James Abbott.

Legends, ballads, &c online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryJames AbbottLegends, ballads, &c → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook
















Scene, London.

Enter Ned, and the Ghost of Bill.

Bill. — What ! Ned ! already back ! so soon hast fouad
Hesperian fruits on arid orient ground ?
At my own science, lad, thou'st beat me hollow,
(And yet methinks I've got a splendid swallow.)
For tho' I bolted things more crude than iron,
Sold mane, tail, whiskers of the British Lion,
Distrain'd poor Ensign's hard-earn'd daily rations,
Made Britain kiss the breech of black-skinn'd nations,
Yet full six years I plied each pliant thumb,
Scrap'd, cabbag'd, claw'd, before I made a plumb.
And thou — in half that space fly -flush and mellow !
In very truth, Ned, you're a splendid fellow !
What left I thee unclipt to meet the charge ?
I sold the Agra-gun — did'st sell the Taj ?*

* There are some who, will think the followiug an over-estimate of Splendid Ned.
The Author believes it to be a just statement of his genius and his faults. From
the latter, he suffered too deeply to be prejudiced in favour of the worthy under
consideration. These lines appeared in the Delhi Gazette in 18i7.

Taj.— Although our English rendering of this name softens it into Taz, deriv-
able from moomtaz'h, yet I think the native opinion is in favour of thej.. — Taj
Muhftl, the Crown Palace, from its supposed resemblance to a Crown.


8221 78


I did my best ; but not a knave would buy it ;

They talk'd of risings of Pathan and Ryutt,

A slight phlebotomy had laid them quiet,

Whilst a cool million to account, had met

My zeal, with pension fat and coronet.

Aye ! let men sneer, but groping in the gutter

Is process neat t' anoint your bread with butter ;

For all, there ta'en, be there but little of it,

Is downright gain, and cent per cent of profit.

But you, I hear, Ned, made expose ugly

On those old lumbering gates, you dragg'd from Ghuznce^

Why ! what the deuce, man, did you lack for fuel,

Or old deal planks mistake for crown and jewel ?

Is't true, as say the prints, in cuerpo stark,

You danc'd and caper'd, Ned, before your ark ?

iVec?.— Peace Babbler ! peace !— what manly foot would wind
The tortuous slimy trail thou'st left behind,
You see me here, not infamously rich
With foul, fat, loathsome rakings of the ditch ;
But, poor and honest, able with a frown
To brow-beat bullies, look a lion down.
Brief was my reign, but brilliant to the last !
I found an Empire tottering — fix'd it fast,


Broke with my legions Scind's deep-serried spears,

The Indus freed, and prison'd th' Emirs,

The Gwalior leopard's fangs and claws did lop.

And veteran sepoys bless'd with — lollipop ;

Macassar'd well the lion's mane and chin.

And made him roar, to keep his windpipe in :

Drill'd the Police, a predatory band ;

Of gaunt, fell wolves made watch-dogs for the land.

And best and brightest ! crowning act of all,

Snubb'd the Greengrocers in their leaden hall,

And therefore am I here.

Bill. — Fie on thee, Ned !

'Twas like a naughty boy, to quarrel with your bread !

Learn from my case, a truth, too lightly heard,

Benignant vix-tue works her oion reward.

But thou art here, for thine unjust decree,

'Gainst Scind. Fate turns the tables round on thee ;

For, mark me, Ned, if there's injustice flagrant,

It is to flay a flint or rob a vagrant.

When jour fat mmi is eas'd of hide and tallow,

'Tis for his health and leaner mortals' swallow,

But when your grasp at Donald's breeks you dart, Sir,

Justice feels pinch'd, and you but catch a Tartar.

And what the fruits your outrag'd treaties bear ?

A drowthy quicksand — hungry sepulchre !


None in my justice can such flaw discover :

The vassal States liv'd out my reign in clover,

Cut throats, burn'd towns, and plundered fields at will I

What matter, so they paid their tribute still ?

The plunder'd, murder'd Ryutt's widow came.

