The Knight And The Friar. Part The Second.

A poem by George Colman

Reader! if you have Genius, you'll discover,
Do what you will to keep it cool,
It, now and then, in spite of you, boils over,
Upon a fool.

Haven't you (lucky man if not) been vex'd,
Worn, fretted, and perplex'd,
By a pert, busy, would-be-clever knave,
A forward, empty, self-sufficient slave?

And haven't you, all christian patience gone,
At last, put down the puppy with your wit;--
On whom it seem'd, tho' you had Mines of it,
Extravagance to spend a jest upon?--

And haven't you, (I'm sure you have, my friend!)
When you have laid the puppy low,--
All little pique, and malice, at an end,--
Been sorry for the blow?
And said, (if witty, so would say your Bard,)
"Damn it! I hit that meddling fool too hard?"

Thus did the brave Sir Thomas say;--
Whose Genius didn't much disturb his pate:
It rather, in his bones, and muscles, lay,--
Like many other men's of good estate:

Thus did Sir Thomas say;--and well he might,
When pity to resentment did succeed;
For, certainly, (tho' not with wit) the Knight
Had hit the Friar very hard, indeed!
And heads, nineteen in twenty, 'tis confest,
Can feel a crab-stick sooner than a jest.

There was, in the Knight's family, a man
Cast in the roughest mould Dame Nature boasts;
With shoulders wider than a dripping pan,
And legs as thick, about the calves, as posts.

All the domesticks, viewing, in this hulk,
So large a specimen of Nature's whims,
With kitchen wit, allusive to his bulk,
Had christen'd him the Duke of Limbs.

Thro'out the Castle, every whipper-snapper
Was canvassing the merits of this strapper:
Most of the Men voted his size alarming;
But all the Maids, nem. con. declare'd it charming!

This wight possess'd a quality most rare;--
I tremble when I mention it, I swear!
Lest pretty Ladies question my veracity:
'Twas--when he had a secret in his care,
To keep it, with the greatest pertinacity.

Pour but a secret in him, and 'twould glue him
Like rosin, on a well-cork'd bottle's snout;
Had twenty devils come with cork-screws to him,
They never could have screw'd the secret out.

Now, when Sir Thomas, in the dark, alone,
Had kill'd a Friar, weighing twenty stone,
Whose carcass must be hid, before the dawn,
Judging he might as hopelessly desire
To move a Convent as the Friar,
He thought on this man's secresy, and brawn;--
And, like a swallow, o'er the lawn he skims,
Up to the Cock-loft of the Duke of Limbs:

Where Somnus, son of Nox, the humble copy
Of his own daughter Mors,[8] had made assault
On the Duke's eye-lids,--not with juice of poppy,
But potent draughts, distill'd from hops and malt.

Certainly, nothing operates much quicker
Against two persons' secret dialogues,
Than one of them being asleep, in liquor,
Snoring like twenty thousand hogs.

Yet circumstance did, presently, require
The Knight to tell his tale;
And to instruct his Man, knock'd down with ale,
That he (Sir Thomas) had knock'd down a Friar.

How wake a man, in such a case?
Sir, the best method--I have tried a score--
Is, when his nose is playing thoro' bass,
To pull it, till you make him roar.

A Sleeper's nose is made on the same plan
As the small wire 'twixt a Doll's wooden thighs;
For pull the nose, or wire, the Doll, or Man,
Will open, in a minute, both their eyes.

This mode Sir Thomas took,--and, in a trice,
Grasp'd, with his thumb and finger, like a vice,
That feature which the human face embosses,
And pull'd the Duke of Limbs by the proboscis.

The Man awoke, and goggle'd on his master;--
He saw his Master goggling upon him;--
Fresh from concluding, on a Friar's nob,
What Coroners would call an awkward job,
He glare'd, all horror-struck and grim,--
Paler than Paris-plaister!

His hair stuck up, like bristles on a pig;--
So Garrick look'd, when he perform'd Macbeth;
Who, ere he entered, after Duncan's death,
Rumple'd his wig.

