Canto XIX

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Originally published November 1810 in The Poetical Magazine, unnumbered page 1 -12.

[Continued from Vol. III. p. 248.]
With an Engraving. Plate I.1
The Sun arose in all his pride!––
“Hail the bright orb,” the Doctor cry’d,
That makes the distant mountains glow,
And clears the misty vales below.
O! let me bless the Pow’r divine
That bade its splendid fires to shine;
Th’ invigorating warmth to give
To all that grow, and all that live;
Which, in the bowels of the earth,
Brings the rich metal into birth;
Or, piercing thro’ the secret mine,
Makes rubies blush, and di’monds shine:
While man, the first, the head of all
That breathes upon this earthly ball,
As fully feels its force as they
Of insect tribe, who, in its ray,
Pass the short hour, and pass away.
O, what a picture greets my sight!
How my heart revels in delight,
While I behold th’ advancing day
O’er the wide scene its pow’r display!
While, as I gaze, th’ enchanted eye
Drinks in the rich variety!
How the gleam brightens yonder tower!
How deep the shade within the bower!
The spreading oak and elm between,
How fine those blushes intervene!
Those brilliant lights, that would demand
Claude’s pencil, or a Titian’s hand!
E’en while the distant hills I view,
their orient colours change to blue.
The stream, within whose silver wave,
Poets might see the Naiads lave,
Now, lost in shade, no more is seen
To flow amid the alders green;
But, let the eye its course pursue,
Again its brightens in the view,
Reflecting, as its current flows,
Each flower that on the margin blows.

Hail, favour’d casement!––where the sight
Is courted to enjoy delight;
T’ ascend the hill, and trace the plain,
Where lavish Nature’s proud to reign:
Unlike those pictures that impart
The windows of Palladian art,
From whence no other object’s seen
But gravel-walk, or shaven green;
Plann’d by the artist on his desk;––
Pictures that are not picturesque.
But I should not perform my duty
Did I relinquish all this beauty;
Nor snatch, from the expansive view,
Some pretty little scene, or two.

The cot, that’s all bewhiten’d o’er,
With children playing at the door;
A peasant hanging o’er the hatch,
And the vine mantling on the thatch;
While the green coppice, on the hill
Behind it, hangs above the rill,
Whose stream drives on the busy mill.
Nor shall I miss the branchy screen
Of those fine elms, that hide the green,
O’er which the tap’ring spire is seen.
I’ll add no more, for, to my mind,
The scene’s complete––and well design’d.
There are, indeed, who would insert
Those pigs, which wallow in the dirt;
And, tho’ I hold a pig is good
Upon a dish, prepar’d for food,
I do no fear to say the brute
Does not my taste in painting suit;
For I most solemnly aver,
That he from genuine taste must err,
Who flouts at grace or character;
And there’s as much in my old wig
As can be found about a pig:
For, to say truth, I don’t inherit
This self-same picturesquish spirit
That looks to nought but what is rough,
And ne’er thinks Nature coarse enough.
Their system does my genius shock,
Who to a flow’r prefer a dock
Whose eye the picturesque admire
In straggling bramble, and in brier;
Nay, can a real beauty see
In a decay’d and rotten tree:
I hate with them the trim of Art;
But from this rule I’ll ne’er depart
In grandame Nature’s vast collection,
To make a fair and fit selection,
Which, when in happy contrast join’d,
Delights th’ inform’d well-judging mind.”

But, lo! the Farmer, at the gate,
Aloud proclaim’d the hour of eight;
And Syntax now in haste desends,
To join his kind expecting friends.
“Well,” said his Hose, “another day
I trust your Reverence will stay.”
“I thank you for the offer made,
But that can’t be,” the Doctor said:
“I have a weary way to go,
And much to see, and more to know:
Indeed, so far I’ve got to roam,
A fortnight scarce will take me home;
And, thanking you for all you care,
I must beg leave to seek my mare.”
Grizzle was quickly to be found;
And, as the good folk stood around,
Syntax thought proper to discourse
Upon the virtues of his horse;
Nor did he fail at large to tell
That she had serv’d him passing well;
And he forgot not to bewail
Her loss of ears, and loss of tail:
But tho’, among the passing folk,
His beast created many a joke;
And tho’ the foul and sad disaster
Oft forc’d a laugh against her master;
They should not part while he was able
To keep himself and keep a stable;
Nay, to the last he’d cut and carve,
That his poor Grizzle might not starve.
Thus, as her hist’ry he recounted, 5
Into the saddle up he mounted;
And there for some time having sat,
He clos’d, at length, his farewell chat.
He thought it best t’ avoid caressing;
So gave him no kiss, but gave his blessing.

