The Tour of Doctor Syntax: In Search of the Picturesque


Canto I.

The school was done,

the bus'ness o'er,

When, tir'd of Greek

and Latin lore,

Good SYNTAX sought

his easy chair,

And sat in calm composure there.

His wife was to a neighbour gone,

To hear the chit-chat of the town;

And left him the unfrequent power

Of brooding through a quiet hour.

Thus, while he sat, a busy train

Of images besieged his brain.

Of church-preferment he had none;

Nay, all his hope of that was gone:

He felt that he content must be

With drudging in a curacy.

Indeed, on ev'ry Sabbath-day,

Through eight long miles he took his way,

To preach, to grumble, and to pray;

To cheer the good, to warn the sinner,

And, if he got it,--eat a dinner:

To bury these, to christen those,

And marry such fond folks as chose

To change the tenor of their life,

And risk the matrimonial strife.

Thus were his weekly journies made, 'Neath summer suns and wintry shade;

And all his gains, it did appear,

Were only thirty pounds a-year.

Besides, th'augmenting taxes press,

To aid expense and add distress:

Mutton and beef, and bread and beer,

And ev'ry thing was grown so dear;

The boys, too, always prone to eat,

Delighted less in books than meat;

So that, when holy Christmas came,

His earnings ceas'd to be the same,

And now, alas! could do no more,

Than keep the wolf without the door.

E'en birch, the pedant master's boast,

Was so increas'd in worth and cost,

That oft, prudentially beguil'd,

To save the rod, he spar'd the child.

Thus, if the times refus'd to mend,

He to his school must put an end.

How hard his lot! how blind his fate!

What shall he do to mend his state?

Thus did poor Syntax ruminate;

When, as the vivid meteros fly,

And instant light the gloomy sky,

A sudden thought across him came,

And told the way to wealth and fame;

And, as th' expanding vision grew

Wider and wider to his view,

The painted fancy did beguile

His woe-worn phiz into a smile:

But, while he pac'd the room around,

Or stood immers'd in thought profound,

THe Doctor, 'midst his rumination,

Was waken'd by a visitation

Which troubles many a poor man's life-

The visitation of his wife.

Good Mrs. Syntax was a lady,

Ten years, perhaps, beyond her hey-day;

But though the blooming charms had flown,

That grac'd her youth, it still was known

The love of power she had never lost,

As Syntax found it to his cost;

For as her words were used to flow,

He but replied or YES or NO.

Whene'er enrag'd by some disaster,

She'd shake the boys and cuff the master;

Nay, to avenge the slightest wrong,

She could employ both arms and tongue;

And, if we list to country tales,

She sometimes would enforce her nails.

Her face was red, her form was fat,

A round-about, and rather squat;

And when in angry humour stalking,

Was like a dumpling set a-walking. 'Twas not the custom of this spouse

To suffer long a quiet house:

She was among those busy wives,

Who hurry-scurry through their lives;

And make amends for fading beauty

By telling husbands of their duty.

'Twas at this moment, when, inspir'd,

And by his new ambition fir'd,

The pious man his hands uprear'd,

The pious man his hands uprear'd,

The Mrs. Syntax re-appear'd:

Amaz'd she look'd, and loud she shriek'd,

Or, rather like a pig she squeak'd,

To see her humble husband dare

Thus quit his sober ev'ning chair,

And pace, with varying steps, about,

Now in the room, and now without.

At first, she did not find her tongue, (A thing which seldom happen'd long,)

But soon that organ grew unquiet,

To ask the cause of all this riot.

The Doctor smil'd, and thus address'd

The secrets of his lab'ring breast-

"Sit down, my love, my dearest dear,

Nay, prithee, do, and patient hear;

Let me, for once, throughout my life,

Receive this kindness from my wife;

It will oblige me so:-in troth,

It will, my dear, oblige us both;

For such a plan has come athwart me,

Which some kind sprite from Heav'n has brought me

That if you will your counsels join,

To aid this golden scheme of mine,

New days will come-new times appear,

And teeming plenty crown the year:

We then on dainty bits shall dine,

And change our home-brew'd ale for wine:

On summer days, to take the air,

We'll put our Grizzle to a chair;

While you, in silks and muslins fine,

The grocer's wife shall far outshine,

And neighb'ring folks be forc'd to own,

In this fair town you give the ton." "Oh! tell me," cried the smiling dame, "Tell me this golden road to fame:

You charm my heart, you quite delight it."- "I'll make a TOUR-and then I'll WRITE IT.

