The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby

The Lay of the Old Woman Clothed in Grey: A Legend of Dover.

Once there lived, as I’ve heard people say,

An ‘Old Woman clothed in grey,’

So furrow’d with care,

So haggard her air,

In her eye such a wild supernatural stare,

That all who espied her,

Immediately shied her,

And strove to get out of her way.

This fearsome Old Woman was taken ill;

— She sent for the Doctor — he sent her a pill,

And by way of a trial,

A two-shilling phial

Of green-looking fluid, like lava diluted.

To which I’ve professed an abhorrence most rooted.1

One of those draughts they so commonly send us,

Labell’d ‘Haustus catharticus, mane sumendus;’

She made a wry face,

And, without saying Grace,

Toss’d it off like a dram — it improved not her case.

— The Leech came again;

He now open’d a vein,

Still the little Old Woman continued in pain.

So her ‘Medical Man,’ although loth to distress her,

Conceived it high time that her Father Confessor

Should be sent for to shrive, and assoilzie, and bless her

That she might not slip out of these troublesome scenes

‘Unaneal’d and Unhouseled,’ whatever that means.2

Growing afraid,

He calls to his aid

A bandy-legg’d neighbour, a ‘Tailor by trade,’3

Tells him his fears,

Bids him lay by his shears,

His thimble, his goose, and his needle, and hie

With all possible speed to the Convent hard by,

Requests him to say

That he begs they’ll all pray,

Viz.: The whole pious brotherhood, Cleric and Lay,

For the soul of an Old Woman clothed in grey,

Who was just at that time in a very bad way,

And he really believed couldn’t last out the day; —

And to state his desire

That some erudite Friar,

Would run over at once, and examine, and try her;

For he thought he would find

There was ‘something behind,’

A something that weigh’d on the Old Woman’s mind, —

‘In fact he was sure, from what fell from her tongue,

That this little Old Woman had done something wrong.’ —

Then he wound up the whole with this hint to the man,

‘Mind and pick out as holy a friar as you can!’

Now I’d have you to know

That this story of woe,

Which I’m telling you, happen’d a long time ago;

I can’t say exactly how long, nor, I own,

What particular monarch was then on the throne,

But ’twas here in Old England: and all that one knows is,

It must have preceded the Wars of the Roses.4

Inasmuch as the times

Described in these rhymes,

Were as fruitful in virtues as ours are in crimes;

And if’mongst the

Laity Unseemly gaiety

Sometimes betray’d an occasional taint or two

At once all the Clerics

Went into hysterics,

While scarcely a convent but boasted its Saint or two;

So it must have been long ere the line of the Tudors,

As since then the breed

Of Saints rarely indeed

With their dignified presence have darken’d our pew doors.

— Hence the late Mr. Froude, and the live Dr. Pusey

We moderns consider as each worth a Jew’s eye;

Though Wiseman and Dullman 5 combine against Newman,

With Doctors and Proctors, and say he’s no true man.

— But this by the way. — The Convent I speak about

Had Saints in scores — they said Mass week and week about;

And the two now on duty were each, for their piety,

‘Second to none’ in that holy society,

And well might have borne

Those words which are worn

By our ‘Nulli Secundus’ Club — poor dear lost muttons

Of Guardsmen — on Club days, inscribed on their buttons. —

They would read, write, and speak Latin, Hebrew, and Greek,

A radish-bunch munch for a lunch, — or a leek;

Though scoffers and boobies

Ascribed certain rubies

That garnished the nose of the good Father Hilary

To the overmuch use of Canary and Sillery,

— Some said spirituous compounds of viler distillery —

Ah! little reck’d they

That with Friars, who say

Fifty Paters a night, and a hundred a day,

A very slight sustenance goes a great way —

Thus the consequence was that his colleague, Basilius,

Won golden opinions, by looking more bilious,

From all who conceived strict monastical duty

By no means conducive to personal beauty;

And being more meagre, and thinner, and paler,

He was snapt up at once by the bandy-legg’d Tailor.

The latter’s concern

For a speedy return

Scarce left the Monk time to put on stouter sandals,

Or go round to his shrines, and snuff all his Saint’s candles;

Still less had he leisure to change the hair-shirt he

Had worn the last twenty years — probably thirty, —

Which not being wash’d all that time, had grown dirty.