On home, on books, on fame, intent,
The Doctor ponder’d as he went:
At night he look’d his papers o’er,
And added to the learned store.
But, the next morn, another scene,
The vast expanse of liquid green––
The ocean’s self––broke on his eye,
In inexpressive majesty.
There, as he look’d, full many a sail
Gave its white canvass to the gale;
And many a freighted vessel bore
Its treasures to the British shore:
When, as he trac’d the winding coast,
In praise and admiration lost,
There, rising in the distant view,
Half-seen thro’ the ethereal blue,
A city’s stately form appear’d;
Upon the shore the mass was rear’d;
With glist’ning spires; while below
Masts like a forest seem’d to grow.
‘Twas Liverpool, that splendid mart,
Imperial London’s counterpart,
Where wand’ring Mersey’s rapid streams
Rival the honours of the Thames;
And bear, on each returning tide,
Whate’er by Commerce is supply’d;
Whate’er the winds can hurry o’er
From e’ry clime and distant shore.
Thus Syntax pac’d along the strand,
Thro’ this fine scene of sea and land.

But nearer now the town appears;
The hum of men salutes his ears;
And soon amid the noisy din
He found the comforts of an inn.
He ate, he drank, his pipe he smok’d,
And with the Landlord quaintly jok’d;
But, e’er he slept, he pass’d an hour
In adding something to his Tour;
Then sought his coach, in hopes the morn
Would with new thoughts the page adorn.
The morning came,––he sally’d out
To breathe the air, and look about.
Where’er he turn’d, his ev’ry sense
Grasp’d one vase scene of opulence:
In all he saw there was display’d
The proud magnificence of trade.

Syntax, an humble scholar bred,
With nought but learning in his head;
Profound, indeed, in classic art,
And goodness reigning in his heart;
Yet forty pounds a year was all
He could his fix’d revenue call;
For which, on ev’ry Sabbath-day,
He went six miles to preach and pray.
This brought him in but little gains,
And scarce repaid him for his pains:
It gave ’tis true, to drink and cat;
It furnish’d him with bread and meat,
And kept the wolf without the door;
But Syntax still was very poor.
His wife, indeed, had got the art
To be sometimes a little smart;
Yet he, good man, was always seen
With scanty coat, and figure mean.
But still he never threw aside
The pedant’s air,––the pedant’s pride;––
Thus, thro’ the streets of this rich place,
He strutted with his usual grace;
And thus he walk’d about the town,
As if its wealth had been his own:
But of his wealth he could not vapour,––
Ten pounds, and a small piece of paper
(The present of a novel Lord),
Was all his pocket did afford:
And now he thought ‘twould not be rash
To turn the latter into cash.
Thus at his breakfast, while he sat,
And social join’d the common chat,
He took occasion to inquire
Who would comply with his desire;
Who would his anxious wish fulfil,
And give him money for his bill.
An arch young sprig, a banker’s clerk,
Resolv’d to hoax the rev’rend spark,
And counsell’d him to take a range
Among the merchants on the ‘Change
“Some one, perhaps, may want to send
A payment to a London friend;
He’ll in your whishes gladly join,
And take the draft and pay the coin.”

The Barber now the Doctor shear’d,
And soon whipp’d off his three-days’ beard.
His wig, which had not felt a comb,
Not once, since he had quitted home,
Was destin’d now with friz and twirl
To be tormented into curl:
His coat, which long had ta’en the rust,
Was soon depriv’d of all the dust:
His gaiters too were fresh japann’d;
Such was the Doctor’s stern command:
And now, with spirits fresh and gay,
To the Exchange he took his way,
To try, in this commercial town,
A little commerce of his own.
Th’ Exchange soon met his wond’ring sight;
The structure fill’d him with delight.
“Such are the fruits of trading knowledge!
Learning,” he cry’d, “builds no such college.
Indeed, I entertain a notion
(I speak the thought with due devotion),
Tho’ we in holy Scriptures read
That Tyre and Sidon did exceed
In wealth the cities of the world,
Where ships their wand’ring sails unfurl’d,
That e’en her merchants bore the bell
In eating and in drinking well;
Were richer than the lordly great,
And vy’d with princes in their state;
Yet, with all their power and rule,
I think that they ne’er went to school
In such a ‘Change as Liverpool.”

