Tales in Verse.




Printed for T. CADELL, Jun. and W. DAVIES, Strand.

This electronic text was edited by Michael Gamer, University of Pennsylvania. It was prepared from the first edition of 1797. Obvious inconsistencies of spelling and punctuation, along with printer's errors and misspellings, have been silently corrected. I also have replaced Colman's long "s" with a standard one. Otherwise, I have preserved the text's spelling and punctuation, as well as its irregularly-sized dashes.

If you find any errors in this edition or have any suggestions regarding it, please write me.


[page 3]


If, after having purchased My Night-gown, and Slippers, you hold them two shillings and six-pence all too dear, you have only to journey to the fountain Castalius, in Baeotia, at the very bottom of Mount Parnassus, (where such mere bijoux as these are manufactured) and I will return you the money:--Provided, at the same time, that you, there, do return to me my goods, clean and uncut.

Let me, however, give you a brief account of these Trifles.

The Maid of the Moor, The Newcastle Apothecary, and Lodgings for single Gentlemen, are slip-shod Tales, written for an Entertainment which I proposed to offer to the Publick, at the Haymarket Theatre, during Lent; and two of them were intended to be spoken, (read them, therefore, with a view to recitation) and the third to be sung, as light matter, calculated to relieve the gravity of a didactick performance.

The whole performance (for reasons unnecessary to mention, here) was relinquished:--

But, as it is my custom to avoid the accumulation of my own papers, in my Bureau, I hold it more advisable to print my three Stories (light as they are) than to burn them.

[page 4]

I have put them into a kind of Crambo-vehicle, to make them connect; and, if The Maid of the Moor acts as an antidote, with one Boarding-school Miss, to the poison, so plentifully distributed, in the shape of Novels, Romances, Legendary Tales, &c. &c. I may say, with Philosophers, that the most insignificant things are of some utility.


March 21st, 1797.

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[page 5]

[Verse Dialogue #1]

TOM, DICK, and WILL, were little known to Fame;--
        No matter:--
But to the Alehouse oftentimes they came,
        To chatter.

It was the custom of these three,
        To sit up late;
  And, o'er the embers of the Alehouse fire,
  When steadier customers retire,
The choice Triumviri, d'ye see,
        Held a debate.

Held a debate?---On politicks, no doubt.
  Not so;---they cared not who was in,
        Not of a pin,
        Nor who was out.

[page 6]

All their discourse on modern Poets ran;
  For in the Muses was their sole delight:---
They talk'd of such, and such, and such a man;
  Of those who could, and those who could not write.

  It cost them very little pains
  To count the modern Poets, who had brains.
'Twas a small difficulty;--'twasn't any:
        They were so few.
  But to cast up the scores of men
  Who wield a stump they call a pen,
     Lord! they had much to do!
        They were so many.

Buoy'd on a sea of fancy, Genius rises,
And like the rare Leviathan surprises:
But the small fry of scribblers!---tiny souls!
They wriggle through the mud in shoals.

It would have raised a smile to see the faces
They made, and the ridiculous grimaces,
  At many an Author as they overhaul'd him.
They gave no quarter to a calf,
Blown up with puff, and paragraph;
  But, if they found him bad, they maul'd him.

[page 7]

On modern Dramatists they fell, 
Pounce, vi et armis--tooth and nail--pell mell:
  They call'd them Carpenters and Smugglers;
Filching their incidents from ancient hoards,
And knocking them together like deal boards:
        And Jugglers;
Who all the town's attention fix
By making--Plays?--No Sir; by making Tricks.

The Versifiers---Heaven defend us!
They play'd the very devil with their rhimes.
They hoped Apollo a new set would send us;---
    And then, invidiously enough,
    Place modish verse, which they call'd stuff,
Against the writings of the elder times.

To say the truth, a modern versifier
    Clap'd cheek by jowl
With Pope, with Dryden, and with Prior,
  Would look damn'd scurvily, upon my soul!

For Novels, should their critick hints succeed,
  The Misses might fare better when they took 'em;
But it would fare extremely ill, indeed,
  With gentle Messieurs Bell and Hookham.

[page 8]

"A Novel, now" says WILL, "is nothing more
"Than an old castle,---and a creaking door---
    "A distant hovel"---
"Clanking of chains---a gallery---a light
"Old armour---and a phantom all in white---"
    "And there's a Novel."

