Canto XI

Jump to: Previous Canto | Next Canto

Originally published November 1809 in The Poetical Magazine, pp. 193-202

With an Engraving.
[Continued from Vol. II. P. 152]
In this same variegated life,
Evil and good, in daily strife,
Contend, we find, which shall be master:–
Now Fortune smiles,–then foul Disaster
Assumes, in turn, its frowning pow’r,
And gives to man his checker’d hour.
Of checker’d hours, poor Syntax thought,
And well he might, his journey fraught;
But still he hop’d, when all was past,
That he should comfort find at last:
Thus, with the ‘Squire’s kindness blest,
No fears alarm his tranquil breast;
He eats, he drinks, and goes to rest:
And, when the welcome morrow came,
The ‘Squire and Madam were the same.
Just as the Minster-clock struck nine,
Coffee and tea, and fowl and chine,
Appear’d in all their due array,
To give the breakfast of the day.
The ‘Squire the discourse began,
And thus the conversation ran.

“Doctor, you here may take your rest,
“And eat and drink of what is best;
“I pray you think this house your home,–
“Aye, tho’ it were a month to come.
“here you will find yourself at ease—
“May read or write—just as you please.
“At nine we breakfast, as you see,–
“Dinner is always here at three;
“At six, my wife will give you tea.”

“And, should you find the evening long,
“I’ll play a tune, or sing a song.”

“Besides, you’ll rang the country round—
“Some curious things may there be found:
“Your genius too may chance to trace,
“Within this celebrated place,
“Some ancient building worth a look,
“That may, perhaps, enrich your book.
“I’m a true Briton, as you’ll see;
“I love good cheer, and liberty:
“And what I love myself I’ll give
“To others, while I’m doom’d to live.
“This morning I intend to go
“To see the military show:
“The light dragoons, now quarter’d here,
“Will all in grand review appear.
“They are a regiment of renown,
“And some great Gen’ral is come down
“To see them all, in bright array,
“Act the fierce battle of the day.
“IF you should like such sights as these,
“if warlike feats your fancy please,
“We’ll to the Common take a ride,
“And I myself will be your guide;
“So, if you please, within an hour
“Our nags shall be before the door.”

“I will be ready to attend
“The summons of my worthy friend.
“The laurell’d Hero’s my delight,
“With plumed crest, and helmet bright;
“E’en when a boy, at early age,
“I read in Homer’s lofty page
“How the stout Greeks, in times of yore
“Brought havoc to the Phygian shore
“I revell’d in that ancient story,
“And burn’d with ardent love of glory.
“Whene’er I trac’d the fields of Troy
“My heart beat high with martial joy.
“ ‘Tis true, I pray that war may cease,
“And Europe hail returning Peace;
“Yet still I feel my bosom glow
“When British heroes meet the foe;
“When our arm’d legions make him fly,
“And yield the palm of victory;
“Or when our naval thunders roar,
“And terrify the Gallic shore.
“This grand review will give me pleasure,
“And I shall wait upon your leisure.”

But, as no time was to be lost,
Syntax now hasten’d to the post:
The post obey’d his loud command,
And gave a letter to his hand.
With eager haste the seal he broke,
And thus the fond epistle spoke:–

