Canto XX

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Originally published November 1810 in The Poetical Magazine, pp. 39-49.

[Continued from Vol. IV. p. 12.]
With an Engraving. Plate II. Vol. IV.1
Thus as he spoke, there pass’d along,
Among the crowding grinning throng,
One who was quite in fashion drest
In coat of blue, and corded vest,
And seem’d superior to the rest.
His small-clothes sat so close and tight;
His boots, like jet, where black and bright;
While two gilt spurs on either heel,
In equal rounds, their points reveal.
Loaded with seals, and all bespangled,
A watchchain from his pocket dangled;
His hat a smiling face o’erspread,
And almost hid his well-cropped head.
He swing his whip about, to gree
The friends he met with in the street.
Just as he pass’d, all big with rage,
Syntax appear’d upon the stage,
And still continued talking loud
For the amusement of the crowd.

The well-dress’d man now stopp’d, to know
What work’d the angry Doctor so;
And, in a pleasant friendly way,
Demanded where his grievance lay;
When Syntax bowing, on they walk’d,
And thus the social strangers talk’d:––

“These traders, Sir, I can’t admire:––
You, I presume, Sir, are a ‘Squire.”

Mr. ––––––––.
“I have (and here there pass’d an oath),
To say the truth, a spice of both:
For now you have within your view
A Trader, and a ‘Squire too.

Here I can some importance claim,
And ––––– ––––– is my well-known name:
Nay, there are few within this town
Of more substantial renown.
My house of trade is in this street;
A few miles off, my country-seat;
Where I most frequently reside
‘Mid all the charms of rural pride;––
And I’ll be ––––– if e’er you see
A Lord who better lives than me.”

“Fie, fie, good Sir! I cannot bear
To hear a fellow-Christian swear.
You must well know such profanation
Is a foul trick in ev’ry station;
And will draw down celestial ire,
Or on a trader, or a ‘Squire;
And ’tis the duty of my cloth,
Whene’er I hear, to check an oath.
I’m a poor Parson,––very poor,––
I keep a school, and hold a cure;
But when I’m in the parish church,
I know the dignities that wait
Upon the pow’r of either state:––
I keep them always in my view––
Ay, Sir, and I maintain them too;
Nay, in your ‘Change, where riches reign,
I did that dignity maintain;––
In that proud place, where, I am told,
There sometimes pour down show’rs of gold;
But not like that we read of Jove;
“For that, you know, was pour’d for love:
And nothing like it did I see;
No love, nor e’en civility:
I only ask’d a common grace,
When the man mock’d me to my face.
Had I an arrant swindler been,
He could not with more scornful mien
Have my polite proposal greeted:
Indeed, I was most foully cheated;
And by this dolt was made a joke
To all the rude surrounding folk.
Thus was I work’d into a stew,
By Turk, by Gentile, and by Jew:
How bless’d am I to meet with you!
For, know, Sir, I’ve the art to scan
The well-bred finish’d gentleman;
And, therefore, I shall lay before you
Some items of my honest story.
The object of the Tour I make
Is chiefly for the profit’s sake;
At the same time, I trust, my name
May gain some literary fame.
You, if you please, may take a look
At what I’ve finish’d of my book.
A noble Peer doth condescend
To be my patron and my friend:
I saw him late in York’s fair county,
And was the object of his bounty.
This draft, with most becoming grace,
The smile of goodness on his face,
He soft convery’d unto my touch;––
He said, indeed, it was not much;
But, could I visit him in town,
He’d make his further friendship known;
And here, alas! I was so rash
To try to get it chang’d for cash;
For which myself and this great Peer
Of these rude raffs became the jeer.
Permit me, Sir, to shew the paper
That made these purse-proud tradesmen vapour:
To its full value you’ll accord;––
Perhaps, Sir, you may know my Lord.”

Mr. ––––––––.
“I know him well, ––’tis his hand-writing,––
It is his Lordship’s own inditing.
I’ll give the coin.––Why, blood and ‘ounds!
I wish ’twere for five hundred pounds!
He is a Lord of great discerning;––
His friendship proves your store of learning:
He’s not more known for ancient birth
Than for the charm of private worth;
For all that elegance and grace
Which decorate a noble race.
Come here with me, and you shall find
At least one trader to your mind.”