The Knight cried, "Follow me!"--with strange grimaces;
The Man arose,--

And began "sacrificing to the Graces,"[9]
By putting on his clothes;

But he reverse'd, in making himself smart,
A Scotchman's toilet, altogether:
And merely clapp'd a cover on that part
The Highlanders expose to wind and weather.

They reach'd the bower where the Friar lay;
When, to his Man,
The Knight began,
In doleful accents, thus to say:

"Here a fat Friar lies, kill'd with a mauling,
For coming, in the dark, a-caterwauling;
Whom I (O cursed spite!) did lay so!"
Thus, solemnly, Sir Thomas spake, and sigh'd;--
To whom the Duke of Limbs replied--
"Odrabbit it! Sir Thomas! you don't say so!"

Then, taking the huge Friar per the hocks,
He whirl'd the ton of blubber three times round,
And swung it on his shoulders, from the ground,
With strength that yields, in any age, to no man's,--
Tho' Milo's ghost should rise, bearing the Ox
He carried at the games of the old Romans.

Nay, I opine--let Fame say what it can--
Of ancient vigour, (Fame is, oft, a Liar)
That Milo was a pigmy to this Man,
And his fat Ox quite skinny to the Friar.

Besides,--I hold it in much doubt
If Roman graziers (should the truth come out)
Were, like the English, knowing in the matter;--
--I wouldn't breed my beast more Romano;--
For, I suspect, in fatt'ning they were dull,
And when they made an ox out of a bull,
They fed him ill,--and, then, he got no fatter
Than a fat opera Soprano.[10]

Over the moat, (the draw-bridge being down)
Gallantly stalk'd the brawny Duke of Limbs,
Bearing Johannes, of the shaven crown,
Fame'd, when alive, for spoiling maids, and hymns;
For mangling Pater-Nosters, and goose-pies,
And telling sundry beads,--and sundry lies.

Across a marsh he strode, with steadier gait
Than Satan trod the Syrtis, at his fall,
And perch'd himself, with his monastick weight,
Upon the Convent-garden's wall;--

Whence, on the grounds within it, as he gaze'd,
To find a spot where he might leave his load,
He 'spied a House so little, it seem'd raise'd
More for Man's visits, than his fix'd abode;--
And Cynthia aided him to gaze his fill,
For, now, she sought Endymion on the hill.

Arise, Tarquinius![11] shew thy lofty face!
While I describe, with dignity, the place.

Snug in an English garden's shadiest spot,
A structure stands, and welcomes many a breeze;
Lonely, and simple as a Ploughman's cot,
Where Monarchs may unbend, who wish for ease.

There sit Philosophers; and sitting read;
And to some end apply the dullest pages;
And pity the Barbarians, north of Tweed,
Who scout these fabricks of the southern Sages.

Sure, for an Edifice in estimation,
Never was any less presuming seen!
It shrinks, so modestly, from observation!
And hides behind all sorts of evergreen;--
Like a coy Maid, design'd for filthy Man,
Peeping, at his approach, behind her fan.

Into this place, unnotice'd by beholders,
The Duke of Limbs, most circumspectly, stole,
And shot the Friar off his shoulders,
Just like a sack of round Newcastle coal:

Not taking any pains,
Nor caring, in the least,
How he deposited the Friar's remains,
No more than if a Friar were a beast.

No funeral, of which you ever heard,
Was mark'd with ceremonies half so slight;
For John was left, not like the dead interr'd,
But, like the living, sitting bolt upright!

Has no shrewd Reader, of one sex or t'other,
Recurring to the facts already stated,
Thought on a certain Roger?--that same brother
Who hated John, and whom John hated?

'Tis, now, a necessary thing to say
That, at this juncture, Roger wasn't well;
Poor Man! he had been rubbing, all the day,
His stomach with coarse towels:
And clapping trenchers, hot as hell,
Upon his bowels;
Where spasms were kicking up a furious frolick,
Afflicting him with mulligrubs and cholick.

He also had imbibe'd, to sooth his pains,
Of pulvis rhei very many grains;
And to the garden's deepest shade was bent,
To give, quite privily, his sorrows vent:

When, there,--alive and merry to appearance--
He 'spied his ancient foe, by the moon's light!--
Who sat erect, with so much perseverance,
It look'd as if he kept his post in spite.