"Scourge me such catchpenny inditers,
"Out of the land," quoth WILL--rousing in passion
"And by upon the readers of such writers,
"Who bring them into fashion!"

Will rose in declamation. "'Tis the bane,"
Says he, "of youth;---'tis the perdition:
"It fills a giddy female brain
"With vice, romance, lust, terror, pain,---
    "With superstition."

"Were I Pastor in a boarding-school,
  "I'd quash such books, in toto;--if I couldn't,
"Let me but catch one Miss that broke my rule,
  "I'd flog her soundly; damme if I wouldn't."

[page 9]

WILLIAM, 'tis plain, was getting in a rage;
  But, THOMAS drily said,---for he was cool--
"I think no gentleman would mend the age
"By flogging Ladies at a Boarding-school."

DICK knock'd the ashes from his pipe;
        And said, "Friend WILL,
"You give the Novels a fair wipe;
        "But still,
"While you, my friend, with passion run 'em down,
"They're in the hands of all the town."

"The reason's plain," proceeded DICK,
        "And simply thus---
"Taste, over-glutted, grows depraved, and sick,
        "And needs a stimulus."

  "Time was,---when honest Fielding writ,---
  "Tales full of Nature, Character, and Wit,
"Were reckon'd most delicious boil'd and roast:
  "But stomachs are so cloy'd with novel-feeding,
  "Folks get a vitiated taste in reading,
"And want that strong provocative, a Ghost."

[page 10]

        "Or, to come nearer,
        "And put the case a little clearer:---
"Minds, just like bodies, suffer enervation,
        "By too much use;
"And sink into a state of relaxation,
        "With long abuse."

"Now, a Romance, with reading Debauchees,
  "Rouses their torpid powers, when nature fails;
"And all these Legendary Tales
  "Are, to a worn out mind, Cantharides."

"But how to cure the evil? you will say:
My Recipe is laughing it away."

"Lay bare the weak farrago of those men
  "Who fabricate such visionary schemes;
"As if the Night-mare rode on their pen,
  "And troubled all their ink with hideous dreams."

"For instance---when a solemn Ghost stalks in,
  "And, through a mystick tale, is busy,
"Strip the Gentleman into his skin;
        "What is he?"

[page 11]

"Truly, ridiculous enough:
"Mere trash;---and very childish stuff."

"Draw but a Ghost, or Fiend, of low degree,
"And all the bubble's broken:-- Let us see."

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The Maid of the Moor, or The Water-fiends

On a wild Moor, all brown and bleak,
Where broods the heath-frequenting grouse,
There stood a tenement antique;
Lord Hoppergollop's country house.

Here Silence reign'd, with lips of glue,
And undisturb'd maintain'd her law;
Save when the Owl cyr'd "whoo! whoo! whoo!"
Or the hoarse Crow croak'd "caw! caw! caw!"

[page 12]

Neglected mansion!--for, 'tis said,
Whene'er the snow came feathering down,
Four barbed steeds,--from the Bull's head,
Carried thy master up to town.

Weak Hoppergollop!--Lords may moan,
Who stake, in London, their estate,
On two, small, rattling, bits of bone;
On little figure, or on great.

Swift whirl the wheels.--He's gone.--a Rose
Remains behind, whose virgin look,
Unseen, must blush in wintry snows,
Sweet, beauteous blossom!--'twas the Cook!

A bolder, far, than my weak note,
Maid of the Moor! thy charms demand:
Eels might be proud to lose their coat,
If skin'd by Molly Dumpling's hand.

[page 13]

Long had the fair one sat alone,
Had none remain'd save only she;--
She by herself had been----if one
Had not been left, for company.

'Twas a tall youth, whose cheek's clear hue
Was tinged with health, and manly toil;
Cabbage he sow'd, and, when it grew,
He always cut it off, to boil.

Oft he would cry, "Delve, Delve the hole!"
"And prune the tree, and trim the root!"
"And stick the wig upon the pole,"
"To scare the sparrows from the fruit!"

A small, mute favourite, by day,
Follow'd his step; where'er he wheels
His barrow round the garden gay,
A bob-tail cur is at his heels.

