Canto XXII

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Originally published November 1810 in The Poetical Magazine, pp. 139-151.

[Continued from Vol. IV. p. 104.]
With an Engraving. Plate VII. Vol. IV.1
The clock struck five when Syntax woke––
The sounding door his slumbers broke––
When a soft female voice related
That breakfast and her master waited.
Up rose the Doctor; down he went,
With joyful look, and heart content.
“Well,” said the Squire, “I hope you’ll stay,
And pass with me another day:
The sporting season’s coming on,
And something now is to be done;
For I must breathe my dogs a bit,
And try my gun at some tom-tit.
You’ll take a stroll around the fields,
And see what game my manor yields.”
Says Syntax, “’Tis not in my pow’r
To pass with you another hour:
While you perform your sporting feats,
I must be tramping London streets:
You, therefore, will my thanks receive;
For now, Sir, I must take my leave.”
The Squire reply’d––“All I can say––
Another time a longer stay.”
He then walk’d off with dog and gun,
While Syntax slowly travell’d on;
And, o’er the hill or on the plain,
Indulg’d the contemplative strain:––

“I cannot, while I Nature view,
Cloth’d in her robe of verdant hue,––
Or when the changeful veil is thrown
Of Summer’s gold or Autumn’s brown,––
Or midst the scenes of snow and frost,
When her gay colouring is lost,––
I cannot but the Pow’r admite
That gives such charms to her attire:––
Nor do her wondrous shapes, that rise
In countless forms to meet the eyes,
Mark with less force th’ unerring soul,
Which gives such beauty to the whole:––
The mountain’s top, that seems to meet
The height of Heav’n’s imperial seat;––
The rocks, the valleys’ guardian pride,
Or when they bound the ocean’s tide,
That oft, in grand confusion hurl’d,
Appear the fragments of a world;––
While the low hill and vale between,
Delightful, variegate the scene.
But lesser forms invite to trace
Fair Nature’s ever-varying face:––
The humble shrub, the spreading tree,
In this same principle agree:
Along the ground the brambles crawl,
And the low hyssop tops the wall;
The bulrush rises from the sedge,
The wild rose blossoms in the hedge;
While flow’rs of ev’ry colour shed
Their fragrance from their native bed:
The streamlet, winding thro’ the glade,
The hanging wood, the forest shade;
While the bold river’s flowing wave
Doth many a people margin lave,
Till, with increasing course, tis seen
To blend its white waves with the green.
Nor these alone;––how various they
Who cleave the air, or skim the sea;
Or range the plains; or, from the brow,
Look down upon the vale below;
The eygnet’s snow, the peacock’s dies;
The pigeon’s neck, the eagle’s eyes!––
Nor in less beauty do they rove,
Who form the music of the grove.
The elephant’s resistless force;
The strength and spirit of the horse;
The ermine’s softness; and the boar,
With rising bristles covered o’er.
Thus, throughout Nature’s ev’ry state,
Or living, or inanimate,
In ev’ry diff’rent class we see
How boundless the variety!
What playful change in all we know
Of this mysterious world below;
In all where instinct motion gives;
In what by vegetation lives!
But these are trivial when we look,
By Reason’s light, in Nature’s book;
When, half-inspired, we’re taught to scan
The vast varieties of man.”

Thus, in deep metaphysic mood,
Syntax his shorten’d way pursu’d;
And many a system had been brought
To ripen in his learned thought:
But none arose which did not tend
Poor human nature to befriend;
None but were aptly form’d to prove
The firm support of social love.
Thus, all-bemus’d, he took his way,
Unconscious of the passing day;
And, thus emlpoy’d in cogitating,
No wonder he ne’er thought of baiting;
No wonder that it came to pass,
When Grizzle saw a little grass,
That he, contemplating the view
Of knotty questions, never knew
She stopp’d to take a bite or two;
Or, when they pass’d a limpid brook,
That she a plenteous bev’rage took;
Or if, by chance, upon the road,
They found a cart with hay well stow’d,
She lagg’d behind to crop the fare,
And levy contributions there.

But now a trumpets warlike sound
‘Woke Syntax from his dream profound;
While Grizzle frisk’d, and mov’d on straight,
With many a prancing, to the gate,
Where, in gorgeous cap of fur,
Stood the proclaiming trumpeter,
With face as the old Lion red,
That dangling hung above his head.
“Oh!” he exclaim’d, “I now could swear
I see again the grizzle mare;
I know her well by that same scar
Which she got with me in the war;
For she received that angry hack
While I was sounding on her back:
A furious hussar onward came,
And struck at me, but miss’d his aim;
When my poor horse received the blow,
And straight the blood began to flow;––
Nay, the same sword had crack’d my crown,
But my brave comrade, Stephen Brown.
Came up, and cut the Frenchman down.
I have been borne by that same gray
Thro’ many a rough and bloody day:
Her ears well know the martial strain;
I’m glad to see her once again.”