— It seems there’s a sin in

The wearing clean linen,

Which Friars must eschew at the very beginning,

Though it makes them look frowsy, and drowsy, and blowsy,

And — a rhyme modern etiquette never allows ye. —

As for the rest,

E’en if time had not prest,

It didn’t much matter how Basil was drest,

Nor could there be any great need for adorning,

The Night being almost at odds with the Morning.

Oh! sweet and beautiful is Night, when the silver Moon is high,

And countless Stars, like clustering gems, hang sparkling in the sky, —

While the balmy breath of the summer breeze comes whispering down the glen,

Aud one fond voice alone is heard — oh! Night is lovely then!

But when that voice, in feeble moans of sickness and of pain,

But mocks the anxious ear that strives to catch its sounds in vain, —

When silently we watch the bed, by the taper’s flickering light,

Where all we love is fading fast — how terrible is Night!!

More terrible yet, If you happen to get

By an old woman’s bedside, who, all her life long,

Has been, what the vulgar call ‘coming it strong’

In all sorts of ways that are naughty and wrong. —

As Confessions are sacred, it’s not very facile

To ascertain what the old hag said to Basil;

But whatever she said,

It filled him with dread,

And made all his hair stand on end on his head, —

No great feat to perform, inasmuch as said hair

Being clipped by the tonsure, his crown was left bare,

So of course Father Basil had little to spare;

But the little he had

Seem’d as though ‘t had gone mad,

Each lock, as by action galvanic, uprears

In the two little tufts on the tops of his ears. —

What the old woman said

That so ‘fill’d him with dread,’

We should never have known any more than the dead,

If the bandy-legg’d Tailor, his errand thus sped,

Had gone quietly back to his needle and thread,

As he ought; but instead,

Curiosity led, —

A feeling we all deem extremely ill-bred, —

He contrived to secrete himself under the bed!

— Not that he heard

One half, or a third

Of what passed as the Monk and the Patient conferred,

Put he here and there managed to pick up a word,

Such as ‘Knife,’ And ‘Life,’

And he thought she said ‘Wife,’

And ‘Money,’ that ‘source of all evil and strife;’6

Then he plainly distinguished the words ‘Gore,’ and ‘Gash,’

Whence he deem’d — and I don’t think his inference rash —

She had cut some one’s throat for the sake of his cash!

Intermix’d with her moans,

And her sighs and her groans,

Enough to have melted the hearts of the stones,

Came at intervals Basil’s sweet, soft, silver tones,

For somehow it happened — I can’t tell you why —

The good Friar’s indignation, — at first rather high, —

To judge from the language he used in reply,

Ere the Old Woman ceas’d, had a good deal gone by;

And he gently address’d her in accents of honey,

‘Daughter, don’t you despair! — WHAT’S BECOME OF THE MONEY?’

In one just at Death’s door it was really absurd

To see how her eye lighted up at that word —

Indeed there’s not one in the language that I know,

(Save its synonyms ‘Spanish,’ ‘Blunt,’ ‘Stumpy,’ and ‘Rhino,’)

Which acts so direct,

And with so much effect

On the human sensorium, or makes one erect

One’s ears so, as soon as the sound we detect —

It’s a question with me

Which of the three,

Father Basil himself, though a grave S.T.P.

(Such as he have, you see, the degree of D.D.)

Or the eaves-dropping, bandy-legg’d Tailor, — or She

Caught it quickest — however traditions agree

That the Old Woman perk’d up as brisk as a bee. —

’Twas the last quivering flare of the taper, — the fire

It so often emits when about to expire!

Her excitement began the same instant to flag,

She sank back, and whisper’d, ‘Safe! — Safe! in the Bag!!’

