THE AUTHOR'S ACCOUNT of his JOURNEY to IRELAND.
To Mr. JOHN ELLIS.
Dublin,July 5, 1744.
1 BY the lyre of Apollo, the locks of the Muses,
2 And the pure lucid stream Aganippe produces,
3 My Ellis, I love thee, then pay me in kind,
4 Let the thought of a friend never slip from your mind;
5 So may fancy and judgment together combine,
6 And the bosom be fill'd with an ardor divine;
7 That thy brows may the laurel with justice still claim,
8 And the Temple of Liberty mount thee to fame.
9 If it e'er can give pleasure to know my career,
10 When proud London I left with intentions so queer,
11 Accept it in verse. On the very first day
12 When the queen of warm passions precedes the fair May,
13 When, so custom prescribes, and to follow old rules,
14 One half of mankind makes the other half fools;[Page 258]
15 From the town I first breath'd in, I sally'd in haste
16 Thro' Highgate and Finchley, and Barnet I pass'd:
17 At St. Alban's I din'd with a laughing gay crew,
18 Not complete was the set without Tucker and you.
19 Where the*
* Dunstable. Eighth of our Harries deserted his mate,
20 And procur'd a full sentence against his old Kate,
21 Our brisk company supp'd, while our wine gave a spring,
22 And tho' at the Crown, we ne'er thought of the King.
23 The morrow succeeding I got from my bed,
24 As a sheet all the roads were with snows overspread;
25 But the gods, who will never abandon a poet,
26 As oft has been said, condescended to show it,
27 In a coach and six horses the storm I defy'd;
28 And, left by my friends, thro' the tempest I ride.
29 Newport-Pannel receiv'd me, and gave me a dinner,
30 And a bed at Northampton was press'd by a sinner:
31 No signs of fair weather, the West Chester coach
32 At nine the next morning, a welcome approach,
33 Presents fresh example; I travell'd all day,
34 At Crick eat my dinner, at Coventry lay;
35 I tremble whene'er I reflect on the roads
36 That lead to those dirty worm-eaten abodes,
37 Where a†
† Lady Godiva. woman rode naked their taxes to clear,
38 And a taylor for peeping paid damnably dear;
‡ A parliament was held here in the reign of Henry IV. called Parliamentum Indoctorum, another in Henry VI. called Diabolicum. two parliaments fam'd, which intail a disgrace,
40 And have left their foul manners to poison the place.
41 Next morning the fun, with a face of red hue,
42 Had clear'd up th' expanse, and array'd it in blue,
43 When I left the vile town, 'gainst which ever I'll rail,
* Meriden is famous for ale. Meriden offers no humble regale;
45 But near Mixal Park din'd at house of mean fame,
46 And at night to the†
† Campus Cadaverum was the ancient name for Litchfield, on account of a prosecution there in the days of Dioclesian. field of slain carcasses came;
47 Tho' full old are thy tow'rs, yet receive my just praise,
48 May thy ale be recorded, and live in my lays:
49 Thy Gothic cathedral new homage still claims,
50 Nor refuse I thy due, tho' repair'd by king James. ‡
‡ King James II.
51 I forgot to advise you, the sky being clear,
52 'Twas at Coventry first I ascended my chair;
53 But, alas, on the morrow, how dismal the sight!
54 For the day had assum'd all the horrors of night,
55 The clouds their gay visage had chang'd to a frown,
56 And in a white mantle cloath'd Litchfield's old town;
57 But at noon all was o'er, when intrepid and bold
58 As a train-band commander, or Falstaff of old,
59 And proudly defying the wind and the snow,
60 When the danger was pass'd, I determin'd to go.
61 At Stone I repos'd, but at Ousley I din'd,
62 When our reck'ning was cheap and the landlord was kind:
63 Next morning we sally'd, and Staffordshire lost;
64 But not ill entertain'd by a Cestrian host.
65 On the banks of the Wever, at Namptwich renown'd
66 For an excellent brine pit, our dinner we found;[Page 260]
67 The wine was not bad, tho' the ale did displease,
68 And an unctuous desert was serv'd up of old cheese;
69 But as time will not tarry, our course we resume,
* General St. George's dragoons were marching up to London, and a party of them just came in when we were leaving it. St. George's dragoons take their seats in our room:
71 So travelling onwards with pleasure we see
72 Old Caerleon so famous o'er looking the Dee;
73 Four days there we rested, and blithsome and gay
74 Forgot the bad weather we met on the way;
75 Then old Chester, farewel, till I see thee again,
76 And can stroll thro' thy streets†
† The streets of Chester have shops on each side covered over, which if not beautiful to the eye, at least preserve one from the rain. without dreading the rain;
77 May thy river‡
‡ People are now employed to make the river Dee navigable up to the town. still swell, better pleas'd with his charge
78 Than when Edgar was row'd by eight kings in his barge;
79 Be the maidens all virtuous who drink of thy tide,
80 And each virgin in bloom be affianc'd a bride;
81 May the heart and the hand at the altar be join'd,
82 And no matron complain that a husband's unkind;
83 Let their bounty to strangers refound in each song,
§ Robert Barnstone, Esq who used me with the utmost hospitality. Barnstone their copy, they cannot go wrong.