You well know what my pen can do,

And I'll employ my pencil too:-

I'll ride and write, and sketch and print,

And thus create a real mint;

I'll prose it here, I'll verse it there,

And picturesque it ev'ry where:

I'll do what all have done before;

I think I shall-and somewhat more;

At Doctor Pompous give a look;

He made his fortune by a book;

And if my volume does not beat it,

When I return I'll fry and eat it.

Next week the boys will all go home,

And I shall have a mouth to come.

My clothes, my cash, my all prepare;

While Ralph looks to the grizzle mare.

Tho' wond'ring folks may laugh and scoff,

By this day fortnight I'll be off;

And when old Time a month has run,

Our bus'ness, Lovey, will be done.

I will in search of fortune roam,

While you enjoy yourself at home."

The story told, the Doctor eas'd

Of his grand plan, and Madam pleas'd,

No pains were spar'd by night or day

To set him forward on his way:

She trimm'd his coat-she mended all

His various clothing, great and small;

And better still, a purse was found

With twenty notes, of each a pound.

Thus furnish'd, and in full condition

To prosper in his expedition;

At length the ling'ring moment came,

That gave the dawn of wealth and fame.

Incurious Ralph, exact at four,

Led Grizzle, saddled, to the door;

And soon, with more than common state,

The Doctor stood before the gate.

Behind him was his faithful wife;- "One more embrace my dearest life!"

Then his grey palfrey he bestrode,

And gave a nod, and off he rode. "Good luck! good luck!" she loudly cried; "Vale! O Vale!" he replied.

Canto II.

The farewell cere-

mony o'er,

Madam went in and

bang'd the door:

No woful tear

bedew'd her eye,

Nor did she heave a single sigh;

But soon began her daily trade,

To chide the man and scold the maid;

While Syntax, with his scheme besotted,

Along the village gently trotted.

The folks on daily labour bent,

Whistled and caroll'd as they went;

But as the Doctor pass'd along,

Bow'd down their heads, and ceas'd their song.

He gravely nodded to the people;

Then looking upwards to the steeple,

He thus, in mutt'ring tones, express'd

The disappointments of his breast.

"That thankless parent, Mother Church,

Has ever left me in the lurch;

And, while so many fools are seen

To strut a Rector or a Dean,

Who live in ease, and find good cheer

On ev'ry day of ev'ry year,

So small her share of true discerning,

She turn'd her back on all my learning.

I've in her vineyard labour'd hard,

And what has been my lean reward?

I've dug the ground, while some rich Vicar

Press'd the ripe grape, and drank the liquor;

I feed the flock, while others eat

The mutton's nice, delicious meat;

I've kept the hive, and made the honey,

While the drones pocketed the money.

But now, on better things intent,

On far more grateful labours bent,

New prospects open to my view;

So, thankless Mother Church, adieu!"

Thus, having said his angry say,

Syntax proceeded on his way.

The morning lark ascends on high,

And with its music greets the sky:

The blackbird whistles, and the thrush

Warbles his wild notes in the bush;

While ev'ry hedeg and ev'ry tree

Resound with vocal minstrelsy.

But Syntax, wrapt in thought profound,

Is deaf to each enliv'ning sound:

Revolving many a golden scheme,

And yielding to the pleasing dream,

The reins hung loosely from his hand;

While Grizzle, senseless of command,

Unguided, pac'd the road along,

Nor knew if it were right or wrong.

Through the deep vale, and up the hill,

By rapid stream or tinkling rill,

Grizzle her thoughtful master bore,

Who, counting future treasure o'er,

And, on his weighty projects bent,

Observ'd not whither Grizzle went.

Thus did kind Fancy's soothing power

Cheat him of many a fleeting hour;

Nor did he know the pacing Sun

Had half his daily circuit run.

