The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby

The Cynotaph

Poor Tray charmant!

Poor Tray de mon Ami!

Dog-bury, and Vergers.

Oh! where shall I bury my poor dog Tray,

Now his fleeting breath has pass’d away?

Seventeen years, I can venture to say,

Have I seen him gambol, and frolic, and play,

Evermore happy, and frisky, and gay,

As though every one of his months was May,

And the whole of his life one long holiday —

Now he’s a lifeless lump of clay,

Oh! where shall I bury my faithful Tray?

I am almost tempted to think it hard

That it may not be there, in yon sunny churchyard,

Where the green willows wave

O’er the peaceful grave,

Which holds all that once was honest and brave,

Kind, and courteous, and faithful, and true;

Qualities, Tray, that were found in you.

But it may not be — you sacred ground,

By holiest feelings fenced around,

May ne’er within its hallow’d bound

Receive the dust of a soul-less hound.

I would not place him in yonder fane,

Where the mid-day sun through the storied pane

Throws on the pavement a crimson stain;

Where the banners of chivalry heavily swing

O’er the pinnacled tomb of the Warrior King,

With helmet and shield, and all that sort of thing.

No! — come what may,

My gentle Tray

Shan’t be an intruder on bluff Harry Tudor,

Or panoplied monarchs yet earlier and ruder,

Whom you see on their backs,

In stone or in wax,

Though the sacristans now are ‘forbidden to ax’

For what Mister Hume calls ‘a scandalous tax;’

While the Chartists insist they’ve a right to go snacks.

No! — Tray’s humble tomb would look but shabby

‘Mid the sculptured shrines of that gorgeous Abbey.

Besides, in the place

They say there’s not space

To bury what wet-nurses call ‘a Babby.’

Even ‘Rare Ben Jonson,’ that famous wight,

I am told, is interr’d there bolt upright,

In just such a posture, beneath his bust,

As Tray used to sit in to beg for a crust.

The epitaph, too,

Would scarcely do;

For what could it say, but ‘Here lies Tray,

A very good sort of a dog in his day?’

And satirical folks might be apt to imagine it

Meant as a quiz on the House of Plantagenet.

No! no! — The Abbey may do very well

For a feudal ‘Nob’ or poetical ‘Swell,’

‘Crusaders,’ or ‘Poets,’ or ‘Knights of St. John,’

Or Knights of St. John’s Wood, who last year went on

To the Castle of Goode Lorde Eglintonne.

Count Fiddle-fumkin, and Lord Fiddle-faddle,

‘Sir Craven,’ ‘Sir Gael,’ and ‘Sir Campbell of Saddell,’

(Who, as Mr. Hook said, when he heard of the feat,

‘Was somehow knock’d out of his family-seat;’)

The Esquires of the body

To my Lord Tomnoddy;

‘Sir Fairlie,’ ‘Sir Lamb,’

And the ‘Knight of the Ram,’

The ‘Knight of the Rose,’ and the ‘Knight of the Dragon,’

Who, save at the flagon,

And prog in the waggon,

The Newspapers tell us did little ‘to brag on;’

And more, though the Muse knows but little concerning ’em,

‘Sir Hopkins,’ ‘Sir Popkins,’ ‘Sir Gage,’ and ‘Sir Jerningham.’

All Preux Chevaliers, in friendly rivalry

Who should best bring back the glory of Chi-valry. —

(Pray be so good, for the sake of my song,

To pronounce here the ante-penultimate long;

Or some hyper-critic will certainly cry,

‘The word ‘Chivalry’ is but a ‘rhyme to the eye.”

And I own it is clear

A fastidious ear

Will be, more or less, always annoy’d with you when you

Insert any rhyme that’s not perfectly genuine.

As to pleasing the ‘eye,’

‘Tisn’t worth while to try,

Since Moore and Tom Campbell themselves admit ‘spinach’

Is perfectly antiphonetic to ‘Greenwich.)

But stay! — I say! —

Let me pause while I may —

This digression is leading me sadly astray

From my object — A grave for my poor dog Tray!

I would not place him beneath thy walls,

And proud o’ershadowing dome, St. Paul’s!

Though I’ve always consider’d Sir Christopher Wren,

As an architect, one of the greatest of men;

And, — talking of Epitaphs, — much I admire his,

‘Circumspice, si Monumentum requiris;’

Which an erudite Verger translated to me,

‘If you ask for his Monument, Sir-come-spy-see!’

No! — I should not know where

To place him there;

I would not have him by surly Johnson be; —

Or that Queer-looking horse that is rolling on Ponsonby; —

Or those ugly minxes

The sister Sphynxes,

Mix’d creatures, half lady, half lioness, ergo

(Denon says) the emblems of Leo and Virgo;

On one of the backs of which singular jumble,

Sir Ralph Abercrombie is going to tumble,

With a thump which alone were enough to despatch him,

If that Scotchman in front shouldn’t happen to catch him.