A case it is of piteous distress,
If, carrying a secret grief about,
We wish to bury it in a recess,
And find another there, who keeps us out.

Expecting, soon, his enemy to go,
Roger, at first, walk'd to and fro,
With tolerably tranquil paces;
But finding John determine'd to remain,
Roger, each time he pass'd, thro' spite or pain,
Made, at his adversary, hideous faces.

How misery will lower human pride!
And make us buckle!--
Roger, who, all his life, had John defied,
Was now oblige'd to speak him fair,--and truckle.

"Behold me," Roger cried, "behold me, John!
Entreating as a favour you'll be gone;
Me! your sworn foe, tho' fellow-lodger;
Me!--who, in agony, tho' suing now to you,
Would, once, have seen you damn'd ere make a bow to you.

To this address, so fraught with the pathetick,
John remain'd dumb, as a Pythagorean;
Seeming to hint, "Roger, you're a plebeian

When such choice oratory has not hit,
When it is, e'en, unanswer'd by a grunt,
'Twould justify tame Job to curse a bit,
And set an Angler swearing, in his punt.

Cholerick Roger could not brook it;--
So seeing a huge brick-bat, up he took it;
And aiming, like a marksman at a crow,
Plump on the breast he hit his deadly foe;
Who fell, like Pedants' periods, to the ground,--
Very inanimate, and very round.

Here is another Picture, reader mine!
I gave you one in the first Canto;[13]--
This is more solemn, mystical, and fine,--
Like something in the Castle of Otranto.

Bring, bring me, now, a Painter, for the work,
Who on the subject will, with furor, rush!
Some Artist who can sup upon raw pork,
To make him dream of horrors, for his brush!

Come, Limners, come! who choke your house's entry
With dear, unmeaning lumber, from your easels;
Dull heads of the Nobility and Gentry;
Full length of fubsey Belles, or Beaux like weasels!

Come, Limners, hither come! and draw
A finer incident than e'er ye saw!

Here is a John, by moon-light, (a fat monk)
Lying stone dead; and, here, a Roger, quick!
And over John stands Roger, in a funk,
Supposing he has kill'd him with a brick!

There, Painters! there!
Now, by Apelles's gamboge, I swear!

Such a dead subject never comes,
Among those lifeless living ye display;
Then, thro' your palettes thrust your graphick thumbs,--
And work away!

Seeing John dead as a door nail,
Roger began to wring his hands, and wail;
Calling himself, Beast, Butcher, cruel Turk!
Thrice "Benedicite!" he mutter'd;
Thrice, in the eloquence of grief he utter'd;
"I've done a pretty job of journey-work!"

Some people will shew symptoms of repentance
When Conscience, like a chastening Angel, smites 'em;
Some from mere dread of the Law's sentence,
When Newgate, like the very Devil, frights 'em;--

That Virtue's struggles, in the heart, denotes,
This Vice's hints, to men's left ears, and throats.

Now Roger's conscience, it appears,
Was not, by half, so lively as his fears.

His breast, soon after he was born,
Grew like an Hostler's lantern, at an Inn;
All the circumference was dirty horn,
And feebly blink'd the ray of warmth within.

In short, for one of his religious function,
His Conscience was both cowardly and callous;
No melting Cherub whisper'd to't "Compunction!"
But grim Jack Ketch disturb'd it, crying "Gallows!"

And all his sorrow, for this deed abhorr'd,
Was nothing but antipathy to cord.

A padlock'd door stood in the garden wall,
Where John, by Roger's brick-bat, chance'd to fall,
And Roger had a key that could undo it;
Thro' this same door, at any time of day,
They brought, into the Convent, corn, and hay;----
Sometimes, at dusk, a pretty girl came thro' it:
Just to confess herself, to some grave codger;
Perhaps, she came to John,--perhaps, to Roger.

Out at this portal Roger made a shift
To lug his worst of foes:
For, seizing (as the gout was wont) his toes,
He dragg'd the load he couldn't lift.

