THE ILLUSTRATED POCKET LIBRARY
OF PLAIN AND COLOURED BOOKS
THE SECOND TOUR OF
Ut Pictura Poesis erit; quæ, si propius stes,
Te capiat magis; et quædam si longius abstes,
Hæc amat obscurum; volet hæc sub luce videri,
Judicis argutum quæ non formidat acumen:
Hæc placuit semel, hæc decies repetita placebit.
THE SECOND TOUR
IN SEARCH OF
BY THOMAS ROWLANDSON
A NEW EDITION
METHUEN & CO.
THIS Issue is founded on the First Edition published by R. Ackermann in the year 1820
|Dr. Syntax and his Counterpart||Frontispiece|
|Lamenting the loss of his Wife||To face p. 10|
|At the funeral of his Wife||23|
|Setting out on his Second Tour||48|
|And the Gypsies||76|
|Loses his Wig||96|
|Visit to Widow Hopeful at York||124|
|Amused with Pat in the Pond||145|
|In the Glass-house||149|
|Visits Eaton Hall, Cheshire||152|
|Making his Will||162|
|In a Court of Justice||168|
|Present at a Coffeehouse Quarrel at Bath||171|
|The superannuated Foxhunter||175|
|With the Skimmington Riders||188|
|Visits a boarding-school for Young Ladies||215|
|Making a Discovery||227|
|Painting a Portrait||231|
|Marriage of Dr. Dicky Bend||238|
|At an Auction||245|
|At Freemason’s Hall||257|
|Miss Worthy’s Marriage||263|
IT has been the opinion of many whose superior judgment commanded my submission, that I was called upon to separate the works written by me, as the Biographer of Dr. Syntax, from those which have been palmed upon the public by others, who have pilfered that title. I have submitted to this opinion, though my eightieth year is approaching, and have written this book. The First Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, the Dance of Death, the Dance of Life, and this Volume, containing the Second Tour, are the only works in this style of composition which have been written by me.
This Second Tour is, like the former one, a work of suggestions from the plates, by Mr. Rowlandson, though not with such entire reserve as the first. Some few of the subjects may have been influenced by hints from me, and I am willing to suppose that such are the least amusing of them.—For the sake of my Readers I might have wished for more time than was allowed me, and for my own sake, that I had more strength.—But vi if the work appears to be such, as to justify the hope of affording pleasure, apologies are needless; and if such an expectation is doubtful, they are impertinent.
TO Mortal Man it is not given,
Such are the known decrees of Heaven,
Along the stream of life to glide,
Nor feel the tumults of the tide:
The ebbing and the flowing wave
Contend to bear him to the grave:
The smiling joy the frowning care
In various change his bosom share,
And hope and fear alternate ply,
While he fulfils his destiny.
Thus Syntax, as we all must own,
Had struggled long with Fortune’s frown,
Nor did a flatt’ring hope portend
That Fortune e’er would be his Friend.
Patient, ’tis true, his Lot he bore,
For Virtue sage and Learning’s lore,
Those faithful friends of worth distrest,
Would often soothe his aching breast;
Would his foreboding fancy cheer
And sometimes check the rising tear.2
But, after a long clouded day,
The Sun broke forth with genial ray,
And mild prosperity display’d
Its welcome form in smiles array’d.
Each virtue woo’d, each duty done,
Time on swift pinions travels on,
Nor fears of future evil lour
To dim with care the present hour.
—Thus Syntax and his darling wife
No longer knew domestic strife;
And since it was their lot to bide
By Keswick’s Lake’s admired side,
They might have claim’d, or I’m mistaken,
With conscience clear, the Flitch of Bacon;
A symbol that is known to prove,
The perfect state of married love;
And which, when thus enjoy’d, is given
As the first boon on this side Heaven.
Madam, who now had nought to fret her,
Of all her whims had got the better;
Among her higher neighbours, she
Received and gave the frequent tea,
And every stated feast that came
Display’d the hospitable dame;
While from the poor, in Parish Pride,
She ne’er was known to turn aside.
As in the millinery art
She lov’d to be a little smart,
The Doctor, too, in better station,
Had somewhat changed his form and fashion;
Nay, to describe him à la Lettre,
His outward show was rather better,
Than when he liv’d by Pedant Rule,
A Curate with an humble School:3
His coat was not to thread-bare worn,
His hat had not that squeeze forlorn,
And his queer wig would now unfurl
Something that might be call’d a curl:
Besides, his Dolly’s pride, I ween,
Took no small pains to keep him clean.
—With eloquence and learning fraught,
He preach’d what his Great Master taught;
But no grave airs his hours molest,
Joy was the inmate of his breast,
Which, in its various forms, he found
The way to scatter all around.
Sage with the learned, with the ’Squire
He told his tale by winter’s fire;
Or ’mid the pipe’s surrounding smoke
He never fail’d, with pleasant joke,
To animate the social hour,
When summer forms its verdant bower:
Never from contumelious pride,
Was his old fiddle laid aside;
Oft did its sounding strings prolong
The jocund air and merry song.
His pencil too performed its duty
In sketching many a landscape beauty:
Scarce rose a cot within the bound
That his dominion did surround,
Whose whiten’d walls did not impart
Some bounty of the Doctor’s art.
—The parents to his Rev’rence bent,
The children smil’d where’er he went;
And, grateful praise, in warm acclaim,
Ne’er fail’d to wait upon his name.
Syntax was by the ’Squire caress’d
And oft exclaim’d, my lot how blest!
While Madam Worthy would commend
His Dolly as her fav’rite friend.4
In short, as sister and as brother,
Their doors were open to each other.
’Twas thus four fleeting years were past
In happiness not made to last;
E’en though a darling hope appear’d,
And joy untold their bosoms cheer’d;
For Nature, without fuss or pother
Gave hints that she would be a mother:
At least th’ obstetric Doctor Bone,
Had said this joy would be their own.
—Ye who have felt a parent’s pleasure,
Alone can tell the mode, the measure
Of that delight which might inflame
The thoughts of Syntax and his Dame.
The news was spread, the neighbours smil’d,
His Rev’rence, by such hopes beguil’d,
Would offer up the secret prayer
That Heaven might bless him with an Heir,
A little Syntax, who would prove
A father’s pride, a mother’s love;
And when well stor’d with Papa’s knowledge,
Might be the wonder of a College.
Though Madam harbour’d in her breast
A wish, by female hope imprest,
That, as the choicest boon of Heaven,
A female cherub would be given
Which, when she dandled in her arms,
Might smile in all her Mother’s charms:
But they contriv’d their wish to smother
And keep the secret from each other.
Thus Syntax with parental pride,
The curtain’d cradle fondly eyed,
And oft, with a foreboding joy,
Would think he saw the slumb’ring boy;5
Nay sometimes thought, in fancy’s ear,
The Nurse’s lullabies were near.
The ale was brew’d, the heifer’s life
Waited the ready butcher’s knife;
The one to crown the joyous bowl,
The other to be roasted whole;
While all the anxious village pour
Their wish for the prolific hour.
But be it told to Nature’s shame
The look’d-for period never came.
The allotted season now was pass’d,
The doubting Midwife stood aghast,
While Galen, ’mid a string of pauses
On Nature’s whims and final causes,
Declaim’d with solemn look and air;—
Then calmly ventur’d to declare
With cautious whispering o’er and o’er,
He ne’er was so deceived before.
Th’ unlook’d for tidings Syntax heard,
His face now red now pale appear’d,
While the grave Doctor left the room,
Fearful of his impending doom;
For Syntax, with those horrid graces,
Which rage will write on mortal faces,
Now wildly stamping round the floor,
Had kick’d the cradle through the door.
—Just as his darling hope miscarried,
A couple waited to be married.
“I will not heighten my distress
By such a scene of happiness;
To-day,” he cried, “I will annoy
Each source of matrimonial joy,
The bridal folk shall share my sorrow,
Nor will I wed them till to-morrow!”6
The Bridegroom bow’d in humble suit,
The Bride just whisper’d—“What a Brute!”
While the Clerk, trembling, pale and sad,
Fear’d that his Rev’rence was gone mad:
At least, he was not in a state
Such holy rite to celebrate,
And they must see another Sun
Before the wish’d-for work was done.
Amen declared, “I have a wife
Who ne’er gave peace to married life;
Yet oft I’ve thought the nuptial boon
Might come, alas, a day too soon;
And though you now so sad depart,
With downcast look and aching heart,
That Love has yielded to delay
Its bands for one impatient day,
May the wish never come, Oh never!
That they had been delay’d for ever!”
Thus while the disappointed folk
Stole off to meet the gen’ral joke,
And furnish out a village tale,
O’er evening tea or milking-pail,
Sage Galen by mild reas’ning strove,
And learned argument to prove,
That he had err’d where all might err,
As Nature oft, he could aver,
Would symptomatic pranks betray,
Would swerve from ev’ry common way,
And into such strange whimsies stray,
That Esculapius, he believ’d,
Were he on earth would be deceived:
Where she had so perplex’d his knowledge,
It might have puzzled all the College.
“I beg,” he said, “the learn’d Divine,
Will think it not a fault of mine,7
Nor tell the mishap to my shame,
That he bears not a father’s name:
With patience, and another year,
A bouncing bantling may appear.”
Syntax the obstetric Doctor eyed,
And thus, with scornful look, replied:
“—You talk of Nature, let us learn
From those who could her ways discern,
Could from her deep concealments call her,
Nor let your boasted skill enthral her;
I tell you, Sir, the learned Bacon,
Has truly said, or I’m mistaken,
That the Physician tribe await,
With doubting art the sick man’s fate,
While the sick man his lot endures,
Till Physic kills, or Nature cures.
—The first great principle of Nature
Is to produce a Human Creature;
Nor never will my mind believe,
In this great work she would deceive!
Creation tells it, look around,
And say, what is there to be found,
What in the world’s stupendous plan,
That is not clearly made for man?
The beasts which in the forest rove,
The birds that haunt the shady grove,
That love the stream, that trace the field
Or the green-woods and thickets yield;
Nor these alone, the finny brood
That swim the sea, or cleave the flood;
The yielding grain, the flower that blows,
What in Earth’s pregnant bosom grows;
The Planets, in the Vault of Heaven,
Are for man’s use divinely given:
A being he, of beauteous mould,
Which Angels may with joy behold;8
Endued with various powers combin’d
That tell the wonders of his mind;
A life arrang’d by Heav’n’s decree,
His end an Immortality.
To such a task, to such great ends,
On which the living world depends,
Nature proceeds by certain rules
Which may be seen by all but fools.
She may indeed, howe’er intent,
Fail by untoward accident;
Or, if by ignorance pursued,
May not be rightly understood;
But never, Sir, shall I believe
It is her purpose to deceive;
And I refer this sad ado,
Not to Dame Nature, but to you.
I think it true what Galen says,
Though ’tis not in the Doctors’ praise,
That Art is long, and knows to seize
With eager grasp the daily fees,
While Life is short, and well it may,
When Life doth at your guess-work lay.”
He spoke, then to the Doctor threw,
Th’ expected fee, nor said adieu.
Again he sought the patient’s bed
With tender look and gentle tread;
“No more,” he whisper’d to the Nurse,
“Will I pursue the Doctor’s course;
The Booby Quack I have dismiss’d
With his last Guinea in his fist:
The phials now shall disembogue
The liquids of the stupid rogue:
I’ll leave the dear angelic creature,
As Bacon doth advise, to Nature,9
With those kind aids she does impart,
And have no dark recourse to art:
Of sago she shall frequent sip,
Warm jelly now shall wet her lip,
And kitchen physic shall restore
Her health to what it was before.”
His Rev’rence told them to prepare
For the appointed hour of prayer.
The cushion on the floor was spread,
The book was plac’d upon the bed:
Calm and compos’d the patient lay
As if she were inclined to pray;
To Health’s first fount he did impart
The breathings of his anxious heart;
But she, who never fail’d to join
In all these offices divine,
Ne’er made responses as he pray’d,
Nor said Amen to what he said.
He made his off’ring to the skies,
But she, alas! ne’er op’d her eyes.
Thus, as sleep seem’d to overtake her
He gave his caution not to wake her;
When the Nurse, hanging o’er the bed,
Shriek’d out, “My Mistress, Sir, is dead!
Alas, alas, I fear to say,
She ne’er will wake till Judgment-Day.”
—As if by some dire stroke subdued,
For a short time, aghast he stood:
Then, with a look that spoke despair,
He gaz’d on Death’s pale victim there;
He kiss’d her lips no longer warm;
He view’d her ’reft of ev’ry charm;
Her heart, alas, no longer beat;
Cold was the source of vital heat;10
Death was triumphant,—Life was o’er,
And his dear Dolly was no more.
—His agonizing bosom burns,
He raves, and stamps, and prays by turns:
Grief made him wild, but not a tear
Did on his pallid cheeks appear.
Into the chair his form he threw,
“Adieu,” he said, “my Love adieu!”
The tears then came—the gushing flood
Streamed down his cheeks and did him good:
They calm’d at least his furious mood.
There are, who eager to dispense
What they possess of eloquence,
When sorrow comes contrive to flout it
By letting loose their speech about it,
And for a time, at least, dispel it
If they are but allow’d to tell it.
Syntax was of this sect profest,—
To talk, was what he lov’d the best,
And he would think that any blessing
Was in itself scarce worth possessing,
If it but chanc’d his tongue to tye
And check his native fluency:
Nor thought he that a real ill,
Which did not make his tongue lay still;—
Nay, would almost sharp pain approve,
So it allow’d his tongue to move:
In talking now he sought relief,
And thus he talk’d to ease his grief:—
“Alas, how are my hopes beguil’d!
This morn I look’d to have a child;
I thought to see her view the boy
With eyes that spoke a mother’s joy;
But ah, no child has seen the light,
And her eyes close in endless night.11
Physic I hate thee, with thy ills,
Thy solemn looks and noisome pills:
Thou base pretender,—foe to life,
’Tis thou hast robb’d me of my Wife!
The wretch impelled by hunger’s force,
Who steals a sheep, a pig, a horse,
Or breaks a window to purloin
A pound of chops on which to dine,
Though for a week th’ unwilling sinner
Had neither breakfast had, nor dinner,
Yields to the dire decree of law
And suffers by the Hang-man’s paw;
While Doctors, on their fees intent,
May kill by Act of Parliament.”
—His heaving bosom inward groan’d
While he, in dubious accents moan’d;
Words of strange import from him broke,
And in half sentences he spoke:
By double disappointment crost
His worried mind was almost lost.
—Now as he wildly pac’d the floor,
A gentle knock assail’d the door,
To open it he quickly flew;
The Parish-Clerk appeared in view.
—“What want you, Amen?” Syntax cried.
Amen bow’d humbly, and replied,
“Jane Leggin’s child, to tell I grieve,
Has not another hour to live;
And she requests for her repose
You’ll christen it before it goes.
The Doctor says—”
“Talk not to me
Of Doctors, man, who for their fee12
Would thin mankind: O what a strife
’Twixt Physic’s arts and human life;
And well I know, to my sore pain,
Which will a certain conquest gain,
Unless Dame Nature steps between
And drives th’ Empiric from the scene.”
“The Mother, please you, Sir, doth wait
With the poor Child at church-yard gate.”
“The Child! What Child? you drive me mad:
I have no child, I wish I had!
No child to my fond hopes is given,
And my poor wife has gone to Heaven.
Haste then, away,—and let the knell
Her death and my misfortunes tell.”
The Parson left the Clerk aghast,
Then bang’d the door and lock’d it fast;
When instant hast’ning to the bed,
He threw himself beside the dead.
The Nurse wept as her heart would break,
And strove, but all in vain, to speak.
“Leave not the room,” he said, “nor go,
While I shall thus indulge my woe;
With your loud grief breed not a riot,
But sit you down—and howl in quiet.”
Amen, with reverential awe,
Told all he heard, and all he saw,
And as he hastened to the steeple
He thus informed the curious people.13
“The Doctor raves and no child’s come,
And Madam’s gone for ever home.
Nay, since his hopes are all miscarried,
No love-sick maiden will be married,
Nor will a babe depend upon’t
Be made a Christian at the Font,
Till Madam’s buried, and his grief
In pious thoughts has found relief.”
—The bell let loose its iron tongue,
Amazement o’er the village hung;
Labour stood still, and ev’ry thought
Was with the dismal tidings fraught.
As the poor people learn’d the tale,
Deep sighs and loud laments prevail,
And many a face was now bedew’d
With the big tear of gratitude.
Beneath a spreading tree, that grew
In the church-yard, it was a yew;
Which, it was said, had held its place,
Since the old time of Chevy-Chace;
Beneath its venerable shade,
The village folk their counsels weigh’d;
Sometimes would talk of private story,
And sometimes boast of England’s glory,
But now, alas, they all attend,
To talk o’er Madam’s dubious end,
When as the different tongues prevail,
They hear the variegated tale:
But while the different thoughts escape,
In various words, in various shape;
Patrick, the Irish Pavior stood
As motionless as log of wood.
—Bold Pat had serv’d in foreign wars,
And could display a host of scars14
All in the brunt of battle gain’d,
Where British arms and glory reign’d;
Besides, he had a flippant tongue,
Which like an aspen-leaf was hung,
And when the subject he approved,
With a most rapid instinct mov’d;
But while it fill’d the folks with wonder,
It sometimes stray’d into a blunder.
Chelsea’s Out-Pensioner was he,
And now by active industry,
With lab’ring pick-axe and with spade,
The implements of former trade,
Chang’d as he was to village-swain,
On Keswick’s side he did maintain
A buxom wife, and children four,
With promise of as many more.
Oft he had view’d the heaps of slain
With gory blood pollute the plain.
He’d seen Old England’s flag unfurl’d
Amid its thunders that were hurl’d
On shores which bound the distant world;
And us’d to boast full many a day,
He’d seen the Frenchmen run away,
And often with good sab’ring thwacks,
Had cut their coats from off their backs,
And then without the least ado,
Had cut their very backs in two.
—He told of Lakes of such a size,
That, as he thought on’t, to his eyes,
Keswick’s when to their bounds compar’d,
Was but a pond in farmer’s yard:
He spoke of Cataracts, whose roar
Was heard for twenty miles or more;
Nay, that they fell from such a height,
Their tops were seen quite out of sight;15
And should e’en Keswick’s Lake be drain’d
Of all the water it contained,
The mighty torrents they could pour,
Would fill it full within an hour.
—His stories wild, and droll conceit,
Oft furnish’d out a various treat;
And young and old, when met to quaff
Their evening bowl, did nought but laugh,
And for a time forgot their care,
If Pat was merry and was there.
In short, whoe’er he chanc’d to meet
Good-humour sprung beneath their feet;
Though when he saw pale sorrow near,
For either eye he had a tear.
His thoughts were never fram’d with art,
His was the Language of the Heart:
Whate’er he said, whate’er he sung,
Deceit ne’er glanc’d upon his tongue;
For if by chance to please the folk,
And laugh and wonder to provoke,
He blink’d at truth,—it was in joke.
—He’d seen so much and been so far,
Could live in peace and talk of war,
That his experience gave him weight
In village council and debate,
Such as, alas! was now displayed
Beneath the yew-tree’s gloomy shade:
And when the rest had ceas’d to speak,
Pat did his mournful silence break.
“—God pardon those who are to blame;
For the child’s gone that never came;
Besides the worthy Lady’s dead,
And the cold earth will rest her head;
Yes, faith as I’ve a soul to save,
I will for nothing dig her grave,16
Yes, I would do it too as willing
As if her hand had chuck’d a shilling;
And many a shilling she has given,
Which now will pave her way to Heaven.
Nay, if ’tis true that Doctor Bone,
Said she’d a child when she had none,
Heav’n gives the will, for which I thank it,
To toss the Doctor in a blanket;
While you for Madam Syntax’ sake,
Would fight who should a corner take:
I would see him flying now
High as the yew tree’s topmost bough.
—If, my good friends, the Clerk says true,
The Vicar makes a sad to do:
And roars and stamps and weeps, God bless him,
As if some spirit did possess him.
I do not wonder, for I know
What ’tis to feel the Parson’s woe.
My first wife died ere I left Erin
And went abroad a volunteering:
Nay, how I suffer’d in my mind
When I left two dear babes behind;
But surely I did not neglect ’em,
When I pray’d Heaven to protect ’em.
Is’t not enough to make him rave,
To lose a child he hop’d to have;
And then to mourn a charming wife
The joy and comfort of his life.
Oh! how can he his feelings smother,
He who has lost both one and t’other.
Good Gentleman, I’m sure he’ll grieve
From Midsummer to Lammas Eve:
No, his is not a common sorrow
That weeps to-day and smiles to-morrow:
It will I’m sure be many a day
Before we once more see him gay:17
Before he makes a Bull d’ye see,
By way of compliment to me:
Before he talks of this and that,
And smiles and calls me honest Pat:
I’ll bless him, yes, with all my might,
For faith I hope he calls me right;
And now ’tis time to hold my tongue,
For Pat I fear has talk’d too long;
So I’ll go home, as I’m a sinner,
With a poor appetite for dinner;
And many a meal I might have wanted,
Had Madam not the favour granted.
My poor dear children do not know
Why Mammy’s eyelids overflow;
But Kate and I can grateful tell,
Madam’s old skirts have clad them well.
While those babes smile, her knell is knoll’d,
And they are warm, while she is cold,
But she enjoys a peaceful rest,
Nor e’er will wake but to be blest.”
The death-bell ceas’d, the good folk parted,
With sober pace and heavy-hearted.
’Squire Worthy with his wife and daughter
Had been all day upon the water:
And Pat the pleasant party kenn’d,
Returning at the village end.
“Oho,” cried he, “by Jasus now
Must I not tell the when and how
Of all things since they went afloat,
Upon the Lake in fishing-boat!”
As they drew nigh the ’Squire spoke,
“Tell me, Pat, what’s the public joke?
What are the people all about?
For at each door a head is out:18
Something has happen’d I presage,
That doth the gen’ral thought engage.”
“And faith,” cried Pat, “I’ll tell you true,
Each head within your Honour’s view
Has a good tongue that’s cackling fast
At what has in the village past,
Since fancy did your Honour take,
To go a pleasuring on the Lake.
But ’tis no joke, a mournful matter
Has caus’d this universal chatter.
I wish it were some foolish geer
That now and then may happen here:
Some nonsense that is often play’d
’Twixt man and wife and man and maid;
That makes the pots and kettles sound
Rough music all the village round!
No, ’tis a melancholy story,
Which I, to plaise you, lay before you:
Though while I do the tale impart
I feel a thumping at my heart;
And if I know your Honour, you,
With Ma’am, and Miss, will feel it too.
Good Madam Syntax, that dear Crature,
Has bid adieu to human nature.”
“What means the man,” ’Squire Worthy said.
“I only mane that Madam’s dead:
And I am sure, as I’ve a tongue,”
Patrick replied, “her knell is rung.
I heard it, so did twenty more,
Who in the church-yard talk’d it o’er.
Besides, Amen, our Clerk, declares
The Doctor raves, and stamps and stares,
Nay, he has even said, he swears;
That like a madman he is griev’d
For a dead child that never liv’d.19
Patrick may blunder, Sir, but I
Ne’er to your Honour told a lie.
Believe, me, Ladies, such the case is
As sure as beauty’s in your faces.”
The ’Squire, with doubting pause, receiv’d it,
But Ma’am and Miss at once believ’d it,
Not that I shall presume to say,
Pat’s courteous words had pav’d the way,
To quicken their humane belief
Of this sad tale of death and grief;
For they, with kindest hearts endued,
Requir’d no impulse to do good;
Their virtues were in daily view
As the surrounding country knew.
They pray’d the ’Squire with speed to go
And visit Syntax in his woe,
“Remove him from his present state,
And bring him to our mansion strait;
You have the power to controul him,
While we will study to console him.
If all be true that doth appear,
For our poor friend there’s much to fear.
—We know what his fond hopes have been;
His rapt’rous moments we have seen,
As he look’d forward with delight
To visions he had form’d so bright.
We dare not think when such distress
Has clos’d his views of happiness,
What fatal impulse may prevail,
What fury may his thoughts assail;—
What such an irritable mind,
Bereft of power to be resign’d,
And in wild sorrow’s hurrying storm,
May dictate to him to perform.
Away, nor for reflection wait,
You now, my dear, may be too late.”20
The Ladies spoke, without delay
The ’Squire stepp’d nimbly on his way,
And to his view was soon displayed
A sight so horribly array’d,
That, in the chamber as he stood,
It seem’d almost to freeze his blood.
“Arise, my friend,” he kindly said,
“And leave this melancholy bed;
With me, dear Syntax, you must come,
And let my mansion be your home
Till all this mournful scene is o’er,
And Heav’n shall former peace restore.
You well must know it is most fit
That you to Heaven should submit
Throughout this life’s mysterious way,
Whether it gives or takes away.
’Tis not for me, my friend, to teach
You, you should practise what you preach
With pious fortitude prepare
To strive with ills and learn to bear.
No tongue, like yours, I know, so well
Can the submissive duties tell:
Let patience then possess your mind,
Be calm, be stedfast and resign’d.”
“’Tis a sad task,” poor Syntax said,
“But Heaven and you shall be obey’d.
The stroke so unexpected came,
Not the keen lightning’s vivid flame
E’er struck the cedar as it stood,
The branchy monarch of the wood,
With a more quick and shatt’ring blast
Than through my trembling system past,
When as the Nurse hung o’er the bed
Her voice pronounc’d my Darling dead.
But yesterday how sweet she smil’d,
With every pleasing hope beguil’d;21
But yesterday I look’d to share
With her a tender parent’s care;
Now there she lies by Death enjoy’d,
My love despoil’d, my hopes destroy’d!
Senseless and weak I may appear,
Yet still I wish to tarry here,
And feel to-morrow and to-morrow,
All the rich luxury of sorrow.”
At this strange scene ’Squire Worthy felt
The pang that makes our sorrows melt.
To see the Doctor thus it grieved him,
But soon the manor-house receiv’d him:
Where he each kind attention press’d
To calm the tumult of his breast,
And all that female grace could give,
Was given to check his wish to grieve.
—Worthy, who knew his Parson well
Would hear him all his feelings tell,
Explain his sorrow, breathe his sigh,
And listen with calm sympathy;
Nay, let his Elocution pour,
In wordy torrents by the hour;
For he foresaw that all this riot
Of wild complaint, would end in quiet,
As infant children, at the breast,
Will often cry themselves to rest.
Nor did this wise contrivance fail:
Poor Syntax ceas’d to weep and wail:
Nay, so effectual did it prove
That now his tongue would seldom move,
Nay, as if grief had quench’d his voice,
Dumb fits had seem’d to be his choice;
E’en when the Ladies strove to break
His silent mood, he would not speak.
Thus he grew calm, and day by day
He strove to while the time away.22
Once he his fav’rite fiddle took,
But lo, he found a string was broke:
No, no, he thought, the hour won’t bear it,
Time, that cures sorrows, may repair it.
—His pencil too seem’d to refuse him
Its former power to amuse him,
Nor could his practis’d skill avail
To give the stream, the crag, the dale,
The azure lake’s expanded flood,
The castled brow or pendent wood;
True to its master’s gloomy thought,
The urn or the sepulchral vault,
Some monument of Death’s dark reign,
Alone was seen the page to stain.
—Sometimes he pac’d th’ adjoining mead,
And read, at least he seem’d to read;
Sometimes at the first morning’s dawn
His footsteps mark’d the dewy lawn;
And when the lab’rer’s work was done,
He’d sit and watch the setting sun.
But whether he sat still or walk’d,
For some days he had seldom talk’d,
And all the little that he said
Was but to ask—and be obey’d.
At length th’ afflicting hour drew nigh
To summon all his energy.
His silence now at once he broke,
And thus in solemn tone he spoke.
“Fear not, for like an Alpine rock,
I will sustain the trying shock;
With friends like you, whom Heav’n will bless
For all your care in my distress,
I may without a due controul,
Let loose the feelings of my soul;23
But when I stand beside the grave,
Death and its terrors I will brave;
There more than by my words I’ll teach
The sacred duties that I preach;
There all who may be standing round
When my dear wife is laid in ground,
Shall see how humbly I obey
The power that gives and takes away.”
Behold the fun’ral train appears!
The village is dissolv’d in tears!
Six maidens, all in white array’d,
Death’s deep-ton’d summons had obey’d;
And in procession due attend
The rites of their departed friend:
They scatter blossoms sweet and fair,
Emblems of what their beauties are;
And, as ’tis writ by time’s decree,
Emblems of what they soon may be;
While on their cheeks grief pours its show’rs,
Like dew-drops on the bells of flowers.
—Syntax, with melancholy grace,
With downward look and stated pace,
Waits on the bier, nor heaves a sigh,
Nor does a tear bedew his eye.
Beside the yawning grave he stood,
In fix’d and humble attitude,
And with devotion’s solemn air,
He whisper’d each appointed prayer;
When as the voice, with pious trust,
Dealt out the dole of dust to dust,
He gaz’d as Heaven were in his view,
Then bent—and look’d a last adieu.
With his kind friends he now return’d,
And sunk into a chair and mourn’d24
In a mute language; when, at length,
Emerging into wonted strength,
He, in deep tones, the silence broke,
While the walls echoed as he spoke.
“Ye dead, are none of you inclin’d
To tell to those you’ve left behind,
And make it known in courtesy,
What ye now are and we shall be?
And why this secret is conceal’d?
No blabbing ghost has yet reveal’d
What ’tis to die. Around ye shine
Like lamps on some sepulchral shrine,
To make more visible the gloom
That throws its mantle o’er the tomb
But ’tis no matter—Dolly knows
What is the end of human woes;
And, from life’s various shackles free,
I may be soon as learn’d as she.”
—With such soliloquising strains
He for an hour reliev’d his pains,
Then off the fun’ral drap’ry threw,
And to his chamber he withdrew.
“We have no trifling task I fear,”
’Squire Worthy said, “my dearest dear;
But we must finish our career.
His high wrought feelings are we know
So form’d to quicken joy or woe,
To cause such overflowing measures
Of all his pains and all his pleasures,
That ’twill require our utmost skill
To make his troubled heart be still:—
With all the kindness of a brother,
We must allow him time to smother25
Whate’er vagaries his fond heart,
To such a temper may impart:
Thus grave reflection and our care,
I doubt not, shortly will repair
The breaches which the mind receives
Howe’er he thus intensely grieves.
Whate’er it be which can amuse him,
That our fond care must not refuse him,
Without appearing to attend
To any weakness of our friend;
E’en what by any whim is wanted,
Let that as ’twere by chance be granted:
Though let it, by no means be seen,
That we regard his alter’d mien,
But be as we have always been.
Let us go on the usual way,
Nor change our order of the day;
In his sad mood attentions tease,—
Nor let us seem to strive to please,
But deal out our old-fashion’d measure,
Of what our honest hearts call pleasure
Let us not check the laugh because
He enters, or e’er make a pause,
Because he sits him down beside us
And looks as if he did deride us:
Let him say yes or grumble no
We’ll do all we were wont to do;
Whether with us he rides or walks,
Is silent or profusely talks,
The same good humour must prevail
Which here is never known to fail.
—Let Sarah play her tricks about him,
And pinch his ears, and gaily flout him;
Ask questions in her usual prattle,
And call her tongue his fav’rite rattle;26
Show off her last new steps and graces,
And then contrast them with grimaces:
Let her piano’s music share
Its movements with the last new air:
Remember how she us’d to please him,
But take good care she does not tease him.
Who knows, her frolic innocence
May, perhaps, wake some pleasing sense
That will unconsciously beguile
His heart to glow into a smile.
—If this plan fails, I’ll then engage
To be prime actor on the stage.
While my belov’d Maria’s care,
Will ask my anxious toil to share,
And all my graver course supply,
With her resistless sympathy.”
Maria bow’d, while to her face
Affection gave a lovely grace;
A grace, how sweet did it appear,
A smile united with a tear.
A month at least was gone and o’er,
But Syntax was not as before;
For thus, on serious thoughts intent,
He had not found his merriment.
He did all duties, it is true,
With the same care he used to do:
But, in his daily parish walk,
He seem’d to have forgot to talk;
Was silent where he always spoke,
And nodded where he used to joke.
E’en with the Ladies and the ’Squire
His thoughts had lost their wonted fire;
His tongue assum’d a lower tone,
Spoke but few words and soon had done.27
—Since the last sad and solemn scene,
He had not to the Vic’rage been,
But just to see th’ old woman granted
All that the living creatures wanted:
For his dear Doll took great delight
In Bantam-fowl, and num’rous flight
Of chosen Doves, none such were found
In all the various dove-cotes round.
The people watch’d him as he oft
Sat on the gate and look’d aloft:
They thought that a superior ken
Was given to all such learned men,
And that they saw with their keen eye,
Strange shapes and figures in the sky,
Which oft, as they believ’d, were given
To mark the destinies of Heaven.
But his was no prophetic view,
As the birds in their circles flew,
He saw as his dear Doll had done
Their plumage glist’ning in the sun,
And shar’d, in melancholy measure,
The mem’ry of her former pleasure.
The Village on their Pastor gaz’d,
At once afflicted and amaz’d;
Nor could they in their contemplation
Settle this wond’rous visitation.
Come then my unambitious muse,
Do not the faithful task refuse;
But let your uninspired pen
Deal out the thoughts of humble men;
And when they do their silence break,
Ask Nature’s aid to make them speak,
And take opinions from the chat
Of old Amen and Irish Pat.28
For, steering clear of village brawl,
They’ll speak the Pro and Con of all.
To save themselves from being wet
In the church-porch these two had met;
As from a storm, all helter-skelter
They ran to seek a common shelter.
Now, each a corner taking, they
Jump’d on the topic of the day:
Old Amen the discourse began,
And thus the conversation ran.
“Friend Pat, it doth my mind surprise
That our good Vicar here, so wise,
So learn’d withal, and so devout,
Should not as yet have found it out,
That thus to grieve is a disgrace
To his high calling and his place.
In the first lesson, ’twas last Sunday,
He read of what will happen one day,
To all such who for those things grieve,
Which will leave them or they must leave:
And ’twould have made me very glad,
Had he then left off being sad;
For all the parish round can tell
I love my Reverend Master well.
True he has lost a comely dame,
But many a man has lost the same,
As fair, aye, and as good as she,
(I mean no incivility).
But still I thought that our Divine
Let his good Lady dress too fine;
And show such colours to the view
As she sat in the upmost pew,29
That made the congregation stare,
And think of her instead of prayer.
But though it is a mournful loss,
It should not all his thoughts engross.
I have had my misfortunes too,
But I don’t grieve as some folks do.
Last year I lost, as you well know,
By lightning’s stroke, my brindled cow,
But had it been my limping Joan,
I should not grieve as some have done.
I see Pat smiles, but never mind,—
To Heaven’s good will, I’ll be resign’d.
—Though Amen was not bred at college,
He’s not without some little knowledge,
And I full five and twenty year
Have always been schoolmaster here;
And almost all you know and see,
Have learn’d their P’s and Q’s from me.”
“Master Amen, faith you have rung
A pretty peal upon your tongue.
You talk of Heaven o’er and o’er,
As if it lay at your back-door,
And may you, when Death does unlock it,
Find a good passport in your pocket.
—Upon my soul, you men of letters
Can spell some scandal of your betters;
But I have thought, as I have said,
That since our Doctor’s Lady’s dead,
As sure as this high tower’s a steeple,
He would not mourn like common people;
As sure as that old tree’s a yew,
He would not grieve as poor folk do:
They must forget their grief, and toil,
Or bread won’t bake, and pot won’t boil.30
Faith, Master Amen, do you see,
On this point we shall ne’er agree!
This morning as he saunter’d by
My cottage-door, he heav’d a sigh,
And my big heart, so sick and sad,
Returned him all the sighs it had.
You, Master Amen, never prov’d
What ’tis to lose a wife you lov’d,—
You talk of wives, if your old Joan
Were just now laid beneath a stone,
How I should laugh to hear you groan.
How friendly you would be with Death,
If he would kindly stop her breath;
And yet you mock at the disaster
That now afflicts your worthy Master,
A man and yet a parson too
Whose little finger held to view
More real learning could command,
Than all the Amens in Cumberland.
—The Doctor’s sad,—and so was I
When it pleas’d my first wife to die;
And faith, my friend, to ease my sorrow,
I took another on the morrow:
And as she to strange tricks was given,
I wept not when she went to Heaven.
And as to wed I was not loth,
I got one here, that’s worth ’em both.
But the sun shines, and I’ll away,
Nor talk of sorrow all the day.”
Such is the chat that did prevail,
And furnish out the village tale:
But far more anxious thoughts opprest
’Squire Worthy,—in his friendly breast
Fears of more solemn cast arose,
That call’d upon him to oppose31
By serious efforts and grave power
The clouds that did o’er Syntax lour.
—’Twas as a vernal evening clos’d,
Each in his chair with looks compos’d,
The Doctor loll’d beside the ’Squire;—
The moment did the thought inspire
To represent the egregious folly
Of giving way to melancholy.
The Ladies did the chess-board chuse,
The sober evening to amuse:
And thus secure of tranquil hour,
All Worthy wish’d was in his power.
—He thus began.—“My dearest friend,
I beg your patience to attend
To what I long have wish’d to say;—
That now, at length, from day to day,
There’s such a change of manner seen,
Not only in your air and mien,
But what your best friends grieve to find
E’en in the structure of your mind;
Thus you most strangely seem to err
From your admired character:
Nay, all who love you now deplore
That Doctor Syntax is no more.
Thus while you o’er your Dolly mourn,
And heave your sighs beside her Urn,
We all, sad Sir, as ’tis your due,
Must clad ourselves in black for you.
Cease then, I ask you, to complain,
And be, my friend, yourself again.