“My dearest husband,– on my life
“I thought you had forgot your wife;
“While she, to her affection true,
“Was always thinking, Love, on you.
“By this time, I presume, you’ve made
“No small advancement in your trade:
“I mean, my dear, that this same book,
“To which I with impatience look,
“Is full of promise; and I’m bold
“To hope for a return in gold.
“I have no doubt that ample gains
“Will well reward your learned pains,
“And will, with bounteous store, repay
“Your anxious toil of many a day;
“For well, my dearest friend, I know,
“Where’er you are compell’d to go,
“You still must sigh that you should be
“So long away from Love and me.
“I truly say my heart doth burn
“With ardent wish for your return;
“And, that I may my Syntax greet
“With all due honour when we meet,
“The milliner is now preparing
“A dress that will be worth the wearing;
“Just such an one as I have seen
“Where, by the skillful painter’s aid,
“Each fashion is so well display’d.
“A robe of crape, with satin bodice,
“Will make me look like any goddess;
“A mantle too is all the ton,
“And therefore I have order’d one:
“I’ve also got a lilac bonnet,
“And plac’d a yellow feather on it:
“Thus I shall be so very smart,
“ ‘Twill vex Miss Raisin to the heart;
“Oh! it will make me burst with laughter
“To plague the purse-proud grocer’s daughter,
“While, thro’ the town, as you will see,
“No one will be so fine as me.
“Oh! with what pleasure and delight
“I shall present me to your sight;
“How I shall hug you, dearest honest,
“When you return brimful of money.”
Syntax exclaim’d, in accents sad,
“The woman’s surely gone stark mad!
“To ruin, all her airs will tend;
“But I’ll read on, and see the end.”

“As to the news, why you must know,
“Things in their usual order go:
“Jobson the tanner’s run away,
“And has not left a doit to pay;
“Bet Bumkin was last Thursday marry’d,
“And Mistress Stillborn has miscarry’d;
“In the High-street, the other day,
“Good Mrs. Squeamish swoon’d away,
“And was so ill, as it is said,
“That she was borne away for dead;
“But Mother Gossip, who knows all
“The neighbours round, both great and small,
“Has hinted t me, as she thinks,
“That pious Mrs. Squeamish drinks.
“There is a Lady just come down,
“A dashing, frisky, dame from Town,
“To visit Madam Stapleton:
“She’s said to be a London toast,
“But has no mighty charms to boast;
“For it is clear to my keen sight,
“That she doth paint both red and white.
“She drives about in chaise and pair,
“And, I have heard, can curse and swear:
“But I mind not these things, not I,
“I never deal in calumny.
“So fare you well, my dearest life,–
“And I remain—your loving wife.”

“But, if you fear that you shall come
“Without a bag of money home,
“ ‘Twere better, far, that you should take
“A leap, at once, into the lake;–
“I’d rather hear that you were drown’d,
“Than that you should my hopes confound.”

These tender lines did not impart
Much comfort to the Doctor’s heart;
He therefore thought it would be better
To lay aside this pretty letter;
Nor suffer its contents to sour
The pleasure of the present hour.

The ‘Squire now became his guide,
So off the trotted, side by side;
And, e’er they’d pass’d a mile or two,
Beheld the scene of the review:
The troops, drawn up in proud array,
An animating sight display;
The well-form’d squadrons wheel’d around,–
The standards wave, the trumpets sound;
When Grizzle, long matur’d to war,
And mark’d with many an honour’d scar,
Found all her former spirits glow
As when she us’d to meet the foe:
No ears she prick’d, for she had none;
Nor cock’d her tail, for that was gone;
But still she snorted, foam’d, and flounc’d,
Then up she rear’d, and onwards bounc’d;
And, having play’d these pretty pranks,
She dash’d, at once, into the ranks;
While Syntax, tho’ unus’d to dear,
Began to think his end was near;
But, tho’ his courage ‘gan to addle,
He still stuck close unto his saddle;
While, to the trumpets on the hill,
Grizzle sped fast, and then stood still:
With them she clos’d her warlike race,
And took with pride her ancient place;

Credit: Martin and Jean Norgate: Portsmouth University, 2009

For Grizzle, as we’ve told before,
Once to the wars a trumpet bore.

