The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

The Green Man.

Tom Simpson was as nice a kind of man

As ever lived — at least at number Four,

In Austin Friars, in Mrs. Brown’s first floor,

At fifty pounds — or thereabouts — per ann.

The Lady reckon’d him her best of lodgers,

His rent so punctually paid each quarter —

He did not smoke like nasty foreign codgers —

Or play French horns like Mr. Rogers —

Or talk his flirting nonsense to her daughter. —

Not that the girl was light behaved or courtable —

Still on one failing tenderly to touch,

The Gentleman did like a drop too much,

(Tho’ there are many such)

And took more Port than was exactly portable.

In fact — to put the cap upon the nipple,

And try the charge — Tom certainly did tipple.

He thought the motto was but sorry stuff

On Cribb’s Prize Cup — Yes, wrong in ev’ry letter —

That “D——d be he who first cries Hold Enough!

The more cups hold, and if enough, the better.

And so to set example in the eyes

Of Fancy’s lads, and give a broadish hint to them,

All his cups were of such ample size

That he got into them.

Once in the company of merry mates,

In spite of Temperance’s if’s and buts,

So sure as Eating is set off with plates,

His Drinking always was bound up with cuts!

Howbeit, such Bacchanalian revels

Bring very sad catastrophes about;

Palsy, Dyspepsy, Dropsy, and Blue Devils,

Not to forget the Gout.

Sometimes the liver takes a spleenful whim

To grow to Strasburg’s regulation size,

As if for those hepatical goose pies —

Or out of depth the head begins to swim —

Poor Simpson! what a thing occurred to him!

’Twas Christmas — he had drunk the night before —

Like Baxter, who so “went beyond his last”—

One bottle more, and then one bottle more,

Till oh! the red-wine Ruby-con was pass’d!

And homeward, by the short small chimes of day,

With many a circumbendibus to spare,

For instance, twice round Finsbury Square,

To use a fitting phrase, he wound his way.

Then comes the rising, with repentance bitter,

And all the nerves —(and sparrows)— in a twitter,

Till settled by the sober Chinese cup:

The hands, o’er all, are members that make motions,

A sort of wavering, just like the ocean’s,

Which has its swell, too, when it’s getting up —

An awkward circumstance enough for elves

Who shave themselves;

And Simpson just was ready to go thro’ it,

When lo! the first short glimpse within the glass —

He jump’d — and who alive would fail to do it? —

To see however it had come to pass,

One section of his face as green as grass!

In vain each eager wipe,

With soap — without — wet — hot or cold — or dry,

Still, still, and still, to his astonished eye

One cheek was green, the other cherry ripe!

Plump in the nearest chair he sat him down,

Quaking, and quite absorb’d in a deep study —

But verdant and not brown —

What could have happened to a tint so ruddy?

Indeed it was a very novel case,

By way of penalty for being jolly,

To have that evergreen stuck in his face,

Just like the windows with their Christmas holly.

“All claret marks,”— thought he — Tom knew his forte —

“Are red — this color CANNOT come from Port!”

One thing was plain; with such a face as his,

’Twas quite impossible to ever greet

Good Mrs. Brown; nay, any party meet,

Altho’ ’twas such a parti-colored phiz!

As for the public, fancy Sarcy Ned,

The coachman, flying, dog-like, at his head,

With “Ax your pardon, Sir, but if you please —

Unless it comes too high —

Vere ought a feller, now, to go to buy

The t’other half, Sir, of that ’ere green cheese?”

His mind recoil’d — so he tied up his head,

As with a raging tooth, and took to bed;

Of course with feelings far from the serene,

For all his future prospects seemed to be,

To match his customary tea,

Black, mixt with green.

Meanwhile, good Mrs. Brown

Wondered at Mr. S. not coming down,

And sent the maid up-stairs to learn the why;

To whom poor Simpson, half delirious,

Returned an answer so mysterious

That curiosity began to fry;

The more, as Betty, who had caught a snatch

By peeping in upon the patient’s bed,

Reported a most bloody, tied-up head,

Got over-night of course —“Harm watch, harm catch,”

From Watchmen in a boxing-match.

So, liberty or not —

Good lodgers are too scarce to let them off in

A suicidal coffin —

The dame ran up as fast as she could trot;

Appearance — “fiddle-sticks!” should not deter

From going to the bed,

And looking at the head:

“La! Mister S— — he need not care for her!

A married woman that had had

Nine boys and gals, and none had turned out bad —

Her own dear late would come home late at night,

And liquor always got him in a fight.

