The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

A Singular Exhibition at Somerset House.

“Our Crummie is a dainty cow.”—Scotch Song.

On that first Saturday in May,

When Lords and Ladies, great and grand,

Repair to see what each R.A.

Has done since last they sought the Strand,

In red, brown, yellow, green, or blue,

In short, what’s called the private view —

Amongst the guests — the deuce knows how

She got in there without a row —

There came a large and vulgar dame,

With arms deep red, and face the same,

Showing in temper not a Saint;

No one could guess for why she came,

Unless perchance to “scour the Paint.”

From wall to wall she forced her way,

Elbowed Lord Durham — poked Lord Grey —

Stamped Stafford’s toes to make him move,

And Devonshire’s Duke received a shove;

The great Lord Chancellor felt her nudge,

She made the Vice, his Honor, budge,

And gave a pinch to Park, the judge.

As for the ladies in this stir,

The highest rank gave way to her.

From number one and number two,

She searched the pictures through and through,

On benches stood, to inspect the high ones,

And squatted down to see the shy ones.

And as she went from part to part,

A deeper red each cheek became,

Her very eyes lit up in flame,

That made each looker-on exclaim,

“Really an ardent love of art!”

Alas! amidst her inquisition,

Fate brought her to a sad condition;

She might have run against Lord Milton,

And still have stared at deeds in oil.

But ah! her picture-joy to spoil,

She came full butt on Mr. Hilton.

The Keeper mute, with staring eyes,

Like a lay-figure for surprise,

At last this stammered out, “How now?

Woman — where, woman, is your ticket,

That ought to have let you through our wicket?”

Says woman, “Where is David’s Cow?”

Said Mr. H—— with expedition,

“There’s no Cow in the Exhibition.”

“No Cow!”— but here her tongue in verity,

Set off with steam and rail celerity —

“No Cow! there ain’t no Cow, then the more’s the shame and pity,

Hang you, and the R.A.‘s, and all the Hanging Committee!

No Cow — but hold your tongue — for you needn’t talk to me —

You can’t talk up the Cow, you can’t, to where it ought to be —

I haven’t seen a picture high or low, or anyhow,

Or in any of the rooms, to be compared with David’s Cow!

You may talk of your Landseers, and of your Coopers and your Wards,

Why, hanging is too good for them, and yet here they are on cords!

They’re only fit for window frames, and shutters and street doors,

David will paint ’em any day at Red Lions or Blue Boars —

Why, Morland was a fool to him — at a little pig or sow —

It’s really hard it ain’t hung up — I could cry about the Cow!

But I know well what it is, and why — they’re jealous of David’s fame,

But to vent it on the Cow, poor thing, is a cruelty and a shame —

Do you think it might hang by and by, if you cannot hang it now?

David has made a party up, to come and see his Cow

If it only hung three days a week, for an example to the learners —

Why can’t it hang up, turn about, with that picture of Mr. Turner’s?

Or do you think from Mr. Etty you need apprehend a row,

If now and then you cut him down to hang up David’s Cow!

I can’t think where their tastes have been, to not have such a creature,

Although I say, that should not say, it was prettier than nature!

It must be hung — and shall be hung — for, Mr. H— — I vow

I daren’t take home the catalogue, unless it’s got the Cow!

As we only want it to be seen, I should not so much care,

If it was only round the stone man’s neck, a coming up the stair.

Or down there in the marble room where all the figures stand,

Where one of them three Graces might just hold it in her hand —

Or maybe Baily’s Charity the favor would allow,

It would really be a charity to hang up David’s Cow.

We haven’t nowhere else to go if you don’t hang it here,

The Water Color place allows no oilman to appear —

And the British Gallery sticks to Dutch, Teniers and Gerard Douw,

And the Suffolk Gallery will not do — it’s not a Suffolk Cow:

I wish you’d seen him painting her, he hardly took his meals

Till she was painted on the board, correct from head to heels:

His heart and soul was in his Cow, and almost made him shabby,

He hardly whipped the boys at all — or helped to nurse the babby,

And when he had her all complete and painted over red,

He got so grand, I really thought him going off his head.

Now hang it, Mr. Hilton, do just hang it anyhow,

Poor David, he will hang himself, unless you hang his Cow.

And if it’s inconvenient and drawn too big by half —

David shan’t send next year except a very little calf!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem116.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51