The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby


Mr. Peters’s Story.

The Bagman’s Dog.

Stant littore Puppies!


It was a litter, a litter of five,

Four are drown’d and one left alive,

He was thought worthy alone to survive;

And the Bagman resolved upon bringing him up,

To eat of his bread, and to drink of his cup,

He was such a dear little cock-tail’d pup.

The Bagman taught him many a trick;

He would carry and fetch, and run after a stick,

Could well understand

The word of command,

And appear to doze

With a crust on his nose,

Till the Bagman permissively waved his hand:

Then to throw up and catch it he never would fail,

As he sat up on end, on his little cock-tail.

Never was puppy so bien instruit,

Or possess’d of such natural talent as he;

And as he grew older,

Every beholder

Agreed he grew handsomer, sleeker, and bolder. —

Time, however, his wheels we may clog,

Wends steadily still with onward jog,

And the cock-tail’d puppy’s a curly-tail’d dog!

When just at the time,

He was reaching his prime,

And all thought he’d be turning out something sublime,

One unlucky day,

How, no one could say,

Whether some soft liaison induced him to stray,

Or some kidnapping vagabond coax’d him away,

He was lost to the view

Like the morning dew;

He had been, and was not — that’s all that they knew;

And the Bagman storm’d, and the Bagman swore,

As never a Bagman had sworn before;

But storming or swearing but little avails,

To recover lost dogs with great curly tails. —

In a large paved court, close by Billiter Square,

Stands a mansion old, but in thorough repair,

The only strange thing, from the general air

Of its size and appearance, is, how it got there;

In front is a short semicircular stair

Of stone steps, — some half score, —

Then you reach the ground floor,

With a shell-pattern’d architrave over the door.

It is spacious, and seems to be built on the plan

Of a Gentleman’s house in the reign of Queen Anne;

Which is odd, for although,

As we very well know,

Under Tudors and Stuarts the City could show

Many Noblemen’s seats above Bridge and below,

Yet that fashion soon after induced them to go

From St. Michael Cornhill, and St. Mary le Bow,

To St. James, and St. George, and St. Anne in Soho. —

Be this as it may, — at the date I assign

To my tale, — that’s about Seventeen Sixty Nine, —

This mansion, now rather upon the decline,

Had less dignified owners, belonging in fine,

To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne, —

A respectable House in the Manchester line.

There were a score

Of Bagmen and more,

Who had travell’d full oft for the firm before;

But just at this period they wanted to send

Some person on whom they could safely depend,

A trustworthy body, half agent, half friend,

On some mercantile matter as far as Ostend;

And the person they pitch’d on, was Anthony Blogg,

A grave steady man not addicted to grog, —

The Bagman, in short, who had lost this great dog.

. . .

‘The Sea! the Sea! the open Sea! —

That is the place where we all wish to be,

Rolling about on it merrily!’ —

So all sing and say,

By night and by day,

In the boudoir, the street, at the concert, and play,

In a sort of coxcombical roundelay;

You may roam through the City, transversely or straight,

From Whitechapel turnpike to Cumberland gate,

And every young Lady who thrums a guitar,

Ev’ry mustachio’d Shopman who smokes a cigar,

With affected devotion,

Promulgates his notion,

Of being a ‘Rover’ and ‘child of the Ocean’ —

Whate’er their age, sex, or condition may be,

They all of them long for the ‘Wide, Wide Sea!’

But, however they dote,

Only set them afloat

In any craft bigger at all than a boat,

Take them down to the Nore

And you’ll see that before

The ‘Wessel’ they ‘Woyage’ in has half made her way

Between Shell–Ness Point and the pier at Herne Bay,

Let the wind meet the tide in the slightest degree,

They’ll be all of them heartily sick of ‘the Sea’!

. . .

I’ve stood in Margate, on a bridge of size

Inferior far to that described by Byron,

Where ‘palaces and pris’ns on each hand rise, ’

— That too’s a stone one, this is made of iron —

And little donkey-boys your steps environ,

Each proffering for your choice his tiny hack,

Vaunting its excellence; and should you hire one,

For sixpence, will he urge, with frequent thwack,

The much-enduring beast to Buenos Ayres — and back.

