The Knight And The Friar. Part First.

A poem by George Colman

In our Fifth Harry's reign, when 'twas the fashion
To thump the French, poor creatures! to excess;--
Tho' Britons, now a days, shew more compassion,
And thump them, certainly, a great deal less;--

In Harry's reign, when flush'd Lancastrian roses
Of York's pale blossoms had usurp'd the right;[3]
As wine drives Nature out of drunkards' noses,
Till red, triumphantly, eclipses white;--
In Harry's reign--but let me to my song,
Or good king Harry's reign may seem too long.

SIR THOMAS ERPINGHAM, a gallant knight,
When this king Harry went to war, in France,
Girded a sword about his middle;
Resolving, very lustily, to fight,
And teach the Frenchmen how to dance,
Without a fiddle.

And wond'rous bold Sir Thomas prove'd in battle,
Performing prodigies, with spear and shield;
His valour, like a murrain among cattle,
Was reckon'd very fatal in the field.
Yet, tho' Sir Thomas had an iron fist,
He was, at heart, a mild Philanthropist.

Much did he grieve, when making Frenchmen die,
To any inconvenience to put 'em:
"It quite distress'd his feelings," he would cry,
"That he must cut their throats,"--and, then he cut 'em.

Thus, during many a Campaign,
He cut, and grieve'd, and cut, and came again;--
Pitying, and killing;--
Lamenting sorely for men's souls,
While pretty little eyelet holes,
Clean thro' their bodies he kept drilling:

Till palling on his Laurels, grown so thick,
(As boys pull blackberries, till they are sick,)
Homeward he bent his course, to wreath 'em;
And in his Castle, near fair Norwich town,
Glutted with glory, he sat down,
In perfect solitude, beneath 'em.

Now, sitting under Laurels, Heroes say,
Gives grace, and dignity--and so it may--
When men have done campaigning;
But, certainly, these gentlemen must own
That sitting under Laurels, quite alone,
Is much more dignified than entertaining.

Pious Æneas, who, in his narration
Of his own prowess, felt so great a charm;--
(For, tho' he feign'd great grief in the relation,
He made the story longer than your arm;[4])

Pious Æneas no more pleasure knew
Than did our Knight--who could he pious too--
In telling his exploits, and martial brawls:
But pious Thomas had no Dido near him--
No Queen--King, Lord, nor Commoner to hear him--
So he was force'd to tell them to the walls:

And to his Castle walls, in solemn guise,
The knight, full often, did soliloquize:--

For "Walls have ears," Sir Thomas had been told;
Yet thought the tedious hours would seem much shorter,
If, now and then, a tale he could unfold
To ears of flesh and blood, not stone and mortar.

At length, his old Castellum grew so dull,
That legions of Blue Devils seize'd the Knight;
Megrim invested his belaurell'd skull;
Spleen laid embargoes on his appetite;

Till, thro' the day-time, he was haunted, wholly,
By all the imps of "loathed Melancholy!"--
Heaven keep her, and her imps, for ever, from us!--
An Incubus,[5] whene'er he went to bed,
Sat on his stomach, like a lump of lead,
Making unseemly faces at Sir Thomas.

Plagues such as these might make a Parson swear;
Sir Thomas being but a Layman,
Swore, very roundly, à la militaire,
Or, rather, (from vexation) like a Drayman:

Damning his Walls, out of all line and level;
Sinking his drawbridges and moats;
Wishing that he were cutting throats--
And they were at the devil.

"What's to be done," Sir Thomas said one day,
"To drive Ennui away?
How is the evil to be parried?
What can remind me of my former life?--
Those happy days I spent in noise and strife!"
The last word struck him;--"Zounds!" says he,
"a Wife!"--
And so he married.

Muse! regulate your pace;--
Restrain, awhile, your frisking, and your giggling!
Here is a stately Lady in the case:
We mustn't, now, be fidgetting, and niggling.

O God of Love! Urchin of spite, and play!
Deserter, oft, from saffron Hymen's quarters;
His torch bedimming, as thou runn'st away,
Till half his Votaries become his Martyrs!

Sly, wandering God! whose frolick arrows pass
Thro' hearts of Potentates, and Prentice-boys;
Who mark'st with Milkmaids' forms, the tell-tale grass,
And make'st the fruitful Prude repent her joys!

Drop me one feather, from thy wanton wing,
Young God of dimples! in thy roguish flight;
And let thy Poet catch it, now, to sing
The beauty of the Dame who won the Knight!

Her beauty!--but Sir Thomas's own Sonnet
Beats all that I can say upon it.

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