[page 14]

Ah, man! the brute creation see!
Thy constancy oft needs the spur!
While lessons of fidelity
Are found in every bob-tail cur.

Hard toil'd the youth, so fresh and strong,
While Bobtail in his face would look,
And mark'd his master troll the song,---
"Sweet Molly Dumpling! O, thou Cook!"---

For thus he sung:---while Cupid smiled;---
Pleased that the Gard'ner own'd his dart; 
Which pruned his passions, running wild,
And grafted true-love on his heart.

Maid of the Moor! his love return!
True love ne'er tints the cheek with shame:
When Gard'ner's hearts like hot-beds burn,
A Cook may surely feed the flame.

[page 15]

Ah! not averse from love was she;
Though pure as Heaven's snowy flake;
Both loved:---and though a Gard'ner he,
He knew not what it was to rake.

Cold blows the blast:---the night's obscure:
The mansion's crazy wainscoats crack:
The sun had sunk:---and all the Moor,
Like ev'ry other Moor,---was black.

Alone, pale, trembling, near the fire,
The lovely Molly Dumpling sat,
Much did she fear, and much admire,
What Thomas Gard'ner could be at.

Listening, her hand supports her chin;
But, ah! no foot is heard to stir:
He comes not, from the garden, in;
Nor he, nor little Bobtail cur.

[page 16]

They cannot come, sweet maid, to thee!
Flesh, both of cur and man, is grass!
And what's impossible, can't be;
And never, never, comes to pass!

She paces through the hall antique,
To call her Thomas from his toil;
Opes the huge door;--the hinges creak;--
Because the hinges wanted oil.

Thrice, on the threshold of the hall,
She "Thomas" cried, with many a sob;
And thrice on Bobtail did she call,
Exclaiming sweetly--"Bob! Bob! Bob!"

Vain maid! a Gard'ner's corpse, 'tis said,
In answers can but ill succeed;
And, dogs that hear when they are dead
Are very cunning Dogs, indeed!

[page 17]

Back thro' the hall she bent her way; 
All, all was solitude around!
The candle shed a feeble ray,--
Though a large mould of four to th' pound.

Full closely to the fire she drew;
Adown her cheek a salt tear stole;
When, lo! a coffin out there flew,
And in her apron burnt a hole!

Spiders their busy death-watch tick'd;
A certain sign that fate will frown;
The clumsy kitchen clock, too, click'd;
A certain sign it was not down.

More strong and strong her terrors rose;--
Her shadow did the maid appall;--
She trembled at her lovely nose,--
It look'd so long against the wall.

[page 18]

Up to her chamber, damp and cold,
She climb'd Lord Hoppergollop's stair;--
Three stories high, long, dull, and old,---
As great Lord's stories often are.

All Nature now appear'd to pause;
And "o'er the one half world seem'd dead;"
No "curtain'd sleep" had she;--because
She had no curtains to her bed.

Listening she lay;---with iron din,
The clock struck Twelve; the door flew wide;
When Thomas grimly glided in,
With little Bobtail by his side.

Tall, like the poplar, was his size;
Green, green his waistcoat was, as leeks;
Red, red as beet-root, were his eyes;
And, pale, as turnips, were his cheeks!

[page 19]

Soon as the Spectre she espied,
The fear-struck damsel faintly said,
"What would my Thomas?"---he replied
"O! Molly Dumpling! I am dead."

"All in the flower of youth I fell,
"Cut off with health's full blossom crown'd;
"I was not ill,---but in a well
"I tumbled backwards, and was drown'd."

"Four fathom deep thy love doth lye;
"His faithful dog his fate doth share;
"We're Fiends;--this is not he and I;
"We are not here,--for we are there."

"Yes;--two foul Water Fiends are we;
"Maid of the Moor! attend us now!
"Thy hour's at hand;--we come for thee!"
The little Fiend-Cur said "bow wow!"

[page 20]

"To wind her in her cold, cold grave,
"A Holland sheet a maiden likes;
"A sheet of water thou shalt have;
"Such sheets there are in Holland Dykes."

The Fiends approach; the Maid did shrink;
Swift through the night's foul air they spin;
They took her to the green well's brink,
And, with a souse, they plump'd her in.