Achilles, thus, drew round the Trojan plain,
The ten years' Adversary he had slain.--

Yet,--for I scorn a Grecian to disparage,--
Achilles in more style, and splendour, did it;
He sported Murder strapp'd behind his carriage,--
But bourgeois Roger sneak'd on foot, and hid it.

Roger, however, labour'd on,--
Puffing and tugging;--
And hauling John,
As fishermen, on shore, haul up a boat;
Till, after a great deal of lugging,
He lugg'd him to the edge of the Knight's moat;
And stuck him up so straight upon his rear,
Touching, almost, the water, with his heels,
That the defunct might pass, not seen too near,
For some fat gentleman who bobb'd for eels.

Swiftly did Roger, then, retrace his ground,
Lighter than he came out, by many a pound.

So have I seen, on Marlb'rough downs, a hack,
Ease'd of a great man's chaise, and coming back,
From Bladud's springs, upon the western road;
No bloated Noble's luggage at his rump,
Whose doom's, that dread of pick-pockets, the pump,
He canters home, from Bath, without his load.

Sir Thomas being scrupulous, and queasy,
Couldn't, in all this interval, be easy.

He went to bed;--and, there, began to burn;
Nine times he turn'd, in wondrous perturbation;--
He woke her Ladyship, at every turn,
And gave her, full nine times, complete vexation.

To seek the Duke of Limbs, at length, he rose,
And prowl'd with him, lamenting Fortune's stripes;
Now in the rookery among the crows,
Now squashing in the marsh, among the snipes:

Wishing strange wishes;--among many,
He wish'd--ere he had clapp'd his eyes on any.

All Priests, and Crabsticks, thrown into the fire;--
Or, seeing Providence ordain'd it so,
That Priest, and Crabstick, (to his grief) must grow,
He wish'd stout Crabstick couldn't kill fat Friar.

Men's wishes will be partial, now and then;--
As, in this case, 'tis plainly seen;
Wherein, Sir Thomas, full of spleen,
Wish'd to burn all the Crabs, and Clergymen.

Think ye that he,--at wishing tho' a dab,--
To wish such harm to any Knight would urge ye?
Yet he, a Knight, had taken up a Crab,
And thump'd to death, with it, one of the Clergy.

As he went wishing on,
With the great Duke of Limbs behind him,--
Horror on horror!--he saw John
Where least of all he ever thought to find him:

Stuck up, on end, in placid grace,
Like a stuff'd Kangaroo,--tho' vastly fatter,--
With the full moon upon his chubby face,
Like a brass pot-lid shining on a platter.

"'Sdeath!" quoth the Knight, of half his powers bereft,
"Didst thou not tell me where this Friar was left?
Men rise again, to push us from our stools!"[14]
To which the Duke replied, with steady phiz,--
"Them as took pains to push that Friar from his,
At such a time o'night, was cursed fools."

"Ah!" sigh'd Sir Thomas, "while I wander here,
By fortune stamp'd a Homicide, alas!"
(And, as he spoke, a penitential tear
Mingled with Heaven's dew-drops, on the grass;)--
"Will no one from my eyes yon Spectre pull?"
"Sir Thomas," said the Duke of Limbs, "I wool."

He would have thrown the garbage in the moat,
But the Knight told him fat was prone to float.

The Lout, at length, having bethought him,
Heave'd up the Friar on his back once more;
And (Castles having armories of yore)
Into the Knight's old Armory he brought him.

Among the gorgeous, shining Coats of Mail,
That grace'd the walls, on high, in gallant shew,--
As pewter pots, in houses fame'd for ale,
Glitter, above the Bar-maid, in a row,--

A curious, antique suit was hoarded,
Cover'd with dust;
Which had, for many years, afforded
An iron dinner to that ostrich, Rust.

Though this was all too little,--in a minute,
The Duke of Limbs ramm'd the fat Friar in it;
So a good Housewife takes a narrow skin,
To make black puddings, and stuffs hog's meat in.

The Knight, who saw this ceremony pass,
Inquire'd the meaning; when the Duke did say,--
"I'll tie him on ould Dumpling, that's at grass,
And turn him out, a top of the highway."