—To Mortal Man it is not given
Thus to arraign the will of Heaven,
In fruitless grief to wear away
Each hour of each succeeding day:
’Tis true, I do not see a tear
Moisten your downcast looks of care,32
But wherefore do I never see
The sacred struggle to be free
And conquer your calamity?
Remember, Sir, that Heav’nly prayer
Which you pronounce with pious care,
And give with such emphatic grace,
When you kneel down in holy place.
O think, as the petitions run,
That you repeat, ‘Thy Will be done!
And to th’ Allwise and Sov’reign will,
Say, can you be repugnant still.”
“I see, my friend, as you review
My mournful state, you feel it too;
But still, alas, you do not know
The force of that tremendous blow,
Nor the sharp gangrene of the wound
Which does my very self confound:
Though Heaven, I doubt not, will at length
Give to my prayers that holy strength,
Which will with time my grief subdue
My former chearfulness renew,
And bring me back to peace and you.
I do not to your ear reveal
Half of the sorrow which I feel;
Nor in my pale face do you see
A tithe of my lorn misery.
’Tis not for your contented mind,
Whom pain ne’er told to be resign’d,
Whose every path of life has been
Smiling, delightful, and serene,
Smooth as the lake, when in the grove
No pendent leaf is seen to move,
To know, and may you never know,
Upon your heart the heavy blow,33
Which would awake a tender plea,
For such as mourn and grieve like me.
Such loss as mine you ne’er have known,
But had th’ allotment been your own,
You would not in such terms reprove,
Nor thus reproach the man you love.
—Look, Worthy, look to yonder chair,
And view the form that’s sitting there;
Behold your dear Maria’s smile,
That does your every care beguile;
Oh! listen to her tuneful voice
Whose tones are signals to rejoice;
Catch the fond glance of that bright eye
Beaming with tender sympathy;
Who, ere you utter the request,
Contrives your wish should be possest;
Who looks for joy but as you share it,
And mocks the pain should you not bear it:
Who has no other hope in view
But to prepare delight for you.
See how the auburn ringlets grace
Her sweet, her animated face,
Where the soft, winning looks dispense
Affection’s silent eloquence;
And when those lips her thoughts declare,
What accents claim your ravish’d ear!
Though many hasty years have flown
Since first Maria was your own;
They still bear on them as they fly,
Symbols of Truth and Constancy;
With the fair hope that they will last
When many future years are past:
Should you lose her you then would feel
The pang, which words can ne’er reveal.”—
“O spare that thought,” Squire Worthy said,
With trembling voice, and was obey’d.34
Here then Maria interpos’d,
And this grave Colloquy was clos’d:
But soon by her it was renew’d,
And thus the subject she pursued.
“O stop, my Love, this serious strife,
And just now listen to your wife;—
While you, my melancholy friend,
Will to a female friend attend.
You’ve often said my tuneful voice,
For such you call’d it, would rejoice,
By its all-fascinating power,
The dullness of the dullest hour,
And now my doctrine you shall hear;
So listen with attentive ear.
—I cannot think this high-ton’d preaching
Is the most cordial way of teaching;
Far other means I should employ
To blunt the arrows, which annoy
With their sharp points your wounded breast,
And keep you from your wonted rest.
—There was a time when you obey’d
Whate’er your friend Maria said,
And I expect in this same hour,
You yield to my indulgent power,
—Physicians who profess the skill
To cure by potion and by pill,
When, in their treatment of our ails
They find the warmer med’cine fails,
Think it discreet to change their course,
And try the cool prescription’s force:
So I, who see discourses fraught
With reas’ning grave and serious thought,
Do not the wish’d-for end attain,
Nor ease the patient of his pain,35
Shall now a diff’rent practice try;
Far other means I will apply
Nor do I fear my remedy.
—You know, Dear Doctor, it is true,
To show our love and humour you,
We’ve all assum’d a solemn grace,
With each a melancholy face;
Nay, for a time have scarcely spoke,
Nor ever heard a sprightly joke:
We have done all your loss requir’d,
Of which we now are grown so tir’d,
That we shall our old ways pursue,
And leave sad looks to grief and you,
Unless you quit this whimp’ring fuss,
And take to livelier ways with us.
New thoughts, new objects, new desires,
Are what your strange disease requires;
And as, indeed, your looks appear
A more auspicious gleam to wear,
I think that I’ve a certain cure
For all the pain which you endure”—
“O tell me!”
“Make another Tour.
And when you’ve made it you shall write it;—
The world, I’ll wager, will not slight it:
For where’s the city, where’s the town,
Which is not full of your renown?
Nay, such is your establish’d name,
So universal is your fame,
That Dunces, though to dullness doom’d,
Have with a Dunce’s art presum’d,
To pass their silly tales and tours,
And other idle trash, for Yours.36
’Tis true, you now no longer want
What in your former Tour was scant:
Nay, now your pow’rful pen you’ll wield,
Your venerable name to shield,
And drive the Braggarts from the field.
Another circuit you shall roam,
And bring your old contentment home:
Nay who can tell,—to sweeten life,
You may bring home another wife.
In your long journey you may see
Some virgin fair or widow’d she,
Some pleasing dame at liberty,
Who would her weary freedom give,
In matrimonial bonds to live:
And if I do not greatly err
From my own sex’s character,
Do you, my friend, but say to her
Such things, and in the same degree
As you to-night have said to me,
—Aye, if she had ten thousand pound,
I would in penalties be bound,
To hold myself a fixture dumb,
Nor speak for full three months to come,
(A punishment which well you know
No woman thinks to undergo)
If the fair lady does not yield,
And leave you victor of the field;
As if young Cupid, from his quiver.
Had drawn a dart and pierc’d her liver:—
For some have said, as you can prove,
The liver is the seat of love.”
—She thought, she’d gone too far, but now
The Doctor made a gracious bow:
As if the thought his grief beguil’d;
The sad man for the first time smil’d;37
For the first time receiv’d relief
Since he became a slave to grief.
—She seiz’d the moment, to pursue
The object which she had in view,
When, beck’ning her dear girl, she said,
Now let your music be display’d;
We’ve talk’d enough, and now we’ll try
What can be done by harmony;
Play the Dead March in Saul, my dear,
It may the Doctor’s spirits cheer;
Perhaps his instrument may join,
And aid the symphony divine.
Syntax now felt the well-aimed stroke,
And saw he must partake the joke.
“Some livelier air,” he mildly said,
“And, Madam, you shall be obey’d.”
—The fiddle came, th’ according strings
Resounded while Maria sings,
And, waken’d by the inspiring strain,
He now look’d like himself again.
—The supper came, the loaded plate
Soon vanish’d where the Doctor sate,
And by the grateful bev’rage cheer’d,
To his charm’d friends it soon appear’d,
While his deep grief had taken flight,
That he had found his appetite.
Worthy was more than pleas’d to see
The air of calm hilarity,
Which did, though in a chasten’d smile,
His friend’s pale, woe-worn face beguile;
And that his wife’s resistless art
Had so contriv’d it, to impart
A pleasure to th’ afflicted heart.
But, ere they sought the hour of rest,
Once more his thoughts he thus express’d.38
“Doctor, I almost crack’d my brain
To calm your sorrow, but in vain,
While that sweet Angel’s words contrive
To bid your former peace revive:
O how I shall rejoice to see
Her guide your present destiny!
So that her conquest you remain,
So that she holds the silken rein,
And that you promise to obey
Her wise and her indulgent sway,
I will acknowledge it my pride
That she should be your only guide;
While I, subservient to her skill,
Will aid your yielding to her will:
And, as through life’s mysterious hour,
I have so long obey’d her pow’r,
A power that never fail’d to bless,
And stamp my days with happiness,
So shall she guide my future life,
My friend, my mistress, and my wife.
—If then by my experience taught,
These truths within your mind are wrought,
If you your present state prepare
To be submitted to her care,
Her anxious friendship will assure
For all your griefs a speedy cure.
—You’ve now begun to banish sorrow,
And when we meet again to-morrow,
The scheme propos’d will be arrang’d;
Your views, your fancies shall be chang’d;
And though, my friend, when you depart,
Grave thoughts may press upon your heart;
The various scenes of social life,
The world, and all its busy strife,
Th’ enliv’ning sunshine that attends
The joyous looks of ancient friends;39
The promis’d hope that added fame,
Will give new honour to your name,
While you consign to Folly’s doom
Each Dunce who did that name assume,
With reason’s strong, reflecting powers,
Will give old joy to present hours.
Thus not a trouble shall bestride
The active steed on which you ride:
And when our Vicar comes again
T’ embrace his friends at Sommerden,
We shall our former Syntax find him,
With all his troubles left behind him.
But whom, perhaps, our Rev’rend Sage
May bring to grace his Vicarage,
If aught he brings, why we must leave
For time and fortune to achieve.
Sleep on the thought, and when you wake,
May your chang’d heart no longer ake,
While firm resolves, by truth enjoin’d,
Give the lost vigour to your mind.”
He bow’d assent, as Worthy spoke,
Then sought his bed, but never woke
Till, the next morn, the constant bell
Did the known hour of breakfast tell:
And when the plenteous meal was done
The Doctor smiling thus begun:
“So many reasons have been given,
As true as if inspir’d by Heaven,
I should be senseless as the dead,
And after what my friends have said,
Should I not think the project fit;
Therefore obedient I submit.
But then, the how, the when, the where,
Will call for your immediate care.40
All things are chang’d as well you know,
For ’tis to you that change I owe,
Since my last, doubtful long career,
By Heaven’s goodness, brought me here,
For now I have my purse well lin’d,
Nor doth a fear assail my mind:
I’ll shape my journey as I please,
Consult my humour and my ease,
Assur’d that wheresoe’er I roam,
I have an enviable home,
Where on my ev’ry wish attends
The best of Beings and of Friends.
The course, the means, I must pursue,
I leave submissively to you.
Equip me, as to mode and measure,
According to your friendly pleasure.
I’ll in equestrian order move,
Or guide the reins, as you approve:
But if it be my lot to ride,
Another Grizzle pray provide;
If such another can be found
Within the ample country round.”
Two years, alas! were gone and past,
Since faithful Grizzle breath’d her last,
Since that invaluable creature
Had paid the common debt of nature.
She who had seen the battle rage,
Escaped to reach a good old age:
She who had heard the battle’s din,
Now sleeps in an uncurried skin;
For currier none had been allow’d,
To touch the skin that’s now her shroud.
’Tis true, indeed, it had been scor’d,
By the rude force of slashing sword;41
But then the slashing was in front,
Where Honour writes its name upon’t;
Though to the flowing tail and ears,
The Fates ’tis known applied the shears,
In guise of wicked villagers.
Whether on barn-door they remain,
The sport of sunshine and of rain,
Or whether time has bid them rot,
The Muse knows not or has forgot.
A rising mound points out her grave,
The cropping sheep its verdure shave;
The cypress at the foot is seen,
Array’d in mournful evergreen;
While the willow’s branches spread
Their drooping foliage at the head;
And Grizzle’s name, ten times a day,
Is sigh’d by all who pass that way.
“The chestnut mare,” ’Squire Worthy said,
“Shall lead the journeying cavalcade.
Phillis, the ambling palfrey’s name,
Perchance may equal Grizzle’s fame;
For though she ne’er engag’d in war,
Nor felt the honour of a scar,
Yet she has oft Maria borne,
O’er hill and dale, through brake and thorn,
A load more honourable far,
Than a fat, blust’ring Trumpeter,
And much more fit in graceful ease
To bear the Minister of peace;
For now ’tis to your station due,
As you your purpos’d Tour pursue,
In better figure to appear,
Than when you first were welcom’d here.
Besides you shall not go alone,
A valet must your journey crown,42
And it is madam’s well-judg’d plan,
That Pat shall be your liv’ried man.
Patrick has in the army been,
And that has taught him to be clean;
While to obedience nothing loth,
To do what a good servant doth,
He has been us’d to ev’ry trim,
And nothing comes amiss to him;
A pleasant, honest, faithful creature,
As e’er was formed by willing nature;
Of travelling troubles he will ease you:
And by his droll’ry sometimes please you.
While he indulg’d his native chat,
We all have jok’d and laugh’d with Pat.
With a kind, friendly heart endued,
The fellow’s always doing good,
And with his free and added labour
He oft assists his helpless neighbour.
This anxious lady, Sir, and I
Shall see you go with smiling eye,
If you have Patrick for your guard;
Nor shall he fail of due reward.
Punch, a good, useful, active hack,
Shall trot with Patrick on his back;
And all your chattels, wear and tear,
That back, without a wince, will bear.”
—The Doctor gently bow’d assent,
And kiss’d his hand in compliment,
But could not quite disguise a smile
Which did a lurking joke beguile:
Patrick’s he thought a curious doom,
Which turn’d a pavior to a groom.
Patrick was sought, and soon was told
In what new rank he was enroll’d,43
And that the Doctor and the ’Squire
His instant presence did require.
Pat chuckled, and without delay,
Hasten’d the summons to obey.
But Kate, who, from some awkward word
Which she by chance had overheard,
Suspecting, but yet not well knowing,
About what errand he was going;
Thought, as a wife, it was but fair,
Whate’er the boon—that boon to share.
—She follow’d, though of doubts possest;
A baby slumber’d on her breast,
While, in each hand, she held another,
A chubby sister and a brother:—
Pat came and bow’d, strok’d back his hair,
And stood with military air,
While he attention’s look display’d,
As he was wont on war’s parade.
The Doctor first the silence broke.—
“I’ve sometimes, Pat, let loose a joke,
As well I’m sure you don’t forget,
When we, by any chance, have met;
But as you well may guess the reason
’Tis not just now a joking season.
I am about to travel far,
And much I want th’ attending care
Of some bold, active, steady spirit,
Which does those qualities inherit,
At once both duteous, kind and fervent,
Which form the good and faithful servant:
If these you have you shall attend
My journey as an humble friend.
The ’Squire and Madam, with one voice
Have urg’d me to make you my choice:44
What say you?” Patrick look’d towards Heaven,
And thus his warm reply was given:
“I’ve serv’d my king and country too;
And now, with all obedience due,
Your Honour’s Rev’rence I’ll attend,
To this round world’s remotest end;
And do whate’er you shall require
By day or night,—in flood or fire;
On horse or foot, ’tis all the same,
You shall ne’er say that Pat’s to blame.
I serv’d a Captain seven long years,
And when he fell, I know my tears
Mix’d with the blood that flow’d around,
When he receiv’d his fatal wound.
Your honours, you may take my word,
He was as brave as his drawn sword,
Which, to the army ’twas well known,
Had often split a Frenchman’s crown;
And was a kind and gen’rous master,
Until he met with this disaster.
I would have died, Heav’n knows, to save him;
That fatal morn he bid me shave him;
I’ve got the razor all forlorn
With which his dying beard was shorn,
And when, well set, why it shall thin
Whene’er you please, your honour’s chin.
Oh he’d be glad, with justice due,
To say all I have said is true.
But he sleeps on a foreign plain,
Nor e’er will wag his tongue again.
Oh he was good as he was brave,
And as I have a soul to save,
His bosom never felt a fear
When trumpets did to battle cheer:
You may believe what I have said;
Nor will his soul e’er be afraid,45
When the last Trumpet bids array
The Quick and Dead, at Judgment-day.
I am no scholar, but I know
That good works joy, and evil woe,
As Sunday last, the Doctor’s text
Told us, in this world and the next.”
—A transient sense of mirth was caus’d
By the last words, when Patrick paus’d.
“But,” said the ’Squire, “upon my life,
We must enquire of Patrick’s wife
Whether it will not sorely grieve her,
If her dear, faithful mate, should leave
—She pass’d her hand o’er either eye,
And thus she ventur’d to reply:
“Pat’s talk may make you Gentry laugh,
But ’tis too grave for me by half.
Pray what provision shall I have,
When he is gone and cannot pave?
And if please Heaven that he should die
Who will maintain my family?
When I have nought to cut and carve,
Why I and all my babes must starve!”
—“Hold your tongue, Kate,” the pavior said,
“I’ve got a far, far better trade:
Paving farewell! ’tis now my plan
To serve a rev’rend Gentleman.
I love you, wife, with all my heart,
But now and then ’tis good to part,
And then ’tis joy, almost to pain,
When we are call’d to meet again.
And should I pass through gate,
Nay should his Rev’rence yield to Fate,
’Squire Worthy will take care of Kate.
And for my smiling babes, God bless ’em,
Madam will give them clothes to dress ’em;46
And faith, my girl, I’d swear and vow,
She’ll keep ’em fat as they are now.
And who doth know by Heav’n’s good grace
Some honest man may take my place;
There’s comfort, Kate, and you may thrive
As well as when I was alive.
Kate, worthy Sirs, takes nought amiss,
Nor e’er says No when I say Yes.
It was a little matter, that,
Which was agreed ’twixt her and Pat,
A little scheme to keep off strife,
When the church made us man and wife:
So nothing further need be said,
Your Honour’s wishes are obey’d;—
And now farewell, pick-axe and spade!
All that I have, my life and soul,
I subject to your kind controul;
’Twill be my study to fulfil,
Both day and night your honour’s will;
Nor danger, nor distress shall find you,
While I am jogging on behind you.
—The ’Squire may trust to my kind care,
The grey hack and the chestnut mare;
They are old friends, I’ve known them long,
And woe to him who does them wrong!
Nay, should I any ostler meet
That did them of their suppers cheat,
The fellow’s teeth would be in danger,
For faith, I’d make him eat the manger.
I’ve often seen my Lady there,
Ride Phillis with a gallant air;
And seldom did she fail to banter,
As she pass’d by me on a canter.
But if it doth on me depend,
Where’er our destin’d way may tend,47
His Rev’rence, Pat, the Mare, and Hack,
Shall all look well, when they come
Thus all the parties seem’d well pleas’d;—
The Doctor of his sorrow eas’d
Look’d forward to the destin’d Tour
To generate a perfect cure.
That their scheme promis’d such success,
Afforded real happiness
To their kind hearts who first design’d it,
And now to Heaven’s best care resign’d it.
—By Village Taylor, in a crack,
Patrick was clad in suit of black:—
But while, array’d in inky coat,
From his new hat was seen to float
The mourning crape, he had the art
To keep all mourning from his heart.
Booted and spurr’d he might provoke
The Village jeer, the Village joke;
But he prov’d all their envy vain,
For faith he jok’d and jeer’d again.
Although it rather seem’d to grieve her,
That he had thus resolv’d to leave her,
Kate still was pleas’d her Pat to see
Dress’d out with such gentility;
And, as she did his figure scan,
Swore he look’d like a gentleman.
But Pat had bus’ness still in view,
Ere the time came to say adieu.
He, with a stone, was bid to pave,
The length and breadth of Madam’s grave,
To guard it round with verdant sod,
And break to dust each clumsy clod,
’Till skilful mason could prepare,
Beneath affection’s mournful care,48
A fond memorial to raise
Of tender grief and faithful praise.
Now, ere a busy week was gone,
The steeds in full caparison
Appear’d, with all their trav’lling state,
Before the Vicar’s crowded gate.
—Pat, who had left Amen to lead
The Doctor’s gay and sprightly steed,
Had, after Kate had been caress’d,
Receiv’d his children to be bless’d:
Some laugh’d at Pat, and some admir’d,
But all shook hands till he was tir’d:
Some grinn’d and some few wip’d an eye,
As if they were dispos’d to cry;—
But he exclaim’d their grief was vain,
For he should soon come back again;
And as for sorrow, ’twas a folly;
The Devil alone was melancholy;
For the curs’d scoundrel, sour with sin,
Could ne’er with joy presume to grin.
Then told the laughers not to cry,
And went off whistling lullaby.
Syntax, now with a solemn grace,
Gave his best friends a warm embrace;
When many a kind adieu return’d,
The wish with which their bosoms burn’d,
—That ev’ry good which Heaven could send him,
That no misfortune should attend him,
Each rustic bosom did prepare
And utter’d, as a cordial prayer.
—Thus the good man, at early day,
Proceeded on his destin’d way.
THE morning smil’d, the beaming ray
Of Phœbus made all nature gay.
Blue was the Lake’s expansive flood,
And many a gentle zephyr woo’d
The wave that rippled o’er the deep,
Nor would allow the wave to sleep.
The mountains rising rude and bold
Show’d their rude summits tipt with gold,
While branching oaks, the forest’s pride,
Hung down and cloath’d their shaggy side:
The cattle wander o’er the mead,
The flocks all by the wood-side feed.
The brook flows murmuring along,
The grove is vocal by the song
With which kind nature doth inspire,
In summer morn, the feather’d choir.
At intervals is heard the roar
Of water-fall, which tumbling o’er
The craggy brow, delights the eye
And ear, with rude variety.
Nor these alone: what labour shows,
And does by rural toil disclose,
To aid the picture nature gives,
By which in some new form she lives,
While art, by active life refin’d,
Improves that picture in the mind;—
And thus, with blended objects fraught,
Unites the sense to solid thought.50
The husbandman’s attentive toil
Turns with his plough th’ expecting soil,—
And now with no unsparing hand
The grain he scatters o’er the land;—
The yellow harvest next appears,
With lofty stem and loaded ears,—
The barn capacious then receives
Th’ abundant loads which labour gives;
And thus each scene of nature’s shown,
With varying beauties not her own.
How does the fisher’s boat awake,
The dullness of the dormant lake!
While, aided by the gentle gale,
Trade guides her barge with swelling sail:
Or should the bark of pleasure skim
The water o’er with gallant trim,
While oars in dashing measure sweep
The yielding bosom of the deep,
What interest, as they intervene,
Each gives to every charming scene.
The waggon with its pond’rous load
That grinds to dust the beaten road:
The trav’llers, who throughout the day
In various guise pursue their way,
The herdsman’s wealth, the goatherd’s store,
That hill and dale and height explore;
The shatter’d castle’s lofty tower
The former seat of lordly power;
The ivied arch by river’s side,
The sad remains of cloister’d pride;
The smoke that rises o’er the trees
And curls obedient to the breeze;
The bridge that many an age has stood
And stretch’d its arch across the flood;
The village spire, but dimly seen,
The straw-roof’d cot upon the green,51
With spreading vine bemantled o’er,—
The children gazing from the door,
And homely peasants as they ply
The various calls of industry;—
These, and how many more combine,
To aid fair nature’s rude design;—
But they defy so weak a muse as mine.
Such are the forms which Fancy gives,
By which e’en Fancy smiles and lives.
Such were the thoughts which nature’s charm
With ever-varying beauty warm,
Did, as he gaz’d around, suggest,
To the good Doctor’s pensive breast;—
For though he thought the plan pursued,
Was haply form’d to do him good,
Yet still he felt that much remain’d
Before his cure would be obtain’d.
But though he fail’d not to obey
The power that gives and takes away,
Whose perfect wisdom’s seen to measure
Man’s hours and fortunes at its pleasure,
Yet he ne’er vainly strove to steel
His heart, and bid it not to feel,
But yielded to what Heav’n thought fit,—
To sigh, to sorrow, and submit.
For comfort he would ne’er apply
To what is call’d Philosophy;
He did not rest his hopes on earth,
On any strength of mortal birth;
No, all his hopes he strove to raise
Where angels wonder as they gaze.
—Thus he rode on, but now and then
He turn’d to look toward Sommerden.
At length the spire, with sun-beams bright,
Began to lessen in his sight,52
But when it vanish’d from his view,
He heav’d a sigh, and pensive grew,
Nor till successive beauties rose,
Which splendid nature did disclose
To charm his eye, to warm his heart,
And make him think upon his art,
Had he his gloomy care resign’d,
Or call’d a smile into his mind.
But nature on his fancy wrought,
And chang’d the tenour of his thought,
While he with contemplative eye
Trac’d and retrac’d the scenery,—
And picture after picture, true
To all he saw, his fancy drew.
Thus, as the Sage pursued his way,
He bade his mind the scenes survey,
And as the Muse may now conjecture,
Read to himself a kind of lecture
On nature’s charms, and how by art,
He could the picturesque impart,
As he had often done before,
When journeying on his former Tour,
Which this same Muse, a tell-tale drab,
On a past page has dar’d to blab;—
And as he felt ’twould ease his pain,
He now would try to do again,
And heightened nature’s varying feature
By adding many a living creature;
Thus calling to immediate use
What time destroys and men produce.
—These thoughts, impress’d upon his mind,
To serious musings much inclin’d,
Directed all his views of nature
In praise of their sublime Creator;
And, from his contemplative mood,
Which all his love of talk withstood,53
He suddenly the silence broke,
And thus with solemn air he spoke:
—Father of good, Almighty power!
Who at Creation’s wond’rous hour,
Didst call from Chaos into birth
This goodly scene of things, the Earth;—
Man’s state of trial, his sure way,
And passage to eternal day:
But ’tis not now I shall assign
The goodness of thy power divine,
In forming the benignant plan
To suit the character of man,—
Nor shall I bid my thoughts explore
The depth of metaphysic lore,
To prove, in erring reason’s spite,
That whatsoever is, is right:
I leave that to reflection’s pow’r,
In piety’s more sacred hour,
When ’tis my duty to impart
Truth’s doctrine to the doubting heart.
Here, I must own, whate’er I see,
The scenes around me preach to me:
Each brook and rock, as Shakspeare says,
(The Bard sublime of former days,)
Excites the tongue to grateful praise.
Can I view nature’s grand display,
Now brightening in the sunny ray,
That my enquiring eye regales
With interchange of hills and dales;
The silver lake and rushing flood,
The verdant lawn and pendent wood,
Which, softly touch’d or boldly wrought,
Delight or elevate the thought,
Without receiving through the eye
The moral sensibility?54
Or without list’ning, through the sense,
To nature’s speechless eloquence?
These call me as my view’s pursued,
To praise the Author of all good!
For good the wondering mind may trace
In the vast fields of endless space;
E’en good reflection’s eye may see
In every leaf, on ev’ry tree,
In ev’ry blade of grass that’s seen
To clothe the earth with vesture green;
In oaks that form the civic wreath,
Or the wild rose that blooms beneath,
In the steep rock’s stupendous brow,
Or the grey moss that clings below.
These are thy works, Parent of good!
Thus felt, thus seen, thus understood,
They wake the enliv’ning gratitude,
That, thus directed, is combin’d
With the first virtues of the mind!
How much I thank a parent’s care
Which, while he did his child prepare
With pregnant seeds of classic lore,
And op’d fair learning’s various store,
With all of science and of knowledge,
That could be taught in school and college;
Yet suffer’d art to guide my hand
And the free pencil’s power command.
Thus I possess the skill to trace
And call to view the hidden grace,
The secret beauty, that no eye,
Untaught by art, can e’er descry;
That bids th’ enquiring mind explore
Things dimly seen or gilded o’er,
And which it scarce had known before.
Delightful art! ere plenty stor’d
With friendly hand, my daily board,55
While ill-paid labour did instil
Knowledge to boys against their will:
Though I could just rub on by teaching,
And pay for Grizzle’s keep by preaching;
When, to do good I was most willing,
And not an independent shilling
Did in my scanty purse appear
To purchase sorrow’s falling tear:
Yes, thou didst nature’s scenes pourtray,
And my heart grew like nature gay.
Delightful art! that through the eye
Didst oft my drooping mind supply
With images, whose beauty’s power
Gave pleasure to the passing hour!
Thou bad’st me hope that time would bring
A better fortune on its wing:
Hope was fulfill’d, and Fortune came,
Nor without some small share of fame.
Thus, by transcendent Nature fir’d,
By love of Picturesque inspir’d,
Through these blest scenes I sought to roam,
Where Fortune gave my present home;
And where, though unrelenting fate
Has robb’d me of my darling mate,
Yet, while lamenting what I’ve lost,
I still have much of good to boast,
And for that good my grateful heart
Must bless Thee, thou delightful art!
—He paus’d, and ere he spoke again,
Patrick exclaim’d, “Amen, Amen!”
The Doctor quickly turn’d around,
Scar’d at the unexpected sound,
“And please your Rev’rence,” Pat then said,
“O the fine prayer that you have pray’d!
For sure, on horseback, ne’er was heard
Such pious words to Heaven preferr’d,56
And many would be hard put to’t
To say such fine things e’en on foot:
So faith, and please you, Sir, I thought
It did not finish as it ought:
For though we are not in a church,
I would not leave it in the lurch,
Thus when your pray’r was done, I then
Like a good Christian said, Amen!”
The Doctor turn’d his head aside
To hide a smile and thus replied:
“Ne’er mind, my friend, whate’er is meant
With honest zeal and good intent
Requires not, in calm reason’s eye,
Or pardon or apology.
But still you need not silence break,
Unless the occasion bids you speak,
Unless my words as they transpire
A needful answer may require:
Sometimes my bosom’s senate sits
In silent thought, nor then admits
A single word its force to try,
And ruffle my tranquillity.
—How strange this custom may appear
To others, I nor know nor care;
But oft I feel a pleasing joy
When thus I do an hour employ,
When thus with bold ideas fraught,
I clothe with words my secret thought:
Nor shall I e’er the whim disown
To give them utt’rance when alone,
So that my words fair virtue please,
And yield th’ impatient bosom ease.”
“An’ please you, Sir, at early hour
When I’ve been working near the tower,57
To place a tomb-stone on the head
Of one, Heaven save him, who is dead,
I’ve seen you o’er the church-yard come,
Talking as loud as any drum,
Sometimes as if in angry rage,
Like Playmen acting on the stage:
At others, you so slowly walk,
That I could only see you talk.”
Again the Doctor wav’d his hand,
And Pat was silent at command.
“I’ve one word more,” the Doctor said,
“And I expect to be obey’d.
Whatever you may see me do,
Keep this command in constant view;
If I ride on nor silence break,
If to myself you hear me speak,
Let not, I beg, your flippant tongue
Disturb me as I jog along.”
Pat bow’d, and by his reason’s force
He felt he might disturb discourse,
But thought it was a curious joke
To disturb one who never spoke.
Though hard the task which was assigned,
Patrick was patient and resigned.
Blest Contemplation, oft thy power
Charms and improves the passing hour!
’Tis in that hour the mind receives
The best impression virtue gives.
For thus, with higher thought prepar’d,
As its instructor and its guard,
Vice and its passions ne’er invade
The bosom thus so sacred made,
Where solemn musings calm the mind
And leave all boist’rous cares behind.58
Vice, it is true, o’er crime may brood
In some dark, dismal solitude;
There it may whet the murd’rous knife,
That threatens some unwary life;
There treason may its schemes employ
To rob, to pillage, and destroy.
But Contemplation, Heavenly Maid!
By calling Virtue to its aid,
Does, with her power benign, controul
Each strong emotion of the soul,
Bids every mental tempest cease,
And soothes the bosom into peace.
At this same moment, Honest Pat,
As if to parley, touch’d his hat,—
But when he saw the waving hand,
He understood the calm command.
Indeed he had a tale to tell,
(And much his tongue long’d to rebel)
Of murder, robbery, and blood,
At midnight hour, and in a wood,
Which, though he knew not how or why,
Had just popp’d on his memory:
For he had oft in alehouse glory,
Told his strange terror-striking story;
And, in his own pathetic strain
He wish’d to tell it once again;
But the hand told him ’twas in vain.
The signal therefore he obey’d,
To hear what more his master said;
Who thus as he pac’d on at leisure,
Convey’d to Pat his further pleasure.
“All those to whom I’ve long been known,
Must see I’ve habits of my own,59
Gain’d in the solitary hour,
That’s pass’d in learning’s silent bower,
And brought to practice ’mid the toil
That oft consumes the midnight oil:
They know, nor do I fear to own,
I often talk when I’m alone,
And to myself declaim as loud
As I were speaking to a crowd.
Patrick, I have said this before,
Nor let me say it o’er and o’er;
I tell you it would give me pain,
Were I to give these hints again.”
Now in grave, contemplative mood,
Syntax his beauteous way pursued;
Detaching with his skilful eye,
From this proud stretch of scenery,
Such chosen parts as might display,
The landscape grand, or rude, or gay;
The spreading wood, the awful steep,
Impending o’er the crystal deep,
And many a more familiar scene,
That here and there might intervene,
Such as his less ambitious art
To the fair sketch-book could impart,
And graphic notices secure,
To give these views a miniature.
The native beauties that preside
And form the charms of Ambleside,
As they all open’d on the sight,
Perplex’d the bosom with delight:
—Then Stockgill Force, with deaf’ning roar,
Did from a height stupendous pour
Its rushing streams from unseen source
Impetuous; they their foaming course,60
Dash’d on from rock to rock, pursue,
Now hid, now open to the view:
When, many a craggy bottom past,
They the deep Rothay reach at last,
And, rushing on in bold career,
Give up their waves to Windermere.
At once delighted and amaz’d,
Syntax now made a pause and gaz’d;
Though in his visits here before
This scene his eyes had wander’d o’er,
Nay, here his pencil had essay’d,
And with attentive pleasure made
Bold sketches from this very scene,
Where with his neighbours he had been;
Yet former knowledge to renew,
He thought he now would take a view,
And from his pouch the sketch-book drew;
Thus while his Art he now employ’d
And the rich scene around enjoy’d,
Forth from behind a bulky tree,
As urg’d by curiosity,
A person stole with gentle pace
And keen enquiry in his face:
At length he grew a little bolder,
And just peep’d o’er the Doctor’s shoulder,
With a keen, forward eye to see
The pencil’s active industry.
Says Pat, “unless you court disaster,
You’d better not disturb my master,
For if you do,—you may not dream
That you’ll go headlong down the stream.”
Syntax now look’d around to see
What caus’d Pat’s incivility,
Then quickly wav’d his awful hand,
And as he dealt forth the command;61
He saw half-screen’d beside a bush,
What seem’d a brother of the brush,
Who ’neath each arm displayed to show
A cumbersome Port-Folio:
And on his dress, through ev’ry part,
Was seen some implement of Art:
But soon he prov’d, without restraint,
That he could talk as well as paint.
“From what I see and doth appear,
You, Sir, may be a stranger here;
And as you now employ your Art,
I may some useful hints impart.
I am an Artist, would you see
Art’s finest works, pray come with me.
You may view all, if you are willing;
The Exhibition costs a shilling;
And in this stream I would be drown’d,
Should you not think it worth a pound.
Nay, if your means the price supply,
Such as you chuse, why you may buy.”
Syntax, it seems, had heard before
Of this same Artist, (with his store
Of Sketches, Drawings and Designs,
Displayed on walls and hung on lines,)
Who does to rival skill demur,
And is his own Interpreter.
So he indulg’d him in his glory,
And let him enter on his story.
—As he the Exhibition view’d,
The Artist his discourse pursued.
“I need not tell you, Sir, that Art
Demands a power in ev’ry part,62
Which should pervade its form and feature;
And that, as you must know, is Nature.
Say, wherefore, does my active eye
Seize on her various scenery?
And wherefore is it thus confest,
That I ne’er fail to chuse the best?
—Because I seek her wheresoe’er
She woos me to her mild and fair;
Because, when she’s sublimely good,
She courts me in the wild and rude.
I ask you where is her abode
Which by my feet has not been trod?
The heights, the depths, the falling floods,
The rugged rocks or spreading woods?
Where, tell me, is th’ Arcadian scene,
With sunshine gay, as em’rald green,
Where my researches have not been?
In all this beauteous country round,
No, not a spot is to be found,
At orient morn, or ev’ning grey,
Where I’ve not urg’d my studious way:
Where, by a nice experience taught,
Each varying, transient tint is caught.
Here clouds upon the mountain rest,
And sink in mists upon its breast:
Here the light falls with silver beam,
Or the sun glows with golden gleam.
There the flood pours its foamy wave,
Or various forms in shadow lave;
And, glimm’ring in the crystal plain,
In fainter outline live again.
There, where is seen within the glade,
The less or greater depth of shade;
Where the thin air conducts the eye,
Transparent mirror, to the sky;63
And wheresoe’er the varying feature
Aids the full aggregate of Nature,
My Art can dip the pencil in it,
And fix the beauty of the minute.
—Hence my superior works, and hence
In Art I claim pre-eminence.
—There are your Artists, who, in town,
From gaudy daubs expect renown;
Whose rank true taste will ne’er prefer
To that of an Upholsterer;—
Nor does their utmost stretch of art
Excel the Paper-Stainer’s part.
They do not Nature’s works pursue,
As I with patient labour do.
They may from some steep warehouse ridge
Sketch water-falls at London-Bridge;
Or study the transparent wave,
That does the grassy meadows lave,
Where the New River’s lagging on
Through the bright scene of Islington:
They let their wearied pencil breathe,
From crowded choice, on Hampstead-Heath,
Or leaning ’gainst a stunted oak,
Make bright designs of London smoke:
There they in tints so mild and mellow,
May mark out sunbeams red and yellow,
And study foliage from a rood,
Or a score yards, of underwood:
Then their big minds with mountains fill,
By views of Harrow-on-the-Hill;
And catch, from the New Road so strait,
The Picturesque of Turnpike Gate.
There’s Hyde-Park too, the charming scene,
Which they may view so flat, so green;
And trace the ever-varying line,
Along the strait-bank’d Serpentine.64
Thus with their pencils on they go,
From low to high, from high to low,
And fancy hills, as they move on
The level walks of Kensington;
Where, though it loyal bosoms shock,
They turn the Palace to a Rock.
Some will the Picturesque beseech
To aid the view of Chelsea-Reach;
But left by Genius in the lurch,
Can only reach to Chelsea-Church:
Then, as it were, to crown the whole,
To fill the view, to charm the soul,
How proudly they let loose their eye,
From St. Paul’s Golden Gallery,
To view the vast horizon round
That half-a-dozen miles may bound.
—These glorious Artists of the Town,
Will club expenses to come down,
The boast of Nature here to see
And slyly borrow Art from me.
