Canto XXVI

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Originally published in November 1810 in the Poetical Magazine, [unnumbered] pp 277-293.

[Continued from Vol. IV . p. 244.]
With an Engraving. Plate XIII. Vol. VI.1

Again her dear the dame caress’d,2
And clasp’d him fondly to her breast.
At length, amidst her am’rous play,
The Doctor found a time to say –
“The fatted calf, I trust, you’ve slain,
To welcome Syntax home again.”
“No,” she reply’d, “No fatted calf;
We have a better thing by half:
For, with fond expectation big
Of your return, we kill’d a pig;
And a rich haslet, at the fire,
Will give you all you can desire:
The sav’ry meat myself will baste,
And suit it to my deary’s taste.”
That ish,” he cry’d,” I’d rather see
Than Fricandeau or Fricassee.
“O,” he continu’d, “what a blessing
To have a wife so fond of dressing;
Who with such taste and skill can work
To dress herself, – or dress the pork!”
She now return’d to household care,
The dainty supper to prepare.

Whoe’er has pass’d an idle hour,
In following Syntax thro’ his Tour,
Must have perceiv’d he did not balk
His fancy, when he wish’d to talk:
Nay more. – that he was often prone
To make long speeches when alone;
And, while he quaff’d his balmy ale,
Between each glass to tell a tale:
Or, as he smok’d with half-shut eyes,
Now smiling, and now looking wise,
He’d crack a joke, or moralize:
And, when this curious spirit stirr’d him,
He minded not tho’ no one heard him.
This he did now, – as ‘twill appear;
He talk’d tho’ there were none to hear:
When the whiffs paus’d, he silence broke,
And thus he thought, and puff’d, and spoke: –

“That man, I trow, is doubly curs’d,
Who of the best doth make the worst;
And he, I’m sure, is doubly blest,
Who of the worst can make the best.
To sit and sorrow, and complain,
Is adding folly to our pain.

In adverse state there is no vice
More mischievous than cowardice:
‘Tis by resistance that we claim
The Christian’s venerable name.
If you resist him, e’en old Nick
Gives up his meditated trick.
Fortune contemns the whining slave,
And loves to smile upon the brave.

In all the various chequer’d strife
We meet with in the road of life,
Whate’er the object we pursue,
There’ always something to subdue;
That foe, alas! to evil prone,
In others’ bosoms, or our own.
That man alone is truly great,
Who nobly meets the frowns of Fate;
Who, when the threat’ning tempests low’r,
When the clouds burst in pelting show’r,
When lightnings flash along the sky,
And thunders growl in sympathy,
With calmness to the scene conforms,
Nor fears nor mocks the angry storms:
He does not run, all helter-skelter,
To seek a temporary shelter;
Nor does he fume, and fret, and foam,
Because he’s distant far from home;
For well he knows, each peril past,
He’s sure to find a home at last.

If petty evils round you swarm,
Let not their buzz your temper warm;
But brush them from your mind away,
Like insects of a summer’s day.

Evil oppose with Reason’s pow’r,
Nor fear the dark or threat’ning hour:
Combat the world; – but, as ‘tis fit,
To the decrees of Heav’n submit.

If Spite and Malice are your foes,
If fell Revenge its arrow throws,
Look calmly on, nor fear the dart, –
Virtue will guard the honest heart;
Nor let your angry spirit burn
The pointed missile to return.

The good man never fails to wield
A broad and strong protecting shield,
That will preserve him thro’ the strife
Which never fails to trouble life;
And, when he meets his final doom,
Will form a trophy for his tomb.

Bear and forbear, – a dogma true
As human wisdom ever drew.
If you would lighten ev’ry care,
And ev’ry sorrow learn to bear,
To be secure from vile disgrace,
Look frowning Fortune in the face:
And, if the foe’s too strong, retreat,
But not as if you had been beat:
Calmly avoid th’ o’erpow’ring fray,
Nor fight when you can stalk away;
For you can scarce be said to yield,
If, when you slowly quit the field,
You so present yourself to view,
That a brave foe are not pursue.