No! I’d not have him there, nor nearer the door,

Where the Man and the Angel have got Sir John Moore, 1

And are quietly letting him down through the floor,

Near Gillespie, the one who escaped, at Vellore,

Alone from the row; —

Neither he, nor Lord Howe

Would like to be plagued with a little Bow-wow.

No, Tray, we must yield,

And go further a-field;

To lay you by Nelson were downright effront’ry; —

We’ll be off from the City, and look at the country.

It shall not be there,

In that sepulchred square,

Where folks are interr’d for the sake of the air,

(Though, pay but the dues, they could hardly refuse

To Tray what they grant to Thuggs and Hindoos,

Turks, Infidels, Heretics, Jumpers, and Jews,)

Where the tombstones are placed

In the very best taste,

At the feet and the head

Of the elegant Dead,

And no one’s received who’s not ‘buried in lead:’

For, there lie the bones of Deputy Jones,

Whom the widow’s tears and the orphan’s groans

Affected as much as they do the stones

His executors laid on the Deputy’s bones;

Little rest, poor knave!

Would he have in his grave;

Since Spirits, ’tis plain,

Are sent back again,

To roam round their bodies, — the bad ones in pain, —

Dragging after them sometimes a heavy jack-chain;

Whenever they met, alarmed by its groans, his

Ghost all night long would be barking at Jones’s.

Nor shall he be laid

By that cross Old Maid,

Miss Penelope Bird, of whom it is said

All the dogs in the Parish were always afraid.

He must not be placed

By one so strait-laced

In her temper, her taste, and her morals, and waist.

For, ’tis said, when she went up to heaven, and St. Peter,

Who happened to meet her,

Came forward to greet her,

She pursed up with scorn every vinegar feature,

And bade him ‘Get out for a horrid Male Creature!’

So, the Saint, after looking as if he could eat her,

Not knowing, perhaps, very well how to treat her,

And not being willing, or able, to beat her,

Sent her back to her grave till her temper grew sweeter,

With an epithet — which I decline to repeat here.

No, if Tray were interr’d

By Penelope Bird,

No dog would be e’er so be-‘whelp”d and be-‘cur’r’d.

All the night long her cantankerous Sprite

Would be running about in the pale moon-light,

Chasing him round, and attempting to lick

The ghost of poor Tray with the ghost of a stick.

Stay! — let me see! —

Ay — here it shall be

At the root of this gnarl’d and time-worn tree,

Where Tray and I

Would often lie,

And watch the light clouds as they floated by

In the broad expanse of the clear blue sky,

When the sun was bidding the world good b’ye;

And the plaintive Nightingale, warbling nigh,

Pour’d forth her mournful melody;

While the tender Wood-pigeon’s cooing cry

Has made me say to myself, with a sigh,

‘How nice you would eat with a steak in a pie!’

Ay, here it shall be! — far, far from the view

Of the noisy world and its maddening crew.

Simple and few,

Tender and true

The lines o’er his grave. — They have, some of them, too,

The advantage of being remarkably new.

Epitaph.

Affliction sore

Long time he bore,

Physicians were in vain! —

Grown blind, alas! he’d

Some Prussic Acid,

And that put him out of his pain!

1 Sir John Moore — In the autumn of 1824, Captain Medwin having hinted that certain beautiful lines on the burial of this gallant officer might have been the production of Lord Byron’s Muse, Mr. Sydney Taylor, somewhat indignantly, claimed them for their rightful owner, the late Rev. Charles Wolfe. During the controversy a third claimant started up in the person of a soi-disant ‘Dr. Marshall,’ who turned out to be a Durham blacksmith, and his pretensions a hoax. It was then that a certain ‘Doctor Peppercorn’ put forth his pretensions, to what he averred was the only ‘true and original’ version, viz:—

Not a sous had he got, — not a guinea or note,

And he look’d confoundedly flurry’d,

As he bolted away without paying his shot,

And the Landlady after him hurry’d.

We saw him again at dead of night,

When home from the club returning;

We twigg’d the Doctor beneath the light

Of the gas-lamps brilliantly burning.

All bare and exposed to the midnight dews,

Reclined in the gutter we found him;

And he look’d like a gentleman taking a snooze,

With his Marshall cloak around him.

‘The Doctor’s as drunk as the d — ’ we said,

And we managed a shutter to borrow;

We raised him and sigh’d at the thought that his head

Would ‘consumedly ache’ on the morrow.

We bore him home, and we put him to bed,

And we told his wife and his daughter

To give him next morning a couple of red

Herrings with soda-water.

Loudly they talk’d of his money that’s gone,

And his Lady began to upbraid him;

But little he reck’d, so they let him snore on

‘Neath the counterpane just as we laid him.

We tuck’d him in, and had hardly done

When, beneath the window calling,

We heard the rough voice of a son of a gun

Of a watchman ‘one o’clock!’ bawling.

Slowly and sadly we all walk’d down

From his room in the uppermost story;

A rushlight we placed on the cold hearth-stone,

And we left him alone in his glory.

Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores.

Virgil.

I wrote the lines — owned them — he told stories!

THOMAS INGOLDSBY.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/ingoldsby/thomas/ingoldsby_legends/chapter6.html

Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:47