Now I would not by any means have you suppose

That the good Father Basil was just one of those

Who entertain views

We’re so apt to abuse,

As neither befitting Turks, Christians, nor Jews,

Who haunt death-bed scenes,

By underhand means

To toady or teaze people out of a legacy, —

For few folk indeed, had such good right to beg as he,

Since Rome, in her pure Apostolical beauty,

Not only permits, but enjoins, as a duty,

Her sons to take care

That, let who will be heir,

The Pontiff shall not be choused out of his share,

Nor stand any such mangling of chattels and goods,

As, they say, was the case with the late Jemmy Wood’s;

Her Conclaves, and Councils, and Synods in short main —

tain principles adverse to statutes of Mortmain;

Besides you’ll discern

It, at once, when you learn

That Basil had something to give in return,

Since it rested with him to say how she should burn,

Nay, as to her ill-gotten wealth, should she turn it all

To uses he named, he could say, ‘You shan’t burn at all,

Or nothing to signify,

Not what you’d dignify

So much as even to call it a roast,

But a mere little singeing, or scorching at most, —

What many would think not unpleasantly warm, —

Just to keep up appearance — mere matter of form.’

All this in her ear,

He declared, but I fear

That her senses were wand’ring — she seem’d not to hear,

Or, at least, understand, — for mere unmeaning talk her

Parch’d lips babbled now, — such as ‘Hookey!’ — and ‘Walker!’

— She expired, with her last breath expressing a doubt

If ‘his Mother were fully aware he was out?’

Now it seems there’s a place they call Purgat’ry — so

I must write it, my verse not admitting the O —

But as for the venue, I vow I’m perplext

To say if it’s in this world, or if in the next —

Or whether in both — for ’tis very well known

That St. Patrick, at least, has got one of his own,

In a ‘tight little Island’ that stands in a Lake

Call’d ‘Lough-dearg’ — that’s ‘The Red Lake,’ unless I mistake

In Fermanagh — or Antrim — or Donegal — which

I declare I can’t tell, But I know very well

It’s in latitude 54, nearly their pitch

(At Tappington, now, I could look in the Gazetteer,

But I’m out on a visit, and nobody has it here).

There are some, I’m aware,

Who don’t stick to declare

There’s ‘no differ’ at all ‘twixt ‘this here’ and ‘that there.’

That it’s all the same place, but the Saint reserves his entry

For the separate use of the ‘finest of pisentry,’

And that his is no more Than a mere private door

From the rez-de-chaussée, — as some call the ground floor, —

To the one which the Pope had found out long before,

But no matter — lay

The locale where you may;

— And where it is no one exactly can say —

There’s one thing, at least, which is known very well,

That it acts as a Tap-room to Satan’s Hotel.

‘Entertainment’s’ there worse

Both for ‘Man and for Horse;’

For broiling the souls They use Lord Mayor’s coals; —

Then the sulphur’s inferior, and boils up much slower

Than the fine fruity brimstone they give you down lower.

It’s by no means so strong —

Mere sloe-leaves to Souchong,

The ‘prokers’ are not half so hot, or so long,

By an inch or two, either in handle or prong;

The Vipers and Snakes are less sharp in the tooth,

And the Nondescript Monsters not near so uncouth; —

In short, it’s a place the good Pope, its creator,

Made for what’s called by Cockneys a ‘Minor The-átre.’

Better suited, of course, for a ‘minor performer,’

Than the ‘House,’ that’s so much better lighted and warmer,

Below, in that queer place which nobody mentions, —

— You understand where

I don’t question — down there

Where in lieu of wood blocks, and such modern inventions,

The Paving Commissioners use ‘Good Intentions,’

Materials which here would be thought on by few men,

With so many founts of Asphaltic bitumen

At hand, at the same time to pave and illumine.

To go on with my story,

This same Purga-tory,

(There! I’ve got in the O, to my Muse’s great glory,)

Is close lock’d, and the Pope keeps the keys of it — that I can

Boldly affirm — in his desk in the Vatican;

— Not those of St. Peter — Those of which I now treat, are

A bunch by themselves, and much smaller and neater —

And so cleverly made, Mr. Chubb could not frame a

Key better contrived for its purpose — nor Bramah.

Now it seems that by these

Most miraculous keys

Not only the Pope, but his ‘clargy,’ with ease

Can let people in and out just as they please;

And — provided you ‘make it all right’ about fees,

There is not a friar, Dr. Wiseman will own, of them,

But can always contrive to obtain a short loan of them;

And Basil, no doubt,

Had brought matters about,

If the little old woman would but have ‘spoke out,’

So far as to get for her one of those tickets,

Or passes, which clear both the great gates and wickets;

So that after a grill,

Or short turn on the Mill,

And with no worse a singeing, to purge her iniquity,

Than a Freemason gets in the ‘Lodge of Antiquity,’

She’d have rubb’d off old scores,

Popp’d out of doors,

And sheer’d off at once for a happier port,

Like a white-wash’d Insolvent that’s ‘gone through the Court.’