Sweet, airy sprite, that can bestow

A pleasing respite to our woe;

That can corroding care beguile,

And make the woe-worn face to smile!

But, ah! too soon the vision passes,

Confounded by a pack of asses!

The donkeys bray'd; and lo! the sound

Awak'd him from his thought profound;

And as he star'd, and look'd around,

He said-orelse he seem'd to say- "I find that I have lost my way.

Oh! what a wide expanse I see,

Without a wood, without a tree!

No one at hand, no house is near,

To tell the way, or give good cheer;

For now a sign would be a treat,

To tell us we might drink and eat;

But sure there is not in my sight

The sign of any living wight;

And all around upon this common

I see not either man or woman;

Nor dogs to bark, nor cocks to crow,

Nor sheep to bleat, nor herds to low

Nay, if these asses did not bray,

And thus some signs of life betray,

I well might think that I were hurl'd

Into some sad, unpeopled world.

How could I come, misguided wretch!

To where I cannot make a sketch?"

Thus as he ponder'd what to do,

A guide-post rose within his view;

And, when the pleasing shape he spied,

He prick'd his steed, and thither hied;

But some unheeding, senseless wight,

Who to fair learning owed a spite,

Had ev'ry letter'd mark defac'd,

Which once its several pointers grac'd.

The mangled post this long had stood,

An uninforming piece of wood;

Like other guides, as some folks say,

Who neither lead, not tell the way.

The Sun, as hot as he was bright,

Had got to his meridian height;

'Twas sultry noon-for not a breath

Of cooling zephyr fann'd the heath;

When Syntax cried-"'Tis all in vain

To find my way across the plain;

So here my fortune I will try,

And wait till some one passes by:

Upon that bank awhile I'll sit,

And let poor Grizzle graze a bit;

But, as my time shall not be lost,

I'll make a drawing of the post;

And, tho' a flimsy taste may flout it,

There's something pictureseque about it:

'Tis rude and rough, without a gloss,

And is well covered o'er with moss;

And I've a right-(who dares deny it?)

To place yon group of asses by it.

Ay! this will do: and now I'm thinking,

That self-same pond where Grizzle's drinking,

If hither brought 'twould better seem,

And, faith, I'll turn it to a stream:

I'll make this flat a shaggy ridge,

And o'er the water throw a bridge:

I'll do as other sketchers do-

Put anything into the view;

And any object recollect,

To add a grace, and give effect.

Thus, though from truth I haply err,

The scene preserves its character.

What man of taste my right will doubt,

To put things in, or leave them out?

'Tis more than right, it is a duty,

If we consider landscape beauty:

He ne'er will as an artist shine,

Who copies Nature line by line:

Whoe'er from Nature takes a view,

Must copy and improve her too.

To heighten every work of art,

Fancy should take an active part:

Thus I (which few I think can boast)

Have made a Landscape of a Post.

"So far, so good-but no one passes,

No living creature but these asses;

And, should I sit and hear them bray,

I were as great a beast as they:

So I'll be off; from yonder down

I may, perhaps, descry a town;

Or some tall spire among the trees

May give my way-worn spirits ease."

Grizzle again he soon bestrode,

And wav'd his whip, and off he rode:

But all around was dingy green,

No spire arose, no town was seen.

At length he reach'd a beaten road;

How great a joy the sight bestow'd!

So on he went, in pleasant mood,

And shortly gain'd a stately wood,

Where the refreshing zephyrs play'd,

And cool'd the air beneath the shade.

Oh! what a change, how gerat the treat,

To fanning breeze from sultry heat!

But, ah! how false is human joy!

When least we think it, ills annoy:

For now, with fierce impetuous rush,

Three ruffians issued from a bush;

One Grizzle stopp'd, and seiz'd the reins,

While they all threat the Doctor's brains.

Poor Syntax, trembling with affright,

Resists not such superior might,

But yields him to their savage pleasure,

And gives his purse, with all its treasure.

Fearing, howe'er, the Doctor's view

Might be to follow and pursue;

The cunning robbers wisely counted

That he, of course, should be dismounted;

And still that it would safer be,

If he were fasten'd to a tree.

