To Essex once, with dire intent
To shoot, a Cockney lawyer went,
(No licence took the pains of finding,
To all but lawyers, laws are binding.)
Soon as Aurora (welcome guest)
Flung wide the portals of the East,
And radiant Phoebus climbed the sky,
He climbed a stage coach roof so high
And ere midday arrived, he came,
To where the woods were stocked with game.
Then from the lofty throne alighted,
And gazed around, amazed, delighted.
His fare he paid, his gun he took,
And straight into the forest strook.
Thro’ many a woody copse he strayed
And paused at many a verdant glade,
At pheasants oft he took his aim
But missed as oft the wily game,
For oft, ere at his mark he shot,
To load his gun he quite forgot.
At length, oh Muse the wonder tell,
He shot a bird at distance fell.
Soon as his fallen bird he found
He turned, and turned, and turned around.
And long he pondered in his mind,
To recollect its name and kind.
“All pheasants I before have seen,”
He said, “were gay with gold and green,
That they are sometimes white, I’ve heard,
But this is black as any bird,
But ’tis a lawyer’s chief delight,
To make mankind think black is white,
And I with ease may do once more,
What I have often done before,
But for my private satisfaction,
I’d wish to know the grounds of action,
And to disperse any inward doubt,
This creature’s name and kind find out.”
So long he pondered that at last
The setting sun descending fast
Warned him from forests to retire,
To seek for shelter food and fire.
His gun he took — his trophied game
Slung on the end — and soon he came
Where on the forest confines stood
A pretty village backed with wood.
But while an inn he sought, a man
He met, and converse thus began.
“Good eve, all day have I been out
Upon the forest near to shoot,
And in such things since little skilled,
Would fain know what I now have killed.”
The country man looked in his face,
And then replied with quaint grimace
“You jest, sir, you must surely know,
The bird you’ve killed’s a carrion crow.”
“A carrion crow,” our lawyer thought,
“Is this then all the game I’ve brought,
How all my London friends will sneer
Of this my shabby sport to hear;
How at my ignorance laugh, to know,
I could not tell a carrion crow.
But since the past we can’t retrieve
My ill success why should I grieve,
For when to curious friends I say,
How many birds I shot today.
And added nothing can with ease,
Turn 1 to 10, whene’er I please.
Or as in briefs, where well ’tis known
We always write down twelve for one,
And if or pheasant, rook, or crow,
Not one in nine will ask to know.
And if they do what pleases me,
Tho’ one a crow, the rest may be.”
The settling of this matter brought
Our lawyer to the inn he sought,
And then, for chill th’ autumnal dew,
And rough and rudely Boreas blew,
When about food he had enquired,
To have a fire he much desired.
But tho’ he careful looked around
No grate in all the room he found
This to the landlord named; the man,
With mild obsequious air began.
“I’ll bring you dogs, sir, if you choose,
They’re all the grates we ever use,
We need no other, all the year,
We burn nought else but lawyers here.”
At this our hero, in dismay
Took to his heels without delay,
Fearing, since lawyers there they toasted
Lest he might be the next they roasted.
But when at distance from the place
He dared at last to turn his face
And thought, “Why what a fool am I,
From danger thus unknown to fly,
If I had quietly looked on
In me they’d ne’er a lawyer known
And when the deed was done, to fright them,
For wilful murder, I’d indite them.
I’ll quick return, besides I find,
I’ve left my gun and game behind.”
Returned, he found to greet his sight,
A cheerful faggot blazing bright,
And learnt to his surprise that there
The name of lawyers, faggots bear,
And now ashamed of all his fears,
He rack’d his mind with fancied sneers
And reddened at the degradation,
He deemed so mean an application,
Threw on the lawyer’s name and station.
Till now with food and wine refreshed,
The wearied sportsman went to rest.
Now morning rose, the lawyer wakes,
And on a steed the inn forsakes,
His game in basket packed, but out
He left the head and legs, no doubt.
The road was good, the path was free
His filly jogged on quietly,
And many a prospect fair and gay
Cheered with its charms his lonely way.
The dust was laid by recent rains,
That made more green the grassy plains,
While all in gold and crimson bright,
The forest shone in Phoebus’ light.
Delighted on the lawyer hies
And wished he’d twenty pair of eyes.
But hours of joy fly swiftly past,
They will not, may not, cannot last,
And hours of sorrow soon succeed
Swift they advance but slow recede.
This soon our hero thought, no doubt,
For loaded well, within, without
The stage that brought him yesterday
To London takes its backward way.
The man, as usual, wishing fast
To drive his fellow travellers past,
Loud cracked his whip — the lawyer’s steed,
Affrighted, reared on high his head,
And where thick mud o’erspread the road,
Threw his dismayed, astonished load.
His bed was soft, the hero rose,
A lighter hue had dyed his clothes,
With mud his hands were covered o’er
His face the same brown livery wore.
The stage has stopped; and all its crew,
His piteous plight with laughter view.
Recovered from his fright he stands
Cleansed in a brook his face and hands,
And glad to find himself no worse,
’Gan make enquiries for his horse.
Who caring not his load to wait,
Had scampered to the turnpike gate.
This soon regained, he mounts once more
Tho’ not so gaily as before,
And bore but with an awkward grace
The smile that decked each traveller’s face,
For all along the busy road
A smile each passing visage showed,
And all thro’ London’s crowded streets
Smiles grace the lips of all he meets.
Tho’ seldom public streets he ventures,
But all the lanes and alleys enters,
And now returned, to all his friends,
While each his wondrous skill commends,
He largely boasts the fancied game,
And smugly triumphs in his fame.