But Basil was one

Who was not to be done

By any one, either in earnest or fun; —

The cunning old beads-telling son of a gun,

In all bargains, unless he’d his quid for his quo,

Would shake his bald pate, and pronounce it ‘No go.’

So unless you’re a dunce,

You’ll see clearly, at once,

When you come to consider the facts of the case, he,

Of course never gave her his Vade in pace;

And the consequence was, when the last mortal throe

Released her pale Ghost from these regions of woe,

The little Old Woman had nowhere to go!

For, what could she do? She very well knew

If she went to the gates

I have mention’d to you,

Without Basil’s, or some other passport to shew,

The Cheque-takers never would let her go through;

While, as to the other place, e’en had she tried it,

And really had wished it, as much as she shied it,

(For no one who knows what it is can abide it,)

Had she knock’d at the portal with ne’er so much din,

Though she died in, what folks at Rome call, ‘Mortal sin,’

Yet Old Nick, for the life of him, daren’t take her in,

As she’d not been turn’d formally out of ‘the pale:— ’

So much the bare name of the Pope made him quail,

In the times that I speak of, his courage would fail

Of Rome’s vassals the lowest and worst to assail,

Or e’en touch with so much as the end of his tail;

Though, now he’s grown older,

They say he’s much bolder,

And his Holiness not only gets the ‘cold shoulder,’

But Nick rumps him completely, and don’t seem to care a

Dump — that’s the word — for his triple tiara.

Well — what shall she do? —

What’s the course to pursue? —

‘Try St. Peter? — the step is a bold one to take;

For the Saint is, there can’t be a doubt, ‘wide awake;’

But then there’s a quaint

Old Proverb says “Faint

Heart ne’er won fair Lady,” then how win a Saint? —

I’ve a great mind to try —

One can but apply;

If things come to the worst why he can but deny —

The sky

‘s rather high

To be sure — but, now I

That cumbersome carcass of clay have laid by,

I am just in the “order” which some folks — though why

I am sure I can’t tell you — would call “Apple-pie.”

Then “never say die!”

It won’t do to be shy,

So I’ll tuck up my shroud, and here goes for a fly!’

— So said and so done — she was off like a shot,

And kept on the whole way at a pretty smart trot.

When she drew so near

That the Saint could see her,

In a moment he frown’d, and began to look queer,

And scarce would allow her to make her case clear,

Ere he pursed up his mouth ‘twixt a sneer and a jeer,

With ‘It’s all very well, — but you do not lodge here!’

Then, calling her everything but ‘My dear!’

He applied his great toe with some force au derrière,

And dismissed her at once with a flea in her ear.

‘Alas! poor Ghost!’ It’s a doubt which is most

To be pitied — one doom’d to fry, broil, boil, and roast, —

Or one bandied about thus from pillar to post, —

To be ‘all abroad’ — to be ‘stump’d’ not to know where

To go — so disgraced

As not to be ‘placed,’ —

Or, as Crocky would say to Jem Bland, ‘To be Nowhere.’ —

However that be,

The affaire was finie,

And the poor wretch rejected by all, as you see!

Mr. Oliver Goldsmith observes — not the Jew —

That the ‘Hare whom the hounds and the huntsmen pursue,’

Having no other sort of asylum in view,

‘Returns back again to the place whence she flew,’

A fact which experience has proved to be true. —

Mr. Gray, — in opinion with whom Johnson clashes, —

Declares that our ‘wonted fires live in our ashes.’ — 7

These motives combined, perhaps brought back the hag,

The first to her mansion, the last to her bag,

When only conceive her dismay and surprise,

As a Ghost how she open’d her cold stony eyes,

When there, — on the spot where she’d hid her ‘supplies,’ —

In an underground cellar of very small size,

Working hard with a spade,

All at once she survey’d

That confounded old bandy-legg’d ‘Tailor by trade.’