I, who have long been doom’d to trudge,
Without a patron or a judge, –
I, who have seen the booby rise
To dignified pluralities,
While I his flock to virtue steer,
For hard-earn’d fifty pounds a year;
A flock, alas! he does not know,
But by the fleeces they bestow; –
I, who have felt the heavies fate
That doth on Learning’s toil await;
For, when a man’s the sport of Heaven,
To keep a school the fellow’s driven;
Nor when that though gay Lucian spoke,
He did not mean to crack a joke•; –
I still man’s dignity maintain’d,
And, tho’ I felt, I ne’er complain’d.

If life’s a farce, mere children’s play,
Let the rich trifle it away.
I cannot model mine by theirs;
For I have borne a life of cares.

Men with superior minds endow’d
May soar above the titled crowd,
Tho’ ‘tis their humble lot to dwell
In calm Retirement’s distant cell:
Or, not by Fortune’s bounty fed,
To call on Science for their bread, –
To lead the life that I have led.
Tho’ neither wealth nor state is given,
They’re the nobility of Heaven.

In its caprice a Sovereign’s pow’r
May make a Noble ev’ry hour:
A King may only speak the word,
And some rich blockhead struts a Lord;
But all the sceptred Pow’rs that live
Cannot one ray of genius give.
Heaven and Nature must combine
To make the flame of genius shine;
3 Lucian says, that, when the gods make a man the object of their sportive persecution, they turn him into a schoolmaster. Such as one as Doctor Syntax may think that the sarcastic Greek is in the right; but the Masters of Eton, Westminster, and Winchester, are, probably of a different opinion.

Of wealth regardless, or degree,
It may be sent to shine in me.

Learning, I thank thee!––Tho’ by toil
And the pale lamp of midnight oil
I gain’d thy smiles; tho’ many a year
Fortune refus’d my heart to cheer;
By thy inspiring laurels crown’d,
I oft could smile when Fortune frown’d.
Beguil’d by thee, I oft forgot
My uncomb’d wig and rusty coat:
When coals were dear, and low my fire,
I warm’d myself with Homer’s lyre:
Or, in a dearth of ale benign,
I eager quaff’d the stream divine,
Which flows in Virgil’s ev’ry line.
To save me from domestic brawls,
I thunder’d Tully to the walls.
When nought I did could Dolly please,
I laugh’d with Aristophanes:
And oft has Grizzle on my way
Heard me from Horace smart and gay.

Tho’ with the world I struggled hard,
Vurtue my best, but sole, reward;
When my whole income just would keep
The wold from preying on the sheep;
Ne’er could I change my classic store
For all the Croesus had, or more;
Nor would I lose what I have read,
Tho’ tempting Fortune, in its stead,
Would show’r down mitres on my head.

Bear and forbear,––an adage true
As human wisdom ever drew;––
That this I’ve praxis’s thro’ my life,
I have a witness in my wife;
For, tho’ she’d sometimes snarl and scold,
I never would a parley hold;
And when she, tho’ but seldom no more,
And all returning taunts forbore.
I dress’d my spirit from the pages
Of learned Dons and ancient sages:
But my lean form was never smart
From barber’s skill or tailor’s art;
So that my figure was a joke
To all the town and country folk.
But this my fancy never griev’d,
And I with smiles their smiles receiv’d:
I ne’er retorted, like a fool,
Their inoffensive ridicule.

So that my Dolly’s clothes were fine,
She never car’d a doit for mine:
So that, on every Sabbath-day,
She could appear in trappings gay,
And in a pew herself display,
She’d let me walk about the town,
Till my black coat was almost brown.
But she was, as I can’t deny,
The soul of notability.
She struggled hard to save the pelf;
And, tho’ she might except herself,
I do believe, upon my word,
To all things else I was preferr’d.

Bear and forbear, I’ve thought and said,
In part of ev’ry Parson’s trade;
And what he doth to others preach
He should by his example teach.
Whene’er the scoffer trotted by,
I ne’er have turn’d an angry eye:
Nay, when of Wealth I’ve been the jeer,
When petty Pride let loose a sneer,
I never fail’d the joke to join,
And paid them off in classic coine.

My Rector, fat as fat can be,
With prebend stall, and livings three,
Once told me, if I kept my riches
Within the pockets of my breeches,
To make them of materials stout,
Or else the weight would wear them out.
O, with what base irrev’rent glee
He chose to mock my poverty!
Yet I did not my cloth disgrace
By squirting spittle in his face;
But answer’d, from St. Paul, in Greek,
And bit him the quotation seek
In Pliny:––When the stupid brute
Nodded assent,––and then was mute.