And there, on many a raw and gusty day,

I’ve stood and turn’d my gaze upon the pier,

And seen the crews, that did embark so gay

That self-same morn, now disembark so queer;

Then to myself I’ve sigh’d and said, ‘Oh dear!

Who would believe yon sickly looking man’s a

London Jack Tar, — a Cheapside Buccaneer! — ’

But hold my Muse! — for this terrific stanza,

Is all too stiffly grand for our Extravaganza.

. . .

‘So now we’ll go up, up, up,

And now we’ll go down, down, down,

And now we’ll go backwards and forwards,

And now we’ll go roun’ roun’ roun’.’ —

— I hope you’ve sufficient discernment to see,

Gentle Reader, that here the discarding the d,

Is a fault which you must not attribute to me;

Thus my Nurse cut it off when, ‘with counterfeit glee,’

She sung, as she danced me about on her knee,

In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and three:—

All I mean to say is that the Muse is now free

From the self-imposed trammels put on by her betters,

And no longer like Filch, midst the felons and debtors

At Drury Lane, dances her hornpipe in fetters.

Resuming her track,

At once she goes back,

To our hero the Bagman — Alas! and Alack!

Poor Anthony Blogg

Is as sick as a dog,

Spite of sundry unwonted potations of grog,

By the time the Dutch packet is fairly at sea,

With the sands called the Goodwin’s a league on her lee.

And now, my good friends, I’ve a fine opportunity

To obfuscate you all by sea terms with impunity,

And talking of ‘caulking’

And ‘quarter deck walking,’

‘Fore and aft,’

And ‘abaft’

‘Hookers,’ ‘barkeys,’ and ‘craft,’

(At which Mr. Poole has so wickedly laught,)

Of binnacles, — bilboes, — the boom called the spanker,

The best bower cable, — the jib, — and sheet anchor;

Of lower-deck guns, — and of broadsides and chases,

Of taffrails and topsails, and splicing main-braces,

And ‘Shiver my timbers!’ and other odd phrases

Employ’d by old pilots with hard-featured faces;

Of the expletives seafaring Gentlemen use,

The allusions they make to the eyes of their crews,

How the Sailors too swear,

How they cherish their hair,

And what very long pigtails a great many wear. —

But, Reader, I scorn it — the fact is, I fear,

To be candid, I can’t make these matters so clear

As Marryat, or Cooper, or Captain Chamier,

Or Sir E. Lytton Bulwer, who brought up the rear

Of the ‘Nauticals,’ just at the end of last year,

With a well written preface, to make it appear

That his play, the ‘Sea–Captain,’ ’s by no means small beer; —

There! — ’ brought up the rear’ — you see there’s a mistake

Which not one of the authors I’ve mentioned would make,

I ought to have said, that he ‘sail’d in their wake.’ —

So I’ll merely observe, as the water grew rougher

The more my poor hero continued to suffer,

Till the Sailors themselves cried in pity, ‘Poor Buffer!’

Still rougher it grew,

And still harder it blew,

And the thunder kick’d up such a halliballoo,

That even the Skipper began to look blue;

While the crew, who were few,

Look’d very queer too,

And seem’d not to know what exactly to do,

And they who’d the charge of them wrote in the logs,

‘Wind N.E. — blows a hurricane, — rains cats and dogs.’

In short it soon grew to a tempest as rude as

That Shakspeare describes near the ‘still vext Bermudas,’ [see appendix]

When the winds, in their sport,

Drove aside from its port

The King’s ship, with the whole Neapolitan Court,

And swamp’d it to give ‘the King’s Son, Ferdinand,’ a

Soft moment or two with the Lady Miranda,

While her Pa met the rest, and severely rebuked ’em

For unhandsomely doing him out of his Dukedom.