Fancy the tone

Of the half moan, half groan,

Which burst from the breast of the Ghost of the crone!

As she stood there, — a figure ‘twixt moonshine and stone,

Only fancy the glare in her eyeballs that shone!

Although, as Macbeth says, ‘they’d no speculation,’

While she utter’d that word

Which American Bird,

Or James Fenimore Cooper, would render ‘Tarnation!!’

At the noise which she made

Down went the spade! —

And up jump’d the bandy-legg’d ‘Tailor by trade’

(Who had shrewdly conjectured, from something that fell, her

Deposit was somewhere conceal’d in the cellar;)

Turning round at a sound

So extremely profound,

The moment her shadowy form met his view

He gave vent to a sort of a lengthened ‘Bo-o — ho-o!’ —

With a countenance Keeley alone could put on,

Made one grasshopper spring to the door — and was gone!

Erupit! Evasit!

As at Rome they would phrase it —

His flight was so swift, the eye scarcely could trace it,

Though elderly, bandy-legg’d, meagre, and sickly,

I doubt if the Ghost could have vanish’d more quickly;

He reach’d his own shop, and then fell into fits,

And it’s said never rightly recover’d his wits,

While the chuckling old Hag takes his place and there sits!

Made one grasshopper spring to the door — and was gone!

I’ll venture to say,

She’d sat there to this day,

Brooding over what Cobbett calls ‘vile yellow clay,’

Like a vulture, or other obscene bird of prey,

O’er the nest full of eggs she has managed to lay,

If, as legends relate, and I think we may trust ’em, her

Stars had not brought her another guess customer —

’Twas Basil himself! —

Come to look for her pelf:

But not, like the Tailor, to dig, delve, and grovel

And grub in the cellar with pickaxe and shovel:

Full well he knew

Such tools would not do, —

Far other the weapons he brought into play,

Viz. a Wax-taper ‘hallow’d on Candlemas-day,’

To light to her ducats, —

Holy water, two buckets,

Made with salt — half a peck to four gallons — which brews a

(Strong triple X ‘strike,’ — see Jacobus de Chusa).

With these, too, he took

His bell and his book —

Not a nerve ever trembled, — his hand never shook,

As he boldly marched up where she sat in her nook,

Glow’ring round with that wild indescribable look,

Which Some may have read of, perchance, in ‘Nell Cook,’8

All, in ‘Martha the Gipsy,’ by Theodore Hook.

And now, for the reason I gave you before,

Of what pass’d then and there I can tell you no more,

As no Tailor was near with his ear at the door;

But I’ve always been told,

With respect to the gold,

For which she her ‘jewel eternal’ had sold,

That the old Harridan,

Who, no doubt, knew her man,

Made some compromise — hit upon some sort of plan,

By which Friar and Ghost were both equally pinn’d —

Heaven only knows how the ‘Agreement’ got wind;

But its purport was this,

That the things done amiss

By the Hag should not hinder her ultimate bliss;

Provided — ‘Imprimis,

The cash from this time is

The Church’s — impounded for good pious uses —

— Father B. shall dispose of it just as he chooses,

And act as trustee —

In the meantime that She,

The said Ghostess, — or Ghost, — as the matter may be, —

From ‘impediment,’ ‘hindrance,’ and ‘let’ shall be free,

To sleep in her grave, or to wander, as he

The said Friar, with said Ghost, may hereafter agree. —

Moreover — The whole

Of the said cash, or ‘cole,’

Shall be spent for the good of said Old Woman’s soul!

‘It is further agreed — while said cash is so spending,

Said Ghost shall be fully absolv’d from attending,

And shall quiet remain

In the grave, her domain,

To have, and enjoy, and uphold, and maintain,

Without molestation, or trouble or pain,

Hindrance, let, or impediment (over again)

From Old Nick, or from any one else of his train,

Whether Pow’r — Domination, — or Princedom, — or Throne,9

Or by what name soever the same may be known,

Howsoe’er called by Poets, or styled by Divines, —

Himself, — his executors, heirs, and assigns.