So true the fair, so true the youth,
Maids to this day, their story tell:
And hence the proverb rose that Truth
Lyes in the bottom of a well.

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[page 21]

[Verse Dialogue #2]

DICK ended:---TOM, and WILL, approved his strains:
  And thought his Legend made as good a figure
As naturalizing a dull German's brains,
    Which beget issues, in the Heliconian stews,
    Upon a profligate Tenth Muse,
  In all the gloomy impotence of vigour.[1]

"'Twas now the very witching time of night
"When Prosers yawn."---Discussion grew diffuse:
Argument's carte and tierce was lost, outright;
         And they fought loose.

Says WILL, quite carelessly,---"the other day,
     "As I was lying on my back,
           "In bed,
  "I took a fancy in my head;---
"Some writings aren't so difficult as people say;--
    "They are a knack."

"What writings? whose?" says TOM--raking the cinders.
"Many," cried WILL:----For instance----PETER PINDAR'S."

[page 22]

"What! call you his a knack?"---"Yes;---mind his measure.
"In that lyes half the point that gives us pleasure."

"Pooh!---'tisn't that," DICK cried:---
      "That has been tried,
  "Over and over:---Bless your souls!
"'Tis seen in Crazy Tales, and twenty things beside.
"His measure is as old as Poles."

"Granted," cries Will: "I know I'm speaking treason:--
                 "For PETER
"With many a joke, and queer conceit, doth season
                 "His metre:
"And this I'll say of PETER, to his face,
"As 'twas, time past, of Vanburgh writ---
"PETER, has often wanted grace,
"But he has never wanted wit."

"Yet, I will tell you a plain tale,
"And see how far quaint measure will prevail."

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[page 23]

The Newcastle Apothecary

A Man, in many a country town, we know,
  Professing openly with death to wrestle;
Ent'ring the field against the grimly foe,
  Arm'd with a mortar, and a pestle.

Yet, some affirm, no enemies they are;
But meet just like prize-fighters, in a Fair:
Who first shake hands before they box,
Then give each other plaguy knocks,
With all the love and kindness of a brother:
  So (many a suff'ring Patient saith)
  Though the Apothecary fights with Death,
Still they're sworn friends to one another.

[page 24]

A member of this Aesculapian line,
Lived at Newcastle, upon Tyne:
No man could better gild a pill;
           Or make a bill;
Or mix a draught, or bleed, or blister;
Or draw a tooth out of your head;
Or chatter scandal by your bed;
           Or give a glister.

Of occupations these were quantum suff:
Yet still he thought the list not long enough;
  And therefore Midwifery he chose to pin to't.
This balanced things:--for if he hurl'd
A few score mortals from the world,
  He made amends by bringing others into't.

His fame, full six miles, round the country ran;
  In short, in reputation he was solus:
All the old women call'd him "a fine man"!
  His name was Bolus.

[page 25]

Benjamin Bolus, though in trade,
  (Which oftentimes will Genius fetter)
Read works of fancy it is said;
  And cultivated the Belles Lettres.

And why should this be thought so odd?
  Can't men have taste who cure a phthysick?
Of Poetry though Patron God,
  Apollo patronizes Physick.

Bolus loved verse;---and took so much delight in't,
That his prescriptions he resolved to write in't.

Nor opportunity he e'er let pass
  Of writing the directions, on his labels,
  In dapper couplets,---like Gay's Fables;
Or rather, like the lines in Hudibras.

[page 26]

Apothecary's verse!---and where's the treason?
  'Tis simply honest dealing;---not a crime;---
When Patients swallow physick without reason,
  It is but fair to give a little rhime.

He had a Patient lying at death's door,
Some three miles from the town---it might be four;
To whom, one evening, Bolus sent an article,
In Pharmacy, that's called cathartical.
  And, on the label of the stuff,
              He wrote this verse;
  Which one would think was clear enough,
              And terse:---
          "When taken,
          "To be well shaken."

[page 27]

Next morning, early, Bolus rose;
And to the Patient's house he goes;---
               Upon his pad,
Who a vile trick of stumbling had:
It was indeed a very sorry hack;---
  But that's of course:
  For what's expected from a horse,
With an Apothecary on his back?

