The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby

My Letters.

‘Litera scripta manet.’

Old Saw.

Another mizzling, drizzling day!

Of clearing up there’s no appearance;

So I’ll sit down without delay,

And here, at least, I’ll make a clearance!

Oh ne’er ‘on such a day as this,’

Would Dido with her woes oppressèd,

Have wooed Æneas back to bliss,

Or Troilus gone to hunt for Cressid!

No, they’d have stayed at home, like me,

And popped their toes upon the fender,

And drank a quiet cup of tea:—

On days like this one can’t be tender.

So, Molly, draw that basket nigher,

And put my desk upon the table —

Bring that Portfolio — stir the fire —

Now off as fast as you are able!

First here’s a card from Mrs. Grimes,

‘A Ball!’ — she knows that I’m no dancer —

That woman’s asked me fifty times,

And yet I never send an answer.

‘Dear Jack, —

Just lend me twenty pounds,

Till Monday next, when I’ll return it.

Yours truly,


Why Z— ds!

I’ve seen the man but twice — here, burn it.

One from my Cousin Sophy Daw —

Full of Aunt Margery’s distresses;

‘The Cat has kittened in ‘the draw,’

And ruined two bran-new silk dresses.’

From Sam, ‘The Chancellor’s motto,’ — nay

Confound his puns, he knows I hate ’em;

‘Pro Rege, Lege, Grege,’ — Ay,

‘For King read Mob!’ Brougham’s old erratum.

From Seraphina Price — ‘At two’ —

Till then I can’t, my dearest John, stir;’

Two more because I did not go,

Beginning ‘Wretch’ and ‘Faithless Monster!’


‘This morning Mrs. P. —

Who’s doing quite as well as may be,

Presented me at half-past three

Precisely, with another baby.

‘We’ll name it John, and know with pleasure

You’ll stand’ — Five guineas more, confound it! —

I wish they’d called it Nebuchadnezzar,

Or thrown it in the Thames and drowned it.

What have we next? A civil Dun:

‘John Brown would take it as a favour’ —

Another, and a surlier one,

‘I can’t put up with sich behaviour.’

‘Bill so long standing,’ — ‘quite tired out,’ —

‘Must sit down to insist on payment,’

‘Called ten times,’ — Here’s a fuss about

A few coats, waistcoats, and small raiment!

For once I’ll send an answer, and inform Mr. Snip he needn’t ‘call’ so;

But when his bill’s as ‘tired of standing’

As he is, beg ’twill ‘sit down also.’

This from my rich old Uncle Ned,

Thanking me for my annual present;

And saying he last Tuesday wed

His cook-maid, Molly — vastly pleasant!

An ill-spent note from Tom at school,

Begging I’ll let him learn the fiddle;

Another from that precious fool,

Miss Pyefinch, with a stupid riddle.

‘D’ye give it up?’ indeed I do!

Confound these antiquated minxes;

I won’t pay ‘Billy Black’ to a ‘Blue,’

Or Œdipus to such old sphinxes.

A note sent up from Kent to show me,

Left with my bailiff, Peter King;

‘I’ll burn them precious stacks down, blow me!

‘Yours most sincerely,


Four begging letters with petitions,

One from my sister Jane, to pray

I’ll ‘execute a few commissions’

In Bond Street, ‘when I go that way.’

And buy at Pearsal’s in the City

Twelve skeins of silk for netting purses:

Colour no matter, so it’s pretty; —

Two hundred pens — ’ two hundred curses!’

From Mistress Jones: ‘My little Billy

Goes up his schooling to begin,

Will you just step to Piccadilly,

And meet him when the coach comes in?

‘And then, perhaps, you will as well, see

The poor dear fellow safe to school

At Dr. Smith’s in Little Chelsea!’

Heaven send he flog the little fool!

From Lady Snooks: ‘Dear Sir, you know

You promised me last week a Rebus;

A something smart and apropos,

For my new Album?’ — Aid me, Phoebus!

‘My first is followed by my second;

Yet should my first my second see,

A dire mishap it would be reckon’d,

And sadly shocked my first would be.

‘Were I but what my whole implies,

And passed by chance across your portal;

You’d cry ‘Can I believe my eyes?

I never saw so queer a mortal!’

‘For then my head would not be on,

My arms their shoulders must abandon;

My very body would be gone,

I should not have a leg to stand on.’

Come that’s dispatch’d — what follows? — Stay

‘Reform demanded by the nation;

Vote for Tagrag and Bobtail!’ Ay,

By Jove a blessed Reformation!

Jack clap the saddle upon Rose —

Or no! — the filly — she’s the fleeter;

The devil take the rain — here goes,

I’m off — a plumper for Sir Peter!

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