just in the nick;
We’ll see if old Hocus will smell out the trick;
Let’s start off at once—Rigmaree, you’re a Brick!”
The moon in gentle radiance shone
O’er lowly roof and lordly bower,
O’er holy pile and armed tower,
And danced upon the blue Garonne:
Through all that silver’d city fair,
No sound disturb’d the calm, cool air,
Save the lover’s sigh alone!
Or where, perchance, some slumberer’s nose
Proclaim’d the depth of his repose,
Provoking from connubial toes
A hint—or elbow bone;
It might, with such trifling exceptions, be said,
That Thoulouse was as still as if Thoulouse were dead,
And her “oldest inhabitant” buried in lead.
But hark! a sound invades the ear,
Of horses’ hoofs advancing near!
They gain the bridge—they pass—they’re here!
Side by side
Two strangers ride,
For the streets in Thoulouse are sufficiently wide,
That is, I’m assured they are—not having tried.
—See, now they stop
Near an odd-looking shop,
And they knock, and they ring, and they won’t be denied.
At length the command
Of some unseen hand
Chains, and bolts, and bars obey,
And the thick-ribb’d oaken door, old and grey,
In the pale moonlight gives, slowly, way.431
They leave their steeds to a page’s care,
Who comes mounted behind on a Flanders mare
And they enter the house, that resolute pair,
With a blundering step, and a dare-devil air,
And ascend a long, darksome, and rickety stair;
While, arm’d with a lamp that just helps you to see
How uncommonly dark a place can be,
The grimmest of lads with the grimmest of grins,
Says, “Gentlemen, please to take care of your shins
Who ventures this road need be firm on his pins!
Now turn to the left—now turn to the right—
Now a step—now stoop—now again upright—
Now turn once again, and directly before ye
’s the door of the great Doctor’s Labora-tory.”
A word! a blow!
And in they go!
No time to prepare, or to get up a show,
Yet everything there they find quite comme il faut—
Such as queer-looking bottles and jars in a row,
Retorts, crucibles, such as all conjurors stow
In the rooms they inhabit, huge bellows to blow
The fire burning blue with its sulphur and tow;
From the roof a huge crocodile hangs rather low,
With a tail such as that which, we all of us know,
Mr. Waterton managed to tie in a bow;
Pickled snakes, potted lizards, in bottles and basins
Like those at Morel’s, or at Fortnum and Mason’s,
All articles found, you’re aware without telling,
In every respectable conjuror’s dwelling.
Looking solemn and wise,
Without turning his eyes,
Or betraying the slightest degree of surprise,
In the midst sits the doctor—his hair is white,
And his cheek is wan—but his glance is bright,
And his long black roquelaure, not over tight,
Is marked with strange characters much, if not quite,
Like those on the bottles of green and blue light
Which you see in a chemist’s shop-window at night.
His figure is tall and erect—rather spare about432
Ribs,—and no wonder,—such folks never care about
Eating or drinking,
While reading and thinking
Don’t fatten—his age might be sixty or thereabout.—
Raising his eye so grave and so sage,
From some manuscript work of a bygone age,
The seer very composedly turns down the page,
Then shading his sight,
With his hand from the light,
Says, “Well, Sirs, what would you at this time of night?
What brings you abroad these lone chambers to tread,
When all sober folks are at home and abed?”
In our degree,
All strange sights we fain would see,
And hither we come in company;
We have far to go, and we come from far,
Through Spain and Portingale, France and Navarre;
We have heard of your name,
And your fame, and our aim,
Great Sir, is to witness, ere yet we depart
From Thoulouse,—and to-morrow at cock-crow we start—
Your skill—we would fain crave a touch of your art!”
“Now naye, now naye—no trav’llers ye!
Nobles ye be
Of high degree!
With half an eye that one may easily see,—
Count Raymond, your servant!—Yours, Lord Rigmaree!
I must call you so now, since you’re made a Mar-quis
Faith, clever boys both, but you can’t humbug me!
No matter for that!
I see what you’d be at—
Well—pray no delay,
For it’s late, and ere day
I myself must be hundreds of miles on my way;
So tell me at once what you want with me—say!
Shall I call up the dead
From their mouldering bed?—
Shall I send you yourselves down to Hades instead?—
Shall I summon old Harry himself to this spot?”—
—“Ten thousand thanks, No! we had much rather not.
We really can’t say
That we’re curious that way;
But, in brief, if you’ll pardon the trouble we’re giving,
We’d much rather take a sly peep at the living!433
Rigmaree, what say you, in
This case as to viewing
Our spouses, and just ascertain what they’re doing?”
“Just what pleases your Highness—I don’t care a sous in
The matter—but don’t let old Nick and his crew in!”
—“Agreed!—pray proceed then, most sage Nostradamus,
And show us our wives—I dare swear they won’t shame us!”
A change comes o’er the wizard’s face,
And his solemn look by degrees gives place
To a half grave, half comical, kind of grimace.
“For good or for ill,
I work your will!
Yours be the risk and mine the skill;
Blame not my art if unpleasant the pill!”
He takes from a shelf, and he pops on his head,
A square sort of cap, black, and turn’d up with red,
And desires not a syllable more may be said;
He goes on to mutter,
And stutter, and sputter
Hard words, such as no men but wizards dare utter.
“Dies mies!—Hocus pocus—
Adsis Demon! non est jokus!
Hi Cocolorum—don’t provoke us!
Put forth your best toe!”
And many more words, to repeat which would choke us,—
Such a sniff then of brimstone!—it did not last long,
Or they could not have borne it, the smell was so strong.
A mirror is near,
So large and so clear,
If you priced such a one in a drawing-room here,
And was ask’d fifty pounds, you’d not say it was dear;
But a mist gather’d round at the words of the seer,
Till at length as the gloom
Was subsiding, a room
On its broad polish’d surface began to appear,
And the Count and his comrade saw plainly before ’em
The room Lady Isabel called her “Sanctorum.”
They start, well they might,
With surprise, at the sight—
Methinks I hear some lady say, “Serve ’em right!”
For on one side the fire
Is seated the Prior,
At the opposite corner a fat little Friar:434
By the side of each gentleman, easy and free,
Sits a lady, as close as close well may be,
She might almost as well have been perch’d on his knee.
Dear me! dear me!
Why one’s Isabel—she
On the opposite side’s La Marquise Rigmaree!
To judge from the spread
On the board, you’d have said
That the partie quarrée had like aldermen fed;
And now from long flasks, with necks cover’d with lead,
They were helping themselves to champagne, white and red.
Hobbing and nobbing,
And nodding and bobbing,
With many a sip
Both from cup and from lip,
And with many a toast followed up by a “Hip!—
—The Count, by the way,
Though he sees all they’re doing, can’t hear what they say,
Notwithstanding both he—
And Mar-quis Rigmaree
Are so vex’d and excited at what they can see,
That each utters a sad word beginning with D.
That word once spoke,
The silence broke,
In an instant the vision is cover’d with smoke!
But enough has been seen. “Horse! horse! and away!”
They have, neither, the least inclination to stay,
E’en to thank Nostradamus, or ask what’s to pay.—
They rush down the stair,
How, they know not, nor care,
The next moment the Count is astride on his bay,
And my Lord Rigmaree on his mettlesome grey;
They dash through the town,
Now up, and now down,
And the stones rattle under their hoofs as they ride,
As if poor Thoulouse were as mad as Cheapside:1
Through lane, alley, and street,
Over all that they meet,
The Count leads the way on his courser so fleet,
My Lord Rigmaree close pursuing his beat,
With the page in the rear to protect the retreat.435
Where the bridge spans the river, so wide and so deep,
Their headlong career o’er the causeway they keep,
Upsetting the watchman, two dogs, and a sweep,
All the town population that was not asleep.
They at length reach the castle, just outside the town,
Where—in peace it was usual with Knights of renown—
The portcullis was up, and the drawbridge was down.
They dash by the sentinels—“France et Thoulouse!”
Ev’ry soldier (—they then wore cock’d hats and long queues,
Appendages banish’d from modern reviews)
His arquebus lower’d, and bow’d to his shoes;
While Count Raymond push’d on to his lady’s boudoir—he
Had made up his mind to make one at her soirée.
He rush’d to that door,
Where ever before
He had rapp’d with his knuckles, and “tirl’d at the pin,”
Till he heard the soft sound of his Lady’s “Come in!”
But now, with a kick from his iron-heel’d boot,
Which, applied to a brick wall, at once had gone through ’t,
He dash’d open the lock;
It gave way at the shock!
(—Dear ladies, don’t think, in recording the fact,
That your bard’s for one moment defending the act,
No—it is not a gentleman’s—none but a low body
Now could perform it)—and there he saw—NOBODY!!
Oh, ho!—Oh, ho!
There was not a table—there was not a chair
Of all that Count Raymond had ever seen there
(They’d maroon-leather bottoms well stuff’d with horse-hair)
That was out of its place!—
There was not a trace
Of a party—there was not a dish or a plate—
No sign of a table-cloth—nothing to prate
Of a supper, symposium, or sitting up late;
There was not a spark of fire left in the grate,
It had all been poked out, and remained in that state.
If there was not a fire,
Still less was there Friar,
Marquise, or long glasses, or Countess, or Prior,
And the Count, who rush’d in open mouth’d, was struck
And could only ejaculate, “Well!—this is rum!”436
He rang for the maids—had them into the room,
With the butler, the footman, the coachman, the groom.
He examined them all very strictly—but no!
Notwithstanding he cross- and re-questioned them so,
’Twas in vain—it was clearly a case of “No Go!”
“Their lady,” they said,
“Had gone early to bed,
Having rather complain’d of a cold in her head—
The stout little Friar, as round as an apple,
Had pass’d the whole night in a vigil in chapel,
While the Prior himself, as he’d usually done,
Had rung in the morning, at half-after one,
For his jug of cold water and twopenny bun,
And been visible, since they were brought him, to none.
But,” the servants averr’d,
“From the sounds that were heard
To proceed now and then from the father’s sacellum,
They thought he was purging
His sins with a scourging,
And making good use of his knotted flagellum.”
For Madame Rigmaree,
They all testified, she
Had gone up to her bed-chamber soon after tea,
And they really supposed that there still she must be,
Which her spouse, the Mar-quis,
Found at once to agree
With the rest of their tale, when he ran up to see.
Alack for Count Raymond! he could not conceive
How the case really stood, or know what to believe;
Nor could Rigmaree settle to laugh or to grieve.
There was clearly a hoax,
But which of the folks
Had managed to make them the butt of their jokes,
Wife or wizard, they both knew no more than Jack Nokes;
That glass of the wizard’s
Stuck much in their gizzards,
His cap, and his queer cloak all X’s and Izzards;
Then they found, when they came to examine again,
Some slight falling off in the stock of champagne,
Small, but more than the butler could fairly explain.
However, since nothing could make the truth known,
Why,—they thought it was best to let matters alone.437
The Count in the garden
Begg’d Isabel’s pardon
Next morning for waking her up in a fright,
By the racket he’d kick’d up at that time of night:
And gave her his word he had ne’er misbehaved so,
Had he not come home as tipsy as David’s sow.
Still, to give no occasion for family snarls,
The Friar was pack’d back to his convent at Aries.
While as for the Prior,
At Raymond’s desire,
The Pope raised his rev’rence a step or two higher,
And made him a bishop in partibus—where
His see was I cannot exactly declare,
Or describe his cathedral, not having been there;
But I dare say you’ll all be prepared for the news,
When I say ’twas a good many miles from Thoulouse,
Where the prelate, in order to set a good precedent,
Was enjoin’d, as a sine quâ non, to be resident.
You will fancy with me,
That Count Raymond was free,
For the rest of his life, from his former ennui;
Still it somehow occurr’d that as often as he
Chanced to look in the face of my Lord Rigmaree,
There was something or other—a trifling degree
Of constraint—or embarrassment—easy to see,
And which seem’d to be shared by the noble Mar-quis,
While the ladies—the queerest of all things, by half in
My tale, never met from that hour without laughing.
Good gentleman all, who are subjects of Hymen,
Don’t make new acquaintances rashly, but try men!
Avoid above all things your cunning (that’s sly) men!
Don’t go out o’ nights
To see conjuring sleights,
But shun all such people, delusion whose trade is;
Be wise!—stay at home and take tea with the ladies.
If you chance to be out,
At a “regular bout,”
And get too much of “Abbot’s Pale Ale” or “Brown Stout,”
Don’t be cross when you come home at night to your spouse,
Nor be noisy, nor kick up a dust in the house!438
Be careful yourself, and admonish your sons,
To beware of all folks who love twopenny buns!
And don’t introduce to your wife or your daughter,
A sleek, meek, weak gent—who subsists on cold water!
“The stones did rattle underneath,
As if Cheapside were mad.”
Gilpin’s Tour in Middlesex and Herts.
“The Lord of Thoulouse” originally appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist Vol. 70 (n.s.) no. 3 (March 1844), where it was the lead story in the issue. The picture of the conjurer is taken from the same source; it didn’t make it into the book.
With Moët’s Champagne, “of the Comet year,”
text has Moet’s
In spite of his dinners, his dress, and his——which is
[The printed book has a space on each side of the long dash, making it look as if there is a concealed word. I begin to suspect that the printer was tone-deaf, and was led astray by The New Monthly, which likewise had a double-long dash, though with no extra spaces.]
Eau sucrée, and drinkables, mild and home made
[Brillat-Savarin has quite a bit to say about sugar water as a beverage.]
Were there three drops of Sir Felix’s gin in it.
Can’t find out something that’s new!”
close quote missing
Of a knight I’ll create you at once a Mar-quis!
[I think the hyphen is to prevent the reader from pronouncing it “marquess”.]
From the roof a huge crocodile hangs rather low
[Initially I wasn’t sure if the illustration at the beginning of this number of New Monthly was meant to go with the present story. But the crocodile seems pretty dispositive.]
And the Count, who rush’d in open mouth’d, was struck dumb,
text has . for final ,
misbehaved so / . . . David’s sow
[Is that a dialectal pronunciation, or is he being funny? The OED doesn’t even list it as a variant.]
The main incident recorded in the following excerpta from our family papers has but too solid a foundation. The portrait of Roger Ingoldsby is not among those in the gallery; but I have some recollection of having seen, when a boy, a picture answering the description here given of him, much injured, and lying without a frame in one of the attics.
IT has a jocund sound,
That gleeful marriage chime,
As from the old and ivied tower,
It peals, at the early matin hour,
Its merry, merry round;
And the Spring is in its prime,
And the song-bird, on the spray,
Trills from his throat, in varied note.
An emulative lay—
It has a joyous sound!!
And the Vicar is there with his wig and his book,
And the Clerk, with his grave, quasi-sanctified look,
And there stand the village maids, all with their posies,
Their lilies, and daffy-down-dillies, and roses,
Dight in white,
A comely sight,
Fringing the path to the left and the right;
—From our nursery days we all of us know
Ne’er doth “Our Ladye’s garden grow”439
So fair for a “Grand Horticultural Show”
As when border’d with “pretty maids all on a row.”
And the urchins are there, escaped from the rule
Of that “Limbo of Infants,” the National School,
Whooping, and bawling,
And squalling, and calling,
And crawling, and creeping,
And jumping and leaping,
Bo-peeping ’midst “many a mouldering heap” in
Whose bosom their own “rude forefathers” are sleeping;
—Young rascals!—instead of lamenting and weeping,
Laughing and gay,
A gorge deployée—
Only now and then pausing—and checking their play,
To “wonder what ’tis makes the gentlefolks stay.”
Ah, well a-day!
Little deem they,
Poor ignorant dears! the bells, ringing away,
Are anything else
Than mere parish bells,
Or that each of them, should we go into its history,
Is but a “Symbol” of some deeper mystery—
That the clappers and ropes
Are mere practical tropes
Of “trumpets” and “tongues,” and of “preachers” and popes,
Unless Clement the Fourth’s worthy Chaplain, Durand, err,
See the “Rationale,” of that goosey-gander.
Gently! gently, Miss Muse!
Mind your P’s and your Q’s!
Don’t be malapert—laugh, Miss, but never abuse!
Calling names, whether done to attack or to back a schism,
Is, Miss, believe me, a great piece of jack-ass-ism,
And as, on the whole,
You’re a good-natured soul,
You must never enact such a pitiful rôle.
No, no, Miss, pull up, and go back to your boys
In the churchyard, who’re making this hubbub and noise—
But hush! there’s an end to their romping and mumming,
For voices are heard—here’s the company coming!
And see,—the avenue gates unfold,
And forth they pace, that bridal train,
The grave, the gay, the young, the old,—
They cross the green and grassy lane,440
Bridesman, Bridesmaid, Bridegroom, Bride,
Two by two, and side by side,
Uncles and aunts, friends tried and proved,
And cousins, a great many times removed.
A fairer or a gentler she,
A lovelier maid, in her degree,
Man’s eye might never hope to see,
Than darling, bonnie Maud Ingoldsby,
The flow’r of that goodly company;
While whispering low, with bated voice,
Close by her side, her heart’s dear choice,
Walks Fredville’s hope, young Valentine Boys.
—But where, oh where,—
Is Ingoldsby’s heir?
Little Jack Ingoldsby?—where, oh where?
Why, he’s here,—and he’s there,
And he’s everywhere—
He’s there, and he’s here;
In the front—in the rear,—
Now this side, now that side,—now far, and now near—
The Puck of the party, the darling “pet” boy,
Full of mischief and fun, and good-humour and joy;
With his laughing blue eye, and his cheek like a rose,
And his long curly locks, and his little snub nose;
In his tunic, and trousers, and cap—there he goes!
Now pinching the bridesman,—now teasing his sister,
And telling the bridesmaids how “Valentine kiss’d her;”
The torment, the plague, the delight of them all,
See, he’s into the churchyard!—he’s over the wall—
Gambolling, frolicking, capering away,
He’s the first in the church, be the second who may!
’Tis o’er; the holy rite is done,
The rite that “incorporates two in one,”
—And now for the feasting, and frolic, and fun!
Spare we to tell of the smiling and sighing,
The shaking of hands, the embracing, and crying,
Of the tabour and flute,
Of the white-wigg’d Vicar’s prolong’d salute,
Or of how the blithe “College Youths,”—rather old stagers,
Accustom’d, for years, to pull bell-ropes for wagers—441
Rang, faster than ever, their
(So loud as to charm ye,
At once and alarm ye;
—“Symbolic,” of course, of that rank in the army.)
Spare we to tell of the fees and the dues
To the “little old woman that open’d the
Of the largesse bestow’d on the Sexton and Clerk,
Of the four-year-old sheep roasted whole in the park,
Of the laughing and joking,
The quaffing and smoking,
And chaffing, and broaching—that is to say, poking
A hole in a mighty magnificent tub
Of what men, in our hemisphere, term “Humming ”
But which gods,—who, it seems, use a different lingo
From mortals,—are wont to denominate “Stingo.”
Spare we to tell of the horse-collar grinning;
The cheese! the reward of the ugly one winning;
Of the young ladies racing for Dutch body-linen,—
The soapy-tail’d sow,—a rich prize when you’ve caught her,—
Of little boys bobbing for pippins in water;
The smacks and the whacks,
And the jumpers in sacks,
These down on their noses and those on their backs;—
Nor skills it to speak of those darling old ditties,
Sung rarely in hamlets now—never in cities,
The “King and the Miller,” the “Bold Robin Hood,”
“Chevy Chase,” “Gilderoy,” and the “Babes in the Wood!”
—You’ll say that my taste
Is sadly misplaced,
But I can’t help confessing these simple old tunes,
The “Auld Robin Grays,” and the “Aileen Aroons,”
The “Gramachree Mollys,” and “Sweet Bonny Doons”
Are dearer to me,
In a tenfold degree,
Than a fine fantasia from over the sea;
And, for sweetness, compared with a Beethoven fugue, are
As “best-refined loaf,” to the coarsest “brown sugar;”2
—Alack, for the Bard’s want of science! to which he owes
All this misliking of foreign capricios!—442
Not that he’d say
One word, by the way,
To disparage our new Idol, Monsieur Duprez—
But he grudges, he owns, his departed half-guinea,
Each Saturday night when, devour’d by chagrin, he
Sits listening to singers whose names end in ini.
But enough of the rustics—let’s leave them pursuing
Their out-of-door gambols, and just take a view in
The inside the hall, and see what they are doing;
And first there’s the Squire,
The hale, hearty sire
Of the bride,—with his coat-tails subducted and higher,
A thought, than they’re commonly wont to aspire;
His back and his buckskins exposed to the fire;—
—Bright, bright are his buttons,—and bright is the hue
Of his squarely-cut coat of fine Saxony blue;
And bright the shalloon of his little quill’d queue;
—White, white as “Young England’s,” the dimity vest
Which descends like an avalanche o’er his broad breast,
Till its further progression is put in arrest
By the portly projection that springs from his chest,
Overhanging the garment—that can’t be exprest;
—White, white are his locks,—which, had Nature fair play,
Had appear’d a clear brown, slightly sprinkled with grey;
But they’re white as the peaks of Plinlimmon to-day,
Or Ben Nevis, his pate is si bien poudré!
Bright, bright are the boots that envelope his heels,
—Bright, bright is the gold chain suspending his seals,
And still brighter yet may the gazer descry
The tear-drop that spangles the fond father’s eye
As it lights on the bride—
His beloved one—the pride
And delight of his heart,—sever’d now from his side;—
But brighter than all,
Arresting its fall,
Is the smile, that rebukes it for spangling at all,
—A clear case, in short, of what old poets tell, as
Blind Homer for instance, εν δακρυσι γελας.
Then, there are the Bride and the Bridegroom, withdrawn
To the deep Gothic window that looks on the lawn,443
Ensconced on a squab of maroon-colour’d leather,
And talking—and thinking, no doubt—of the weather.
But here comes the party—Room! room for the guests!
In their Pompadour coats, and laced ruffles, and vests,
—First, Sir Charles Grandison
Baronet, and his son,
Charles,—the mamma does not venture to “show”
—Miss Byron, you know,
She was called long ago—
For that lady, ’twas said, had been playing the d—l,
Last season, in town, with her old beau, Squire Greville,
Which very much shock’d, and chagrin’d, as may well be
Supposed “Doctor Bartlett,” and “Good Uncle Selby.”
—Sir Charles, of course, could not give Greville his gruel, in
Order to prove his abhorrence of duelling,
Nor try for, deterr’d by the serious expense, a
Complete separation, a thoro et mensâ,
So he “kept a calm sough,” and, when asked to a party,
A dance, or a dinner, or tea and écarté,
He went with his son, and said, looking demurely.
He’d “left her at home, as she found herself poorly.”
Two foreigners near,
“Of distinction,” appear;
A pair more illustrious you ne’er heard of, or saw,
Count Ferdinand Fathom,—Count Thaddeus of Warsaw,
All cover’d with glitt’ring bijouterie and hair—Poles,
Whom Lord Dudley Stuart calls “Patriot,”—Hook “Bare Poles;”
Such rings, and such brooches, such studs, and such pins!
’Twere hard to say which
Were more gorgeous and rich,
Or more truly Mosaic, their chains or their chins!
Next Sir Roger de Coverley,—Mr. Will Ramble,
With Dame Lismahago (née Tabitha Bramble),—
Mr. Random and Spouse,—Mrs. Pamela Booby
(Whose nose was acquiring a tinge of the ruby,
And “people did say”—but no matter for that,—
Folks were not then enlighten’d by good Father Mat.)
—Three friends from “the Colonies” near them were seen,
The Great Massachusetts man, General Muff Green,444
Mr. Jonathan W. Doubikins,—men
“Influential some,”—and their “smart” Uncle Ben;—
Rev. Abraham Adams (preferr’d to a stall),—
—Mr. Jones and his lady, from Allworthy Hall;
—Our friend Tom, by the way,
Had turn’d out rather gay
For a married man—certainly “people did say”
He was shrewdly suspected of using his wife ill,
And being as sly as his half-brother Blifil.—
(Miss Seagrim, ’tis well known, was now in high feather,
And “people did say,” they’d been seen out together,—
A fact, the “Boy Jones,” who, in our days, with malice
Aforethought, so often got into the Palace,
Would seem to confirm, as, ’tis whisper’d he owns, he’s
The son of a natural son of Tom Jones’s.)
Lady Bellaston (mem. she had not been invited!),
Sir Peregrine Pickle, now recently knighted,—
All joyous, all happy, all looking delighted!