Yes, I have often seen them smile,
Their fruitless envy to beguile.
—But now pray turn your eye to see
What hangs on lines from tree to tree.
They are my works which I display
In the full air of open day:
And, though expos’d to sun and sky,
My Colours, Sir, will never fly.”
“Upon my word you make me stare.
And I most solemnly declare,
I thought them linen that you wear;
Your shirts and shifts hung out to dry,
In washerwoman’s symmetry.”65
“Not one R. A. has got the gift
To make him such a shirt or shift;
They’re first-rate works that deck the line,
’Twas this hand drew them, they are mine,
And I declare among them all
That each is an Original.”
“’Tis not for me to controvert
What you so boldly do assert;
But as my eye these drawings strike,
They, my good friend, are all alike.
You cannot wish the truth to smother,
That they are Copies of each other.
If so, why, surely, he who calls
These copied works Originals,
Gives such a meaning to the word,
I as a scholar never heard.”
“I tell you, if the copies prove,
(Nor does my understanding rove,)
True both in tint and touch and line,
To the original design,
And copied by the self-same hand
That does my pencil’s power command;
Those Drawings, must to Critic eye,
Share in th’ Originality;
And be the number what they may,
If they unerring Truth display,
I say, in spite of envy’s brawls,
That they are all Originals.”66
“At least, I think it must be known,
That, Mr. Artist, you are ONE.”
By these keen fancies render’d gay,
Syntax proceeded on his way.
At length, a beauteous place of rest,
Lowood, receives the trav’lling guest.
And here he found a two-fold treat;—
Hungry, he relish’d what he eat;
While Nature did his bosom cheer,
As he glanc’d over Windermere.
The humbler views that deck the Lake,
The hills, the groves, the farms that break
In blended beauty on the sight,
He saw, but the bold mountain’s height,
Which gave the wond’rous scenes sublime,
He sought not, for he had not time,
And if he had, my simple rhyme
Would scarce have such a height assail’d,
Where far superior bards have fail’d.
Now Patrick, having fed his cattle,
Brush’d up his breakfast with a battle:
Not such as boxing heroes try
To gain the well paid victory;
Or where resentment’s rage fulfilling,
One blood gives t’other blood a milling:
But such as can be said or sung,
By that same weapon call’d a tongue,
Which he display’d in warlike story,
That told of brave Old England’s glory.67
Thus he address’d the kitchen folk;
Thus, with extended arm, he spoke.
“Since I left Ireland’s blessed shore,
Since I through seas have travell’d o’er,
O what strange things my eyes have seen!
In what far countries I have been!
How I’ve been toss’d and tumbled o’er,
From land to sea, from sea to shore!
In how much blood my feet have wallow’d,
And what salt-water I have swallow’d!
What mighty battles have been fought,
Where Patrick did not pass for nought!
How many drums have I heard rattle
To call the eager troops to battle!
How many trumpets I’ve heard sound,
To call the prancing steeds around;
To bring the horsemen all together,
In brazen helms with horse-hair feather;
All in bright uniforms, as red
As the warm blood they soon would shed.
’Twould do you good if you inherit
An English or an Irish spirit,
To see a Hussar how he crops
The Frenchmen’s heads like turnip-tops!
How many swords have I seen bright,
And glimm’ring in the morning’s light,
That, ere the noon-tide hour was o’er,
Were steep’d in blood and dripp’d with gore!
You may not, my good friends conceive it
Or when I’ve spoke may not believe it,
But this right hand has cut off heads
With as much ease as it now spreads
This yielding butter on the toast,
O what a host of lives are lost,68
In all the horrid wear and tear
Of that same sport which you call war,
When monarchs frown and nations jar!
Arrah, my Dears, it does confound me,
To think how many fell around me;
And that I, Patrick, should appear
All safe and sound and sitting here.
Behold those lofty mountains there
That lift their heads so high in air,
Which through the glass my eye-sight sees;
O they’re so like the Pyrenees!
They only want the Frenchmen flying,
Men shouting here, and there all dying:
Some dead and welt’ring in their blood,
And others floating down the flood.
If they were here I should maintain,
That we were fighting now in Spain:
If they were here with half an eye,
They’d tell you so as well as I!
And were it, as my tongue has told me,
You a brave soldier would behold me;
Nor I at all, at all afraid,
Or of the living or the dead:
And I, now here, I, honest Pat,
Would mind it all no more than that!”—
He snapp’d his fingers with an air,
And sought the quiet of his chair.
The ostler grinn’d, the cook was frighted,
The barber, fond of news, delighted,
Clos’d his sharp razors and drew near
To listen with attentive ear.
But while Pat’s thirsty lips assail
The cup brimful of foaming ale,
A cannon’s loud, obstrep’rous sound
Re-echoed all the country round.69
He started at the warlike roar,
The goblet fell upon the floor,
And he rush’d quickly through the door.1
Whether it courage was or fear
That caus’d the downfall of the beer,
Or did his quick-pac’d stride impell,
The Muse does not pretend to tell:—
But as he did from Erin come,
Where courage beats the rattling drum,
Where, when the trumpet sounds alarms,
Thousands of heroes rush to arms,
It well becomes us to conceive
That he did not his breakfast leave,
But from that bold and daring spirit,
Which brave Hibernia’s sons inherit.
1 Near Low Wood Inn is a commodious pier for embarking on a voyage down the Lake.—At this place a Cannon is kept, for the purpose of gratifying visitors with those surprising reverberations of sound, which follow its discharge in these romantic vales.
The hero had not far to run,
And soon he stood beside the gun,
Where Syntax, with a curious eye,
Guided by sound Philosophy,
Explor’d in thought each neighb’ring vale,
And watch’d the current of the gale:
Measur’d the objects all around,
As they might check or quicken sound;
And by some principle to find
This joint effect of noise and wind.
But soon a more poetic thought
On his inspired fancy wrought.
—Again the cannon gave its roar
To every near and distant shore;70
When its rude clamour call’d around
The strange, reverberating sound:
Now sinking low, now rising high
In wonderful variety,
Of classic images a score
Did on the Doctor’s mem’ry pour.
“Echo,” he cried, “I know thee well;
Thou dost in rocks and caverns dwell,
Or where the crag beneath the hill,
Renews its image in the rill!
There I have heard thee, there my song
Thy chastened notes did oft prolong;
So mild, so gentle, soft and clear,
Thy voice has charm’d my listening ear!
A modest nymph, I hail thy power
Within my garden’s shady bower,
But here, by some reverse, grown bold,
Echo, thou art an arrant scold;
And mak’st the hills and valleys sing
With thy so wond’rous vapouring!
—What say you Patrick, have you any
Of these same echoes at Kilkenny?”
“Yes, Sir, indeed, enough to shock you,
For faith, they can do nought but mock you
Nay, if you swear, Sir, by my troth,
The Echo will repeat the oath;
And if God bless you, you exclaim,
The Echo will declare the same.
Say good, or bad, why in a crack,
The ready voice will give it back.
The Echo which you hear at home
Does from the parish steeple come;71
At least, so all the people say,
And I have heard it many a day:
Nay this I know that Old Tom White
Has heard it morn and noon and night,
Since he remembers he could hear;
And he has reached his eightieth year.
Now, after all, I see no wonder
When this great gun lets loose its thunder:
The Echo surely says no more
Than the great gun has said before,
In an odd way, I own, and stronger,
While it may last a little longer.
But give me such as I’ve been told,
Unless poor Pat has been cajoled,
That when a question is preferr’d,
Will answer give to every word;
—Your Rev’rence, I’ve a soldier’s thought,
Could it be into practice brought;
’Twould give new strength, when cannon rattle,
And aid the mischief of a battle:
If, well ramm’d down and loaded high,
The gun its shot could multiply,
As it can thus encrease its sounds,
What added treat of blood and wounds
It would inflict by this same power,
In the brisk contest of an hour;
In all directions balls would fly
With such unknown variety;
The shot would revel in such plenty,
One gun would prove as good as twenty.”
The Doctor smiled at the conceit:
Who would not smile at such a treat
Of wand’ring fancy, which would
Ape reason in poor Patrick’s brain;72
While of the list’ning country folk,
Some star’d, and others smelt a joke.
Now from the margin of the Lake,
The trav’llers did their journey make
Towards Bowness, when, it was not long
Before the Doctor spied a throng,
A motley troop, that lay at ease
Beneath the wood’s embow’ring trees.
Some slept upon the naked ground,
With one poor blanket wrapp’d around;
Scarce shelter’d from the open sky,
But by the leaves’ green canopy:
Others awake the slumb’ring fire
With weeds, with greenwood, and with briar,
Or watch the pot with hungry care,
That did the mingled food prepare.
These feed the infant at the breast,
Or nurse its outcries into rest;
While bare-feet children, brisk and gay,
Amuse the hour in various play:
And as the aged Crones sat smoking,
The young were laughing, singing, joking;
But though the scene seem’d to express
The outward show of wretchedness,
No visage mark’d that heart-felt care
Had taken up its dwelling there.
“Whom have we here?” the Doctor cried:
Pat touch’d his hat, and thus replied.
“They’re Gipsies, who, at times, are found
In ev’ry part, the country round.
All their strange habits I can tell,
I know these wand’ring people well;73
And I, perhaps, can tell you more,
Than e’er your Rev’rence heard before:
For one of them once took a twist
To quit his people and enlist,
And serv’d, a gallant soldier he,
In the same company with me.
Though he the Gipsy’s life gave o’er,
Jack Gipsy was the name he bore,
And bore it till poor gallant Jack
Was laid in battle on his back;
I see him now as his death’s wound
Ran blood upon the sandy ground.
Full often have I heard him give
The hist’ry how these vagrants live.
From place to place they’re seen to roam,
Nor e’er possess a constant home:
They wander here, and wander there
And show their faces ev’ry where:
They are all thieves, as it is said,
And thus they gain their daily bread.
When of their thieving folks complain,
Away they go,—but come again:
And though the people sometimes bang ’em,
I never heard that Judges hang ’em.
They have no trade, nor buy, nor sell,
But when they’re paid will fortunes tell;
And I have heard they can deliver
Such strange things as make people shiver.
Religion Jack did ne’er profess,
Till he had shoulder’d Old Brown Bess:
For they ne’er keep a sabbath day,
Nor are they known to preach or pray:
They’re said to be so prone to evil,
As to have dealings with the Devil.
That the weak bend them to the strong,
Is their great scheme of right and wrong:74
With them it is a leading rule,
That cunning should outwit the fool;
That no one is unjustly treated,
Who with his open eyes is cheated.
They think it folly to pass by
The tempting opportunity,
Which chance may offer, to obtain
Whate’er their wants may wish to gain:
They hold a pregnant lie well told,
Is worth at least its weight in gold;
And their great care is to prevail
By trick when bolder means may fail;
While their first wisdom is to teach
How to keep from the hangman’s reach.
No matrimonial rites do they
With solemn, plighted vows obey;
Thus jealousy, that painful feeling,
Is what these people do not deal in.
Nor have they much of that foul jarring
Which brings on matrimonial sparring,
In which, when foolishly enrag’d,
I fear that I have been engag’d.
—Whenever they are on the rout
’Tis well to keep a good look-out;
An orchard, hen-roost, farmer’s yard,
Will then require a barking guard:
Besides, they have a watchful eye
To linen that’s hung out to dry.
In short, whatever arts they deal in,
They have a perfect knack at stealing.
—If in those pots I were to peep,
Perhaps a quarter of a sheep,
A fowl or something else as good,
Might sometimes prove they’ve dainty food,
Though, in hard times, they’ll not say no
To rats and mice and carrion crow.75
—There’s not a corner to be found
In all Old England’s ample round,
And Ireland too, where I have been,
That these brown vagrants are not seen;
Nay, I have heard that they are known
In countries far beyond our own;
Where with their fortune-telling art,
They play a strange, mysterious part.
’Tis said, that their strange, gibb’rish tongue,
Does to themselves alone belong.
Indeed, I oft have heard them speak,
But to my mind, it might be Greek:
It is not English I declare;—
And ’tis not Irish, that I’ll swear.
The men are active, stout and strong,
The women charming, when they’re young:
Though with strange art their skin they dye,
Their teeth are white as ivory:
And with their hair so long and jetty,
Egad, Sir, they are very pretty:
And their black eyes,
Your nonsense, and pray hold your peace.
I’ve heard all these things o’er and o’er,
But now I’ll know a little more;
Nor e’er shall find such fit occasion,
To confer with this vagrant nation.”
Syntax, whene’er a fancy seiz’d him,
Which from some flatt’ring impulse pleas’d him,
Did not with calm, good reason view it,
Whether he should or not pursue it,
But struck at once, without delay,
To where this fancy led the way:76
And now he thought that he might trace
Some hist’ry of this vagrant race;
That keen enquiry might obtain
What had been sought, but sought in vain.
Then leaving Phillis to the care
Of wond’ring Pat, with solemn air,
He walk’d to view the motley band,
And thus address’d them, while his hand
Wav’d as a signal of command.
They seem’d to give attentive ear
His unexpected words to hear.
“Is there among you, one whose age,
A long experienc’d, Gipsy sage,
Can, from tradition’s treasur’d store,
Assist my wishes to explore
Your name, your origin, and why,
In vagrant uniformity,
You live with all those joys at strife,
Which tend to sweeten human life:
Who want and wretchedness prefer
To man’s all social character;
And while industrious habits give
The means in honesty to live,
You breathe in idleness, and roam
Without a house, without a home.
What are the means by which you thrive,
Gain health, and keep yourselves alive?
You are preparing all to eat;
Tell me who thus provides the treat?
The fear of God, the love of man,
Do not affect your savage clan:
The beadle’s lash, the threats of law,
Alone can keep your minds in awe;77
While penal chast’nings to evade,
Is the grand scheme of Gipsy trade.
Besides, I’m told, with impious art
You play the necromancer’s part;
And e’en pretend with daring eye,
To look into futurity:
Nay, thus presumptuous, seem to show,
What mortals were not born to know;
Yet by quick tongue and shrewd grimaces,
And looks enliv’ning nut-brown faces,
You raise false hopes and idle fears
In the fool’s breast, and call forth tears
From the poor mope, whom whimp’ring folly
Disturbs with simple melancholy.
The circle movement of the arm,
A signal of th’ expected charm;
An eager, penetrating eye,
The artful smile, the ready lie,
To animate credulity;
Make up the curious receipt,
By which you frame the dear-bought cheat.
It is most strange the various tricks
By which you do the attention fix,
Not merely of confiding youth,
Who hear whate’er they wish as truth;
But e’en of sober minds, endued
With a calm sense of what is good,
Which, doubting, half believing, try
A vagrant’s skill in palmistry.
—Is it by systematic rule,
Which you all learn in Gipsy school;
Or, from the moment’s happy chance,
You seize the boon of ignorance?
These things I fain would hear you tell
In a plain way without a spell.78
Be candid, then, and no small gains,
Shall instantly reward your pains.”
There now came forward from the wood,
Where he had all attention stood,
With grizzled beard, an aged man
Who might be Patriarch of the Clan.
His face with deepest brown was dyed,
A gaping woman grac’d his side,
And, in quick tones he thus replied.
“We cannot tell from whence we came,
And wherefore Gipsy is our name:
Whether from Egypt we have sped,
As many learned men have said,
And thence have Europe overspread:
Or in the wars that did infest,
In former days, th’ embattled East,
We have been driven from our home,
And fled in distant parts to roam,
Preserving still our native cast,
That seems by fate ordain’d to last.
Thus we, indeed, appear the same,
As well in character as name;
Maintaining still our ancient nature,
In customs, manners and in feature;
Speak the same tongue as did supply
Our words through many a century.
We all have gone the self-same road,
Which we believe our fathers trod:
The self-same customs we pursue,
Move on the same, there’s nothing new
In Gipsy life, a wand’ring race,
Who know no change, but change of place.79
No written rule or law prescribes
The actions of our roving tribes:
Nature’s the mistress we obey,
Her sportive tricks the game we play:
To all but to her dictates blind,
We, ever to ourselves confin’d,
Ne’er mingle in the busy strife,
The scenes of artificial life;—
To nought but our own interest prone,
We are, good Sir, ourselves alone.
“Whene’er it is our lot to range,
We find a never-ceasing change;
Manners and fashions, customs, laws,
From some unknown and secret cause,
Which is not level to our reason,
Change with each year, nay, with each season,
While we in character and name
Continue through all times the same.
From formal rules and fashions free,
Clad it is true in poverty,
We’re one self-errant family.
Like vagrant flocks abroad we roam,
Ourselves our care, the world our home.
’Tis true we do not ask a priest
To grace the matrimonial feast:
The children may scarce know their mother,
Nor the young sister tell her brother;
But the fond mother’s ne’er beguil’d;
She always knows her darling child:
Her babes will find their place of rest
Upon her back or at her breast;
And when they grow up stout and tall
They are the children of us all;—
Nor does the workhouse ever hear
A Gipsy child claim entrance there.80
Where’er our lot, where’er our station,
Strangers we are in ev’ry nation;
And though us Gipsies they condemn,
We never borrow aught from them.
We tread the same path o’er and o’er,
Which our forefathers trod before.”
“Do now, I pray, the truth reveal
If you don’t borrow, don’t you steal?
And as your people stroll along,
Do they distinguish right from wrong?
Do they reflect on wrong or right,
If they can get a dinner by’t?
Nay, if your parties at a lift
Should chance to take a shirt or shift,
Or purloin, as a useful pledge,
The linen whit’ning on a hedge,
To mend the rags that hang about ’em,
Pray do your ancient customs scout ’em?
And do your younger people feel
The elders’ anger when they steal?
Or do they not receive applause,
When stealing, they evade the laws?
Say do you not the trick commend,
When you with hurried tongue pretend,
And ready, well-fram’d lies, to state
Your knowledge of the book of fate;
And, with fallacious promise cheat
Weak minds, to pay for the deceit?”
“I own, Sir, in the Gipsy brood,
That there are bad as well as good:
But is not this a common case,
In ev’ry state, in ev’ry place?81
And if the Gipsy breaks the law,
He can no more escape its paw
Than any other who offends
Against its object and its ends.
Do we alone then make a tool
Of those who chuse to play the fool?
No, this same trick is often seen,
Where Gipsy-folk have never been:
Where fashion’s votaries resort,
Or midst the splendor of a Court,
Or in the conflicts of the bar
Where Lawyers wage their wordy war.
It is not Jack, it is not Joan,
It is not humble folks alone,
Who willing come to try our art,
And what our knowledge can impart:
It is not the deploring maid
Whom village Strephon has betray’d;
Nor those alone, so lowly born,
Whom wealth and greatness treat with scorn,
Who to the Gipsy’s haunts apply,
For peeps into futurity.
—The heir will come who wants to know,
When his rich Dad will pass below:
Or Miss, when her old aunt shall die,
Whether a husband she may buy
With the expected legacy.
Aye many of the tonish crowd,
The gay, the gallant, and the proud,
Nay those who self-conceited strut,
Will sometimes seek the Gipsy’s hut.
How often I’ve been call’d to fix
Attention in a coach and six,
And where, for what my wit has told,
My hand has oft been cross’d with gold.82
Yes lovely, fair and courtly dames,
And I could mention certain names,
Have come to me devoid of state
To hear my tidings of their fate.
Smile not, for know my art can scan
That you’re a grave and learned man,
Who knows the world, and such as you,
Must own that what I say is true.
—If all, who play deceit for gain,
Were forc’d to join the Gipsy train,
The world would share one common fate,
And thus its fortune I relate:
The world would be one Gipsy state.
“But after all, how small our gain,
Expos’d to insult we remain,
A wand’ring, persecuted train.
Still ’twould be vain for you to guess
Why clad in seeming wretchedness
We this strange mode of living chuse,
And all your social good refuse:
But that’s a branch of Gipsy art
That nought will bribe us to impart.
That secret, all which you could pay
Will never tempt us to betray.
Show me your hand and I will state
Your fortune and your future fate:
But, wheresoe’er our lot is thrown,
We never will unfold our own.”
The Doctor from his pocket drew
His purse, and random silver threw,
And as his waiting steeds he sought
He thus, in smiling silence, thought,
“He never may have been at school,
But, faith, this fellow is no fool.”83
Patrick, unwilling to be idle,
As he held Phillis by the bridle,
With half a score black eyes around him,
Darting their glances to confound him,
Thought, while his Master chose to trace
The hist’ry of the Gipsy race,
It would be ungallant, nay wrong,
Thus to stand still and hold his tongue,
Which, from experience, as he knew,
He was not very apt to do.
Besides here was a fit occasion
To gratify his inclination.
Indeed, the Fair-ones, though the claim
Is more than doubtful to the name;
For Gipsy art, as is well known
Doth dye their skins in deepest brown:
As a black swan, it would be rare
To see the face of Gipsy fair.
Well then, these Brown-ones did not wait
For him to open the debate;
But, having gently strok’d his cheek,
Which was, I fear, nor smooth nor sleek,
And slyly chuck’d his bearded chin,
Which brought on a good-humour’d grin,
They jabber’d forth that they were willing
To tell his fate for half a shilling.
Pat smil’d consent, his sixpence paid,
And thus the witch commenc’d her trade.
“I see, as sure as you have life,
That you have never had a wife.”
“As sure as hogs are made of bacon,
Your tongue is woefully mistaken,84
You are a pretty piece of youth,
But, faith, I wish you’d speak the truth.
Ne’er had a wife, I think you say
Is that your conjuration pray?
If you say wives I ne’er had any
Your guess-work is not worth a penny:
For sure as your black eyes can see,
My pretty mistress, I’ve had three,
And one, I’ll swear it, was alive
This morning, when the clock struck five.”
“Again I will retrace your hand;
With keener view its palm command.
I now see why my eye miscarried:
’Tis plain enough you have been married:
By a false line I was beguil’d;
I see you never had a child.”
“My honey, that is one lie more,
For faith, I tell you, I have four;
As hearty babes as man could own,
With cheeks as red as yours are brown:
So you your chatt’ring may give o’er;
Arrah, my dears, I’ll hear no more.
Go tell his fortune to my Hack,
But mind the package on his back:
For, by the King, if you touch that,
You shall know something more of Pat.”
He now turn’d round and instant saw
A quiet piece of Gipsy law.
A female hand had found its way,
To where his trav’lling treasure lay;85
And was just taking at a spirt
His last new shoes and Sunday shirt,
Thus, when the solemn Doctor came,
He heard his furious groom exclaim—
“Now would your honour’s self believe it!
My innocence could not conceive it,
That yon young girl whom you may see,
Who’s out of sight behind the tree,
Would on her own ten naked toes,
Have run off in my new made shoes,
Had I not turn’d a lucky eye,
To stop her nimble thievery.
O how I long this whip to crack
In well laid lashes on her back:
I’d make the wicked baggage feel
Full sorely what it is to steal.”
This furious sally having heard,
Syntax a short remark preferr’d.
“My observations shall be brief:
The Gipsy wish’d to play the thief,
And that you knew, full well, she would,
If by your negligence she could.
Therefore, I pray, your anger cool,
For, Patrick, you have play’d the fool.”
—The Sage then mutter’d:—“à la lettre,
I fear that I have done no better.”
Now from an overshadow’d height,
Appear’d to the enamour’d sight
In trees embower’d, an object fraught
With solemn sense and higher thought,
A rich, and an exhaustless mine
Of what is best;—a solemn shrine
Where learned piety might bring
Its reverential offering.86
’Twas Calgarth, of that spot the pride,
Where Watson liv’d, where Watson died.
Syntax stood still, with mind subdued,
Chang’d from the savage and the rude,
Which he had now so lately view’d,
In nature’s most degraded state,
To think on what is good and great.
Big with the thought he silence broke,
And thus the warm Enthusiast spoke.
“Llandaff, I would my poor acclaim
Could elevate the voice of fame
That chaunts thy venerable name!
Does not a nation speak thy praise,
Say does not grateful Science raise
Those fond memorials which will last
When future ages shall be past;
While Learning, by its sage decree
Will tell how much it owes to thee!
—But here I pause, for words will fail,
Nor will my utmost powers avail,
To paint thee truly, as I scan,
The zealous, powerful friend of man:
Who when the Demon had unfurl’d
His standard o’er the Christian world;
When, by accumulated guilt,
Rivers of Christian blood were spilt;
When we were told that we should reap
No good from Death but endless sleep;
That all the sacred ties which bind
In social bliss the human kind,
That all the hopes which Truth had given
That sacred Truth inspired by Heaven
Were fram’d in artificial guise,
The work of priestly fallacies;87
When Sophistry its arts applied,
To turn the minds of men aside
From ev’ry wise, unerring rule,
Which Life is taught in Wisdom’s school:
When the vile passions were address’d
To root out virtue from the breast;
When e’en the Gospel was arraign’d,
And by blaspheming doctrines stain’d,
Or threaten’d by the dark’ning veil
That turn’d the shudd’ring virtues pale:
When, by a hellish impulse driven,
Nations themselves made war on Heaven,
As the bold, fabled Titans strove,
To wrestle with Olympian Jove:
When Britain now no longer free
From Imps of Infidelity,
Who dar’d, with a relentless hand,
To scatter poison o’er the land,
Llandaff,—you shook your mitred head,
You frown’d, and lo! the Demons fled!
Your powerful mind resolv’d to wield
The sword of Faith, the ten-fold shield;
Whose potent Ægis could repel
The arrows of the Infidel!
You did the glorious contest try;
You fought and gain’d the victory!
The boon, to her brave Champions due,
Religion grateful pays to you.
And while the good of ev’ry age,
Shall hymn the Patriarch and the Sage,
Faith looks to that last great reward,
The good receive, in Heav’n prepar’d.
“And if an humble voice like mine
Could in the gen’ral chorus join,88
Which gives to universal fame,
The noble deed, the splendid name;—
Could I but aid the heartfelt strain,
Syntax would sing, nor sing in vain:
But what my feeble Muse affords,
In gratitude my heart records!
“Beside the grave where Llandaff sleeps,
Religion bends her head and weeps;
And Science plants the Cypress round,
To deck the consecrated ground;
While Learning doth the tablet give,
By which he shall through ages live.”
Thus as he did in solemn guise
And looks devout soliloquise,
To sacred Calgarth, and to Heaven,
His eyes alternately were given.
His hand he wav’d, which seem’d to tell,
As well as hand could speak farewell!
Though many a fir-clad mountain high
Appeared to court his curious eye;
Though many a rich or rugged vale
That hugg’d the stream or nurs’d the gale,
Gave to the view the craggy scene
Of culture fair or bosom green:
He rather his employment sought
In the recess of learned thought;
Nor had he ceas’d thus to explore,
Till his day’s journey had been o’er;
But Punch ran by him on the road
Frisking along without his load;—
While Pat, behind, was loudly bawling,
And kicking in the dust and sprawling.89
—The Doctor rous’d by all this clatter,
Return’d to see what was the matter.
“How happen’d it,” he gravely said,
“That on the ground you thus are laid?”
Pat rose,—then gave himself a shake,
And staring did this answer make:
“By my soul, Sir, I scarce can tell,
How I came here,—and why I fell:
But I believe, that, on the way,
With nought to do,—and less to say;
Dulness did o’er my senses creep,
And I presume I went to sleep.
The flies might sting,—and so the hack
Kick’d his fat load from off his back:
For, faith, I think, he would not take
Such freaks, if I had been awake.
No bones are broke, and I’m not bruis’d,
By this same fall I’m not ill-us’d;
For in such cases, while alive
Fat is a fine preservative.
But no harm’s done: the worst is past:
I wish this fall may be my last:
Though, in this world, as we must own,
There’s many an up, and many a down;
As was the joke of my wife Peg,
Who had one short and one long leg,
And when she walk’d about, she knew
Her legs would prove her maxim true.”
Syntax who was so grave by nature,
That rarely he relax’d a feature,
Now suffer’d nonsense to beguile
His lean, lank face into a smile:
Nay almost laughing, thus he said,
As the thought on his fancy play’d,—
“Pat, thou art full of strange conceit
And in thy way a perfect treat:90
So catch thy beast, once more bestride him,
And with a better caution ride him:
But let not thy resentment guide
The angry spur to goad his side;
Nor let thy whip apply its thong,
For Punch, friend Pat, has done no wrong;
And if ’tis just to give such greeting,
We know who ’tis deserves the beating.”
Pat smil’d,—and having kiss’d the hack,
Was soon re-seated on his back.
The Doctor now pursued his way,
Till night trod on the heels of day:
And when full many a mile was past,
Kendal receiv’d the Sage at last.
—Now in an inn and all alone,
He thought on what the day had done;
That ev’ry day, in its career,
Is but a picture of the year;
And in each year when it is flown,
The image of our life is shown.
At morn his journey he began,
And quick the speedy minutes ran,
While all he met or left behind
Delighted his reflecting mind.
The noon and its succeeding hours
To action call’d his active powers,
The evening’s come,—the well-fed guest
Content, though tir’d, retires to rest.—
The following morn the hour of eight
Saw Phillis saddled at the gate;
And Punch and Pat appear’d to view,
Waiting in all attendance due.
The toilette of a coat and hat
Was quite familiar work to Pat;91
With flourish and without a grin,
He could make smooth the roughest chin,
Nor was this all, for he could rig
With friz and curl the Doctor’s wig:
Whate’er the busy camp could teach,
Had prov’d to be in Patrick’s reach.
Thus the good Doctor’s air and mien
Were quite correct, so smug and clean,
As in old times they ne’er had been.
—Besides, Pat had his native parts,
And Master was of many Arts;
For at a push without ado,
He could put on a horse’s shoe;
With strength could wield a threshing flail,
A needle drive, or drive a nail;
He could grind knives, or garters knit,
In short for most things he was fit.
Besides kind Nature did impart
To Patrick’s breast an honest heart;—
From all delusion he was free;
The pattern of Fidelity.
The Parson-Errant travell’d on,
And found that ev’ry thing was done,
That he could wish for or desire,
By his accomplish’d trusty ’Squire:
In fact, for all things that the mind
Could hope in such a scheme to find,
It may be thought, from hour to hour,
A kind of ready-furnish’d Tour.
Thus no slight trouble could delay
The tranquil progress of the day,
And all as yet was clean and tight,
Where’er the Doctor pass’d the night:
Though we’re not pledge for what may wait
His progress in the book of fate.92
But Pat had a small spice of pride
Which sometimes turn’d his tongue aside,
Nor suffer’d truth to be his guide:
And, in the kitchen of an inn,
He seldom thought it were a sin,
By many a bold and bloody story
To boast his own and England’s glory;
And raise his Master’s rank and station,
To be first Parson in the nation.
—He would exclaim, his Rev’rence there,
Nursing his pipe in easy chair,
And at this moment reading Greek,
A dozen languages can speak:
And as for trav’lling, he has been,
Where scarce another man was seen,
Where he has rode on camels’ backs,
And elephants were common hacks.
This day the Doctor was a Dean,
The next he was a Bishop seen,
But from a hatred of all show,
Was travelling incognito.
A landlord fat, who lov’d a joke,
And did Pat’s boasting chatter smoke,
Half-whisper’d—“Faith I’m glad I know it,
And my Lord Bishop’s bill shall show it.”
—When Patrick, who was shrewd and quick
And up to any kind of trick,
Said, “when my Lord, in coach and four
Shall make a stoppage at your door,
You may, with all habitual skill,
Tickle up items at your will;
But as for reasons which are known
To his wise head and that alone,
He chuses thus to travel on;
Take care his bill is free from show,
And every charge, incognito.”93
Now Syntax did his way pursue
As other lonely trav’llers do:
But he did this old maxim own,
Ne’er to be lonely when alone:
For he could call from ev’ry age,
The Bard, the Hero, and the Sage.
From annals of recording fame,
He could disclose each fav’rite name,
And whether in his easy chair
He sat with contemplative air,
Or did, in solemn musings rove
Beside the stream or in the grove;
Or mounted on his palfrey gay
He journeyed onward through the day,
He could call forth to his mind’s eye,
That bright, select society,
Who never, when he ask’d their aid,
The pleasing summons disobey’d,
But did the lengthen’d way beguile
Full many an hour and many a mile.
Whether the heroes of the age
That lives in Homer’s splendid page,
Or th’ awak’ning names that shine
In Virgil’s ev’ry feeling line:
Whether the men of later times
In story told or sung in rhymes;
Whether the Romans or the Gauls
Who pull’d down towns or built up walls;
Or who, in far posterior days
Call’d forth his censure or his praise:
Whether Aristotelian sense
Or Greek or Roman eloquence
Awoke his mind or turn’d his eye,
With critic perspicuity,
To con their various beauties o’er,
And find out charms unknown before94
As Syntax chose not to unfold,
’Twould be but guess-work were it told:—
Suffice it then at once to say,
That in the ev’ning of the day,
He reach’d an inn in country town,
Which might have boasted of renown
In times of yore, long past and gone:
But now a straggling street display’d,
With little sign of bustling trade:
While in the midst a building stood
Of stone, of plaster, and of wood,
Where sometimes Justice did resort,
To deck its bench, and hold her court.
This inn, as quite a thing of course,
Provided food for man and horse.
The room which was the Doctor’s lot,
Was the best place the inn had got:
No carpet grac’d it, but the floor
Was all with sand besprinkled o’er,
And almanacks hung on the door;
One for the present year, and one
For that which now was past and gone.
Prints deck’d the wall of ev’ry hue,
Yellow and red, and green and blue,
Churches and horses, heads and towers,
With ballad histories and flowers;
The humblest specimens of art
Did all their gaiety impart;
While in the chimney roses bloom
To breathe their fragrance round the room,
And flaunting piony so red
Did on the hearth its foliage shed.
Then on the mantel-shelf above,
There was the plaster form of Love;95
And on each side of Cupid shone
The shapes of Mars and Wellington.
—He with a curious smiling eye,
View’d all this mural pageantry:
Then, in arm’d chair in corner plac’d
With a soft, well-clad cushion grac’d,
He bade his host, who told the fare,
A speedy supper to prepare.
The cloth was clean, the chop well drest,
The home-brew’d ale was of the best,
And Syntax ’joy’d the humble feast.
The damsel, who, with rosy look,
Curtsied at every word she spoke,
And might be thought a rural beauty,
Perform’d with care th’ attendant duty.
The pipe was on the table laid,
Where Maro’s Georgics were display’d;
So thus he smok’d and thus he read,
Till nature bade him seek his bed.
The Doctor now was seen to clamber
Up a rude stair-case to his chamber,
Where by the day’s fatigue oppress’d,
He said his prayer and sunk to rest:
But ere an hour or two were gone,
About the time the clock struck one,
A bustling noise his slumbers broke,
He snorted, started and awoke.
Recov’ring then from his surprise,
He shook his head and rubb’d his eyes.
The cloudless Cynthia, glist’ning bright,
Cast o’er the room its borrow’d light;
And, as her silver beams she threw,
Expos’d all round him to his view.
He thought he saw a troop of cats,
But it appear’d that they were rats,96
Who seem’d all frisking, quite at home,
In playing gambols round the room.
If they were fighting or were wooing,
He could not tell what they were doing,
But now it was his serious aim,
To terminate this noisy game;
For to these rav’nous creatures, he
Had a deep-felt antipathy:
Nor would he dare to venture forth
Unclad, for half that he was worth.
He hiss’d and hooted, though in vain;
They fled, but soon return’d again.
To drive away this daring crew,
He with great force, his pillow threw;
But soon he saw them mock and scout it,
Running round and all about it.
The bolster follow’d, and a stool
Was sent their furious feats to cool,
And as a kinsman aids his brother,
The shoes, soon follow’d one another.
The night-cap too now left his head;
In vain the missile weapon fled;
In short the Muse’s tongue is tied
To tell all that he threw beside.
—At length his wonted courage came,
Resentment did his blood inflame;
Nay he resolv’d to cut all short,
And in his shirt to spoil the sport:
But that the vermin might not wound him,
He strove to wrap the curtain round him.
The curtain which by time was worn,
Soon in a mighty rent was torn;
By his main force the tester shook,
And boxes fill’d with caps, forsook
The place where through the week they slept,
And were for Sunday fin’ry kept;97
With hats and ribbons and such geer,
As make folks gay throughout the year.
Some fell upon the Doctor’s head,
His figure grac’d, or strew’d the bed;
While some in millinery shower
Were scatter’d all around the floor;
And as they in confusion lay,
Seem’d to give spirit to the fray.
Now Molly hearing all this clatter,
Cried, through the key-hole, “what’s the matter?
If you are ill, I recommend
That we should for the Doctor send.”
“—Send some one,” Syntax said, “I pray,
To drive these vermin far away,
Send me the Doctor, or I’m undone,
Who made a poor boy, May’r of London.
Send me a cat whose claws will cure
The noisome evil I endure.
With half-a-crown I will reward
The beast who comes to be my guard.”
Molly ran off, and soon there came
The Ostler, Benedict by
To ease the Doctor of alarm,
With a fierce puss beneath each arm;
They soon compos’d this scene of riot,
And Syntax then repos’d in quiet.
The morning came, th’ unconscious sun,
Display’d what mischief had been done;
The rats it seems had play’d the rig
In tearing up the Doctor’s wig.
All discompos’d awhile he strutted,
To see his peruke thus begutted;
Yet when at length in arm-chair seated,
He saw how his head-dress was treated,
When his cool thoughts became intent
On this unrivall’d accident,98
A laugh, that foe to transient cares,
Seem’d to burst from him unawares;
And laughing, as his best friends knew,
He was not very apt to do.
Pat, who had heard of the disaster,
Came to hold counsel with his master;
The host too bow’d and bade good-morrow,
And with down looks express’d his sorrow:
For though, the master of the inn,
He for so many years had been,
He loudly vow’d he ne’er had heard
Such a complaint as this preferr’d:
For none before who sought his house,
E’er heard a rat or saw a mouse.