‘Provided that, — nevertheless, — notwithstanding

All herein contain’d, — if whoever’s a hand in

Dispensing said cash, — or said ‘cole,’ — shall dare venture

To misapply money, note, bill, or debenture

To uses not named in this present Indenture,

Then that such sum, or sums, shall revert, and come home again

Back to said Ghost, — who thenceforward shall roam again,

Until such time, or times, as the said Ghost produces

Some good man and true, who no longer refuses

To put sum, or sums, aforesaid, to said uses;

Which duly performed, the said Ghost shall have rest,

The full term of her natural death, of the best,

In full consideration of this, her bequest,

In manner and form aforesaid, — as exprest:—

In witness whereof, we, the parties aforesaid,

Hereunto set our hands and our seals — and no more said,

Being all that these presents intend to express,

Whereas — notwithstanding — and nevertheless.

‘Sign’d, sealed, and deliver’d, this 20th of May,

Anno Domini, blank, (though I’ve mentioned the day,)




Basil now, I am told,

Walking off with the gold,

Went and straight got the document duly enroll’d,

And left the testatrix to mildew and mould

In her sepulchre, cosy, cool, — not to say cold.

But somehow — though how I can hardly divine, —

A runlet of fine

Rich Malvoisie wine

Found its way to the convent that night before nine,

With custards, and ‘flawns,’ and a ‘fayre florentine,’

Peach, apricot, nectarine, melon, and pine; —

And some half a score Nuns of the rule Bridgetine,

Abbess and all, were invited to dine

At a very late hour, — that is after Compline. —

— Father Hilary’s rubies began soon to shine

With fresh lustre, as though newly dug from the mine;

Through all the next year,

Indeed ‘twould appear

That the Convent was mnch better off, as to cheer,

Even Basil himself, as I very much fear,

No longer addicted himself to small beer;

His complexion grew clear,

While in front and in rear

He enlarged so, his shape seem’d approaching a sphere.

No wonder at all, then, one cold winter’s night,

That a servant girl going down stairs with a light

To the cellar we’ve spoken of, saw, with affright

An Old Woman, astride on a barrel, invite

Her to take, in a manner extremely polite,

With her left hand, a bag, she had got in her right; —

For tradition asserts

That the Old Woman’s purse

Had come back to her scarcely one penny the worse!

The girl, as they say,

Ran screaming away,

Quite scared by the Old Woman clothed in grey;

But there came down a Knight, at no distant a day,

Sprightly and gay

As the bird on the spray,

One Sir Rufus Mountfardington, Lord of Foot’s cray,

Whose estate, not unlike those of most of our ‘Swell’ beaux,

Was, what’s, by a metaphor, term’d ‘out at elbows;’

And the fact was, said Knight was now merely delay’d

From crossing the water to join the Crusade

For converting the Pagans with bill, bow, and blade,

By the want of a little pecuniary aid

To buy arms and horses, the tools of his trade,

And enable his troop to appear on parade;

The unquiet Shade

Thought Sir Rufus, ’tis said,

Just the man for her money, — she readily paid

For the articles named, and with pleasure convey’d

To his hands every farthing she ever had made;

Bnt alas! I’m afraid

Most unwisely she laid

Out her cash — the beaux yeux of a Saracen maid

(Truth compels me to say a most pestilent jade)

Converted the gallant converter — betray’d

Him to do everything which a Knight could degrade,

— E’en to worship Mahound! — She required — He obey’d, —

The consequence was, all the money was wasted

On Infidel pleasures he should not have tasted;

So that, after a very short respite, the Hag

Was seen down in her cellar again with her bag.

Don’t fancy, dear Reader, I mean to go on

Seriatim through so many ages bygone,

And to bore you with names

Of the Squires and the Dames,

Who have managed, at times, to get hold of the sack,

But spent the cash so that it always came back;

The list is too long

To be given in my song, —

There are reasons beside, would perhaps make it wrong;

I shall merely observe, in those orthodox days,

When Mary set Smithfield all o’er in a blaze,

And show’d herself very se —

vere against heresy,

While many a wretch scorned to flinch, or to scream, as he

Burnt for denying the Papal supremacy,

Bishop Bonner the bag got,

And all thought the Hag got

Releas’d, as he spent all in fuel and faggot. —

But somehow — though how

I can’t tell you, I vow —

I suppose by mismanagement — ere the next reign

The Spectre had got all her money again.