—It would bore you to death should I pause to describe,
Or enumerate, half of the elegant tribe
Who fill’d the background,
And among whom were found
The élite of the old county families round,
Such as Honeywood, Oxenden, Knatchbull, and Norton,
Matthew Robinson,3 too, with his beard from Monk’s Horton,
The Faggs, and Finch-Hattons, Tokes, Derings, and Deedses,
And Fairfax (who then call’d the castle of Leeds his);
Esquires, Knights, and Lords,
In bag-wigs and swords;
And the troops, and the groups,
Of fine Ladies in hoops;
The pompons, the toupées, and the diamonds and feathers,
The flowered-silk sacques
Which they wore on their backs,—
—How?—sacques and pompons, with the Squire’s boots and leathers?—445
Stay! stay!—I suspect,
Here’s a trifling neglect
On your part, Madame Muse, though you’re commonly accurate,
As to costume, as brown Quaker, or black Curate,
For once I confess,
Here you’re out as to dress;—
You’ve been fairly caught napping, which gives me distress,
For I can’t but acknowledge it is not the thing,
Sir Roger de Coverley’s laced suit to bring
Into contact with square-cut coats,—such as George Byng,
And poor dear Sir Francis appear’d in, last spring;—
So, having for once been compell’d to acknowledge, I
’ve made a small hole in our mutual chronology,
Canter on, Miss, without further apology,—
Only don’t make
Such another mistake,
Or you’ll get in a scrape, of which I shall partake;—
Enough!—you are sorry for what you have done,
So dry your eyes, Miss, blow your nose, and go on!
Well—the party are met, all radiant and gay,
And how ev’ry person is dress’d—we won’t say;
Suffice it, they all come glad homage to pay
To our dear “bonnie Maud,” on her own wedding day,
To dance at her bridal, and help “throw the stocking,”
—A practice that’s now discontinued as shocking.
There’s a breakfast, they know—
There always is so
On occasions like these, wheresoever you go.
Of course there “lots” of beef, potted and hung,
Prawns, lobsters, cold fowl, and cold ham, and cold tongue,
Hot tea, and hot coffee, hot rolls, and hot toast,
Cold pigeon-pie (rook?), and cold boil’d and cold roast,
Scotch marmalade, jellies, cold creams, and colder ices—
Blancmange, which young ladies say, so very nice is,—
Rock-melons in thick, pines in much thinner slices,—
Char, potted with clarified butter and spices,
Renewing an appetite long past its crisis—
Refined barley-sugar, in various devices,
Such as bridges, and baskets, and temples, and grottoes—
And nasty French lucifer snappers with mottoes.446
—In short, all those gimcracks together were met
Which people of fashion tell Gunter to get
When they give a grand déjeûner à la fourchette—
(A phrase which, though French, in our language still lingers,
Intending a breakfast with forks and not fingers.)
And see! what a mountainous bridecake!—a thing
By itself—with small pieces to pass through the ring!
Now as to the wines!—“Ay, the wine!” cries the Squire,
Letting fall both his coat-tails—which nearly take fire,—
Rubbing his hands,
He calls out as he stands,
To the serving-men waiting “his Honour’s” commands,
“The wine!—to be sure—here, you Harry—Bob—Dick—
The wine, don’t you hear?—bring us lights—come, be quick!
And a crow-bar to knock down the mortar and brick—
Say what they may
’Fore George, we’ll make way
Into old Roger Ingoldsby’s cellar to-day;
And let loose his captives, imprison’d so long,
His flasks, and his casks, that he brick’d up so strong!”—
—“Oh dear! oh dear! Squire Ingoldsby, bethink you what you do!”
Exclaims old Mrs. Botherby,4—she is in such a stew!—
“Oh dear! oh dear! what do I hear?—full oft you’ve heard me tell
Of the curse ‘Wild Roger’ left upon whoe’er should break his cell!
“Full five-and-twenty years are gone since Roger went away,
As I bethink me, too, it was upon this very day!
And I was then a comely dame, and you, a springald gay,
Were up and down to London town, at opera, ball, and play;
Your locks were nut-brown, then, Squire—you grow a little grey!—
“‘Wild Roger,’ so we call’d him then, your grandsire’s youngest son,
He was in truth,
A wayward youth,
We fear’d him, every one.447
In ev’ry thing he had his will, he would be stay’d by none,
And when he did a naughty thing, he laugh’d and call’d it fun!
—One day his father chid him sore—I know not what he’d done,
But he scorn’d reproof;
And from this roof
Away that night he run.
“Seven years were gone and over—‘Wild Roger’ came again,
He spoke of forays and of frays upon the Spanish Main;
And he had store of gold galore, and silks, and satins fine,
And flasks, and casks of Malvoisie, and precious Gascon wine!
Rich booties he had brought, he said, across the western wave,
And came, in penitence and shame, now of his sire to crave
Forgiveness and a welcome home—his sire was in his grave!
“Your father was a kindly man—he play’d a brother’s part,
He press’d his brother to his breast—he had a kindly heart;
Fain would he have him tarry here, their common hearth to share,
But Roger was the same man still,—he scorn’d his brother’s pray’r!
He call’d his crew,—away he flew, and on those foreign shores
Got kill’d in some outlandish place—they call it the Eyesores;5
But ere he went,
And quitted Kent,
—I well recall the day,—
His flasks and casks of Gascon wine he safely ‘stow’d away;’
Within the cellar’s deepest nook, he safely stow’d them all,
And Mason Jones brought bricks and stones, and they built up the wall.
“Oh! then it was a fearful thing to hear ‘Wild Roger’s’ ban!
Good gracious me! I never heard the like from mortal man,
‘Here’s that,’ quoth he, ‘shall serve me well, when I return at last,
A batter’d hulk, to quaff and laugh at toils and dangers past;448
Accurst be he, whoe’er he be, lays hand on gear of mine,
Till I come back again from sea, to broach my Gascon wine!’
“And more he said, which fill’d with dread all those who listen’d there;
In sooth my very blood ran cold, it lifted up my hair
With very fear, to stand and hear ‘Wild Roger’ curse and swear!!
He saw my fright, as well he might, but still he made his game,
He call’d me ‘Mother Bounce-about;’ my Gracious! what a name!
Nay, more, ‘an old’—some ‘boat-woman,’—I may not say for shame!—
Then, gentle Master, pause awhile, give heed to what I tell,
Nor break, on such a day as this, ‘Wild Roger’s’ secret cell!”
“Pooh! pooh!” quoth the Squire,
As he moved from the fire,
And bade the old Housekeeper quickly retire;
“Pooh!—never tell me!
What?—wait Uncle Roger’s return back from sea?
Why, he may, as you say,
Have been somewhat too gay,
And, no doubt, was a broth of a boy in his way;
But what’s that to us, now, at this time of day?
What, if some quarrel
With Dering or Darrell—
—I hardly know which, but I think it was Bering,—
Sent him back in a huff to his old privateering?
Or what his unfriends chose to call Buccaneering.
It’s twenty years since, as we very well know,
He was knock’d on the head in a skirmish, and so
Why rake up ‘auld warld’ tales of deeds long ago?—
—Foul befall him who would touch the deposit
Of living man, whether in cellar or closet!
But since, as I’ve said,
Knock’d on the head,
Uncle Roger has now been some twenty years dead:
As for his wine,
I’m his heir, and it’s mine!449
And I’d long ago work’d it well, but that I tarried
For this very day—
And I’m sure you’ll all say
I was right—when my own darling Maud should get married!
So lights and a crowbar!—the only thing lies
On my conscience, at all, with respect to this prize,
Is some little compunction anent the Excise.
Come—you, Master Jack,
Be the first, and bring back
Whate’er comes to hand—Claret, Burgundy, Sack.
Head the party, and mind that you’re back in a crack!”
Away go the clan,
With cup and with can,
Little Jack Ingoldsby leading the van:
Little reck they of the Buccaneer’s ban:
Hope whispers, “Perchance we’ll fall in with strong beer too here!”
Blest thought! which sets them all grinning from ear to ear!
Through cellar one, through cellar two.
Through cellar three they pass’d!
And their way they took
To the farthest nook
Of cellar four—the last!
Blithe and gay, they batter away,
On this wedding-day of Maud’s,
With all their might, to bring to light,
“Wild Roger’s” “Custom-house frauds!”
And though stone and brick
Be never so thick,
When stoutly assail’d, they are no bar
To the powerful charm
Of a Yeoman’s arm
When wielding a decentish crow-bar!
Down comes brick, and down comes stone,
One by one—
The job’s half done!—
“Where is he?—now come—where’s Master John?”—
—There’s a breach in the wall three feet by two,
And little Jack Ingoldsby soon pops through!
Hark!—what sound’s that?—a sob?—a sigh?—
The choking gasp of a stifled cry?—
—“What can it be?—
Let’s see!—let’s see!
It can’t be little Jack Ingoldsby?450
Through stone and through brick,
They poke in the light on a long split stick;
But ere he who holds it can wave it about,
He gasps, and he sneezes—the LIGHT GOES OUT!
Yet were there those, in after days,
Who said that pale light’s flickering blaze,
For a moment, gleam’d on a dark Form there,
Seem’d as bodied of foul black air!—
—In Mariner’s dress,—with cutlass braced
By buckle and broad black belt, to its waist,—
—On a cock’d hat, laced
With gold, and placed
With a dégagé, devil-may-care, kind of taste,
O’er a balafré brow by a scar defaced!—
That Form, they said, so foul and so black,
Grinn’d as it pointed at poor little Jack.—
—I know not, I, how the truth may be,
But the pent-up vapour, at length set free,
Set them all sneezing,
And coughing, and wheezing,
As, working its way
To the regions of day,
It, at last, let a purer and healthier breeze in!
Of their senses bereft,
To the right and the left,
Those varlets so lately courageous and stout,
There they lay kicking and sprawling about,
Like Billingsgate fresh fish, unconscious of ice,
Or those which, the newspapers give us advice,
Mr. Taylor, of Lombard-street, sells at half-price!
—Nearer the door, some half-dozen or more!
To the rez de chaussée
(As our Frenchified friend always calls his ground-floor).
And they call, and they bawl, and they bellow and roar
For lights, vinegar, brandy, and fifty things more.
At length, after no little clamour and din,
The foul air let out and the fresh air let in,
They drag one and all
Up into the hall,
Where a medical Quaker, the great Dr. Lettsom,
Who’s one of the party, “bleeds, physicks, and sweats ’em.”451
—“But He!—my Son?—
Merciful Heaven!—where—WHERE IS
Within that cell, so dark and deep,
Lies One, as in a tranquil sleep,
A sight to make the sternest weep!—
—That little heart is pulseless now,
And cold that fair and open brow,
And closed that eye that beam’d with joy
And hope—“Oh, God! my Boy! my Boy!”
Enough!—I may not,—dare not,—show
The wretched Father’s frantic woe,
The Mother’s tearless, speechless—No!
I may not such a theme essay—
Too bitter thoughts crowd in and stay
My pen—sad memory will have way!
Enough!—at once I close the lay,
Of Fair Maud’s fatal Wedding-day!
It has a mournful sound,
That single, solemn Bell!
As to the hills and woods around,
It flings its deep-toned knell!
That measured toll!—alone—apart,
It strikes upon the human heart!
—It has a mournful sound!—
Come, come, Mrs. Muse, we can’t part in this way,
Or you’ll leave me as dull as ditch-water all day.
Try and squeeze out a Moral or two from your lay!
And let us part cheerful, at least, if not gay!
First and foremost then, Gentlefolks, learn from my song,
Not to lock up your wine, or malt-liquor, too long!
Though port should have age,
Yet I don’t think it sage
To entomb it, as some of your connoisseurs do,
Till it’s losing in flavour, and body, and hue;452
—I question if keeping it does it much good
After ten years in bottle and three in the wood.
If any young man, though a snubbed younger brother,
When told of his faults by his father and mother,
Runs restive, and goes off to sea in a huff,
Depend on’t, my friends, that young man is a Muff!
Are not worth the pains!—
They prosper with no one!—so whether cheroots,
Or Havana cigars,—or French gloves, or French boots,—
Whatever you want, pay the duty! nor when you
Buy any such articles, cheat the revenue!
And “now to conclude,”—
For it’s high time I should,—
When you do rejoice, mind,—whatsoever you do.
That the hearts of the lowly rejoice with you too!—
Don’t grudge them their jigs,
And their frolics and “rigs,”
And don’t interfere with their soapy-tail’d pigs;
Nor “because thou art virtuous,” rail, and exhale
An anathema, breathing of vengeance and wail,
Upon every complexion less pale than sea-kale!
Nor dismiss the poor man to his pump and his pail,
With “Drink there!—we’ll have henceforth no more cakes and ale!!”
2 Ad Amicum Servientem ad legem—
This rhyme, if, when scann’d by your critical ear, it
Is not quite legitimate, comes pretty near it.—T. I.
3 A worthy and eccentric country gentleman, afterwards the second Lord Rokeby, being cousin (“a great many times removed”) and successor in the barony to Richard, Archbishop of Armagh, who first bore that title.—His beard was truly patriarchal.—Mr. Muntz’s—pooh!
4 Great-grandmamma, by the father’s side, to the excellent lady of the same name who yet “keeps the keys” at Tappington.
5 Azores? Mrs. Botherby’s orthography, like that of her distinguished contemporary, Baron Duberly, was “a little loose.”
“The Wedding-Day” originally appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist Vol. 70 (n.s.) no. 4 (April 1844). It was again the lead story in the issue, with accompanying illustration. I haven‘t included it here, because it looks as if it was the model for the book’s version of the same picture.
Rang, faster than ever, their “triple-bob-MAJORS;”
close quote missing
To the “little old woman that open’d the pews,”
close quote missing
Of what men, in our hemisphere, term “Humming Bub,”
final comma missing
But here comes the party—Room! room for the guests!
[Somewhere there exists a published article, or possibly a web page, identifying every last one of the names dropped in the course of the next two pages.]
Our friend Tom, by the way, / Had turn’d out rather gay
[He left Sophia sitting at home while he consorted with prostitutes? For shame, Tom.]
Of course there are “lots” of beef, potted and hung,
word “are” missing
[New Monthly provides the requisite word to fill out the metre.]
Merciful Heaven!—where—WHERE IS JOHN?”
close quote missing
[Anomalously, New Monthly also forgot the close quote.]
Mox Regina filium peperit a multis et a Deo sanctificatum. Cumque Infans natus fuisset, statim clarâ voce, omnibus audientibus, clamavit “Christianus sum! Christianus sum! Christianus sum!” Ad hanc vocem Presbyteri duo, Widerinus et Edwoldus, dicentes Deo Gratias, et omnes qui aderant mirantes, cœperunt cantare Te Deum laudamus. Quo facto rogabat Infans cathecumenum a Widerino sacerdote fieri, et ab Edwoldo teneri ad præsignaculum fidei et Romwoldum vocari.—Nov. Legend. Angl. in Vita Scti. Romualdi.
IN Kent we are told,
There was seated of old,
A handsome young gentleman, courteous and bold,
He’d an oaken strong-box, well replenish’d with gold,
With broad lands, pasture, arable, woodland, and wold,
Not an acre of which had been mortgaged or sold;
He’d a Pleasaunce and Hall passing fair to behold,
He had beeves in the byre, he had flocks in the fold,
And was somewhere about five-and-twenty years old.
His figure and face,
For beauty and grace,
To the best in the country had scorn’d to give place.
Small marvel, then,
If, of women and men
Whom he chanced to foregather with, nine out of ten
Express’d themselves charm’d with Sir Alured Denne.
From my earliest youth,
I’ve been taught, as a truth,
A maxim which most will consider as sooth,
Though a few, peradventure, may think it uncouth:
There are three social duties, the whole of the swarm
In this great human hive of ours ought to perform,
And that too as soon as conveniently may be;
The first of the three—
Is, the planting a Tree!
The next, the producing a Book—then, a Baby!
(For my part, dear Reader, without any jesting, I
So far, at least, have accomplish’d my destiny.)
From the foremost, i.e.
The “planting the Tree,”
The Knight may, perchance, have conceiv’d himself free,
Inasmuch as that, which way soever he looks,
Over park, mead, or upland, by streamlets and brooks,
His fine beeches and elms shelter thousands of rooks;
In twelve eighty-two,
There would also accrue
Much latitude as to the article, Books;
But, if those we’ve disposed of, and need not recall,
Might, as duties, appear in comparison small,454
One remain’d, there was no getting over at all,
—The providing a male Heir for Bonnington Hall;
Which, doubtless, induced the good Knight to decide,
As a matter of conscience, on taking a Bride.
It’s a very fine thing, and delightful to see
Inclination and duty unite and agree,
Because it’s a case
That so rarely takes place;
In the instance before us then Alured Denne
Might well be esteem’d the most lucky of men,
Inasmuch as hard by,
Indeed so very nigh,
That her chimneys, from his, you might almost descry,
Dwelt a Lady at whom he’d long cast a sheep’s eye,
One whose character scandal itself could defy,
While her charms and accomplishments rank’d very high,
And who would not deny
A propitious reply,
But reflect back his blushes, and give sigh for sigh
(A line that’s not mine, but Tom Moore’s, by-the-by).
There was many a gay and trim bachelor near,
Who felt sick at heart when the news met his ear,
That fair Edith Ingoldsby, she whom they all
The “Rosebud of Tappington” ceased not to call,
Was going to say,
“Honour, love, and obey,”
To Sir Alured Denne, Knight, of Bonnington Hall,
That all other suitors were left in the lurch,
And the parties had even been “out-asked” in church.
For every one says,
In those primitive days,
And I must own I think it redounds to their praise,
None dream’d of transferring a daughter or niece
As a bride, by an “unstamp’d agreement,” or lease,
’Fore a Registrar’s Clerk, or a Justice of Peace;
While young ladies had fain
Single women remain,
And unwedded maids to the last “crack of doom” stick,
Ere marry, by taking a jump o’er a broomstick.
So our bride and bridegroom agreed to appear
At Holy St. Romwold’s, a Priory near,
Which a long while before, I can’t say in what year,
Their forebears had join’d with the neighbours to rear,455
And endow’d, some with bucks, some with beef, some with beer,
To comfort the friars, and make them good cheer.
Adorning the building,
With carving and gilding,
And stone altars, fix’d to the chantries and fill’d in;
(Papistic in substance and form, and on this count
With Judge Herbert Jenner Fust justly at discount.
See Cambridge Societas Camdeniensis
V. Faulkner, tert. prim. Januarii Mensis.
With “Judgment reversed, costs of suit, and expenses”);
All raised to St. Romwold, with some reason, styled
By Duke Humphrey’s confessor,6 “a Wonderful Child,”
For ne’er yet was Saint, except him, upon earth
Who made “his profession of faith” at his birth,
And when scarce a foot high, or six inches in girth,
Converted his “Ma,” and contrived to amend a
Sad hole in the creed of his grandsire, King Penda.
Of course to the shrine
Of so young a divine
Flow’d much holy water, and some little wine,
And when any young folks did to marriage incline,
The good friars were much in request, and not one
Was more “sought unto” than the Sub-prior, Mess John;
To him, there and then,
Sir Alured Denne
Wrote a three-corner’d note with a small crow-quill pen
To say what he wanted, and fix “the time when,”
And, as it’s well known that your people of quality
Pique themselves justly on strict punctuality,
Just as the clock struck the hour he’d named in it,
The whole bridal party rode up to the minute.
Now whether it was that some rapturous dream,
Comprehending “fat pullets and clouted cream,”
Had borne the good man, in its vision of bliss,
Far off to some happier region than this—456
Or, whether his beads, ’gainst the fingers rebelling,
Took longer than usual that morning in telling;
Or whether, his conscience with knotted cord purging,
Mess John was indulging himself with a scourging,
In penance for killing some score of the fleas,
Which, infesting his hair-shirt, deprived him of ease;
Or whether a barrel of Faversham oysters,
Brought in on the evening before, to the cloisters,
Continues a question,
The particular cause is not worth a debate;
For my purpose it’s clearly sufficient to state
That, whatever the reason, his rev’rence was late,
And Sir Alured Denne,
Not the meekest of men,
Began banning away at a deuce of a rate.
Now here, though I do it with infinite pain,
Gentle reader, I find I must pause to explain,
That there was—what, I own,
I grieve to make known—
On the worthy Knight’s character one single stain,
But for which, all his friends had borne witness, I’m sure,
He had been sans reproche, as he still was sans peur.
The fact is, that many distinguish’d commanders
“Swore terribly (teste T. Shandy) in Flanders.”
Now into these parts our Knight chancing to go, countries
Named from this sad, vulgar custom, “The Low Countries,”
Though on common occasions as courteous as daring,
Had pick’d up this shocking bad habit of swearing.
And if anything vex’d him, or matters went wrong,
Was given to what low folks call “Coming it strong.”
Good, bad, or indifferent then, young or old,
He’d consign them, when once in a humour to scold,
To a place where they certainly would not take cold.
—Now if there are those, and I’ve some in my eye,
Who’d esteem this a crime of no very deep dye,
Let them read on—they’ll find their mistake by-and-by.
Near or far
Few people there are,
But have heard, read, or sung about Young Lochinvar,457
How in Netherby Chapel, “at morning tide,”
The Priest and the Bridegroom stood waiting the Bride:
How they waited, “but ne’er
A Bride was there.”
Still I don’t find, on reading the ballad with care,
The bereaved Mr. Graham proceeded to swear,
And yet to experience so serious a blight in
One’s dearest affections, is somewhat exciting.
’Tis manifest then
That Sir Alured Denne
Had far less excuse for such bad language, when
It was only the Priest not the Bride who was missing—
He had fill’d up the interval better with kissing.
And ’twas really surprising,
And not very wise in
A Knight to go on so anathematising,
When the head and the front of the Clergyman’s crime
Was but being a little behind as to time:—
Be that as it may
He swore so that day
At the reverend gentleman’s ill-judged delay,
That not a bystander who heard what he said,
But listen’d to all his expressions with dread,
And felt all his hair stand on end on his head;
Nay, many folks there
Did not stick to declare
The phenomenon was not confined to the hair,
For the little stone Saint who sat perch’d o’er the door,
St. Romwold himself, as I told you before,
What will scarce be believed,
Was plainly perceived
To shrug up his shoulders, as very much grieved,
And look down with a frown
So remarkably brown,
That all saw he’d now quite a different face on
From that he received at the hands of the mason;
Nay, many averr’d he half rose in his niche,
When Sir Alured, always in metaphor rich,
Call’d his priest an “old son of ——” some animal—which,
Is not worth the inquiry—a hint’s quite enough on
The subject—for more I refer you to Buffon.
It’s supposed that the Knight
Himself saw the sight,
And it’s likely he did, as he easily might;458
For ’tis certain he paused in his wordy attack,
And, in nautical language, seem’d “taken aback.”
In so much that when now
The “prime cause of the row,”
Father John, in the chapel at last made his bow,
The Bridegroom elect was so mild and subdued,
None could ever suppose he’d been noisy and rude,
Or made use of the language to which I allude.
Fair Edith herself, while the knot was a-tying,
Her bridesmaids around her, some sobbing, some sighing,
Some smiling, some blushing, half-laughing, half-crying,
Scarce made her responses in tones more complying
Than he who’d been raging and storming so recently,
All softness now, and behaving quite decently.
Many folks thought too the cold stony frown
Of the Saint up aloft from his niche looking down,
Brought the sexton and clerk each an extra half-crown,
When, the rite being over, the fees were all paid,
And the party remounting, the whole cavalcade
Prepared to ride home with no little parade.
In a climate so very unsettled as ours
It’s as well to be cautious and guard against showers,
For though, about One,
You’ve a fine brilliant sun,
When your walk or your ride is but barely begun,
Yet long ere the hour-hand approaches the Two,
There is not in the whole sky one atom of blue,
But it “rains cats and dogs,” and you’re fairly wet through
Ere you know where to turn, what to say, or to do;
For which reason I’ve bought, to protect myself well, a
Good stout Taglioni and gingham umbrella.
But in Edward the First’s days I very much fear
Had a gay cavalier
Thought fit to appear
In any such “toggery”—then ’twas term’d “gear”—
He’d have met with a highly significant sneer,
Or a broad grin extending from ear unto ear
On the features of every soul he came near;
There was no taking refuge too then, as with us,
On a slip-sloppy day, in a cab or a ’bus;459
As they rode through the woods
In their wimples and hoods,
Their only resource against sleet, hail, or rain,
Was, as Spenser describes it, to “pryck o’er the plaine;”
That is, to clap spurs on, and ride helter-skelter
In search of some building or other for shelter.
Now it seems that the sky,
Which had been of a dye
As bright and as blue as your lady-love’s eye,
The season, in fact, being genial and dry,
Began to assume
An appearance of gloom
From the moment the Knight began fidget and fume,
Which deepen’d and deepen’d till all the horizon
Grew blacker than aught they had ever set eyes on,
And soon, from the far west the elements rumbling,
Increased and kept pace with Sir Alured’s grumbling.
Bright flashes between,
Blue, red, and green,
All livid and lurid began to be seen;
At length down it came—a whole deluge of rain,
A perfect Niagara, drenching the plain;
And up came the reek,
And down came the shriek
Of the winds like a steam-whistle starting a train;
And the tempest began so to roar and to pour,
That the Dennes and the Ingoldsbys, starting at score,
As they did from the porch of St. Romwold’s church door,
Had scarce gain’d a mile, or a mere trifle more,
Ere the whole of the crew
Were completely wet through.