The orphan wept, the army hiss'd for shame ;

Orphan and widow sent I to the devil.

The Treaty binds us not to intermeddle.

And if, like fools we've whilome brook'd the expence.

There's one among ye now can chink the pence !

For I came, not to spend, but as ye ken all.

To rake each filthy drain and sink and kennel.

Ned. — And that was treachery of the basest brand.
Ceasing to guard, we're robbers of the land,
Arm'd by the Eyutt's gold, ye'd no more right
To stand inert, and witness lawless might,
Thau hath your Watchman idly to await.
Whilst thieves creep in, or burglars force your gate.
That dastard course of thine more shame hath cost,
To British faith than twenty battles lost.
A word had charm'd, disarm'd each robber horde,
Sav'd, blest : — You knew, yet would not speak that word.
The British flag by thee was taught to wave
O'er outrag'd faith, and honor's gory grave.


Bill. — Oh ! yes ! you're lean and fierce, a dangerous man ;
I'm sleek and meek, digesting all I can.
Yet, tho' 'twas pleasant, gazing round my board,
To think, how hungry Ensigns would have roar'd
O'er one least morsel of the hundred there ;
Each dish bore label of the curse " Forbear,"
In that atrocious climate, where a cat
Turns pale at cream and faints at collop'd rat,
For, if above a score I gulp'd, poor sinner,
I felt quite pufi'd, and went mad after dinner.
But you, Ned, took a course to sense repugnant.
Kept lean yourself, and made the army rampant,
Were hand and glove with each hard-pated rattle,
That lov'd to give and take good blows in battle.
And 'stead of starving them, and growing fatter,
Condemn'd, as base, my master-piece Half-Batta.
Short-sighted Ned, Heretic in creed !
What ivas a soldier made for, but to bleed ?
They still could sweat. — 'Tis true as it is shocking,
I saw, one morn, an Ensign — with, — a stocking.
And thus it fell, that rising somewhat early,
And prowling round, without your hurly, burly,
Of guards, tin-kettles, aides-de-camp and scarlet,
I caught, fly-fresh from sleep, the rosy varlet,


One leg beneath his bed-clothes, one extended,
Whilst o'er him, sock in hand, his bearer bended.
Oh ! ho ! quoth I, the invisible see sights !
A sub with sheets and curtains — two oil-lio-hts !
Eaves-dropping pays, tho' we be sometimes dirtied !
An Ensign socked !— I shouldn't wonder,— s/^V^et/ !
Luxurious dog ! the first to make a clatter.
And prate of dirty jobs and curse Half-Batta !
So still, you see, they've feathers left to pluck,
And they're too loyal, yet, " to run a muck."

Ned.—'' To run a muck ?"— Oh sordid and unjust,
To pay with wanton wrong their generous trust !
Vain your vile arts their loyal faith to move ;
But when you sold their cause, you kill'd their love.
See how, when treated as becomes the brave.
Their warm heart's confidence they freely gave.
Rush'd with bare breasts to meet the firebolt's mieht.
And one kind word call'd heroes into light.
Ah ! gallant friends ! hearts trusted, spirits tried :
My sole regret still chains me to your side !
Cool, stern and keen, I've seen you wield the sword,
Gay in the camp, and cheerful at the board :
Severe in discipline, yet free of thought,
With minds self-form'd, and judgment never bought ;


And hearts, like concave mirrors rendering back
Your leader's love in bright and burning track ;
Might I still marshall you to just renown,
No conqueror's meed I'd ask, no monarch's throne.
My name with your's the spacious world should fill,
And I for you would half forego my lordly will.

