Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LETTER, ON HIS DEPARTURE FORM LONDON; TO R.L., ESQ., by JOHN BYROM



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A LETTER, ON HIS DEPARTURE FORM LONDON; TO R.L., ESQ., by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dear peter, your absence at present I rue
Last Line: If so, I'll go see it, or 'twill be a hard case.
Subject(s): Expressionism - Poets; Letters; News; Pens & Pencils; Writing & Writers


DEAR Peter, your absence at present I rue,
Whatever a week or two hence I may do,
These lines in great haste I convey to the Mitre,
To tell the sad plight of th' unfortunate writer.
You have left your old friend so affected with grief
That nothing but rhyming can give me relief;
Though the Muses were never worse put to their trumps
To comfort poor bard in his sorrowful dumps.

The moment you left us, with grief be it spoken,
This poor heart of mine felt as though it was broken;
And I almost faint still if a carriage approach,
Which looks like a Highgate or Barnet stage coach;
Indeed when at first that old vehicle gap'd
To take in friend P.—so the fare had but scap'd,
If I did not half wish the man might o'erturn it
And break it to pieces, I am a sous'd Gurnet.

The Rhenish and sugar drunk at your departure,
I hoped would make me to grief less a martyr;
But the wine yet more strongly to weeping inclin'd,
And my grief by the sugar was double refin'd.
It is not to tell how my heart fell a throbbing
When at the last parting our noses were bobbing;
Those sad farewell accents! I think on them still—
"You'll remember to write, John?"—"Yes, Peter, I will."

You no sooner were gone than this famous metropolis,
Which appear'd just before so exceedingly populous,
When tow'rds it I turn'd me, seem'd all of a sudden
As though it was mov'd from the place it had stood in.
I should hardly have known how to find my way back,
But for Squire Hazel's brother, sagacious Jack;
How he brought me from Smithfield to Dick's I can't say,
I remember the Charter-house stood in the way.

At Dick's I repos'd me and call'd for some coffee,
And sweet'ned, and supp'd, and was still thinking of ye;
But not with such pleasure as when I came there
To wait till Sir Peter should chance to appear;
There while I was turning you o'er in my mind,
"Doctor, how do you do?" says a voice from behind;
I thought to myself, "I should know this same organ;"
And who should it be, but my friend Doctor Morgan?

The Doctor and I walk'd together, and then
He went somewhere else, I to Richard's again:
All ways have I try'd my sad loss to forget,
I saunter'd, wrote short-hand, ate custard, et cet.
With honest Duke Humphrey I pass the long day,
To others, as yet, having little to say;
For indeed, I must own, since the loss of my chum,
I am grown, as it were, a mere Gerund in dumb.

But, Muse, we forget that our grief will prevent us
From treating of matters more high and momentous.
Poor Jonathan Wild!—Clowes, Peer Williams, and I
Have just been all waiting to see him pass by:
How crowded and cramm'd were the houses with mobs,
Which look'd like Leviathan's picture in Hobbes,
From the very ground floor to the top of the leads,
While Jonathan pass'd through a Holborn of heads.

From Newgate to Tyburn he made his procession,
Supported by two of the nimble profession;
Between the unheeded poor wretches he sat,
In his night-gown and wig, without ever a hat;
With a book in his hand he went weeping and praying,
The mob all along, as he pass'd them, huzzaing;
While parcels of verses the hawkers were hollaing,
Of which I can only remember the following;—

"The cunning old pug ev'ry body remembers,
"That when he saw chesnuts lie roasting in embers,
"To save his own bacon took puss's two foots,
"So out of the embers he tickled his nuts.
"Thus many poor rascals, as I understand,
"For getting him nuts have been burnt in the hand;
"But he was not so cunning as Esop's old ape,
"For this monkey could not keep himself from the scrape."

And now, Peter, I'm come to the end of my tether,
So I wish you good company, journey and weather.
When friends in the country enquire after John,
Pray tender my service to every one,
To the ladies at Toft, Master Legh of High Legh,
To the Altringham meeting, if any there be,
Darcy Lever, Will Drake, Master Cattell and Cottam,
Which appears a good rhyme to insert at the bottom.

Richard's, Monday Night May 24, 1725.

P.S. What news? why the Lords, if the minutes say true,
Have pass'd my Lord Bolingbroke's bill three to two;
Three to one, I would say; and I've understood
They've resolv'd that the Commons their charge have made good;
To-morrow, Earl Thomas's fate to determine,
Their Lordships come clothed with judgment and ermine.
The surgeons, they say, have got Jonathan's carcase,
If so, I'll go see it, or 'twill be a hard case.





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