The 'Squire At Vauxhall.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

Nothing so idle as to waste
This Life disputing upon Taste;
And most--let that sad Truth be written--
In this contentious Land of Britain,
Where each one holds "it seems to me"
Equivalent to Q. E. D.,
And if you dare to doubt his Word
Proclaims you Blockhead and absurd.
And then, too often, the Debate
Is not 'twixt First and Second-rate,
Some narrow Issue, where a Touch
Of more or less can't matter much,
But, and this makes the Case so sad,
Betwixt undoubted Good and Bad.
Nay,--there are some so strangely wrought,--
So warped and twisted in their Thought,--
That, if the Fact be but confest,
They like the baser Thing the best.
Take BOTTOM, who for one, 'tis clear,
Possessed a "reasonable Ear;"
He might have had at his Command
The Symphonies of Fairy-Land;
Well, our immortal SHAKESPEAR owns
The Oaf preferred the "Tongs and Bones!"

'Squire HOMESPUN from Clod-Hall rode down,
As the Phrase is--"to see the Town;"
(The Town, in those Days, mostly lay
Betwixt the Tavern and the Play.)
Like all their Worships the J.P.'s,
He put up at the Hercules;
Then sallied forth on Shanks his Mare,
Rather than jolt it in a Chair,--
A curst, new-fangled Little-Ease,
That knocks your Nose against your Knees.
For the good 'Squire was Country-bred,
And had strange Notions in his Head,
Which made him see in every Cur
The starveling Breed of Hanover;
He classed your Kickshaws and Ragoos
With Popery and Wooden Shoes;
Railed at all Foreign Tongues as Lingo,
And sighed o'er Chaos Wine for Stingo.

Hence, as he wandered to and fro,
Nothing could please him, high or low.
As Savages at Ships of War
He looked unawed on Temple-Bar;
Scarce could conceal his Discontent
With Fish-Street and the Monument;
And might (except at Feeding-Hour)
Have scorned the Lion in the Tower,
But that the Lion's Race was run,
And--for the Moment--there was none.

At length, blind Fate, that drives us all,
Brought him at Even to Vauxhall,
What Time the eager Matron jerks
Her slow Spouse to the Water-Works,
And the coy Spinster, half-afraid
Consults the Hermit in the Shade.
Dazed with the Din and Crowd, the 'Squire
Sank in a Seat before the Choir.
The FAUSTINETTA, fair and showy,
Warbled an Air from Arsinoƫ,
Playing her Bosom and her Eyes
As Swans do when they agonize.
Alas! to some a Mug of Ale
Is better than an Orphic Tale!
The 'Squire grew dull, the 'Squire grew bored;
His chin dropt down; he slept; he snored.
Then, straying thro' the "poppied Reign,"
He dreamed him at Clod-Hall again;
He heard once more the well-known Sounds,
The Crack of Whip, the Cry of Hounds.

He rubbed his Eyes, woke up, and lo!
A Change had come upon the Show.
Where late the Singer stood, a Fellow,
Clad in a Jockey's Coat of Yellow,
Was mimicking a Cock that crew.
Then came the Cry of Hounds anew,
Yoicks! Stole Away! and harking back;
Then Ringwood leading up the Pack.
The 'Squire in Transport slapped his Knee
At this most hugeous Pleasantry.
The sawn Wood followed; last of all
The Man brought something in a Shawl,--
Something that struggled, scraped, and squeaked
As Porkers do, whose tails are tweaked.
Our honest 'Squire could scarcely sit
So excellent he thought the Wit.
But when Sir Wag drew off the Sheath
And showed there was no Pig beneath,
His pent-up Wonder, Pleasure, Awe,
Exploded in a long Guffaw:
And, to his dying Day, he'd swear
That Naught in Town the Bell could bear
From "Jockey wi' the Yellow Coat
That had a Farm-Yard in his Throat!"

MORAL THE FIRST you may discover:
The 'Squire was like TITANIA'S lover;
He put a squeaking Pig before
The Harmony of CLAYTON'S Score.

MORAL THE SECOND--not so clear;
But still it shall be added here:
He praised the Thing he understood;
'Twere well if every Critic would.

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