They dash’d o’er the downs, and they dash’d through the vales,
They dash’d up the hills, and they dash’d down the dales,
As if elderly Nick was himself at their tails;
The Bridegroom in vain
Attempts to restrain
The Bride’s frightened palfrey by seizing the rein,
When a flash and a crash
Which produced such a splash
That a Yankee had called it “an Almighty Smash,”
Came down so complete
At his own courser’s feet,
That the rider, though famous for keeping his seat,460
From its kickings and plungings, now under, now upper,
Slipp’d out of his demi-pique over the crupper,
And fell from the back of his terrified cob
On what bards less refined than myself term his “Nob”
(To obtain a genteel rhyme’s sometimes a tough job).—
Just so—for the nonce to enliven my song
With a classical simile cannot be wrong—
Just so—in such roads and in similar weather,
Tydides and Nestor were riding together,
When, so says old Homer, the king of the Sky,
The great “Cloud-compeller,” his lightnings let fly,
And their horses both made such a desperate shy
At this freak of old Zeus,
That at once they broke loose,
Reins, traces, bits, breechings, were all of no use;
If the Pylian Sage, without any delay,
Had not whipp’d them sharp round and away from the fray,
They’d have certainly upset his cabriolet,
And there’d been the—a name I won’t mention—to pay.
Well, the Knight in a moment recover’d his seat—
Mr. Widdicombe’s mode of performing that feat
At Astley’s could not be more neat or complete,
—It’s recorded, indeed, by an eminent pen
Of our own days, that this our great Widdicombe, then
In the heyday of life, had afforded some ten
Or twelve lessons in riding to Alured Denne,—
It is certain the Knight
Was so agile and light
That an instant sufficed him to set matters right,
Yet the Bride was by this time almost out of sight;
For her palfrey, a rare bit of blood, who could trace
Her descent from the “pure old Caucasian race,”
Sleek, slim, and bony, as
Fine “Arab Steed”
Of the very same breed,
Which that elegant gentleman rode so genteelly
—See “Coningsby” written by “B. Disraeli”—
That palfrey, I say,
From this trifling delay
Had made what at sea’s call’d a “great deal of way.”461
“More fleet than the roe-buck” and free as the wind,
She had left the good company rather behind;
They whipp’d and they spurr’d and they after her press’d;
Still Sir Alured’s steed was “by long chalks” the best
Of the party, and very soon distanced the rest;
But long ere e’en he had the fugitive near’d,
She dash’d into the wood and at once disappear’d.
It’s a “fashious” affair when you’re out on a ride,
—Ev’n supposing you’re not in pursuit of a bride,
If you are, it’s more fashious, which can’t be denied,—
And you come to a place where three cross-roads divide,
Without any way-post, stuck up by the side
Of the road, to direct you and act as a guide,
With a road leading here, and a road leading there,
And a road leading no one exactly knows where.
When Sir Alured came
In pursuit of the dame
To a fork of this kind,—a three-prong’d one—small blame
To his scholarship if in selecting his way
His respect for the Classics now led him astray;
But the rule, in a work I won’t stop to describe, is
In medio semper tutissimus ibis,
So the Knight being forced of the three paths to enter one,
Dash’d, with these words on his lips, down the centre one.
Up and down hill,
Up and down hill,
Through brake and o’er briar he gallops on still,
Aye banning, blaspheming, and cursing his fill
At his courser because he had given him a “spill;”
Yet he did not gain ground
On the palfrey, the sound,
On the contrary, made by the hoofs of the beast
Grew fainter and fainter,—and fainter,—and—ceased!
Sir Alured burst through the dingle at last,
To a sort of a clearing, and there—he stuck fast;
For his steed, though a freer one ne’er had a shoe on,
Stood fix’d as the Governor’s nag in “Don Juan,”
Or much like the statue that stands, cast in copper, a
Few yards south-east of the door of the Opera,
Save that Alured’s horse had not got such a big tail
While Alured wanted the cock’d hat and pig-tail.462
Before him is seen
A diminutive Green
Scoop’d out from the covert—a thick leafy screen
Of wild foliage, trunks with broad branches between,
Encircle it wholly, all radiant and sheen,
For the weather at once appear’d clear and serene,
And the sky up above was a bright mazarine,
Just as though no such thing as a tempest had been;
In short, it was one of those sweet little places
In Egypt and Araby known as “oases.”
There, under the shade
That was made by the glade,
The astonish’d Sir Alured sat and survey’d
A little low building of Bethersden stone,
With ivy and parasite creepers o’ergrown,
A Sacellum, or cell,
In which Chronicles tell
Saints and anchorites erst were accustom’d to dwell;
A little round arch, on which, deeply indented,
The zig-zaggy pattern by Saxons invented
Was cleverly chisell’d, and well represented,
Surmounted a door,
Some five feet by four,
It might have been less, or it might have been more,
In the primitive ages they made these things lower
Than we do in buildings that had but one floor.
And these Chronicles say
When an anchorite grey,
Wish’d to shut himself up and keep out of the way,
He was commonly wont in such low cells to stay,
And pray night and day on the rez de chaussée.
There, under the arch I’ve endeavoured to paint.
With no little surprise,
And scarce trusting his eyes,
The Knight now saw standing that little Boy Saint!
The one whom before,
He’d seen over the door
Of the Priory shaking his head as he swore—
With mitre, and crozier, and rochet, and stole on,
The very self-same—or at least his Eidolon!
With a voice all unlike to the infantine squeak
You’d expect, that small Saint now address’d him to speak;463
In a bold manly tone, he
Began, while his stony
Cold lips breath’d an odour quite Eau de Cologne-y;
In fact, from his christening, according to rumour, he
Beat Mr. Brummell to sticks, in perfumery.7
“Sir Alured Denne!”
Said the Saint, “be atten-
tive! Your ancestors, all most respectable men,
Have for some generations been vot’ries of mine;
They have bought me mould candles, and bow’d at my shrine,
They have made my monks presents of ven’son and wine,
With a right of free pasturage, too, for their swine.
And, though you, in this
Have been rather remiss,
Still I owe you a turn for the sake of ‘Lang Syne.’
And I now come to tell you, your cursing and swearing
Have reach’d to a pitch that is really past bearing.
’Twere a positive scandal
In even a Vandal,
It ne’er should be done, save with bell, book, and candle:
And though I’ve now learn’d, as I’ve always suspected,
Your own education’s been somewhat neglected;
Still you’re not such an uninform’d pagan, I hope,
As not to know cursing belongs to the Pope!
And his Holiness feels, very properly, jealous
Of all such encroachments by paltry lay fellows.
Now, take my advice,
Saints never speak twice,
So take it at once, as I once for all give it;
Go home! you’ll find there all as right as a trivet,
But mind, and remember, if once you give way
To that shocking bad habit, I’m sorry to say,
I have heard you so sadly indulge in to-day,
As sure as you’re born, on the very first trip
That you make—the first oath that proceeds from your lip,
I’ll soon make you rue it!
—I’ve said it—I’ll do it!
‘Forewarn’d is forearm’d,’ you shan’t say but you knew it:
Whate’er you hold dearest or nearest your heart,
I’ll take it away, if I come in a cart!464
I will, on my honour! you know it’s absurd
To suppose that a Saint ever forfeits his word
For a pitiful Knight, or to please any such man—
I’ve said it! Til do’t—if I don’t, I’m a Dutchman!”—
He ceased—he was gone as he closed his harangue,
And some one inside shut the door with a bang!
Sparkling with dew,
Each green herb anew
Its profusion of sweets round Sir Alured threw,
As pensive and thoughtful he slowly withdrew
(For the hoofs of his horse had got rid of their glue).
And the cud of reflection continued to chew
Till the gables of Bonnington Hall rose in view.
Little reck’d he what he smelt, what he saw,
Brilliance of scenery,
Fragrance of greenery,
Fail’d in impressing his mental machinery;
Many an hour had elapsed, well I ween, ere he
Fairly was able distinction to draw
’Twixt the odour of garlic and boquet du Roi.
Merrily, merrily sounds the horn,
And cheerily ring the bells;
For the race is run,
The goal is won,
The little lost mutton is happily found,
The Lady of Bonnington’s safe and sound
In the Hall where her new Lord dwells!
Hard had they ridden, that company gay,
After fair Edith, away and away:
This had slipp’d back o’er his courser’s rump,
That had gone over his ears with a plump,
But the Lady herself had stuck on like a trump,
Till her panting steed
Relax’d her speed,
And feeling, no doubt, as a gentleman feels
When he’s once shown a bailiff a fair pair of heels,
Stopp’d of herself, as it’s very well known
Horses will do, when they’re thoroughly blown,
And thus the whole group had foregather’d again,
Just as the sunshine succeeded the rain.465
Oh, now the joy, and the frolicking, rollicking
Doings indulged in by one and by all!
Gaiety seized on the most melancholic in
All the broad lands around Bonnington Hall.
All sorts of revelry,
All sorts of devilry,
All play at “High Jinks” and keep up the ball.
Days, weeks, and months, it is really astonishing,
When one’s so happy, how Time flies away;
Meanwhile the Bridegroom requires no admonishing,
As to what pass’d on his own wedding day;
Never since then,
Had Sir Alured Denne
Let a word fall from his lip or his pen
That began with a D, or left off with an N!
Once, and once only, when put in a rage,
By a careless young rascal he’d hired as a Page,
All buttons and brass,
Who, in handling a glass
Of spiced hippocras, throws
It all over his clothes,
And spoils his best pourpoint, and smartest trunk hose,
While stretching his hand out to take it and quaff it (he
’d given a rose noble a yard for the taffety).
Then, and then only, came into his head,
A very sad word that began with a Z;
But he check’d his complaint,
He remember’d the Saint
In the nick—Lady Denne was beginning to faint—
That sight on his mouth acted quite as a bung,
Like Mahomet’s coffin, the shocking word hung
Half-way ’twixt the root and the tip of his tongue.
Many a year
Of mirth and good cheer
Flew over their heads, to each other more dear
Every day, they were quoted by peasant and peer
As the rarest examples of love ever known,
Since the days of Le Chivaler D’Arbie and Joanne,
Who in Bonnington chancel lie sculptured in stone.
Well—it happen’d at last,
After certain years past,
That an embassy came to our court from afar—
From the Grand-duke of Muscovy—now called the Czar,466
And the Spindleshank’d Monarch, determined to do
All the grace that he could to a nobleman, who
Had sail’d all that way from a country which few
In our England had heard of, and nobody knew,
With a hat like a muff, and a beard like a Jew,
Our arsenals, buildings, and dockyards to view,
And to say how desirous,
His Prince Wladimirus,
Had long been with mutual regard to inspire us,
And how he regretted he was not much nigher us,
With other fine things,
Such as Kings say to Kings
When each tries to humbug his dear Royal Brother, in
Hopes by such “gammon” to take one another in—
King Longshanks, I say,
Being now on his way
Bound for France, where the rebels had kept him at bay,
Was living in clover
At this time at Dover,
I’ the castle there, waiting a tide to go over.
He had summon’d, I can’t tell you how many men,
Knights, nobles, and squires to the wars of Guienne,
And among these of course was Sir Alured Denne,
Who, acting like most
Of the knights in the host,
Whose residence was not too far from the coast,
Had brought his wife with him, delaying their parting,
Fond souls, till the very last moment of starting.
Of course, with such lots of lords, ladies, and knights,
In their Saracenettes,8 and their bright chain-mail tights,
All accustom’d to galas, grand doings, and sights,
A matter like this was at once put to rights;
’Twould have been a strange thing,
If so polish’d a King,
With his Board of Green Cloth, and Lord Steward’s department,
Couldn’t teach an Ambassador what the word “smart” meant.
A banquet was order’d at once for a score,
Or more, of the corps that had just come on shore,
And the King, though he thought it “a bit of a bore,”467
Ask’d all the elite
Of his levée to meet
The illustrious Strangers and share in the treat;
For the Boyar himself, the Queen graciously made him her
Beau for the day, from respect to Duke Wladimir.
(Queer as this name may appear in the spelling.
You won’t find it trouble you,
Sound but the W
Like the first L in Llan, Lloyd, and Llewellyn!)
Fancy the fuss and the fidgety looks
Of Robert de Burghersh, the , cooks;
For of course the cuisine
Of the King and the Queen
Was behind them at London, or Windsor, or Sheen,
Or wherever the Court ere it started had been,
And it’s really no jest
When a troublesome guest
Looks in at a time when you’re busy and prest,
Just going to fight, or to ride, or to rest,
And expects a good lunch when you’ve none ready drest.
The servants, no doubt,
Were much put to the rout,
By this very extempore sort of set out;
But they wisely fell back upon Poor Richard’s plan,
“When you can’t what you would, you must do what you can!”
So they ransack’d the country, folds, pig-styes, and pens,
For the sheep and the porkers, the cocks and the hens;
’Twas said a Tom-cat of Sir Alured Denne’s,
A fine tabby-gray,
Disappear’d on that day,
And whatever became of him no one could say.
They brought all the food
That ever they could,
Fish, flesh, and fowl, with sea-coal and dry wood,
To his Majesty’s Dapifer Eudo (or Ude),
They lighted the town up, sat ringing the bells,
And borrowed the waiters from all the hotels.
A bright thought, moreover, came into the head
Of Dapifer Eudo, who’d some little dread,
As he said, for the thorough success of his spread.
So he said to himself, “What a thing it would be
Could I have here with me
Some one, two, or three
Of their outlandish scullions from over the sea!468
It’s a hundred to one if the Suite or their Chief
Understand our plum-puddings, and barons of beef:
But with five minutes’ chat with their cooks or their valets
We’d soon dish up something to tickle their palates!”
With this happy conceit for improving the mess,
Pooh-poohing expense, he despatch’d an express
In a waggon and four on the instant to Deal,
Who dash’d down the hill without locking the wheel,
And, by means which I guess but decline to reveal,
Seduced from the Downs, where at anchor their vessel rode,
Lumpoff Icywitz, serf to a former Count Nesselrode,
A cook of some fame,
Who invented the same
Cold pudding that still bears the family name.
This accomplish’d, the Chef’s peace of mind was restor’d,
And in due time a banquet was placed on the board
“In the very best style,” which implies, in a word,
“All the dainties the season” (and King) “could afford,”
There were snipes, there were rails,
There were woodcocks and quails,
There were peacocks served up in their pride (that is, tails),
Ducks and green peas,
Cotelettes à l’Indienne, and chops à la Soubise
(Which last you may call “onion sauce” if you please);
There were barbecued pigs
Stuff’d with raisins and figs,
Omelettes and haricots, stews and ragoûts,
And pork griskins, which Jews still refuse and abuse.
Then the wines,—round the circle how swiftly they went!
Canary, Sack, Malaga, Malvoisie, Tent;
Old Hock from the Rhine, wine remarkably fine,
Of the Charlemagne vintage of seven ninety-nine,—
Five cent’ries in bottle had made it divine!
The rich juice of Roussillon, Gascoygne, Bordeaux,
Kirschen Wasser, Noyeau
And Gin which the company voted “No Go;”
The guests all hob-nobbing,
And bowing and bobbing;
Some prefer white wine, while others more value red,
Few, a choice few,
Of more orthodox goût,
Stick to “old crusted port,” among whom was Sir Alured;469
Never indeed at a banquet before
Had that gallant commander enjoy’d himself more.
Then came “sweets”—served in silver were tartlets and pies—in glass,
Jellies composed of punch, calves’ feet, and isinglass,
Creams, and whipt-syllabubs, some hot, some cool,
Blancmange, and quince-custards, and gooseberry fool.
And now from the good taste which reigns it’s confest,
In a gentleman’s, that is, an Englishman’s, breast,
And makes him polite to a stranger and guest,
They soon play’d the deuce
With a large Charlotte Russe;
More than one of the party despatch’d his plate twice
With “I’m really asham’d, but—another small slice!
Your dishes from Russia are really so nice!”
Then the prime dish of all! “There was nothing so good in
The whole of the Feed”
One and all were agreed,
“As the great Lumpoff Icywitz’ Nesselrode pudding!”
Sir Alured Denne, who’d all day, to say sooth,
Like Iago, been “plagued with a sad raging tooth,”
Which had nevertheless interfered very little
With his—what for rhyme I’m obliged to spell—vittle,
Requested a friend
Who sat near him to send
Him a spoonful of what he heard all so commend,
And begg’d to take wine with him afterwards, grateful
Because for a spoonful he’d sent him a plateful.
Having emptied his glass—he ne’er balk’d it or spill’d it—
The gallant Knight open’d his mouth—and then fill’d it.
You must really excuse me—there’s nothing could bribe
Me at all to go on and attempt to describe
The fearsome look then
Of Sir Alured Denne!
—Astonishment, horror, distraction of mind,
Rage, misery, fear, and iced pudding—combined!
Lip, forehead, and cheek—how these mingle and meet—
All colours, all hues, now advance, now retreat,
Now pale as a turnip, now crimson as beet!
How he grasps his arm-chair in attempting to rise,
See his veins how they swell! mark the roll of his eyes!470
Now east and now west, now north and now south,
Till at once he contrives to eject from his mouth
That vile “spoonful”—what
He has got he knows not,
He isn’t quite sure if it’s cold or it’s hot;
At last he exclaims, as he starts from his seat,
“A SNOWBALL by ——!” what I decline to repeat,—
’Twas the name of a bad place, for mention unmeet.
Then oh, what a volley!—a great many heard
What flow’d from his lips, and ’twere really absurd
To suppose that each man was not shock’d by each word.
A great many heard, too, with mix’d fear and wonder,
The terrible crash of the terrible thunder,
That broke as if bursting the building asunder;
But very few heard, although every one might,
The short, half-stifled shriek from the chair on the right,
Where the lady of Bonnington sat by her knight;
And very few saw—some—the number was small,
In the large ogive window that lighted the hall,
A small stony Saint in a small stony pall,
With a small stony mitre, and small stony crosier,
And small stony toes that owed nought to the hosier,
Beckon stonily downward to some one below,
As Merryman says, “for to come for to go!”
While every one smelt a delicious perfume,
That seem’d to pervade every part of the room!
Fair Edith Denne,
The bonne et belle then,
Never again was beheld among men!
But there was the fauteuil on which she was placed,
And there was the girdle that graced her small waist,
And there was her stomacher, brilliant with gems,
And the mantle she wore, edged with lace at the hems,
Her rich brocade gown sat upright in its place,
And her wimple was there—but where—WHERE WAS HER FACE?
’Twas gone with her body—and nobody knows,
Nor could any one present so much as suppose
How that Lady contrived to slip out of her clothes!471
But ’twas done—she was quite gone—the how and the where,
No mortal was ever yet found to declare;
Though inquiries were made, and some writers record
That Sir Alured offer’d a handsome reward.
* * * * *
King Edward went o’er to his wars in Guienne,
Taking with him his barons, his knights, and his men.
You may look through the whole
Of that King’s muster-roll,
And you won’t find the name of Sir Alured Denne;
But Chronicles tell that there formerly stood
A little old chapel in Bilsington wood;
The remains to this day,
May be seen, and I’d go there and look if I could.
There long dwelt a hermit remarkably good,
Who lived all alone,
And never was known
To use bed or bolster, except the cold stone!
But would groan and would moan in so piteous a tone,
A wild Irishman’s heart had responded “Och hone!”
As the fashion with hermits of old was to keep skins
To wear with the wool on—most commonly sheep-skins—
He, too, like the rest, was accustom’d to do so;
His beard, as no barber came near him, too, grew so,
He bore some resemblance to Robinson Crusoe,
In Houndsditch, I’m told, you’ll sometimes see a Jew so.
He lived on the roots,
And the cob-nuts and fruits,
Which the kind-hearted rustics, who rarely are churls
In such matters, would send by their boys and their girls;
They’d not get him to speak,
If they’d tried for a week,
But the colour would always mount up in his cheek,
And he’d look like a dragon if ever he heard
His young friends use a naughty expression or word.
How long he lived, or at what time he died,
’Twere hard, after so many years, to decide;
But there’s one point, on which all traditions agree,
That he did die at last, leaving no legatee,
And his linen was mark’d with an A and a D.472
Alas for the glories of Bonnington Hall!
Alas for its splendour! alas for its fall!
Long years have gone by
Since the trav’ller might spy
Any decentish house in the parish at all.
For very soon after the awful event
I’ve related, ’twas said through all that part of Kent
That the maids of a morning, when putting the chairs
And the tables to rights, would oft pop unawares
In one of the parlours, or galleries, or stairs,
On a tall, female figure, or find her, far horrider,
Slowly o’ nights promenading the corridor;
But whatever the hour, or wherever the place,
No one could ever get sight of her face!
Nor could they perceive,
Any arm in her sleeve,
While her legs and her feet, too, seem’d mere “make-believe,”
For she glided along with that shadow-like motion
Which gives one the notion
Of clouds on a zephyr, or ships on the ocean;
And though of her gown they could hear the silk rustle,
They saw but that side on’t ornée with the bustle.
The servants, of course, though the house they were born in,
Soon “wanted to better themselves,” and gave warning,
While even the new Knight grew tired of a guest
Who would not let himself or his family rest;
So he pack’d up his all,
And made a bare wall
Of each well-furnish’d room in his ancestors’ Hall,
Then left the old mansion to stand or to fall,
Having previously barr’d up the windows and gates,
To avoid paying cesses and taxes and rates,
And settled on one of his other estates,
Where he built a new mansion, and call’d it Denne Hill,
And there his descendants reside, I think, still.
Poor Bonnington, empty, or left, at the most,
To the joint occupation of rooks and a Ghost,
Soon went to decay,
And moulder’d away,
But whether it dropp’d down at last I can’t say,
Or whether the jackdaws produced, by degrees, a
Spontaneous combustion like that one at Pisa473
Some cent’ries ago,
I’m sure I don’t know,
But you can’t find a vestige now ever so tiny,
“Perierunt,” as some one says, “etiam ruinæ.”
The first maxim a couple of lines may be said in,
If you are in a passion, don’t swear at a wedding!
Whenever you chance to be ask’d out to dine,
Be exceedingly cautious—don’t take too much wine!
In your eating remember one principal point,
Whatever you do, have your eye on the joint!
Keep clear of side dishes, don’t meddle with those
Which the servants in livery, or those in plain clothes,
Poke over your shoulders and under your nose;
Or, if you must live on the fat of the land,
And feed on fine dishes you don’t understand,
Buy a good book of cookery! I’ve a compact one,
First-rate of the kind, just brought out by Miss Acton,
This will teach you their names, the ingredients they’re made of,
And which to indulge in, and which be afraid of,
Or else, ten to one, between ice and cayenne,
You’ll commit yourself some day, like Alured Denne.
“To persons about to be married,” I’d say,
Don’t exhibit ill-humour, at least on The Day!
And should there perchance be a trifling delay
On the part of officials, extend them your pardon,
And don’t snub the parson, the clerk, or churchwarden!
To married men this—For the rest of your lives,
Think how your misconduct may act on your wives!
Don’t swear then before them, lest haply they faint,
Or what sometimes occurs—run away with a Saint!
6 Honest John Capgrave, the veracious biographer of “English Saints,” author, or rather compiler of the “Nova Legenda Angliæ,” was chaplain to Humphrey, “the Good Duke” of Gloucester. A beautiful edition of his work was printed by Wynkyn de Worde.
7 In eodem autem prato in quo baptizatus Sanctus Romwoldus nunquam gratissimus odor deficit; neque ibi herbæ pallescunt, sed semper in viriditate permanentes magna nectaris suavitate redolent.—Nov. Legend. Angl.
8 This silk, of great repute among our ancestors, had been brought home, a few years before, by Edward, from the Holy Land.
“The Blasphemer’s Warning” originally appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist Vol. 73 (n.s.) no. 3 (March 1845).
filium peperit a multis optatum
text has optatem
’Fore a Registrar’s Clerk, or a Justice of Peace;
[Oops! The leading apostrophe was printed upside-down, making it look like—well—a character that doesn’t exist in Unicode at all. We have low-9 [‚] high-9 [’] and the “inverted comma” high-6 [‘] but there doesn’t seem to be a low-6.]
Robert de Burghersh, the constable’s, cooks
text has constables
First-rate of the kind, just brought out by Miss Acton
[“Just” is right. The first edition of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery came out in 1845—this very year.]
A serious error, similar to that which forms the subject of the following Legend, is said to have occurred in the case of one, or rather two gentlemen named Curina, who dwelt near Hippo in the days of St. Augustine. The matter was set right, and a friendly hint at the same time conveyed to the ill-used individual, that it would be advisable for him to apply to the above-mentioned Father, and be baptized with as little delay as possible. The story is quoted in “The Doctor,” together with another of the same kind, which is given on no less authority than that of Gregory the Great.
YOU are all aware that
On our throne there once sat
A very great king who’d an Angevin hat,
With a great sprig of broom, which he wore as a badge in it,
Named from this circumstance, Henry Plantagenet.
Pray don’t suppose
That I’m going to prose
O’er Queen Eleanor’s wrongs, or Miss Rosamond’s woes,
With the dagger and bowl, and all that sort of thing,
Not much to the credit of Miss, Queen, or King.
The tale may be true,
But between me and you,
With the King’s escapade I’ll have nothing to do;
But shall merely select, as a theme for my rhymes,
A fact which occurr’d to some folks in his times.