85 O'er the cuts of the river our tract we pursue,
86 And old Flint in the prospect now rises to view;
87 How strange to behold, here our language is fled,
88 To converse with these people's to talk to the dead;[Page 261]
89 And a Turk or Chinese is as well understood
90 By these Roisters, who boast of Cadwalladar's blood,
91 As an Englishman here, who is certainly undone
92 If he thinks to make use of the language of London.
93 From Flint we depart with our landlord and guide,
94 Who show'd us that kindness which courts never try'd,
95 The castle where*
* It was at this place that Richard was prevailed upon to resign the crown. Richard his grandeur laid down,
96 And betray'd his own life by surrend'ring the crown:
97 Now the†
† Holy-well. well we survey, where‡
‡ St. Winifred, patroness of Wales. a virgin of old
98 To all flame but religion's was lifeless and cold,
99 When in vain princely Cradoc had offer'd his bed,
100 The merciless heathen e'en chopp'd off her head:
101 Hence the stones are distain'd with the colour of blood,
102 And each cripple is cur'd who will bathe in the flood:
103 Thus the rankest absurdity brain can conceive,
104 Superstition imposes, and crowds will believe!
105 Turn from legends and nonsense, to see a gay sight,
106 Where the§
§ The vale of Clewyn. meadows of Clewyn the senses delight,
107 And excuse that I aim not to point out the place
108 Lest my numbers too lowly the landscape disgrace;
109 At Rhydland we dine, and a castle we view,
110 Whose founder I'd name if the founder I knew;
111 But our host gives the word, and we hurry away,
112 Lest the length of the journey out-run the short day;
113 Now ascend Penmenrose, oh! beware as you rise,
114 What a prospect of horror, what dreadful surprize! [Page 262]
115 See that height more sublime, which no footsteps e'er try'd,
116 There the ocean roars loudly, how awful his pride!
117 How narrow the path, observe where you tread,
118 Nor stumble the feet, nor grow dizzy the head;
119 If you slip, not mankind can avert your sad doom,
120 Dash'd against the rough rocks, and the sea for your tomb!
121 The danger is past, and now Conway's broad beech,
122 Fatigu'd and dismay'd, with great gladness we reach;
123 In a leaky old boat we were wafted safe o'er,
124 (Tho' two drunkards our steersmen) to th' opposite shore.
125 Here the town and the river are both of a name,
126 And boast the first Edward, who rais'd her to fame:
127 There a supper was order'd, which no one could touch,
128 This too little was boil'd, and that roasted too much;
129 To his chamber full hungry each pilgrim retreats,
130 And forgets his lost meal 'twixt a pair of Welch sheets.
131 A castle hard by I with pleasure behold,
132 Which Kings had long dwelt in, or giants of old;
133 But the daw, and each night-bird, now builds up her nest,
134 And with clamours and shrieks the old mansion infest.
135 We waken'd at four, and our host left us here,
136 As the worst ways were past, so but small was our fear;
137 We follow'd our route, and cross'd Penmenmaur'sside,
138 Where the prudent will walk, but the bolder will ride.
139 Still above us old rocks seem to threaten a fall,
140 And present to spectators the form of a wall:
141 Now Bangor we reach, oh, if e'er thou hadst fame,
142 Tho' lawn sleeves thou bestow'st, on my life 'tis a shame;
143 There we cross o'er an arm of the sea, and carouse
144 On the opposite shore at an excellent house;[Page 263]
145 Thro' Anglesea's island we rattle our chaise,
146 While the goats all in wonder seem on us to gaze;
147 For be pleas'd to observe, and with diligence note,
148 That 'twas here first in Wales that I met with a goat.
149 O'er roads rough and craggy our journey we sped,
150 Nor baited again 'till we reach'd Holyhead.
151 The next day at noon in the Wyndham we sail,
152 And the packet danc'd brisk with a prosperous gale.
153 We at ten past the*
* Dublin Bar. Bar; in the wherry confin'd,
154 Which swims on no water, and sails with no wind,
155 'Till near two we sate cursing, in vain they may row,
156 Not a snail is so sluggish, nor tortoise so slow,
157 'Till a boat took us in, and at length set us down
158 At the quay of St. George in St. Patrick's chief town:
159 Thence I wrote to my friend, nor believe what those say,
160 Or too fond to find fault, or too wantonly gay,
161 Who with taunts contumelious this island o'erload,
162 As with bogs, and with blunders, and nonsense full stow'd;
163 For, believe me, they live not unbless'd with good air,
164 And their daughters are beauteous, and sons debonair:
165 Here tho' Bacchus too often displays his red face,
166 Yet Minerva he holds in the strictest embrace;
167 Nor the maiden is coy ev'ry charm to resign,
168 And the ivy and laurel peep forth from the vine.
169 Thus I've told you in verse the whole progress I took,
170 As true as if sworn in full court on the book,[Page 264]
171 Let me know how in London you measure your time,
172 'Twill be welcome in prose, but twice welcome in rhyme.