Syntax now smooth’d his angry look,
And straight prepar’d to shew his book.
In a fine room he was seated;
With all attention he was treated;
And, while they at their luncheon sat,
Ten minutes pass’d in friendly chat.
At length the bus’ness was arrang’d;
The deed was done, the draft was chang’d;
And, as the Doctor plac’d his note
In a small pouch within his coat,
“There,” said the ‘Squire, “there’s another;
I’ve matched it with its very brother;
The Bank of England is their mother;
And, when they’re offer’d to her eye,
She’ll own them as her progeny.
So tell my Lord that I, for one,
Am proud to do as he has done:
Nor is this all, my learned friend;
Here our acquaitence must not end;
My carriage and my servants wait,
All in due order, at the gate:
So you shall go along and see
My rural hospitality.
For a few days we will contrive
To keep your spirits all alive.
I’ll send a groom to fetch your mare,
So laugh at thought, and banish care.”
Thus off they went, and, four-in-hand,
Dash’d briskly tow’rds the promis’d land.
Syntax first told his simple story,
And then the ‘Squire detail’d his glory.

Mr. ––––––––.
“Now we’re away in chaise and four,
I am a Merchant, Sir,––no more:
At least, whene’er thus retire,
To flourish as a country ‘Squire;
When you will see how I prepare
An opiate for mercantile care.
In learned labours some proceed,
But I prefer the racing steed:
Some to Ambition’s heights ascend;
I to the Racing-Course attend.
In study I ne’er wander far;––
Mine is the Racing Calendar.
While with keen eye the Heralds see
The long-trac’d line of ancestry,
Give me a horse’s pedigree.
Others some pow’rful station boast;
But let me gain the winning-post.
It may be sweet with babes to play,
But I prefer the filly’s neigh.
You talk of men of wit and parts,
Of the deep sciences, and arts;
Give me the science that will teach
The knowing-ones to overreach:
And, as for pictures and such things,
Which Taste from foreign countries brings,
A brood-mare, in maternal pride,
With a colt trotting by her side,
Is to my eye more pleasing far
Than hero in triumphant car
Or sea-born Venus weeping o’er
Adonis, wounded by a boar.”

“These points, good Sir, I can’t discuss:
I know no steed but Pegasus.”

Mr. ––––––––.
“Cut off his wings,––I’ve got a horse
Shall run him o’er the Beacon Course;
And, tho’ Apollo should bestride him,
I’d back my horse,––for I would ride him.”

Thus as he spoke, a row of trees,
Which a full age had felt the breeze,
And half that time, at least, had made
A long cathedral aisle of shade,
Appear’d in view, and mark’d the road
Which led up to the ‘Squire’s abode,
Whose stately chambers soon possest
The Doctor as a welcome guest.
The dinner came––a sumptuous treat––
Nor did the Parson fail to eat
In the same way he us’d to do––
As much as any other two.
The cakes he munch’d,––the wine he quaff’d;––
His tale he told,––the Ladies laugh’d;––
And thus the merry moments past,
Till cap and slippers came at last.
At length, his balmy slumbers o’er,
Morn came, as it had come before,
And as, without our care or pain,
It will not cease to come again;
When Syntax, having prov’d as able
At breakfast as at dinner table,
He begg’d, with rev’rence due, to say
He must pursue his anxious way.
“No,” sad the ‘Squire, “before you go,
I shall my stud of racers shew.”
So off they went;––from stall to stal
He shew’d the steeds, and nam’d them all;
Describ’d their beauty and their birth,
Their well-earn’d fame and golden worth;
The various feats they all had done,
The plates which they had lost and won.
At length th’ astonish’d ‘Squire saw
Poor Grizzle to her girths in straw.
“That, Sir,” said Syntax, “is my steed;
But though I can’t detail her breed.
O sure can tell what she has won––
Those scars, by Frenchman’s sabre done.
I cannot brag of what she cost;
But you may see what she has lost.”
“Where,” said the ‘Squire, “are her ears?”
Quoth Syntax, “you must ask the shears;
And now, perhaps, her switchy tail
Hangs on a barn-door from a nail!”
The Doctor then began to state
Poor Grizzle’s character and fate.