Pat long’d full sore to say,—he lied;
But he refrain’d, and thus replied:
“This is most strange, for where I slept,
They I am sure their councils kept:
There are these vermin beasts in plenty,
If I saw one, faith, I saw twenty.
But I don’t mind them no not I.—
I’ve had them oft for company.
I’ve been where rats and all their cousins,
Have run across my bed by dozens.”
“It is an animal I hate;
Its very sight I execrate:
A viper I would rather see,
Than one of this dire family:
That they suck eggs I may allow,
That they munch grain we all must know;
But I ne’er heard, I do declare,
That these same vermin feed on hair.”99
“No, no, your Rev’rence, Old Nick rate ’em,
They suck the oil and the pomatum;
And when in scrambling they grew louder,
O, they were fighting for the powder.
But still ’tis shocking, past enduring,
For the wig’s maim’d beyond all curing.
—If they could but have eat the brains
Once cover’d by these sad remains,
And by a miracle been taught
Just to employ them as they ought;
I know full well, Sir, what I mean,
Yes, yes, ’tis true, they would have been
The wisest rats, however droll,
That ever crept into a hole.”
“I thank you Pat, as I can spare
This lot of artificial hair,
But for my brains, no rats shall taste ’em,
They shall remain where nature plac’d ’em.
But tell me, Landlord, does your town
A skilful Peruke-maker own,
Who can this caxon dire restore
To the same form it had before.”
“O yes, what can be done by art,
Dick Razor’s knowledge will impart;
A clever hand as you have seen;
And who in London oft has been.
At certain seasons of the year
Our ’Squires hold a Sessions here,
And then he doth display his trade
By combing ev’ry Lawyer’s head:100
I doubt not, Sir, that to a hair,
He will your mangled wig repair.”
Dick Razor came, the Peruke saw,
Rais’d up his eyes, hung down his jaw;
And said at once—“whoever wore it,
No art of man can e’er restore it;
But I’ve a wig, I know will do,
Which, Sir, within an hour or two,
I’ll trick and furbish up for you.
—It was a Counsellor’s, a tie,
That did a solemn air supply,
When he let loose his hackneyed tongue
To prove wrong right, and rightful wrong.
But if that wig which deck’d his brain
Could speak, and with clear words explain
How many lies came from that head,
Which its fine, flowing curls o’erspread,
I do believe, nay, I could swear,
There’d be a lie for ev’ry hair.
Before,—the curls are well confin’d,
The tails fall gracefully behind;
While a full wilderness of friz
Became the Lawyer’s cunning phiz.
—’Tis true, for upwards of a year
I dress’d his wig and shav’d him here;
But though he ne’er forgot his fee,
He walk’d off without paying me.
Three years and more are past and gone
Since the voracious bird is flown;
And no harm’s done to this said elf,
To sell his wig and pay myself.
The wig is good,—in London made—
Work’d up by one who knew his trade:
Cut off its tails, and when ’tis shown,
You’ll scarcely know it from your own.”101
“I’ve heard enough, my honest friend,
And, as I seek my journey’s end,
I wish you to your shop would walk,
I want my wig, and not your talk.
Go with the Tonsor, Pat, and try
To aid his hand, and guide his eye.”
They left the room, and straight the News
Was brought the Doctor to peruse.—
With night-cap grac’d he sat him down,
To see how this world waddled on.
The fragrant tea his thirst supplied,
The triple toast was not denied;
And as he drank, and as he eat,
Big with the comforts of the treat,
The night and all its horrid plot,
The Wig, the Vermin were forgot:
For, while he did his bev’rage quaff,
He conn’d each various paragraph;
And as he did the columns scan,
Review’d the Epitome of Man:
Nay, as he ran the pages o’er,
He made his flight from shore to shore:
The North, the South, the East, the West,
Were on his busy mind imprest:
The striking images of things
Were borne along on Fancy’s wings;
And, with a glowing ardour fraught,
He thus proclaim’d each rising thought:
“What I now read, I well may say,
Is what men hear of ev’ry day:
Of all the paths that lead through Life
Of joy and sorrow, peace and strife:102
Of station’s proud and splendid state,
Of what is good, of what is great;
Of what is base, of what is mean,
The strut of Pride, the look serene,
The comic and the tragic scene:
Of those who ’neath the portals proud
Disdain to join the vulgar crowd,
While at Ambition’s splendid shrine
They bend and call the thing divine;
Or those who, by their airs and graces,
Their smiling their painted faces,
Strive some gay, glitt’ring toy to gain,
And often strive and toil in vain:
The haughty stride of bloated power,
Gay pleasure’s couch in gilded bower;
The warrior’s spear bedipp’d in blood,
And discord wild in angry mood:
Of all the scenes where fancy ranges,
Its sportive tricks, its endless changes,
Of rival foes, who, big with hate,
Give and receive the stroke of fate;
Of Cupid’s fond and doleful ditties,
Which passion sings and reason pities;
Of Love requited or forlorn,
Of faith return’d or mock’d with scorn:
Of fortune, with her smiling train,
Or downcast, ne’er to rise again;
Or those by fate ordain’d to feel
Th’ alternate whirlings of its wheel:
Of virtue to each duty just,
Of fraud, low rankling in the dust;
Of Friendship’s strong, unbroken tie,
Affection’s heart-felt sympathy;
Of Hatred’s fierce and scowling frown,
And Jealousy that does not own,103
Its wakeful pang; of pallid Fear,
Or Cunning’s shrewd, insidious leer;
Of honeymoons that speed so fast,
They’re gone before ten days are past:
Of Ignorance that never knows
From whence it comes or where it goes;
Of Folly in its motley coat,
That acts and thinks and talks by rote;
And yet, howe’er by fortune hurl’d,
Skips on and laughs throughout the world;
While Wisdom, though ’tis known to save
A sinking nation from the grave;
Though she alone can form the plan
Of real happiness to man;
Will often see her sons neglected,
While knaves and blockheads are protected.
But still the mind that loves her laws,
Whose courage dare support her cause,
Though fools may scoff and knaves may grin,
And join the senseless rabble’s din,
May, for base ends, roar loud and bellow
For any factious Punchinello;
He that with virtue is endued,
Will win th’ applauses of the good,
And more, altho’ the crowd may frown,
He will be sure to have his own,
And what by kings can ne’er be given,
He will possess the smiles of Heaven.—
If such distinctions then pervade,
By rigid rules, the writer’s trade;
Whether in folios they deal,
Or in the daily page reveal,
By reas’ning prose, or lively rhymes,
The hist’ry of the passing times;
They who from party views or ends,
Ne’er strive to serve their private friends,104
Or with design’d intention stray
From truth’s clear, open, manly way;
Their works, whate’er may be their name
Deserve the grateful meed of fame.
What human nature’s known to feel
These pages must with care reveal:
What human nature’s doom’d to do,
These pages hold to public view:
Of all things that we daily see,
They give the passing history.
The Journalists are bound to tell,
When things go ill, when things go well
It is their office e’en to draw
An owl, a pheasant, a mackaw,
Whether of bright or dingy feather,
Or separate, or all together;
Whether in sunshine or by night,
Objects are offer’d to the sight:
To paint as forms appear, the shape
Of an Apollo or an ape,
And solid, sound instruction give
Or from the dead, or those who live:—
To offer praise, or let loose blame
On vice or virtue’s various aim;
To shoot their darts as folly flies,
And give protection to the wise:
While they as steersmen strive to guide
Each bark that’s carried by the tide,
And with its cargo wins its way
From hour to hour, from day to day,
Just as the stream or varying gale
Claims the strong oar, or swells the sail.
—This task, thus carefully pursued
Deserves the fame of doing good;105
Though if their interest gives them leave
By double dealing to deceive;
If they the cause of truth betray,
And deal forth falsehoods day by day;
If they from any cause inherit
A factious zeal, a party spirit,
If they, the fix’d determin’d foes,
Whoe’er they be, of these or those,
Employ a subtle, partial pen,
Not ’gainst the measures but the men,
If they from justice dare to swerve,
I know full well what they deserve.
But if they put no man’s ambition
With public good in competition;
If when the ancient law’s defac’d,
They think the Nation is disgrac’d:
If when ill ministers oppress
Though a good monarch means redress,
They draw the well-fram’d veil aside
That does the secret errors hide;—
If they praise those who never fawn’d,
Nor their fair honour ever pawn’d;
Whose hands, with no corruption stain’d,
Have ev’ry sordid bribe disdain’d;
Who serve the crown with loyal zeal,
Yet zealous for the public weal;
Who stand the bulwark of our laws,
And wear at heart their country’s cause;
Neither by place nor pension bought,
Who speak the very thing they thought;
Who ne’er, to serve a paltry end,
To knavish jobs will condescend:
When Truth thus holds the daily pen
To laud the deeds of virtuous men,106
And with due caution to relate
What passes in the world of state,
Among the little or the great;
Th’ instructive and the fearless part
Is prais’d by ev’ry patriot heart.
—The Journalist, to party blind,
Who strikes at vice of ev’ry kind,
And thus assists the public mind,
To this proud title will ascend:—
The people’s and the Sov’reign’s friend.
Thus, as the musing Doctor spoke,
enter’d smiling at the joke.
That he a Parson’s head should rig
So smartly in a Lawyer’s wig,
The ensign of the wordy war,
Which forms the conflicts of the Bar:
That it should now from contest cease
And deck the Minister of Peace.
But so it was—Dick Razor’s skill
Had cut and dockt it to his will;
So that the Sage, but for the cost,
Might think it was the wig he lost.
The shaver a wide grin display’d,
To think the Lawyer’s bill was paid;
And that the wig which crown’d his nob,
Had done this unexpected job.
—The Doctor said, “we never know,
As through the vale of life we go,
Who may thus prove our real friends,
To aid our objects and our ends.
—The Lion, as the fable says,
Ow’d to a Mouse his future days;
And you, I think, who in this town,
Bear such professional renown,107
When you your friendly neighbours meet
And join the ev’ning’s social treat;
When as you take the cheerful glass,
And while the observations pass
On Fortune’s or Misfortune’s brats,
Will not forget your friends the Rats.”
“While I the razor can prepare,
Or give new fashion to the hair;
While I can smooth the bristly chin,
Nor ever wound the tender skin;
While I the Pleader’s head prepare
In all the dignity of hair;
To make, as he lays down the laws,
The worse appear the better cause:
Ne’er shall I from my mem’ry drive
The strange events by which men thrive,
Nor e’er forget these imps of prey,
Or Lawyers who are worse than they.”
Thus Dick unto his home departed,
With cash in hand and merry-hearted.
Syntax with the meridian sun
Had his day’s journey now begun:
When, as the Landlord scratch’d his pate,
And humbly bow’d beside the gate,
Says Pat, “my friend as I am starting,
I’ll give you a kind word at parting.
There was a man in former time,
But in what age or in what clime
I cannot say, a sportsman he,
A perfect hunting prodigy,
Who, as he beat about his grounds,
Was chas’d and eat up by his hounds:108
If you would, therefore, save your skin,
And all the flesh it buckles in,
Look, that you keep a guard of cats,
Or you’ll be eat up by your rats.”
The Doctor now pursued his way,
Nor haste was his, nor slow delay,
Till, at the welcome close of day,
He join’d, at York, the friendly party
Of the good ’Squire and Madam Hearty.109
O HOW I wish that I could sing,
And touch the sweetly sounding string,
In soft harmonious praise to join
Of her who claims a source divine,
An offspring of celestial birth
And Charity yclep’d on earth;
Where they to whom its spirit’s given
Enjoy the best foretaste of Heaven:—
For what in life can mortals know,
So sure a balm to human woe,
As that which certain joy imparts,
Or plucks the pang from mourning hearts;
That bids the turbid passions rest,
And soothes to peace the troubled breast.
—If Vengeance with its hostile brood
Of stern resolves inflames the blood,
And lifts the hand to strike the blow
That meditates an added woe;
—If Malice, with insidious aim,
Prepares, in secret, to defame
The virtues of a spotless name;
—If Envy, with distorted eye
Does ev’ry failing magnify,
Gleams hatred on superior worth,
And fain would bury deep in earth
Each plant that blooms with blossoms fair,
Which Virtue makes her darling care;—
If ’mid this odious group appears
Mild Charity that knows no fears;110
E’en Vengeance owns a soften’d soul,
And yields to the benign controul:
Malice, the influence kind obeys,
Checks its foul tongue and learns to praise
While Envy does her name belie,
By smiles of gen’rous sympathy.
But such is not the only good
That by this virtue is pursued;
In many a stream its bounties flow,
To ease the weight of human woe;
While it exerts its pow’r to bless,
By aiding human happiness.
It gives to pleasure higher aims,
It sweetens honour’s fairest claims,
And banishes each fretful strife
That oft disturbs domestic life.
It gives to manners social ease,
And heightens each desire to please:
To ev’ry station adds a grace,
And renders cheerful ev’ry face;
As it with changeful charm appears,
Now gives the smile, now dries the tears,
Sees amid foes fair peace restored,
And crowns the hospitable board.
’Tis that to Syntax which affords
A welcome not express’d by words;
But which dumb feeling can impart,
When issuing from a gen’rous heart:
For Charity ne’er stands aloof
Beneath the comfortable roof
Where Hearty’s wishes now attend
To give each comfort to his friend;
Where he may find for weeks to come,
If he so please, that he’s at home;111
For there ’tis Charity we see,
In form of Hospitality.
Shakes by the hand and kisses kind,
Told ’tween these friends the mutual mind
And much warm salutation past,
Then, what had happen’d since they last
Were in that friendly room together,
The state of things and of the weather,
Employ’d them ’till the Minster chime
Announc’d the approaching supper time,
A pleasing sound to strike the ear
Of any hungry traveller;
And Syntax was prepar’d to meet
With due regard the coming treat.
He seem’d not chang’d in Hearty’s view;
He eat as he was wont to do;
Nor did he let the bev’rage pass,
’Till he had emptied many a glass.
But to the ’Squire it strange appear’d,
That Dolly’s name had not been heard;
The theme of so much lively praise
In other times, in former days:
But now of her he had not spoke,
Nor turn’d a matrimonial joke,
Nor seem’d inclin’d a tale to swell,
Nor sang forth, Vive la Bagatelle.
But though he seem’d not over-glad,
His looks did not declare him sad:
Besides, the journey of the day
Might check his being very gay.
Though if an appetite e’er prov’d
That a man’s hours in comfort mov’d,
’Squire Hearty thought his pleasant friend
Enjoy’d our being’s aim and end;112
(By which the poet’s lines express
The character of Happiness2)
And that, when he had ceas’d to sup,
The Sage would clear the matter up.
O Happiness, our Being’s end and aim!
By many surely ’tis believ’d,
(Though they perhaps may be deceiv’d,)
For on what grounds I cannot see,
That, urg’d by Curiosity,
The Ladies look with keener ken,
Than the less eager eye of men:
But howsoe’er the truth may prove,
This principle began to move
In Madam Hearty’s anxious thought,
Why Mrs. Syntax was not brought.
It seem’d so strange and so unkind,
That she should thus be left behind.
She might indeed have had an heir,
Since she had paid a visit there,
And could not leave so great a joy,
As nursing a dear, darling boy:
But wherefore should the Doctor hide
What might be such a source of pride?
She might be ill and could not come;
But then he would not quit his home.
These and a dozen queries more
Her doubting fancy brooded o’er:
But howsoe’er her wish might long,
She knew her place and held her tongue,
And left the ’Squire to decree
Th’ unfolding of this mystery.
The supper done, the chat began,
And thus the conversation ran.113
“Though unexpected you are come,
I’m glad you think my house your home;
And if the proverb says what’s true,
Which those old saws are apt to do,
The merry but unlook’d-for guest
Full often proves to be the best:
But that’s all one ’twixt you and me,
And so with all sincerity,
I bid you welcome in my wine,
In which your Hostess here will join.”
A thought the Lady now inspir’d;
The time was come she so desir’d;
The secret now must be her own,
And what she wish’d to know be known.
—She fill’d her glass then smiling bow’d,
And thus th’ expected grace bestow’d.
“My kindest wish I drink to you,
And to dear Mrs. Syntax too;
But why when thus abroad you roam,
Leave you your charming wife at home?”
Syntax first gravely shook his head,
And then in soften’d accents said,
“My answer, Ma’am, will make you grieve,
Hers is a home she ne’er will leave,
Till the last summons shall be given,
To call the virtuous soul to Heaven.
My Dolly’s gone, alas! to rest,
Where the green turf lies on her breast,
And as I others teach to bear
With patience the inflicted care,
I must a strong example show
To stem the roughest tide of woe;114
But grateful to that sov’reign power,
Who rules the year, the day, the hour,
That he doth still my passage bless
With what I know of happiness;
That now I have within my view,
Such warm, such gen’rous friends as you:
’Tis to my loss that I now owe,
The heart-felt kindness you bestow.
To soothe my mind, to calm my grief,
In changing scenes I seek relief.
—My former Tour, I grateful tell,
In all its views succeeded well.
To ease my state, to fill my purse,
I mounted my old Grizzle Horse,
And kindness both by night and day
Was the companion of my way:
And ere my present Tour shall end,
I trust that Heaven will prove my friend,
That I again shall reach my home,
With prospects of fair days to come.”
Madam clasp’d both her hands and sigh’d,
When Hearty in firm tone replied:
“I prithee do not play the fool,
Nor poke into your ridicule,
To find a ’kerchief to display
Your grief by wiping tears away:
If grief by mirth cannot be cur’d
With patience it must be endur’d.
Kind, pleasant friends, and cheerful hours,
Compose the balm which reason pours,
The various rankling wounds to heal
In minds that rage, in hearts that feel.
If fever burns, if gout attacks,
If the stone with its torture racks;115
If your whole frame the ague shakes,
Or the head to distraction akes;
Laughter and joke and wit in vain
Will strive to ease the afflicting pain:
Nor eloquence with all its charm
Can one tormenting pang disarm:
The learned Leech must there apply
His skill and the Dispensary.
But such a grief, my friend, as yours,
’Tis mirth relieves, ’tis pleasure cures;
Pleasure that reason doth allow,
And mirth that smooths the wrinkled brow;
Such as our social friends afford,
To cheer their hospitable board.
I’ll turn Physician, and to-morrow,
Will find a medicine for your sorrow.”
The ’Squire’s broad hand then gave a smack
That sounded on the Doctor’s back.
“My friend,” he added, “never fear,
We’ll find you some amusement here;
And I engage that you leave York,
With heart as light as any cork.”
Syntax replied,—“With half an eye,
I see your kind Philosophy:
But as I’m with fatigue opprest,
I ask the night’s refreshing rest:
And, at the morning’s breakfast table,
I doubt not but I shall be able,
With all fair reas’ning to bestow
What you will find a Quid pro Quo;—
Which I translate for Madam there
A Rowland for your Oliver.”
Arm’d with a taper’s burning light,
And having wish’d his host good night,116
He to his chamber did repair,
And found his Valet waiting there:
Who did not for a moment wait
To burst forth in his usual prate.
“Your Rev’rence, wheresoe’er I’ve been,
O such a house I ne’er have seen!
I trust, in Heaven, that no disaster,
Nor harm will e’er befall its Master!
O never should he die, O never!
Such men as he should live for ever!
The cellar’s full of liquor rare,
Which all who come and go may share.
If in the larder you should pop,
Of all good things there’s such a crop,
You’d think it was a butcher’s shop.
Nay, in the pantry should you look,
You might expect a pastry-cook.
O such a kitchen for my money!
It overflows with milk and honey!
Nay even puss is grown so fat,
She would not move to catch a rat.
No place is empty, all are full;
Each servant smiling, no one dull.
Now that your Rev’rence is undrest,
You’ll find the bed like all the rest;
And when into these sheets you creep,
They’ll surely prove brimful of sleep.”
—The Doctor smil’d, the curtains drew;—
And soon found Patrick’s notions true.
’Twas now past ten, the Doctor gone,
The ’Squire and Ma’am were left alone,
And while he pac’d the parlour floor,
They talk’d their friend the Doctor o’er.117
I’ve said before, the Dame so kind,
Was always of her husband’s mind;
And did so to his temper suit,
That such a thing as a dispute
Had never happened from the hour,
When they both bow’d to Hymen’s power:
Like Trueman’s Cocks, who, at the Pit,
Could boast they never had a hit,
And this was true,—but then ’tis thought,
These self-same game-birds never fought.
To give assent and to obey
Was here the order of the day.
For he was gen’rous, kind and free,
The soul of hospitality,
And she knew how to give a grace
To all the plenty of the place.
“My dear, I have a plan,” he said,
“Which is now working in my head,
And in it you must bear your part.”
Mrs. Hearty.—That I will do with all my heart.
Hearty.—The widow who has cast her weeds
Is tired of the life she leads.
Mrs. H.—That is a truth which I well know,
For she has often told me so.
H.—And sure she could not better do
Than marry Syntax; what think you?
Mrs. H.—’Twould be the very thing my love!
O, she would fit him like a glove!
H.—And if I’m not mistaken, he
Would love her to idolatry!
Mrs. H.—She’s of the very make and trim
To suit just such a man as him.
H.—He in his qualities and mind,
Must rank as of superior kind.118
I think him a delightful creature:
But then in outward form and feature,
Say does he that appearance wear,
Which is most cherish’d by the fair?
Mrs. H.—It is most true, his nut-brown face,
With his long chin devoid of grace,
And his droll manners may not prove,
Incentives to a widow’s love.
H.—But who can tell what she may do,
When all his learning’s brought in view?
Mrs. H.—Indeed, my love, that’s very true.
H.—When so much Latin, so much Greek,
Does her approving favour seek;
When all the learning of all ages,
Drawn from philosophers and sages,
Who liv’d in distant climes,
And were the boast of former times,
When they are brought her smiles to greet,
And laid devoutly at her feet;
They with his virtues and his name,
Might in her bosom raise a flame.
Mrs. H.—O let him but those bellows blow,
And Love would soon be in a glow.
H.—But after all there’s no harm done,
Whether the Dame be lost or won:
Though if we should not lose our labour,
We shall procure a pleasant neighbour.
I love the Doctor,—so do you.
Mrs. H.—Love him, my dear, aye that I do.
H.—At least, I think we’ll try the scheme,
Perhaps it may not prove a dream.
Mrs. H.—As for the scheme, I scarce can doubt it;
And, if you please, we’ll set about it.
H.—To-morrow then you will prepare
The Lady for her visiter:—119
So when we’ve din’d, I will attend him,
And leave kind Cupid to befriend him.
The morning came, and breakfast done,
Th’ important plan was thus begun.
“I do not to fine words pretend,
But Syntax knows me for his friend.
I feel your loss, and kindly share it,
And much I wish you to repair it.
For your late wife your grief to smother,
There’s but one way,—why get another:
And I can, as I hope, provide,
A comely, rich, accomplished bride.
We have a friend within the city,
Who is not old, and still is pretty:
She learning loves and learned men,
Reads books, and can employ her pen:
Admires your works, repeats your name,
And with her praise adorns your fame:
Speaks French, and plays upon the lute,
And will your taste exactly suit.
A Lady’s age is seldom known:
’Tis said, indeed, she’s thirty-one;
But were I ask’d her years to fix,
I might suspect them thirty-six;
Nor would she yet be out of date,
Supposing she was thirty-eight.
Besides she has a jointure clear,
Of full five hundred pounds a year:
The mansion, too, is all her own,
Which might a Bishop’s wishes crown.”120
“I thank you, my most valued friend,
For all the good which you intend;
But ’tis the morning of my grief:
I look not yet for such relief
As you propose: it is too soon:—
O let me wait at least till noon!”
“What is the honey-moon! The time
When married love is in its prime:
When all the sweets have been enjoy’d,
And many a love-sick pair is cloy’d;
Whose joys are not suppos’d to last,
When that fix’d, stated period’s past.
But when th’ enliv’ning season’s over
The husband is no more the lover;
Then common sense assumes its turn,
Cupid’s bright torches cease to burn,
And married folk may then jog on,
As I and my good wife have done.
And faith I do not see the reason,
Why sorrow should not have its season:
Why, while a Moon for Joy we borrow,
We may not do the same for Sorrow;
Why a good husband, such as you,
When he has mourn’d a month or two,
Should not then seize the fav’ring hour,
To haste again to Hymen’s bower:
’Tis downright folly to refuse it,
And your superior sense will chuse it.
Turn the thing over in your mind,
And then as soon as we have din’d,
You shall with a Knight-errant spirit,
Which I well know that you inherit,121
Go and declare your rightful claim
To ask the favour of the dame,
Your speech you, as a lance, will wield,
Your wit will prove a powerful shield,
And I’ve no doubt you’ll gain the field.
But e’en should not the prize be won,
No ill ensues, no harm is done.”
—Now there’s a feeling, more or less,
Which I believe we all possess:
And, if by reason ’tis controul’d,
May aid the courage of the bold;
To manners it may add a grace,
And with gay smiles adorn the face:
Nay, in its soften’d state impart,
A gen’rous impulse to the heart:—
’Tis vanity; which now impress’d
Its influence on the Doctor’s breast,
And whisper’d to him to attend
To the warm counsels of his friend.
Thus Pat was order’d to unfold
All that the trav’lling-trunk could hold;
To show the drap’ry to the day,
And bring the best suit into play,
To give the wig a modish figure,
And ev’ry curl becoming vigour.
Pat thus employ’d his utmost art,
And Syntax soon was trim and smart,
Prepar’d to play a lover’s part:
Nay, he was as to outward show,
A gay ecclesiastic Beau.
The party now sat down to dine,
The well-dress’d dish, the gen’rous wine
Cocker’d the Doctor into spirit,
And sense of his superior merit.122
—The toilet too had done its part,
With every fashionable art,
And yielded its cosmetic arms
To heighten the fair Widow’s charms.
—Thus as the Minster clock struck five,
Syntax inspir’d and all alive,
With humble air, that look’d like shame,
Appeared before th’ expecting dame.
But while she did the forms prepare
Of who sits here, or who sits there,
The ’Squire had popp’d behind the screen,
To hear what pass’d and not be seen.
“—I see,” she said, “that Hearty’s gone,
And means to leave us here alone.
I love him well, he is my friend,
But much I wish that he would mend
His antic tricks, his darling fun,
Which men of sterling sense would shun.
On gen’ral conduct we agree,
Though his wit is not wit for me.
But we must let, in life’s short day,
Those whom we value have their way.
The best are to some failings prone,
And we should try to mend our own.”
“Madam I came, as ’tis my duty,
To pay my homage to your beauty!
But from the sentiments you deal in,
You make in me superior feeling
To that, inspired by the rose,
Which on the cheek of beauty blows:
And I must other thoughts infer
To please the fair Philosopher.
Philosophy in various ways
Asks of the wise the highest praise.123
I mean not that, whose study pries
Into those dark obscurities
Of doubtful Science, where the eye
Is dimm’d by its uncertainty;
But that, whose search does not prolong,
Beyond what’s right and what is wrong;
Which you will think is well defin’d
The moral structure of the mind.
Him I pronounce a perfect sage,
Of any clime, of any age,
Above all learning he may show
Who does this high-wrought science know;
Who, to all common int’rests blind,
Instructs the conscience of mankind.
—But when we see, though rare the sight,
This happy science shining bright,
And ’neath the warmth of Beauty’s ray,
Beaming around the moral day,
Thus giving to fair virtue’s laws,
Those smiles which best support her cause;
It is a vision sweet to view,
And such as I behold in you.”
—The widow simper’d, smil’d and sigh’d,
And bending forward, thus replied:
“—Doctor you clothe your manly sense
In a most winning eloquence:
With ease and energy it flows,
And bears conviction as it goes.
To your whole reas’ning I incline;—
So pray, Sir, take a glass of wine,
And, with this wish, I’ll take its brother:—
May we know more, Sir, of each other.”
With his right hand upon his breast,
The Doctor then the Dame address’d—
“Madam, I swear your charms are such,
Of you I could not know too much.”124
“O,” she exclaim’d, “I’m all confusion,
You compliment in such profusion!
Pray cool your palate with the fruit,
—In the mean time I’ll try my lute,
And sing a philosophic air;
’Twill suit your doctrine to a hair:
It was but yesterday I bought it,
And I could almost think you wrote it.
I cannot say that I approve
The songs that tell of nought but love;
Where Love is here, and Love is there,
In short, where Love is every where;
Which, in soft language, teach our misses
To warble sighs and long for kisses.
To leave it altogether out,
Might be an affectation thought;
But Love should not, I do contend,
Begin and go on to the end;
Which, for I speak, Sir, as I feel,
And for its truth I now appeal
To every husband, ev’ry wife,
Is so unlike the real life.—
—My voice is slender, and I play
But in a very common way:
Though well I know that to the sky,
You will applaud my melody;
Nay, if in ev’ry note I fail,
You’ll call me sweetest nightingale.”
Beauty’s a fair but short-liv’d flower,
That scarce survives a summer hour!
Is not this true, for you must know,
If it is not, O tell me so,
O tell me so.125
But may not graces deck the fair,
When beauty is no longer there?
Is not this true, etc.
But when the graces too are fled,
O may not virtue charm instead?
Is not this true, etc.
And should not virtue’s power prove
The cord that binds in lasting love?
Is not this true, etc.
For beauty’s fatal to the fair,
If virtue does not triumph there.
Is not this true, etc.
Lovers would seldom suffer pain,
If they knew how to weave the chain.
Is not this true, etc.
Virtue alone can shield the heart
From passion’s flaming, fiery dart.
Is not this true, etc.
And passion’s flame departs so soon,
It scarce will last the honey-moon,
Is not this true, for you must know,
If it is not, O tell me so,
O tell me so.
Syntax with enraptur’d air
Exclaim’d, as he rose from his chair,
“The song’s a sermon I avow;—
Love I have felt, I feel it now,
And still I’m of that feeling proud!”
—Here ’Squire Hearty laugh’d aloud,126
And, in endeav’ring to escape
Or get away in any shape,
He by chance fell, then bang’d the door,
And kick’d the screen down on the floor.
The Doctor on the downfall gaz’d,
Staring, astonish’d and amaz’d:
While Madam, sinking with alarms,
Fell screaming in his outstretch’d arms,
And while those arms did thus enfold her,
She struggled so he scarce could hold her.
To keep her still, he was not able,
She kick’d him and o’erturn’d the table.
The bottles, plates and glasses clatter;
And now to see what was the matter
The servants enter’d, to whose care,
Syntax resign’d the furious fair,
Who with fierce eyes the Doctor view’d;
Said he was ugly, brutal, rude;
And loudly ask’d him how he dare
Take such bold liberties with her!
Then added, “such a shape as thine
Must doubtless be inflam’d with wine,
Thus to disturb my virtue’s quiet,
With your love’s wild licentious riot:
For had you sprung from all the graces,
I’d spurn such impudent embraces.”
—The ’Squire, who had lain conceal’d,
Whisper’d aloud, “You now must yield,
Be off, be off, you’ve lost the field.”
Syntax, who had no wish to stay,
Made haste the summons to obey;
And, in a very ruffled state,
Sought, with the ’Squire, the mansion gate.
In vulgar terms, he’d had his licking,
Not with Ma’am’s cuffs, but by her kicking.127
—The eyes of beauty furnish arms
Which have fill’d heroes with alarms:
Nay, that the brave dare not resist
The vengeance of a female fist,
And when an angry dame assails
With darting fingers and their nails,
The rude intruder oft has stood,
With cheeks all scratched and red with blood;
All this is known amidst the strife
Attendant on domestic life.
But in the journal of those jars
That wait on love’s intestine wars,
It seldom has been thought discreet
For fair-ones to employ their feet,
And our fair Dame’s the first we know
Who thus employ’d a vengeful toe.
—By what offensive skill in trade
Her slippers or her shoes were made,
To cause the woundings that befell
The Doctor’s shins we cannot tell;
It must be left to keener eye
To make this grand discovery,
Whether sharp point or well-arm’d heel
Made his slim shanks or ancles feel;
And, which is absolutely shocking,
Gave a dire rent to either stocking.
Suffice it, with the ’Squire he went,
All speechless from astonishment,
With batter’d legs and stockings rent.
—As they retir’d we must relate
That Patrick shar’d his master’s fate.
The Doctor, with fond hopes grown warm,
To give the visit all due form,
And that appearance might befriend him,
Had order’d Patrick to attend him.128
The obedient valet now was seen
Walking behind with smiling mien;
But in due time he stepp’d before,
And, having gain’d the widow’s door,
His rap was such, would not disgrace
St. James’s Square or Portland-Place.
—The Lady who had kept her eye
Quicken’d by curiosity,
The curtain’s drapery between
Where she might see, herself unseen,
Where she might view with anxious glance,
Th’ expected visitor advance,
In long perspective, tow’rds her gate:
Nor long she sat in peeping state,
When as she saw the party coming
And heard the door’s re-echoed drumming,
She instant summon’d to her aid,
Lucy, her confidential maid,
And thus her secret wish betray’d:
“Invite the valet down below
And ev’ry kind attention show;
With all he seems to wish for treat him,
And with a smiling welcome greet him;
Nay ev’ry cunning art apply,
To get his master’s history.
What is his age,—try all your power,
To learn that to the very hour;—
His temper, and his mode of life,
And how he us’d his former wife.
Now manage this commission well,
Get all out of him he can tell,—
And then, good Lucy, you shall see,
How very grateful I can be.”
The handmaid promis’d to obey,
And nodding slyly, slid away.129
Now Lucy had a blooming cheek,
And jet black locks adorn’d her neck:
Nor had she been five years on duty,
To aid the toilette of a beauty,
Without attaining, in her way,
The arts by which she could display
Such charms as render’d her bewitching
To liv’ried gentry in the kitchen.
She ask’d, if he again would dine,
Which he preferred, or ale or wine.
To such kind offers nothing loth
He chose to take a sup of both:
Then on the board sweet cakes were plac’d,
And all he ask’d the table grac’d.
Things thus arranged, it was not long
Ere Lucy prov’d she had a tongue,
Which like an aspen-leaf was hung:
But neither wine nor her gay funning
Robb’d honest Patrick of his cunning,
And the first question she let out,
Told him what Lucy was about.
Thus Pat, who lov’d his master well,
Was quite prepar’d what tale to tell.
—Says she, in her familiar chat,
“Pray is the Doctor’s living fat?”
Pat. “Aye faith, it is, my dearest dear,
And weighs a thousand pounds a year.”
Lucy. “Have you in many places been?”
P. “In service, I suppose you mean:
Only two masters I have serv’d,
And from my duty never swerv’d.
I serv’d the King, may Heaven bless him,
As, when he dies, it will possess him.
At his command, a gallant rover,
I’ve travell’d half this wide world over:130
I’ve drawn my sword, and aye, by dozens,
Have cut down Frenchmen and their cousins.
For many a blessed hour I’ve trod
The field, my ancles deep in blood.
O these were sights enough to make
A heart, like pretty Lucy’s ake!”
L. “And did you e’er receive a wound?”
P. “Aye faith, I’ve lain upon the ground
For half a day, when death and life
Were quarrelling like man and wife,
Which should possess itself of Pat;
But, in Heav’n’s mercy, for all that
I’m here quite well, and stout to view,
And ready to make love to you.
I’m nought but scars as you would know,
If I could dare my form to show,—
’Tis hack’d and hew’d from top to toe.”
L. “Dear Mr. Pat, you melt my heart;
What cut and slash’d in ev’ry part?”
P. “The trunk, ’tis true, has suffer’d sore,
Nor could it, Beauty, suffer more;
But for the branches of the tree,
They’re all just as they ought to be:
But for my wounds I have a plaister,
In a most kind and gen’rous master.”
L. “What children has the Doctor pray?
And may I ask what age are they?”
P. “Children indeed, why he had five;
But none of them are now alive:
And his sweet wife, our country’s pride,
Three months ago in childbed died.
Her death made many a bosom ake
Upon the banks of Keswick Lake.
She thought not, as fine ladies do,
Of dresses smart, all pink and blue,131
Who think to catch the wand’ring eye
Of any fool that’s passing by.
Where’er she mov’d, so nice, so fair,
All view’d the well-bred lady there:
But more who did my mistress see
Saw the mild form of Charity.
—As for my master, he can show
More learning than e’en Bishops know.
What knowledge lies beneath his hat
And the fine wig that’s comb’d by Pat!
No, your great Church does not contain
The treasure lock’d within his brain.”
L. “But what of that, it will not do,
If here your master comes to woo:
Learning, I’m sure, will never thrive
In widows’ hearts of thirty-five.”
P. “Pooh, nonsense, this is all your sporting;
My master comes not here a courting;
O Heaven forbid, says honest Pat,
That he should play a prank like that!
For worse or better should he take
Your mistress, many a heart would break
Of dame or damsel round our lake.
Besides there is a widow, Dear,
With full twelve-hundred pounds a year:
And what I tell you, faith, is true,
For to speak lies I could not do
To such a pretty girl as you—
Should he not lead her to the altar,
She’d cure her love-fit with a halter.”
What other powers of Pat’s invention,
It might have been our lot to mention;
If nought had stopp’d his tongue’s career,
Or clos’d poor Lucy’s curious ear,132
This John-Trot verse does not profess
To tell, or e’en presume to guess.
—But here the upstairs noise and riot,
Disturbed at once the kitchen’s quiet.
—The damsels flew and sought the scene
Where Madam, Syntax, and the screen,
The curious medley there displayed,
Which has been either sung or said.
Pat, who knew nought of what above
Had happen’d or in hate or love,
Thought that whate’er should come to pass,
He might fill up another glass:—
The wine was sweet, the ale was good,
And jug in hand he list’ning stood.
