Canto V

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Originally Published September 1809 in The Poetical Magazine, pp. 217-223.

[Continued from p. 174]
With an Engraving.

The Doctor smil’d,– the bill was paid,
The hostess left him to the maid:
When Betty stood in humble guise,
With expectation in her eyes;
That he was, surely, so good-hearted,
He’d give her something ere they parted.
Now, Nature, in her wanton freaks,
Had given Betty rosy cheeks;
And caus’d her raven locks to break
In native ringlets on her neck.
The roving bee might wish to sip
The sweetness of her pouting lips;
So red, so tempting to the view,
‘Twas what the Doctor long’d to do.
“You’re a nice girl,” he smiling said,
“Am I?” replied the simp’ring maid.
“I swear you are, and if you’re willing
“To give a kiss, I’ll give a shilling.”
“If ‘tis the same thing, Sir, to you,
“Make the gift two-fold, and take two.”
He grimly grinn’d with inward pleasure,
And soon he seiz’d the purchas’d treasure.
“Your lips, my dear, are sweet as honey,
“So one smack more,–and there’s your money.”

This charming ceremony o’er,
The Parson strutted to the door;
When his poor palfrey now appears
In cruel state of tail and ears.
The neighbours all impatient wait,
To him issue from the gate;
For country-town, or village green,
Has seldom such a figure seen.
Labour stood still to see him pass,
While ev’ry lad and ev’ry lass
Ran forward to enjoy the fest,
To jeer the Don, and mourn the beast.
But one and all aloud declare
‘Twas a fit sight for country fair,
Far better than a dancing bear.

At length, escap’d from all the noise
Of women, men, and girls and boys,
In the recesses of a lane
He thus gave utt’rance to his pain:
“It seems to be my luckless case,
“At ev’ry point, in ev’ry place
“To meet with trouble and disgrace.
“But yesterday I left my home,
“In search of fancied wealth to roam;
“And nought, I think, but ills betide me—
“Sure some foul spirit runs beside me;
“Some blasting demon from the east,
“A deadly foe to man and beast,
“That loves to riot in disaster,
“And plagues alike both horse and master.

“Grizzle, who full six years, and more,
“A trumpeter in triumph bore;
“Who had in many a battle been,
“And many a bloody conflict seen ;
“Who, having ‘scap’d from cut and scar,
“And all the angry threats of war;
“When his best days are almost past,
“ Feels such ignoble wounds at last.
“Ah ! what can thy fond master do?
“ He’s cut and slash’d as well as you :
“But tho’ no more with housings gay,
“And prancing step, you take your way ;
“Or, with you r stately rider, lead
“The armed troop to warlike deed ;
“While you’ve a leg, you ne’er shall cease “
“To bear the minister of peace.
“Long have you borne him, nor e’er grumbled,
“Nor ever started, kick’d, or stumbled.”

But mildest natures sometimes err
From the strict rules of character:
The tim’rous bird defends its young,
And beasts will kick when they are stung.
Twas burning hot, and hosts of flies,
With .venom’d stings, around them rise;
They seiz’d on Grizzle’s wounded part,
Who straight began to snort and start,
Kick’d up behi nd, rear’d up before,
And play’d a dozen antics more.
The Doctor coax’d, but all in vain,
He snorted, kick’d, and rear’d again.
“Alas !” he cried, ” could I but pop
“Just now upon a blacksmith’s shop,
“Whose cooling unguents would avail
“To save poor Grizzle’s ears and tail
“Now, scarce had he his wishes spoke,
When he beheld a cloud of smoke,
That from a forge appear’d to rise,
And for a moment veil’d the skies;
While the rude hammers, to his ear,
Proclaim’d the aid he wish’d was near.
Around it many a willow grows,
Where Syntax, in a tone of grief,
Shew’d Grizzle’s wounds, and pray’d relief.
The sooty Galen soon appear’d,
And while with fair hopes the Doctor cheer’d.
“Trust me, good Sir, I’ve got a plaster
“Will cure the beast of his disaster;
“And while the dressing I prepare,
“With all becoming skill and care,
“You in that arbour may regale
“With a cool pope and jug of ale;
“I’ve long a two-fold trade profess’d,
“And med’cine sell for man and beast.”
Syntax now sought the cooling shade,
While Galen’s dame the banquet made:
She well knew how her guests to please,
And added meat, and bread and cheese:
Besides, she told the village-tale—
Who came to drink their home-brew’d ale;
How that the laughter-loving Vicar
Would sometimes walk to taste their liquor;
That their gay landlord was renown’d,
For hunting fox, with horn and hound;
That he’d a daughter passing fair,
Who was his Honour’s only heir;
But she was proud, nor could a ‘Squire
Approach to tell his am’rous fire;
A Lord alone, as it was said,
She would receive into her bed.
Throughout the village, ev’ry name
Became a subject for the dame;
And thus she play’d her chatt’ring part,
Till Syntax thought it time to start.