If for health, or a “lark,”
You should ever embark
In that best of improvements on boats since the Ark,
The steam-vessel call’d the “Red Rover,” the barge
Of an excellent officer, named Captain Large,
You may see, some half way
’Twixt the pier at Herne Bay
And Margate, the place where you’re going to stay,
A village called Birchington, famed for its “Rolls,”
As the fishing-bank, just in its front, is for Soles.475
Well,—there stood a fane
In this Harry Broom’s reign,
On the edge of the cliff, overhanging the main,
Renown’d for its sanctity all through the nation
And orthodox friars of the Austin persuasion.
Among them there was one,
Whom if once I begun
To describe as I ought I should never have done,
Father Richard of Birchington, so was the Friar
Yclept, whom the rest had elected their Prior.
He was tall and upright,
About six feet in height,
His complexion was what you’d denominate light,
And the tonsure had left, ’mid his ringlets of brown,
A little bald patch on the top of his crown.
His bright sparkling eye
Was of hazel, and nigh
Rose a finely-arch’d eyebrow of similar dye;
He’d a small, well-form’d mouth with the Cupidon lip
And an aquiline nose, somewhat red at the tip.
In doors and out
He was very devout,
With his Aves and Paters—and oh, such a knout!!
For his self-flagellations! the Monks used to say
He would wear out two penn’orth of whip-cord a day!
Then how his piety
Shows in his diet, he
Dines upon pulse, or, by way of variety,
Sand-eels or dabs; or his appetite mocks
With those small periwinkles that crawl on the rocks.
In brief, I don’t stick
To declare Father Dick—
So they call’d him, “for short,”—was a “Regular Brick,”
A metaphor taken—I have not the page aright
Out of an ethical work by the Stagyrite.
Now Nature, ’tis said,
Is a comical jade,
And among the fantastical tricks she has play’d,
Was the making our good Father Richard a Brother,
As like him in form as one pea’s like another;476
He was tall and upright,
About six feet in height,
His complexion was what you’d denominate light,
And, though he had not shorn his ringlets of brown,
He’d a little bald patch on the top of his crown.
He’d a bright sparkling eye
Of the hazel, hard by
Rose a finely-arched sourcil of similar dye;
He’d a small, well-shaped mouth, with a Cupidon lip,
And a good Roman nose, rather red at the tip.
But here, it’s pretended,
The parallel ended;
In fact, there’s no doubt his life might have been mended,
And people who spoke of the Prior with delight,
Shook their heads if you mention’d his brother, the Knight.
If you’d credit report,
There was nothing but sport,
And High Jinks going on night and day at “the court,”
Where Sir Robert, instead of devotion and charity,
Spent all his time in unseemly hilarity.
He drinks and he eats
Of choice liquors and meats,
And he goes out on We’n’sdays and Fridays to treats,
tipsy whenever he dines or he sups,
And is wont to come quarrelsome home in his cups.
No Paters, no Aves;
An absolute slave he’s
To tarts, pickled salmon, and sauces, and gravies;
While as to his beads—what a shame in a Knight!—
He really don’t know the wrong end from the right!
So, though ’twas own’d then,
By nine people in ten,
That “Robert and Richard were two pretty men,”
Yet there the praise ceased, or, at least the good Priest
Was considered the “Beauty,” Sir Robert the “Beast.”
Indeed, I’m afraid
More might have been laid
To the charge of the Knight than was openly said,
For then we’d no “Phiz’s,” no “H. B.’s,” nor “Leeches,”
To call Roberts “Bobs,” and illustrate their speeches.
’Twas whisper’d he’d rob,
Nay murder! a job
Which would stamp him no “brick” but a “regular snob”
(An obsolete term, which, at this time of day,
We should probably render by mauvais sujet).
Now if here such affairs
Get wind unawares,
They are bruited about, doubtless, much more “down stairs,”
Where Old Nick has a register-office, they say,
With commissioners quite of such matters au fait.
Of course, when he heard
What his people averr’d
Of Sir Robert’s proceedings in deed and in word,
He asked for the ledger, and hasten’d to look
At the leaves on the creditor side of this book.
’Twas with more than surprise
That he now ran his eyes
O’er the numberless items, oaths, curses, and lies,
Et cetera, set down in Sir Robert’s account,
He was quite “flabbergasted” to see the amount.
“Dear me! this is wrong!
It’s a great deal too strong,
I’d no notion this bill had been standing so long—
Send Levybub here!” and he filled up a writ
Of “Ca sa,” duly prefaced with “Limbo to wit.”
“Here, Levybub, quick!”
To his bailiff, said Nick,
“I’m ‘ryled,’ and ‘my dander’s up,’ ‘Go a-head slick’
Up to Kent—not Kentuck—and at once fetch away
A snob there—I guess that’s a Mauvais Sujet.
“One De Birchington, knight—
’Tis not clear quite
What his t’other name is—they’ve not enter’d it right,
Ralph, Robert, or Richard? they’ve not gone so far.
Our critturs have put it down merely as ‘R.’
“But he’s tall and upright,
About six feet in height,
His complexion, I reckon, you’d calculate light,
And he’s farther ‘set down’ having ringlets of brown,
With a little bald patch on the top of his crown.478
“Then his eye and his lip,
Hook-nose, red at tip,
Are marks your attention can’t easily slip;
Take Slomanoch with you, he’s got a good knack
Of soon grabbing his man, and be back in a crack!”
That same afternoon
Father Dick, who, as soon
Would “knock in” or “cut chapel” as jump o’er the moon,
Was missing at vespers—at compline—all night!
And his monks were, of course, in a deuce of a fright.
Morning dawn’d—’twas broad day,
Still no Prior! the tray
With his muffins and eggs went untasted away;—
He came not to luncheon—all said, “it was rum of him!”
—None could conceive what on earth had become of him.
They examined his cell,
They peep’d down the well;
They went up the tow’r, and look’d into the bell;
They dragg’d the great fish-pond, the little one tried,
But found nothing at all, save some carp—which they fried.
“Dear me! Dear me!
Why, where can he be?
He’s fallen over the cliff?—tumbled into the sea?”
“Stay—he talk’d,” exclaim’d one, “if I recollect right,
Of making a call on his brother, the Knight!”
He turns as he speaks,
The “Court Lodge” he seeks,
Which was known then, as now, by the queer name of Quekes,
But scarce half a mile on his way had he sped,
When he spied the good Prior in the paddock—stone dead.
“ ’twas too true!
And I need not tell you
In the convent his news made a pretty to do;
Through all its wide precincts so roomy and spacious,
Nothing was heard but “Bless me!” and “Good gracious!!”
They sent for the May’r
And the Doctor, a pair
Of grave men, who began to discuss the affair,
When in bounced the Coroner, foaming with fury,
“Because,” as he said, “’twas pooh! pooh! ing his jury.”479
Then commenced a dispute,
And so hot they went to’t,
That things seemed to threaten a serious émeute,
When, just in the midst of the uproar and racket,
Who should walk in but St. Thomas à Becket.
Quoth his saintship, “How now?
Here’s a fine coil, I trow,
I should like to know, gentlemen, what’s all this row?
Mr. Wickliffe—or Wackliffe—whatever your name is—
And you, Mr. May’r, don’t you know, sirs, what shame is?
“Pray what’s all this clatter
About?—what’s the matter?”
Here a monk, whose teeth funk and concern made to chatter,
Sobs out, as he points to the corpse on the floor,
“’Tis all dickey with poor Father Dick—he’s no more!”
“How!—what?” says the saint,
“Yes he is—no he ain’t!”9
He can’t be deceased—pooh! it’s merely a faint,
Or some foolish mistake which may serve for our laughter,
‘He should have died,’ like the old Scotch Queen, ‘hereafter.’
“His time is not out;
Some blunder, no doubt,
It shall go hard but what I’ll know what it’s about—
I shan’t be surprised if that scurvy Old Nick’s
Had a hand in’t; it savours of one of his tricks.”
When a crafty old hound
Claps his nose to the ground,
Then throws it up boldly and bays out, “I’ve found!”
And the pack catch the note, I’d as soon think to check it,
As dream of bamboozling St. Thomas à Becket.
Once on the scent,
To business he went,
“You Scoundrel, come here. Sir” (’twas Nick that he meant),
“Bring your books here this instant—bestir yourself—do,
I’ve no time to waste on such fellows as you.”
Every corner and nook
In all Erebus shook,
As he struck on the pavement his pastoral crook,
All its tenements trembled from basement to roofs,
And their nigger inhabitants shook in their hoofs.
Hanging his ears,
Yet dissembling his fears,
Ledger in hand, straight “Auld Hornie” appears,
With that sort of half-sneaking, half-impudent look,
Bankrupts sport when cross-question’d by Cresswell or Cooke.
“So Sir-r-r! you are here,”
Said the Saint with a sneer,
“My summons, I trust, did not much interfere
With your morning engagements—I merely desire,
At your leisure, to know what you’ve done with my Prior?
“Now, none of your lies,
Mr. Nick! I’d advise
You to tell me the truth without any disguise,
Or-r-r!” The Saint, while his rosy gills seem’d to grow rosier,
Here gave another great thump with his crosier.
Like a small boy at Eton,
Who’s not quite a Crichton,
And don’t know his task, but expects to be beaten,
Nick stammer’d, scarce knowing what answer to make,
“Sir, I’m sadly afraid here has been a mistake.
“These things will occur,
We are all apt to err,
The most cautious sometimes, as you know, holy Sir;
For my own part—I’m sure I do all that I can—
But—the fact is—I fear we have got the wrong man.”
“Wrong man!” roared the Saint—
But the scene I can’t paint,
The best colours I have are a vast deal too faint—
Nick afterwards own’d that he ne’er knew what fright meant,
Before he saw Saint under so much excitement.
“Wrong man! don’t tell me—
What’s your right, Scamp, to any man!—come, let me see;
I’ll teach you, you thorough-paced rascal, to meddle
With church matters, come, Sirrah, out with your schedule!”481
In support of his claim
The fiend turns to the name
Of “De Birchington” written in letters of flame,
Below which long items stand, column on column,
Enough to have eked out a decent-sized volume!
Sins of all sorts and shapes,
From small practical japes,
Up to dicings and drinkings, and murders and rapes,
And then of such standing!—a merciless tick,
From an Oxford tobacconist,—let alone Nick.
The Saint in surprise
Scarce believed his own eyes,
Still he knew he’d to deal with the father of lies,
And “So this!—you call this!” he exclaim’d in a searching tone,
“This!!! the account of my friend Dick de Birchington!”
“Why,” said Nick, with an air
Of great candour, “it’s there
Lies the awkwardest part of this awkward affair—
I thought all was right—see the height tallies quite,
The complexion’s what all must consider as light;
There’s the nose, and the lip, and the ringlets of brown,
And the little bald patch on the top of the crown.
“And then the surname,
So exactly the same
I don’t know—I can’t tell how the accident came,
But some how—I own it’s a very sad job,
But—my bailiff grabb’d Dick when he should have nabb’d Bob.
“I am vex’d beyond bounds
You should have such good grounds
For complaint; I would rather have given five pounds,
And any apology, sir, you may choose,
I’ll make with much pleasure, and put in the ‘News.’”
Much good that will do!
An ‘apology’ quotha!—and that too from you!
Before any proposal is made of the sort,
Bring back your stol’n goods, thief!—produce them in ”482
In a moment, so small
It seem’d no time at all,
Father Richard sat up on his what-do-ye-call—
Sur son séant—and, what was as wondrous as pleasing,
At once began coughing, and sniffing, and sneezing.
While, strange to relate,
The Knight, whom the fate
Of his brother had reach’d, and who knock’d at the
To make further inquiries, had scarce made his bow
To the Saint, ere he vanish’d, and no one knew how!
As Tully would phrase it,
And none could have known where to find his Hic jacet—
That sentence which man his mortality teaches—
Sir Robert had disappear’d, body and breeches!
“Heyday! Sir, heyday!
What’s the matter now—eh?”
Quoth À Becket, observing the gen’ral dismay,
“How, again!—’pon my word, this is really too bad!
It would drive any Saint in the calendar mad.
“What, still at your tricking?
You will have a kicking?
I see you won’t rest till you’ve got a good licking—
Your claim, friend?—what claim?—why, you show’d me before
That your old claim was cancell’d—you’ve cross’d out the score!
Is it that way you’d Jew one?
You’ve settled the true one?
Do you mean to tell me he has run up a new one?
Of the thousands you’ve cheated
And scurvily treated,
Name one you’ve dared charge with a bill once receipted!
In the Bankruptcy Court should you dare to presume
To attempt it, they’d soon kick you out of the room,
—Ask Commissioner Fonblanque, or ask my Lord Brougham.
“And then to make under
So barefaced a blunder,
Your caption!—why, what’s the world come to, I wonder?
My patience! it’s just like his impudence, drat him!
—Stand out of the way there, and let me get at him!”
The Saint raised his arm,
But Old Nick, in alarm,
Dash’d up through the skylight, not doing much harm,483
While, quitte pour la peur, the Knight, sound on the whole,
Down the chimney came tumbling as black as a coal.
Spare we to tell
Of what after befell!
How the Saint lectured Robert de Birchington well,
Bade him alter his life, and held out as a warning
The narrow escape made on’t that morning.
Nor need we declare
How, then and there,
The jury and Coroner blew up the May’r
For his breach of decorum as one of the quorum,
In not having Levybub brought up before ’em.
Nor will you require
Me to state how the Prior
Could never thenceforth bear the sight of a fire,
Nor ever was heard to express a desire
In cold weather to see the thermometer higher.
Nor shall I relate
The subsequent fate
Of St. Thomas à Becket, whose reverend pate
Fitzurse and De Morville, and Brito and Tracy
Shaved off, as his crown had been merely a jasey.10
Suffice it to say.
From that notable day
The “Twin Birchington Brothers” together grew grey:
In the same holy convent continued to dwell,
Same food and same fastings, same habit, same cell.
No more the Knight rattles
In broils and in battles,
But sells, by De Robins, his goods and his chattels,
And counting all wealth a mere Will-o’-the-wisp,
Disposes of Quekes to Sir Nicholas Crispe.
One spot alone
Of all he had known
Of his spacious domain he retained as his own,
In a neighbouring parish, whose name, I may say,
Scarce any two people pronounce the same way.484
Re-cul-ver some style it,
While others revile it
As bad, and say Re-culver—’tisn’t worth while, it
Would seem, to dispute, when we know the result immat-
erial—I accent, myself, the penultimate.
Sages with brains
Full of “Saxon remains,”
May call me a booby, perhaps, for my pains,
Still I hold, at the hazard of being thought dull by ’em,
Fast by the quantity mark’d for Regulbium.
Call ’t as you will
The traveller still,
In the voyage that we talk’d about, marks on the hill
Overhanging the sea, the “twin towers” raised then
By “Robert and Richard, those two pretty men.”
Both tall and upright,
And just equal in height;
The Trinity House talked of painting them white,
And the thing was much spoken of some time ago,
When the Duke, I believe—but I really don’t know—
Well—there the “Twins” stand
On the verge of the land,
To warn mariners off from the Columbine sand,
And many a poor man have Robert and Dick
By their vow caused to ’scape, like themselves, from Old Nick.
So, whether you’re sailors
Or Tooley-street tailors,
Broke loose from your masters, those sternest of jailers,
And, bent upon pleasure, are taking your trip,
In a craft which you fondly conceive is a ship,
When you’ve passed by the Nore,
And you hear the winds roar
In a manner you scarce could have fancied before,
When the cordage and tackling
Are flapping and crackling,
And the boy with the bell
Thinks it useless to tell
You that “dinner’s on table,” because you’re unwell;
When above you all’s “scud,”
And below you the flood
Looks a horrible mixture of soap-suds and mud,
When the timbers are straining,
And folks are complaining485
The dead-lights are letting the spray and the rain in,
When the helm’s-man looks blue,
And Captain Large too,
And you really don’t know what on earth you shall do.
In this hubbub and row
Think where you’d be now,
Except for the Birchington boys and their vow!
And while o’er the wide wave you feel the craft pitch
Praie for ye sowles of Robertte and Rychard!
It’s a subject of serious complaint in some houses,
With young married men who have elderly spouses,
That persons are seen in their figures and faces,
With very queer people in very queer places,
So like them that one for the other’s oft taken,
And conjugal confidence thereby much shaken:
Explanations too often are thought mere pretences,
And Richard gets scolded for Robert’s offences.
In a matter so nice,
If I’m asked my advice,
I say copy King Henry to obviate that,
And stick something remarkable up in your hat!
Next, observe, in this world where we’ve so many cheats,
How useful it is to preserve your receipts!
If you deal with a person whose truth you don’t doubt,
Be particular, still, that your bill is cross’d out:
But, with any inducement to think him a scamp,
Have a formal receipt on a regular stamp!
Let every gay gallant my story who notes
Take warning, and not go on “sowing wild oats!”
Nor depend that some friend
Will always attend,
And by “making all right” bring him off in the end,
He may be mistaken, so let him beware,
St. Thomas à Beckets are now rather rare.
Last of all, may’rs and magistrates, never be rude
To juries! they are people who won’t be pooh-pooh’d!486
Especially Sandwich ones—no one can say
But himself may come under their clutches one day;
They then may pay off
In kind any scoff,
And, turning their late verdict quite wersey,”
“Acquit you,” and not “recommend you to mercy.”11
9 for “is not;” St. Thomas, it seems, had lived long enough in the country to pick up a few of its provincialisms.
10 Nec satis fuit eis sanguine sacerdotis et nece ecclesiam prophanare, nisi, coronâ capitis amputatâ, funestis gladiis jam defuncti ejicerent cerebrum. Matt. Paris.
11 At a Quarter Sessions held at Sandwich (some six miles from Birchington), on Tuesday, the 8th of April last, before W. F. Boteler, Esq., the Recorder, Thomas Jones, mariner, aged seventeen, was tried for stealing a jacket, value ten shillings. The jury, after a patient hearing, found him “not guilty,” and “recommended him to mercy.”—See the whole case reported in the “Kentish Observer,” April 10, 1845.
“The Brothers of Birchington” originally appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist Vol. 74 (n.s.) no. 2 (June 1845). The subtitle was there given as “A LAY OF ST. THOMAS A’BECKET”, making the rare case where the book corrects an error instead of introducing one.
Out of an ethical work by the Stagyrite.
[The New Monthly footnotes:
Τετράγωνος ἄνευ ψόγου. —Aristotle Eth.
I will take their word for it.]
Gets tipsy whenever he dines or he sups,
text has Get’s
Of “Ca sa,” duly prefaced with “Limbo to wit.”
[New Monthly capitalizes “Ca Sa”. Either way, it’s short for “capias ad satisfaciendum”, otherwise known as a writ of execution.]
“Alas! ’twas too true!
text has spurious close quote after “Alas!”
Bring back your stol’n goods, thief!—produce them in Court!
final ! invisible
and who knock’d at the gate
text has and who knock’d at the gate. with superfluous .
The narrow escape he had made on’t that morning.
text has he’d made
[Corrected, as usual, from New Monthly; “he’d made on it” would also have worked.]
In the voyage that we talk’d about, marks on the hill
[It would scan better without the word “that”—or, in the alternative, elided to “voy’ge”—but New Monthly has the same thing.]
And while o’er the wide wave you feel the craft pitch hard,
text has . for ,
And, turning their late verdict quite “wisey wersey,”
open quote missing
[Footnote] Cantice for “is not;”
text has Cantise
[Corrected from New Monthly—which, incidentally, italicizes the words “ain’t” and “can’t” in the main text.]
“Hail, wedded love! mysterious tie!”
THE LADY JANE was tall and slim,
The Lady Jane was fair,
And Sir Thomas, her Lord, was stout of limb,
But his cough was short, and his eyes were dim,
And he wore green “specs,” with a tortoiseshell rim,
And his hat was remarkably broad in the brim,
And she was uncommonly fond of him,—
And they were a loving pair!—
And the name and the fame
Of the Knight and his Dame,
Were ev’rywhere hail’d with the loudest acclaim;
And wherever they went, or wherever they came,
Far and wide,
The people cried,
“Huzza! for the Lord of this noble domain,—
Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!—once again!—
One cheer more!
—All sorts of pleasure, and no sort of pain
To Sir Thomas the Good, and the Fair Lady Jane!!”
Now Sir Thomas the Good,
Be it well understood.
Was a man of a very contemplative mood,—487
He would pore by the hour,
O’er a weed or a flower,
Or the slugs that come crawling out after a shower;
Black-beetles, and Bumble-bees,—Blue-bottle flies,
And Moths were of no small account in his eyes;
An “Industrious Flea” he’d by no means despise,
While an “Old Daddy-long-legs,” whose “long legs” and thighs
Pass’d the common in shape, or in colour, or size,
He was wont to consider an absolute prize.
Nay, a hornet or wasp he could scarce “keep his paws off”—he
Gave up, in short,
Both business and sport,
And abandon’d himself, tout entier, to Philosophy.
Now, as Lady Jane was tall and slim,
And Lady Jane was fair,
And a good many years the junior of him,—
And as he,
Look’d less like her Mari,
As he walk’d by her side, than her Père,12
There are some might be found entertaining a notion
That such an entire, and exclusive devotion
To that part of science folks style Entomology,
Was a positive shame,
And, to such a fair Dame,
Really demanded some sort of apology:
—No doubt it would vex
One half of the sex
To see their own husband in horrid green “specs,”
Instead of enjoying a sociable chat,
Still poking his nose into this and to that,
At a gnat, or a bat, or a cat, or a rat,
Or great ugly things,
All legs and wings,
With nasty long tails arm’d with nasty long stings;
And they’d join such a log of a spouse to condemn,
—One eternally thinking,
And blinking, and winking
At grubs,—when he ought to be winking at them.—
But no!—oh no! ’Twas by no means so488
With the Lady Jane Ingoldsby—she, far discreeter,
And, having a temper more even and sweeter,
Would never object to
Her spouse, in respect to
His poking and peeping
After “things creeping:”
Much less be still keeping lamenting, and weeping,
Or scolding at what she perceived him so deep in.
Tout au contraire,
No lady so fair
Was e’er known to wear more contented an air;
And,—let who would call,—every day she was there,
Propounding receipts for some delicate fare,
Some toothsome conserve, of quince, apple, or pear,
Or distilling strong waters,—or potting a hare,—
Or counting her spoons and her crockery-ware;
Or else, her tambour-frame before her, with care
Embroidering a stool or a back for a chair,
With needle-work roses, most cunning and rare,
Enough to make less gifted visitors stare,
And declare, where’er
They had been, that, “they ne’er
In their lives had seen aught that at all could compare
With dear Lady Jane’s housewifery—that they would swear.”
Nay, more; don’t suppose
With such doings as those
This account of her merits must come to a close;
No;—examine her conduct more closely, you’ll find
She by no means neglected improving her mind;
For there, all the while, with air quite bewitching,
She sat herring-boning, tambouring, or stitching,
Or having an eye to affairs of the kitchen.
Close by her side,
Sat her kinsman, MacBride,
Her cousin, fourteen-times removed,—as you’ll see
If you look at the Ingoldsby family tree,
In “Burke’s Commoners,” vol. xx. page 53.
All the papers I’ve read agree,
Too, with the pedigree,
Where, among the collateral branches, appears
“Captain Dugald MacBride, Royal Scots Fusileers;”
And I doubt if you’d find in the whole of his clan
A more highly-intelligent, worthy young man;—489
And there he’d be sitting,
While she was a-knitting,
Or hemming, or stitching, or darning and fitting,
Or putting a “gore,” or a “gusset,” or “bit” in,
Reading aloud, with a very grave look,
Some very “wise saw” from some very good book,—
Some such pious divine as
St. Thomas Aquinas:
Or, equally charming,
The works of Bellarmine;
Or else he unravels
The “voyages and travels”
Of Hackluytz—(how sadly these Dutch names do sully verse!)—
Purchas’s, Hawksworth’s, or Lemuel Gulliver’s,—
Not to name others, ’mongst whom there are few so
Admired as John Bunyan, and Robinson Crusoe.—
No matter who came,
It was always the same,
The Captain was reading aloud to the Dame,
Till, from having gone through half the books on the shelf,
They were almost as wise as Sir Thomas himself.
Well,—it happen’d one day,—
I really can’t say
The particular month; but I think ’twas in May,—
’Twas, I know, in the Spring-time,—when “Nature looks gay,”
As the Poet observes,—and on tree-top and spray
The dear little dickey-birds carol away;
When the grass is so green, and the sun is so bright,
And all things are teeming with life and with light,—
That the whole of the house was thrown into affright,
For no soul could conceive what was gone with the Knight!
It seems he had taken
A light breakfast—bacon,
An egg—with a little broil’d haddock—at most
A round and a half of some hot butter’d toast,
With a slice of cold sirloin from yesterday’s roast,
And then—let me see!—
He had two—perhaps three
Cups (with sugar and cream) of strong gunpowder tea,
With a spoonful in each of some choice eau de vie,
—Which with nine out of ten would perhaps disagree.—
—In fact, I and my son
Mix “black” with our “Hyson,”
Neither having the nerves of a bull, or a bison,
And both hating brandy like what some call “490
No matter for that—
He had call’d for his hat,
With the brim that I’ve said was so broad and so flat,
And his “specs” with the tortoiseshell rim, and his cane
With the crutch-handled top, which he used to sustain
His steps in his walks, and to poke in the shrubs
And the grass, when unearthing his worms and his grubs—
Thus arm’d, he set out on a ramble—alack!