You don’t want me however to paint you a Storm,

As so many have done and in colours so warm;

Lord Byron, for instance, in manner facetious,

Mr. Ainsworth more gravely, — see also Lucretius,

— A writer who gave me no trifling vexation

When a youngster at school on Dean Colet’s foundation. —

Suffice it to say

That the whole of that day,

And the next, and the next, they were scudding away

Quite out of their course,

Propelled by the force

Of those flatulent folks known in Classical story as

Aquilo, Libs, Notus, Auster, and Boreas;

Driven quite at their mercy

Twixt Guernsey and Jersey,

Till at length they came bump on the rocks and the shallows,

In West longitude, one, fifty seven, near St. Maloes;

There you’ll not be surprized

That the vessel capsized,

Or that Blogg, who had made, from intestine commotions,

His specifical gravity less than the Ocean’s,

Should go floating away,

Midst the surges and spray,

Like a cork in a gutter, which, swoln by a shower,

Runs down Holborn hill about nine knots an hour.

You’ve seen, I’ve no doubt, at Bartholomew fair,

Gentle Reader, — that is if you’ve ever been there, —

With their hands tied behind them, some two or three pair

Of boys round a bucket set up on a chair,

Skipping, and dipping

Eyes, nose, chin, and lip in,

Their faces and hair with the water all dripping,

In an anxious attempt to catch hold of a pippin,

That bobs up and down in the water whenever

They touch it, as mocking the fruitless endeavour;

Exactly as Poets say, — how though they can’t tell us, —

Old Nick’s Nonpareils play at bob with poor Tantalus.

— Stay — I’m not clear,

But I’m rather out here;

’Twas the water itself that slipp’d from him, I fear;

Faith, I can’t recollect — and I haven’t Lempriere. —

No matter, — poor Blogg went on ducking and bobbing,

Sneezing out the salt water, and gulping and sobbing,

Just as Clarence, in Shakspeare, describes all the qualms he

Experienced while dreaming they’d drown’d him in Malmsey.

‘O Lord, he thought, what pain it was to drown!’

And saw great fishes, with great goggling eyes

Glaring, as he was bobbing up and down,

And looking as they thought him quite a prize,

When, as he sank, and all was growing dark,

A something seized him with its jaws! — A Shark? —

No such thing, Reader:— most opportunely for Blogg,

T’was a very large web-footed curly-tail’d Dog!

. . .

I’m not much of a trav’ler, and really can’t boast

That I know a great deal of the Brittany coast,

But I’ve often heard say

That, e’en to this day,

The people of Granville, St. Maloes, and thereabout

Are a class that Society doesn’t much care about,

Men who gain their subsistence by contraband dealing,

And a mode of abstraction strict people call ‘stealing;’

Notwithstanding all which, they are civil of speech,

Above all to a Stranger who comes within reach;

And they were so to Blogg,

When the curly-tail’d Dog

At last dragg’d him out, high and dry on the beach.

But we all have been told

By the proverb of old,

By no means to think ‘all that glitters is gold;’

And, in fact, some advance

That most people in France

Join the manners and air of a Maître de Danse,

To the morals — (as Johnson of Chesterfield said) —

Of an elderly Lady, in Babylon bred,

Much addicted to flirting and dressing in red. —

Be this as it might,

It embarrass’d Blogg quite

To find those about him so very polite.

A suspicious observer perhaps might have traced

The petites soins, tender’d with so much good taste,

To the sight of an old fashion’d pocket-book, placed

In a black leather belt well secured round his waist,

And a ring set with diamonds, his finger that graced,

So brilliant, no one could have guess’d they were paste.

The group on the shore

Consisted of four;

You will wonder perhaps, there were not a few more;

But the fact is they’ve not, in that part of the nation,

What Malthus would term, a ‘too dense population,’

Indeed the sole sign there of man’s habitation

Was merely a single

Rude hut, in a dingle

That led away inland direct from the shingle,

Its sides clothed with underwood, gloomy and dark,

Some two hundred yards above high-water mark;

And thither the party,

So cordial and hearty,

Viz. an old man, his wife, and two lads make a start, he,

The Bagman, proceeding,

With equal good breeding,

To express, in indifferent French, all he feels,

The great curly-tail’d Dog keeping close to his heels. —

They soon reach’d the hut, which seem’d partly in ruin,

All the way bowing, chattering, shrugging, Mon–Dieuing,

Grimacing, and what Sailors call parley-vooing.