And now poor Grizzle reappears,
With plaster’d tail and plaster’d ears,
Which, thus cas’d up, might well defy
The sharpest sting of gnat or fly.
The Doctor, having had his fill,
Without a word discharg’d his bill;
But, as it was the close of day,
He trotted briskly on his way;
And, ere the Sun withdrew his light,
An inn receiv’d him for the night:
His frame fatigued, his mind oppress’d,
He smok’d his pipe, and went to rest.
The morning came, when he arose
In spirits from his calm repose;
And, while the maid prepar’d the tea,
He look’d around the room, to see
What story did the walls disclose,
Of human joys, and human woes.
The window quickly caught his eye,
On whose clear panes he did descry
The motley works of ev’ry Muse;
There was enough to pick and choose;
And “faith,” said he, “I’ll strive to hook
“Some of these lines into my book;
“For here there are both grave and witty,
“And some, I see, are very pretty.”
From a small pocket in his coat
He drew his book, –and thus he wrote:–

“If my breast was made of glass,
“And you could see what there doth pass,
“Kitty, my ever-charming fair!
“You’d see your own sweet image there.”

“I once came here a free-booting,
“And on ‘Squire Jones’ manor went shooting;
“And if ‘Squire Jones this truth denies,
“This glass shall tell ‘Squire Jones—he lies.”

“Dolly’s as fat as any sow,
“And, if I’m not mistaken,
“Dolly is well-dispos’d, I trow,
“To trim her husband’s bacon.”

“Jenny, while now your name I hear,
“No transient glow my bosom heats;
“And when I meet your eye, my dear,
“My flutt’ring heart no longer beats.
“I dream, but I no longer find
“Your form still present to my view;
“I wake, but now my vacant mind
“No longer waking dreams of you.
“I can find maids, in ev’ry rout,
“With smiles as false, and forms as fine;
“But you must hunt throughout,
“To find a heart as true as mine.”

“I hither came down
“From fair London town
“With Lucy, so mild and so kind;
“But Lucy grew cool,
“and call’d me a fool,
“So I started, and left her behind.”
But while poor Syntax was in heav’n
At what the Muse by chance had giv’n,
A hungry dog, and prone to steal,
Ran off with half with his breakfast meal;
While Dolly, ent’ring with a kettle,
Was follow’d by a man of mettle,
Who swore he’d have the promis’d kiss,
And, as he seiz’d the melting bliss,
From the ill-poised kettle’s spout,
The boiling steam came pouring out,

Credit: Martin and Jean Norgate: Portsmouth University, 2009

1And drove the Doctor from the Muse,
By quickly filling both his shoes;
And tho’ ‘tis not the Christian’s plan
To turn aside from helpless man,
When ills, and pains, and sorrows grieve him,
Yet here we are oblig’d to leave him.

[To Be Continued.]

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  1. An additional engraving, “A View of the Lake of Como” (artist unknown), was included here but is unrelated to In Search of the Picturesque.  This engraving portrayed a typical picturesque scene of Lake Como in Italy, with a few ruinated buildings.