Thus, while attentive to the rout,
He heard a voice cry, “turn him out,
Show the base daring wretch the door,
And never let him enter more.”
He heard,—when, with a face all flame,
Down stairs in haste the cook-maid came,
And while, with staring eyes, amaz’d,
He on the angry vision gaz’d,
Mutt’ring strange words of dire intent
Of base design and ravishment,
She seiz’d at once, then plung’d the mop
Into a pail of dirty slop,
And, with a scullion’s strong-arm’d grace,
Drove it full dash in Patrick’s face;
Nor fail’d she with repeated blow,
And deep-ton’d tongue, to bid him go.
He, at a loss the rage to shun
Of this fierce kitchen Amazon,
Struggled as well as he was able
By way of shield to seize the table;
And, in this strange bespatter’d state,
With hasty footsteps sought the gate.133
But now ’tis needful to enquire
The fate of Syntax and the ’Squire,
And just to settle the arrears
Of blasted hopes and rising fears.
If e’er a pair of fine blue eyes
Were seen expressive of surprise,
If e’er surprise, chang’d to alarm,
Display’d a face, now pale, now warm,
As these two feelings might impart
Their various impulse to the heart;
’Twas when his Hostess did explore
The Doctor as he op’d the door;
And, with unusual length of chin,
He faintly bow’d and enter’d in.
But ere the Lady found her tongue,
For she saw something had been wrong,
He, in a rather humble tone,
Thus made his serious frolic known:
“To the fair widow I have been,
Of course the blessed dame I’ve seen.
—You must perceive I’m in a ruffle,
For, to speak truth, we’ve had a scuffle:
Nay, I have somewhat more to say,
I’ve been ill-treated in the fray!”
He then told all he did endure,
Declar’d his wounds and ask’d a cure.
—Madam now cast a curious eye,
To see if she must laugh or cry,
And as a smile from Hearty broke,
She turn’d the scuffle to a joke.
“No harm, I trust,” she said, “is done,
’Twas but a piece of Cupid’s fun:
That Urchin is a very pickle,
And sometimes does his fancy tickle134
’Mong lovers thus to make a pother,
T’ amuse himself and please his mother;
But these vagaries when they’re o’er
Are laugh’d at and disturb no more.”
Hearty seiz’d Syntax by the hand,
And said, “I here the culprit stand;
Nay, I must now your pardon beg,
For bruised shin or wounded leg.
’Twas by my awkwardness I own
The clumsy screen was tumbled down;
And for the ill that did attend,
You have a right to blame your friend:
But my dear wife, a Doctor she,
In all domestic pharmacy,
Will try her utmost skill and care,
Your awkward inj’ries to repair;
And by to-morrow you shall lose
All feeling of the widow’s shoes.
But she, good Sir, must be forgiven,
For Charity’s the child of Heaven.
If we would calmly pass along,
Nor tempt the jostling of the throng,
As in this crowded world we live,
We must forget and must forgive.
You will by active duty teach
The doctrines you to others preach:
Nor fail to hold up to their view
The lesson and th’ example too.
To-morrow she shall make amends,
When you shall kiss her and be friends.”
“Forgive her? aye with all my heart,
For that is every Christian’s part:135
But no, I never shall forget
The kickings I am in her debt.
And all her kissing I oppose,
She’s mischief’s self and my bruis’d toes
Tell me, that she may snap my nose.”
Madam now gave her needful aid,
The opodeldoc was display’d,
And busy in her healing scheme,
The Doctor’s feet received the stream
Of oily fluids, to allay
The tumours rising from the fray.
This she perform’d with tender grace,
When Pat appear’d with batter’d face,
And, as she did the poultice spread,
Half-tipsy he thus stamm’ring said,
“—How with my master it turn’d out
Upstairs, in all that noisy rout;
I cannot now pretend to know,
But faith I suffer’d much below;
Where half a score of Abigails
Attack’d me with their mops and pails.
Oh, how these furies did ill-treat me
And almost to a jelly beat me!
Do but, your Honour, see my head!”
“Be off, good Pat,” the ’Squire said,
“To Anne or Susan now apply,
On their kind aid you may rely,
With brandy bathe your forehead’s bruise,
A medicine of sov’reign use,
That never fails to aid the cure
Of such a hurt as you endure.”
Says Pat, “my humble thanks to you,
But that same liquid will not do:136
Though you are pleas’d its use to teach,
It never will my forehead reach,
For sure as North lies strait to South,
Brandy will never pass my mouth.
Whene’er it comes, with gin or whisky,
So near my lips it makes them frisky;
And then my mouth so round and hollow,
O what an itch it has to swallow!”
“Howe’er that be,” ’Squire Hearty said,
“Go and repair your shatter’d head,
Then take your meal, and off to bed.”
The Doctor, on the sofa laid,
A solemn train of thought betray’d.
It was not that he suffer’d pain,
That he could smile at and disdain,
But calm reproaches play’d their part
In the recesses of his heart;
And when the ’Squire began to chide,
Syntax, with serious air replied:
“I thank you for your kind intent,
But I’ve deserv’d my punishment.
I have not broke a moral duty
In visiting this furious beauty:
But still it was a boyish trick
Which now I think on’t makes me sick.
Though scarce four months have dragg’d away,
Since I wept through the dismal day,
When my heart’s darling and its pride,
In all her glow of virtue died,
I sought, as I shall ne’er forget,
To play the fool with a coquette.
When I reflect, blest shade, on thee,
My lost, lamented Dorothy;
When I but think how much I ow’d
To that affection you bestow’d;137
When by the fondest union known,
You but so lately were my own;
By what dark witchcraft was I brought
To cast my darling from my thought!
If that same crape which decks my head,
In honour of the honour’d dead,
Could but speak now, ’twould send a volley
Of loud reproaches at my folly.”
“My friend, complain not,—ere the sun
Has its next daily circuit run,
Again you’ll walk and jump and run.”
“Think not, dear Sir, that I complain
Of what no longer gives me pain:
Pain’s not the burthen of my song;
It is, that I’ve been doing wrong.
I only wish to-morrow’s morn
May find no more the rankling thorn,
Which, at this moment doth infest
With its sharp point my conscious breast.
Though, if repentance could but lull
My grief for having play’d the fool,
Should well weigh’d hopes these thoughts beguile,
I shall not only run but smile.
But I will now exclaim no more;
Soon will your friendly meal be o’er,
And though my mind is so opprest
I look not for a wink of rest,
I will into my cabin creep,
And there the widow’s vigils keep,
Who broke my shins—and murders sleep.”138
’TIS said, that children at the breast
Will often cry themselves to rest;
And elder folk may find relief
From the wakeful hours of grief,
By talking o’er their cares till sleep
Does on the wearied senses creep.
—Thus Syntax when he went to bed
With his last frolic in his head,
While shame forbore not to impart
Some awkward feeling to his heart,
Tried in all ways, in ev’ry shape,
From self-reproaches to escape:
But all in vain his pleadings strove
Th’ accusing spirit to remove,
Which charg’d his guilt as petty treason
Against the sov’reign power of reason,
Whose justice, by its mildest rule,
Must set him down a harmless fool.
—“Well,” he exclaim’d, “no ill was
Law, rigid Law, looks to th’ intent
Of what we do; and I protest,
Were there a window in my breast,
The keenest eye I should not fear
T’ indulge its curious prying there.
Vagaries may, perhaps, maintain
Their frolic season in my brain:
Nay I must own, that folly’s power
Has thus enslav’d me for an hour,139
And did my careless footing get
Entangled in its gaudy net,
A scene that I shall ne’er forget.
But while I dare, Heav’n knows ’tis true,
Expose my naked heart to view,
And call or friend or foe to pry
Into my thoughts with busy eye;
Why need I toss and tumble here,
Oppress’d with doubt, alarm’d with fear?
—O nature, my complaints forgive,
Let me thy soft embrace receive;
Make me forget in thy repose,
The folly of my fancied woes!”
If more he spoke he never knew,
As nature shed th’ oblivious dew;
Then, list’ning to his humble prayer,
Drew her dark curtain round his care,
And did to sleep each sense incline,
Till the cathedral clock struck nine.
The bell was rung, when Pat appear’d,
And fain would have his master cheer’d,
With his bright hist’ry of the fray
That did disfigure yesterday;
But Syntax gravely wav’d his hand,
And Patrick knew the mute command.
For such a tale the Doctor’s ear
Was not just then prepar’d to hear,
Nor ne’er did Pat feel such a balk,
For ’twas just then he wish’d to talk.
Ne’er in his life or right or wrong,
Was he so prompt to wag his tongue.
But he was sent off to new rig,
With his best skill, the rumpled wig,140
And all the honours to restore
Which it had lost the day before.
—And now the Sage, in due array,
With night-cap white and night-gown grey,
Descended to his morning fare,
And found his smiling Hostess there;
Who soon express’d a wish to see
Th’ effect of her chirurgery:
When she declar’d, another day
Would chase all symptoms of the fray.
“O,” cried the ’Squire, “our life would be
One sad, dull scene of apathy,
Were we not forc’d, by time and chance,
Our steps to vary as we dance.
Without these shakes I would not give
A rush in this same world to live;
We, without these enliv’ning jogs,
Should be no more than useless logs.
Such things my friend will never heed;
’Twas a fine woman did the deed;
And with kind gallantry he’ll greet her,
Whene’er it is his chance to meet her.”
“No, no,—should I that Lady meet,
’Twould give me pains in both my feet.
I do believe, whene’er she stirs,
Like a game-hen she’s steel’d with spurs;
While to protect her pow’rful charms,
She may wear gauntlets on her arms;
And I must own, as truth’s my duty,
The widow is a striking beauty.
For hugs and kicks I am her debtor,
And no, I never shall forget her;
But much I wish by any rule
I could forget I’ve play’d the fool.141
A distich I remember well,
Does in plain verse this maxim tell:—
‘In many ills which man endures,
‘’Tis Beauty wounds and Beauty cures;’
And this same proverb, as you see,
Is haply realised in me.
The handsome widow gave the wound,
While to my lovely friend I’m bound,
By whose kind care a cure is found.”
The blush that ting’d the Lady’s face,
The whisper’d thanks, the curtsying grace,
I leave for curious Fancy’s eye;—
She’ll sketch them better far than I.
The breakfast follow’d and the day
In pleasant chit-chat pass’d away,
The next, all ready at the gate
Phillis and Punch were seen to wait;
And at no very early hour,
Syntax proceeded on his Tour.
But yet he travell’d not alone,
In all the state of number one,
For Hearty soon appear’d in view,
To make the party number two;
And Madam, who perceiv’d his mind,
Was to indulge her wish inclin’d,
Declar’d she could not stop behind:
Thus the equestrian folk we see,
Were now encreas’d to number three;
And, when th’ attending grooms arrive,
The cavalcade consists of five.
Thus they proceeded on their way,
Sometimes were grave, and sometimes gay.
—Madam, who rode with Dian’s grace,
Would dash into a cant’ring pace,142
And, as they cross’d a level plain,
The Nimrod fair could not refrain
From offering to try her steed
With Phillis in the way of speed:
But whether Syntax had no skill
In jockey’s arts, or check’d the will
Of his fleet mare, I cannot say,
But the fair Lady won the day.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “thus you see
What scope for my philosophy!
Men only now and then defeat me,
But women, why they always beat me.”
—Thus after saunt’ring on their way,
Till the sun beam’d his noontide ray;
They stopp’d and din’d and said adieu,
As all kind-hearted people do;
And the York friends engag’d to make
An Autumn visit to the Lake.
The ’Squire his wishes did impart
From a full, open, honest heart;
The tear dropp’d down from Madam’s eye,
The Doctor bless’d them with a sigh;
And all exclaim’d, Good-bye! Good-bye!
Life, to reflecting minds ’tis known,
Oft finds a just comparison
In any journey that we make
For bus’ness or for pleasure’s sake.
Indeed, in ev’ry point of view,
Though ’tis not altogether new,
Those who think right will find it true.
—The tranquil morn begins the day,
No angry storm impedes the way:
At length when the meridian sun
Has half his daily circuit run,143
With crowds the high road’s cover’d o’er;
Some push behind, some run before,
All by the same desire possest
To gain a welcome state of rest.
And if, by fav’ring fortune brought,
We find the happiness we sought,
Still we look on, with anxious eye,
To the dark hour, when with a sigh
We bid farewell and say, Good-bye.
Life’s but a journey that we take,
’Tis but a visit that we make;
And when we part at close of day
With the companions of our way;
Whene’er our friendly visit’s o’er
We quit the hospitable door;
Our hearts the grateful words supply,
We wish all well and say, Good-bye.
Such were the thoughts that many a mile
Did the good Doctor’s mind beguile:
But, now and then, the widow’s fray
Would some unpleasant thoughts convey:
He fear’d the story might be known,
And form a fable for the town,
Which busy Scandal, right or wrong,
Might spread abroad with tattling tongue;
A furbish tale, whose lies would work
Their way through ev’ry street in York,
Or might a curious passage take,
In tell-tale letter, to the Lake.
“—O sage Discretion!” he exclaim’d,
“By Classic Poet thou art nam’d
The chief of Virtues!3 Without thee,
Learning and sage Philosophy,144
And wit and talents, rightly weigh’d,
Are but the shadows of a shade!
Like vessels on the briny realm
Making their way without a helm,
By ev’ry wind and billow tost,
Always in peril, sometimes lost:
But where thy counsels do preside,
Where thou dost all our courses guide,
No surer safeguard can be given,
The proxy thou of fav’ring Heaven.
No, never, never, never more,
Will I launch from the tranquil shore;
Unless, my faithful steersman, thou
Shalt spread the sail or guide the prow!
Discretion hail!—I fain would be
Thy never-failing votary!
Hadst thou an altar, I would bring
The fairest, purest offering,
That my best powers could bestow,
The pray’r sincere, the sacred vow,
And feel that ev’ry off’ring given
Would be a sacrifice to Heaven.”
Thus as good Syntax travell’d on,
He fail’d not, ever and anon,
With an alternate smile or sigh,
To break forth in soliloquy.
This promised not to mend his pace,
And ere he reach’d the destin’d place,
Where he proposed the night to pass,
To smoke his pipe and take his glass,
An humble inn stood by the road,
That promised a more calm abode,
Where no stage-coach or chaises rattle,
Or noisy post-boys scourge their cattle;
But where the unassuming guest
Gets a clean meal and goes to rest.145
Here Syntax, soon involved in smoke,
With a brisk landlord crack’d a joke:
A steak well-dress’d and jug of ale,
Compos’d the evening’s regale.
The country papers then he read,
And Betty lighted him to bed.
Nor would he have unclos’d his eyes,
Till Betty screaming bade him rise;
But when the sun, with beaming ray,
Had chang’d the darksome night to day,
Some noise, he knew not wherefore, broke
Upon his rest, and straight he woke;—
When, as he listen’d, it appear’d,
That he Pat’s noisy language heard.
And vulgar mirth seem’d to resound
About the purlieus of a pond,
Where Pat, up to his neck in water,
Prov’d the droll cause of all the laughter.
He op’d the casement and look’d out
To see what Patrick was about.
“Are you awake,” he cried, “or sleeping,
That such a dirty pool you creep in?”
“Faith, Sir,” said he, “they did so creep
About me that I could not sleep.
Or bugs, or fleas, whate’er they be,
Their stings have play’d Old Nick with me.
I brush’d them off, but all in vain,
By thousands they return’d again;
So I came in the pond to dash
And gave the creatures such a wash,
That if they wish’d to live and breathe
They would no longer stay beneath:
But all of them, from very dread,
Would hurry upwards to the head,
There nestle safe within my cap,
Where they’ll be caught as in a trap;146
And thus be doom’d to certain slaughter,
Though ev’ry wretch should cry for quarter.”
The whimsy strange, the droll conceit,
Was to the Sage a perfect treat,
That sent him laughing to his bed,
Where he again repos’d his head.
3 Nullum Numen abest, si sit Prudentia.
A waggoner, in lively mood,
Let loose his jokes where Patrick stood,
An object which, none will deny,
Might call forth rustic ribaldry.
“I do advise you,” said the clown,
“To let the ostler rub you down;
And if his brush is well applied,
’Twill drive the vermin from your hide:
But where’s the mighty cause for wonder,
That Paddy should commit a blunder?
For well I know by your glib tongue,
To what fine country you belong,
And if your red rag did not show it,
By your queer fancies I should know it.”
“—Hark you,” said Pat, “your jokes on me,
Might pass as harmless pleasantry!
But when you laugh at Ireland’s name,
You do, my friend, mistake your game,
And you shall see, nay you shall rue,
What a stout Irish Lad can do.”
—The word was follow’d by a blow
Which laid the saucy rustic low,
And when by rude Hibernian strength,
The clown had measur’d all his length,
Pat roll’d him onward round and round,
’Till he was sous’d into the pond.
“A truce,” said he, “to your grimaces,
You see we’ve only chang’d our places:147
But the same honest hands no doubt,
That roll’d you in, shall pull you out.
I’m not so easy to be fool’d,
But since, I trust, your mirth is cool’d,
To prove that I ne’er meant to harm you,
I’ll give you something that shall warm you.
We’ll take a morning glass as friends,
And here our short-liv’d anger ends:
But first we will fresh clothes supply;
Nor take our whet, till we are dry.
—Now as you drive your waggon on,
Through different roads from town to town,
Whene’er you meet a Paddy Whack,
Think whose strength laid you on your back;
And though you felt his pow’rful arm,
You also found his heart was warm.”
Nought happen’d now that’s worth relating:
At nine the horses were in waiting:
The morning scene made Syntax gay,
And smiling he pursued his way:
But nought he heard or did appear;
That asks for a description here.
Through the long day he travell’d on;
The night he pass’d at Warrington;—
Where, his keen, philosophic eye
Enjoy’d the highest luxury.
It seems, this venerable town
Retains a national renown,
For its superior skill display’d,
By which all kinds of glass are made;
And where the traveller, inclin’d
With curious art t’enrich his mind,
Will never fail to pass a day:
The scene will well reward his stay.148
Syntax with eager impulse fraught,
And pleasing hopes, the Glass-house sought,
Where each polite desire is shown,
To make the general fabric known.
The Doctor did himself proclaim,
Declar’d his dignity and name;
Nor did the Sage his fancy balk,
To show his learning by his talk.
That glass was known to distant ages,
He prov’d from philosophic pages;
But did not venture to decide
How in those ages ’twas applied:
But soon broke forth in rapt’rous tone,
To tell its uses in our own.
“—This fair transparent, substance bright,
Keeps out the cold, lets in the light,
And when flame multiplies its rays,
Will imitate the diamond’s blaze.
But here’s the important point of view,
Without it what would Beauties do!
They’d be but miserable elves,
If they could never see themselves.
How would they then arrange their graces,
And plant fresh smiles upon their faces,
If they had nought but polish’d mettle
Or the bright cover of a kettle?
Alas! Old England’s not the clime,
Where maidens fair may pass their time
By a transparent fountain’s side,
To decorate their beauty’s pride;
No wat’ry mirrors we possess,
Which aided Dian’s nymphs to dress.
Our ladies, lack-a-day, would shiver,
To make their toilettes by a river.
—Indeed it has not yet been shown
That he who first made glass is known:149
Had it been so, he would have trod
Olympus as a Demigod,
And temples to his name would rise
As to those known divinities,
To whom their useful arts have given
A place within the Poet’s Heaven:
Though,” he exclaim’d, “it doth appear,
Each Glass-house is his temple here,
Where Art and Commerce both combine
In gratitude and praise to join.”
Syntax now wish’d to try his skill
In forming some neat utensil;
When ev’ry part was duly fitted,
And to his hand the tube submitted:
The strict directions he obey’d,
And something like a bottle made.
Patrick too was prepar’d to blow
A shape, tho’ what he did not know;
But while he did apply his art,
A funny workman twitch’d a part,
Which modish modesty would blame
If I proposed to guess the name;
So that by some strange jerk uncouth,
Pat drew the flame into his mouth.
And while he amused the people round him,
By spitting, kicking, and confounding,
He scarce escaped the sad disaster,
Of setting fire to his master.
—All were well pleas’d but Pat, who swore
He never swallow’d fire before,
And was glass blown by such a whim,
It never should be blown by him.
Having encreas’d his stock and store
Of various scientific lore,150
The Doctor took his leave gay-hearted,
And for his destin’d rout departed.
His way towards Chester he pursued,
And, with exploring thought review’d
The great exertions which were made
By human art, inspir’d by trade;
And where improving science shows
How much man’s pregnant genius owes
To Commerce, whose vast power extends
E’en to the world’s remotest ends,
And in succession brings to view
Whate’er the hands of man can do.
—Nature expects mankind should share,
The duties of the public care;
Who’s born for sloth? To some we find
The plough-share’s annual task assign’d;
Some at the sounding anvil glow,
Some the swift-gliding shuttle throw;
Some studious of the wind and tide,
From Pole to Pole our commerce guide;
Some, taught by industry, impart
With hands and feet the works of art;
While some of genius more refin’d,
With head and tongue assist mankind:
Each, aiming at one common end,
Proves to the whole a needful friend.
In ev’ry rank, or great or small,
’Tis Industry supports us all.
Thus as he mus’d, kind chance bestow’d,
Which sometimes happens on the road,
A brisk companion, cheerful, gay,
Form’d to amuse the loit’ring way.
They first conversed about the weather;
But, as they trotted on together,151
More serious topics soon prevail,
Nor did the lib’ral converse fail.
Of Chester’s city they talk’d o’er,
The history in times of yore;
Its diff’rent changes they relate,
And what compos’d its present state.
The Doctor also wish’d to see
What in its near vicinity,
Might Reason’s curious wish invite
With the fair promise of delight.
“Oh! Eaton-Hall,” it was replied,
“Is now become the country’s pride;
And pardon me, if I should say,
A want of taste you will betray,
If you should Cheshire leave nor see
That scene of splendid dignity,
Where, as all tongues around can tell,
Rank, Opulence, and Virtue dwell:
Whose noble owner all revere,
Our constant toast, the Peerless Peer.”
“Much it delights me when I’m told
Of those who highest stations hold,
And, ’midst their grandeur when we view
The highest rank of virtue too:
Who all ignoble actions scorn,
Whose conduct proves them nobly born
And well maintain their ancient name,
By virtue and unblemish’d fame:—
But such who great and good combine,
May claim a higher praise than mine.
—The name, indeed, by birth descends,
But Honour on themselves depends,
The Coronet will never hide
Presuming ignorance and pride.152
Learning by study must be won;
’Twas ne’er entail’d from son to son:
Superior worth high rank requires,
For that mankind revere their sires:
But if by false ambition led,
In honour’s paths they cease to tread,
The ancient merits of their race
Serve but to heighten their disgrace.”
Thus as the conversation past,
To Chester’s walls they came at last;
And thus the Doctor’s travelling friend
Address’d him at the City’s end:
“In this fam’d town I office bear,
Nay, I’m of some importance here,
An Alderman, who has been Mayor:
And I shall feel it, Sir, a pride,
Through ev’ry part to be your guide;
Then readily obey your call
To wait on you to Eaton-Hall:
For much I wish to hear you trace
The sumptuous beauties of the place.
I was not born in arts to trudge,
But still I know enough to judge
When scientific men display
Their knowledge in that pleasing way,
Which has delighted me to-day.”
Syntax, most willing to receive
The proffer’d kindness, took his leave.
—The morrow came—the city view’d,
To Eaton they their way pursued,
Where the Sage trac’d with prying eye
The architect’ral pageantry,
That taste and skill and labour’d art
Had lavish’d over ev’ry part:153
When with fond admiration fraught
He thus expressed each rising thought:
“Much it delights my mind to read
Of dauntless and heroic deed,
Where the historian’s words record
The patriot valour of the sword:
And, when the bloody field was done,
What banner mark’d the glory won,
Which honour order’d to be worn,
A sacred badge, by sons unborn.
But more it joys me when I see,
(Long past the Age of Chivalry,)
Fair virtue change its helmed face,
For ev’ry soft domestic grace,
And all the fire of martial strife
Yield to the charities of life.
—Thus as I view the pictur’d wall,
Th’ historic page of Eaton-Hall,
I see the one, where Cressy’s fame
Gives splendor to a Grosv’nor’s name;
The other, in a milder sound,
Is heard from all the country round.
“I measure with admiring eye
The lapse of Ages long pass’d by,
From the old time, when ev’ry throne
Did a stern royal warrior own;
When the stain’d sword all respite spurn’d,
And seldom to its sheath return’d;
When ceaseless battle strew’d the plain
With mangled forms of thousands slain;
And efforts of contending might
The balance held ’twixt wrong and right154
But reason, by experience taught,
The reign of law and justice sought,
And though, at times, the spear would show
The foreign or domestic foe,
Learning and science gave their aid,
While mild religion, heav’nly maid,
Was lov’d, was cherish’d and obey’d,
And laws and manners more refined
Chastis’d and purified the mind.
But all the thanks my voice can give
To Heaven I offer, that I live,
In these fair after-days, when peace
Has bid each warring age to cease;
When men prefer the joys of home,
To ev’ry eager wish to roam.
Where honour doth its harvest yield
Of carnage in the tented field;
When battle is reluctant sought,
But when compell’d is bravely fought,
To save the land from foreign foes,
Domestic tumults to oppose;
In ev’ry country to disown
A tyrant pow’r, however shown,
And guard the freedom of our own.
“But if I’m heard thus to prefer
Our present modes and character,
You well might ask me why I praise
What bears the shape of other days,
When arts, of ancient Greece the boast,
Were in the gloomy ages lost;
And why we see this palace rise
Like those a monkish time supplies?
Or rather why we do not see
Palladian art and symmetry?155
Why from the solid, simple base
Springs not the column’s Attic grace?
Why trails not with a flowing ease
The curling foliage o’er the frieze?
And chaste relievos lay before you
Some fancied or historic story?
Why many a God and Goddess pure,
Half given to view and half obscure,
Does not by some fam’d sculptor’s skill,
The niche’s well plac’d concave fill?
While urns, with well-wrought decoration,
On balustrades assume their station;
And festoons wave in flow’ry show,
To grace the intervals below.—
All this, good Sir, is pretty reas’ning,
And to the subject gives a seas’ning;
But my old taste and ancient pride
Thus argues on the other side.
“I think that it should be the aim
Of families of ancient name,
Never, from fashion, to transfer
Their long establish’d character;
Nor e’er blot from th’ historic eye,
One page that tells their ancestry,
But still involve with modern state,
Some figure of their ancient date.
That they whose grandsires’ honours shine
In holy wars of Palestine;
Or, in their glitt’ring armour steel’d,
Wav’d the bright sword in Cressy’s field,
Should still with ancient pride adorn
The mansions where their sires were born
And if old Time’s destroying power
Has shaken ancient hall or bower,156
The new rais’d structure should dispense
The style of old magnificence:
The grandeur of a former age
Should still the wond’ring eye engage,
And the last Heir be proud to raise
A mansion as of former days.
The Hero helm’d or bearded Lord
With warlike or with civil sword,
Dar’d foreign foes, or kept in awe
Th’ unruly by the power of law;
But though with manners more refin’d,
Which soften and enlarge the mind,
The last successor claims the praise,
For virtue in these later days,
Still as his embow’d roofs he sees,
And walls bedeck’d with traceries;
Windows with rainbow colours bright,
With many a fancied symbol dight;
And when he views the turrets rise
In bold irregularities;
He feels what no Corinthian pile
Would tell, though of the richest style,
That warriors, statesmen, learned sages,
Had borne his name in former ages,
While he, by ev’ry virtue known,
Does honour to it in his own.”
With all the learned Doctor said
And the just thoughts he had display’d,
The Alderman was so delighted,
The Sage to dinner he invited,
Who sometimes grave and sometimes gay,
Charm’d his kind host throughout the day.
—The next it was his lot to see
The pleasant town of Shrewsbury,157
And ere the journeying morrow clos’d,
He Ludlow reach’d, where he repos’d;
And here, perhaps, it might be thought
Historic fancies would be sought;
That Syntax, culling from the lore
Of ages long since past and o’er
The deeds and names that give renown
To this once warlike, princely town,
Would trace its ancient pedigree
When Roger of Montgomery
The castle rais’d, whose ruins now
Nod o’er the lofty verdant brow,
And ask the pencil to display
The picture of its proud decay.
But no, thoughts of another kind
Arose in his enraptur’d mind.
This was the scene where Milton’s powers
Awaken’d the Dramatic hours,
Where Nobles and fair Dames, array’d
In due theatric stole, display’d
The Magic scenes, in wood and dell,
Where Comus work’d his wicked spell,
While, guarded by protecting Heaven,
To Virtue is the triumph given.
With fancy working on his thought,
At early morn the brow he sought,
And calmly stretching him along,
Aloud he read th’ immortal song,
Beneath the walls, where Milton’s voice
Had taught the echoes to rejoice.
—Thus in enthusiastic dream
The Drama’s various figures seem
To pass, in all the scenic show,
That grac’d, so many years ago,
The painted hall, where great and good
The praise such verse demands bestow’d,158
And to the Mask with loud acclaim,
Gave the due meed of early fame.4
—But Syntax as he musing lay
And thought the passing time away,
Felt an oblivious spirit creep
O’er his rapt sense, and sunk to sleep:
And how long he would there have laid,
Into this torpid state betray’d,
As by no proof it can be shown,
To my dull muse remains unknown.
—But Pat, who had his master miss’d,
Could not his curious wish resist,
To take a stroll and play the scout,
Pace the old castle round about,
In hopes that he should find him out.
When at his length he saw him laid,
He would have thought that he were dead,
Had not the music of his nose
Made known that it was but a doze.
Here Patrick thought it right to wake him,
And his rude hands began to shake him.
The Doctor rose with wild surprise,
First shook his head, then rubb’d his eyes,
And several minutes pass’d, before
Reflection did his sense restore.
His mouth gap’d wide, a sigh he fetch’d
In various forms his arms he stretch’d,
And when he felt himself awake,
He view’d the scene, and thus he spake:
4 This Mask was performed at Ludlow Castle in the year 1634, before the Earl of Bridgewater, then President of Wales, an Office since abolished. The principal parts were performed by Lord Brackley, Mr. Egerton, and Lady Alice Egerton.—The Poem is supposed to have been occasioned by the two brothers having lost their sister in returning to the castle through the woods in Oakley Park.159
“To be by local impulse mov’d,
I oft have thought, but never prov’d,
Until I Milton’s Comus read
Beneath the walls where it was bred:
Thus would you woo the Muse of Gray,
It should be by the church-yard way.
Say, do you seek to charm the time,
In chaunting Pope’s melodious rhyme,
Go wander ’midst the forest groves,
Which the chaste Muse of Windsor loves:
Or would you feel dramatic rage
In pond’ring over Shakespeare’s page,
You should pursue th’ awak’ning theme,
On the green banks of Avon’s stream.
—When the sun’s soft declining light
Has yielded to the shades of night,
Then the more pensive hours prolong
O’er the inspired verse of Young,
Poet and Saint, to whom were given
These sacred names of Earth and Heaven.”
Patrick, who did not feel the fuss
His master made with Pegasus,
Nor what his active brain was brewing
Upon a bank and ’neath a ruin,
Conducted him with wond’ring grin,
And brought him mutt’ring to the inn.
—Whether it happen’d that the ground
Where Syntax lay in sleep profound,
Was moist with dew, or sunny ray
Did an unwholesome heat convey,
It was not long ere he complain’d
That both his arms and back were pain’d;
While a dull, dizzy something shed
Its drowsy influence o’er his head:160
But when a shiv’ring fit came on,
He thought that something must be done,
And Pat was sent off in a trice
To bring at once the best advice.
The Doctor came with solemn face,
And heard the patient state his case.
His hand was felt, the pulse beat high,
The tongue was pale, the mouth was dry;
When Galen spoke, “Upon my word
A grievous cold has been incurr’d;
But gentle sweats I trust will cure
The fev’rish heats which you endure.
An ague threatens, but I hope
A mild puke will that evil stop:
A most precipitate attack
Disturbs the region of the back;
But a strong stimulating plaister
Will rid you soon of that disaster.
A bed, good Sir, I recommend
To aid th’ effects which I intend.
With op’ning draught I shall begin
Just to prepare the way within:
The powders sent will then restore
The native fluids to each pore,
When perspiration may return,
And the dry skin no longer burn.
I will another visit pay,
And see you at the close of day.”
But ere the Doctor came again
Poor Syntax felt increase of pain:
And now was added to the rest
An inflammation of the breast:
Bleeding he therefore must apply
As a specific remedy.
Galen the pointed lancet drew;
The vein was pierc’d, the blood outflew,161
While the brain teem’d with fancies light
Through the slow progress of the night.
When the morn came the patient doz’d,
A blister therefore was propos’d,
And cooling draughts in plenty follow’d
Which the reluctant Doctor swallow’d;
Though he declar’d and almost swore
That, live or die, he’d take no more.
At length the pains forsook his head,
On the fourth morn he left his bed,
And thus employ’d his well known power
Of reas’ning on the passing hour:
“The lib’ral callings all agree
Are Physic, Law, Divinity;
And he who can combine them all
To be obedient to his call,
Will have fulfill’d th’ ambitious plan
To be a truly learned man.
Divinity I may profess;
That from my title I possess:
Of Physic I have got my fill
As will appear by Doctor’s bill.
And I shall then by legal deed
Ere on my journey I proceed,
With grave as well as just content,
Make my last will and testament:
For once, at least, then I shall be
Law, Physic, and Divinity.”
—A Lawyer now was to be found;
And where’s the spot of British ground,
Where our experience doth not show
That such a spreading plant will grow,
And where his dwelling is not known
As the best house in any town?
The Attorney came, a figure grave,
And Syntax his instructions gave.162
“—As, Sir, the period is uncertain
When Death may draw the sable curtain
That shuts out man from all the strife,
The joys, or casualties of life;
He has a duty to fulfil,
A solemn one, to make his will:
And on my prudence ’tis a blot,
That I this duty have forgot.
But Heaven has just now pleas’d to give
Some hints that I may cease to live;
And that this same destroyer, Death,
May rob me of my vital breath,
When health and strength and pleasure flout it,
And I, perhaps, least think about it:
Then thus, Sir, let your active quill,
Sketch out the purpose of my will.
—My name, and titles, and abode,
You’ll state in form and legal mode;
And then, in order due, proceed
To trace this mortuary deed.
My Soul I give to him who gave it,
Trusting his pard’ning grace to save it.
As for my body, may it lay
Where my wife moulders in decay,
And wait with her the judgment day.
For any inj’ry I have done
(Though I do not remember one,)
I ask that pardon to be given,
Which I myself may hope from Heaven.
—And by this will it is intended
A hundred pounds may be expended
In some neat useful piece of plate,
That might a side-board decorate,
And be by ’Squire Hearty view’d
As a small mark of gratitude.163
—And as I cannot name a foe,
I have no pardon to bestow,
Unless a certain widow’s breast
Should be of enmity possest—
My friend ’Squire Hearty knows the rest:
If so,—I ask the ’Squire to buy
A ring or tonish fantasy,
And to the Widow Hopeful give it,
If she will with good grace receive it;
But both as to the mode and measure,
I leave it to the said ’Squire’s pleasure;
And my executor will pay
What he demands without delay.
My books I give unto my friend
The learn’d and Rev’rend Doctor Bend:
And when he dies, that store of knowledge
He will bequeath unto his college,
To which, we both must own, we owe
The better part of all we know.
To the wise Fund that’s rais’d in aid
Of those who in the writing trade,
Although they empty all their sculls,
Obtain but scanty bellyfuls,
I give two hundred pounds, and wish
I could throw more into the dish.
—Ah! no one better knows than me
The toil and painful drudgery
Of those, whose fortune ’tis to rule
With birchen rod the thankless school!
And shameful ’tis when they’re bereft
Of due support, and often left
On casual bounty to assuage
The sorrows of neglected age;
Though they by whom the mind’s endued
With earliest thoughts of what is good;164
They who the infant nation rear,
Demand the full-grown nation’s care.
Three hundred pounds I leave to be
My mite thrown in their treasury,
Who form’d the gen’rous scheme to aid,
The schoolmaster’s ungrateful trade.”
He gave his psalm-book to the singers,
Nor did forget the parish ringers:
The clerk, the sexton, and the poor,
Had some kind portion of his store.
To the Divine, who should succeed
The flock which he had fed, to feed,
He gave his gown, his scarf, and cassock,
And to his wife, dear Dolly’s hassock.
At length the residue he left,
When he should be of life bereft,
Unto ’Squire Worthy’s free controul,
To whom, indeed, he ow’d the whole.
The Doctor came to bring his bill,
And was a witness to the will.
—Thus, having done this solemn deed,
Syntax did on his way proceed.165
SOME I have known, who did not dare
To make their wills from very fear;
Alarm’d lest the dread hand of fate
Should on the ceremony wait:
But Syntax, we must ne’er suppose
Was govern’d by such whims as those.
He knew that all life’s seasons tend
To bring us nearer to our end:
By good alone that we’re prepar’d,
To gain our last, our great reward;
For which alone, by gracious Heaven,
To man the boon of life was given.
’Twas here he let the matter rest,
Of no untimely fear possest,
Though grumbling at the Doctor’s bill,
But quite contented with HIS WILL.
’Tis needless here in form to state,
Whether he early rose or late:
Or, as he onward gently rode,
What place he made his night’s abode;
Suffice it, when four days were past,
To Bath’s fair town he came at last:
And as the Bard in former days,
Gave classic Baiæ all his praise,5166
That in bright Sol’s diurnal round,
No such delightful place was found;
The modern city of the name,
May equal share of beauty claim.
Each curious scene that met his eye,
And more if deck’d with novelty,
Always produced the very season
In which his mind was prone to reason.