The last time, I’m told,

That the Old Woman’s gold

Was obtained, — as before, — for the asking — ’twas had

By a Mr. O— Something — from Ballinafad;

And the whole of it, so ’tis reported, was sent

To John Wright’s, in account for the Catholic Rent,

And thus — like a great deal more money — it went!’

So ’tis said at Maynooth,

But I can’t think it’s truth;

Though I know it was boldly asserted last season,

Still I can not believe it; and that for this reason,

It’s certain the cash has got back to its owner!’

— Now no part of the Rent to do so e’er was known, — or,

In any shape, ever come home to the donor.

Gentle reader! — you must know the proverb, I think, —

‘To a blind horse a Nod is a good as a Wink!’

Which some learned Chap,

In a square College cap,

Perhaps, would translate by the words ‘Verbum Sap!’

— Now should it so chance

That you’re going to France

In the course of next Spring, as you probably may,

Do pull up, and stay,


If but for a day,

At Dover, through which you must pass on your way,

At the York, — or the Ship, — where, as all people say,

You’ll get good wine yourself, and your horses good hay,

Perhaps, my good friend, you may find it will pay,

And you cannot lose much by so short a delay.

First DINE! — you can do

That on joint or ragoût —

Then say to the waiter, — ‘I’m just passing through, —

Pray, — where can I find out the old Maison Dieu?

He’ll show you the street — (the French call it a Rue,

But you won’t have to give here a petit écu).

Well, — when you’ve got there, — never mind how you’re taunted, —

Ask boldly, ‘Pray, which is the house here that’s haunted?’

— I’d tell you myself, but I can’t recollect

The proprietor’s name; but he’s one of that sect

Who call themselves ‘Friends,’ and whom others call ‘Quakers,’ —

You’ll be sure to find out if you ask at the Baker’s, —

Then go down with a light,

To the cellar at night!

And as soon as you see her don’t be in a fright!

But ask the old Hag,

At once, for the bag! —

If you find that she’s shy, or your senses would dazzle,

Say, ‘Ma’am, I insist! — in the name of St. Basil!’

If she gives it you, seize

It, and — do as you please —

But there is not a person I’ve ask’d but agrees,

You should spend — part at least — for the Old Woman’s ease!

— For the rest — if it must go back some day — why — let it! —

Meanwhile, if you’re poor, and in love, or in debt, it

May do you some good, and —


1 Vide Supra ‘The Black Mousquetaire,’ Canto 2.

2 Alack for poor William Linley to settle the point! His elucidation of Macbeth’s ‘Hurlyburly’ casts a halo around his memory. In him the world lost one of its kindliest Spirits, and the Garrick Club its acutest commentator.

3 All who are familiar with the Police Reports, and other Records of our Courts of justice, will recollect that every gentleman of this particular profession invariably thus describes himself, in contradistinction to the Bricklayer, whom he probably presumes to be indigenous, and to the Shoemaker, born a Snob.

4 ‘An antient and most pugnacious family,’ says our Bath Friend. ‘One of their descendants, George Rose, Esq., late M.P. for Christchurch (an elderly gentleman now defunct), was equally celebrated for his vocal abilities and his wanton destruction of furniture when in a state of excitement. — ‘Sing, old Rose, and burn the bellows!’ has grown into a proverb.

5 The worthy Jesuit’s polemical publisher. — I am not quite sure as to the orthography; it’s idem sonans, at all events.

6 Effodiuntur Opes Irritamenta Malorum. — Lilly’s Grammar.

7 ‘E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires!’ — GRAY. ‘A position at which Experience revolts, Credulity hesitates, and even Fancy stares!’ — JOHNSON.

8 Vide Supra, ‘Nell Cook’

9 ‘Thrones! Dominations! Princedoms! Virtues! Powers!’ — Milton.

To whom is the name of Cornelius Agrippa otherwise than familiar, since a ‘Magician,’ of renown not inferior to his own, has brought him and his terrible ‘Black Book’ again before the world? — That he was celebrated, among other exploits, for raising the Devil, we are all well aware; — how be performed this feat, — at least one, and that, perhaps, the most certain method, by which he did it, — is thus described.

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