To Mrs. Newton.

A poem by William Cowper

A noble theme demands a noble verse,
In such I thank you for your fine oysters.
The barrel was magnificently large,
But, being sent to Olney at free charge,
Was not inserted in the driver’s list,
And therefore overlook’d, forgot, or miss’d;
For, when the messenger whom we despatch’d
Inquired for oysters, Hob his noddle scratch’d;
Denying that his waggon or his wain
Did any such commodity contain.
In consequence of which, your welcome boon
Did not arrive till yesterday at noon;
In consequence of which some chanced to die,
And some, though very sweet, were very dry.
Now Madam says (and what she says must still
Deserve attention, say she what she will),
That what we call the diligence, be-case
It goes to London with a swifter pace,
Would better suit the carriage of your gift,
Returning downward with a pace as swift;
And therefore recommends it with this aim—
To save at least three days,—the price the same;
For though it will not carry or convey
For less than twelve pence, send whate’er you may,
For oysters bred upon the salt sea-shore,
Pack’d in a barrel, they will charge no more.


News have I none that I can deign to write,
Save that it rain’d prodigiously last night;
And that ourselves were, at the seventh hour,
Caught in the first beginning of the shower;
But walking, running, and with much ado,
Got home—just time enough to be wet through,
Yet both are well, and, wond’rous to be told,
Soused as we were, we yet have caught no cold;
And wishing just the same good hap to you,
We say, good Madam, and good Sir, adieu!

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