The Water-Fiends.

A poem by George Colman

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 cry'd "whoo! whoo! whoo!"
Or the hoarse Crow croak'd "caw! caw! caw!"

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 skinn'd by Molly Dumpling's hand.

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 tinge'd with health and manly toil;--
Cabbage he sow'd; and, when it grew,
He always cut it off, to boil.

Oft would he 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.

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! Oh, thou Cook!"

For thus he sung:--while Cupid smile'd;--
Please'd that the Gard'ner own'd his dart,
Which prune'd 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'ners' hearts, like hot-beds, burn,
A Cook may surely feed the flame.

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

Cold blows the blast:--the night's obscure:
The mansion's crazy wainscots crack:
No star appear'd:--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.

List'ning, 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.

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 thro' 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!

Back thro' the hall she bent her way;
All, all was solitude around!
The candle shed a feeble ray,----
Tho' 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 appal;--
She tremble'd at her lovely nose,--
It look'd so long against the wall.

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

List'ning 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;
Pale, pale as turnips, were his cheeks!

Soon as the Spectre she espied,
The fear-struck damsel faintly said,
"What wou'd my Thomas?"--he replied,
"Oh! 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 tumble'd backwards, and was drown'd.

"Four fathom deep thy love doth lie:
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!"

"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 thro' 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
Lies in the bottom of a well.


DICK ended:--TOM and WILL approve'd 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 were 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."
"What! call you his a knack?"--"Yes;--mind his measure,
In that lies 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 Vanbrugh 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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