She’d been in hospitals — she wouldn’t faint

At gores and gashes fingers wide and deep;

She knew what’s good for bruises and what ain’t —

Turlington’s Drops she made a pint to keep.

Cases she’d seen beneath the surgent’s hand —

Such skulls japann’d — she meant to say trepann’d!

Poor wretches! you would think they’d been in battle,

And hadn’t hours to live,

From tearing horses’ kicks or Smithfield cattle,

Shamefully over-driv! —

Heads forced to have a silver plate atop,

To get the brains to stop.

At imputations of the legs she’d been,

And neither screech’d nor cried —”

Hereat she pluck’d the white cravat aside,

And lo! the whole phenomenon was seen —

“Preserve us all! He’s going to gangrene!”

Alas! through Simpson’s brain

Shot the remark, like ball, with mortal pain;

It tallied truly with his own misgiving,

And brought a groan,

To move a heart of stone —

A sort of farewell to the land of living!

And as the case was imminent and urgent,

He did not make a shadow of objection

To Mrs. B.‘s proposal for a “surgent,”

But merely gave a sigh of deep dejection,

While down the verdant cheek a tear of grief

Stole, like a dew-drop on a cabbage-leaf.

Swift flew the summons — it was life or death!

And in as short a time as he could race it,

Came Doctor Puddicome, as short of breath,

To try his Latin charms against Hic Jacet.

He took a seat beside the patient’s bed,

Saw tongue — felt pulse — examined the bad cheek —

Poked, strok’d, pinch’d, kneaded it — hemm’d — shook his head —

Took a long solemn pause the cause to seek,

(Thinking, it seem’d in Greek,)

Then ask’d —’twas Christmas —“Had he eaten grass,

Or greens — and if the cook was so improper

To boil them up with copper,

Or farthings made of brass;

Or if he drank his Hock from dark green glass,

Or dined at City Festivals, whereat

There’s turtle, and green fat?”

To all of which, with serious tone of woe,

Poor Simpson answered “No,”

Indeed he might have said in form auricular,

Supposing Puddicome had been a monk —

He had not eaten (he had only drunk)

Of anything “Particular.”

The Doctor was at fault;

A thing so new quite brought him to a halt.

Cases of other colors came in crowds,

He could have found their remedy, and soon;

But green — it sent him up among the clouds,

As if he had gone up with Green’s balloon!

Black with Black Jaundice he had seen the skin;

From Yellow Jaundice yellow,

From saffron tints to sallow; —

Then retrospective memory lugg’d in

Old Purple Face, the Host at Kentish Town —

East Indians, without number,

He knew familiarly, by heat done Brown,

From tan to a burnt umber,

Ev’n those eruptions he had never seen

Of which the Caledonian Poet spoke,

As ”rashes growing green”—

“Phoo! phoo! a rash grow green!

Nothing of course, but a broad Scottish joke!”

Then as to flaming visages, for those

The Scarlet Fever answer’d, or the Rose —

But verdant! that was quite a novel stroke!

Men turn’d to blue, by Cholera’s last stage,

In common practice he had really seen;

But Green — he was too old, and grave, and sage,

To think of the last stage to Turnham Green!

So matters stood in-doors — meanwhile without,

Growing in going like all other rumors,

The modern miracle was buzz’d about,

By people of all humors,

Native or foreign in their dialecticals;

Till all the neighborhood, as if their noses

Had taken the odd gross from little Moses,

Seemed looking thro’ green spectacles.

“Green faces!” so they all began to comment —

“Yes — opposite to Druggists’ lighted shops,

But that’s a flying color — never stops —

A bottle-green that’s vanish’d in a moment.

Green! nothing of the sort occurs to mind,

Nothing at all to match the present piece;

Jack in the Green has nothing of the kind —

Green-grocers are not green — nor yet green geese!”

The oldest Supercargoes or Old Sailors

Of such a case had never heard,

From Emerald Isle to Cape de Verd;

“Or Greenland!” cried the whalers.

All tongues were full of the Green Man, and still

They could not make him out with all their skill;

No soul could shape the matter, head or tail —

But Truth steps in where all conjectures fail.

A long half hour, in needless puzzle,

Our Galen’s cane had rubbed against his muzzle;

He thought, and thought, and thought and thought, and thought —

And still it came to nought,

When up rush’d Betty, loudest of Town Criers,

“Lord, Ma’am, the new Police is at the door!

It’s B, ma’am, Twenty-four —

As brought home Mister S. to Austin Friars,

And says there’s nothing but a simple case —

He got that ’ere green face

By sleeping in the kennel near the Dyer’s!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem134.html

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