So much the splendor he admir’d
Of all around him, that inspir’d
He had determin’d to rehearse
His various thoughts in Lyric verse:
And much indeed we must lament
That he was foil’d in his intent.
—But something very like a riot
Arose to discompose the quiet,
Which such a Muse as his requir’d
To do what he so much desired.
Nullus in orbe locus Baiis prælucet amœnis.
In Bath’s fine city ’tis well known
That at each corner of the town,
A certain vehicle is seen,
A pleasant, dancing, light machine,
Which is well fashion’d to convey
A beau or belle to ball or play;
Sedans they’re call’d, and two men bear,
With two long poles, the easy chair,
Which keeps you snug from cold or wet,
And ne’er is known to overset:
Now these same men are chiefly found
To owe their birth to Irish ground;
And Patrick scarce could lend an ear
But he did those brisk accents hear,
Which, from whatever part they come,
Would call to mind his native home:—167
But soon a sudden mischief rose,
From Irish words to Irish blows.
—A woman stood beside her door,
Whom Patrick thought he’d seen before.
Indeed he had,—too well he knew
The features of an arrant shrew,
To whom he hop’d that fate had given
Full many a year a place in Heaven;
When a loud voice that some would deem
A cry approaching to a scream,
Exclaim’d, “May Heaven give me rest!
Here is a husband, I protest,
Who I had thought and hop’d indeed
Had long been doom’d the worms to feed!
You know, you rascal, how you left me,
And of the means of life bereft me!
Lur’d by a scarlet coat and feather,
How you all troop’d away together.
Why were you not in battle slain?
For I am married o’er again:
And here’s another husband coming;
So look you for a pretty drumming.”
—A chairman came, a bustle rose,
To angry words succeeded blows:
And now the officers of peace
Appear’d to make the riot cease,
And force the parties to repair
With their complaints before the Mayor.
The Mayor in chair of office seated,
Desir’d the grievance might be stated.
When Patrick begg’d that he might send
For Doctor Syntax to attend.
The Doctor came, surpris’d to see
Poor Pat in such perplexity:
Nor could he well divine the cause
That made him hostile to the laws;168
But yet determin’d to defend,
If he were wrong’d, his humble friend.
“I beg, Sir, I may lay before you,”
The chairman said, “my honest story.”
“But please your Worship, Sir,” says Pat,
“I cannot well consent to that.
He struck me first when I was quiet,
And never thought of rout or riot:
But having served in foreign wars,
Of which I now can show the scars,
I was not to receive a blow
Without returning it, you know;
And faith I did well beat the youth,
As he feels if he speaks the truth.”
The chairman did his words renew.
“I might strike first, it may be true,
But that I had a right to do;
When he declared, I think he swore,
That my wife Madge was his before.”
“It was not me,” said Pat, “’od rot it,
I was in hopes she had forgot it;
But, thoughtless what she was about,
She babbled that same secret out.
But if your worship will but swear
The woman on the gospel there,
She will inform you all that past,
Your Honour, yes, from first to last.”
“Then woman speak,” his Worship said,
When Marg’ret curtsied and obey’d.—
“As I hope kindly to be heard,
Patrick ne’er spoke an angry word;
Yet I abus’d him in my way,
And that I own brought on the fray.
I married Patrick it is true,
I also married Donald too;169
But not till Pat had been away
For five long years and one long day:
And may it not be truly said,
I had a right to think him dead?
But what’s more strange, I have to tell,
I have a third, alive and well;
Nay he’s the first of all the three,
But he was press’d and went to sea:
And when he’d been four years away,
Why then I married Pat I say;
Your Worships now may take my word,
Malony’s safe at Waterford.
So these TWO HONEST MEN are free
From any claim they have to ME.
—I’ll trust once more the stormy main
And see dear Ireland once again.
Here it may make you gentry stare,
But these things sometimes happen there;
Without such helps, indeed, ’tis true,
What could we helpless women do!
—These men fly off, with ev’ry wind,
And leave us all alone behind:
Nay, when these trav’lling boys forsake us,
What harm, if others chuse to take us!
Though ne’er your Honour did I do it,
But when the Priest put his word to it.
I have no learning, no not I,
Nor do pretend to argufy;
Nay, were I to be whipp’d to London,
These things are done, and can’t be undone;
But right or wrong, no ill was meant,
And Heav’n forgive me, I’m content.
Your Honours know that many a lady,
As sweet as blossoms on a May-day,
Looks for a husband brisk and free,
But can’t get one, while I’ve had three.”170
Here Syntax whisper’d to the Mayor:
“With your permission, if I dare,
I would advise that this strange scene
Should be thrown by behind the screen.
As this same unexpected story
Has by mere chance been laid before you,
It were as well you should not show
That these strange practices you know;
And thus it strikes me, as I feel them,
It must be better to conceal them.”
“’Tis my own thought,” his Worship said;
“And your just hints shall be obey’d.”
Thus these submissive people went,
From Justice seat, in full content.
The Doctor now retir’d to dine,
Enjoy his thoughts and sip his wine,
Hinted to Patrick to refrain
From getting into scrapes again;
But not a word did he let loose
Of what he heard of marriage noose:
Then sought the Coffee-House to see
The papers and to take his tea.
But it appear’d his fate to-day
To be encounter’d with a fray;
So far from finding social quiet,
The room itself was in a riot;
The angry mistress at the bar
Was striving to appease the war;
The waiter on the floor was thrown,
And heaps of crock’ry tumbled down:
Voices spoke loud, while tables rattle,
With all the symbols of a battle.
—Two heroes by their wine inspir’d,
Were by an adverse glory fir’d:171
The one in tented fields had fought,
T’other had naval honours sought;
And now were eager to contest
Whose brave profession was the best;
Which higher service did afford,
The Soldier’s or the Sailor’s sword:
When their calm reas’ning soon arose
To plenteous oaths, and threat’ning blows.
One of the Sailor’s legs was good,
The other was a leg of wood;
While the brave Soldier could command
But one unhurt, effective hand;
The God of had, in his sport,
Cut, as he fought, the right-arm short.
As Syntax enter’d it appear’d
These were the furious words he heard:
“Had I two legs, I’d make you feel
The wrath I wish not to conceal:”
“Had I two hands,” it was replied,
“I would not, Sir, be thus defied,
But lay you level on the floor,
Or pass you quickly through the door.”
While an old fool, with crutch and gout,
Was crying: “Let them fight it out!”
—To let these brave men play the fool
For laughter and for ridicule,
And, in the senseless standers by,
To call forth misplac’d pleasantry,
Awaken’d a disdainful rage
In the warm bosom of our Sage,
Who was resolv’d to interpose,
And make friends of these silly foes.
He said, “I pray this contest cease,
I am the Minister of Peace;
And you will not my wish refuse,
To pause awhile, and grant a truce.”172
“No truce,” exclaim’d a rude, rough voice,
Whose tones were of themselves a noise,
While the clench’d fist, to aid the clamour,
The table beat as with a hammer.
“Tell that there Parson to have done,
Or his great wig will spoil the fun.”
“’Tis that,” said Syntax, “I’ve in view,
The very thing I mean to do.”
He then through the rude circle broke,
And thus his solemn counsel spoke.
“It makes my pale cheeks red with shame,
That those, who for the British name
Have shed their blood, should here expose
Their character, as hired foes,
In or on the green
T’ amuse the vulgar crowds, are seen;—
That, mark’d by wounds and many a scar
The fruits of bravery and war,
They should, inflam’d by wine, contest,
For excellence, where both are best;
On both, the British honours rest:
And when the strength of each combines,
How bright our country’s glory shines!
I urge you then your wrath to quell,
Each angry feeling to repel:
O rather let it be your boast,
For Britain each a limb has lost;
And would have been your mutual pride,
For Britain’s glory to have died.
The peace resume; be friends again,
And let the room repeat Amen!”
“Amen,” a score of voices pour’d,
And calm good humour was restor’d.
As Bath gave nothing more to see
That stirr’d his curiosity,173
The Doctor did the evening break
By a long letter to the Lake,
Relating every where and when
Since he had quitted Sommerden:
With hist’ries of his various way,
Sometimes quite grave and sometimes gay:
Nor did it fail to overflow
With gen’rous thought and grateful vow.
—The following morn, at early hour,
Our Sage proceeded on his Tour.
The sun shot forth its beaming ray
And promis’d a propitious day.
An Inn, which by the highway stood,
A breakfast gave, when he pursued
His course, but ere the noon was past
The sky with clouds was overcast,
Life’s emblem, that so often breaks
The early promises it makes.
A storm came on, the waters pour
In heavy and incessant shower;
Which, wafted by the driving breeze,
Defied all shelter from the trees,
That, in two lengthen’d rows, display’d
A fine cathedral aisle of shade,
Whose boughs o’er-canopied the road
That led unto an old abode,
Where in life’s last, but ling’ring stage,
A famous Nimrod nurs’d his age.
There Pat was by his Master sent
With many a civil compliment,
And all the necessary form,
To ask a shelter from the storm.
—A serving man, whose hairs were grey,
Unbolts the gate and shows the way:
The Doctor found the gouty ’Squire
In arm-chair seated by the fire,174
While many an antiquated hound
Lay all about him on the ground:
Some were so old they scarce could creep,
Others were hunting in their sleep;
While he could tell, as it beseem’d,
By what they did, of what they dream’d:
For his retired life had been
One constant and unvaried scene,
Which, in its circle, did embrace
The active pleasures of the chace.
His hounds and all their various breed,
The neighing and the bounding steed,
The tangled covert’s devious way,
The cunning of the trembling prey,
The vapour of the scented field,
By nature’s chymic pow’rs reveal’d;
The pack’s variety of tongue,
Which do to all or each belong;
The kennel’s discipline and rule
That does the yielding instinct school;
These various branches, nay, in short,
Whate’er relates to rural sport,
Was all that had his time employ’d,
And the chief pleasure he enjoy’d,
From his first manhood to the hour
When angry storm and pelting shower
Drove Syntax, by strange chance, to see
This unexpected novelty.
—Full many a deer’s wide branching horn
Did the old entrance hall adorn,
With many a brush that heretofore
Some famous, subtle Reynard bore,
While tablets told, in stated place,
The wonders of some wond’rous chace.—
Good Syntax, therefore, had a clue
For what to say and what to do.175
—He made his bows, disclos’d his name,
His dignity and whence he came.
The ’Squire, with half-smok’d pipe in hand,
Desir’d the Doctor to command
Whatever Nimrod-Hall possess’d,
And prove himself a welcome guest.
With some good neighbours, sportsmen all,
Who had just sought the shelt’ring hall.
Dinner was serv’d, each took his place,
And a View Halloo was the grace;
But soon the Doctor did retire
From noisy table to the fire,
To hear the chit-chat of the ’Squire,
Nor did the far-fam’d Nimrod balk
His fancy for an hour’s talk.
“My life, I rather fear, supplies
But little you may not despise:
But still, you sages of the schools
Will not declare us sportsmen fools,
If each, in his due weight and measure,
Should analyse his pain and pleasure!
’Tis true for forty years and more,
(For I have long been past threescore,)
My life has never ceas’d to be
One scene of rural jollity:
But hurrying Time has fled so fast,
My former pastimes all are past:
Yet, though our nature’s seasons are
Mix’d up with portion due of care;
Though I have many dangers run,
I’m still alive at seventy-one.
—Nimrod was always in his place;
He was the first in ev’ry chace;176
Nor last when, o’er th’ enliv’ning bowl,
The hunters felt the flow of soul:
The first, when, at the break of day,
It was—To Cover, hark away!
The last, when midnight heard the strain
Which sung the pleasures of the plain.”
“But hunting lasts not all the year:
How did you then the moments cheer
In the vacation of your sport?
To what employ did you resort?
You read, perhaps, and can unfold
How in old times the hunter bold
Did, with strong lance and jav’lin slay
The brindled lion as his prey,
Or chac’d the boar, or sought reward
In spotted clothing of the pard.”
“I’ve not quite lost the little knowledge,
Which I obtain’d in school and college;
But the old Greeks, those fighting-cocks,
Did not pretend to hunt the fox:
For where, think you, their hounds were bred;
Or how, think you, their dogs were fed,
If it be true as I have read,
That in a freak and at a sup,
They’d turn and eat their huntsman up?
—No, Sir, my books enjoy themselves
In long known quiet on their shelves.
—In summer, when the chace is o’er,
And echoing horn is heard no more,
The harvest then employ’d my care,
The sheafs to bind, the flocks to shear;177
The autumn did its fruitage yield
In ev’ry orchard, ev’ry field,
And emptied casks again receive
The juice Pomona loves to give.
The winter comes and once again
Echoes awake in wood and plain,
And the loud cry of men and hound,
Was heard again the country round.
Though I those days no more shall see,
They’re gone and past and lost to me:
But as a poet doth relate,
When the world’s victor feasting sat,
And trumpets gave the martial strain,
He fought his battles o’er again;—
Thus I can from my windows see
Scenes of the Nimrod chivalry;
And with these old dogs on the floor,
I talk the former chaces o’er.
There’s Music, whose melodious tone
Was to each pathless covert known;
And Captain who was never wrong,
Whenever heard to give his tongue;
There’s Paragon whose nose could boast,
To gain the trail whenever lost:
And Darling, in the scented track
Would often lead the clam’rous pack;
While Reynard chill despair would feel
When Favourite was at his heel.
Doctor, these dogs which round me lay,
Were famous creatures in their day,
And while they live they ne’er shall cease
To know what plenty is and peace;
Be my companions as you see,
And eke out their old age with me.
With them I sit and feel the glow
Which fond remembrance doth bestow:178
And when, in fancy’s dream, I hear
The tumults break upon my ear,
The shouting cry, the joyous sounds
Of huntsmen and the deep-mouth’d hounds:
My old age ceases to lament
My crippled limbs, my vigour spent;
I, for those moments, lose my pain,
And halloo as if young again.
’Tis true, in leaps I’ve dar’d to take,
That I have often risk’d my neck;
But though, thank Heaven, I’ve sav’d my back,
My ev’ry rib has had a crack.
And twice, ’tis true, the surgeon’s hand
Has my hard batter’d scull trepann’d;
To which I add a broken arm:—
And now I’ve told you all the harm
Which my remembrance bids me trace
In my adventures of the chace.
—For these swell’d hands and tender feet,
That fix me in this gouty seat,
Which keep me coop’d as I appear,
And as you see me sitting here,
’Twas not my age of hunting past,
Which thus has kennel’d me at last:
It is Port-wine and that alone
Which brought those wretched symptoms on.
’Twas not the pleasures of the day
That bade my stubborn health decay,
But the libations of the night,
To which I owe this piteous plight.
Now of this mansion take a view,
And Doctor, I believe it true,
Could it be gaug’d and fill’d with liquor,
Myself, my sportsmen and the Vicar,
Whate’er of wine it might contain
Have drunk it o’er and o’er again.179
—Philosophers and sage grave men
Have, by their preaching and their pen,
Enforc’d it as a certain rule
Of conduct in the human school,
That some prime feeling doth preside
In each man’s bosom as his guide,
Or right or wrong, as it may prove
The passions and affections move:
Thus some on lower objects pore,
Others aloft sublimely soar,
While many take the devious way,
And scarce know how or where they stray:
But I ne’er thought of moving higher
Than a plain, hunting country ’squire,
And you will think, perhaps, my aim
Has been content with vulgar fame,
When it has been my highest boast,
To ride the best and drink the most;
To guide the hounds with matchless grace,
To be the leader of the chace,
And, when ’twas over, to be able
To lay my guests beneath the table,
While I, with no unsteady head,
Could walk unstagg’ring to my bed,
Laugh at a milk-sop’s whimp’ring sorrow,
Nor feel a head-ache on the morrow.
You grave Divines perhaps may flout it,
But still I love to talk about it,
And sometimes too my neighbours join;
Though, while they take their gen’rous wine,
I feel at length ’tis very cruel
To pledge their toasts in water-gruel.”
“Let then your water-gruel season
Awake the slumb’ring power of reason!180
You think on pleasures but in vain,
Pleasures you ne’er can know again:
Arm then your breast against the fall
Which, soon or late, awaits us all:
The chace of Life will soon be past,
And Death will earth us all at last.”
“You are a scholar and can tell
Whether I reason ill or well;
But, you must know, I’ve often thought,
That what the Classic Poets taught,
And all their fabling fancy yields
Of Styx and the Elysian fields,
Was not ill-suited to engage
The hopes of such an early age;
And now, when rightly understood,
Is no mean motive to be good;
Where virtuous spirits might enjoy
Without an end, without alloy,
Whatever was their prime delight,
Before they pass’d the shades of night.
—If I remember well, we read
Heroes enjoy’d heroic deed:
Bards did their fav’rite themes rehearse
In raptures of immortal verse;
While there the hunters could pursue,
The game for ever in their view.
Elysian horses ne’er would halt,
Elysian hounds ne’er be at fault,
And neither wanted corn nor care,
For there of course they liv’d on air:
While on those fields, forbid to roam,
The Poacher Death could never come.”181
“I thank you ’Squire for the treat
Of this same classical conceit:
But sure I am it would not do;
It could not be a Heaven for you.
Though hunted with immortal skill
Elysian hounds could never kill,
For foxes there would never die,
But run to all eternity:
And as they would not lose their breath,
You ne’er could be in at the death.
—I willingly allow the fame
Due to the Greek and Roman name,
But to their genius ’twas not given
E’en to conceive the Christian’s Heaven.
We of this age alone can see
The form of Immortality,
That’s fashion’d to a higher sphere,
When this our world shall disappear:
On that alone our hopes should rest,
For be assur’d—it is the best;
And when from hence fate bids you go,
I trust that you will find it so.
—I’ve spoke the language of my heart,—
So now permit me to depart.
The storm is past, the show’rs are flown,
And I must hasten to be gone.”
The Nimrods press’d a longer stay
But Syntax wish’d to be away,
Nor aid the ev’ning to prolong
Its frequent glass and jovial song:
But then they did not let him go
Without a treble Tallyho.182
As he continued his career,
May it not rather strange appear
That what so lately met his eye
Did not his prosing tongue supply
With fanciful soliloquy?
One might expect his usual style
Would have proceeded many a mile,
When we reflect where he had been,
What a strange mortal he had seen,
What droll opinions he had heard,
What medley character preferr’d;
All that he saw at Nimrod-Hall;
So new and so original:
But so it was, the busy train
Of thoughts that rose within his brain
Were not permitted by the noise
Of men, of women, and of boys,
To be by calm digestion wrought
Into grave, systematic thought;
For no one did they overtake
Who did not into laughter break;
Not one upon the highway side
Who did not in some way deride.
—Syntax, at length, to Patrick spoke,
And ask’d the meaning of the joke:
But he saw nothing as he doz’d
With nodding head and eye half-clos’d.
The home-brew’d bumpers of the kitchen
Had prov’d to Patrick so bewitching
That he ne’er saw the Sportsmen’s tricks,
Who slyly had contriv’d to fix
A Fox’s brush, by way of rig,
To dangle from the Doctor’s wig;
Nor did these self-same gentry fail
To deck Pat’s shoulders with a tail183
Which, as he trotted on his way,
O’er his broad back appear’d to play.
A well-dress’d horseman passing by,
Casting on this strange group an eye,
Suffer’d the whimsy to beguile
His muscles with a transient smile;
But when the question Pat obey’d,
Where they had their last visit paid;
And, though in rather dubious fashion,
Had told his master’s rank and station;
The trick was in harsh terms reprov’d,
And from the Doctor’s head remov’d,
What of all symbols least became
His well-known character and name:
For soon he by his language show’d
That impudence had ne’er bestow’d
An insult, to which justice ow’d
A retribution more severe
Than could be well inflicted there.
“—I know the place where you have been,”
The ’Squire observ’d, “it is a scene
Where civil manners do not deign
In any form or shape to reign;
Where hospitality, the boast
Of these rude, sporting men, is lost
And chang’d from welcome’s smiling quiet
To noisy rout and drunken riot.
Nay, Rev’rend Sir, as you appear
To be a trav’lling stranger here,
Besides a peaceful Parson too,
The very butt for such a crew,
’Gainst whom their coward spirits thought
No keen resentment would be brought,
’Tis well indeed that you pass’d by
Without more foul indignity.184
An humble layman, Sir, you see,
But I hold trick and raillery,
When play’d to ridicule the band
Who by the sacred altar stand,
Is not mere folly in excess,
But most decided wickedness.
—I’m no fanatic who believe
That man was born to mourn and grieve:
He who hath made him means to bless
His life with all the happiness
Which suits the transitory nature
Of a short-liv’d, imperfect creature;
And if we look and seek for more,
Why, we must stay till life is o’er.
But reason weighs the allotted measure
Of honest joy and wholesome pleasure.
We, Sir, who in the country live,
Seek joys which hills and valleys give.
’Tis not the nerves alone, we find
The chace invigorates the mind.
I am a sportsman too, but I
To social friends the joys supply
Of courteous hospitality;
While frequent pleasure opes the door
To comfort and assist the poor.
Nor is it less whene’er I wait
And to the prophet ope the gate,
Which, as we now our way pursue,
Will soon be open’d wide to you.”
Syntax charm’d with his highway friend,
Well pleas’d did on his steps attend,
Till a fair mansion rose to view,
Where he found all he wish’d for true.
He now was in his utmost glory,
The ladies listened to his story;185
Nor did his lively spirits fail
In varnishing each pleasant tale.
The fiddle tun’d forth many a jig,
While he the fortunes of his wig
Did to some lively tune rehearse
In ditties of heroic verse.
Then followed a bravura scene
Of Hearty’s tricks behind the screen;
And as the misses did implore it,
The widow’s frights and fears before it.
The laugh was loud, but no one thought
’Twas with a painful image fraught,
Not one faint glimm’ring of ill-nature
Was cast upon a human creature;
While to the insult lately shown
Pity and prayer were given alone.
Thus, in kind, unremitting mirth,
To which each pleasing thought gave birth,
The cheerful evening swiftly flies,
Till midnight took them by surprise:
When the delighted Doctor said,
“See how your kindness is repaid.
For when with virtue’s friends I stay,
And pass the happy time away,
’Tis thus I preach, ’tis thus I pray.
For unto virtue it is given,
To laugh and sing and go to Heaven.”
Each bade good night, and went to bed,
Nor fear’d the morrow’s aching head.
The morrow came, with smiling faces
The ladies rivall’d all the graces:
Nor fail’d to press the sage to stay
And charm them through another day.186
When he replied:—“Indeed I grieve
To say that I must take my leave.”
“If,” said the ’Squire, “it must be so,
Lend me your ear before you go:
That I a sportsman’s life, (for mine
Doth all its characters combine,)
May prove, in ev’ry sense endued
With what is virtuous, what is good,
As any other that we scan
In the long history of man.
I wish, in short, to wipe away
The foul disgust of yesterday,
Which may have prey’d upon your mind,
From the rude crew with whom you din’d;
And that no future fears may wait
In ent’ring at a sportsman’s gate.
—I keep stout hunters for the chace,
I breed my coursers for the race;
I’ve hounds who form a glorious cry,
And Reynard’s subtle tricks defy:
My neighbours at my board I see
With cheerful face and festive glee,
But temp’rance takes the master’s chair,
And gluttony is never there.
Such the delights my fortune gives,
And Heaven my gratitude receives;
Such my amusements, but their aim
Enlivens virtue’s cheerful flame,
Nor with its pleasures, on this spot,
Are sober duties e’er forgot.
“Our Rector is a scholar rare,
Few of his cloth more learned are;
While in his life we daily see
A pattern of true piety:187
Nor is a better sportsman found
In all the sporting country round.
But when by him the infant’s fed,
When age receives his daily bread;
When in the church on sabbath-day
His flock he teaches how to pray,
Directs to Heaven and leads the way;
His calling he doth not disgrace,
Though through a morn he leads the chace,
And, as he hills and dales defies,
Joins the loud hunter’s jovial cries.”
“—Practise these virtues,” Syntax said,
“Nor be of God or man afraid;
While such a well form’d date is given,
Enjoy your sports and go to Heaven.”
Now, after many a farewell greeting,
And cordial hopes of future meeting,
But not without a spell of eating,
Which the luncheon’s mid-day board
Did in abundant style afford;
Pleas’d with the sporting ’Squire’s bounty,
The Doctor sought the neighb’ring county
When soon the woody hills appear,
And verdant vales of Devonshire.
The day was just on the decline,
And the sun did but faintly shine,
When as they thus approach’d a town
Which is to western trav’ller known,
They were saluted by a noise,
Form’d by a crowd of men and boys,
While female voices join’d the rattle;
But whether it was peace or battle,188
Did not with certainty appear,
Till the strange cavalcade drew near.
Crack’d drums and post-horns first combin’d,
To aid the din which came behind,
With sounding pans of ev’ry shape,
And chords of most discordant scrape;
While shaken pebbles made a stir
In many a hollow canister.
Now deep-ton’d bass and treble shrill
Were heard, at intervals, to fill
The medley of discordant tones,
Brought up with sounding marrow-bones.
The rude procession follow’d after,
Through avenues of roaring laughter;
With which the crowd that lin’d the street
Did this gay ceremony greet.
“Such a strange show I ne’er have seen,”
Syntax exclaim’d, “what can it mean?
Patrick, you may perchance explain
The hist’ry of this noisy train.”
“Please you,” Pat answer’d, “I can tell
This frolic business mighty well:
For there’s no place I ever saw,
Where this is not the parish law:
Though not with all this how and when,
I’ve seen it, Sir, at Sommerden.
’Tis a procession us’d of course,
When the grey mare’s the better horse;
When a wild wife doth play the game
Of wearing what I must not name,
Though I must own that my tongue itches
To say, when she doth wear the breeches;
And the poor fool dare not resist
The terrors of her threat’ning fist:
Then, thus your Rev’rence, as you see,
With frolicsome festivity,189
The jovial neighbours celebrate
The downfall of a hen-peck’d mate.”
—Thus as he spoke, the noisy throng
In due disorder pass’d along,
Wide antlers which had whilom grac’d
A stag’s bold brow, on pitchforks plac’d,
The roaring, dancing bumpkins show,
And the white smickets wave below,
While, suited to the rustic manners,
The petticoats appeared as banners.
—A slow-pac’d donkey’s seen to bear
Plac’d back to back the hostile pair,
Who there display the angry mood
That forms the gamesome interlude.6
While horned honours deck his brow,
She does bespatter him below,
With what a ladle can bestow,
Whose foul contents, for very shame,
The modest Muse would blush to name.
Her big fist gave its frequent blows,
Which he receiv’d nor durst oppose,
But with loud cries and humble suit,
To cease at length to play the brute.
Then on a tumbril in the rear
A kind of mash-tub did appear,
Whence a rude hand that scarce was seen,
Envelop’d in thick branches green,
Scattered among the gaping swains
Some filthy flood mix’d up with grains,
Which, to the right and left bestow’d
In such nice splashes on the crowd190
That with a well-aim’d jerk, forsooth,
It might fill up some laugher’s mouth.
—A female, whose virago form
Was figur’d to direct the storm,
On a three-fold broom-stick saddled,
Was arm’d with eggs both fresh and addled,
Which ’mid the crowd’s applausive cheers,
Beplaster’d noses, eyes and ears
Thus as they pass’d, the noisy rout
Enlarged their throats with clam’rous shout.
6 This Ceremony, which is call’d a Skimmington, and is common in many parts of England, consists of a procession to celebrate the triumph of a virago of a wife over a submissive and humbled husband.
Phillis, erecting either ear,
Began to prance and kick and rear;
And whether Syntax would or no,
Dash’d in the midst of all the show,
With peril of an overthrow:
While Pat, with threatening air bestrode
Fat Punch amid the bawling crowd,
But some foul hand an egg let fly
That hit him boldly on the eye,
And streaming down his cheek besmear’d
With fœtid yolk his sandy beard;
While grains by ample handfuls pour
O’er Syntax in a noisome shower,
Who, fearing worse from active fray,
With quicken’d pace pursued his way,
And, having pass’d the hooting street,
Found in an inn a safe retreat.
Here, though by noisome smell o’erpower’d,
To freshness he was quickly scour’d:
From heel unto his reverend crown,
Pat brush’d him up and rubb’d him down,
But not till he himself had been
Subject to kitchen quarantine.191
Syntax made clean, in arm-chair seated,
Was by the landlord humbly greeted
With sorrow, that the country-folk
Should have annoy’d him with their joke,
But ’twas a custom with the people
As ancient as the parish steeple,
A kind of ceremonial law,
To keep the married pairs in awe,
And which they never will withhold
Till married women cease to scold,
Or men in hope of quiet lives
Refuse a beating from their wives.
“But if,” he said, “you wish to know
The real hist’ry of the show,
Or any other branch of knowledge
That is obtain’d in school or college,
Our Curate will, I doubt not join
Your social pipe or ev’ning wine,
Nor fail to aid you in the picking
Of your asparagus and chicken.
Of middle age he has the vigour,
But rather comical in figure,
And thus of late he has the name
Well known in literary fame,
With which the gentry of our club
Have pleas’d this learned man to dub.
’Tis taken from that famous book
In which if you should please to look,
I can the pleasant volume borrow,
So that I send it back to-morrow,
Where in the prints that deck the page,
You’ll see the learned, rev’rend sage,
So like in ev’ry point of view
Of hat and wig and features too,
It might be thought the artist’s hand
Did our original command.192
Nay ’mong the gossips of our town,
He’ll soon be by this title known,
As well I doubt not as his own.
Nor does this laughing humour tease him,—
Indeed, it rather seems to please him.”
They who have Doctor Syntax seen,
In all the points where he has been,
Must know his heart is chiefly bent
On gen’rous deed, with grave intent;
But still his fancy oft bespoke
The lively laughter by his joke,
And though his looks demure were seen,
He nurs’d the smiling thought within:
And here he felt that fun might rise,
From certain eccentricities,
As they might be dispos’d to strike him,
In one, who, more or less, was like him.
Though it is true that he suspected,
’Twas form of wig or dress neglected,
Or meagre shape, so lank and thin,
Or pointed nose, or lengthened chin,
With a similitude of feature
The casual work of frisky nature,
Who sometimes gives the look of brother
To those who never saw each other:
Which now produc’d the fond conceit,
Big with the ev’ning’s promised treat.
Th’ invited Curate soon appear’d,
The Doctor rubb’d his eyes and star’d,
Look’d in the mirror, that the view
Might in his eye his form renew,
Nor less admiring than amaz’d,
He on the rival Syntax gaz’d.
At length, all drolleries explain’d,
A friendly, social humour reign’d.193
The table smil’d with plenteous fare,
The bottle and the bowl were there,
And ’mid the pipe’s ascending smoke,
The counterparts alternate spoke.7
“My Host, I doubt not, told me true
When he referred me, Sir, to you,
That you would to my mind explain
The meaning of this noisome train,
Which, in the ev’ning of the day,
Not only stopp’d me in my way,
But with their rout were pleas’d to greet me,
And with most foul salutes to meet me.
Its history perhaps may be
Far in remote antiquity,
But mem’ry does not now recall
A trace of its original.”
“Nor yet can I,—but I suppose
It was among the vulgar shows
When Butler wrote, as his droll wit
In Hudibras has painted it:
A book writ in most merry strain,
The boast of Charles the Second’s reign,
And so much fun it did impart,
The King could say it all by heart,
Though you must know, he quite forgot
To ask if Butler starv’d or not.
But I shall not attempt to tell
A story you could paint so well.
—As to this custom, I must own,
It might as well be let alone;194
But when in matrimonial strife
A husband’s cudgell’d by his wife,
In country-place, ’tis rather common
This way to compliment the woman,
And by this noisy, nasty plan,
To cast disgrace upon the man.”
“But tell me, if this kind of sporting
May happen when one goes a-courting;
And, if he may these honours prove,
Who’s cudgell’d while he’s making love.
If so, I am already done,
To figure in a Skimmington.”
“No, no, the pair must mated be
Who suffer this foul courtesy;
But how, good Sir, can I suppose
That you encounter’d female blows,
That any woman low or high
Would treat you with indignity?”
“It is not surely to my glory;—
But listen, and I’ll tell my story:
—Some time ago, I lost my wife,
And mine is now a single life:
When by the counsels of a friend,
Who thought my present state to mend,
I, without telling whens and hows,
To a fair widow made my bows:
A buxom, tall and comely dame,
Who wish’d, ’twas said, to change her name,195
And if I could her thoughts divine,
Would not, perhaps, have sneez’d at mine.
She was with elegance array’d,
And full-trimm’d fashion’s ton displayed.
We chatter’d first about the weather;
But when our chairs got near together,
And hints had pass’d of tender things;
She took her lute and touch’d the strings.
She sang, and her soft accents prov’d
How sweet it was to be belov’d;
When a confounded, cumbrous screen,
That kept us both from being seen,
Surpris’d us by its sudden fall:
After a most tremendous squall,
As she was sinking with alarms,
I caught the fair-one in my arms,
Where after lying still and quiet,
She thought it fine to breed a riot;
Nay, when the hurrying servants came,
Call’d me by ev’ry horrid name;
Then, with a blow I scarce could stand,
She to my head applied her hand,
And ev’ry finger had a nail
That did my pallid cheeks assail,
Which, as I vainly struggling stood,
Were seen defac’d by trickling blood.
Then, as she call’d me knave and brute,
I felt the fury of her foot,
Whose pointed strokes were sharp and shocking,
And, were I to unroll my stocking,
The vengeful marks I now could show
Of kickings got three weeks ago:
And, my sad story to prolong,
She did not spare her shrill-ton’d tongue.
When she was in my arms enfolded
How I was kick’d and cuff’d and scolded!196
No hen-peck’d mate was e’er worse used,
My face was scratch’d, my legs were bruis’d,
My wig despoil’d, my neck-cloth torn:
So I ran off, amaz’d, forlorn,
From all this am’rous fire and fuel,
To poultices and water-gruel:
But thanks to Heaven who gave me life,
The Harridan was not my wife.
—Thus I have plac’d before your view,
A history, so sad, so true,
As it may be of use to you.
Shun then all widows, nor be seen
To court a dame, where there’s a screen.”
“These things will happen, as we see,
From time and chance we none are free,
Each must fulfil his destiny.
—I also can unfold a fray,
Which was brought on by am’rous play,
Though not so splendid in its way,
Nor was such triumph to be won
As with your high-wrought Amazon.
“The time’s long past, and I’ve forgot
Whether I had been rude or not.
I cannot say or yes or no,
Though probably it might be so;
But, poising a large folio book,
My landlady’s outrageous cook,
Who, whate’er were her other charms,
Had a most potent pair of arms,
Laid me all prostrate on the floor,
And thus concluded my amour.197
—’Twas Raleigh’s Hist’ry of the World,
That Sally Dripping’s fury hurl’d;
But as the world had ta’en the field,
I felt it no disgrace to yield:
And thus, I think, my Rev’rend brother
Our fates resemble one another.”
“Our tempers too, for you have spoke,
As is my taste in classic joke.
Nor do I wonder some may see
A likeness between you and me:
Though that indeed might well appear
Before we met together here;
Because in ev’ry town is seen
A book I wrote to cure the spleen,
In which, by faithful art pourtray’d,
My portrait is at length display’d.
I see you’ve my facetious grin,
Nor do you lack my length of chin;
I think too as my eyes presage
That we may be of equal age,
And in our sev’ral shapes are shown
An equal share of skin and bone.
So far I think we’re rather like,
As may the calm observer strike:
Besides, the church doth clothe our back
In the similitude of black,
And we prefer our braids to rig
In the grave dignity of wig,
Leaving the simple hair to grace
The dandy preacher’s boyish face.
—So far so like our persons are,
Such our appearance must declare,
That it may make good humour laugh,
As we our evening bev’rage quaff,198
While I may hope that we may find
A better likeness in the mind.”
“Doctor,” the smiling Curate said,
“Your form I’ve seen as ’tis pourtray’d
In the fam’d Tour which I have read,
And shall with added pleasure quote it,
Now I have seen the sage who wrote it.
My hat and wig have been the joke,
Like yours, of idle country-folk;
From jest and gibes I was not free
When ill fed by my Curacy:
But, Rev’rend Sir, you may believe me,
If reason’s self does not deceive me,
And I avow it to be true,—
In virtue to resemble you;
To have the knowledge you possess;
And my mind clad in such a dress
As that which learning doth confer
On your distinguish’d character;
I’d care not were I fat or thin,
Or who might laugh or who might grin;
But proud in any way to share
The well-known title which you bear.
I wish my honest fame no better,
Than to be like you à la lettre,
And Doctor Syntax nicknam’d be,
While tongues can give that name to me.”
Thus with kind thoughts the night began,
And quick the pleasant moments ran.
The rubied glass, the brimming bowl,
Awoke the lively flow of soul;
But they had now so long conferr’d
They stammer’d out what neither heard;199
And as each loll’d in easy chair,
Sleep seiz’d them both and fix’d them there.
Thus as they did their slumbers take,
They look’d as like as when awake;
For when the landlord op’d the door,
Invited by their double snore,
And gave the Doctor to be led
With due attendance to his bed,
They took the Curate with all care,
And saw him safe and bolster’d there;
While Syntax, on unsteady feet,
Was slowly guided through the street;
And him the ostler help’d to clamber
Up to the Curate’s airy chamber.
Thus as they talk’d or look’d or mov’d,
These Doctors had their likeness prov’d;
Alike with punch each charg’d his head,
Alike had sought each other’s bed,
And slept unconscious of the sorrow
That head-aches might produce to-morrow.
—Poor Patrick, who had play’d the sot,
His zealous duties quite forgot;
And, to attain his roost unable,
Had pass’d the night within the stable.