Thus to a tree they quickly bound him;

The cruel cords went round and round him;

And, having of all power bereft him,

They tied him fast-and then they left him.

Canto III.

By the road side,

within the wood,

In this sad state

poor Syntax stood;

His bosom heav'd

with many a sigh,

And the tears stood in either eye.

What could he do?-he durst not bawl;

His noise the robbers might recall;

The villains might again surround him,

And hang him up where they had bound him.

Sure never was an hapless wight

In more uncomfortable plight:

Nor was this all; his pate was bare,

Unshelter'd by one lock of hair;

For when the sturdy robbers took him,

His hat and peruke both forsook him.

The insect world were on the wing,

Whose talent is to buz and sting;

And soon his bare-worn head they sought,

By instinct led, by nature taught;

And dug their little forks within

The tender texture of his skin.

He raged and roar'd, but all in vain,

No means he found to ease his pain:

The cords, which to the tree had tied him,

All help from either hand denied him:

He shook his head, he writh'd his face

With painful look, with sad grimace,

And thus he spoke his hapless case!

"Ah! miserable man," he cried,

"What perils do my course betide!

In this sad melancholy state,

Must I, alas! impatient wait,

Till some kind soul shall haply find me,

And with his friendly hands unbind me?

Nay, I throughout the night may stay,

'Tis such an unfrequented way:

Tho' what with hunger, thirst and fright,

I ne'er shall last throughout the night;

And could I e'en these ills survive,

The flies will eat me up alive.

What mad ambition made me roam?

Ah! wherefore did I quit my home?

For there I liv'd, remote from harm;

My meals were good, my house was warm;

And, though I was not free from strife,

With other ills that troubled life

Yet I had learn'd full well to bear

The nightly scold, the daily care;

And, after many a season past,

I should have found repose at last:

Fate would have sign'd my long release,

And Syntax would have died in peace;

Nor thus been robb'd, and tied and beaten,

And all alive by insects eaten."

But while he thus at Fate was railing,

And Fortune's angry frown bewailing,

A dog's approaching bark he hears;

'Twas sweet as music to his ears,

And soon a sure relief appears;

For, tho' it bore that gen'ral form,

Which oft, at home, foretold a storm,

It now appear'd an angel's shape,

That promis'd him a quick escape:

Nor did La Mancha's val'rous Knight

Feel greater pleasure at the sight,

When, overwhelm'd with love and awe,

His Dulcinea first he saw:

For on two trotting palfreys came,

And each one bore a comely dame:

They started as his form they view;

The horses also started too:

The dog with insult seem'd to treat him,

And look'd as if he long'd to eat him.

In piteous tones he humbly pray'd

They'd turn aside, and give him aid;

When each leap'd quickly from her steed,

To join in charitable deed.

They drew their knives to cut the noose,

And let the mournful pris'ner loose;

With kindest words his fate bewail,

While grateful Syntax tells his tale.

The rustic matrons sooth his grief,

Nor offer, but afford relief;

And, turning from the beaten road,

Their well-lin'd panniers they unload;

When soon upon the bank appear'd

A sight his fainting spirits cheer'd:

They spread the fare with cheerful grace,

And gave a banquet to the place.

Most haply, too, as they untied him,

He saw his hat and wig beside him:

So, thus bewigg'd and thus behatted,

Down on the grass the Doctor squatted;

When he uplifted either eye,

With grateful accents to the sky.

"'Tis thus," he humbly said, "we read

In sacred books of heavenly deed:

And thus, I find in my distress,

The Manna of the Wilderness:

'Tis hermit's fare; but thanks to Heaven,

And those kind souls by whom 'tis given."

'Tis true that bread, and curds, and fruit,

Do with the pious hermits suits;

But Syntax surely was mistaken

To think their meals partake of bacon;

Or, that those reverend men regale,

As our good Doctors do-with ale;

And these kind dames, in nothing loth,

Took care that he partook of both.