Bolus arrived; and gave a doubtful tap;---
Between a single and a double rap.---

Knocks of this kind
Are given by Gentlemen who teach to dance;
  By Fidlers, and by Opera-singers:
One loud, and then a little one behind;
  As if the knocker fell, by chance,
  Out of their fingers.

[page 28]

The Servants let him in, with dismal face,
Long as a courtier's out of place---
              Portending some disaster;
John's countenance as rueful look'd, and grim,
As if th' Apothecary had physick'd him,---
              And not his master.

"Well how's the Patient?" Bolus said.
            John shook his head.
"Indeed!---hum! ha!---that's very odd!
"He took the draught?---John gave a nod.
"Well,---how?---what then?---speak out, you dunce!"
"Why then"---says John---"we Shook him once."
"Shook him!---how?"---Bolus stammer'd out:---
             "We jolted him about."
"Zounds! shake a Patient, man!---a shake won't do."
"No, Sir---and so we gave him two."

[page 29]

  "Two shakes! ods curse!
  " 'Twould make the Patient worse."
"It did so, Sir!--and so a third we tried."
"Well, and what then?"---"Then, Sir, my master died."

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[Verse Dialogue #3]

Ere WILL had done, 'twas waxing wond'rous late;
  And reeling Bucks the street began to scour;
While guardian Watchmen, with a tottering gait,
  Cried every thing, quite clear, except the hour.

"Another pot" says TOM, and then
"A Song;---and so good night, good Gentlemen!"

"I've Lyricks such as Bon Vivants indite,
"In which your bibbers of Champagne delight.---
"The Poetaster, bawling them in clubs,
  "Obtains a miserably noted name;
"And every drunken Bacchanalian dubs
  "The Singing-Writer with a bastard Fame."

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[page 30]

Lodgings for Single Gentlemen

Who has e'er been in London, that overgrown place,
Has seen "Lodgings to Let" stare him full in the face:
Some are good, and let dearly; while some, 'tis well known,
Are so dear, and so bad, they are best left alone.
                                          Derry down.

Will Waddle, whose temper was studious, and lonely,
Hired lodgings that took Single Gentlemen, only;
But will was so fat he appeared like a ton;--
Or like two Single Gentlemen, roll'd into one.

[page 31]

He entered his rooms; and to bed he retreated,
But, all the night long, he felt fever'd and heated;
And, though heavy to weigh, as a score of fat sheep,
He was not, by any means, heavy to sleep.

Next night 'twas the same;--and the next;--and the next;
He perspired like an ox; he was nervous, and vex'd;
Week passed after week; till, by weekly succession,
He weakly condition was past all expression.

In six months, he acquaintance began much to doubt him;
For his skin, "like a lady's loose gown," hung about him;
He sent for a Doctor; and cried, like a ninny,
"I have lost many pounds--make me well--there's a guinea."

[page 32]

The Doctor look'd wise:--"A slow fever," he said:
Prescribed sudorificks,--and going to bed.
"Sudorificks in bed," exclaimed Will "are humbugs;"
"I've enough of them there, without paying for drugs."

WILL kick'd out the Doctor:--but when ill indeed,
E'en dismissing the Doctor don't always succeed;
So, calling his host,--he said,--"Sir, do you know,
"I'm the fat Single Gentleman, six months ago?"

"Look'e, landlord, I think" argued Will, with a grin,
"That with honest intentions you first took me in;
"But from the first night--and to say it I'm bold--
"I have been so damn'd hot, that I'm sure I caught cold."

Quoth the landlord--"till now, I ne'er had a dispute;
"I've let lodgings ten years;--I'm a Baker to boot;
"In airing your sheets, Sir, my wife is no sloven,
"And you bed is immediately--over my Oven."

[page 33]

"The Oven!!!!" says Will--says the host, "Why this passion?"
"In that excellent bed died three people of fashion.
"Why so crusty, good sir?" "Zounds!"--cries Will, in a taking,
"Who wouldn't be crusty, with half a year's baking?"

WILL paid for his rooms; cried the host, with a sneer,
"Well, I see you've been going away half a year,"
"Friend, we can't well agree"--"yet no quarrel"--Will said;
"For one man may die where another makes bread."


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[1] N.B. Half our modern Legends are either, borrowed or translated, from the German. Back to text.