. . .

Is it Paris or Kitchener, Reader, exhorts

You, whenever your stomach’s at all out of sorts,

To try, if you find richer viands wont stop in it,

A basin of good mutton broth with a chop in it?

(Such a basin and chop as I once heard a witty one

Call, at the Garrick ‘a d — d Committee one,’

An expression, I own, I do not think a pretty one.)

However it’s clear

That, with sound table beer,

Such a mess as I speak of is very good cheer;

Especially too

When a person’s wet through,

And is hungry, and tired, and don’t know what to do.

Now just such a mess of delicious hot pottage

Was smoking away when they enter’d the cottage,

And casting a truly delicious perfume

Through the whole of an ugly, old, ill-furnish’d room;

‘Hot, smoking hot,’

On the fire was a pot

Well replenish’d, but really I can’t say with what;

For, famed as the French always are for ragouts,

No creature can tell what they put in their stews,

Whether bull-frogs, old gloves, or old wigs, or old shoes;

Notwithstanding, when offer’d I rarely refuse,

Any more than poor Blogg did, when, seeing the reeky

Repast placed before him, scarce able to speak, he

In ecstacy mutter’d ‘By Jove, Cocky-leeky!’

In an instant, as soon

As they gave him a spoon,

Every feeling and faculty bent on the gruel, he

No more blamed Fortune for treating him cruelly,

But fell tooth and nail on the soup and the bouilli.

. . .

Meanwhile that old man standing by,

Subducted his long coat tails on high,

With his back to the fire, as if to dry

A part of his dress which the watery sky

Had visited rather inclemently. —

Blandly he smiled, but still he look’d sly,

And a something sinister lurk’d in his eye.

Indeed had you seen him, his maritime dress in,

You’d have own’d his appearance was not prepossessing,

He’d a ‘dreadnought’ coat, and heavy sabots

With thick wooden soles turn’d up at the toes,

His nether man cased in a striped quelque chose,

And a hump on his back, and a great hook’d nose,

So that nine out of ten would be led to suppose

That the person before them was Punch in plain clothes.

Yet still, as I told you, he smiled on all present,

And did all that lay in his power to look pleasant.

The old woman too

Made a mighty ado,

Helping her guest to a deal of the stew;

She fish’d up the meat, and she help’d him to that,

She help’d him to lean, and she help’d him to fat,

And it look’d like Hare — but it might have been Cat.

The little garçons too strove to express,

Their sympathy towards the ‘Child of distress’

With a great deal of juvenile French politesse;

But the Bagman bluff

Continued to ‘stuff’

Of the fat, and the lean, and the tender and tough,

Till they thought he would never cry ‘Hold, enough!’

And the old woman’s tones became far less agreeable,

Sounding like peste! and sacre! and diable!

I’ve seen an old saw which is well worth repeating,

That says,

‘Goode Eatynge

Deservyth goode Drynkynge.’

You’ll find it so printed by Carton or Wynkyn

And a very good proverb it is to my thinking.

Blogg thought so too; —

As he finished his stew,

His ear caught the sound of the word ‘Morbleu!’

Pronounced by the old woman under her breath.

Now, not knowing what she could mean by ‘Blue Death!’

He concieved she referr’d to a delicate brewing

Which is almost synonymous, — namely ‘Blue Ruin.’

So he pursed up his lip to a smile, and with glee,

In his cockneyfy’d accent, responded ‘Oh, Vee!’

Which made her understand he

Was asking for brandy;

So she turn’d to the cupboard, and, having some handy,

Produced, rightly deeming he would not object to it,

An orbicular bulb with a very long neck to it;

In fact you perceive her mistake, was the same as his,

Each of them ‘reasoning right from wrong premises;’

And here, by the way,

Allow me to say

— Kind Reader, you sometimes permit me to stray —

’Tis strange the French prove, when they take to aspersing,

So inferior to us in the science of cursing:

Kick a Frenchman down stairs,

How absurdly he swears!

And how odd ’tis to hear him, when beat to a jelly,

Roar out in a passion, ‘Blue Death!’ and ‘Blue Belly!’ —

‘To return to our sheep’ from this little digression:—

Blogg’s features assumed a complacent expression

As he emptied his glass, and she gave him a fresh one;

Too little he heeded

How fast they succeeded.