He set out, poor dear Soul!—but he never came back.
“First dinner-bell” rang
Out its euphonous clang
At five—folks kept early hours then—and the “Last”
Ding-dong’d, as it was ever wont, at half-past,
While Betsey and Sally,
And Thompson the Valet,
And every one else was beginning to bless himself,
Wondering the Knight had not come in to dress himself.—
—Quoth Betsey, “Dear me! why, the fish will be cold!”—
Quoth Sally, “Good gracious! how ‘Missis,’ will scold!”
Thompson, the Valet,
Look’d gravely at Sally,
As who should say “Truth must not always be told!”
Then, expressing a fear lest the Knight might take cold,
Thus exposed to the dews,
Lamb’s-wool stockings and shoes,
Of each a fresh pair,
He put down to air,
And hung a clean shirt to the fire on a chair.—
Still the Master was absent—the Cook came and said, “he
Much fear’d, as the dinner had been so long ready,
The roast and the boil’d
Would be all of it spoil’d,
And the puddings, her Ladyship thought such a treat,
He was morally sure, would be scarce fit to eat!”
This closed the debate—
“’Twould be folly to wait,”
Said the Lady, “Dish up!—Let the meal be served straight,
And let two or three slices be put on a plate,
And kept hot for Sir Thomas.—He’s lost, sure as fate!
And, a hundred to one, won’t be home till it’s late!”
—Captain Dugald MacBride then proceeded to face
The Lady at table,—stood up, and said grace,—
Then set himself down in Sir Thomas’s place.491
Wearily, wearily, all that night,
That live-long night did the hours go by;
And the Lady Jane,
In grief and in pain,
She sat herself down to cry!
And Captain MacBride,
Who sat by her side,
Though I really can’t say that he actually cried,
At least had a tear in his eye!—
As much as can well be expected perhaps,
From “very young fellows” for very “old chaps;”
And if he had said
What he’d got in his head,
’Twould have been “Poor old Buffer! he’s certainly dead!”
The morning dawn’d,—and the next,—and the next
And all in the mansion were still perplex’d;
No watch-dog “bay’d a welcome home,” as
A watch-dog should to the “Good Sir
No knocker fell
His approach to tell,
Not so much as a runaway ring at the bell—
The Hall was silent as Hermit’s cell.
Yet the sun shone bright upon tower and tree,
And the meads smiled green as green may be,
And the dear little dickey-birds caroll’d with glee,
And the lambs in the park skipp’d merry and free—
Without, all was joy and harmony!
“And thus ’twill be,—nor long the day,—
Ere we, like him, shall pass away!
Yon Sun, that now our bosoms warms,
Shall shine,—but shine on other forms;—
Yon Grove, whose choir so sweetly cheers
Us now, shall sound on other ears,—
The joyous Lamb, as now, shall play,
But other eyes its sports survey,—
The Stream we love shall roll as fair,
The flowery sweets, the trim Parterre
Shall scent, as now, the ambient air,—
The Tree, whose bending branches bear
The One loved name—shall yet be there;—
But where the hand that carved it?—Where?”
These were hinted to me as
The very ideas
Which pass’d through the mind of the fair Lady Jane,
Her thoughts having taken a sombre-ish train,
As she walk’d on the esplanade, to and again,
With Captain MacBride,
Of course, at her side,
Who could not look quite so forlorn,—though he tried,
—An “idea,” in fact, had got into his head,
That if “poor dear Sir Thomas” should really be dead,
It might be no bad “spec.” to be there in his stead,
And, by simply contriving, in due time, to wed
A Lady who was young and fair,
A lady slim and tall,
To set himself down in comfort there
The Lord of Tapton13 Hall.—
Thinks he, “We have sent
Half over Kent,
And nobody knows how much money’s been spent,
Yet no one’s been found to say which way he went!—
The groom, who’s been over
To Folkestone and Dover,
Can’t get any tidings at all of the rover!
—Here’s a fortnight and more has gone by, and we’ve tried
Every plan we could hit on—the whole country-side,
Upon all its dead walls, with placards we’ve supplied,—
And we’ve sent out the Crier, and had him well cried—
‘Missing!! Stolen, or strayed,
Lost, or mislaid,
A Gentleman;—middle-aged, sober, and staid;—
Stoops slightly;—and when he left home was array’d
In a sad-colour’d suit, somewhat dingy and fray’d;—
Had spectacles on with a tortoiseshell rim,
And a hat rather low-crown’d, and broad in the brim.
Or shall send him with care,
(Right side uppermost) home; or shall give notice where
The said middle-aged Gentleman is; or shall state
Any fact, that may tend to throw light on his fate,
To the man at the turnpike, called Tappington Gate,
Shall receive a Reward of Five Pounds for his trouble,—
( N.B.—If defunct, the Reward will be double!! )’493
“Had he been above ground
He must have been found.
No; doubtless he’s shot,—or he’s hanged,—or he’s drown’d!
Then his Widow—ay! ay!—
But what will folks say?—
To address her at once—at so early a day?
Well—what then?—who cares?—let ’em say what they may—
A fig for their nonsense and chatter!—suffice it, her
Charms will excuse one for casting sheep’s eyes at her!”
When a man has decided
As Captain MacBride did,
And once fully made up his mind on the matter, he
Can’t be too prompt in unmasking his battery.
He began on the instant, and vow’d that “her eyes
Far exceeded in brilliance the stars in the skies,—
That her lips were like roses—her cheeks were like lilies—
Her breath had the odour of daffy-down-dillies!”—
With a thousand more compliments equally true,
And expressed in similitudes equally new!
—Then his left arm he placed
Round her jimp, taper waist—
—Ere she fixed to repulse, or return, his embrace,
Up came running a man, at a deuce of a pace,
With that very peculiar expression of face
Which always betokens dismay or disaster,
Crying out—’twas the Gardener,—“Oh, Ma’am! we’ve found Master!”
—“Where? where?” scream’d the lady; and Echo scream’d “Where?”
The man couldn’t say “There!”
He had no breath to spare,
But, gasping for air, he could only respond
By pointing—he pointed, alas!—to the Pond.
—’Twas e’en so—poor dear Knight!—with his “specs” and his hat
He’d gone poking his nose into this and to that;
When, close to the side
Of the bank he espied494
An “uncommon fine” Tadpole, remarkably fat!
He stoop’d; and he thought her
His own;—he had caught her!
Got hold of her tail,—and to land almost brought her,
When—he plump’d head and heels into fifteen feet water!
The Lady Jane was tall and slim,
The Lady Jane was fair,
Alas, for Sir Thomas!—she grieved for him,
As she saw two serving-men, sturdy of limb,
His body between them bear,
She sobb’d, and she sigh’d; she lamented, and cried,
For of sorrow brimful was her cup;
She swoon’d, and I think she’d have fall’n down and died,
If Captain MacBride
Had not been by her side,
With the Gardener; they both their assistance supplied,
And managed to hold her up.—
But when she “comes to,”
Oh! ’tis shocking to view
The sight which the corpse reveals!
Sir Thomas’s body,
It looked so odd—he
Was half eaten up by the eels!
His waistcoat and hose, and the rest of his clothes
Were all gnaw’d through and through;
And out of each shoe
An eel they drew;
And from each of his pockets they pull’d out two,
And the Gardener himself had secreted a few,
As well we may suppose;
For, when he came running to give the alarm,
He had six in the basket that hung on his arm.
Good Father John14
Was summon’d anon;
Holy water was sprinkled,
And little bells tinkled,
And tapers were lighted,
And incense ignited,
And masses were sung, and masses were said,
All day, for the quiet repose of the dead,
And all night no one thought about going to bed.495
But Lady Jane was tall and slim,
And Lady Jane was fair,—
And, ere morning came, that winsome dame
Had made up her mind—or, what’s much the same,
Had thought about—once more “changing her name,”
And she said, with a pensive air,
To Thompson, the valet, while taking away,
When supper was over, the cloth and the tray,—
“Eels a many
I’ve ate; but any
So good ne’er tasted before!—
They’re a fish, too, of which I’m remarkably fond,—
Go—pop Sir Thomas again in the Pond—
Poor dear!—HE’LL CATCH US SOME MORE!!”
All middle-aged Gentlemen let me advise,
If you’re married, and have not got very good eyes,
Don’t go poking about after blue-bottle flies!—
If you’ve spectacles, don’t have a tortoiseshell rim,
And don’t go near the water,—unless you can swim!
Married Ladies, especially such as are fair,
Tall, and slim, I would next recommend to beware
How, on losing one spouse, they give way to despair;
But let them reflect, “There are fish, and no doubt on’t—
As good in the river as ever came out on’t!”
Should they light on a spouse who is given to roaming
In solitude—raison de plus, in the “gloaming,”—
Let them have a fix’d time for said spouse to come home in!
And if, when “last dinner-bell” ’s rung, he is late,
To insure better manners in future—Don’t wait!
If of husband or children they chance to be fond,
Have a stout iron-wire fence put all round the pond!
One more piece of advice, and I close my appeals—
That is—if you chance to be partial to eels,
Then—Crede experto—trust one who has tried—
Have them spitch-cock’d—or stew’d—they’re too oily when fried!
My friend, Mr. Hood,
In his comical mood,
Would have probably styled the good Knight and his Lady—
Him—“Stern-old and Hopkins,” and her “Tête and Braidy.”
13 The familiar abbreviation for Tappington Everard still in use among the tenantry.—Vide Prefatory Introduction to the Ingoldsby Legends.
14 For some account of Father John Ingoldsby, to whose papers I am so much beholden, see p. 131. This was the last ecclesiastical act of his long and valuable life.
Knight and the Lady” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XIII no. 3 (March 1843). The decorative “The” and the illustration by Cruikshank are both taken from Bentley’s; neither of them made it into the book.
“Hail, wedded love! mysterious tie!” / Thomson—or Somebody.
[Milton, Thomson, same difference. Book IV of Paradise Lost:
Hail, wedded Love! mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
though I also find it (mis)quoted as
Hail, wedded love, mysterious law;
True source of human happiness. ]
Or having an eye to affairs of the kitchen.
[Bentley’s has a comma at the end of the line. But, for variety’s sake, I think the book has it right.]
And both hating brandy like what some call “pison.”
close quote missing
A watch-dog should to the “Good Sir Thomas;”
close quote missing
[Footnote] see p. 131
[Introduction to “The Jackdaw of Rheims”. Bentley’s has a different page reference, pointing not to the serial version—which didn’t include the introductory prose—but to the second edition of the First Series.]
“Did you ever see the Devil dance?”—Old Query.
SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON he danced with grace,
He’d a very fine form and a very fine face,
And his cloak and his doublet were guarded with lace,
And the rest of his clothes,
As you well may suppose,
In taste were by no means inferior to those;
He’d a yellow-starch’d ruff,
And his gloves were of buff,
On each of his shoes a red heel and a rose,
And nice little moustaches under his nose;
Then every one knows
How he turn’d out his toes,
And a very great way that accomplishment goes,
In a Court where it’s thought, in a lord or a duke, a
Disgrace to fall short in “the Brawls”—(their Cachouca).
So what with his form and what with his face,
And what with his velvet cloak guarded with lace,
And what with his elegant dancing and grace,
His dress and address,
So tickled Queen Bess
That her Majesty gave him a very snug place;
And seeing, moreover, at one single peep, her
Advisers were, few of them, sharper or deeper
(Old Burleigh excepted), she made him Lord Keeper!
I’ve heard, I confess with no little surprise,
English history called a farrago of lies;
And a certain Divine,
A connection of mine,
Who ought to know better, as some folks opine,
Is apt to declare,
Leaning back in his chair,
With a sort of a smirking, self-satisfied air,
That “all that’s recorded in Hume and elsewhere,
Of our early ‘Annales’
A trumpery tale is,
Like the ‘Bold Captain Smith’s,’ and the ‘Luckless Miss Bayley’s’—
That old Roger Hovedon, and Ralph de Diceto,497
And others (whose name should I try to repeat o-
ver, I’m well assured you would put in your veto),
Though all holy friars
Were very great liars,
And raised stories faster than Grissell and Peto—
That Harold escaped with the loss of a ‘glim’—
—That the shaft which kill’d Rufus ne’er glanced from a limb
Of a tree, as they say, but was aimed slap at him,—
That fair Rosamond never was poison’d or spitted.
But outlived Queen Nell, who was much to be pitied;—
That Nelly her namesake, Ned Longshanks’s wife,
Ne’er went crusading at all in her life,
Nor suck’d the wound made by the poison-tipp’d knife!
For as she,
O’er the sea,
Towards fair Galilee,
Never, even in fancy, march’d carcass or shook shanks,
Of course she could no more suck Longshanks than Cruikshanks;
But, leaving her spindle-legged liege-lord to roam,
Stayed behind, and suck’d something better at home,—
That it’s quite as absurd
To say Edward the Third,
In reviving the Garter, afforded a handle
For any Court-gossip, detraction, or scandal,
As ’twould be to say,
That at Court t’other day,
At the fête which the newspapers say was so gay,
His Great Representative then stole away
Lady Salisbury’s garters as part of the play.—
—Then as to Prince Hal’s being taken to jail,
By the London Police, without mainprize or bail,
For cuffing a judge,
It’s a regular fudge:
And that Chief-Justice Gascoigne, it’s very well known,
Was kick’d out the moment he came to the throne.—
—Then that Richard the Third was a ‘marvellous proper man’—
Never kill’d, injur’d, or wrong’d of a copper, man!—
Ne’er wish’d to smother
The sons of his brother,—
Nor ever stuck Harry the Sixth, who, instead498
Of being squabash’d, as in Shakspeare we’ve read,
Caught a bad influenza, and died in his bed,
In the Tower, not far from the room where the Guard is
(The octagon one that adjoins Duffus Hardy’s).
—That, in short, all the ‘facts’ in the Decem Scriptores,
Are nothing at all but sheer humbugging stories.”
Then if, as he vows, both this country and France in,
Historians thus gave themselves up to romancing,
Notwithstanding what most of them join in advancing
Respecting Sir Christopher’s capering and prancing,
’Twill cause no surprise
If we find that his rise
Is not to be solely ascribed to his dancing!
The fact is, Sir Christopher, early in life,
As all bachelors should do, had taken a wife,
A Fanshawe by family,—one of a house
Well descended, but boasting less “nobles” than nous;
Though e’en as to purse
He might have done worse,
For I find, on perusing her Grandfather’s will, it is
Clear she had “good gifts beside possibilities,”15
Owches and rings,
And such sort of things,
Orellana shares (then the American Stocks),
Jewell’d stomachers, coifs, ruffs, silk-stockings with clocks,
Point-lace, cambric handkerchiefs, night-caps, and—socks—
(Recondite apparel contained in her box),
—Then the height of her breeding
And depth of her reading
Might captivate any gay youth, and, in leading
Him on “to propose,” well excuse the proceeding!
Truth to tell, as to “reading,” the Lady was thought to do
More than she should, and know more than she ought to do;
Her maid, it was said,
Declared that she read
(A custom all staid folks discourage) in bed;
And that often o’ nights,
Odd noises and sights
In her mistress’s chamber had giv’n her sad frights,
After all in the mansion had put out their lights,499
And she verily thought that hobgoblins and sprites
Were there, kicking up all sorts of devil’s delights!—
Miss Alice, in short, was supposed to “collogue”—I
Don’t much like the word—with the subtle old rogue, I
’ve heard call’d by so many names—one of them’s “Bogy”—
Indeed, ’twas conceived,
And by most folks believed,
—A thing at which all of her well-wishers griev’d—
That should she incline to play such a vagary,
Like sage Lady Branxholm, her contempo-rary
(Excuse the false quantity, reader, I pray),
She could turn a knight into a waggon of hay,
Or two nice little boys into puppies at play,
Raison de plus, not a doubt could exist of her
Power to turn “Kit Hatton” into “Sir
But what “mighty magic,” or strong “conjuration,”
Whether love-powder, philtre, or other potation,
She used, I confess,
I’m unable to guess,—
Much less to express
By what skill and address
She “cut and contrived” with such signal success,
As we Londoners say, to “inwiggle” Queen Bess,
Inasmuch as I lack heart
To study the Black Art.
Be that as it may,—it’s as clear as the sun,
That, however she did it, ’twas certainly done!
Now, they’re all very well, titles, honour, and rank,
Still we can’t but admit, if we choose to be frank,
There’s no harm in a snug little sum in the Bank!
An old proverb says,
“Pudding still before praise!”
An adage well known, I’ve no doubt, in those days;
And George Colman the Younger, in one of his plays,
Makes one of his characters loudly declare
That “a Lord without money,”—I quote from his “Heir-
At-Law”—“’s but a poor wishy-washy affair;”—
In her subsequent conduct I think we can see a
Strong proof the Dame entertain’d some such idea,
For, once in the palace,
We find Lady Alice
Again playing tricks with her Majesty’s chalice
In the way that the jocose, in
Our days, term “hocussing;”500
The liquor she used, as I’ve said, she kept close,
But, whatever it was, she now doubled the dose!
(So true is the saying,
“We never can stay, in
Our progress, when once with the foul fiend we league us.”)
—She “doctor’d” the punch, and she “doctor’d” the negus,
Taking care not to put in sufficient to flavour it,
Till, at every fresh sip,
That moisten’d her lip,
The Virgin Queen grew more attach’d to her Favourite.
“No end” now he commands
Of money and lands,
And, as George Robins says, when he’s writing about houses
“Messuages, tenements, crofts, tofts, and outhouses,”
Parks, manors, chases, She “gives and she grants,
To him and his heirs, and his uncles and aunts;”
Whatever he wants, he has only to ask it,
And all other suitors are “left in the basket,”
Till Dudley and Rawleigh
Began to look squally,
While even grave Cecil, the famous Lord Burleigh,
Himself, “shook his head,” and grew snappish and surly.
All this was fine sport,
As our authors report,
To Dame Alice, become a great Lady at Court,
Where none than her Ladyship’s husband look’d bigger,
Who “led the brawls”16 still with the same grace and vigour,
Though losing a little in slimness and figure;
For eating and drinking all day of the best
Of viands well drest,
With “Burgess’s Zest,”
Is apt, by degrees, to enlarge a man’s vest;
And, what in Sir Christopher went to increase it, he
’d always been rather inclined to obesity;
—Few men in those times were found to grow thinner
With beef-steaks for breakfast and pork-pie for dinner.
Now it’s really a difficult problem to say
How long matters might have gone on in this way,
If it had not unluckily happen’d one day
That Nick,—who, because
He’d the gout in his claws
And his hoofs—(he’s by no means so young as he was,501
And is subject of late to a sort of rheumatic a-
-ttack that partakes both of gout and sciatica,)—
All the night long had twisted and grinn’d,
His pains much increased by an easterly wind,
Which always compels him to hobble and limp,
Was strongly advised by his medical Imp
To lie by a little, and give over work,
For he’d lately been slaving away like a Turk,
On the Guinea-coast, helping to open a brave trade
In niggers, with Hawkins17 who founded the slave-trade,
So he call’d for his ledger, the constant resource
Of your mercantile folk, when they’re “not in full force:”
—If a cold or catarrh makes them husky and hoarse,
Or a touch of gout keeps them away from “the Bourse,”
They look over their books as a matter of course.
Now scarce had Nick turn’d over one page or two,
Ere a prominent item attracted his view,
A Bill! that had now been some days overdue,
From one Alice Hatton, née Fanshawe—a name
Which you’ll recognise, reader, at once as the same
With that borne by Sir Christopher’s erudite dame!
The signature—much more prononcé than pink,
Seem’d written in blood—but it might be red ink—
While the rest of the deed
He proceeded to read,
Like ev’ry “bill, bond, or acquittance” whose date is
Three hundred years old, ran in Latin,—“Sciatis
(Diaboli?) omnes ad quos hæc pervenient—”
—But courage, dear Reader, I mean to be lenient,
And scorn to inflict on you half the “Law-reading”
I picked up “umquhile” in three days’ special pleading,
Which cost me—a theme I’ll not pause to digress on—
Just thirty-three pounds six-and-eightpence a lesson—
“As I’m stout, I’ll be merciful,” therefore, and sparing
All these technicalities, end by declaring
The Deed so correct
As to make one suspect502
(Were it possible any such person could go there)
Old Nick had a Special Attorney below there:
’Twas so framed and express’d no tribunal could shake it,
And firm as red wax and black ferret could make it.
By the roll of his eye
As Old Nick put it by,
It was clear he had made up his mind what to do
In respect to the course he should have to pursue,
When his hoof would allow him to put on a shoe!!
No, although the Lord Keeper held under the crown, house
And land in the country—he’d never a Town-house,
And, as we have seen,
His course always had been,
When he wanted a thing, to solicit the Queen,
So now, in the hope of a fresh acquisition,
He danced off to Court with his “Humble Petition,”
“Please your Majesty’s Grace,
I have not a place,
I can well put my head in, to dine, sup, or sleep!
Your Grace’s Lord-Keeper has nowhere to keep,
So I beg and entreat,
At your Majesty’s feet,
That your Grace will be graciously pleased for to say,
With as little delay
As your Majesty may,
Where your Majesty’s Grace’s Lord Keeper’s to stay—
—And your Grace’s Petitioner ever will pray!”
The Queen, when she heard
This petition preferr’d,
Gave ear to Sir Christopher’s suit at a word;—
“Odds Bobs, my good Lord!” was her gracious reply,
“I don’t know, not I,
Any good reason why
A Lord-Keeper, like you, should not always be nigh
To advise—and devise—and revise—our supply—
A House! we’re surprised that the thing did not strike
Us before—Yes!—of course!—Pray, whose House would you like?
When I do things of this kind, I do them genteelly,
A House?—let me see! there’s the Bishop of Ely!
A capital mansion, I’m told, the proud knave is in,
Up there in Holborn, just opposite Thavies’ Inn—
Where the strawberries grow so fine and so big,
Which our Grandmother’s Uncle tucked in like a pig,503
King Richard the Third, which you all must have read of—
The day,—don’t you know?—he cut Hastings’ head off—
And mark me, proud Prelate!—I’m speaking to you,
Bishop Heaton!—you need not, my Lord, look so blue—
Give it up on the instant! I don’t mean to shock you,
Or else by ——!—(The Bishop was shock’d!)—I’ll unfrock
The Queen turns abruptly her back on the group,
The courtiers all bow as she passes, and stoop
To kiss, as she goes, the hind flounce of her hoop,
And Sir Christopher, having thus danced to some tune,
Skips away with much glee in his best rigadoon!
While poor Bishop Heaton,
Who found himself beaten,
In serious alarm at the Queen’s contumelious
And menacing tone, at once gave him up Ely House,
With every appurtenance thereto belonging,
Including the strawberry-beds ’twas so strong in;
Politely he bow’d to the gratified minion,
And said, “There can be, my good lord, in opinion
No difference betwixt yours
And mine as to fixtures,
And tables, and chairs—
We need no survey’rs—
Take them just as you find them, without reservation,
Grates, coppers, and all, at your own valuation!”
Well! the object is gain’d!
A good town-house obtain’d!
The next thing to be thought of, is now
The “house-warming” party—the when and the how,—
The Court ladies call,
One and all, great and small,
For an elegant “Spread,” and more elegant Ball,
So, Sir Christopher, vain as we know of his capering,
No sooner had finish’d his painting and papering,
Than he sat down and wrote
A nice little pink note
To every great Lord, whom he knew, and his spouse,
“From our poor place on Holborn-hill (late Ely House),
Lord-Keeper and Dame Alice Hatton request
Lord So-and-So’s (name, style, or title exprest)
Good company on
The next eve of St. John,
Viz. Friday week, June 24th, as their guest,504
To partake of pot-luck,
And taste a fat buck.
N.B. Venison on table exactly at 3,
Quadrilles in the afternoon.
R. S. V. P.
“For my good Lord of So-and-So these, and his wife;
Ride! ride! for thy life! for thy life! for thy life!”
Thus, courtiers were wont to indorse their expresses
In Harry the VIIIth’s time, and also Queen Bess’s.
The Dame, for her part, too, took order that cards
Should be sent to the mess-rooms of all the Hussards,
The Household troops, Train-bands, and horse and foot Guards.
Well, the day for the rout
At length came about,
And the bells of St. Andrew’s rang merrily out,
As horse-litter, coach, and pad-nag, with its pillion
(The mode of conveyance then used by “the Million”),
All gallant and grand,
Defiled from the Strand,
Some through Chancery (then an unpaved and much wetter) Lane,
Others through Shoe (which was not a whit better) Lane;
Others through Fewtar’s (corrupted to Fetter) Lane
Some from Cheapside and St. Mary-le-Bow,
From Bishopsgate Street, Dowgate Hill,18 and Budge Row.
They come and they go,
Squire and Dame, Belle and Beau,
Down Snore Hill (which we have since whitewash’d to Snow)
All eager to see the magnificent show
And sport what some call “a fantastical
In silk and in satin,
To batten and fatten
Upon the good cheer of Sir Christopher Hatton.