This Steed,--who now, it seems, was grazing,--
In the French wars had often borne the Knight;--
His symmetry beyond the power of praising,
And prouder than Bucephalus, in fight!

Once, how he paw'd the ground, and snuff'd the gale!
Uncropp'd his ears, undock'd his flowing tail;
No blemish was within him, nor without him;
Perfect he was in every part;--
No barbarous Farrier, with infernal art,
Had mutilated the least bit about him.

Of high Arabian pedigree,
Father of many four-foot babes was he;
And sweet hoof'd Beauties still would he be rumpling;
But, counting five and twenty from his birth,
At grass for life, unwieldy in the girth,
He had obtain'd, alas! the name of Dumpling.

Now, at the postern stood the gay old Charger;
Saddle'd, and house'd,--in full caparison!--
Now on his back,--no rider larger,--
Upright, and stiff, and tied with cords, sat John:
Arm'd cap-à-pié completely, like a knight
Going to fight.

A Lance was in the rest, of stately beech:
Nothing was wanting, but a Page, or 'Squire;--
The Duke, with thistles, switch'd old Dumpling's breech;
And off he clatter'd with the martial Friar.

Now, in the Convent let us take a peep,--
Where Roger, like Sir Thomas, couldn't sleep:

Instead of singing requiems, and psalms,
For fat John's soul, he had been seize'd with qualms,
Thinking it would be rash to tarry there;--
And having, prudently, resolve'd on flight,
Knock'd up a neighbouring miller, in the night,
And borrow'd his grey Mare.

Thus, trotting off,--beneath a row of trees
He saw "a sight that made his marrow freeze!"
A furious Warrior follow'd him, in mail,
Upon a Charger, close at his Mare's tail!

He cross'd himself!--and, canting, cried,
Oh, sadly have I sinned!
Then stuck his heels in his Mare's side;
And, then, old Dumpling whinny'd!

Roger whipp'd, and Roger spurr'd,
Distilling drops of fear!
But while he spurr'd, still, still he heard
The wanton Dumpling at his rear.

'Twas dawn!--he look'd behind him, in the chase;
When, lo! the features of fat John,--
His beaver up, and pressing on,--
Glare'd, ghastly, in the wretched Roger's face!

The Miller's Mare, who oft had gone the way,
Scamper'd with Roger into Norwich town;
And, there, to all the market-folks' dismay,
Old Dumpling beat the mare, with Roger, down.

Brief let me be;--the Story soon took air;--
For Townsmen are inquisitive, of course,
When a live Monk rides in upon a Mare,
Chase'd by a dead one, arm'd, upon a Horse.

Sir Thomas up to London sped, full fast,
To beg his life, and lands, of Royal Harry,
And, for his services, in Gallia, past,
His suit did not miscarry:--

For, in those days,--thank Heaven they are mended!--
Kings hang'd poor Rogues, while rich ones were befriended.

Have deign'd (in reading this my story thro')
A patient, or impatient, ear to lend me,--
If, as I humbly amble, ye complain
I give my Pegasus too loose a rein,
'Tis time to call my Betters to defend me.

Come, SWIFT! who made so merry with the Nine;
With thy far bolder Muse, Oh, shelter mine!
When she is style'd a slattern, and a trollop;--
Force stubborn Gravity to doff his gloom;
Point to thy Cælia, and thy Dressing-Room,
Thy Nymph at bed-time, and thy fame'd Maw-Wallop!

Come, STERNE!--whose prose, with all a Poet's art,
Tickles the fancy, while it melts the heart!--
Since at apologies I ne'er was handy,--
Come, while fastidious Readers run me hard,
And screen, sly playful wag! a hapless Bard,
Behind one volume of thy Tristram Shandy!

Ye Two, alone!--tho' I could bring a score
Of brilliant names, and high examples, more--
Plead for me, when 'tis said I misbehave me!
And, ye, sour Censors! in your crabbed fits,
Who will not let them rescue me as Wits,
Prithee, as Parsons, suffer 'em to save me!

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