“That well may be;––but for her ears,––
A wicked clown’s infernal shears
Have robb’d her,” Syntax smiling said,
Of the fair honours of her head:
Nor did one tender thought prevail,
From the same fate to save her tail.
He then proceeded to relate
Her past mishap and present state;
And ask’d the trumpeter to share
A flowing bowl and ev’ning fare.

Now Syntax sat and heard the story
The soldier told of England’s glory;
How British columns fought their way,
And drove the foe, and won the day;
How oft he did his breath enlarge,
To call to arms and sound the charge.
Tho’ oft he rous’d to many a feat,
He never sounded a retreat;
But still he spoke in modest tone,
For England’s glory was his own:––
Oft have I been, in bright array
(Sure promise of a glorious day),
The martial bands alive to meet
Their foes, and lay them at their feet;
And, when my breathing trumpet told e’m
To go and conquer,––to behold ‘em
At once their beaming blades display,
And rush on their victorious way,––
I felt the inexpressive joy
Which grim-fac’d Danger could not cloy.
If that same grizzle steed you rode
Could speak, she’d tell the ground she trod
Was oft, alas! all cover’d o’er
With soldiers slain, and clotted gore.
Full many a hair-breadth ‘scape I’ve seen
In many a peril I have been:
And soon again the time may come,
When, order’d from our native home,
We may be call’d abroad, to share
The dangers and the din of war.
So be it, I’m prepar’d to go,
Wherever I can meet the foe;
And, should it be my lot to die,
I have no wife or babes to cry;
And, wheresoever I may fall,
There’ll be an end of Thomas Hall.”

Said Syntax, “It is well, my friend,
To be prepar’d to meet one’s end:
To do that well, I’m call’d to preach,––
’Tis a prime duty which I teach.
But thoughts of a far diff’rent kind
Just now employ my anxious mind:
The present busy hours must claim
Attention to my purse and fame;
And, as I think ‘twould prove a joke
To show my mare to London folk,
It just has come into my mind
To leave poor Grizzle here behind,
And let some stage or mail convey
My bags and me my onward way.
Perhaps, for old-acqaintence sake,
Of my poor beast the care you’ll take.
If so”–––The trumpeter reply’d––
’Twill be my honor and my pride.
God bless your rev’rence;––never fear,––
Your mare shall have protection here:
When you come back, Sir, you shall find
She has been treated to your mind.”

A horn now told the near approach
Of some convenient rapid coach;
And soon a vehicle and of
Appear’d at the Red-Lion door.
Into his place the Doctor pounc’d;
The coachman smack’d, and off they bounc’d:
The scene around was quite composing,
For his companions all were dozing;
So he, forsooth, conceived it best
To close his lids, and try to rest.
When the morn dawn’d, he turn’d an eye
Upon his slumbr’ring company:––
A red-fac’d man, who snor’d and snorted,––
A Lady, with both eyes distorted,––
And a young Miss, of pleasing mien,
With all the life of gay sixteen.
A sudden jolt of their slumbers broke;
They started all, and all awoke,
When Surly-boots yawn’d wide, and spoke:––
“We move,” said he, “confounded slow;”
“La, Sir!” cried Miss, “how fast we go!”
While Madam, with a smirking face,
Declar’d it was a middling pace.
“Pray what think you, Sir?”––“I agree,”
Said simp’ring Syntax, “with all three:
Up hill, our course is rather slow;
Down hill, how merrily we go!
But, when ’tis neither up nor down,
It is a middle pace, I own.”
“O la!” cried Miss, “the thought’s so pretty!”
“O yes!” growl’d Red-face, “very witty!”
The Lady said, “If I can scan
The temper of the Gentleman,
He’s one of those, I have no doubt,
Who loves to let his humour out;
Nor fails his threadbare wit to play
On all who come within his way:
But we who in these stages roam,
And leave our coach-and-four at home,
Deserve our lot when thus we talk
With those who were ordain’d to walk!
And now, my niece, you see how wrong
It is to use your flippant tongue,
And chatter, as you’re apt to do,
With any one––the Lord knows who.”
Surly turn’d round, and friendly Sleep
Soon o’er his senses ‘gan to creep;
So Syntax thought he’d overlook
The embryo of his future book.
Thus all was silence till they came
To that great town we London name.

Our Sage thought wisely that the din
Which we should hear about an inn
Would not assist his studious hours,
Nor aid his intellectual pow’rs
To make his volume fit to show
The Dons of Paternoster-row;
As as his patron of the North,
That Lord renown’d for sense and worth,
Had bid him make his house a home
Whenever he to town should come,
He was resolv’d to try his fates
In knocking at his Lordship’s gate.
At that same gate he soon appear’d;
My Lord with smiles the Doctor cheer’d:––
“You have done well, my learned friend,
Hither you eager steps to bend;
Bus’ness has brought me up to town,
And thus you find me all alone.
Here pitch your tent, and pass your hour
In working up your pleasant Tour;
And, when ’tis done, I’ll aid your scheme,––
It shall not prove an idle dream.”
Syntax receiv’d his Lordship’s grace
With moisten’d eye, but smiling face,
And for ten days, at morn and night,
He toil’d to bring his book to light;
While the few intervening hours
Were render’d gay with wine and flow’ers*.