He enter’d now,––and heard, within
The crowded mart, a buzzing din,––
A sound confus’d,––the serenade
Of ardent gain, and busy trade:
At length his penetrating eye
Was thrown around him, to descry
Some one in whose sleek smiling face
He could the lines of kindness trace:
When soon a person he address’d,
Whose paunch projected from his breast,
And, looking with good humour fraight,
Appear’d the very man he sought;
When, with an unassuming grace,
Syntax thus disclos’d his case:––
“I beg this paper you’ll peruse;
And then, perhaps, you’ll not refuse
The favour which I ask to grant,
And give the money which I want;
The draft is good, and, on my word,
It was a present from a Lord.”

“That may be true; but Lords, I fear,
Will find but little credit here:
‘Tis a fair draft upon the view,––
Yes; he’s a Lord,––but who are you?”

“Look, and an honest man you’ll see––
A Doctor in divinity,
Whose word’s his bind; nor e’er was known
To do a deed he would not own.”

“I’ve nought to say,––all this may be,––
But have you no security?
Pray, Doctor, can’t you find a friend
To answer for what you pretend?”

“That I have none;––I am not known
Within the precincts of this town.”

“And do you come to Liverpool
To find a poor good-natur’d fool?
With all your learning and your worth,
Pray have you travell’d so far north,
To think we have so little wit,
As by such biters to be bit?
To learning we make no pretence;
But, Doctor, we have common sense.
For learned men we do not seek;
And, if I may with freedom speak,
I take you for a very Greek.

“To know the Greek I do profess––
‘Tis my delight and happiness;
And Homer’s page I oft have read,
Thro’d the long night, with aching head,
When my wife wanted me in bed.”

“Then go to Homer, if you will,
And see if he’ll discount your bill.
But the clock strikes. Good bye, old sinner!
‘Tis time for me to go to dinner.”

“You want the monies?” said another,
A bearded Israelitish brother.
“‘Tis a suspected bill, I find;
But you look poor, and I am kind.
Well, we must take the chance of trade;
For twenty pounds the draft is made.
It is too much, as I’m alive!
But give it me,––and, here––take five.”

“Patience, good Heav’n!” the Doctor said;
“Is this the boast and pride of trade––
Each man they do not know to treat
As an incorrigible cheat;
And, when he does his want prefer
To play the base extortioner?
Commerce, I envy not thy gains,
Thy hard-earn’d wealth, thy golden pains!
(For that’s hard-earn’d, tho’ gain’d with ease,
Where Honour’s sacred functions cease;)
The danger’s which thy vot’ries run,
Or to undo, or be undone;
Whose hungry maws are daily bent
On the fine feast of cent. per cent.;
Whose virtue, talents, knowledge, health,
Are all combin’d in that word––wealth.
‘Tis a proud scene of money’d strife
Forms this magnificence of life:
But poor and rich, with all they have,
Will find at length a common grave.
Continue, bounteous Heav’d! to me,
A feeling heart, and poverty.
These wights despise me, ’cause I’m poor;
But yet the wretched seek my door.
I fear no Duns, I’m not in debt,
I tremble not at the Gazette:
‘Twould to my profit be, and fame,
Did but its page display my name;––
Can these proud merchants say the name?”

More he had said,––but now his bell
The Beadle rang aloud, to tell
That the good folks should vanish straight,
As he must shut the pond’rous gate.
But Syntax did not seem to hear,––
So the man rang it in his ear.

“I pray, my friend, what’s all this rout
With your fierce bell?”

“To ring you out.”

“I have been us’d to hear the din
Of bells that always rang me in.”

“All I’ve to say, for you to know,
I’ll shut the gate if you don’t go.
I sure shall leave you in the lurch,
For, my good Sir, you’re not at church.”

“Inded, my friend, you speal most true:
I know all that as well as you.
This is no temple; for, ’tis clear
I find no money-changers here;
Nor will I say my mind conceives
It may be call’d a den of thieves.
Howe’er, I’ll quit these sons of pelf,
And keep my paper to myself:
They shall no more at Syntax scoff;––
Grizzle and I will soon be off.
Thanks to my stars, I’ve got enough
Of that same yellow, useful, stuff,
As will my ev’ry want befriend,
And bear me to my journey’s end.
Arriv’d in town, I’ll see my Lord,
Who’ll welcome me to bed and board;
‘Twill make that witty noble sport,
When I these trading tricks report––
How near I was the being cheated;
And how his Lordship’s name was treated.”
[To be continued.]

Pl 22 Liverpool Exchange

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1. Heading omitted in 1812a and 1812b.