A flourish, trumpets!—sound again!—
He comes, bold Drake, the chief who made a
Fine hash of all the pow’rs of Spain,
And so serv’d out their Grand Armada:
With him come Frobisher and Hawkins,
In yellow ruffs, rosettes, and stockings.505
Room for my Lord!—proud Leicester’s Earl
Retires awhile from courtly cares,
Who took his wife, poor hapless girl,
And pitch’d her neck and heels down stairs,
Proving, in hopes to wed a richer,
If not her “friend,” at least her “pitcher.”
A flourish, trumpets! strike the drums!
Will Shakspeare, never of his pen sick,
Is here—next Doctor Masters comes,
Renown’d afar for curing men sick,—
Queen’s Serjeant Barham19 with his bums
And tipstaves, coif, and wig forensic
(He lost, unless Sir Richard lies, his
Life at the famous “Black Assizes”).
Room! Room! for great Cecil!—place, place, for his Dame!
Room! Room! for Southampton—for Sidney, whose name
As a Preux Chevalier, in the records of Fame,
“Beats Banagher”—e’en now his praises, we all sing ’em,
Knight, Poet, Gentleman!—Room! for sage Walsingham!
Room! for Lord Hundson!—for Sussex!—for Rawleigh!
For Ingoldsby!! Oh: it’s enough to appal ye!
Dear me! how they call!
How they squall! how they bawl!
This dame has lost her shoe—that one her shawl—
My lord’s got a tumble—my lady a fall!
Now a Hall! a Hall!
A Brawl! a Brawl!
Here’s my Lord-Keeper Hatton, so stately and tall!
Has led out Lady Hunsdon to open the Ball.
Fiddlers! Fiddlers! fiddle away!
Resin your catgut! fiddle and play!
Obey! obey!—hear what they all say!
Hip!—Music!—Nosey!!—play up there!—play!
Never was anything half so gay
As Sir Christopher Hatton’s grand holiday!506
The clock strikes twelve!—Who cares for the clock?
Who cares for——Hark!—What a loud Single-knock!
Dear me! dear me!
Who can it be?—
Why, who can be coming at this time of night,
With a knock like that honest folk to affright?—
“Affright?”—yes, affright!—there are many who mock
At fear, and in danger stand firm as a rock,
Whom the roar of the battle-field never could shock,
Yet quail at the sound of a vile “Single knock!”
Hark!—what can the Porter be thinking of?—What!—
If the booby has not let him in I’ll be shot!—
Dear me! how hot
The room’s all at once got!—
And what rings through the roof?—
It’s the sound of a hoof!
It’s some donkey a-coming upstairs at full trot!
Stay!—the folding-doors open! the leaves are thrown back.
And in dances a tall Figurant—ALL IN BLACK!!
Gracious me, what an entrechat! Oh, what a bound!
Then with what an a-plomb he comes down to the ground!
Look there! look there!
Now he’s up in the air!
Now he’s here!—now he’s there—now he’s no one knows where!—
See! see!—he’s kick’d over a table and chair!
There they go!—all the strawberries, flowers, and sweet herbs,
Turn’d o’er and o’er,
Down on the floor,
Ev’ry caper he cuts oversets or disturbs
All the “Keen’s Seedlings,” and “Wilmot’s Superbs!”
There’s a pirouette!—we’re
All a great deal too near!
A ring!—give him room, or he’ll “shin” you—stand clear!
There’s a spring again!—oh! ’tis quite frightful!— oh dear!
His toe’s broke the top of the glass chandelier!!
Now he’s down again—look at the congées and bows
And salaams which he makes to the Dame of the House,
Lady Alice, the noble Lord Treasurer’s spouse!507
Come, now we shall view
A grand pas de deux
Perform’d in the very first style by these two
—But no!—she recoils—she could scarce look more pale if
Instead of a Beau’s ’twas the bow of a Bailiff!—
He holds out his hand—she declines it, and draws
Back her own—see!—he grasps it with horrid black claws,
Like the short, sharp, strong nails of a Polar Bear’s paws!!
Then she “scream’d such a scream!”
Such another, I deem,
As, long after, Miss Mary Brown20 scream’d in her dream,
Well she might! for ’twas shrewdly remark’d by her Page,
A sharp little boy about twelve years of age,
Who was standing close by
When she utter’d her cry,
That the whole of her arm shrivell’d up, and grew dry,
While the fingers and thumb of the hand he had got
In his clutches became on the instant RED HOT!!
Now he whirls and he twirls
Through the girls in their curls,
And their rouge, and their feathers, and diamonds, and pearls;
Now high,—now low,—
Now fast, and now slow,
In terrible circumgyration they go;
The flame-colour’d Belle and her coffee-faced Beau!
Up they go once! and up they go twice!—
Round the hall!—round the hall!—and now up they go thrice!
Now one grand pirouette, the performance to crown!
Now again they go UP!—and they NEVER COME DOWN!!!
The thunder roars!
And the rain it pours!
And the lightning comes in through the windows and doors!
Then more calling, and bawling,
And squalling, and falling,
Oh! what a fearful “stramash” they are all in!
Out they all sally,
The whole corps de ballet—
Some dash down Holborn-hill into the valley,508
Where stagnates Fleet Ditch at the end of Harp Alley;
Some t’other way, with a speed quite amazing,
Nor pause to take breath till they get beyond Gray’s Inn.
In every sense of the word, such a rout of it,
Never was made in London, or out of it!
When they came the next day to examine the scene,
There was scarcely a vestige of all that had been;
The beautiful tapestry, blue, red, and green,
Was all blacken’d and scorch’d, and looked dirty and mean.
All the crockery broken, dish, plate, and tureen!
While those who look’d up could perceive in the roof,
One very large hole in the shape of a hoof!
Of poor Lady Hatton, it’s needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk’d her away;
But out in the courtyard—and just in that part
Where the pump stands—lay bleeding a large Human Heart,
And sundry large stains
Of blood and of brains,
Which had not been wash’d off, notwithstanding the rains,
Appear’d on the wood, and the handle and chains,
As if somebody’s head with a very hard thump,
Had been recently knock’d on the top of the pump.
That pump is no more!—that of which you’ve just read,—
But they’ve put a new iron one up in its stead,
And still, it is said,
At that “small hour” so dread,
When all sober people are cozy in bed,
There may sometimes be seen on a moonshiny night,
Standing close by the new pump a Lady in White,
Who keeps pumping away with, ’twould seem, all her might,
Though never a drop comes her pains to requite!
And hence many passengers now are debarr’d
From proceeding at nightfall through Bleeding-Heart Yard!509
Fair ladies attend!
And if you’ve a “friend
At Court,” don’t attempt to bamboozle or trick her!
—Don’t meddle with negus, or any mix’d liquor!—
Don’t dabble in “Magic!” my story has shown,
How wrong ’tis to use any charms but your own!
Young Gentlemen, too, may, I think, take a hint
Of the same kind, from what I’ve here ventured to print.
All Conjuring’s bad! they may get in a scrape,
Before they’re aware, and whatever its shape,
They may find it no easy affair to escape.
It’s not everybody that comes off so well
From leger-de-main tricks as Mr. Brunel.
Don’t dance with a Stranger who looks like a Guy,
And when dancing don’t cut your capers too high!
Depend on’t the fault’s in
Your method of waltzing,
If ever you kick out the candles—don’t try!
At a ball or a play,
Or any soirée,
When a petit souper constitutes the “Après,”
If strawb’ries and cream with Champagne form a part,
Take care of your Head—and take care of your Heart!
If you want a new house
For yourself and your spouse,
Buy, or build one,—and honestly pay, every brick, for it!
Don’t be so green as to go to Old Nick for it—
—Go to George Robins—he’ll find you “a perch”
(Dulce Domum’s his word) without robbing the Church.
The last piece of advice which I’d have you regard
Is, “Don’t go of a night into Bleeding-Heart Yard,”
It’s a dark, little, dirty, black, ill-looking square,
With queer people about, and unless you take care,
You may find, when your pocket’s clean’d out and left bare,
That the iron one is not the only “Pump” there!
15 “Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is good gifts.”
Sir Hugh Evans.16
“The grave Lord Keeper led the brawls,
The seals and maces danced before him.”—Gray.
17 Sir John Hawkins, for “his worthye attempts and services,” and because the same he had dyvers conflights with the Moryans and slew and toke dyvers of the same Moryans,” received from Elizabeth an honourable augmentation to his coat armour, including, for his crest, Demi-Moor sable, with two manacles on each arm, or.”
18 Sir Francis Drake’s house, “The Arbour,” stood here.
19 Called by Sir Richard Baker “The famous Lawyer.”—See his Chronicle.
20 Vide the celebrated ballad of “Giles Scroggins.”—Catnach’s ed., 7 Dials, Lond. 1841.
“The House-Warming!!”—exclamation marks and all—originally appeared in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist Vol. 68 (n.s.) no. 3 (July 1843). If you want to split hairs, the subtitle was there given as “Bleedingheart” without hyphen.
Power to turn “Kit Hatton” into “Sir Christopher:”
final close quote missing
our Grandmother’s Uncle . . . King Richard the Third
[A roundabout way of saying “our own Great-Uncle”. Henry VII married Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth, giving their son Henry VIII a double claim on the throne.]
Or else by —— . . . I’ll unfrock you!!”
close quote missing
The next thing to be thought of, is now
[The New Monthly has “The next thing of course to be thought of, is now”, as the metre requires.]
Friday week, June 24th
[On the Julian calendar, the possible years are: 1558, 1569, 1575, 1586, 1597, and 1603. I doubt the author had any particular year in mind—especially not the last two, since the real Sir Christopher Hatton died unmarried in 1591. But I am tickled to note that the first and last years of Elizabeth’s reign would both have fit.]
And sport what some call “a fantastical toe;”
close quote missing
[Footnote] because “in the same he had dyvers conflights
open quote missing
[Footnote] for his crest, “A Demi-Moor sable, with two manacles
open quote missing
AH! why those piteous sounds of woe,
Lone wanderer of the dreary night?
Thy gushing tears in torrents flow,
Thy bosom pants in wild affright!
And thou, within whose iron breast
Those frowns austere too truly tell,
Mild pity, heaven-descended guest,
Hath never, never deign’d to dwell.
“That rude, uncivil touch forego,”
Stern despot of a fleeting hour!
Nor “make the angels weep” to know
The fond “fantastic tricks” of power!
Know’st thou not “mercy is not strain’d,
But droppeth as the gentle dew,”
And while it blesseth him who gain’d,
It blesseth him who gave it, too?
Say, what art thou? and what is he,
Pale victim of despair and pain,
Whose streaming eyes and bended knee
Sue to thee thus—and sue in vain?
Cold, callous man!—he scorns to yield,
Or aught relax his felon gripe,
But answers, “I’m Inspector Field!
And this here warment’s prigg’d your
“The Forlorn One” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. IV no. 4 (October 1838).
And this here warment’s prigg’d your wipe!”
[Closing punctuation—not just the close-quote but also the exclamation mark—supplied from Bentley’s.]
“The wig’s the thing! the wig! the wig.”—Old Song.
“JOE,” said old Jarvis, looking out of his window,—it was his ground-floor back.—“Joe, you seem to be very hot, Joe, and you have got no wig!”
“Yes, sir,” quoth Joseph, pausing and resting upon his spade, “it’s as hot a day as ever I see; but the celery must be got in, or there’ll be no autumn crop, and—”
“Well, but Joe, the sun’s so hot, and it shines so on your bald head, it makes one wink to look at it. You’ll have a coup-de-soleil, Joe.”
“A what, sir?”
“No matter; it’s very hot working; and if you’ll step in doors, I’ll give you—”
“Thank ye, your honour, a drop of beer will be very acceptable.”
Joe’s countenance brightened amazingly.
“Joe, I’ll give you—my old wig!”
The countenance of Joseph fell, his grey eye had glistened as a blest vision of double X flitted athwart his fancy; its glance faded again into the old, filmy, gooseberry-coloured hue, as he growled in a minor key, “A wig, sir?”
“Yes, Joe, a wig. The man who does not study the comfort of his dependants is an unfeeling scoundrel. You shall have my old worn-out wig.”
“I hope, sir, you’ll give me a drop o’ beer to drink your honour’s health in, it is very hot, and—”
“Come in, Joe, and Mrs. Witherspoon shall give it you.”
“Heaven bless your honour,” said honest Joe, striking his spade perpendicularly into the earth, and walking with more than usual alacrity towards the close-cut, quickset hedge which separated Mr. Jarvis’s garden from the high road.
From the quickset hedge aforesaid he now raised, with all due delicacy, a well-worn and somewhat dilapidated jacket, of a stuff by drapers most pseudonymously termed “everlasting.” Alack! alack! what is there to which tempus edax rerum will accord that epithet? In its high and palmy days it had been all of a piece; but as its master’s eye now fell upon it, the expression of his countenance seemed to say with Octavian,
“Those days are gone, Floranthe!”
It was now, from frequent patching, a coat not unlike that of the patriarch, one of many colours.
Joseph Washford inserted his wrists into the corresponding orifices of the tattered garment, and with a steadiness of circumgyration, to be acquired only by long and sufficient practice, swung it horizontally over his ears, and settled himself into it.
“Confound your old jacket,” cried a voice from the other side the hedge! “keep it down, you rascal! don’t you see my horse is frightened at it?”
“Sensible beast!” apostrophised Joseph, “I’ve been frightened at it myself every day for the last two years.”
The gardener cast a rueful glance at its sleeve, and pursued his way to the door of the back kitchen.
“Joe,” said Mrs. Witherspoon, a fat, comely dame, of about five-and-forty—“Joe, your master is but too good to you; he is always kind and considerate. Joe, he has desired me to give you his old
“And the beer, Ma’am Witherspoon?” said Washford, taking the proffered caxon, and looking at it with an expression somewhat short of rapture; “and the beer, ma’am?”
“The beer, you guzzling wretch!—what beer? Master said nothing about no beer. You ungrateful fellow, has not he given you a wig?”
“Why, yes, Madam Witherspoon! but then, you see, his honour said it was very hot, and I’m very dry, and—”
“Go to the pump, sot!” said Mrs. Witherspoon, as she slammed the back-door in the face of the petitioner.
Mrs. Witherspoon was “of the Lady Huntingdon persuasion,” and Honorary Assistant Secretary to the Appledore branch of the “Ladies’ Grand Junction Water-working Temperance Society.”
Joe remained for a few moments lost in mental abstraction; he looked at the door, he looked at the wig; his first thought was to throw it into the pigsty,—his corruption rose, but he resisted the impulse; he got the better of Satan; the half-formed imprecation died before it reached his lips. He looked disdainfully at the wig; it had once been a comely jasey enough, of the colour of overbak’d ginger-bread, one of the description commonly known during the latter half of the last century by the name of a “brown George.” The species, it is to be feared, is now extinct, but a few, a very few of the same description might, till very lately, be occasionally seen,—rari nantes in gurgite vasto—the glorious relics of a bygone day, crowning the cerebellum of some venerated and venerable provost, or judge of assize; but Mr. Jarvis’s wig had one peculiarity; unlike most of its fellows it had a tail!—“cribbed and confined,” indeed, by a shabby piece of faded shalloon.513
Washford looked at it again; he shook his bald head; the wig had certainly seen its best days; still it had about it somewhat of an air of faded gentility; it was “like ancient Rome, majestic in decay,”—and as the small ale was not to be forthcoming, why—after all, an old wig was better than nothing!
Mr. Jeremiah Jarvis, of Appledore, in the Weald of Kent, was a gentleman by act of parliament; one of that class of gentlemen who, disdaining the -sounding name of “attorney-at-law,” are, by a legal fiction, denominated solicitors. I say by a legal fiction, for surely the general tenor of the intimation received by such as enjoy the advantage of their correspondence, has little in common with the idea usually attached to the term “solicitation.” “If you don’t pay my bill, and costs, I’ll send you to jail,” is a very energetic entreaty. There are, it is true, etymologists who derive their style and title from the Latin infinitive “,” to “make anxious,”—in all probability they are right.
If this be the true etymology of his title, as it was the main end of his calling, then was Jeremiah Jarvis a worthy exemplar of the genus to which he belonged. Few persons in his time had created greater solicitude among his Majesty’s lieges within the “Weald.” He was rich, of course. The best house in the country-town is always the lawyer’s, and it generally boasts a green door, stone steps, and a brass knocker. In neither of these appendages to opulence was Jeremiah deficient; but then he was so very rich; his reputed wealth, indeed, passed all the common modes of accounting for its increase. True, he was so universal a favourite that every man whose will he made was sure to leave him a legacy; that he was a sort of general assignee to all the bankruptcies within twenty miles of Appledore; was clerk to half the “trusts;” and treasurer to most of the “rates,” “funds,” and “subscriptions,” in that part of the country; that he was land-agent to Lord Mountrhino, and steward to the rich Miss Tabbytale of Smerrididdle Hall; that he had been guardian (?) to three young profligates who all ran through their property, which, somehow or another, came at last into his hands, “at an equitable valuation.” Still his possessions were so considerable, as not to be altogether accounted for, in vulgar esteem, even by these and other honourable modes of accumulation; nor were there wanting those who conscientiously entertained a belief that a certain dark-coloured gentleman, of indifferent character, known principally by his predilection for appearing in perpetual mourning, had been through life his great friend and counsellor, and had mainly assisted in the acquirement of his revenues. That “old Jerry Jarvis had sold himself to the devil” was, indeed, a dogma which it were heresy to doubt in 514 Appledore;—on this head, at least, there were few schismatics in the parish.
When the worthy “Solicitor” next looked out of his ground-floor back, he smiled with much complacency at beholding Joe Washford again hard at work—in his wig—the little tail aforesaid oscillating like a pendulum in the breeze. If it be asked what could induce a gentleman, whose leading principle seems to have been self-appropriation, to make so magnificent a present, the answer is, that Mr. Jarvis might perhaps have thought an occasional act of benevolence necessary or politic; he is not the only person, who, having stolen a quantity of leather, has given away a pair of shoes pour l’amour de Dieu,—perhaps he had other motives.
Joe, meanwhile, worked away at the celery-bed; but truth obliges us to say, neither with the same degree of vigour or perseverance as had marked the earlier efforts of the morning. His pauses were more frequent; he rested longer on the handle of his spade; while ever and anon his eye would wander from the trench beneath him to an object not unworthy the contemplation of a natural philosopher. This was an apple-tree.
Fairer fruit never tempted Eve, or any of her daughters; the bending branches groaned beneath their luxuriant freight, and dropping to earth, seemed to ask the protecting aid of man either to support or to relieve them. The fine, rich glow of their sun-streaked clusters derived additional loveliness from the level beams of the descending day-star. An anchorite’s mouth had watered at the pippins.
On the precise graft of the espalier of Eden, “Sanchoniathon, Manetho, and Berosus” are undecided; the best-informed Talmudists, however, have, if we are to believe Dr. Pinner’s German Version, pronounced it a Ribstone pippin, and a Ribstone pippin-tree it was that now attracted the optics, and discomposed the inner man of the thirsty, patient, but perspiring gardener. The heat was still oppressive; no beer had moistened his lip, though its very name, uttered as it was in the ungracious tones of a Witherspoon, had left behind a longing as intense as fruitless. His thirst seemed supernatural, when at this moment his left ear experienced “a slight and tickling sensation,” such as we are assured is occasionally produced by an infinitesimal dose in homœopathy; a still, small voice—it was as though a daddy long-legs were whispering in his tympanum—a small voice seemed to say, “Joe!—take an apple, Joe!”
Honest Joseph started at the suggestion; the rich crimson of his jolly nose deepened to a purple tint in the beams of the setting sun; his very forehead was incarnadine. He raised his hand to scratch his ear,—the little tortuous tail had worked its way into it,—he 515 pulled it out by the bit of shalloon, and allayed the itching, then cast his eye wistfully towards the mansion where his master was sitting by the open window. Joe pursed up his parched lips into an arid whistle, and with a desperate energy struck his spade once more into the celery-bed.
Alack! Alack! what a piece of work is man!—how short his triumphs!—how frail his resolutions!
From this fine and very original moral reflection we turn reluctantly to record the sequel. The celery-bed, alluded to as the main scene of Mr. Washford’s operations, was drawn in a rectilinear direction, nearly across the whole breadth of the parallelogram that comprised the “kitchen garden.” Its northern extremity abutted to the hedge before mentioned, its southern one—woe is me that it should have been so!—was in fearful vicinity to the Ribstone pippin-tree. One branch, low bowed to earth, seemed ready to discharge its precious burden into the very trench. As Joseph stooped to insert the last plant with his dibble, an apple of more than ordinary beauty bobbed against his knuckles.—“He’s taking snuff, Joe,” whispered the same small voice;—the tail had twisted itself into its old position. “He is sneezing!—now, Joe!—now!” and, ere the agitated horticulturist could recover from his surprise and alarm, the fruit was severed, and—in his hand!
“He! he! he!” shrilly laughed, or seemed to laugh, that accursed little pigtail.—Washford started at once to the perpendicular;—with an enfrenzied grasp he tore the jasey from his head, and, with that in one hand, and his ill-acquired spoil in the other, he rushed distractedly from the garden!
All that night was the humble couch of the once-happy gardener haunted with the most fearful visions. He was stealing apples,—he was robbing hen-roosts,—he was altering the chalks upon the milk-score,—he had purloined three chemises from a hedge, and he awoke in the very act of cutting the throat of one of Squire Hodge’s sheep! A clammy dew stood upon his temples,—the cold perspiration burst from every pore,—he sprang in terror from the bed.
“Why, Joe, what ails thee, man?” cried the usually incurious Mrs. Washford; “what be the matter with thee? Thee hast done nothing but grunt and growl all t’ night long, and now thee dost stare as if thee saw summut. What bees it, Joe?”
A long-drawn sigh was her husband’s only answer; his eye fell upon the bed. “How the devil came that here?” quoth Joseph, with a sudden recoil; “who put that thing on my pillow?”
“Why, I did, Joseph. Th’ ould nightcap is in the wash, and 516 thee didst toss and tumble so, and kick the clothes off, I thought thee mightest catch cold, so I clapt t’ wig atop o’ thee head.”
And there it lay,—the little sinister-looking tail impudently perked up, like an infernal gnomon on a Satanic dial-plate—Larceny and Ovicide shone in every hair of it!
“The dawn was overcast, the morning lower’d,
And heavily in clouds brought on the day,”
when Joseph Washford once more repaired to the scene of his daily labours; a sort of unpleasant consciousness flushed his countenance, and gave him an uneasy feeling as he opened the garden-gate; for Joe, generally speaking, was honest as the skin between his brows; his hand faltered as it pressed the latch. “Pooh, pooh! ’twas but an apple, after all!” said Joseph. He pushed open the wicket, and found himself beneath the tempting tree.
But vain now were all its fascinations; like fairy gold seen by the morning light, its charms had faded into very nothingness. Worlds, to say nothing of apples, in shape resemble them, would not have bought him to stretch forth an unhallowed hand again: he went steadily to his work.
The day continued cloudy; huge drops of rain fell at intervals, stamping his bald pate with spots as big as halfpence: but Joseph worked on. As the day advanced, showers fell thick and frequent; the fresh-turned earth was itself fragrant as a bouquet.—Joseph worked on; and when at last Jupiter Pluvius descended in all his majesty, soaking the ground into the consistency of a dingy pudding, he put on his party-coloured jacket, and strode towards his humble home, rejoicing in his renewed integrity. “’Twas but an apple, after all! Had it been an apple-pie, indeed!”—
“An apple-pie!” the thought was a dangerous one—too dangerous to dwell on. But Joseph’s better Genius was at this time lord of the ascendant;—he dismissed it, and passed on.
On arriving at his cottage, an air of bustle and confusion prevailed within, much at variance with the peaceful serenity usually observable in its economy. Mrs. Washford was in high dudgeon! her heels clattered on the red-tiled floor, and she whisked about the house like a parched pea upon a drum-head; her voice generally small and low—“an excellent thing in woman,”—was pitched at least an octave above its ordinary level; she was talking fast and furious. Something had evidently gone wrong. The mystery was soon explained. The “cussed ould twoad of a cat” had got into the dairy, and licked off the cream from the only pan their single cow had filled that morning! And there she now lay, purring as in scorn. Tib, heretofore the meekest of mousers, the honestest, the least “scaddle” of the feline race,—a cat that one would have sworn 517 might have been trusted with untold fish,—yes,—there was no denying it,—proofs were too strong against her,—yet there she lay, hardened in her iniquity, coolly licking her whiskers, and reposing quietly upon—what?—Jerry Jarvis’s old wig!!
The patience of a Stoic must have yielded!—it had been too much for the temperament of the Man of Uz. Joseph Washford lifted his hand—that hand which had never yet been raised on Tibby, save to fondle and caress—it now descended on her devoted head in one tremendous “dowse.” Never was cat so astonished,—so enraged—all the tiger portion of her nature rose in her soul. Instead of galloping off, hissing and sputtering, with arched back, and tail erected, as any ordinary Grimalkin would unquestionably have done under similar circumstances, she paused a moment,—drew back on her haunches,—all her energies seemed concentrated for one prodigious spring; a demoniac fire gleamed in her green and yellow eyeballs, as, bounding upwards, she fixed her talons firmly in each of her assailant’s cheeks!—many and many a day after were sadly visible the marks of those envenomed claws—then, dashing over his shoulder with an unearthly mew, she leaped through the open casement, and was seen no more.