Perhaps you or I might have done, though, as he did;

For when once Madam Fortune deals out her hard raps,

It’s amazing to think

How one ‘cottons’ to drink!

At such times, of all things in nature, perhaps,

There’s not one that’s half so seducing as Schnaps.

Mr. Blogg, beside being uncommonly dry,

Was, like most other Bagmen, remarkably shy,

— ‘Did not like to deny’ —

— ‘Felt obliged to comply’ —

Every time that she ask’d him to ‘wet t’other eye;’

For ’twas worthy remark that she spared not the stoup,

Though before she had seem’d so to grudge him the soup.

At length the fumes rose

To his brain; and his nose

Gave hints of a strong disposition to doze,

And a yearning to seek ‘horizontal repose.’ —

His queer-looking host,

Who, firm at his post,

During all the long meal had continued to toast

That garment ’twere rude to

Do more than allude to,

Perceived, from his breathing and nodding, the views

Of his guest were directed to ‘taking a snooze:’

So he caught up a lamp in his huge dirty paw,

With (as Blogg used to tell it) ‘Mounseer, swivvy maw!’

And ‘marshalled’ him so

‘The way he should go,’

Upstairs to an attic, large, gloomy, and low,

Without table or chair,

Or a moveable there,

Save an old-fashion’d bedstead, much out of repair,

That stood at the end most removed from the stair. —

With a grain and a shrug

The host points to the rug,

Just as much as to say, ‘There! — I think you’ll be snug!’

Puts the light on the floor,

Walks to the door,

Makes a formal Salaam, and is then seen no more;

When, just as the ear lost the sound of his tread,

To the Bagman’s surprise, and, at first, to his dread,

The great curly-tail’d Dog crept from under the bed!

It’s a very nice thing when a man’s in a fright,

And thinks matters all wrong, to find matters all right;

As, for instance, when going home late-ish at night

Through a Churchyard, and seeing a thing all in white,

Which, of course, one is led to consider a Sprite,

To find that the Ghost

Is merely a post,

Or a miller, or chalky-faced donkey at most;

Or, when taking a walk as the evenings begin

To close, or, as some people call it, ‘draw in,’

And some undefined form, ‘looming large’ through the haze,

Presents itself, right in your path, to your gaze,

Inducing a dread

Of a knock on the head,

Or a sever’d carotid, to find that, instead

Of one of those ruffians who murder and fleece men,

It’s your Uncle, or one of the ‘Rural Policemen;’

Then the blood flows again

Through artery and vein;

You’re delighted with what just before gave you pain;

You laugh at your fears — and your friend in the fog

Meets a welcome as cordial as Anthony Blogg

Now bestow’d on his friend — the great curly-tail’d Dog.

For the Dog leap’d up, and his paws found a place

On each side his neck in a canine embrace,

And he lick’d Blogg’s hands, and he lick’d his face,

And he waggled his tail as much as to say,

‘Mr. Blogg, we’ve foregather’d before to-day!’

And the Bagman saw, as he now sprang up,

What beyond all doubt

He might have found out

Before, had he not been so eager to sup,

’Twas Sancho! — the Dog he had rear’d from a pup!

The Dog who when sinking had seized his hair, —

The Dog who had saved, and conducted him there, —

The Dog he had lost out of Billiter Square!!

It’s passing sweet,

An absolute treat,

When friends, long sever’d by distance, meet, —

With what warmth and affection each other they greet!

Especially, too, as we very well know,

If there seems any chance of a little cadeau,

A ‘Present from Brighton,’ or ‘Token,’ to show,

In the shape of a work-box, ring, bracelet, or so,

That our friends don’t forget us, although they may go

To Ramsgate, or Rome, or Fernando Po.

If some little advantage seems likely to start,

From a fifty-pound note to a two-penny tart,

It’s surprising to see how it softens the heart,

And you’ll find those whose hopes from the other are strongest,

Use, in common, endearments the thickest and longest.