At length, recover’d from his fright
The Doctor stay’d and view’d the sight;
And then, with heart as light as cork,
The ‘Squire took him back to York,
Where he partook the usual fare,
And found a welcome comfort there.
The time in chit-chat pass’d away,
Till the chimes told the closing day;
And now, says pleasant Madam Hearty,
What think you if our little party
Should each to sing a song agree?
‘Twill give a sweet variety;
And thus, oh! let the moments roll,
Till Thomas brings the ev’ning bowl:
The Doctor, sure, will do his best,
And kindly grant my poor request.
The Doctor, tho’ by nature grave,
And rather form’d to tune a stave,
Whene’er he got a little mellow,
Was a most merry, pleasant, fellow;
Would sing a song, or tell a riddle,
Or play a hornpipe on the fiddle;
And, being now a little gay,
Declar’d his wishes to obey.

The signal giv’n, we seek the main,
Where tempests rage, and billows roar;
Nor know we if we e’er again
Shall anchor on our native shore.

But, as though surging waves we sail,
as distant seas and isles explore,
Hope whispers that some future gale
Will waft us to our native shore.

When battle thunders all amain,
And hostile arms their vengeance pour,
We British sailors will maintain
The honour of our native shore.

But, should we find a wat’ry grave,
A nation will our loss deplore;
And tears will mingle with the wave
That breaks upon our native shore.

And after many a battle won,
When ev’ry toil and danger’s o’er,
How great the joy, each duty done,
To anchor on our native shore.

Cupid, way! thy work is o’er:
Go seek Idalia’s flow’ry grove!
Your pointed darts will pain no more,–
Hymen has heal’d the wounds of Love.

Hymen is here, and all is rest;–
To distant flight thy pinions move:
No anxious doubts, no fears, molest;–
Hymen has sooth’d the pangs of Love.

Cupid, away!– the deed is done;–
Away, ‘mid other scenes to rove:
For Ralph and Lucy now are one,
And Hymen guards the home of Love.
The Doctor now his rev’rence made,
And soon the mandate he obey’d.
“I think,” he said, “the modern taste
“In songs, is far from being chaste:
“They do not make the least pretence
“To poetry or common sense.
“Some gaudy nonsense, a brisk air,
“With a da capo, here and there,
“Of uncouth words, which ne’er were found
“In any language above ground:
“And these, set off with some strange phrase,
“Compose our sing-song now-a-days.
“The dancing-master of my school
“In this way oft will play the fool,
“And make one laugh—one knows not why,–
“But we had better laugh than cry.
“The song, which you’re about to hear
“Will of this character appear;
“From London, it was sent him down,
“As a great fav’rite through the town.”

I’ve got a scold of a wife,
The plague and storm of my life;
O! Were she in coal-pit bottom,
And all such jades, ‘od rot ‘em!
My cares would then be over,
And I should live in clover.
With harum scarum, horum scorum—
Stew’d prunes for ever!
Stew’d prunes for ever!

Brother Tom’s in the codlin-tree,
As blithe as blithe can be:
While Dorothy sits below,
Where the daffodillies grow;
And many a slender rush,
And blackberries all on a bush
With harum scarum, horum scorum—&c. &c.

We’ll up to the castle go
Like grenadiers all of a row,
While the horn and trump shall sound
As we pace the ramparts round,
While many a lady fair
Comes forth to take the air,
With harum scarum, horum scorum—&c. &.

The vessel spreads her sails
To catch the willing gales,
And dances o’er the wave;
While many a love-lorn slave
To his mistress tells his tale,
Far off in the distant vale.
With harum scarum, horum scorum—&c. &c.

When the dew is on the rose,
And the wanton zephyr blows;
When lilies raise their head,
And harebells fragrance shed;
Then I to the rocks will hie,
And sing a lullaby.
With harum scarum, horum scorum—&c. &c.

By fam’d Ilyssus’ stream
How oft I fondly dream,
When read in classic pages
Of all the ancient sages;
But they were born to die,
And so were you and I;
With harum scarum, horum scorum—
Stew’d prunes for ever!
Stew’d prunes for ever!

Thus, with many a various lay,
The party clos’d the’ exhausted day.

[To be continued.]

Jump to: Previous Canto | Next Canto