“The Devil’s in the cat!” was the apostrophe of Mrs. Margaret Washford. Her husband said nothing, but thrust the old wig into his pocket, and went to bathe his scratches at the pump.
Day after day, night after night, ’twas all the same—Joe Washford’s life became a burden to him; his natural upright and honest mind struggled hard against the frailty of human nature. He was ever restless and uneasy; his frank, open, manly look, that blenched not from the gaze of the spectator, was no more; a sly and sinister expression had usurped the place of it.
Mr. Jeremiah Jarvis had little of what the world calls “Taste,” still less of Science. Ackerman would have called him a “Snob,” and Buckland a “Nimcompoop.” Of the Horticultural Society, its fêtes, its fruits, and its fiddlings, he knew nothing. Little recked he of flowers—save cauliflowers—in these, indeed, he was a connoisseur! to their cultivation and cookery the respective talents of Joe and Madame Witherspoon had long been dedicated; but as for a bouquet:—Hardham’s 37 was “the only one fit for a gentleman’s nose.” And yet, after all, Jerry Jarvis had a good-looking tulip-bed. A female friend of his had married a Dutch merchant; Jerry drew the settlements; the lady paid him by a cheque on “Child’s,” the gentleman by a present of a “box of roots.” Jerry put the latter in his garden—he had rather they had been schalots.
Not so his neighbour Jenkinson; he was a man of “Taste” and of “Science;” he was an F.R.C.E.B.S., which, as he told the Vicar 518 implied, “Fellow of the Royal Cathartico-Emetico-Botanical Society,” and his autograph in Sir John Frostyface’s album stood next to that of the Emperor of all the Russias. Neighbour Jenkinson fell in love with the pips and petals of “neighbour Jarvis’s tulips.” There were one or two among them of such brilliant, such surpassing beauty,—the “cups” so well formed,—the colours so defined. To be sure, Mr. Jenkinson had enough in his own garden: but then “Enough,” says the philosopher, “always means a little more than a man has got.”—Alas! alas! Jerry Jarvis was never known to bestow,—his neighbour dared not offer to purchase from so wealthy a man; and, worse than all, Joe, the gardener, was incorruptible—ay, but the wig?
Joseph Washford was working away again in the blaze of the mid-day sun; his head looked like a copper saucepan fresh from the brazier’s.
“Why, where’s your wig, Joseph?” said the voice of his master from the well-known window; “what have you done with your wig?” The question was embarrassing,—its tail had tickled his ear till it had made it sore! Joseph had put the wig in his pocket.
Mr. Jeremiah Jarvis was indignant; he liked not that his benefits should be ill appreciated by the recipient. “Hark ye, Joseph Washford,” said he, “either wear my wig, or let me have it again!”
There was no mistaking the meaning of his tones; they were resonant of indignation and disgust, of mingled grief and anger, the amalgamation of sentiment naturally produced by
And unrequited love.”
Washford’s heart smote him: he felt all that was implied in his master’s appeal. “It’s here, your Honour,” said he; “I had only taken it off because we have had a smartish shower; but the sky is brightening now.” The wig was replaced, and the little tortuous pigtail wriggled itself into its accustomed position.
At this moment neighbour Jenkinson peeped over the hedge.
“Joe Washford!” said neighbour Jenkinson.
“Sir to you,” was the reply.
“How beautiful your tulips look after the rain!”
“Ah! sir, master sets no great store by them flowers,” returned the gardener.
“Indeed! Then perhaps he would have no objection to part with a few?”
“Why, no!—I don’t think master would like to give them—or anything else,—away, sir;” and Washford scratched his ear.
“Joe!!” said Mr. Jenkinson—“Joe!”
The Sublime, observes Longinus, is often embodied in a 519 monosyllable—“Joe!!!”—Mr. Jenkinson said no more; but a half-crown shone from between his upraised fingers, and its “poor, poor dumb mouth” spoke for him.
How Joseph Washford’s left ear did itch! He looked to the ground-floor back—Mr. Jarvis had left the window.
Mr. Jenkinson’s ground-plot boasted, at daybreak next morning, a splendid Semper Augustus, “which was not so before,” and Joseph Washford was led home, much about the same time, in a most extraordinary state of “civilation,” from “The Three Jolly Potboys.”
From that hour he was the Fiend’s!!
“Facilis descensus Averni!” says Virgil. “It is only the first step that is attended with any difficulty,” says—somebody else—when speaking of the decollated martyr, St. Dennis’s walk with his head under his arm, “The First Step!”—Joseph Washford had taken that step! he had taken two—three—four steps; and now, from a hesitating, creeping, cat-like mode of progression, he had got into a firmer thread—an amble—a positive trot!—He took the family linen “to the wash:”—one of Madame Witherspoon’s best Holland chemises was never seen after.
Lost?—impossible! How could it be lost?—where could it be gone to?—who could have got it? It was her best—her very best!—she should know it among a hundred—among a thousand!—it was marked with a great W in the corner!—Lost?—impossible—She see!”—Alas! she never did see—the chemise—abiit, erupit, evasit!—it was
“Like the lost Pleiad, seen on earth no more.”
—but Joseph Washford’s Sunday shirt was seen, finer and fairer than ever—the pride and dulce decus of the Meeting.
The Meeting?—ay, the Meeting. Joe Washford never missed the Appledore Independent Meeting House, whether the service were in the morning or afternoon,—whether the Rev. Mr. Slyandry exhorted or made way for the Rev. Mr. Tearbrain. Let who would officiate, there was Joe. As I have said before, he never missed;—but other people missed—one missed an umbrella,—one a pair of clogs. Farmer Johnson missed his tobacco-box,—Farmer Jackson his great-coat,—Miss Jackson missed her hymn-book,—a diamond edition, bound in maroon-coloured velvet, with gilt corners and clasps. Everything, in short, was missed—but Joe Washford; there he sat, grave, sedate, and motionless—all save that restless, troublesome, fidgety little Pigtail attached to his wig, which nothing could keep quiet, or prevent from tickling and interfering with Miss 520 Thompson’s curls, as she sat back to back with Joe, in the adjoining pew. After the third Sunday, Nancy Thompson eloped with the tall recruiting sergeant of the Connaught Rangers.
The summer passed away,—autumn came and went,—and Christmas, jolly Christmas, that period of which we are accustomed to utter the mournful truism, it “comes but once a-year,” was at hand. It was a fine bracing morning; the sun was just beginning to throw a brighter tint upon the Quaker-coloured ravine of Orlestone Hill, when a medical gentleman, returning to the quiet little village of Ham Street, that lies at its foot, from a farm-house at Kingsnorth rode briskly down the declivity.
After several hours of patient attention, Mr. Moneypenny had succeeded in introducing to the notice of seven little expectant brothers and sisters a “remarkably fine child,” and was now hurrying home in the sweet hope of a comfortable “snooze,” for a couple of hours before the announcement of tea and muffins should arouse him to fresh exertion. The road at this particular spot had, even then, been cut deep below the surface of the soil, for the purpose of diminishing the abruptness of the descent, and, as either side of the superincumbent banks was clothed with a thick mantle of tangled copsewood, the passage, even by day, was sufficiently obscure, the level beams of the rising or setting sun, as they happened to enfilade the gorge, alone illuminating its recesses. A long stream of rosy light was just beginning to make its way through the vista, and Mr. Moneypenny’s nose had scarcely caught and reflected its kindred ray, when the sturdiest and most active cob that ever rejoiced in the appellation of a “Suffolk Punch,” brought herself up in mid career upon her haunches, and that with a suddenness which had almost induced her rider to describe that beautiful mathematical figure, the parabola, between her ears. Peggy—her name was Peggy—stood stock-still, snorting like a stranded grampus, and alike insensible to the gentle hints afforded her by hand and heel.
“Tch!—tch!—get along, Peggy!” half-exclaimed, half-whistled the equestrian. If ever steed said in its heart, “I’ll be shot if I do!” it was Peggy at that moment. She planted her forelegs deep in the sandy soil, raised her stump of a tail to an elevation approaching the horizontal, protruded her nose like a pointer at a covey, and with expanded nostril continued to snuffle most egregiously.
Mr. Geoffrey Gambado, the illustrious “Master of the Horse to the Doge of Venice,” tells us, in his far-famed treatise on the Art Equestrian, that the most embarrassing position in which a rider can be placed is, when he wishes to go one way, and his horse is determined to go another. There is, to be sure, a tertium quid, which, though it “splits the difference,” scarcely obviates the 521 inconvenience; this is when the parties compromise the matter by not going any way at all—to this compromise Peggy and her (soi-disant) master were now reduced; they had fairly joined issue. “Budge!” quoth the doctor.—“Budge not!” quoth the fiend,—for nothing short of a fiend could, of a surety, inspire Peggy at such a time with such unwonted obstinacy—Moneypenny whipped and spurred—Peggy plunged, and reared, and kicked, and for several minutes, to a superficial observer, the termination of the contest might have appeared uncertain; but your profound thinker sees at a glance that, however the scales may appear to vibrate, when the question between the sexes is one of perseverance, it is quite a lost case for the masculine gender. Peggy beats the doctor “all to sticks,” and when he was fairly tired of goading and thumping, maintained her position as firmly as ever.
It is of no great use, and not particularly agreeable, to sit still, on a cold frosty morning in January, upon the outside of a brute that will neither go forwards nor backwards—so Mr. Moneypenny got off, and muttering curses both “loud” and “deep” between his chattering teeth, “progressed” as near as the utmost extremity of the extended bridle would allow him, to peep among the weeds and brushwood that flanked the road, in order to discover, if possible, what it was that so exclusively attracted the instinctive attention of his Bucephalus.
His curiosity was not long at fault; the sunbeam glanced partially upon some object ruddier even than itself—it was a scarlet waistcoat, the wearer of which, overcome by Christmas compotation, seemed to have selected for his “thrice-driven bed of down,” the thickest clump of the tallest and most imposing nettles, thereon to dose away the narcotic effects of superabundant juniper.
This, at least, was Mr. Moneypenny’s belief, or he would scarcely have uttered, at the highest pitch of his contralto, “What are you doing there, you drunken rascal? frightening my horse!”—We have already hinted, if not absolutely asserted, that Peggy was a mare; but this was no time for verbal criticism.—“Get up, I say,—get up, and go home, you scoundrel!”—But the “scoundrel” and “drunken rascal” answered not; he moved not, nor could the prolonged shouting of the appellant, aided by significant explosions from a double-thonged whip, succeed in eliciting a reply. No motion indicated that the recumbent figure, whose outline alone was visible, was a living and a breathing man!
The clear, shrill tones of a ploughboy’s whistle sounded at this moment from the bottom of the hill, where the broad and green expanse of Romney Marsh stretches away from its foot for many a mile, and now gleamed through the mists of morning, dotted and 522 enamelled with its thousand flocks. In a few minutes his tiny figure was seen “slouching” up the ascent, casting a most disproportionate and ogre-like shadow before him.
“Come here, Jack,” quoth the doctor,—“come here, boy; lay hold of this bridle, and mind that my horse does not run away.”
Peggy threw up her head, and snorted disdain of the insinuation,—she had not the slightest intention of doing any such thing.
Mr. Moneypenny meanwhile, disencumbered of his restive nag, proceeded by manual application, to arouse the sleeper.
Alas! the Seven of Ephesus might sooner have been awakened from their century of somnolency. His was that “dreamless sleep that knows no waking;” his cares in this world were over. Vainly did Moneypenny practise his own constant precept, “To be well shaken!”—there lay before him the lifeless body of a Murdered Man!
The corpse lay stretched upon its back, partially concealed, as we have before said, by the nettles which had sprung up among the stumps of the half-grubbed underwood; the throat was fearfully lacerated, and the dark, deep, arterial dye of the coagulated blood showed that the carotid had been severed. There was little to denote the existence of any struggle; but as the day brightened, the sandy soil of the road exhibited an impression as of a body that had fallen on its plastic surface, and had been dragged to its present position, while fresh horse-shoe prints seemed to intimate that either the assassin or his victim had been mounted. The pockets of the deceased were turned out, and empty; a hat and heavy-loaded whip lay at no great distance from the body.
“But what have we here?” quoth Dr. Moneypenny; “what is it that the poor fellow holds so tightly in his hand?”
That hand had manifestly clutched some article with all the spasmodic energy of a dying grasp—It was an old wig!
Those who are fortunate enough to have seen a Cinque Port court-house may possibly divine what that useful and most necessary edifice was some eighty years ago. Many of them seem to have undergone little alteration, and are in general of a composite order of architecture, a fanciful arrangement of brick and timber, with what Johnson would have styled “interstices, reticulated, and decussated between intersections” of lath and plaster. Its less euphonious designation in the “Weald” is a “noggin.” One half the basement story is usually of the more solid material, the other, open to the street,—from which it is separated only by a row of dingy columns, supporting a portion of the superstructure,—is paved with tiles, and sometimes does duty as a market-place, while, in its centre, flanking 523 the board staircase that leads to the sessions-house above, stands an ominous-looking machine, of heavy perforated wood, clasped within whose stern embrace “the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep” off occasionally the drowsiness produced by convivial excess, in a most undignified position, an inconvenience much increased at times by some mischievous urchin, who, after abstracting the shoes of the helpless detenu, amuses himself by tickling the soles of his feet.
It was in such a place, or rather in the Court-room above, that in the year 1761 a hale, robust man, somewhat past the middle age, with a very bald pate, save where a continued tuft of coarse, wiry hair, stretching from above each ear, swelled out into a greyish-looking bush upon the occiput, held up his hand before a grave and enlightened assemblage of Dymchurch jurymen. He stood arraigned for that offence most heinous in the sight of God and man, the deliberate and cold-blooded butchery of an unoffending, unprepared fellow-creature,—homicidium quod nullo vidente, nullo auscultante, clam perpetratur.
The victim was one Humphry Bourne, a reputable grazier of Ivy-church, worthy and well-to-do, though, perchance, a thought too apt to indulge on an market-day, when “a score of ewes” had brought in a reasonable profit. Some such cause had detained him longer than usual at an Ashford cattle-show; he had left the town late, and alone; early in the following morning his horse was found standing at his own stable-door, the saddle turned round beneath its belly, and much about the time that the corpse of its unfortunate master was discovered some four miles off, by our friend the pharmacopolist.
That poor Bourne had been robbed and murdered there could be no question.
Who, then, was the perpetrator of the atrocious deed?—The unwilling hand almost refuses to trace the name of—Joseph Washford.
Yet so it was. Mr. Jeremiah Jarvis was himself the coroner for that division of the county of Kent known by the name of “The Lath of Scraye.” He had not sat two minutes on the body before he recognised his quondam property, and started at beholding in the grasp of the victim, as torn in the death-struggle from the murderer’s head, his own Old Wig,—his own perky little pigtail, tied up with a piece of shabby shalloon, now wriggling, and quivering, as in salutation of its ancient master. The silver buckles of the murdered man were found in Joe Washford’s shoes,—broad pieces were found in Joe Washford’s pockets,—Joe Washford had himself been found, when the hue-and-cry was up, hid in a corn-rig at no great distance from the scene of slaughter, his pruning-knife 524 red with the evidence of his crime—“the grey hairs yet stuck to the heft!”
For their humane administration of the laws, the lieges of this portion of the realm have long been celebrated. Here it was that merciful verdict was recorded in the case of the old lady accused of larceny, “We find her Not Guilty, and hope she will never do so any more!” Here it was that the more experienced culprit, when called upon to plead with the customary, though somewhat superfluous, inquiry, as to “how he would be tried?” substituted for the usual reply “By God and my country,” that of “By your worship and a Dymchurch Jury.” Here it was—but enough!—not even a Dymchurch Jury could resist such evidence, even though the gallows (i.e. the expense of erecting one) stared them, as well as the criminal, in the face. The very pig-tail alone! ever at his ear!—a clearer case of Diabolo never was made out. Had there been a doubt, its very conduct in the Court-house would have settled the question. The Rev. Joel Ingoldsby, umquhile chaplain to the Romney Bench, has left upon record that when exhibited in evidence, together with the blood-stained knife, its twistings, its caperings, its gleeful evolutions quite “flabbergasted” the jury, and threw all beholders into consternation. It was remarked, too, by many in the Court, that the Forensic Wig of the Recorder himself was, on that trying occasion, palpably agitated, and that its three depending, learned-looking tails lost curl at once, and slunk beneath the obscurity of the powdered collar, just as the boldest dog recoils from a rabid animal of its own species, however small and insignificant.
Why prolong the painful scene?—Joe Washford was tried—Joe Washford was convicted—Joe Washford was hanged!
The fearful black gibbet, on which his body clanked in its chains to the midnight winds, frowns no more upon Orlestone Hill; it has sunk beneath the encroaching hand of civilisation; but there it might be seen late in the last century, an awful warning to all bald-pated gentlemen how they wear, or accept, the old wig of a Special Attorney,
Timeo Danaös et dona ferentes!
Such gifts, as we have seen, may lead to a “Morbid Delusion, the climax of which is Murder!”
The fate of the Wig itself is somewhat doubtful; nobody seems to have recollected, with any degree of precision, what became of it. Mr. Ingoldsby “had heard” that, when thrown into the fire by the Court-keeper, after whizzing, and fizzling, and performing all sorts of supernatural antics and contortions, it at length whirled up the chimney with a bang that was taken for the explosion of one of the 525 Feversham powder-mills, twenty miles off, while others insinuate that in the “Great Storm” which took place on the night when Mr. Jeremiah Jarvis went to his “long home,”—wherever that may happen to be,—and the whole of “The Marsh” appeared as one broad sheet of flame, something that looked very like a Fiery Wig—perhaps a miniature Comet—it had unquestionably a tail—was seen careering in the blaze,—and seeming to “ride on the whirlwind and direct the storm.”
“Jerry Jarvis’s Wig” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. XIII no. 5 (May 1843). The illustration captioned “Jerry Jarvis’s Wig” is taken from Bentley’s; it didn’t make it into the book. In the periodical, the story ends with the signature “T. I. / Tappington, / April 24th, 1843.”
Joe, he has desired me to give you his old wig.”
close quote missing
disdaining the bourgeois-sounding name of “attorney-at-law,”
text has bourgeoise
derive their style and title from the Latin infinitive “solicitare,”
text has solicitaire
to say nothing of apples, which in shape resemble them
text has which, with superfluous comma
She “would see!”
open quote missing
[Open quote supplied from Bentley’s, as usual. But just to show that the periodical version isn’t always right, Bentley’s also has a stray open quote at the beginning of the paragraph.]
overcome perchance by Christmas compotation
text has perhance
a clearer case of suadente Diabolo
text has suadante
Timeo Danaös et dona ferentes!
[Not “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” but “I fear the Greeks even when they are bearing gifts”. The dieresis in Danaös—absent in Bentley’s—is superfluous, since there is no “ao” diphthong in Latin.]
OH! how I should like in a Coach to ride,
Like the Sheriffs I saw upon Lord Mayor’s day,
With a Coachman and little Postilion astride
On the back of the leader, a prancing bay.
And then behind it, oh! I should glory
To see the tall serving men standing upright,
Like the two who attend Mr. Montefiore
(Sir Moses I should say), for now he’s a Knight.
And then the liveries, I know it is rude to
Find fault—but I’ll hint, as he can’t see me blush,
That I’d not have the things I can only allude to
Either orange in hue or constructed of plush;
But their coats and their waistcoats and hats are delightful.
Their charming silk stockings—I vow and declare
Our John’s ginger gaiters, so wrinkled and frightful,
I never again shall be able to bear.
Oh! how I should like to have diamonds and rubies,
And large plume of feathers and flowers in my hair,
My gracious! to think how our Tom and those boobies,
Jack Smith and his friend Mister Thompson, would stare.526
Then how I should like to drive to Guildhall,
And to see the nobility flocking in shoals,
With their two-guinea tickets to dance at the ball
Which the Lord Mayor gives for the relief of the Poles.
And to look at the gas so uncommonly pretty,
And the stars and the armour all just as they were
The day that the Queen came in state to the city
To dine with the whole Corporation and Mayor.
Oh! how I should like to see Jane and Letitia,
Miss Jones and the two Misses Frump sitting still,
While dear Ensign Brown, of the West Kent Militia,
Solicits my hand for the “Supper” Quadrille.
With his fine white teeth and his cheek like a rose,
And his black cravat and his diamond pin,
And the nice little moustache under his nose,
And the dear little tuft on the tip of his chin.
And how I should like some fine morning to ride
In my coach, and my white satin shoes and gown,
To St. James’s Church, with a Beau by my side,
And I shouldn’t much care if his name was Brown.
The editor’s notes, below, imply that “Unsophisticated Wishes” was published somewhere—probably in Bentley’s—before its appearance in the Third Series, but I couldn’t find it. The reference to “the ball . . . for the relief of the Poles” suggests a general time frame of the early 1840s.
Mr. Montefiore / (Sir Moses I should say), for now he’s a Knight.
[It’s not where I would have closed the parenthesis, but there was no point of comparison.]
the ball / Which the Lord Mayor gives for the relief of the Poles
[This may have been a recurring event. I find a writeup of The Polish Ball in the Illustrated London News for 19 November 1842, and a reference to a Polish Ball Committee in the Spectator for 7 December 1844.]
The foregoing pages complete the Series of Poems, etc., published under the name of Thomas Ingoldsby; of these, “The Legend of Languedoc,” “The Buccaneer’s Curse,” “The House-warming,” “The Lay of St. Romwold,” and “The Brothers of Birchington,” appeared in the New Monthly Magazine, the remainder in Bentley’s Miscellany.
The following articles, which are added for reasons stated elsewhere, though prior in point of date, are by the same author, and, with few exceptions, of a similar character with his better-known effusions. The first three are versions of dramas produced: “Hermann,” at the English Opera House; “William Rufus,” we believe, at Drury Lane; and “Marie Mignot” at the Haymarket Theatre. The concluding lines are those alluded to in the Memoir, as having been the last that fell from Mr. Barham’s pen, and which were written during one of those weary nights of watchfulness occasioned by his disease.
AN Emperor, famous in council and camp,
Has a son who turns out a remarkable scamp;
Takes to dicing and drinking,
And d—mning and sinking,
And carries off maids, wives, and widows, like winking!
Since the days of Arminius, his namesake, than Hermann
There never was seen a more profligate German.
He escapes from the City;
And joins some banditti,
Insensible quite to remorse, fear, and pity;
Joins in all their carousals, and revels, and robberies,
And in kicking up all sorts of shindies and bobberies.
Well, hearing one day,
His associates say
That a bridal procession was coming their way,
Inflamed with desire, he
Breaks into a priory,
And kicking out every man Jack of a friar, he
Upsets in a twinkling the mass-books and hassocks,
And dresses his rogues in the clergyman’s cassocks.
The new-married folks
Taken in by this hoax,
Mister Hermann grows frisky and full of his jokes:
To the serious chagrin of her late happy suitor,
Catching hold of the Bride, he attempts to salute her.
Now Heaven knows what
Had become of the lot,
It’s Turtle to Tripe they’d have all gone to pot—
If a Dumb Lady, one
Of her friends, had not run
To her aid, and, quite scandalised, stopp’d all his fun!
Just conceive what a caper
He cut, when her taper
Long fingers scrawl’d this upon whitey-brown paper
(At the instant he seized, and before he had kiss’d her),—
“Ha’ done, Mister Hermann! for shame: it’s your sister!”
His hair stands on end,—he desists from his tricks,
And remains in a “pretty particular fix,”528
As he knows Sir John Nicholl
Still keeps rods in pickle,
Offences of this kind severely to tickle.
At so near an escape from his court and its sentence
His eyes fill with tears and his breast with repentance:
So, picking and stealing,
And unrighteous dealing,
Of all sorts he cuts, from this laudable feeling:
Of wickedness weary,
With many a tear, he
Now takes a French leave of the vile Condottieri:
And the next thing we hear of this penitent villain,
He is begging in rags in the suburbs of Milan.
Half-starved, meagre, and pale,
His energies fail,
When his sister comes in with a pot of mild ale:
But though tatter’d his jerkins,
His heart is whole,—workings
Of conscience debar him from “Barclay and Perkins.”
“I’ll drink,” exclaims he,
“Nothing stronger than tea,
And that but the worst and the weakest Bohea,
Till I’ve done—from my past scenes of folly a far actor—
Some feat shall redeem both my wardrobe and character.”
At signs of remorse so decided and visible
Nought can equal the joy of his fair sister Isabel,
And the Dumb Lady too,
Who runs off to a Jew
And buys him a coat of mail spick and span new,
In the hope that his prowess and deeds as a Knight
Will keep his late larcenies quite out of sight.
By the greatest good luck, his old friends the banditti
Choose this moment to make an attack on the city!
Now you all know the way,
Heroes hack, hew, and slay,
When once they get fairly mixed up in a fray,
Hermann joins in the melée,
Pounds this to a jelly,
Runs that through the back, and a third through the belly,
Till many a broken bone, bruised rib, and flat head,
Make his ci-devant friends curse the hour that he ratted.