At length 'twas time to bit adieu,

And each their diff'rent way pursue:

A kind farewell, a kiss as kind,

He gave them both with heart and mind;

Then off he trudg'd, and, as he walk'd,

Thus to himself the Parson talk'd:

"'Tis well, I think, it is no worse,

For I have only lost my purse:

With all their cruelty and pains,

The rogues have got but trifling gains;

Poor four-and-four-pence is the measure

Of all their mighty pilfer'd treasure;

For haply there was no divining

I'd a snug pocket in my lining;

And, thanks to Spousy, ev'ry note

Was well sew'd up within my coat.

But where is Grizzle?-Never mind her;

I'll have her cried, and soon shall find her."

Thus he pursued the winding way,

Big with the evils of the day

Though the good Doctor kept in view

The favour of its blessings too.

Nor had he pac'd it half an hour,

Before he saw a parish tow'r,

And soon, with sore fatigue opprest,

An inn receiv'd him as its guest.

But still his mind, with anxious care,

Ponder'd upon his wand'ring mare;

He, therefore, sent the bellman round,

To see if Grizzle might be found.

Grizzle, ungrateful to her master,

And careless of his foul disaster,

Left him tied up, and took her way,

In hopes to meet with corn or hay;

But, as that did not come to pass,

She sought a meadow full of grass:

The farmer in the meadow found her,

And order'd John, his man, to pound her:

Now John was one of those droll folk,

Who oft take mischief for a joke;

And thought 'twould make the master stare,

When he again beheld his mare,

(Perhaps the gem'man might be shockt)

To find her ready cropt and dockt:

At all events, he play'd his fun:

No sooner was it said than done.

But Grizzle was a patient beast,

And minded nought if she could feast:

Like many others, prone to think

The best of life was meat and drink,

Who feel to-day nor care nor sorrow,

If they are sure to feast to-morrow:

Thus Grizzle, as she pac'd around

The purlieu of the barren pound,

In hungry mood might seem to neigh-

"If I had water, corn, and hay,

I should not thus my fate bewail,

Nor mourn the loss of ears or tail."

In the meantime, securely hous'd,

The Doctor booz'd it, and carous'd,

The Hostess spread her fairest cheer,

Her best beef-steak, her strongest beer;

And sooth'd him with her winning chat,

Of-"Pray eat this-and now take that.

Your Rev'rence, after all your fright,

Wants meat and drink to set you right."

His Rev'rence prais'd the golden rule,

Nor did he let his victuals cool;

And, having drunk his liquor out,

He took a turn to look about.

When to the folks about the door,

He told the dismal story o'er,

The country-people on him gaz'd,

And heard his perils all amaz'd:

How the thieves twin'd the cords around him

How to a tree the villains bound him!

What angels came to his relief.

To loose his bonds, and soothe his grief!

His loss of cash, and what was worse,

His saddle, saddle-bags, and horse!

Thus, as their rude attention hung

Upon the wonders of his tongue,

Lo! Grizzle's alter'd form appears,

With half its tail, and half its ears!

"Is there no law?" the Doctor cries:-

"Plenty," a lawyer straight replies:

"Employ me, and those thieves shall swing

On gallows-tree, in hempen-string:

And, for the rogue, the law shall flea him,

Who maim'd your horse, as now you see him."

"No," quoth the Don, "your pardon, pray;

I've had enough of thieves to-day:

I've lost four shillings and a groat,

But you would strip me of my coat;

And ears and tail won't fatten you,

You'll want the head and carcase too."

He chuckled as he made the stroke,

And all around enjoy'd the joke;

But still it was a sorry sight,

To see the beast in such a plight:

Yet what could angry Syntax do?

'Twas all in vain to fret and stew:

His well-stuff'd bags, with all their hoard

Of sketching-tools, were safe restor'd;

The saddle, too, which he had sought,

For small reward was quickly brought;

He therefore thought it far more sage,

To stop his threats and check his rage;

So to the ostler's faithful care

He gave his mutilated mare:

And while poor Grizzle, free from danger,

Cropp'd the full rack and clean'd the manger,

Syntax, to ease his aching head,

Smok'd out his pipe, and went to bed.

Canto IV

Bless'd be the man,

said he of yore,

Who Quixote's lance

and target bore!