But it was not so here;

For although it is clear,

When abroad, and we have not a single friend near,

E’en a cur that will love us becomes very dear,

And the balance of interest ‘twixt him and the Dog

Of course was inclining to Anthony Blogg,

Yet he, first of all, ceased

To encourage the beast,

Perhaps thinking ‘Enough is as good as a feast;’

And besides, as we’ve said, being sleepy and mellow,

He grew tired of patting, and crying ‘Poor fellow!’

So his smile by degrees harden’d into a frown,

And his ‘That’s a good dog!’ into ‘Down, Sancho! down!’

But nothing could stop his mute fav’rite’s caressing,

Who, in fact, seem’d resolved to prevent his undressing,

Using paws, tail, and head,

As if he had said,

‘Most beloved of masters, pray, don’t go to bed;

You had much better sit up and pat me instead!’

Nay, at last, when, determined to take some repose,

Blogg threw himself down on the outside the clothes,

Spite of all he could do,

The Dog jump’d up too,

And kept him awake with his very cold nose;

Scratching and whining,

And moaning and pining,

Till Blogg really believed he must have some design in

Thus breaking his rest; above all, when at length

The Dog scratch’d him off from the bed by sheer strength.

Extremely annoy’d by the ‘tarnation whop,’ as it

‘s call’d in Kentuck, on his head and its opposite,

Blogg show’d fight;

When he saw, by the light

Of the flickering candle, that had not yet quite

Burnt down in the socket, though not over bright,

Certain dark-colour’d stains, as of blood newly spilt,

Revealed by the dog’s having scratch’d off the quilt,

Which hinted a story of horror and guilt!

’Twas ‘no mistake,’ —

He was ‘wide awake’

In an instant; for, when only decently drunk,

Nothing sobers a man so completely as ‘funk.’

And hark! — what’s that? —

They have got into chat

In the kitchen below — what the deuce are they at? —

There’s the ugly old Fisherman scolding his wife —

And she! — by the Pope! she’s whetting a knife! —

At each twist

Of her wrist,

And her great mutton fist,

The edge of the weapon sounds shriller and louder! —

The fierce kitchen fire

Had not made Blogg perspire

Half so much, or a dose of the best James’s powder. —

It ceases — all’s silent! — and now, I declare

There’s somebody crawls up that rickety stair!

. . .

The horrid old ruffian comes, cat-like, creeping;

He opens the door just sufficient to peep in,

And sees, as he fancies, the Bagman sleeping!

For Blogg, when he’d once ascertain’d that there was some

‘Precious mischief’ on foot, had resolved to ‘play ‘Possum:’ —

Down he went, legs and head,

Flat on the bed,

Apparently sleeping as sound as the dead;

While, though none who look’d at him would think such a thing,

Every nerve in his frame was braced up for a spring.

Then, just as the villain

Crept, stealthily still, in,

And you’d not have insured his guest’s life for a shilling,

As the knife gleam’d on high, bright and sharp as a razor,

Blogg, starting upright, ‘tipped’ the fellow ‘a facer:’

Down went man and weapon. — Of all sorts of blows,

From what Mr. Jackson reports, I suppose

There are few that surpass a flush hit on the nose.

Now, had I the pen of old Ossian or Homer,

(Though each of these names some pronounce a misnomer,

And say the first person

Was called James M’Pherson,

While, as to the second, they stoutly declare

He was no one knows who, and born no one knows where,)

Or had I the quill of Pierce Egan, a writer

Acknowledged the best theoretical fighter

For the last twenty years,

By the lively young Peers,

Who, doffing their coronets, collars, and ermines, treat

Boxers to ‘Max,’ at the One Tun in Jermyn Street; —

— I say, could I borrow these Gentlemen’s Muses,

More skill’d than my meek one in ‘fibbings’ and bruises,

I’d describe now to you

As ‘prime a Set-to,’

And ‘regular turn-up,’ as ever you knew;

Not inferior in ‘bottom’ to aught you have read of

Since Cribb, years ago, half knock’d Molyneux’ head off.

But my dainty Urania says, ‘Such things are shocking!’