The Doctor now receiv’d his papers
In spirits almost to cut capers;
Nor did he then delay to go,
Not to the realms of sights and show,
But those of Pater-noster row.
The shop he enter’d;––all around
He saw the shelves with volumes crown’s,
In Russia and Morocco bound;
And, when he had with fond delight
Glanc’d o’er the literary sight,
“Go, call your master,” Syntax said
To an attendant on the trade;
“Tell him that a D.D. is here:”––
The lad then answered, with a sneer,
“To no D.D. will he appear:
He would not come for all the knowledge
Of Oxford or of Cambridge College:
I cannot go, as I’m a sinner;
I dare not interrupt his dinner:
You know now how I should be blam’d”––––––
Stamping his foot, Syntax exclaim’d––
“Apollo, and the Muses nine!
Must Learning wait while tradesmen dine?”
“They’re common hacks,” reply’d the boy;
We never such as those employ:
I’ve heard their names, but this I know,
They never come into the Row.”
The master, who had fill’d his crop
In a smart room behind the shop,
On hearing a loud angry voice,
Came forth to know what caus’d the noise;
And left his wife and bottle too,
To see about this strange to-do.
He was a man whose ample paunch
Was made of beef, and ham, and haunch;
And, when he saw the shrivell’d form
Of Syntax, he began to storm.

“I wish to know, Sir, what you mean,
By kicking up, Sir, such a scene?”
And who you are, and what’s your name,
And on what errand here you came?”
“My errand was to bid you look
With care and candour on this book;
Pl 25 Syntax with Bookseller
And tell me whether you think fit
To buy, or print, or publish it?
The subject which the work contains
Is Art and Nature’s fair domains;
Tis form’d the curious to allure;––
In short, good man, it is a Tour;
With drawings all from Nature made,
And with no common skill display’d:
Each house, each place, each lake, each tree,
This hand did draw––these eyes did see.”
“A Tour, indeed!––I’ve had enough
Of Tours, and such-like flimsy stuff.
What a fool’s errand you have made
(I speak the language of the trade),
To travel all the country o’er,
And write what has been writ before!
We can get Tours,––don’t make wry faces,––
From those who never saw the places.
I know a man who has the skill
To make you books of Tours at will;
And from his garret in Moorfields
Can see what ev’ry country yields;
So, if you please, you may retire,
And throw your books into the fire:
You need not grin, my friend, nor vapour
I would not buy it for waste paper!”

“Blockhead! and is it thus you treat
The men by whom you drink and eat?
Do you now know, and must I tell ye,
Tis they fill out your monstrous belly?
Yes, booby! from such sculls as mine,
You lap your soup, and drink your wine,
Without one single ray of sense
But what relates to pounds and pence.
Thus good and evil form the whole,––
Heav’n gave you wealth, and me a soul;
And I would never be an ass
For all your gold, and all your brass.
When humble Authors come to sue
(Those very men who pamper you),
You feel like Jove in all his pride,
With Juno squatting by his side.”

“How dare you, villain, to defame
My dearest wife’s unsully’d name?
Yes, she’s my wife;––ten years ago,
The parson join’d our hands at Bow,
And she’s the flower of our Row.
As for Miss Juno, she’s a harlot,
You foul-mouth’d and malicious varlet!
A prostitute, who is well know
To all the rakes about the town;
First with a footman off she ran,
And now lives with an Alderman.”

“Have done,––have done! pray read that letter;
And then I think you’ll treat me better.”

“Sir, had you shewn the letter first,
My very belly should have burst
Before I would have said a word
Your learned ears should not have heard;
But, in this world wherein we live,
We must forget, Sir, and forgive.
These little heats will sometimes start
From the most friendly gen’rous heart.
My Lord speaks highly of your merit,
As of the talents you inherit:
He writes himself supremely well;
His works are charming,––for they sell.
I pray you take a glass of wine;
Perhaps, Sir, you have yet to dine:
We now, I fear, have nothing hot;––
My dear, put something in the pot;
’Twill soon be done; or tell our Nan
To toss a cutlet in the pan.
His Lordship here expressly says
Your work transcends his utmost praise;
Desires the printing may commence,
And he’ll be bound for the expense.
The book will sell, I have no doubt;
I’ll spare no pains to bring it out:
A work like this must not be stinted,
Two thousand copies shall be printed.
And if you please”–––––

“I cannot stay;
We’ll talk of this another day:
When I came out, I gave my word
To take my dinner with my Lord.”

“Perhaps some other time you’ll come,
When my good Lord may dine from home;
It will be kind, indeed, to share,
Quite as a friend, our humble fare:
In the mean time you may command,
In ev’ry sense, my heart and hand.”

Thus (such are this world’s odds and ends)
Tho’ foes they met,––they parted friends!
[To be continued.]

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1. Heading omitted in 1812a and 1812b.