The oilman there, in that fine house,
Who boasts th’ escutcheons of his souse,
Soon after he had left off trade,
Lov’d some great noble Lady’s maid.
Who by my Lord had been betray’d.
To Hymen’s fane the fair he led,
And gave the claim to half his bed.
She talks of Duchesses by dozens,
As if they were her cater-cousins.
He once said, ‘Doctor, do you see?
Let’s hear what is your pedigree;’––
When I, with rev’rence due, reply’d,
‘I am not to the great ally’d;
But yet I’ve heard my grandame say,
(Tho’ many a year has pass’d away
Since she is gone where all must go,
Whether they are or high or low,)
That one of our forefathers bore
A place of state in days of yore;
That he was butler or purveyor,
Or trumpeter, to some Lord Mayor,
When Carthaginian Hannibal
Din’d with his Lordship at Guildhall;
That great man being forc’d to come,
By order of the Pope of Rome,
To end some quarrel ‘tween the houses
That bore the pale and crimson roses.’
The oilman said, ‘It might be so;
But ’twas a monstrous while ago.’

’Tis thus I give these fools a poke,
And foil their tauntings with a joke;
For that man has no claim to sense,
Whose blood boils at impertinence.
Were I to scourge each fool I meet,
I ne’er must go into the street;
I ne’er my bearded chin must pop
Into the chatt’ring barber’s shop.

Bear and forbear,––a maxim true
As erring mortals ever knew.
But things are chang’d; new scenes appear,
My mind to soothe, my heart to cheer.
The Pow’rs above my fate regard,
And give my patience its reward.
But while I trod Life’s rugged road,
While troubles haunted my abode,
With not an omen to portend
That toil would cease, that things would mend,
I did to my allotment bow,
And smok’d my pope, as I do now.

Hail, social tube! thou foe to care!
Companion of my easy chair!
Form’d not, with cold and Stoic art,
To harden, but to soothe, the heart!
For Bacon, a much wiser man
Than any of the Stoic clan,
Declares the pow’r to control
Each fretful impulse of the soul;
And Swift has said (no common name,
On the large sphere of mortal fame)
That he who daily smokes two pipes
The tooth-ache never has,––nor gripes.
With three, in silence calm and still,
My Dolly’s tones, no longer shrill,
Tho’ meant to speak reproach and sneet,
Pass’d in soft cadence to my ear.
Calm Contemplation comes with three,
And the mild maid, Philosophy!
Lost in the thoughts which you suggest
To the full counsel of my breast,
My books all slumb’ring on the shelf,
I thus can commune with myself;
Thus to myself my thoughts repeat,
Thus moralize on what is great;
And, ev’ry selfish wish subdu’d,
Cherish the sense of what is good.

While I thy grateful breath inhale,
I see the cheering cup of ale.
Benignant juice! Lethean stream!
That aids the fond oblivious dream,
Which fits the freshen’d mind to bear
The burden of returning care.

Let Pride’s loose sons prolong the nights
In Bacchanalian delight;
I envy not their jovial noise,
Their mirth, and mad intemp’rate joys.
The luscious wines that Spain can boast,
Or grow on Lusitanian coast,
Ne’er fill my cups:––*Repast is divine!
The home-brew’d beverage is mine.
Thus, cheer’d with hope of happier days,
My grateful lips declare thy praise.
How oft I felt, in adverse hour,
The comforts of thy soothing pow’r!
Nor will I now forget my friend,
When my foul fortune seems to mend;––
Yes, I would smoke as I do now,
Tho’ a proud mitre deck’d my brow.

Hail, social tube! thou foe to care!
Companion of my easy chair!
While, as thy curling fumes arise,
They seem th’ ascending sacrifice
that’s offer’d by my gratitude.
To the great Father of the good.”

More had he spoke; but, lo! the dame
With the appointed hassle came;
When Syntax, having bless’d the meat,
Sat down to the luxurious treat.
“And now,” he said, “My dear ’twill be
As good as Burgundy to me,
If you will tell me what has pass’d
Since we embrac’d each other last.”
“O,” she replied, “my dearest love,
Things in their usual order move.
*4––––––––––––––Mea nec Falernae
Temperant vites, neque Formiani
Pocula colles HOR. L. i. Qd. xx.