“Who was her dam, or who her sire,
I care not,” says the merry ‘Squire:
“But I well know, and you shall see,
Who will her famous husband be;––
Yon fam’d grey horse, of Arab birth––
A princely steed, of nameless worth.”
“The match is very grand indeed,”
Said Syntax, “but it won’t succeed;
Our household is not form’d to breed.
My dearest Dorothy and I
Have never had a progeny.
Our fortune has more wisely carv’d;
Has she borne babes, they must have starv’d.
What should we do with such dear elves,
Who scarce know how to keep ourselves?”
“I’ll hear no more,” the ‘Squire reply’d;
“The scheme shall be this instant try’d;––
Grizzle shall be young Match’em’s bride.
You are a very worthy man,
And may the depths of learning scan:
But in these things you’re quite a dolt;
You’ll get a hundred for the colt.
I’ll have my whim,––it shall be carry’d;”––
So Grizzle was the morning marry’d.

And now the ‘Squire invites the stay
Of Syntax for another day.
“Your mare,” he said, “we’ll onward send,
Ty’d to the London waggon’s end:
When she’s got forty miles, or more,
We’ll follow in a chaise and four:
At the Dun Cow, upon the road,
Grizzle shall safely be bestow’d;
And there, my friend, or soon or late,
Her master’s coming may await:
You’ll neither lose nor time nor space,––
Your way I’m going to a race,
Where I’ve a famous horse to run;
And, if you do not like the fun,
Why you may then proceed to town,
With my best wishes that renown
And profit may your labours crown.
To-morrow, by the close of day,
We shall find Grizzle on the way.”
Just as you please,” the Doctor said;
Your kind commands shall be obey’d:
I think myself supremely bless’d
By noble minds to be caress’d;
The kind protection you impart
Pours oil of gladness on my heart.”

The Ladies now desir’d to see
His Journey’s pictur’d history.
The book he shew’d, which prov’d a bribe
For those kind fair-ones to subscribe;
And, while they felt the gen’rous pleasure
Of adding to his growing treasure,
The Squire, to keep his joke alive,
Had bid his stable-folk contrive,
Ere the good Doctor’s Grizzle mare
Was given to the carrier’s care––
Ere on her voyage she set sail,
To furnish her with ears and tail.
Grizzle was soon a crop no more,
As she had been some weeks before;
Nor was it long before her stump
Felt all the honours of the rump:
And, thus eqipp’d with specious art
She pac’d behind the carrier’s cart.
Their breakfast done, the following day,
The Squire and Syntax bounc’d away;
And, ere the sun had set at eve,
The Dun Cow did the sage receive,
Where Grizzle, her day’s journey o’er,
Had a short time arriv’d before.

Syntax now felt a strong desire
To smoke his pipe by kitchen-fire,
Where many a country neighbour sat;
Nor did he fail to join the chat:
When, having supp’d and drank his ale,
And silence seeming to prevail,
He slowly from his pocket took
His trav’lling momorandum-book;
And, as he turn’d the pages o’er,
Revolving on their curious lore,
Th’ exciseman, a right village sage,
(For he could cast accounts and gauge,)
Spoke for the rest––who could be proud
To hear his Rev’rence read aloud.
He bow’d assent, and straight began
To state what beauty is in man;
On the exterior of the earth,
Or what finds in its entrails birth;––
With all things, in their due degrees,
That are on earth, in air, and seas;––
In all the trees and plants that grow,
In all the various flow’rs that blow;––
Of all things in the realms of nature,
Or senseless forms, or living creature:
In short, he did attempt to show,
Through all the vast expanse below,
From what combined state of things
The varying form of beauty springs.2
Pl 23 Syntax Reading his Tour
But, as he read, thro’ full of grace,
Tho’ strong expression marked his face,––
Tho’ his feet struck the sounding floor,
And his voice thunder’d thro’ the door,––
Each hearer, as th’ infection crept
O’er the numb’d sense, unconscious slept!
One dropp’d his pipe–another snor’d––
His bed of down an oaken board;––
The cobbler yawn’d, then sunk to rest,
His chin reclining on his breast.
All slept at length but Tom and Sue,
And they seem’d rather drowsy too.
Syntax heard nought; th’ enraptur’d elf
Saw and heard nothing but himself:
But, when a swineherd’s bugle sounded,
The Doctor then, amaz’d––confounded––
Beheld the death-like scene about him;
And, thinking it was formed to flout him,
He frown’d disdain––then struck his head––
Caught up a light, and rush’d to bed.
[To be continued.]

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1. Heading omitted in 1812a and 1812b.
2. A print of Abby Church Bath, Plate IV Volume IV, appears after Rowlandson’s Schoolmaster’s Tour print in PM.