Bill. — Ah ! soft to think ! and green the thought to mention !
What can the army give ? Ned ! not a pension !
Their love ! Ah me ! warm cloak for wintry weather !
Renown ! — I'd cheaper buy a peacock's feather !
Such trash, with pinafores and A. B. C.
Throw off, and con the statesman's craft with me ;
All men be fools — our fair ones, now and then,
The greatest folly rules the greatest men.
The knave rules all ; for he is folly's mate,
And holds the pass-key to each neighbour's gate.
The hard, the sordid, selfish and severe,
Whose love is gall, whose very mirth a sneer,
, Who deem themselves the only wise, to trust
Their heart's whole wealth to perishable dust,
These, by the coarseness of their folly rule.
As race- stones master e'en the toughest tool ;
And who can wield them grinds all others down.
The great Tom Fool who calls this world his own.


The fools of sentiment be weak and few ;

The fools of honor, impotent as true ;

The fools of virtue, sleeker fools evite,

Their leanness dreading, shrinking from their light.

But all have noses, ye may hook at will !

The sordid bend to one more sordid still !

The knave submits, a master knave in sight,

And virtue's sceptics bow to baser might.

Each with, his cudgel ye must soundly tan.

They credit none, until they've met their man,

These make your slaves ! and flourish^ here and there,

A little virtue (much, the world wo'nt bear)

A few fine sentiments, a few wise saws.

The noble snatch, as drowners catch at straws.

For still the guileless loathe the censor's part,

And long to think all like themselves in heart.

But there's one fact in which we both agree,
'Tis that the eye can hear, the nose can see ;
* That he who neatest tips your Thug the Darbies,
Shall best brew laws, and humbug skittish Ranees.

* This hit, however, has proved fairer than might have been pre-argued from
the analogy between strangling and preserving. The Sheeva proves a first rate
Vyshnoo. The gallows, no longer rampant, forms a gallow's good plough, and
the dignitary is as much loved and respected, as formerly he was feared.


* And iron skull, stout heart, and mutton fist
Suit less the soldier than diplomatist. >
And so I sought through our Indian State,
And caught our best and fattest Magistrate ; •
Made him gyves, writs renounce, the pen-case carry,
And straight installed him Private Secretary,

Ned. — Well ! and the project answered to a Tee ?

Bill. — Not so, alas ! my Sec. went all agee.

Slept at his desk, dyspeptic turn'd and moody

Over green toads, and thirsted for the Woodie.

Th' exception argues not the laws' excision ;

So next I took a General of Division,

A first-rate man, created for command,

I wrenched the truncheon from his veteran hand.

And since he sway'd so well a leading fiddle, .7

Bade him as second twang high diddle diddle,

Kow tow and smirk with darken'd disk or bright,

Phas'd at command, a first-class Satellite.

j^gd. — Well ! did it answer ?

Bill. — Can't exactly say.

The army deem'd their General thrown away,

Sigh'd to behold the truncheon in his hand,

And dream'd o'er happy days of his command.

♦ Experiment No, 2 had well nigh lost us India.



I spare to tell you how by strange disaster
I spoil'd a Brigadier and Quarter Master,
And made High SheriflP, mid the general laugh,
A pretty boy who pleas'd my better half,
Exceptions, merely, as had prov'd th' event,
But I, too soon eschew'd experiment.
I only wish I'd tried my K. C. B. *
Before I left the land as C.-in-C.
For who the besom sways the Staff can wield,
And he who sweeps the floor can surely sweep the field.
^ed. — You're right for once. But were you quite a fool,

Or urg'd by some mad demon of misrule,

T' exempt the sipahi ranks from cat-o'-nine,

And cut the reins of martial discipline ?

Since then, a yearly mutiny we see.

Foretold, foreseen of each dull dolt but thee,

And troops, that honor whom they fear alone,

I That fear remov'd. Praetorian Bands are grown ;

March only to the posts which please them well,

And find it golden glory to rebel.

* The Knight Companion of the Broom is an order we believe peculiar to India.

+ Other causes have co-operated. The almost total annihilation of the power
and patronage of commandiug Officers in their corps, and of Captaius in their
troops and companies. Thia was Qrst published in 1847.


Where is your patch, this ugly breach to clout ?