Pray take a piece of this fine liver:
The Rector is as proud as ever.
I’ll help you, dear, to this or that:
Let me supply your lean with fat.
I thought the oilman’s wife would burst
When in this dress she saw me first.
It was at church she show’d her airs:
My bonnet spoil’d the woman’s pray’rs.
Your knife is blunt; here, take the steel:
Cut deep, the haslet cannot feel.
There’s Lawyer Graspall got a beating,
As you may well suppose, for cheating:
Our honest butcher trounc’d him well,
As the Attorney’s bones can tell.
He order’d home a rump of beef;
And, when it came, the hungry thief,
Having shav’d off a pound or two,
Return’d it, for it would not do.
The fraud discover’d, words arose,
And they were follow’d soon by blows:
When, as he well deserv’d, the sinner
Got a good threshing for his dinner.”

Said Syntax, “If I had a son––“
“Pooh!” she reply’d, “you have not done:
You still, I hope, can pick a bit,
And no excuse will I admit.
’Tis long since we’ve together been,
Since we’ve each other’s faces seen;
And, surely, I’m not such a fright
To make you lose your appetite.”
“But,” he continued, “if a boy
Were, my dear Doll, to crown our joy,
I’d sooner far the stripling see
The heir of dire Adversity
Than to an Attorney bind him,
Where old Nick is sure to find him.”
She added, “Yes, with naked feet
I’d sooner have him pace the street.
I do declare ‘twould be less shocking
To see him without shoe or stocking.”

The Doctor thought his jolly wife
Ne’er look’d so handsome in her life.
Her voice he thought grown wondrous sweet––
To him a most uncommon treat:
So much in tune, it made him long
To hear it quaver in a song.
“Come sing, my charmer!” Syntax said,
And thus the simp’ring dame obey’d:––

Haste to Delia! haste away!
This thine and Hymen’s day!
Bid her thy soft bondage wear;
Bid her for Love’s rites prepare.
Let the nymphs with many a flow’r
Deck the sacred nuptial bow’r:
Thither lead the lovely fair,
And let the Cupid too be there.
This is thine and Hymen’s day!
Haste to Delia! haste away!

Thus pass’d the time; the morrow came,
And Mistress Syntax was the same:
But when (for ’twas not done before)
She heard the Doctor’s story o’er,
With all the hopes he had in store,
By joy, by vanity, subdu’d,
Her warm embraces she renew’d;
While he, delighted, fondly kiss’d
Those hands which, form’d into a fist,
Had often warn’d his eyes and nose
To turn from their tremendous blows.

But now, of golden ease possest,
No angry words, no frowns, molest;
No symptoms of domestic strife
Disturb’d the very alter’d life,
For she out-dress’d the oilman’s wife;
And he could now relive the poor,
Who sought his charitable door.

Tho’ to each virtue often blind,
The world to wealth is ever kind;
For, lo! a certain tell-tale dame,
Yelep’d and known as Mistress Fame,
Had told to all the country round
That Syntax, for a thousand pound,
Had sold a learned book he wrote;
That now he was a man of note,
By Lords protected; and that one
Had made him tutor to his son;
So that, whenever he wrnt forth,
All paid their homage to his worth;
While it became the fond desire
Of ev’ry neighb’ring rural Squire
To send his hopeful boys to share
The favour of the Doctor’s care.

But all these views soon found an end;
A packet came, and from a friend;
From ‘Squire Worthy, who resides
On Keswick’s bold and woody sides.
The wond’ring postman made it known,
As he past on, to all the town:
For such a letter ne’er had been
Within his little circuit seen:
Nay, by the fiat of the post,
It more than sev’n and sixpence cost.
The Doctor star’d,––while Ma’am, unwilling,
Slowly dealt forth each ling’ring shilling.
“Ne’er mind your silver,” Syntax said,
The postman, deary, must be paid:
And now these papers I behold,
I see they’re worth their weight in gold.
Come, sit you down, and take good heed
To what I am about to read.