Bless'd be the man,

who first taught sleep

Throughout our wearied frames to cree[,

And kindly gave to human woes

The oblivious mantle of repose!

Hail! balmy power! that canst repair

The constant waste of human care;

To the sad heart afford relief,

And give a respite to its grief;

Canst calm, through night's composing hours,

The threat'ning storm that daily low'rs;

On the rude flint the wretched cheer,

And to a smile transform the tear!

Thus wrapt in slumber Syntax lay--

Forgot the troubles of the day:

So sound his sleep, so sweet his rest,

By no disturbing dreams distrest;

That, all at ease, he lay entranc'd,

Till the fair morn was far advanc'd.

At length the hostess thought it wrong

He should be left to sleep so long;

So bid the maid to let him know

That breakfast was prepar'd below.

Betty then op'd the chamber door,

And tripping onwards 'cross the floor,

Undrew the curtains, one by one;

When, in a most ear-piercing tone,

Such as would grace the London cries,

She told him it was time to rise.

The noise his peaceful slumbers broke;

He gave a snort or two--and 'woke.

Now, as the Doctor turn'd his head,

Betty was court'sying by the bed:--

"What brought you here, fair maid, I pray?"

"To tell you, Sir, how wears the day;

And that it is my special care

To get your worship's morning fare.

The kettle boils, and I can boast

No small renown for making toast.

There's coffee, Sir, and tea, and meat,

And surely you must want to eat;

For ten long hours have pass'd away,

Since down upon this bed you lay!"

The Doctor rubb'd his op'ning eyes,

Then stretch'd his arms, and 'gan to rise:

But Betty still demurely stands,

To hear him utter his commands.

"Be gone!" he cried, "get something nice,

And I'll be with you in a trice."

Behold him then, renew'd by rest,

His chin well shav'd, his peruke dress'd,

Conning with solemn air the news,

His welcome breakfast to amuse;

And when the well-fed meal was o'er,

Grizzle was order'd to the door;

Betty was also told to say,

The mighty sum there was to pay:

Betty, obedient to his will,

Her court'sy makes, and brings the bill.

Down the long page he cast his eye,

Then shook his head, and heav'd a sigh,

"What! am I doom'd, where'er I go,

In all I meet to find a foe?

Where'er I wander, to be cheated,

To be bambozled and ill-treated!"

Thus, as he read each item o'er,

The hostess op'd the parlour door;

When Syntax 'rose in solemn state,

And thus began the fierce debate:--


"Good woman; here, your bill retake,

And, prithee, some abatement make;

I could not such demands afford,

Were I a bishp or a lord:

And though I hold myself as good

As any of my brotherhood,

Howe'er, by bounteous Fortune crown'd,

In wealth and honours they abound,

It is not in my power to pay

Such long-drawn bills as well as they.

The paper fills me with affright;--

I surely do not read it right:

For at the bottom here, I see

Th' enormous total--one pound, three!"


"The charges all are fairly made;

If you will eat, I must be paid.

My bills have never found reproaches

From lords and ladies, in their coaches,

This house, that's called the Royal Crown,

Is the first inn throughout the town:

The best of gentry, ev'ry day,

Become my guests and freely pay:

Besides, I took you in at night,

Half-dead, with hunger and affright,

Just 'scap'd from robbers."


"That's most true,

And now I'm to be robb'd by you."


"Sir, you mistake; and did not I

Disdain rude words, I'd say--you lie.

I took you in last night, I say,"--


"'Tis true;--and if this bill I pay,

You'll take me in again to-day."


"I gave you all my choicest cheer,

The best of meat, the best of beer;

And then you snor'd yourself to rest

In the best bed--I say the best.

You've had such tea as few can boast,

With a whole loaf turn'd into toast."


"And for your beef, and beer and tea,

You kindly charge me--one pound three!"


"'Tis cheap as dirt--for well I know

How things with country curates go:

And I profess that I am loth

To deal unkindly with the cloth:

Nay, oft and oft, as I'm a sinner,

I've given hungry clerks a dinner."


"And there's a proverb, as they say,

That for the clerks the parsons pay;

Which you, I trow, can well fulfil,

Whene'er you make a parson's bill.