Bill. — My worthy Ned, that's your, not my look-out,
Many have call'd, xvill call me knave and tool ;
But none e'er deem'd me, honestly, a fool.
Gaze round the land, this island of the main,
Where be its males ? Starv'd, exil'd, prison'd, slain ;
With them expir'd our ancient hardihood ;
John Bull hath vapors, faints at sight of blood,
Sips scalding tea, John barley-corn renounces.
Deals puling sentiment, by pounds and ounces.
Where his broad foot, like Hercules of old.
Shook the deep strata round earth's nucleus roll'd ;
Who glide and trip, a fragile, fairy band ?
The vestal choir, sole guardians of our land.
These be the nation — number, voice and charms
Are theirs, and all succumb to Aiuazonian arms.
They, soft of heart and innocent of guile,
Slay with a fi'owu or vanquish with a smile.
No squalling brat the birch hath taught them bend ;
Their lore was grafted at the upper end ;
The very thought of flogging gives them twitches,
' Tis so improper to drag down men's — stitches ;
Great hairy knaves, they vow, should love, not fear you,
And when I burn'd the cat, they dubb'd me hero.


And so my course I finished with eclat,

The risk not mine, the very proof afar,

The hiss, the sneer, were lost amid the splutter

Of shouting mouths, chock-full of bread and butter ;

My statue rose o'er green Calcutta grass,

There grin my virtues, all summ'd up in — brass ;

There crows and kites their Arch-Apostle see.

Fleece all the World but blessings shower on me.

Enter Ghost of Wellesley in robe de chamhre, tablets and pencil in

hand. Ghost loquitur.

Three stanzas ! by the pokers ! fruitful muse !
But tell me, now, what word chimes best with shoes ;
An even toss between the Jews and Blues,
Six ! — seven ! — eight ! — Yes ! by Pluto, it is nine,
And I can't find a nearer word than " rhyme."
And breakfast stares me in the face — oh, bright !
I'll bolt my toilet, shave and wash at night !
Hah ! gallant Ned ! well met ! — A happy thought,
Cans't give us, now, the small-change for " Somnath ?"
The rhyme, I mean ; for I've well-plenished grates,
And make no inroads on my neighbour's gates !

Ned. — Confound all grates and gates and babbling prate !


Can this be he who rul'd a mighty state,

With easeful majesty and will so vast ;

Whose name burns on, a beacon of the past.

The man whose glance laid bare the mind and heart.

Whose genius prompt combin'd each scatter'd part ?

Who, e'en in embryo read the hero's fame,

And, whom he breath'd on, kindled into flame.

That mind so masterly, his brother's might

Hath less o'er-shadow'd than fiU'd up with light.

Is this indeed the mighty ? — fallen how far !

The burnt out cinder of a fiery star.

Which fumes in grub-street smoke, and doggrel jeers,

And sells for ding-dong rhymes, the music of the spheres.

Wellesley. — Thou'rt vicious, Ned ! and did'st thou then admire
The once-bright comet and his track of fire ?
Methought 'twas out of memory, long ago.
Because it brought man weal, instead of woe ;
For fear, not love, the human spirit sways,
And plagues have annals, bai'r'd to sunny rays.
How few in after-days will dwell upon
My Arthur's praise, or stainless Washington ;
Whilst earth's dire pest, Napoleon, ne'er shall want,
T' adore or praise him, slave or sycophant.


But how, Ned, hast thou squander'd such a hest,

To paths, where thou hadst rivall'd e'en the best ?

O ! rash and headstrong ! genius masters' pride,

With nature wox'ks, not struggles 'gainst the tide.

That baton, past from thy strong hand away,

No Monarch owns the like, how great soe'er his sway.

An Empire vast, a potence scarce controll'd,

An army matchless, sinew'd well with gold,

Space for a genius, towering as thine own,

To deal forth blessings, gather in renown.

Think not, I'll herd with little minds, to vex

Thy spirit, now, when varying moods perplex ;

Yet I, thy senior, thine admirer, may,

VYithout oflending, say an old man's say.