The morning came but came too soon,
For these two likenesses till noon
Possession of their pillows kept
So like each other had they slept;
And when they ’woke around them gaz’d
Alike confounded and amaz’d;
Alike thought on their mutual name,
And felt an equal sense of shame;
But both appear’d, when thus they met,
Their evening’s likeness to forget.
Syntax who fear’d all might be known
Throughout the tittle-tattle town,200
Thought ’twould be wise for him to go,
Nor through the day become a show,
But leave the Curate to the glory
Of making out a flatt’ring story.
—Now as he did his way pursue,
Reflection offer’d to the view
Of his keen intellectual eye
No sense that seem’d like flattery.
—Far other feelings were awake,
Upon his gen’ral thoughts to break;
And with a tone of melancholy,
He to himself unveil’d his folly.
“That mortal man is fram’d by nature
A weak, a frail, an erring creature,
We all must know, as all must see;
But in what portion or degree,
We soften or enlarge the strife
Which gives variety to life,
That on ourselves alone depends
For its best uses and its ends.
Reason a faithful guide appears,
That strengthens with encrease of years;
The zealous champion of the heart,
When passion, with insidious art,
Assails us, where we all can tell
Our errors and our virtues dwell;
As in old times, long past and gone,
The world was told by Solomon.
—’Tis not to youth I now am preaching;
Years and experience I am teaching:
And here unheard and all alone,
I to my bosom dare make known,
Those errors which I feel my own.
A generous sense, a noble pride,
May sometimes lead the mind aside201
From the precise and rigid rules
Which wisdom teaches in her schools;
But then the object and the end
Do in their very nature tend,
Though transient error they supply,
To guard the mental energy.
But ah, poor Syntax! must not thou
To scourging reason humbly bow,
To think, a vain, complying tool,
Thou hast been led to play the fool?
For my lank form some may upbraid me,
But am I not what nature made me?
They whose fat threats to burst their skin,
May shake their sides because I’m thin:
Let them laugh on, and what of that?
If thin, they’d laugh if I were fat;
And jokes will never fail to rise
From striking contrarieties.
But o’er the bowl to lose your senses
By a vain Curate’s vain pretences,
And furnish out a laughing tale,
For country boobies o’er their ale,
Is such a kind of wand’ring folly,
Which though last night you were so jolly,
Ought now to make you melancholy.
—The turns that in its pleasure, Heaven
Has to my life and fortune given,
Have fashion’d me in various ways,
Which some may blame and some may praise,
And as it happens may provoke
The friendly smile, the pleasant joke,
But still I hope that I’ve preferr’d
To go where wisdom’s voice is heard;
And that the scene which last night past,
Will of my follies be the last.”202
Here did his pond’ring lecture close,
Which seem’d to give his mind repose,
And in calm silence on he rode
Until he reach’d his night’s abode:
For Patrick, fearing a jobation,
Said nought to forward conversation.203
OF transient evils we endure
Sleep is a kind and frequent cure;
And the vexations over night
Will sometimes fly at morning’s light.
We know it will not always ease
The pangs that wait upon disease:
The fever’s watchful burning heat,
When the impetuous pulses beat,
May ask the wish’d-for boon in vain,
The eyes to close and banish pain:
But still the gout, the racking stone,
Its calming influence grateful own,
When, aided by the opiate power,
They steal but one appeasing hour.
—The mind is not indebted less
For short cessations of distress,
When it puts off the evening sorrow,
Until the wakeful hour to-morrow,
While fancy on its powers may call
T’ amuse th’ oblivious interval.
Syntax, ’tis true, there’s no concealing,
Had in his mind a certain feeling,
When moral sense and cleric pride
Would wounded be and mortified.
Besides, if that known, chattering dame,
Who flies about, entitled Fame,204
Should his late evening’s hist’ry take
T’ amuse his friends around the Lake,
To him or them, in any measure,
It would not prove a source of pleasure.
—But whatsoever harm was done,
He felt ’twas to himself alone;
And what his folly did impart
Arose but from a warmth of heart.
Reason had bent to the controul
Of what was the mere flow of soul;
While conscience set the matter even,
And thus he felt himself forgiven.
—His pipe he smok’d, the wine was good,
Becalm’d his thoughts, by sleep subdued,
Without a hint from aching head,
At early hour he sought his bed.
What dreams by fancy were begot,
Or did he dream, or did he not,
The Muse would think it vain to pry,
Into the fruitless mystery:
But when his eyes op’d on the morrow
Kind sleep had eas’d him of his sorrow,
And the vexation over-night
Had left him at the morning’s light.
Charm’d with the beauty of the day,
And the surrounding scene so gay,
Where nature in her loveliest hue
Display’d the animating view
Of woods above, of meads below,
Where ’mid the green the flow’rets blow,
And crystal waters softly flow;
While active rural life combin’d,
To fit the landscape for the mind,
As it invites reflection’s eye
To the earth’s rich variety.—205
With such a scene to gaze upon
Th’ enraptured Doctor travell’d on.
—Within the winding of a vale,
’Mid blended charm of hill and dale,
And shaded by a spreading grove,
Where Dryads might be feign’d to rove,
A stately, ancient mansion rose,
Which titled ancestors had chose
In former times to be the seat
Where rural grandeur found retreat,
And now might seem to trav’ller’s eye
Beaming with hospitality.
—’Twas here that Syntax chanc’d to see
A woman spinning ’neath a tree,
Whose boughs o’er-spread a straw-roof’d cot,
Which was some lab’ring peasant’s lot.
“Tell me,” he said, “my honest dame,
The state, the character and name,
Of him or her who, by Heav’n’s grace,
Doth own that noble, charming place.”
“’Tis Lady Bounty,” she replied,
“Who does in that fine house reside:
All that you see, Sir, is her own,
But she has long been better known
For the good deeds which do resound
From grateful tongues the country round;
To bless us all it doth appear
That Heaven has plac’d this lady here.
It seems to be her only joy
Her time, her fortune, to employ
In doing what is real good.
—My tears express my gratitude;
For in that cot my husband lies,
With useless limbs, and sightless eyes:
Whom the swift lightning’s piercing flame
Has render’d senseless, blind and lame,206
But all the comfort he can know,
Her care, her kindness do bestow:
Nor does she loll at home at ease;
She watches o’er her charities:
E’en here she comes, as sent by Heaven,
To see that what she gives is given.
—Nay, while the poor she doth supply,
A splendid hospitality
The rich who visit her receive,
With the proud welcome she can give.”
Syntax, with all this story charm’d,
And his benignant bosom warm’d,
Resolv’d to view these proud domains
Where so much native beauty reigns,
And ply his skill to sketch the scenes
Where so much virtue intervenes.
—Near an alcove he took his seat
In view of this superb retreat;
Then, in his sketch-book ’gan to trace
The leading features of the place:
And with a practis’d eye, combine
The picturesque of his design.
—A gard’ner soon to Patrick came
To know his master’s rank and name;
When Pat ran all his virtues o’er,
Told what he was—and somewhat more.
The pencil now employ’d its power;
Nor had the Doctor pass’d an hour
In tracing, with his utmost care,
A scene, at once so grand, so fair,
When Lady Bounty came to know
What for his ease she could bestow,
And with an hospitable grace,
The well-known feature of the place,207
To dine he kindly was invited,
Nor was the smiling goodness slighted;
When with this welcome she address’d
Her rev’rend and delighted guest:
“—Since Doctor Syntax here is come,
He must believe himself at home,
And all that can his wishes crown
He will consider as his own:
For while he sojourns he will be
The object of all courtesy;
And to a yet far distant day
’Tis hop’d he will prolong his stay.”
—The dinner o’er, the blessing given
For ev’ry bounteous grace of Heaven,
The Doctor, who would never balk
A certain love he had to talk,
And which we know is least withstood
When wine is plenty and is good,
Had in a strain of modest glee
Told all his curious history.
Not that the Muse doth mean to hint
He here would go beyond the stint
Of learned sages’ due decorum,
When the full bottles smile before ’em.
—The interesting story done,
Which had a fond attention won,
The mansion’s mistress silence broke
And thus in pleasing accents spoke.
“It doth, indeed, my spirits cheer,
To see the Rev’rend Doctor here,
Whose many virtues and whose taste,
Appear by none to be surpass’d;208
Nay, that same chance I happy call
Which turn’d his face tow’rds Bounty Hall:
And while his conversation gives
That pleasure which with knowledge lives,
I trust he will employ a day
His graphic talents to display
On the rich charming scenes which bound
My range of ornamental ground:
And that by his superior taste
My antique sculptures may be plac’d,
(Too long the victims of neglect)
In proper site, with due effect:
It is a favour I shall ask
That he would undertake the task;
Nay, such assistance to impart
Is a free boon he owes to Art,
Which, for these trophies’ sake, demands
The labour of his head and hands.”
The Doctor, highly flatter’d, bow’d,
And marks of due obedience show’d,
Then promis’d, with to-morrow’s sun
The curious work should be begun,
Nor would he go till it were done.
The morning came, with utmost care
The Rev’rend Artist did prepare,
With all his pencil’s skill to trace
The beauties of this favour’d place;
When Lady Bounty, to beguile
His labours with approving smile,
Stood on the terrace-wall to view
The Doctor’s progress as he drew:
When, at once furious and alarm’d,
And with most uncouth weapons arm’d,
Led on by Pat, a noisy crew
Did a wild swarm of bees pursue,209
And, with a loud and tinkling sound
Of rustic cymbals, chasing round
The flying rovers, eager strive
To tempt them to the offer’d hive:
But all these sounds were made in vain;
They did their humming flight maintain,
And, spite of pan and pot and kettle,
Chose on the Doctor’s head to settle.
—It must be thought indeed most strange,
That this wing’d populace, who range
In search of sweets, should hope to swig
The liquid nectar in a wig;
And there, though learning might be crown’d,
That food ambrosial would be found:
But still it seems the Royal Bee
Would thither lead her colony.
—The Doctor felt no small alarm
As he beheld the approaching swarm;
And when their buzzing threats surround him,
The fears of such a foe confound him,
Who with a thousand stings might wound him.
The screaming Lady did entreat
That he would not forsake his seat,
But by all means avoid a riot,
And let them take their course in quiet;
As then, she from experience knew,
No harm, no evil, would ensue.
The Doctor said, “while I have breath,
I’ll run and not be stung to death.”
Then off his hat and wig he threw,
And up the terrace-steps he flew;
While Patrick with impetuous tread,
Flung the hive towards his Master’s head,
To save his bald pate from the chace
Of this same flying stinging race.210
Away they hurried down the slope,
Which was so steep they could not stop;
Syntax went first and Patrick after,
And both plung’d headlong in the water,
Which, in a sweeping, close meander,
Beneath the terrace chose to wander:
Though no harm did this fall bestow,
But being wet from top to toe:
And that was small, when ev’ry care
Of the kind Lady would prepare
What the good Doctor’s state required:
All he could ask for or desir’d,
Was ready to obey his call;
And ev’ry soul in Bounty-Hall
Did the officious service ply,
So that he soon was warm and dry,
Talk’d o’er in terms of frolic ease
His curious battle with the bees,
And made his tumble in the water
A source of fun and gen’ral laughter.
His hat and wig the honeyed race
Had not found a fit resting place,
Or as retir’d and snug retreats
Where they might lodge ambrosial sweets;
So that unspoil’d they did remain
When to their owner brought again.
—His troubled toil he soon renew’d,
And with such eager zeal pursued
Th’ allotted task—that ere the sun
Had gone its round, his work was done.
—Syntax had made the chaste design
With equal space and measur’d line,
Which would each pleasing form admit
Where’er the spot best suited it.
The statues now in order plac’d,
The niches on the terrace grac’d,211
And sculptur’d vases were display’d
To range along the balustrade:
While the sad willow’s pendent bough
Hangs o’er the solemn urn below,
And the sarcophagus is seen
Amid the cypress’ darksome green.
But it appears, this was not all
That Syntax did at Bounty-Hall:
His pencil promis’d to impart
The utmost power of its art,
That Madam’s Boudoir might abound
With drawings of the scenes around.
The Lady in no common measure,
To him thus spoke her grateful pleasure:
“How to express my just regard
And how to shape a due reward,
For all the service you have shown,
For what you’re doing and have done,
I cannot to my mind declare,
Though that shall be my future care:
But still there is another call,
Upon your heart at Bounty-Hall,
For much I wish that you would trace
The features of my homely face;
It would please me and others too
To have my portrait done by you;
And you, my Rev’rend Sir, shall know
The reasons why my wishes flow
That you this favour should bestow.
Expanded on the stuccoed wall
Of my old mansion’s stately hall,212
You see my form at large appear
When in my three-and-twentieth year,
And deck’d in all the proud array
Which gaudy fashion could display;
But then, I trust, my conduct prov’d
That I was worthy to be lov’d
By virtue’s image, who was then
My husband and the best of men.
To wealth and station full allied,
My ev’ry wish was gratified,
And I my splendid course pursued,
A star of no small magnitude,
And one bright track I did maintain,
With love and honour in my train.
Thus fifteen years of life I pass’d
In happiness too great to last,
When death at length appear’d, and then
I lost, alas! that best of men.
He left no heirs to stamp his name
With perpetuity of fame,
But it appears as Heav’n’s decree
That duty should devolve on me,
And, from the moment when he died,
Here have I liv’d and have applied
My wealth and time and thoughts alone
In doing what he would have done,
And, as he on his death-bed lay,
His last instructions to obey.
But though some form my state requires,
Some outward show, yet my desires,
Heav’n knows, impel me to prefer
The form of his just almoner.
Then to the canvas pray impart,
With touch of unassuming art,
Not Lady Bounty of the world,
With all her glitt’ring robes unfurl’d:213
But as my present form you see
In dignified simplicity,
Such, as if here a year you stay,
You’ll see her, Doctor, every day.”
“Madam, you know, you may command
The work of my inferior hand,
But my poor pencil is confin’d
To labours of an humble kind:
Nor have I ventured on the toil
That dares consume the painter’s oil.
But if you please to send to town
And order proper colours down,
With canvas, pallet, and the rest
Which I may want—I’ll do my best.”
“It shall be done, without delay;—
But some short time must pass away,
Ere your most friendly pencil traces
My grateful looks and fading graces.
And I have still a boon to ask,
To you, I trust, a pleasing task;
You, whose peculiar virtue knows
To act the part which I impose:
You, who can well discharge your duty
To female youth and female beauty,
By fixing in the early mind
Those principles by truth design’d
To guard them from the heart’s deceit
Which to our sex is more replete
With dangers than it is to man,
As your experience well can scan.214
—You must know then: our schemes to vary
That I protect a seminary
For female youth, at no great distance,
To which I ask your kind assistance,
Its style and manners to review,
And there to pass a day or two,
Till the arts’ implements recall
Your presence back to Bounty-Hall.”
The Doctor with his task content,
Gave a most ready, grave consent;
And, under Lady Bounty’s care,
He, the next morn, was usher’d there.
From eight at least to fourteen years,
The troop of female youth appears:
With heartfelt pleasure Syntax view’d
The interesting sisterhood;
Some were the rosebuds of the day,
Some did their op’ning leaves display;
But all did the fair promise give,
That they were fitted to receive
The counsels which the sage inclin’d
To pour into their early mind.
The evening came, the scene was gay,
All clad in summer’s best array,
When the fair youthful band were seen
Arrang’d upon the shaven green.
—Beneath an oak’s wide-spreading shade,
While through its boughs the zephyr play’d,
The sage, with reverential pride,
Plac’d the preceptress by his side.
He threw a genial smile around
Upon the animated ground;
Then upward look’d, as if was given,
A silent orison to Heaven;215
And soon a mute attention hung
Upon the wisdom of his tongue.
“Ye virgins fair, ye lovely flowers,
The blooming pride of vernal hours!
Chace, while I speak, O chace away
Whate’er is frolic, lively, gay,
And all your calm attention lend
To the fond counsels of a friend;
Which may, in many a future hour,
Infuse their salutary power,
As it may be your lot to stray
Through Life’s uncertain, devious way.
O listen then, while I discourse
Of passion’s folly, reason’s force,
And the never-failing strength that’s given
By laws which were receiv’d from Heaven.
—Think not that you will hear from me
The honeyed words of flattery;
For nought is more the real bane
Of happiness, than to be vain:
All that in this world we command
Does on no certain basis stand:
Things fall and rise, and rise and fall;
This is the common lot of all.
Young as you are, you must have seen
What disappointments intervene,
To check the hopes of life’s career,
Between the cradle and the bier.
Instruction too doth daily give
Those lessons which your minds receive,
Where from examples you may learn
Fair truth from falsehood to discern,216
And your young opening minds prepare
Against the threats of future care:
Hence this high doctrine you will know,
That virtues real joys bestow,
And vice conducts to certain woe.
Nay, from my tongue accept a truth,
So fitted to the ear of youth,
That, in this world, you may believe,
The wicked will not fail to grieve;
And, though in pomp and glory clad,
How oft their brightest hours are sad!
Whatever be the state we know,
Virtue is happiness below;
Whate’er the worldly station given
Virtue alone is sure of Heaven;
If then through life to virtue prone,
The joys of both worlds are your own.
“Life is the path to mortals given
That leads the good from earth to Heaven;
And death the dark and gloomy way,
That opes upon eternal day.
These are grave thoughts I well may own,
But cannot be too early known.
’Tis not by reasoning refin’d
I shall attract the tender mind;
That must be left till riper age
Doth the experienc’d thought engage,
To take within a larger scope
The various views of fear and hope,
Which may mature reflection bend
To life’s due progress and its end.
—What then is error, what is vice
What the temptations which entice
The early mind to what is wrong,
As in your youth you dance along,217
And what the joy which they deserve,
Nay will possess, who never swerve
From virtue’s paths, and the decree
Of heav’n-born, heart-felt piety?
This knowledge I shall hope to teach
Not by thoughts beyond your reach,
But by plain maxims fix’d in truth
And suited to the minds of youth.
“The virtue with which I commence
Is unreserv’d obedience
Unto your earthly parents, who
Stand in the place of God to you:
And next, your kind instructors claim
The honours of a parent’s name,
To whom in your life’s early hour
They delegate parental power.
“Such is the earliest thought impress’d
By reason on the human breast;
The first fond sense that nature gives,
And the first warmth the heart receives.
You’re of an age to know it well,
And feel the tender truth I tell;
I shall not, therefore, more enlarge
Upon this subject of my charge,
But on some other points infer
My views of female character;
And such as to my mind appears
Best suited to your sex and years.
“Beauty displays a two-fold kind,
That of the body and the mind;
Both are allowed their various arms,
Each conquers by its sev’ral charms.218
Let’s try by rules of common sense
What is their genuine excellence,
And then compare the solid good
With which they both may be endued,
And what the powers that they possess,
To foster human happiness.
—The form requires exterior grace,
While the attractions of the face
Demand the soft or piercing eye,
With a connected harmony
Of features, in right order placed,
And in due shape by nature trac’d:
These, heightened by carnation dye,
Or roseate bloom’s variety,
With flowing locks display’d to view,
Of black or brown or auburn hue,
And well combin’d, in various ways
A certain admiration raise,
Which beauty of whatever name
Will never hesitate to claim.
But on this fond, delusive theme,
Do not indulge the idle dream
That, by the fav’ring grace of Heaven,
As a decided good ’tis given;
For oft ’tis found in your possessing
More as a trial than a blessing;
Nay, beauty oft neglected mourns,
And even wrecks whom it adorns.
Its charms in all their brightness gay,
To the admiring eye to-day
May their soft, rosy bloom display;
But, from the inroad of disease,
To-morrow it may cease to please;
And the late glowing eye may see
The figure of deformity.219
—Besides, we know, uncourteous time,
When once you’ve pass’d life’s early prime,
Will soon begin, with rankling tooth,
To prey on what remains of youth;
Unmindful of each yielding grace,
To plant the wrinkle on the face,
And, as advancing age draws nigh,
To dim the glances of the eye:
While on the brow no longer play
The auburn tresses once so gay,
The hand of time hath turn’d them grey.
Nor is this all—as all must know,
Death is of life the common foe,
That doth on nature’s will attend
And bring us to one certain end;—
Nor will his fatal arrow spare
The youthful form because ’tis fair,
But in its glowing strength and bloom
May point it to the silent tomb.
—Such then the form’s attractive grace,
Such then the beauty of the face:
Let us compare them as combin’d
With the rich graces of the mind.
—Here rests the beauty of the whole,
The mortal form, th’ immortal soul.
The one that on Time’s pinions flies,
The other this world’s power defies,
And looks to where it never dies.
The one may smile away its hour
In youth’s exhilarating bower,
But ’tis not made to live and last
When that so cheerful season’s past:—
Know, that the other may engage
The stride of time from youth to age,
And, passing on to life’s last doom,
Will look with hope beyond the tomb.220
Beauty may make you angels here,
But virtue makes you angels there.
“By time, by chance, by fortune’s frown,
The proudest fabric tumbles down,
And wealth is lost, we often see,
In desolating penury.
In such a change of human lot,
From the proud mansion to the cot,
It is the mind that must repair
The disappointing hour to bear
And mortifying load of care.
Though you, young friends, have not attained
The power by reason’s strength sustain’d,
But thus instructed, as you feel,
By such enlarg’d enlighten’d zeal,
These truths the teacher’s words supply,
And, with superior energy
Present them to the mental eye.
—All this is right and just and good:
The mind, with moral sense endued,
Doth those well-wrought foundations lay
Which are not subject to decay,
And form the base on which to rest,
Of this world’s cheering good the best.
By that you’re well prepar’d to know
What to the Gospel ’tis you owe.
Yes, my young audience, you’ve been taught
Those rules with perfect wisdom fraught:
For when they first to man were given
As the immortal boon of Heaven,
Our fallen nature was renew’d
With that full, universal good,
Which did the glorious scheme supply
Of universal charity,221
That all distinctions did remove,
In one grand scene of social love;
The blessing promis’d from above.
“I have another truth to tell,
On which my serious wishes dwell,
And call you gravely to attend
Both to the preacher and the friend.
’Tis that I’m anxious to relate
What is the real social state
Of woman, since the awful date
Of that auspicious era, when
The heavenly choir to wond’ring men,
By the immortal song made known
The mercies of the eternal throne.
“The page of history will show,
As from instruction you may know,
That ere the Christian scheme began
Women were but the slaves of
Countries and nations I could name
Where they could no distinction claim,
Nay, where your sex did scarce confer
Ought of a reas’ning character;
Without a choice but to pursue
The functions custom made them do:
Whose active powers did ne’er appear,
But to obey from abject fear;
While others did to hope deny
A claim to immortality;
And like the beasts that perish, they
Look’d to compose one common clay.
Nor did they equal rights possess,
That source of female happiness,
(To which enlighten’d nations know,
And loud proclaim, how much they owe)222
Till Heathen modes and Pagan power
Melted before the beaming hour,
When that Divine Lawgiver came,
A new Religion to proclaim,
That in the mind such comfort pours,
And which, my darling friends, is yours
Where Women did their station find,
So suited to the human mind;
With all those views of social life,
Both as the mother and the wife,
Which justified their equal sway,
When to command and when obey.
To men He left the arduous care
Of ruling policy and war;
To bear arms in their country’s cause,
To frame the code of wholesome laws,
And, with a bold, sagacious zeal,
To overlook the common-weal:
While women, far from public strife,
Adorn the realm of private life;
Nor from th’ allotted circle roam,
But sway the sceptre of their home:
There, by each fond and virtuous art,
To soften and chastise the heart;
And all man’s ruder thoughts improve
By the chaste warmth of wedded love.
“Such was the change, which you must see,
Was made in man’s society;
Such was the glory of that hour,
When woman shar’d domestic power;
And this distinction woman owes,
As ev’ry Christian reader knows,
To that high Cov’nant which began,
When Heaven renew’d its will to man,223
And sanctified the nuptial bands
By purer laws and new commands:
If therefore it is well explain’d
What the female sex have gain’d,
By the religion you profess;
What virtue pure, what happiness,
What honour and superior power
To clothe with good the passing hour;
Say can your hearts be e’er endued
With a full-tide of gratitude,
For all that from Heav’n’s fount has flow’d,
And Revelation has bestow’d!—
O do not your young bosoms burn,
To make the warmest, best return!
And how can that return be made,
But by its sacred laws obey’d!
And when you grow up into life,
As friend, as parent, and as wife,
By action and example too,
Keep this great object in your view
And never check the homage due.
—To aid the cause, what powerful arms
Are female virtues, female charms!
For all the good you may enjoy
Take care that yours you well employ;
These are commanding powers given;
Make them the instruments of Heaven,
In circles more or less confin’d,
Where your life’s duties are enjoin’d,
Where worldly cares your steps may lead,
And fond affection bids you tread,
There all your shining virtues shower,
There use your influencing power;
Nor cease, ’mong all you love or know,
As far as nature will allow,
To make them good, and keep them so.224
Here then, I close, my darling friends!
And my o’erflowing heart commends
The kind preceptress to explain
(Which she will ne’er attempt in vain)
What of this subject doth remain;
And bring the whole before your view,
To prove my solemn doctrines true.
She on your mem’ry will impress
Those duties which your lives will bless,
With all life gives of happiness.—
—So now farewell—remember me—
And what I’ve taught beneath the tree.”
The Doctor rose, the blessing given
With waving hand and looks to Heaven,
He calmly left the leafy bower,
And sought the contemplative hour:
The evening pass’d and much he thought
Of the young train whom he had taught;
Then went to rest, but, ere he slept,
Review’d th’ affecting scene, and wept.
What active cause his slumbers broke
Or why at early hour he woke
It would be needless to enquire;
But ere the neighb’ring parish spire
Receiv’d the sun’s first golden ray
And told the bright approach of day,
Syntax had left his downy rest;
When, all bewigg’d and fully drest,
He to the window turn’d his eye,
And view’d with sudden extasy
A scene of nature that combin’d
Whate’er could fill the painter’s mind.
—Through a deep, verdant vale below,
A crystal stream was seen to flow,225
While swelling hills, with forests crown’d,
Did all the nearer prospect bound,
And mountains clad in airy blue
Clos’d with their tops the distant view.
Nor did there want the mantled tower,
Or pointed spire or village bower;
Besides the morning’s moisture threw
O’er woody dells a misty hue,
That form’d a dusky base below,
To heighten the ascending glow,
Which the horizon’s golden ray
Did on the summit’s peak display.
Struck with the beauty of the view,
He brush’d away the morning dew,
To make a hasty sketch or two.
Pat follow’d quick, when, having seen
His master seated on the green,
And with attentive care employ’d,
On the gay work he so enjoy’d,
He rov’d about, now here, now there,
He scarce knew why, he scarce knew where:
When, as beside a hedge he stray’d,
From the sweet voice of village maid,
He heard a simple strain prolong
From tender heart this piteous song:
“Tho’ the rain it did pour, and the winds they did blow,
When we were borne over the Ferry,
Tho’ the rain it did pour, yes, Henry, you know
That my heart it was blithesome and merry.
“But ah! tho’ the sun so sweetly did shine
As I did return o’er the Ferry,
I wept—for then Henry no longer was mine,
And my heart knew not how to be merry.226
“The sun now will shine and the winds blow in vain,
For I’ve bid adieu to the Ferry;—
I ne’er with dear Henry shall pass it again,
And my heart has forgot to be merry.”
Pat listen’d and soon made reply
In his own native minstrelsy.
“My dear Meg liv’d with her mother,
I on one side and she on t’other,
For a deep river ran between
Me and the beauty of the Green.
But the banks were steep and the river wide,
And I had no horse and I could not ride,
So I wish’d myself a pretty little boat,
To take me o’er to t’other side.
“And many a month and many a day
And half a year had past away;
And still the river flood was seen
’Twixt me and Marg’ry of the Green.
But the banks were steep, etc.
“At length she did a youth prefer
Who liv’d on the same bank with her.
So now the river may flow on:
My hope is fled, my love is gone,
I care not though the banks are wide,
That I have no horse and cannot ride;
And I wish no more to be a little boat,
To take me o’er to t’other side.”
He clos’d his strain, and through the screen
Form’d of wild flowers and branches green,
A lass slow-pacing on was seen.
A russet gown the maiden wore,
And on her arm a basket bore;227
The rosy blush was on her cheek,
And dark brown locks hung o’er her neck,
While eyes of blue seem’d to impart
The symptoms of a melting heart.
—Pat took a peep, and quite delighted,
Thought that the time should not be slighted,
And that the means he might improve
To try and make a little love.
—Though, thought he, I am not so clever
To leap across a flowing river,
I think at least I have the sense
To get me o’er a quickset fence:
No sooner said than done: the rover
Took a long run and soon was over:
The damsel started at the sight,
But soon recover’d from the fright;
When he with smile and gentle talk,
Begg’d to attend her on her walk,
To bear her eggs, and while the thrush
Sung sweetly from the neighb’ring bush,
In pleasing courtesy confer,
And mention all he thought of her.—
—Susan, poor girl, at first was coy,
But there’s a certain am’rous boy,
Who cares not how he wastes his darts,
Nor whether high or vulgar hearts
Receive their points, so he can play
And thus amuse his time away.—
Thus ere Pat’s tongue for half an hour
Had exercis’d its flatt’ring power,
She had withdrawn her look severe,
And seem’d to give a list’ning ear.
While this love-talk was going on,
Syntax his morning task had done,228
And was returning stout and able,
To prey upon the breakfast table.
Thus, passing on, he chanc’d to see,
Beneath an overshadowing tree,
Patrick engag’d in am’rous guise
Devouring Susan with his eyes;
While she, with half-averted look,
The kind discrimination took.
—The Doctor, sitting on a stile,
Resolv’d that he would stop awhile,
And please his fancy with the view
Of how the curious courtship grew.
—Sometimes their jogging elbows spoke
Half in earnest, half in joke;
Then their join’d hands appear’d in view,
And then the nymph her hand withdrew,
Tapping the lover on the shoulder;
At which he bolder grew and bolder;
When his arm gently clasp’d her waist,
Nor did she think the grasp misplac’d;
For, though she made attempt to shove it,
The feeble act did not remove it.
—And now the smiling Doctor thought
’Twas time to set it all at nought,
To interfere in the debate,
And spoil, at once, the tête à tête.
He then appear’d, poor Pat was hush’d,
The nymph at first look’d down and blush’d,
Then tript away on all her legs,
To better market with her eggs.
“What fancy has your folly led
To stuff with trash that poor girl’s head:
To trump up a long list of lies
About her ears, her nose and eyes,229
That though you’ve been all Europe o’er,
You ne’er saw such a wench before?
And while your nonsense you were plying,
You knew, you fool, that you were lying.”
“An’t please your Rev’rence, ’twas but sporting
What a man says when he’s a-courting.
Believe me, Sir, no ill was meant,
And all was done with kind intent.
I met the maid, and could not balk
My fancy for a little talk:
She seem’d well pleas’d—I did my best;
’Twas only making love in jest:
’Tis what I’ve heard that great folks do,
Whenever they are pleas’d to woo.
When I serv’d Col’nel Debonnair,
I’ve heard him to a lady swear,
Though brown as chesnut, she was fair;
And, faith Sir, I have heard him tell
A shrieking miss she sang so well,
That her sweet accents did inspire
A notion of the heav’nly quire.
I’ve heard him too, and not in fun,
Tell a fat widow, like a tun,
That she was as a Venus made,
A pattern for the Sculptor’s trade;
He meant it true—for she believ’d it,
And, with a thousand thanks, receiv’d it.
But all these fancies are forgiven;
If e’er man went, he’s gone to Heaven;
He was the best of men, all said
Who knew him, whether ’live or dead;
For on one hard and well-fought day,
He on the cold stone lifeless lay.”230
“It is not now the time or season
For me on serious points to reason:
But he who says what is not true,
Whether he be a fool like you,
Or has th’ acknowledg’d reputation
Of being wisest in the nation,
Will have committed an offence
’Gainst virtue, reason, common-sense;—
For on the heart a lie’s a blot,
Whether in palace or in cot.”
Here this unsought-for converse ended,
The ladies on the sage attended,
And, at the sound of breakfast-bell,
Took ’special care to feed him well:
Nor did they want an equal zeal
At ev’ry stated, plenteous meal:
While to the charming, female college,
He well return’d the food of knowledge.
—On the next day a friendly call
Re-summon’d him to Bounty-Hall.
The messenger, arriv’d from town,
Had brought the apparatus down,
By which the Doctor was to ply
His fav’rite art with novelty;
To see what his unpractis’d toil
Could do with canvas and with oil.
The pallet set, with colours grac’d,
The easel in due posture plac’d,
The curtain’d window’s soften’d glare,
Of fav’ring light th’ admitted share,
The Lady, seated and full-drest,
Call’d up those looks she thought the best,—231
When Syntax, with uplifted eye,
And somewhat of a doubting sigh,
Whisper’d a soft soliloquy;
Or, with hesitation fraught,
Rather indulg’d a doubtful thought.
“How oft my pencil has prepar’d
To trace the guests of farmer’s yard,
How often has it brought to view
With nice design and likeness true,
The horse, the ass, the goat, the cow,
All sheltered by a barley-mow:
While here I’m puzzled at the feature
Of a human, Christian creature:
But patience calls me to the test,
And I must strive to do my best.”
He wav’d his pencil, form’d the line
That shapes the human face divine,
Gave all the features their due places,
And hop’d to finish with the graces.
Puffing and painting on he went,
Sometimes displeas’d, sometimes content,
Until it was too plainly seen,
One eye was blue, the other green;
Whereas, on a correct survey,
Her Ladyship’s bright eyes were grey.
The Lady when she took a view
Declar’d the gen’ral likeness true,
But still she thought it might be stronger:
He took the hint, and made it younger.
By daubing out and laying in
The tints alternate thick and thin,
He kept within a mod’rate line:
But made the drap’ry wond’rous fine.232
—She thought ’twould have a pretty look
If in her hand she held a book,
Which, with a demi-serious mood,
Might much improve her attitude:
But it so happ’d, he cast an eye
Upon a cake and currant-pie,
Which an adjoining table grac’d
With other articles of taste;
And thus the Doctor, while proceeding,
Thought more of eating than of reading:
For here attention felt a break,
Out went the book—What a mistake!
And in her hand he plac’d the cake.
—The laugh was loud, they sought the board,
The cake was eat, the book restor’d,
The pencil mov’d, the flounces twirl
And, round the robe impetuous curl.
—Syntax now thought, I’ve done my best;
At least, my Lady is well drest,
And, as my art can go no further,
I hope, without committing murther,
I have at length just made an end
Of my kind, hospitable friend.
—The work, ’tis true, had no pretence
To that superior excellence
Which some could to the canvas give,
Whereon the figures seem to live;
And though this picture cannot vie
With aught ’bove mediocrity,
Yet those to whom my Lady’s known
Did all the gen’ral likeness own;
And she herself, above the rest,
Her warm and grateful praise express’d.
—When ’twas presented to the eye,
In a room hung with tapestry,233
Of ancient work, with figures grim
Of monstrous shape and threat’ning limb;
Whose colours, the whole room pervading,
Had for a century been fading;
The contrast gave a glowing grace,
Both to the air, the form, the face,
To which the Rev’rend Limner’s art
Did those apparent powers impart,
That, to his eye, he scarce could tell
The wonder it was done so well.
But ere he quitted Bounty-Hall
Syntax receiv’d a serious call,
With strong expressions, to attend
The wish of Doctor Dickey Bend:
And much he did anticipate
The comforts which would on him wait
In the recesses of a college,
Scenes of good living and of knowledge,
Which to the mind and body give
The solid means for both to live.
The Doctor thought to steal away,
As he was wont, by break of day;
But Lady Bounty’s rank and station
Had check’d the vulgar inclination,
And he determin’d to regret,
With all due form and etiquette,
In looks that mourn and words that
That he was forc’d to take his leave.
—The morning came, the breakfast o’er,
Phillis and Punch were at the door:
When Syntax, in respectful tone,
Made all his grateful wishes known,
While ev’ry hope words could express
For health, long life and happiness,234
Follow’d in due and stated course,
With solemn, modulated force.
Then her right hand he gently drew,
Kiss’d it, and bow’d, and said “Adieu.”
—Affected by this tender grace
A tear stole gently down her face;
And wiping her be-moistened eye,
She offered this sincere reply:
“—Doctor, your virtues I revere,
And wish your stay were longer here:
Doctor, your learning I admire,
And much I grieve that you retire:
Your piety involves my heart,
And I lament that you depart.
But still I thank the happy chance,
That did your wand’ring steps advance
To where I pass my tranquil days
In striving humble worth to raise,
And, in the circuit of my power,
To cheer the poor man’s toilsome hour;
In youthful minds the seeds to sow
Of virtue, and where thistles grow
To pluck them, that they may not spoil
The fruits produc’d by honest toil;
Nay, I am proud, that my great view
Has been approv’d and prais’d by you.
And while I wish you ev’ry good,
I thus my kind farewell conclude:
—Here, whensoe’er you wish to come,
This house will prove a real home.
Come when you will, bring whom you may,
And, as you please, prolong your stay:
You’ll have the welcome of my heart;
Nor go, till I pronounce, depart.”
—She now presented to his hand
A cover rich with velvet band,235
Where taste must have been proud to ply
Its needle in embroidery.
A clasp, enrich’d with gold, confined
The memoranda of the mind,
Which on the inmost page so white,
The ready pencil might indite.
“Take this,” she said, “and when your thought
Is with a sudden image fraught,
—Inscribe it here and let it live,
Nor be a hasty fugitive:
It thence may gain a passage free
To dwell within your memory:
And at those moments do not spare,
For your warm friend, a transient prayer.”
The Doctor here made no reply,
But a warm tear in either eye,
And quietly pursued his way
In thoughtful mood from day to day,
’Till he attain’d his journey’s end
And shook the hand of Dickey Bend.