Why, one pound three, the truth I speak,

Would keep my household for a week.

Dear Mrs. Syntax, how she'd vapour,

Were she to read this curious paper!"


"If that's your living, on my life,

You starve your servants and your wife."


"I wish my wife were here to meet you,

In your own fashion she would greet you:

With looks as fierce, and voice as shrill,

She'd make you, mistress, change your bill."


"Think you besides, there's nought to pay

For all your horse's corn and hay?

And ointments, too, to cure the ail

Of her cropp'd ears and mangled tail?"


"I wish the wight would bring the shears

Which dock'd that tail and cropp'd those ears,

And just exert the self-same skill

To crop and dock your monstrous bill!

But, I'm in haste to get away,

Though one pound three I will not pay:

So, if you'll take one-half th' amount,

We'll quickly settle the account.

There is your money:--do you see?

And let us part in charity."


"Well, as a charitable deed,

I'll e'en consent--so mount your steed,

And on your journey straight proceed:

But well you know, where'er you roam,

That Charity begins at home."

Canto V.

The Doctor smil'd, the

bill was paid,

The hostess left him to

the maid;

When Betty stood in humble guise,

With expectation in her eyes,

That he was surely so good-hearted,

To give her something ere they parted.

Now, Nature, in her wanton freaks,

Had given Betty rosy cheeks;

And caus'd her raven locks to break

In native ringlets on her neck:

The roving bee might wish to sip

The sweetness of her pouting lip;

So red, so tempting to the view,

'Twas what the Doctor long'd to do.

"You're a nice girl," he smiling said;

"Am I?" replied the simp'ring maid.

"I swear you are, and if you're willing

To give a kiss, I'll give a shilling."

"If 'tis the same thing, Sir, to you,

Make the gift two-fold, and take two."

He grimly grinn'd, with inward pleasure,

And instant seiz'd the purchas'd treasure.

"Your lips, my dear, are sweet as honey:

So one smack more--and there's your money."

This charming ceremony o'er,

The Parson strutted to the door;

Where his poor wounded mare appears,

In cruel state of tail and ears.

The neighbors all impatient wait,

To see him issue from the gate;

For country-town or village-green

Had seldom such a figure seen.

Labour stood still to see him pass,

While ev'ry lad and ev'ry lass

Ran forward to enjoy the feast,

To jeer the sage, and mourn the beast.

But, one and all, aloud declare,

'Twas a fit sight for country-fair;

Far better than a dancing bear.

At length, escap'd from all the noise

Of women, men, and girls and boys,

In the recesses of a lane

He thus gave utt'rance to his pain:--

"It seems to be my luckless case,

At ev'ry point, in every place,

To meet with trouble and disgrace.

But yesterday I left my home,

In search of fancied wealth to roam;

And nought, I think, but ills betide me

Sure, some foul spirit runs beside me;

Some blasting demon from the east,

A deadly foe to man and beast,

That loves to riot in disaster,

And plague alike both horse and master.

Grizzle, who full five years and more

A trumpeter in triumph bore;

Who had in hard-fought battle been,

And many a bloody conflict seen;

Who having 'scap'd with scarce a scar,

'Mid all the angry threats of war;

When her best days are almost past,

Feels these ignoble wounds at last.

Ah! what can thy fond master do?

He's cut and slash'd as well as you.

But, though no more with housing gay,

And prancing step, you take your way;

Or, with your stately rider, lead

The armed troop to warlike deed;

While you've a leg you ne'er shall cease

To bear the minister of peace.

Long have you borne him, nor e'er grumbled,

Nor ever started, kick'd or stumbled."

But mildest natures sometimes err

From the strict rules of character:

The tim'rous bird defends its young,

And beasts will kick when they are stung.

'Twas burning hot, and hosts of flies,

With venom'd stings, around them rise:

They seiz'd on Grizzle's wounded part,

Who straight began to snort and start;

Kick'd up behind, rear'd up before,

And play'd a dozen antics more:

The Doctor coax'd, but all in vain,

She snorted, kick'd, and rear'd again:

"Alas!" said Syntax, "could I pop

Just now, upon a blacksmith's shop,

Whose cooling unguent would avail

To save poor Grizzle's ears and tail!"