Thy mind, for mastery made, flash'd keen and bright.
Thro' Indian skies, 'mid gloom of blackest night.
Too early call'd to act, ere thou hadst scann'd
The system vast committed to thy hand ;
Thy bolts flew right and left, to mar or mend,
And now a monster slew, and 7iow, a friend.
Sagacious, vigorous, brilliant ; with a mind
Eularg'd, a heart beneficent and kind,


How didst thou eacli tlirice-temper'd weapon tlirow
Aside, and make each generous heart thy foe.
There stood beside thee, when thou took'st the helm,
Men old in council, sages of the realm ;
Chiefs of a corps, accomplished, liberal, wise.
The Empire's guardians and the ruler's eyes,
All these, ungracious speech or careless slight,
Drove from thy side, or made thy foes outright.

See, o'er the bier of him, who fell so young,*
Victim of dastard deed and slanderous tongue,
And thy fell haste, stern justice threats from far,
And points at England's shame in England's Star.
Where is the youth, at whose heroic call,
Rush'd the wild tribes to man thef Macedonian wall,
Thro' ten long months of famine, toil and blood !
He shar'd their woes, sustain'd their hearts with food.
Breasted the breach, by Persian firebolts rent.
And hurl'd the stormers from the battlement.
Where is our hero ? Where Athena's doom
Consign'd her bravest — exil'd — in the tomb !

* Hammersley. See the Blue Book, 1841.

t Herat was fortified, says tradition, by one of Alexander's General", left Viceroy
of the Kiugdom.


His manly heart from Cheen's unmanly war,
Turn'd in disgust to memory's clouded star :
He sicken'd o'er a task, wliich cliarm'd our fell-ones,-
To slice fat Chinamen, like water-melons,
Catch flying pigtails streaming on the wind, . „
And garters win, for bra wn- shields progg'd behind ;
The sense of service slighted, worth belied, >y

Pierc'd his bold heart ; he languished, sicken'd, died.
The man whose fame thro' every clime had flown,
Ere thou wert ris'n, thy heedless hand cut down.
Was he a weed ? Oh ! could our Empire boast
Such forest worthies to o'ershade her coast.
For coast defences we no more should croak,
But, trust as whilom, to the heart of oak.

Pass we McGregor and thy harsh award.
To him of stainless fame and spotless sword ;
Because aghast each lesser echo died.
In that deep groan indignant shame supplied, .
O'er Outram's fate — Whose name our clarion tone.
Is honor's breath and passport to renown.
That was the bolt, thy vigorous hand requir'd,
The heart all-daring, name that all inspir'd,
The eye whose steady glow our soul inflam'd,
The boiling ardor, genius never tam'd ;


' Twas certain fame, bold Outram's stride to span,

And doubt took fligbt, when Outram took tlie van.

And when for service in an Eastern land,

The old Horse Guards sent forth her chosen hand,

A hopeful youth, refresh'd for toil and quarrel

By thirty years' sound sleep beneath his laurel,

Rubbing his eyes grim, bearded forms among

Whose manners strange, whose speech an unknown tongue.

And when the wide-awake Afghan let fly

And smash'd chief, army, in one vast cock-shy :

And British honor bleeding, trampled lay.

And thou, unequal to that stormy day,

Issued the mandate base to leave it so :

Who dar'd, in honor's cause, make thee his foe ?

In the dire gap, undaunted, take his post

And save the Realm thou'd'st given o'er, as lost ?

'Twas he, whom shame ne'er ventur'd to approach,

The Knight sans peicr, the Statesman sans reproche ;

The man, whose virtues chang'd, wherever shown

The base to pure, like fam'd alchemic stone :

Or as some crystal, dropp'd amid the flood,

Where shapeless elements chaotic brood,



Converts, by sympathy's* resistless might,

Th' unshap'd, to forms of symmetry and light ;

So 'mid the robber tribes his spirit fell

O'eraw'd, inspir'd them, with resistless spell,

Till from the flood of murders, rapines, woes,

Round one bright type a host of virtues rose.