Amid so many blows,
Of course you’ll suppose
He must get a black eye, or, at least, bloody nose:529
“Take that!” cried a bandit, and struck, while he spoke it,
His spear in his breast, and, in pulling it out, broke it.
Hermann fainted away
When, as breathless he lay,
A rascal claim’d all the renown of the day;
A recreant, cowardly, white-liver’d knight,
Who had skulk’d in a furze-bush the whole of the fight.
But the Dumb Lady soon
Put some gin in a spoon,
And half strangles poor Hermann, who wakes from his swoon,
And exhibits his wound, when the head of the spear
Fits its handle, and makes his identity clear.
The murder thus out, Hermann’s fêted and thankèd,
While his rascally rival gets toss’d in a blanket;
And to finish the play—
As reform’d rakes, they say,
Make the best of all husbands—the very same day
Hermann sends for a priest, as he must wed with some—lady,
Buys a ring and a licence, and marries the Dumb Lady.
Take warning, young people, of every degree,
From Hermann’s example, and don’t live too free!
If you get in bad company, fly from it soon!
If you chance to get thrash’d, take some gin in a spoon;
And remember, since wedlock’s not all sugar-candy.
If you wish to ’scape “wigging,” a dumb wife’s the dandy!
This and the immediately following two titles—“Historical Play” and “Marie Mignot”—were explained in the transitional notes. So is the book’s final selection, “As I Lay a-Thynkyng”.
WALTER TYRREL, the son of a Norman Papa,
Has, somehow or other, a Saxon Mamma:
Though humble, yet far above mere vulgar loons,
He’s a sort of a sub in the Rufus Dragoons;530
Has travell’d, but comes home abruptly, the rather
That some unknown rascal has murder’d his father;
And scarce has he pick’d out, and stuck in his quiver,
The arrow that pierced the old gentleman’s liver,
When he finds, as misfortunes come rarely alone,
That his sweetheart has bolted,—with whom is not known.
But, as murder will out, he at last finds the lady
At court with her character grown rather shady:
This gives him the “blues,” and impairs the delight
He’d have otherwise felt when they dub him a Knight,
For giving a runaway stallion a check,
And preventing his breaking King Rufus’s neck.
Sir Walter has dress’d himself up like a Ghost,
And frightens a soldier away from his post;
Then, discarding his helmet, he pulls his cloak higher,
Draws it over his ears, and pretends he’s a Friar.
This gains him access to his sweetheart, Miss Faucit:
But, the King coming in, he hides up in her closet;
Where, oddly enough, among some of her things,
He discovers some arrows he’s sure are the King’s,
Of the very same pattern with that which he found
Sticking into his father when dead on the ground!
Forgetting his funk, he bursts open the door,
Bounces into the Drawing-room, stamps on the floor,
With an oath on his tongue, and revenge in his eye,
And blows up King William the Second sky-high;
Swears, storms, shakes his fist, and exhibits such airs,
That his Majesty bids his men kick him down stairs.
King Rufus is cross when he comes to reflect,
That, as King, he’s been treated with gross disrespect;
So he pens a short note to a holy physician,
And gives him a rather unholy commission,
Viz. to mix up some arsenic and ale in a cup,
Which the chances are Tyrrel may find and drink up.531
Sure enough, on the very next morning, Sir Walter
Perceives, in his walks, this same cup on the altar.
As he feels rather thirsty, he’s just about drinking,
When Miss Faucit in tears comes in running like winking.
He pauses of course, and as she’s thirsty too,
Says very politely, “Miss, I after you!”
The young lady curtsies, and being so dry,
Raises somehow her fair little finger so high,
That there’s not a drop left him to “wet t’other eye;”
While the dose is so strong, to his grief and surprise,
She merely says, “Thankee, Sir Walter,” and dies.
At that moment the King, who is riding to cover,
Pops in en passant on the desperate lover,
Who has vow’d, not five minutes before, to transfix him,
—So he does,—he just pulls out his arrow and sticks him.
From the strength of his arm, and the force of his blows,
The Red-bearded Rover falls flat on his nose;
And Sir Walter, thus having concluded his quarrel,
Walks down to the foot-lights, and draws this fine moral—
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
Lead sober lives:—
Don’t meddle with other folks’ Sweethearts or Wives!—
When you go out a sporting, take care of your gun,
And—never shoot elderly people in fun!”
She merely says, “Thankee, Sir Walter,” and dies.
[Arsenic was evidently quicker-acting in the eleventh century than it is today.]
MISS MARIE MIGNOT was a nice little Maid,
Her Uncle a Cook, and a Laundress her trade,
And she loved as dearly as any one can
Mister Lagardie, a nice little man.
But oh! But oh!
Story of woe!
A sad interloper, one Monsieur Modeau,
Ugly and old,
With plenty of gold,
Made his approach
In an elegant coach,
Her fancy was charmed with the splendour and show.
And he bore off the false-hearted Molly Mignot.532
Monsieur Modeau was crazy and old,
And Monsieur Modeau caught a terrible cold;
His nose was stuff’d and his throat was sore,
He had physic by the quart and Doctors by the score;
They sent squills,
And very long bills,
And all they could do did not make him get well,
He sounded his M’s and his N’s like an L.
A shocking bad cough
At last took him off,
And Mister Lagardie, her former young beau,
Came a-courting again to the Widow Modeau.
Mister Lagardie, to gain him éclat,
Had cut the Cook’s shop and follow’d the law:
And when Monsieur Modeau set out on his journey,
Was an Articled Clerk to a Special Attorney,
He gave her a call
On the day of a ball,
To which she’d invited the court, camp and all;
But “poor dear Lagardie”
Again was too tardy,
For a Marshal of France
Had just ask’d her to dance.
In a twinkling, the ci-devant Madame Modeau
Was wife of the Marshal Lord Marquis Dinot.
Mister Lagardie was shock’d at the news,
And went and enlisted at once in the Blues,
The Marquis Dinot
Felt a little so so—
Took physic, grew worse, and had notice to go—
He died, and was shelved, and his Lady so gay
Smiled again on Lagardie, now placed on full pay,
A Swedish Field-Marshal with a guinea a day;
When an old Ex-King
Just show’d her the ring:
To be Queen, she conceived, was a very fine thing;
But the King turn’d a Monk,
And Lagardie got drunk,
And said to the Lady with a deal of ill
“You may go to the d—l and I’ll go to Sweden.”
Thus between the two stools,
Like some other fools,
Her Ladyship found
Herself plump on the ground;
So she cried, and she stamp’d, and she sent for a hack,
And she drove to a convent, and never came back.533
Wives, Maidens, and Widows, attend to my lay—
If a fine moral lesson you’d draw from a play,
To the Haymarket go,
And see Marie Mignot,
Miss Kelly plays Marie, and Williams Modeau;
Mrs. Glover and Vining
Are really quite shining.
And though Thompson for a Marquis
Has almost too much carcass,
Yet it’s not fair to pass him or
John Cooper’s Cassimir,
And the piece would be barren
Without Mr. Farren;
No matter, go there, and they’ll teach you the guilt
Of coquetting and ogling, and playing the jilt.
Such folks gallop awhile, but at last they get spilt;
Had Molly Mignot
Behaved comme il faut,
Nor married the Lawyer nor Marquis Dinot,
She had ne’er been a nun, whose fare very hard is,
But the mother of half-a-score little Lagardies.
And said to the Lady with a deal of ill breeding,
text has breeding,” with superfluous close quote
THREE little Demons have broken loose
From the National School below!
They are resolved to play truant to-day.
Their primer and slate they have cast away,
And away, away, they go!
“Hey boys! hey boys! up go we!
Who so merry as we three?”
The reek of that most infernal pit,
Where sinful souls are stewing,
Rises so black, that in viewing it,
A thousand to one but you’d ask with surprise
As its murky columns met your eyes,
“Pray, is Old Nick a-brewing?”
Thither these three little Devils repair,
And mount by steam to the uppermost air.534
They have got hold of a wandering star,
That happen’d to come within hail.
O swiftly they glide!
As they merrily ride
All a cock-stride
Of that Comet’s tail.
Oh the pranks! Oh the pranks!
The merry pranks, the mad pranks
These wicked urchins play!
They kiss’d the Virgin and fill’d her with dread,
They popp’d the Scorpion into her bed;
They broke the pitcher of poor Aquarius,
They stole the arrows of Sagittarius,
And they skimm’d the Milky Way.
They fill’d the Scales with sulphur full,
They hallooed the Dog-Star on at the Bull,
And pleased themselves with the noise.
They set the Lion
On poor Orion;
They shaved all the hair
Off the Lesser Bear!
They kick’d the shins
Of the Gemini Twins—
Those heavenly Siamese Boys!—
Never was such confusion and wrack,
As they produced in the Zodiac!—
Let us go down to the earth and play!
Now we go up, up, up,
Now we go down, down, down,
Now we go backwards and forwards,
Now we go round, round, round!”
Thus they gambol, and scramble, and tear,
Till at last they arrive at the nethermost air.
And pray now what were these Devilets call’d?
These three little Fiends so gay!
One was Cob!
Another was Mob!
The last and the least was young Chittabob!
Queer little devils were they!
Cob was the strongest,
Mob was the wrongest,
Chittabob’s tail was the finest and longest!
Three more frolicsome Imps, I ween,
Beelzebub’s self hath seldom seen.535
Over Mountain, over Fell,
Glassy Fountain, mossy Dell,
Rocky Island, barren Strand,
Over Ocean, over Land;
With frisk and bound, and squeaks and squalls,
Heels over head, and head over heels;
With curlings and twistings, and twirls and wheeleries,
Down they drop at the gate of the Tuileries.
Courtiers were bowing and making legs,
While Charley le Roi was bolting eggs:
“Mob,” says Cob,
“Chittabob,” says Mob,
“Come here, you young Devil, we’re in for a job.”
Up jumps Cob to the Monarch’s ear,
“Charley, my jolly boy, never fear;
If you mind all their jaw
About Charter and Law,
You might just as well still be the Count d’Artois!
No such thing,
Show ’em you’re King,
Tip ’em an Ordinance, that’s the thing!”
Took his pen and sign’d;
Then Mob kick’d over his throne from behind!
“Huzza! Huzza! we may scamper now!
For here we’ve kick’d up a jolly good row!”
“Over the water and over the Sea,
And over the water with Charlie;”
Now they came skipping and grinning with glee,
Not pausing to chaff ox to parley.
On to Dover;
On fun intent,
All through Kent
These mischievous devils so merrily went.
Over hill and over dale,
Sunken hollow, lofty ridge,
Frowning cliff, and smiling vale,
Down to the foot of Westminster-bridge.
“Hollo,” says Cob,
“There’s the Duke and Sir Bob!
After ’em, Chittabob, after ’em, Mob.”
Mob flung gravel and Chittabob pebbles,
His Grace c——’d them both for a couple of rebels:
His feelings were hurt
By the stones and the dirt—536
In went he,
In an ecstasy,
And blew up the nobles of high degree.
“Mr. Brougham, Mr. Hume,
May fret and may fume—
And so may all you whom I see in this room;
Come weal, come woe, come calm, come storm—
I’ll see you all—blessed—ere I give you reform;”
“Bravo!” says Chittabob, “That’s your sort,
Come along, schoolfellows, here’s more sport.
Look there! look there!
There’s the great Lord May’r,
With the gravest of Deputies close to his chair;
With Hobler, his Clerk!
Just the thing for a lark;
Huzzah! huzzah! boys, follow me now;
Here we may kick up another good row.”
Here they are,
Swift as a star,
They shoot in mid-air, over Temple Bar!
Tom Macaulay beheld the flight
Of these three little dusky sons of night,
And his heart swell’d with joy and elation—
“Oh, see!” quoth he,
“Those Niggerlings three,
Who have just got emancipation!”
Lord Key took fright:
At the very first sight,
The whole Court of Aldermen wheel’d to the right;
Some ran from Chittabob—more from Mob,
The great locum tenens jump’d up upon Cob,
Who roar’d and ran
With the Alderman
To the Home Office, pick-a-back—catch ’em who can!
“Stay at home—here’s a plot,
And I can’t tell you what,
If you don’t I’ll be shot,
But you’ll all go to pot.”
Ah, little he ween’d, while the ground he thus ran over,
’Twas a Cob he bestrode—not his white horse from Hanover.
Back they came galloping through the Strand,
When Joseph Lancaster, stick in hand,
Popp’d up his head before ’em.
Well we know,
That honest old Joe,
Is a sort of High Master down below,
And teaches the Imps decorum.537
Satan had started him off in a crack,
To flog these three little runaways back.
Fear each assails;
Every one quails;
“Oh dear! how he’ll tickle our little black tails!
Have done, have done,
Here’s that son of a gun,
Old Joe, come after us,—run, boys, run.”
Off ran Cob,
Off ran Mob,
And off in a fright ran young Chittabob;
Joe caught Chittabob just by the tail,
And Cob by his crumpled horn;
Bitterly then did these Imps bewail,
That ever they were born!
Mob got away,
But none to this day
Know exactly whither he went;
Some say he’s been seen about Blackfriars Bridge,
And some say he’s down in Kent.
But where’er he may roam,
He has not ventured home
Since the day the three took wing,
And many suppose
He has changed his clothes,
And now goes by the name of “Swing.”
“Oh, see!” quoth he, / “Those * * * three
[Dammit, Tom. We’ve talked about this.]
AY, here stands the Poplar, so tall and so stately,
On whose tender rind—’twas a little one then—
We carved her initials; though not very lately—
We think in the year eighteen hundred and ten.
Yes, here is the G which proclaimed Georgiana;
Our heart’s empress then; see, ’tis grown all askew;
And it’s not without grief we perforce entertain a
Conviction, it now looks much more like a Q.
This should be the great D too, that once stood for Dobbin,
Her loved patronymic—ah! can it be so?
Its once fair proportions time, too, has been robbing;
A D?—we’ll be Deed if it isn’t an O!538
Alas! how the soul sentimental it vexes,
That thus on our labours stern Chronos should frown,
Should change our soft liquids to izzards and Xes,
And turn true-love’s alphabet all upside down.
“Litera manet.”—Old Saw.
ANOTHER mizzling, drizzling day!
Of clearing up there’s no appearance;
So I’ll sit down without delay,
And here, at least, I’ll make a clearance!
Oh, ne’er “on such a day as this,”
Would Dido with her woes oppressèd
Have woo’d Æneas back to bliss,
Or Troilus gone to hunt for Cressid!
No, they’d have stay’d at home, like me,
And popp’d their toes upon the fender,
And drank a quiet cup of tea:—
On days like this one can’t be tender.
So, Molly, draw that basket nigher,
And put my desk upon the table—
Bring that Portfolio—stir the fire—
Now off as fast as you are able!
First, here’s a card from Mrs. Grimes,
“A ball!”—she knows that I’m no dancer—
That woman’s asked me fifty times,
And yet I never send an answer.
Just lend me twenty pounds
Till Monday next, when I’ll return it.
I’ve seen the man but twice—here, burn it.539
One from my Cousin Sophy Daw—
Full of Aunt Margery’s distresses;
“The Cat has kitten’d in ‘the draw,’
And ruin’d two bran-new silk dresses.”
From Sam, “The Chancellor’s motto,”—nay,
Confound his puns, he knows I hate ’em.
“Pro Rege, Lege, Grege,”—Ay,
“For King read Mob!” Brougham’s old erratum.
From Seraphina Price—“At —
“Till then I can’t, my dearest John,
Two more because I did not go,
Beginning “Wretch” and “Faithless Monster!”
“This morning Mrs. P——,
Who’s doing quite as well as may be,
Presented me at half-past three,
Precisely, with another baby.
“We’ll name it John, and know with pleasure
You’ll stand”—Five guineas more, confound it!—
I wish they’d call it Nebuchadnezzar,
Or thrown it in the Thames and drown’d it.
What have we next? A civil Dun:
“John Brown would take it as a favour”—
Another, and a surlier one,
“I can’t put up with sich behaviour.”
“Bill so long standing,”—“quite tired out,”—
“Must sit down to insist on payment,”
“Call’d ten times,”—Here’s a fuss about
A few coats, waistcoats, and small raiment!
For once I’ll send an answer, and in-
form Mr. Snip he needn’t “call” so;
But when his bill’s as “tired of standing”
As he is, beg ’twill “sit down also.”540
This from my rich old Uncle Ned,
Thanking me for my annual present;
And saying he last Tuesday wed
His cook-maid, Molly—vastly pleasant!
An ill-spelt note from Tom at school,
Begging I’ll let him learn the fiddle;
Another from that precious fool,
Miss Pyefinch, with a stupid riddle.
“D’ye give it up?” Indeed I do!
Confound these antiquated minxes;
I won’t play “Billy Black” to a “Blue,”
Or Œdipus to such old sphinxes.
A note sent up from Kent to show me,
Left with my bailiff, Peter King;
“I’ll burn them precious stacks down, blow me!
“Yours most sincerely,
Four begging letters with petitions,
One from my sister Jane, to pray
I’ll “execute a few commissions”
In Bond Street, “when I go that way.
“And buy at Pearsal’s in the City
Twelve skeins of silk for netting purses;
Colour no matter, so it’s pretty;—
Two hundred pens”—two hundred curses!
From Mistress Jones: “My little Billy
Goes up his schooling to begin,
Will you just step to Piccadilly,
And meet him when the coach comes in?
“And then, perhaps, you will as well see
The poor dear fellow safe to school
At Dr. Smith’s in Little Chelsea!”
Heaven send he flog the little fool!541
From Lady Snooks: “Dear Sir, you know
You promised me last week a Rebus;
A something smart and apropos,
For my new Album!”—Aid me, Phœbus!
“My first is follow’d by my second;
Yet should my first my second see,
A dire mishap it would be reckoned,
And sadly shock’d my first would be.
“Were I but what my whole implies,
And pass’d by chance across your portal,
You’d cry, ‘Can I believe my eyes?
I never saw so queer a mortal!’
“For then my head would not be on,
My arms their shoulders must abandon;
My very body would be gone,
I should not have a leg to stand on.”
Come, that’s despatch’d—what follows? Stay,
“Reform demanded by the nation”—
for Tagrag and Bobtail!” Ay,
By Jove, a blessed Reformation!
Jack, clap the saddle upon Rose—
Or, no!—the filly—she’s the fleeter;
The devil take the rain—here goes,
I’m off—a plumper for Sir Peter!
“My Letters” originally appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 30 no. 1 (July 1831) as “Family Poetry No. II: My Letters”. That makes it the oldest selection in the three Ingoldsby series.
“Litera scripta manet.”
text has scriptera
open quote missing
From Seraphina Price—“At two— / “Till then I can’t, my dearest John, stir;”
text has “At two” . . . stir; with misplaced close quote
“Vote for Tagrag and Bobtail!” Ay,
open quote missing
A FRIEND I met some half-hour since—
“Good-morrow, Jack!” quoth I;
The new-made Knight, like any Prince,
Frown’d, nodded, and pass’d by;
When up came Jem—“Sir John, your Slave!”
“Ah, James; we dine at eight—
Fail not—(low bows the supple knave)
Don’t make my lady wait.”
The King can do no wrong? As I’m a sinner,
He’s spoilt an honest tradesman and my dinner.
While searching (in vain) for an earlier publication, I was amused to find “New-made Honour” included in Beeton’s Book of Anecdote, Wit and Humour—subtitle, Being a Collection of Wise and Witty Things in Prose and Verse together with a Selection of Curious Epitaphs—from 1864 and later. This title is yet another of the many, many compendiums published by Samuel Orchart Beeton in addition to the Book of Household Management so ably edited by his wife.
THERE’S somewhat on my breast, father,
There’s somewhat on my breast!
The livelong day I sigh, father,
And at night I cannot rest.
I cannot take my rest, father.
Though I would fain do so;
A weary weight oppresseth me—
This weary weight of woe!
’Tis not the lack of gold, father,
Nor want of worldly gear;
My lands are broad, and fair to see,
My friends are kind and dear.
My kin are leal and true, father,
They mourn to see my grief;
But oh! ’tis not a kinsman’s hand
Can give my heart relief!
’Tis not that Janet’s false, father,
’Tis not that she’s unkind;
Tho’ busy flatterers swarm around,
I know her constant mind.
’Tis not her coldness, father,
That chills my labouring breast;
It’s that confounded cucumber
I’ve eat and can’t digest.
“The Confession” originally appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 38 no. 1 (July 1835) as “Family Poetry No. VII: The Confession”.
THERE sits a bird on yonder tree,
More fond than Cushat Dove;
There sits a bird on yonder tree,
And sings to me of love.
Oh! stoop thee from thine eyrie down
And nestle thee near my heart,
For the moments fly,
And the hour is nigh,
When thou and I must part,
When thou and I must part.543
In yonder covert lurks a Fawn,
The pride of the sylvan scene;
In yonder covert lurks a Fawn,
And I am his only queen;
Oh! bound from thy secret lair,
For the sun is below the west;
No mortal eye
May our meeting spy,
For all are closed in rest,
Each eye is closed in rest.
Oh! sweet is the breath of morn,
When the sun’s first beams appear;
Oh! sweet is the shepherd’s strain,
When it dies on the list’ning ear;
And sweet the soft voice which speaks
The Wanderer’s welcome home;
But sweeter far
By yon pale mild star,
With our true Love thus to roam,
With our own true love to roam!
This Song’s chief claim to fame is that it was later set to music by the one, the only Arthur Sullivan, with the title “There Sits a Bird in Yonder Tree”. It isn’t an especially catchy tune, though.
BRAVE L—, so says a knight of the pen,
“Has exposed himself much at the head of his men:”
As his men ran away without waiting to fight,
To expose himself there’s to be first in the flight.
Had it not been as well, when he saw his men quail,
To have stay’d and exposed himself more at their tail?
Or say, is it fair, in this noblest of quarrels,
To suffer the chief to engross all the laurels?
No! his men, so the muse to all Europe shall sing,
Have exposed themselves fully as much as their king.
The editor’s introduction to the Third Series refers to poems “of an evanescent character, for the most part bearing upon the gossip of the day”. In other words, I guess you had to be there.
WHAT Horace says is,
Anni labuntur, Postume, Postume!
Years glide away, and are lost to me, lost to me!
Now, when the folks in the dance sport their merry toes,
Taglionis and Ellslers, Duvernays and Ceritos,
Sighing I murmur, “O mihi præteritos!”
’TIS sweet to think the pure ethereal being,
Whose mortal form reposes with the dead,
Still hovers round unseen, yet not unseeing,
Benignly smiling o’er the mourner’s bed!
She comes in dreams, a thing of light and lightness,
I hear her voice, in still, small accents tell
Of realms of bliss, and never-fading brightness,
Where those who loved on earth together dwell.
Ah! yet a while, blest shade, thy flight delaying,
The kindred soul with mystic converse cheer;
To her rapt gaze, in visions bland displaying,
The unearthly glories of thy happier sphere!
Yet, yet remain! till freed like thee, delighted,
She spurns the thraldom of encumbering clay;
Then as on earth, in tend’rest love united,
Together seek the realms of endless day!
I suppose this song, too, must have been set to music by somebody—but not by Arthur Sullivan, so I couldn’t find it.
AS I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge,
Merrie sang the Birde as she sat upon the spraye;
There came a noble Knyghte,
With his hauberke shynynge brighte,
And his gallant heart was lyghte,
Free and gaye:
As I laye a-thynkynge, he rode upon his waye.
As I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge.
Sadly sang the Birde as she sat upon the tree!
There seem’d a crimson plain,
Where a gallant Knyghte laye slayne.
And a steed with broken rein
As I laye a-thynkynge, most pitiful to see!
As I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge,
Merrie sang the Birde as she sat upon the boughe;
A lovely Mayde came bye,
And a gentil youth was nyghe,
And he breathed many a syghe
And a vowe;
As I laye a-thynkynge, her hearte was gladsome now.
As I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge,
Sadly sang the Birde as she sat upon the thorne;
No more a youth was there,
But a Maiden rent her haire,
And cried in sad despaire,
“That I was borne!”
As I laye a-thynkynge, she perished forlorne.
As I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge,
Sweetly sang the Birde as she sat upon the briar;546
There came a lovely Childe,
And his face was meek and mild,
Yet joyously he smiled
On his sire;
As I laye a-thynkynge, a Cherub mote admire.
But I laye a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge, a-thynkynge,
And sadly sang the Birde as it perch’d upon a bier:
That joyous smile was gone,
And the face was white and wan,
As the downe upon the Swan
As I laye a-thynkynge—oh! bitter flow’d the tear!
As I laye a-thynkynge, the golden sun was sinking,
O merrie sang that Birde as it glitter’d on her breast
With a thousand gorgeous dyes,
While soaring to the skies,
’Mid the stars she seem’d to rise,
As to her nest;
As I laye a-thynkynge, her meaning was exprest:—
“Follow, follow me away,
It boots not to delay,”—
’Twas so she seem’d to saye,
“Here is rest!”
Another Big Name composer, Edward Elgar, would set this one to music some 40 years later.
Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.
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.