When scarce had he his wishes spoke,

Than he beheld a cloud of smoke,

That from a forge appear'd to rise,

And for a moment veil'd the skies,

While rude the hammers to his ear

Proclaim'd the aid he wish'd was near.

By the way-side the cottage rose,

Around it many a willow grows,

Where Syntax, in a tone of grief,

Shew'd Grizzle's wounds, and pray'd relief.

The sooty Galen soon appear'd,

And with fair hopes the Doctor cheer'd.

"Trust me, good Sir, I've got a plaster,

Will cure the beast of her disaster;

And, while the dressing I prepare,

With all becoming skill and care,

You in that arbour may regale,

With a cool pipe and jug of ale:

I've long a two-fold trade profess'd,

And med'cine sell for man and beast."

Syntax now sought the cooling shade,

While Galen's dame the banquet made:

She well knew how her guests to please,

And added meat, and bread, and cheese:

Besides, she told the village-tale--

Who came to drink her home-brew'd ale;

How that the laughter-loving Vicar

Would sometimes walk to taste their liquor

That their gay landlord was renown'd,

For hunting fox, with horns and hound;

That he'd a daughter passing fair,

Who was his honour's only heir;

But she was proud, nor could a squire

Approach to tell his am'rous fire;

A lord alone, as it was said,

She would receive into her bed.

Throughout the village, ev'ry name

Became a subject for the dame;

And thus she play'd her chatt'ring part,

Till Syntax thought it time to start.

And now poor Grizzle re-appears,

With plaster'd tail, and plaster'd ears,

Which thus cas'd up, might well defy

The sharpest sting of gnat or fly.

The Doctor having had his fill,

Without a word discharg'd his bill;

But, as it was the close of day,

He trotted briskly on his way;

And ere the sun withdrew his light,

An inn receiv'd him for the night,

His frame fatigu'd, his mind oppress'd,

He tiff'd his punch, and went to rest.

The morning came, when he arose

In spirits from his calm repose;

And while the maid prepar'd the tea,

He look'd around the room to see

What story did the walls disclose

Of human joys, of human woes.

The window quickly caught his eye,

On whose clear panes he could descry

The motley works of many a Muse:

There was enough to pick and choose;

And, "Faith!" said he, "I'll strive to hook

Some of these lines into my book:

For here there are both grave and witty,

And some, I see, are rather pretty."

From a small pocket in his coat

He drew his tablets,--when he wrote

Whate'er the pregnant panes possess'd;

And these choice lays among the rest:

"If my fond breast were made of glass,

And you could see what there doth pass,

Kitty, my ever charming fair!

You'd see your own sweet image there."

"I once came here a freebooting,

And on this fine manor went shooting,

And if the 'Squire this truth denies,

This glass shall tell the 'Squire--he lies."

"Dolly's as fat as any sow,

And, if I'm not mistaken,

Dolly is well dispos'd, I trow,

To trim her husband's bacon."

"Dear Jenny, while your name I hear,

No transient glow my bosom heats;

And when I meet your eye, my dear,

My flutt'ring heart no longer beats.

I dream, but I no longer find

Your form still present to my view;

I wake, but now my vacant mind

No longer, waking, dreams of you.

I can find maids, in ev'ry rout,

With smiles as false and forms as fine;

But you must hunt the world throughout,

To find a heart as true as mine."

"I hither came down

From fair London town,

With Lucy so mild and so kind;

But Lucy grew cool,

And call'd me a fool,

So I started and left her behind."

But as he copied, quite delighted,

All that the Muse had thus indited,

A hungry dog, and prone to steal,

Ran off with half his breakfast meal;

While Dolly, ent'ring with a kettle,

Was follow'd by a man of mettle,

Who swore he'd have the promis'd kiss;

And, as he seiz'd the melting bliss,

From the hot, ill-pois'd kettle's spout,

The boiling stream came pouring out,

Which drove the Doctor from the Muse,

By quickly filling both his shoes.

Canto VI