These all were men, whom had'st thou haply known,

Thou'dst lov'd and honor "d, made, heart, hand, thine own,

And guarded each as consecrated gem,

Starring thy rich, vice-regal diadem !

Hast ne'er divin'd what made my rule renown'd !
' Twas that I purchas'd power, wherever found ?
Whether in beardless youth, or hoary age,
Whether in sparkling life, or speculation sage.
No power could hide from mine all-watchful eye,
No ray of wit, unheeded pass'd me by,
Tried or untried, disus'd or choak'd with rust,
I traced each weapon's water through its dust.

* This power is well known to chemists. When a solution of any crystalline
substance has attained a certain degree of density, a crystal of that substance dropt
into the liquid causes the sudden crystallization of the whole mass.


Ground, burnisli'd, rang'd them by tlieir several worth,
And on occasion drew my blue keen Levin forth.

Ned. — Aye ! In those days dwelt giants in the land !

WeUesleij. — Their sons remain, as great of heart and hand,
Who, 'neath young Malcolm's showy mien could ken,
The Captain's sway, th' historian's graceful pen ?
An Adam's, Metcalfe's, Bayley's promise know,
And all the worth of thy great heart Monro.

And thou, the greatest in thy stilly power,
First of thine age, of thy pure race the flower,
The Statesman, sage, the Ruler, lov'd and fear'd,
Companion brilliant, citizen rever'd,
Truth's own historian, classic, chaste, severe,
And less in word than life, Philosopher :
All differing creeds, all factions meet as one,
To honor thee, Mount- Stuart Elphinstone !
All passion calms as we behold thee stand.
Like Grecian temple in some barbarous land,
Pentelic marble, wrought by Phidias' hand ;
Sublime, severe, yet finish'd and ornate,
And not to pride, but virtue consecrate.
Who in our youthful scholar skill'd to find,
The vigorous embryo of that Grecian mind ?
3fine eye discern'd it ? Gaze thou also round,
The gems are plenteous ; need but to be found,

l's skies, ^

' . [

-defying eyes, J


Here Wroughton burns his fiery genius out,

In mending angles, fools have left in doubt,

Or more ignoble, more mechanic toil,

Repairing instruments for dolts to spoil.

There, * like Lot's wife, with salt be crystall'd o'er.

Till, not a plume can stretch, a pinion soar,

I mark a falcon of the strongest winj;,

A bird to grace the gauntlet of a King.

Parnassian bred and train'd in Mantua's skies.

Neglected, lost, our captive Falcon lies.

And droops in rage and shame, his sun-c

There at the Board's dull desk of drudgery, see,

A mind had pi'ov'd a mine of wealth to thee.

Cool, clear, sagacious, vigorous, with store

Of facts and practice, sound, historic lore,

A man the Council Chamber f orm'd to grace,

And in the Senate hold no second place.

These be a few of many that abound,

A host resistless, when they once are found.

* Since the first publication of this, death has deprived us of two of our most
accomplished minds. The Translation of the Arabian Nights, so far as carried on
by Henry Torrens, is one of the works of the age ; wholly unrivalled by any thing
of the same kind ever attempted. The author was disheartened by the neglect it
experienced, and never completed it. The author of the Historians of India was
actually employed when the lines where written, and there was no plea for refer-
ring to him. In his case our loss is not confined to the world of letters, for none
ever gave greater promise of high capacity as a statesman. Few have ever been
more honored and loved by those servhig under him.


But some are lost from my age -stricken sight,
And some, I love too well, to praise aright ;
A few, thine eye, chance guided, hath divin'd,
Our Northern circle rules no common mind,
And Heaven, in wroth to Scind and India gave,
The War-king Napier, idol of the brave.

Had'st thou been cast, with more of earth's alloy,

My briefer speech had cost thee less annoy ;

But spite of error, passion, pride, I find

In thy sane acts the stamp of power and mind.

Yet, not a Cy clop's arm, a Vulcan's art,

1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryJames AbbottLegends, ballads, &c → online text (page 1 of 6)