« AnteriorContinuar »
At once the fair angelic maid
I took to compliment his mother." This piece of autobiography seems to me admirable for its neatness and point, its humour and its good-humour. The termination of the poem is a trial of matchless pleasantry between John-a-Gull and John-a-Gudgeon, for an assault at an election. I transcribe the commencement and part of the opening speech, a piece of legal comedy which will make its way even with the least learned reader :
For the Plaintiff, Mr. Counsellor BOTHER’UM.–For the Defendant, Mr. Counsellor BORE'UM.--Mr. BOTHER’UM opens the pleadings. His speech at length.
“ I rise with pleasure, I assure ye,
With transport to accost a jury,
Of your known conscientious feeling,
By John-a-Gudgeon for a tort" Our French will serve us for the legal word which is, I suppose, old Norman French, pronounced English-wise, but signifying a wrong, as one might guess from the modern tongue.
“ By John-a-Gudgeon for a tort;
The pleadings state that John-a-Gull,
wrath and malice full,
This prodigious accumulation of weapons, as well as the “twelvs pots, twelve mugs,” and so forth, to which we are coming, is an imitation of the real law fictions and endless repetitions which result from the circumstances of nothing being allowed to be proven at a trial that has not been named in the indictment, whereas there is no rule to compel the proof of more than the counsel think essential to the case; it is, therefore, really usual to provide against all contingencies by enumerating far more
* Middlesex. This being an election affray, the venue is supposed to have been changed upon the usual affidavit, for the sake of a more fair and impartial trial before a Middlesex jury.
particulars than are likely to be brought forward. Lawyers will best feel the satire, but all can enjoy the fun :
“First count's for that with divers jugs,
To wit, twelve pots, twelve cups, twelve mugs,
Here our French helps us again, and the common expression of joining issue. Now for Counsellor Bother'um's history of the battle.
The watery names are very happy:
“Such, gentlemen, is word for word,
The story told on this record.
They'd had a meeting at the ‘Swan' The day before the poll began, And hence adjoumed it to make merry With Mr. Coot, who keeps the 'Ferry.' Now John-a-Gull, who thrusts his nose Wherever John-a-Gudgeon goes, To this same feast, without suspicion, Unasked, it seems, had gained admission. Coot had just finished an oration, And Gudgeon, with much approbation, Was singing an election ballad, Penned by ingenious Dr. Mallard, (That orthodox and learned writer, Who bids so fairly for a mitre;) When Gull, who heard this song or sonnet, With Mr. Gudgeon's comments on it; This Gull, whose very name denoted The character for whom he voted, Flourished his knuckles in derision, And, with much promptness of decision, Began to pummel and belabour The short ribs of his peaceful neighbour; But first with tweaks assailed his nose, And interspersed said tweaks with blows. Gudgeon explained, and Gull recourse had To other tweaks like tweak aforesaid. Heaven knows a milder gentler creature Never was seen in human nature Than the forbearing and well-judging, Discreet and gentle John-a-Gudgeon! And, gentlemen, there's no man's face is Better received at all your races, Wells, mouths and water-drinking places;
Was alderman and mayor elect, Once had the honour to be pricked For sheriff, which important station He gained without solicitation. No doubt his lordship recognises The coat he had on at assizes, A velveret, genteel and neat, With tabby lined and frogs complete, Made for Squire Gudgeon's wedding ball, When first he came to Webfoot Hall, An ancient seat in the Isle of Ely, Where all the Gudgeons live genteelly; Which coat so trimmed, so frogged, said Gull Did spoil, besmear, and disannul With the most villanous libations Of the most vile of vile potations; For proof we'll call Gull's worthy friend, Who keeps a school at Toadland's end; One Simon Trout, a pious pastor, And Dr. Tench, who spread the plaister; And Farmer Chubb, an honest yeoman, Who speaks the truth and cares for no man ; But above all, to prove our case, We'll show you Mr. Gudgeon's face, Where every injured feature pleads 'Gainst John-o-Gull's atrocious deeds. What facts, what species of excuse, My brother Bore’um will produce, What case he'll make, and how maintain His plea of son assault demesne, Wise as he looks, you may rely on't, He knows no more than his own client. 'Tis for you, gentlemen, to say What damage John-a-Gull should pay ;