It was not long ere they were seated,
And had each other kindly greeted;
Talk’d o’er the college news, and told
Who lately died and who grew old,
Or look’d for tardy time to pay
The hopes of the impatient day;
What the preferment in their giving,
And who had got the last good living.
Then they both div’d in classic lore,
And did the various toil explore
Of learning and of learned elves:
At length they talk’d about themselves.
When, looking downwards, Dickey Bend
Call’d on the Doctor to attend.236
“My invitation gave a hint
As if that something more was in’t,
Than a mere gen’ral kind request
To come and eat and drink the best
Which my known hospitable board
Does to a valued friend afford.
In short ’tis some time since I found
How dull the solitary round
Of a continued single life;
I therefore look’d out for a wife;
And soon the widow of a friend
Did by her qualities commend
A fitness for the married state,
And suited just to such a mate,
As I, at length, am like to prove,
Now past the warmer age of love.
Indeed, I’m told the gen’ral voice
Of all my friends approves my choice.
We are not strangers to each other;
I knew her husband and her mother:
Known a good wife to Johnny Free,
Why then, I ask you, may not she,
Be just as good a wife to me?
Beauty indeed she does not boast;
She never was the college toast:
But manners sweet, with winning smile,
That do the feeling heart beguile,
All these she surely doth possess,
And more than I can well express;
Nay somewhat of a sleepy eye—
But you will see her bye and bye.”
“Let now, I pray, the subject cease,
It wakes those thoughts which wound my peace:237
No more of wives before we dine,
You know that I’m deprived of mine:
So leave that topic to the
The dinner o’er, the Lady came,
Who look’d so soon to change her name,
And did with grateful care attend
To say kind things to Dickey’s friend,
By whom the office would be done
To make her and her Dickey one.
—’Twas with discretion well arrang’d,
That his old state should not be chang’d
With the well, long-known Mrs. Free,
Within the University;
For should it hap to reach the knowledge
Of the young gownsmen in the college,
The gen’ral quiz, the frolic tale,
Would through its cloister’d haunts prevail:
The grey-beard Cupid’s wings would sprawl
On many a disfigur’d wall,
And Hymen’s well-known saffron shirt
Would be well sprinkled o’er with port.
The provost had a Rect’ry neat
Which serv’d him as a country seat,
Snugly retir’d from public noise,
And fit for hymeneal joys.
The coppice did his meadows bound,
The purling riv’let flow’d around,
And fruits and fragrant flow’rs were seen
To deck the smooth-fac’d bowling-green.
Full many a leaf of various hue
Did its neat snow-white front bestrew,
While o’er the porch the branches twine
Of the sweet smelling jessamine.238
—What did it want t’encrease the measure
Of calm repose and rural pleasure,
But to advance domestic life;
That Dickey Bend should get a wife?
And such he was about to prove,
The gift of reason and of love.
For this he left his stately college,
And the more deep research of knowledge,
To pass his annual vacation
In ease and rural recreation.
From his o’er-ruling cares releas’d,
Here he became a Parish Priest;
And Syntax here perform’d the rite
Which did his worthy friend unite,
In the indissoluble tie,
Which hallow’d Altars sanctify.
The merry peal awoke the day,
The flow’rets strew’d the church-yard way,
And all the village folk were gay.
—The benediction then was given,
With prayers of all the poor to Heaven,
For it was known that Dickey Bend
Had ever been the poor man’s friend.
—The hours were pass’d in tranquil joy,
No sick’ning cup, no feast to cloy;
Nought struck the ear, or met the eye,
But friendship, love and harmony:
A scene that might give ample scope
To furnish out a solid hope,
That Dickey Bend, with such a wife,
Would find the rarest good of life.
Syntax th’ important deed had done,
And now no longer would postpone
The last great point he had in view,
In town to pass a week or two.239
He on the wedding’s joyful eve,
Of Bride and Bridegroom took his leave,
To gain some neighb’ring inn’s abode
Where, seated on a turnpike road,
He might a quick conveyance find.
—Phillis and Punch were left behind,
Their time in idleness to pass,
And fatten on the provost’s grass.
—The Doctor had not long to wait,
A stage-coach stopp’d before the gate:
He a convenient sitting shar’d;
Pat took his place beside the guard;
And, having safe arriv’d in town,
At Hatchett’s Hotel were set down.
Nor had the busy following day
In vain research been pass’d away,
For free from the street’s rattling din,
He found repose in Thavies Inn,
Where from the town’s unceasing riot,
He could enjoy his time in quiet;
If he should chuse his pen to wield
In learning’s wide polemic field;
Or let his lively fancy play
With reigning subjects of the day,
Or sport away his leisure time,
In lighter works of prose or rhyme:
This place appear’d a calm retreat
For learning or the Muses’ seat,
Such as he thought could scarce be found
Within the City’s ample bound.
—Whether he thus the scene employs,
Or how its comforts he enjoys;
What pleasure seeks, what cares dispel,
Perhaps, a future page may tell.240
THE Doctor in warm lodging seated,
In hope of being kindly treated,
With solace both of bed and board,
Which smiling promise could afford,
His busy cogitation ran
Upon some pleasant gen’ral plan,
Which might be prudent he should take
For int’rest or diversion sake;
Or, he indeed felt nothing loth
If possible, to join them both.
Free from restraint, with purse well lin’d,
And by no serious claim confin’d,
With no one call upon his time,
From sober prose or sprightly rhyme,
The breakfast o’er, he pac’d the room,
And thus laid out the days to come,
Which were allotted him to stay
In this grand scene of grave and gay;
What he should first begin to do,
And which inviting way pursue.
—Thus he in contemplative mood
The carpet’s gaudy surface trod,
And, with hand lifted to his eye,
Burst into this soliloquy:
“I shall not count each fleeting year,
Since fav’ring fortune call’d me here,241
And gave me more than humble claim
To a fair literary name:
Which, though it seems I should not boast,
I must preserve from being lost:
And as I’ve heard that various arts
Which a base servile press imparts,
Do their delusive tricks employ,
And give the name which I enjoy
To pettifogging works which I
Must view, as from a critic’s eye,
With contempt and contumely—
—It is a duty which I owe
To all the readers who bestow
Their kind smiles on my rhyming toil
And well repay my midnight oil,
Who patronise my labours past,
And may protect me to the last:
Nay, well I know it is not long,
They’ll have to chear my evening song:
The wintry note must soon be o’er,
That’s faintly warbled at fourscore—
But ’tis my duty, I repeat,
Thus to unfold the foul deceit,
Nor let a spurious Syntax claim
Their favour to a pilfer’d name;
To set, as his, their works afloat,
Which real Syntax never wrote;
Nay, such as in ill-fortune’s spite,
The real Syntax could not write.—
These scribes I’ll fail not to expose,
Who, foes to truth and learning’s foes,
Do in one artifice agree
To their poor works on me.
To speak out, there is no concealing,
This is downright dishonest dealing,242
And honest tradesmen will condemn
The foul, audacious, stratagem.”8
8 Without continuing the subject in awkward verse, I shall beg leave to state in honest prose, that the Tour of Dr. Syntax, in Search of the Picturesque—the English Dance of Death, and the Dance of Life, with this volume, are the only Works in the same Style, by the same Author.
The Doctor ceas’d, then seiz’d his pen,
To tell his friends at Sommerden,
Of all his hist’ry that was past
Since he had written to them last;
That a calm settlement in town,
Did his long ling’ring journey crown,
And that in fourteen days to come,
He would address his face t’wards home.
This brief, domestic business o’er,
He took his hat and pass’d the door:
With the umbrella ’neath his arm
To guard him from all show’ry harm:
He walk’d the streets with wond’ring eye
And busy curiosity,
To see what pow’r and wealth had done,
While all those tranquil years had flown,
Since he by fortune’s guidance came,
And gain’d that share of honest fame,
Which talents such as his could claim:
And while he ne’er from virtue swerves,
Virtue may own that he deserves.
—He stroll’d about, nor could he pass
A street, where in some pane of glass,
He did not calmly smile to see
His own delightful effigy.
All this he thought look’d wond’rous well
Had he another work to sell:243
For though he now was quite at ease
And calls for cash no longer tease;
Yet still he thought his idle time,
Might have enlarg’d, by prose or rhyme,
If with due care and thought pursued,
The faculty of doing good.
And as the great historian tells
Whose pen’s delightful style excels
The writers of the present age,
Who have fill’d up th’ historic page;
That while he ’mid the arches stray’d
Of Rome’s proud fanes in ruins laid,
His glowing comprehensive mind
That great presiding work design’d,
Which in each future age’s eye
Will give him immortality.9
—Thus, if in this capricious state,
Small things may be compar’d with great,
Syntax amid th’ o’erwhelming noise
Of rattling wheels, of men and boys,
With the rude hurry of the street,
Which did his various senses greet,
Thought on a work, whate’er it be,
Which is a secret yet to me;
But if he lives, the world will see.
—Nothing, indeed, escaped his view,
He saw St. Dunstan’s men strike two,
And walking on he look’d around
To see what more was to be found;
When on a door was fix’d a book,
In which he felt dispos’d to look,
And saw, amidst the noisy din,
There was a sale of books within.244
This he presumed would form a treat,
So in he went, and took a seat.
As far as he could judge or see,
There was a curious company;
Authors, booksellers, and what not
Had in the place together got;
Though, here and there, he seem’d to ken
A little lot of gentlemen,
Who sometimes gave a book a run
As it appear’d from vexing fun,
And rais’d a work above its price,
To tease a tradesman’s avarice:
While those same worthies of the Row,
Would pay the gents a quid pro quo.
The sale went on, and books knock’d down
From fifty pounds to half a crown.
9 Mr. Gibbon.
Syntax in musing silence thought
On what was sold and what was bought;
And let his keen reflection trace
How solid learning chang’d its place.
Some Authors by the hammer’s fiat
Were sent away to sleep in quiet,
While others, who with leaves unclos’d,
Had for full half a century doz’d,
Were doom’d to pass their dog’s-ear’d lives,
As ever-moving fugitives.
Thus from their titles, looks and dates,
He doom’d them to their sev’ral fates;
Though, as he sat with watchful eye,
He sometimes even long’d to buy;
But sage discretion held his hand,
And did his longing tongue command.
At length the solemn auctioneer
Did in his hand a tome uprear,245
All gilt, and in morocco green,
Fit for the boudoir of a queen;
I know not why so very fine,
Thought Syntax, for the work is mine:
But now I shall most surely know
What to fair truth the work doth owe,
And public fancy may bestow;
For here its value I shall see,
Without a spice of flattery.
Its value was most warmly stated,
Its Author’s talents celebrated,
Its humour, verse and moral powers,
Suited to grave and laughing hours,
And deck’d by nature and by fun,
With the gay skill of Rowlandson.
Syntax delighted beyond measure
Nodded to express his pleasure,
But started when the auctioneer
Told him he was the purchaser.
“The Book’s knock’d down at two pounds two,
The money to be paid by you.”
“This sure is reas’ning most absurd,
Why, Sir, I never spoke a word:
I might have nodded twice or thrice,
To see the book fetch such a price:
With secret pride I was complying,
But that had nought to do with buying.”
“Nodding is bidding, Sir, well known
In ev’ry auction-room in town,
And now the Book, Sir, is your own.”246
“I know ’tis mine—because I wrote it,
But you will never say I bought it.
Nay that would be a scurvy trick,
Enough to make the Author sick.
If my nods bought it, as you say,
Why nods should be the coin to pay.
For the same book I could not bid,
A fool I must be if I did.
Besides I safely may express,
That he who doth the Work possess,
Were I at any time to try
His honest liberality,
Would give me copies half a score,
Did I demand them, aye and more.”
The Doctor now engross’d the eye
Of the surrounding company,
Nor was his person sooner known
Than ev’ry mark’d respect was shown:
Nay, as he did the case explain,
The Volume was put up again;
While on its page ’twas made a claim,
That he would just inscribe his name,
When this same autograph was found
To raise the price another pound,
And Syntax felt an added glee
When ’twas knock’d down for three pounds three.
The hammer’s daily business done,
The Doctor prov’d a source of fun;
And then, discarding all restraint,
In hum’rous guise and language quaint,
Talk’d o’er his blunder frank and free,
To aid the circle’s pleasantry.247
He now assumed a critic look,
And as he turn’d from book to book,
Prov’d by his words, that, great and small,
He knew, as he had read, them all:
And show’d his learning was profound,
To the attentive list’ners round.
—A Book-worm Knight the Sage address’d,
And thus his invitation press’d:
“Doctor, I speak it à la lettre,
I should be glad to know you better;
And if you’ll come with me and dine,
I’ll give you ven’son, give you wine,
And for dessert, we will compare
My rich shelves of editions rare,
Such, as when you have look’d them o’er,
You’ll say you never saw before.”
The Doctor, tho’ in gen’ral bent
On intellectual nourishment,
Thought a good dinner, thus premis’d,
Was not a thing to be despis’d;
And thus in rather lively tone,
He made his grateful feelings known:
“Your dinner I’ll partake with pleasure,
And view your literary treasure:
For whatsoe’er some sophs maintain
About the spirits and the brain,
As Prior tells, a clever poet,
And had a certain way to show it,
That they their forces must augment
With some æthereal nourishment:
But any simple Tom will tell ye,
The source of life is in the belly,
From whence are sent out those supplies,
Without whose propriate sympathies,
We should be neither strong nor wise:248
For the main strength of ev’ry member
Depends upon the stomach timber;
And if we would improve our thought
We must be fed as well as taught.
E’en Horace boasts his power to shine,
When aided by Falernian wine,
And other bards, if bards speak true,
When they could get it drank it too.”
Syntax was now well pleas’d to find
A treat for body as for mind;
While, with all his gen’ral knowledge,
Or of the world or of the college,
The Book-worm Knight was quite delighted,
And thought how it might be requited;
When he in welcome words declar’d,
“I know not how, Sir, to reward
The real pleasure which occurs
From such society as yours:
You know the hour at which I dine;
And if my table and my wine
Should, as I hope, Sir, suit your taste,
Let not a day, I beg, be past
While you’re in town and have the leisure,
To me ’twill be a real pleasure,
Without your coming here to share,
Such as it is, my daily fare.
But still I must myself explain,
That you may not call here in vain.
—Thursday, the next that is to come,
I have engag’d to be from home,
To dinner at Freemasons’-Hall,
A charitable festival.
And now I think on’t, you my friend,
Must thither on my steps attend.249
You, Doctor, shall my shadow be
At this self-same solemnity;
Whose grand design is to impart
Help to the wretched sons of art,
To raise their hopes, to soothe their grief,
And give their weeping wants relief.
Besides, my friend, as I am told,
You do with skill the pencil hold;
And therefore I’ve a two-fold claim
Upon your heart and on your name.
I here present you with a book,
And ask you o’er its leaves to look,
Nor do I fear you will deny
Your presence at this charity.”
“I’ve known, good Sir, what ’tis to want;
I’ve felt the time when cash was scant;
Nor am I backward to relieve
Those who feel want and such as grieve,
And look about, with sadden’d eye,
On their surrounding penury.
I would from my example teach,
By all the means within my reach,
The Heav’n-taught doctrines which I preach.
—Devoutly I have lov’d the arts,
And mine’s among the grateful hearts,
Which own the pleasures they bestow,
Though I myself but little know:
And far as my poor means extend,
I will not fail to be their friend:
To this same feast I will repair;
Syntax, be sure, will meet you there.”
—Thus arts and artists were befriended,
And here the conversation ended.250
The Doctor sought a welcome hack,
That to his lodgings bore him back.
The following morn in thoughtful mood,
He either saunter’d, sat or stood,
Doubtful what course he should pursue,
And to what point direct his view.
His noble friend, to whom he ow’d
What fav’ring fortune had bestow’d,
Had some time since deserted town,
And to his country-seat gone down;
So he determin’d to repeat
At the due hour the friendly treat,
So kindly offer’d, nor be shy
Of Book-worm’s hospitality.
But the nice blunder of our sage,
As mentioned in a former page,
Had of the auction form’d a tale,
Which ’mong the book-tribe did prevail;
And by this story it was known
That Syntax was arriv’d in town.
—Thus as the bells rang out for pray’rs,
He heard some footsteps on the stairs,
When Patrick stiffly usher’d in,
Two persons, who, with civil grin
And rather vulgar salutation,
Began th’ unlook’d-for conversation.
“It was with pleasure, Sir, we heard,
That you in London had appear’d,
And as your prudence may prepare
To cover your expences there,
We, who well know your reputation,
Would be first oars on the occasion.
’Tis a fine time, Sir, to let loose
Such parts as yours, or to amuse251
Or to instruct in ev’ry way,
Wherein you can your pen display.
A hint to you, Sir, may suffice:
You must not then be over-nice;
And take care that your active mind
Does not approach too near the wind:
Thus, if my long experienc’d nob
Has not forgot to form a job,
Which has been, in such various way,
The object of my busy day,
Since I was in the quick employ
Of a Bookseller’s errand-boy,
And rose from the inferior guise
Of telling, to the printing lies,
Which, work’d up by such men as you,
One half the world will think them true;
We may, I say, create a mint,
Work’d up of manuscript and print,
Which, by our secret arts, may join
To stamp the necessary coin.
—We only ask, if the intent
Can ’scape an Act of Parliament;
We’ve but to think, and with good reason,
What misdemeanour is and treason:
Nay, we know better than the bible,
What is, and what is not a libel.
Thus in each scribbling act and deed
In safety we may sure proceed.”
“What in my writings has appear’d,
What of me have you ever heard,
What in my visage do you see
To show the lines of infamy,
As to suppose, I would disgrace
My name, my character, my race,252
And thus degrade by basest arts,
Whate’er they be, my mind and parts—
The bounteous gifts of God and nature,
And thus blaspheme a kind Creator?
For thus Heav’n’s gifts to misapply
Is little short of blasphemy.
—Listen, I bid you, to that bell,
I understand its language well,
It speaks of death—it is a knell,
Which has just call’d some spirit home,
To quit this life for worlds to come—
And in the course of some few hours
The awful summons may be yours:
And where the devil do you see,
Will then your ill got treasure be.”
“—Doctor,” the other man replied,
“By preaching, we’re not satisfied.
We have another plan in view
Which has been freely told to you.
—You’ll let it work within your brain;
To-morrow we will call again,
And more at large the scheme explain.”
“Nay, I at present have a scheme
Of which you neither of you dream.
That you shall down those stairs betake you,
As fast as my man Pat can make you.”
The hint was given, and his strong arm,
Fill’d these associates with alarm;
Head-long and side-long down they went,
’Till they completed their descent:
While Betty with her mop and pail
On the mid-staircase did not fail
With well-applied and furious dashing,
To give these pamphleteers .253
Vellum who was waiting there
Came in for his allotted share:
He had the auction story heard,
And brought his hopes to be preferr’d,
As printer, publisher, what not,
By which some profits might be got,
If Syntax had to London brought
Any new work by fancy taught,
Which might his character maintain
And promise a return of gain.
Vellum arriv’d, all calm and quiet,
Just at the moment of the riot,
When squalling, swearing, rattling, rumbling,
Those pettifoggers came down tumbling
Upon him, full with all their weight,
So that he harmless shar’d their fate;
And, coming with a fair intent,
Could not conceive what all this meant.
The noise itself may be conceiv’d,
When a close passage-floor receiv’d
Three booksellers, together found
Sprawling upon the hollow ground;
While without hat, wig, or umbrella,
They kick’d and each abus’d his fellow
With horrid oaths and daring threats
Of constables and magistrates,
And calls on Syntax to prepare
For grave reproaches of the Mayor:
While Pat stood on the landing-place
With vict’ry smiling in his face.
This strange and blust’ring bustle ended,
Vellum upon the Sage attended;
And had receiv’d no further hurt
Than might be caus’d by sav’ry dirt.254
“Know you these men,” the Doctor said,
“By whom I have just been betray’d
Into a violence of wrath
That may not quite become my cloth?”
“O I was glad to see them bang’d,
Nor should I weep if they were hang’d;
For I suspect they are the same
Who pilfer’d your respected name;
And ’tis apparent with a view
No lib’ral tradesman would pursue,
Though it appears the knavish trick
Has made at length the public sick.”
“Ne’er mind, whatever their intent,
I take it as a compliment:
And calmly let the matter pass—
For this I know, a knave’s an ass.
—But what brings Vellum to my view?”
“To pay my best respects to you:—
And as perhaps you may have brought
A Manuscript with learning fraught;
Or some nice, pretty little skit
Upon the times, and full of wit,
A dealing I should hope to drive
By which our mutual gains might thrive,
And keep our friendly terms alive—
Perhaps, Sir, in your country fancies,
You have compos’d some other dances.
Your Dance of Life and Dance of Death
Have added foliage to the wreath
That binds your brow. But I could tell
That which would answer full as well.255
What think you of the Doctor’s Dance,
To make the tricks of physic prance
With clysters, boluses, and pills,
And all those cures for mortal ills,
Where morbid fancy takes the rule,
And leads the wise to play the fool;
While stores of hypochondriac wealth,
Are wasted in vain search of health.
Your fiddle might, in solemn sport,
Make the law trip through ev’ry court,
And modernise the ancient brawls
Of Serjeants in the Temple Halls.10
—But matrimony! what supply
Of infinite variety
Does it not to the Muse present
Of misery and merriment,
Of happy harmony and strife,
Too often seen through ling’ring life,
And give new pictures in each stage,
From smiling youth to snarling age!
O this would do, excuse the hint,
With all your wit and sketches in’t!
I will risk paper, plates and print;
I’ll take the trouble and the care,
And equal profits we will share.”
10 One of the merry topics of antiquarian knowledge.
“The change is curious I must own:—
When I, my friend, was last in town,
You thought me poor and friendless too,
And look’d for homage you deem’d due
From coinless bards to men like you:
Then all your purse-proud spirit woke,
Till a great friend that spirit broke.256
But now, good Vellum, now I see
Your purse-proud pride will bow to me.
And, let me say, my friend, beside,
I’ve somewhat of an author’s pride,
Nay, am disposed to bear me high
With your inferiority:
For know the diff’rence is as great
Between our real, genuine state,
As regions where the planets glow,
And, those you tread, with well-shod toe,
The realms of Paternoster-Row.
The life of genius will extend
To passing time’s remotest end,
While yours with all your golden crop
Will not outlast your groaning shop.
—Wealth is the work of worldly art,
While Heaven’s dispensing powers impart
Those gifts with which inspired nature
Re-animates the human creature,
And bids his native spirit soar
To heights of thought unknown before.
Kings may make Lords and tricks may thrive,
But Heav’n alone can Genius give!
—Now if your brain and mine were sifted,
How would our sev’ral sculls be gifted?
Yours would be full of golden schemes,
And stuff’d with money-getting dreams;
While I should hope that mine might prove
The seat of visions form’d by love,
From ev’ry sordid notion free,
And warm with Heav’n-born charity.
Hence ’tis, that I shall not submit
To all that Vellum thinks is wit;
What I shall do ’tis mine to tell;
I’m born to write, he’s made to sell.257
But this I say as my award,
When any future work’s prepar’d,
He shall its honest fortune guard.
Such is the promise you receive.”
—Vellum bow’d low and took his leave.
The day soon came when Book-worm’s call
Summon’d him to Free-masons’ Hall.
A num’rous company appear’d,
The sev’ral toasts were loudly cheer’d;
And after he had calmly heard
Displays of various eloquence,
Replete with warm and manly sense,
From royal lips and noble mind;
In gen’ral praises Syntax join’d:
At length he felt his bosom fir’d,
And with the love of art inspir’d,
He rose, his modest silence broke;
And thus the zealous Doctor spoke:
“I, who am seldom call’d to stray
From life’s retir’d and secret way;
I, who presume not to impart
The progress or the rules of art;
I, who with weak and erring hand
The pencil’s humblest powers command;
I, who, with timid mind, expose
My undigested thoughts to those,
Whose elevated genius sways
The rising arts of modern days,
Have but one object to pursue,
In thus addressing me to you.
’Tis not improving art to teach,
A subject far beyond my reach;258
But suited to my rank and state
On those high powers to dilate,
Which the ingenuous arts possess,
In fav’ring human happiness;
In strengthening the moral sense
By their impressive influence:
While they the improving power impart
To quicken and to mend the heart,
To animate, by powers combined
Pictures of virtue in the mind,
And soften, when well understood,
Manners, till then unform’d and rude.11
Horace has said, well known in story,
Who liv’d in height of Roman glory,
And was at once the bard and sage
Of the renown’d Augustan Age,
When the fine arts in radiance shone,
As Rome Imperial had not known,
And ere the Vandal bade them cease,
Were rising up to rival Greece:
To this bright wit it did appear
That what alone we list’ning hear
Does not so soon affect the heart,
As does the eye, by works of art.12
——Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes,
Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.
“I shall not strive to state the measure
Of the secure refining pleasure,
Which the productive arts can give,
And we may ev’ry day receive;—259
’Tis not for my weak voice to stray
Into that boundless, glowing way
Where arts of the remotest age
May on the canvas charm the sage,
Present, in figure, form and fashion,
The grand events of ev’ry nation,
And show each hero known in story,
Amid the blaze of mortal glory;
Can, ’neath the dreary realms of frost,
Give to the eye the sunny coast,
And the most distant scenes display
Of ev’ry country’s various day:
Can decorate the plaster’d wall
Of my embower’d, humble hall,
With alpine heights and icy vales,
Where the fierce snowy blast prevails,
While the big mountain-torrent’s course,
Descending with impetuous force,
Does the astonish’d channel fill,
Making a river of a rill.
Nay, more, the scenes of human strife,
Of transient, variegated life,
The ocean’s or the tented view
Of Trafalgar and Waterloo.
Nor these alone, the poet’s fire
Does the bold artist’s hand inspire,
And shows, as we the thought pursue,
The painter and the poet too.
But I must leave these powers of art
To those who can their charms impart;
Who can with truth and nature tell
The secrets which they know so well.
“If then the arts are thus endued
With such a power of doing good.260
What have they not a right to claim
Of smiling ease and honest fame!
And much it doth my heart delight
To view th’ exhilarating sight
Of numbers, who, in art’s proud growth,
I bless just Heav’n, enjoy them both.
They with their pow’rful pencil teach,
And to the eye their doctrines preach,
When, from the eye, the moral art
Steals into and improves the heart.
Thus do their generous minds embrace,
Without reserve, Art’s pining race;
Whether the victim of disease,
Or fortune’s eccentricities;
Or weaken’d by the slow decay
That wastes the mind and form away.
—O ’tis enough an artist grieves,
And strait the warm relief receives,
Are Art’s young offspring in distress?
Here is a power prepar’d to bless.
No narrow, cold exception’s made,13
No stated limits that invade
Th’ expansive wishes to apply
The cheering Aids of Charity.
For You direct its noble aim
To All, ’mid Fortune’s frowns, who claim
From weeping Art a well known name.
—The tott’ring easel naked stands,
No eye the pallet’s tints commands,
The pencil’s fallen from the hands,261
Whose nerves have felt the palsied stroke,
While penury reviews the shock
With tearful eye, that doth not know
A termination to its woe.
Ye wretched come, and dry the tear,
Behold the termination here!
And O may Heaven, with ray divine,
Illuminate the work benign;
And, year to year, may be renew’d,
The added power of doing good!
—Thus may the arts of Britain’s Isle,
Beneath a nation’s bounty smile!
Thus may we hope, when all protect,
When talent need not fear neglect,
That native genius will encrease,
And British arts may rival Greece.
—Thus I presume to blend at least,
The Artist and the Christian Priest:
And, with a two-fold zeal, prefer,
In this united character,
My prayers to the Almighty power,
To bless this righteous, festal hour!
And, having thus my blessing given,
I leave the rest to fav’ring Heaven.”
13 There are two Societies for the Relief of Artists. The one here alluded to embraces Artists, their Widows, and Orphans, without exception; it is called the Artists’ General Benevolent Fund: its Honorary Secretary is Mr. J. Young, Keeper of the British Institution. The other confines its Benefit solely to its own Members and Subscribers.
Thus Syntax pleaded Mercy’s cause:
While the Hall echoed with applause.
The few days Syntax pass’d in town,
He seldom was an hour alone.
He had a pleasing neighbour found,
Indeed, he might have look’d around,
And made a long, enquiring pother,
Before he found out such another.
Here he the social evening felt,
Where beauty smil’d, and goodness dwelt.262
Here he met all things to his mind,
With constant kindness over-kind.
—Wherever he is doom’d to go,
In this meand’ring scene below,
In the world’s busy to and fro,
He never will, in all its din,
Forget the good of Thavies Inn.
At length, howe’er, the time was come,
When he engaged to be at home;
Besides a letter from the Lake
Did on his town amusements break.
It seems, a worthy, wealthy Knight,
Sir William Constant he was hight;
Gentle yet brave, humane and free,
Who might have shone in chivalry,
If he had liv’d in those fine gay days,
When champions tilted for the ladies;
Disdainful of each flatt’ring art,
Had made the offer of his heart
To the fair Heiress of the place,
Adorn’d with ev’ry female grace:
And soon the secret was made known,
That she, sweet girl, return’d her own.
The Doctor, as she upward grew,
Had fill’d her mind with all it knew:
Her filial love was scarcely more,
Than that she to her master bore:
Nor would she tie the holy bands
Till he return’d to join their hands.
He suffer’d not the least delay,
But quitted town that very day,
And, at its hasty journey’s end
He pass’d the night with Dickey Bend.
For his return he then prepar’d,
And Punch and Phillis were not spar’d.263
He thought and rode, and rode and thought,
Till a few days the travellers brought
To where was offer’d to their view
Keswick’s broad Lake and waters blue;
While the old tower, with many a bell,
Did loudly their arrival tell;
And on the hill and in the glen
Gladness enliven’d Sommerden.
Smiles beaming on each lively face,
The fond salute, the warm embrace,
Did every pleasing thought recall,
And all was joy at Worthy Hall.
—Pat, found his dame with ruddy cheek;
His laughing babes were fat and sleek;
While through the following curious week,
He daily did attention draw,
To what he’d seen or never saw:
With truth, or tales, or merry blunder,
He fill’d the gaping folk with wonder:
And Pat, no more a pavior, he
Now wore the Doctor’s livery.
At length arriv’d the happy day,
For all was joy, and all were gay,
’Twas Hymen’s glorious holiday;
When was prepar’d within the grove,
The feast of Hymeneal love.
—In all due form the knot was tied;
Th’ exulting bridegroom and the bride
In nuptial figure soon appear’d,
The assembled village loudly cheer’d,
And as the plenteous feast began,
The board was crown’d, the vessels ran,
From whence the foaming cups o’erflow’d
And ev’ry breast with pleasure glow’d.264
—The happy Syntax took the chair,
Beside him were the wedded pair,
While near him all in smiling state
The ’Squire and his Maria sate,
Who never had such pleasure known
Since such a day had been their own.
The dinner o’er, the Doctor rose,
And did the heart-felt toast propose:
“Health to the bridegroom and the bride,
And ev’ry other good beside:
O may they live from life till death,
As they have liv’d who gave them breath!
And now we leave you to be gay,
To pass your time in sport and play,
For this is Hymen’s holiday.”
The days pass’d on, which pass’d too soon,
And form’d the happy honey-moon:
But, when that joyous time was o’er,
Things went on as they’d done before.
Syntax resum’d his former station,
With all his native animation.
Again the Rect’ry he enjoy’d,
Again the studious hours employ’d;
Look’d on for pleasures yet to come,
And felt again that—HOME WAS HOME.
For Nature, without fuss or pother / Gave hints that she would be a mother
[The title of the volume has already warned us to expect the worst.]
[Derwentwater, whose area of 2 sq mi or 5 sq km makes it the fourth-largest lake in England.]
And I would see him flying now
text has Aud
I’m sure he’ll grieve / From Midsummer to Lammas Eve
[It would admittedly be more dramatic if Syntax’s grieving had been projected to last until some date in the following spring: Whitsun, say, or at least Lady Day. Lammas is celebrated on 1 August, only about five weeks after Midsummer’s Day.]
Good Madam Syntax, that dear Crature
[Spelled like that because the speaker is Irish.]
And it is madam’s well-judg’d plan, / That Pat shall be your liv’ried man.
[Aha! That explains why Pat has had such a significant role in the book to date.]
If her dear, faithful mate, should leave her.”
text has ’ for ” (single for double close quote)
And should I pass through Heav’n’s gate,
[It seems as if it ought to be “Heaven’s” in two syllables. Contrariwise, there are an awful lot of “Heaven” where “Heav’n” might be expected. It is possible the author left a little too much to the compositor’s judgement.]
Shall all look well, when they come back.”
close quote missing
The Doctor turn’d his head aside / To hide a smile
[How many times, in how many works of fiction, have you met this line? It never seems to occur to any fictional character that If you know that you are smiling inappropriately, it is less trouble to suppress the smile than to move your entire body.]
But still you need not silence break
[But, but, but— In that case, what was the point of giving Syntax a companion?]
Of wand’ring fancy, which would fain / Ape reason
text has which would feign
They hold a pregnant lie well told, / Is worth at least its weight in gold
[Idle query: How much does a lie weigh?]
And their black eyes, Oh!———”
close quote missing
Syntax. / “Do now, I pray, the truth reveal
[Incidentally, Syntax doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in learning anything about the gypsies; he just wants to have his own prejudices confirmed.]
It would be ungallant, nay wrong,
[Pronounced “ungalLANT”? I can’t get it to scan otherwise.]
As a black swan, it would be rare
[The author probably doesn’t know that black swans exist. They are native to, predictably, Australia.]
Where Watson liv’d, where Watson died.
[For the second Watson, the printed book has Watson. (The S and O are ambiguous, but the N is definitely not small-capped.)]
[Probably Richard Watson (1737–1816), who was professor of chemistry at Cambridge, and then Bishop of Landaff from 1782 until his death. (Disappointingly, the “Bishop of Landaff” dahlia was only named in 1924—in honor of a later bishop.)]
Or th’ awak’ning names that shine
[Sometimes I really don’t understand his metrical rules. The line would seem to scan better if it began “Or the awak’ning names”.]
Where Maro’s Georgics were display’d
[Unlike Marcus Tullius Cicero, Publius Vergilius Maro is now better known by his nomen than his cognomen. In fact, Syntax himself calls him Vergil everywhere else.]
[Illustration] Doctor Syntax loses his Wig.
[I don’t generally care for the color values in this second volume, but this one could even have worked as pure grayscale.]
Now Molly hearing all this clatter, / Cried, through the key-hole, “what’s the matter?
[I’m surprised it took her this long; I was expecting someone to come pounding on the door a page ago, when Syntax started flinging stools and bolsters.]
The Ostler, Benedict by name,
text has . for second ,
Their smiling looks, their painted faces,
, after “looks” missing
“What I now read, I well may say,
[By the end of this long paragraph, the author has forgotten that there was an open quote. For consistency, there should also have been open quotes before “What human nature’s known to feel” and “But if they put no man’s ambition”, and then a close quote at the end of “The people’s and the Sov’reign’s friend.”]
Pat enter’d smiling at the joke.
text has Pat, with superfluous comma
Who liv’d renow’d in distant climes,
text unchanged: expected renown’d
—“Well,” he exclaim’d, “no ill was meant.
For Hearty soon appear’d in view, / To make the party number two
[Patrick, like the Lone Ranger’s Tonto, does not count.]
If they had nought but polish’d mettle
[“Metal” and “mettle” are another of those pairs, like “flour” and “flower”, that ended up with different spellings according to their shift in meaning. (Something similar happened to “pond”, enabling it to rhyme with “round” a few pages back.)]
He scarce escaped the sad disaster, / Of setting fire to his master
[Since Patrick isn’t human, inhaling flame doesn’t count as a disaster.]
Eaton-Hall . . . Is now become the country’s pride
[Eaton Hall in Cheshire, home of the Grosvenor family, is a real place. Or was, at any rate, because there has been a whole series of them. The Eaton Hall Dr. Syntax visited would be the one built in 1804–
And the last Heir be proud to raise / A mansion as of former days.
[Little does he know.]
The God of war had, in his sport
text has superfluous comma after “war”
In tenis-court or on the green
[Illustration] Dr. Syntax with the Skimerton Riders.
[Footnote] This Ceremony, which is call’d a Skimmington
[Main text] To figure in a Skimmington
[There seems to have been a lapse in communication between the author of the captions and the author of the text.]
’Twas Raleigh’s Hist’ry of the World, / That Sally Dripping’s fury hurl’d;
[Inquiring minds want to know: What on earth was Raleigh’s History of the World doing in the kitchen?]
“’Tis Lady Bounty,” she replied
[I thought we had met Lady Bounty before, but I guess I confused her with Syntax’s old friends, Squires Worthy and Hearty.]
And the never-failing strength that’s given
[It seems as if it ought to be “ne’er-failing”, but it can’t be blamed on the OCR.]
Women were but the slaves of Man.
[There’s no visible punctuation, but obviously something has to be there. (We will not talk about the veracity or otherwise of the social history propounded in this passage.)]
A notion of the heav’nly quire.
[I remember meeting this archaic spelling in Thomson’s Seasons—not carried over from the 18th-century original, which had “choir”, but deliberately inserted by a mid-19th-century editor.]
In looks that mourn and words that grieve,
text has . for ,
So leave that topic to the wine.”
close quote missing
[Illustration] Marriage of Doctor Dicky Bend.
[I think we have previously established that the text-writer and the caption-writer did not talk to each other.]
To father their poor works on me.
text has To father, with superfluous comma
But started when the auctioneer / Told him he was the purchaser
[The “accidental bid” trope is older than I imagined.]
To give these pamphleteers a washing.
text has awashing
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.