Lace mittens she loves,

Detesting ‘The Gloves;’

And turning, with air most disdainfully mocking,

From Melpomene’s buskin, adopts the silk stocking.

So, as far as I can see,

I must leave you to ‘fancy’

The thumps, and the bumps, and the ups and the downs,

And the taps, and the slaps, and the raps on the crowns,

That pass’d ‘twixt the Husband, Wife, Bagman, and Dog,

As Blogg roll’d over them, and they roll’d over Blogg;

While what’s called ‘The Claret’

Flew over the garret:

Merely stating the fact,

As each other they whack’d,

The Dog his old master most gallantly back’d;

Making both the garcons, who came running in, sheer off,

With ‘Hippolyte’s’ thumb, and ‘Alphonse’s’ left ear off;

Next, making a stoop on

The buffeting group on

The floor, rent in tatters the old woman’s jupon;

Then the old man turn’d up, and a fresh bite of Sancho’s

Tore out the whole seat of his striped Callimancoes.

Really, which way

This desperate fray

Might have ended at last, I’m not able to say,

The dog keeping thus the assassins at bay:

But a few fresh arrivals decided the day;

For bounce went the door,

In came half a score

Of the passengers, sailors, and one or two more

Who had aided the party in gaining the shore!

It’s a great many years ago — mine then were few —

Since I spent a short time in the old Courageux; —

I think that they say

She had been, in her day,

A First-rate, but was then what they term a Rasée, —

And they took me on board in the Downs, where she lay.

(Captain Wilkinson held the command, by the way.)

In her I pick’d up, on that single occasion,

The little I know that concerns Navigation,

And obtained, inter alia, some vague information

Of a practice which often, in cases of robbing,

Was adopted on shipboard — I think ’twas called ‘Cobbing.’

How ’twas managed exactly I really can’t say,

But I think that a Boot-jack was brought into play —

That is, if I’m right:— it exceeds my ability

To tell how ‘t is done;

But the system is one

Of which Sancho’s exploit would increase the facility.

And, from all I could learn, I’d much rather be robb’d

Of the little I have in my purse, than be ‘cobb’d;’ —

That’s mere matter of taste:

But the Frenchman was placed —

I mean the old scoundrel whose actions we’ve traced —

In such a position, that on this unmasking,

His consent was the last thing the men thought of asking.

The old woman, too,

Was obliged to go through,

With her boys, the rough discipline used by the crew,

Who, before they let one of the set see the back of them,

‘Cobb’d’ the whole party, — ay, ‘every man Jack of them.’


And now, Gentle Reader, before that I say

Farewell for the present, and wish you good day,

Attend to the moral I draw from my lay! —

If ever you travel, like Anthony Blogg,

Be wary of strangers! — don’t take too much grog! —

And don’t fall asleep, if you should, like a hog:

Above all — carry with you a curly-tail’d Dog!

Lastly, don’t act like Blogg, who, I say it with blushing,

Sold Sancho next month for two guineas at Flushing,

But still on these words of the Bard keep a fixt eye,



I felt so disgusted with Blogg, from sheer shame of him,

I never once thought to inquire what became of him;

If you want to know, Reader, the way, I opine,

To achieve your design, —

Mind, it’s no wish of mine, —

Is, — (a penny will do ‘t,) — by addressing a line

To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne.


Since penning this stanza, a learn’d Antiquary

Has put my poor Muse in no trifling quandary,

By writing an essay to prove that he knows a

Spot which, in truth, is

The real ‘Bermoothes,’

In the Mediterranean, — now called Lampedosa;

For proofs, having made, as he farther alleges, stir,

An entry was found in the old Parish Register,

The which at his instance the excellent Vicar extracted:

viz. ‘Caliban, base son of Sycorax.’ —

— He had rather by half

Have found Prospero’s ‘Staff;’

But twas useless to dig, for the want of a pick or axe. —

Colonel Paisley, however, ’tis everywhere said,

When he’s blown up the whole Royal George at Spit-head,

Takes his new apparatus, and goes out to look

And see if he can’t try and blow up ‘the Book.’ —

— Gentle Reader, farewell! — If I add one more line,

He’ll be, in all likelihood, blowing up mine!

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56