My Reve’rend Sir,
Our Vicar’s dead;
And I have nam’d you in his stead;
You know I wish’d his neck he’d break,
Or tumble drunk into the Lake;
So, you must know, the poaching hound
Fulfill’d one wish,––for he is drown’d.
Unfit for preaching or for praying,
His merit lay in cudgel-playing
And he preferr’d, to saying pray’rs,
The laying springes for the hares.

You will perceive I keep my word,
And to my church you’re now preferr’d:
By ev’ry legal act and deed,
To Parson Hairbrain you succeed.
The papers which you now receive
A right and full possession give.
You, Sir, may make the living clear
Above three hundred pounds a year;
And if you will but condescend
To my son’s learning to attend,––
If you’ll direct his studious hour,
I’ll add some fifty pounds, or more;
And soon we hope that you will cheer
The parish with your presence here.
Miss Worthy and her sister join
Their kindest compliments to mine;
And to your prayers I recommend
Your faithful and admiring friend,
The dame exclaim’d, “My Grecian boy,
I know not how to tell my joy.
This is the height of my desire:
‘Squire Worthy is a worthy ‘Squire.”

“Ha, ha!” said Syntax; “O, the fun!
Why, Dolly, you have made a pun.
But still a pun I do detest,
’Tis such a paltry humbug jest;
They who’ve least wit can make them best.
But you may frisk and pun away:
I’m sure I cannot teach to-day;
So tell the boys to go and play.
Thank Heav’n, that toil and trouble pass’d,
My holidays are come at last!”

At length, the busy school resign’d,
They both prepar’d to leave behind
A place, which little had to give
Than the hard struggle how to live.
For the long journey to prepare,
Syntax has bought a one-horse chair,
With harness for the grizzle mare.
Ralph would not from his master part,
But trudg’d beside the farmer’s cart
That bore the Doctor’s books and chattels,
With Madam’s clothes and fiddle-faddles.
The cook upon the baggage rode,
And added to the weighty load;
For she, kind maid, was fully bent
To go wherever Ralpho went.
The time soon came, when, quite light-hearted,
The Doctor and his spouse departed;
And, as they journey’d on their way,
They did not fail to pass a day
With the good Doctor’s early friend,
The kind and learned Dicky Bend:5
KIC Image 31
At York they form’d the pleasant party,
For a whole week, of ‘Squire Hearty.

A few more days, and, lo! the Lake
Did on the th’ enraptur’d vision break:
And, rising ‘mid the tufted trees,
Syntax his sacred structure sees,
Whose tow’r appear’d in ancient pride,
With the warm Vic’rage by its side.
“At length, dear wife,” he said, “we’re come
To our appointed tranquil home.”

The courteous people lin’d the way,
And their rude untaught homage pay:
The foremost of th’ assembled crowd,
The fay Exciseman, humbly bow’d.
“Welcome,” he said, “to Sommerden!”
The Clerk stood by, and cry’d, “Amen!
Grizzle dash’d boldly thro’ the gate,
Where the kind ‘Squire and Ladies wait,
With kind embrace, with heart and hand,
To welcome them to Cumberland.
The bells rang aloud, the boys huzza’d;
The bonfire was in order laid:
The villagers their zeal display;
And ale and crackers clos’d the day.

Syntax, whom all desire’d to please,
Enjoy’d his hours of learned ease;
Nor did he fail to preach and pray,
To brighter worlds to point the way;
While his dear spouse was never seen
To show ill-nature or the spleen;
And faithful Grizzle now no more
Or drew a chaise, or rider bore.
Thus the good Parson, horse, and wife,
Led a most comfortable life.

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1. Heading is removed in 1812a and 1812b.
2. The start of the final installment of The Schoolmaster’s Tour in PM appears partially through Chapter XXVI, 1812aCanto XXVI, 1812b. In 1812a, for example, the line “Again her dear the dame caress’d,” appears on page 258, while Chapter XXVI begins on pg 255.
3. This author’s note appears on the bottom of page 281 of PM and is retained in 1812a and 1812b.
4. This author’s note appears on the bottom of page 281 of PM and is retained in 1812a and 1812b.
5. This image is reproduced from an 1814 American edition of In Search of the Picturesque, Philadelphia : Published and sold by Wm. Charles, no. 32 South Third Street, courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill Special Collections.