Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DESCRIPTION OF TUNBRIDGE, by JOHN BYROM



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DESCRIPTION OF TUNBRIDGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dear peter, whose friendship I value much more
Last Line: To yourself and all friends;—farewell muse! Farewell metre!
Subject(s): Friendship


DEAR Peter, whose friendship I value much more
Than bards their own verses, or misers their store,
Your books, and your bus'ness, and ev'ry thing else
Lay aside for a while, and come to the Wells:
The country so pleasant! the weather so fine!
A world of fair ladies, and delicate wine!
The proposal, I fancy, you'll hardly reject,
Then hear, if you come, what you first may expect.

Some eight or nine miles off we send to you greeting
Barbers, dippers, and so forth to give you the meeting.
As soon as they spy you each pulls off his hat,
"Does your honour want this? Does your honour want that?"
Thus being a stranger, by this apparatus
You may see our good manners before you come at us.
Now this in your custom's to get the first footing,
A trick, please your honour, which here we call Tooting.

Conducted by these civil gem'men to town,
You put up your horse at—for rhyme's sake, the Crown:
My landlord bids welcome, and gives you his word
For the best entertainment his house can afford.
You taste which is better, his white or his red,
Bespeak a good supper, good room, and good bed;
In short, just as travellers do when they light,
So, to fill up the stanza, I wish you "Good Night!"

But when ruddy Phœbus next morning appears,
And with his bright beams our glad hemisphere cheers,
You rise, dress, get shav'd,—then away to the walks,
The pride of the place, of which ev'ry one talks!
I'd imagine you there to be drinking the waters,
Knew I not that you come not for such little matters,
But to see the fine ladies in their dishabille,
Which dress is sometimes the most studied to kill.

The ladies you see; they are ladies as fair,
As charming and bright as are seen any where:
You eye and examine the beautiful throng,
As o'er the clean walks they pass lovely along;
Should any one look a little demurer,
You fancy, like ev'ry young fop, you could cure her;
Till from some pretty nymph a deep wound you receive,
And yourself want the cure which you thought you could give.

Not so wounded howe'er as to make you forget
That your honour this morn has not breakfasted yet;
So to Morley's you go, look about and sit down;
Then comes the young lass for your honour's half-crown;
She brings out the book, you look wisely upon her,
"What's the meaning of this?" "To subscribe, please your honour;"
So you write as your betters have all done before ye,
'Tis a custom, and here is an end of the story.

And now all this while, it is forty to one
But some friend or other you've stumbled upon;
You all go to church upon hearing the bell,
Whether out of devotion yourselves best can tell:
From thence to the tavern, to toast pretty Nancy,
Th' aforesaid bright nymph that had smitten your fancy,
Where wine and good victuals attend your commands,
And wheatears, far better than French ortolans.

Then after you've din'd, take a view of our ground,
Observe the grand mountains that compass us round;
And if you could walk a mile after eating,
Some comical rocks are worth contemplating;
You may, if you please, for their oddness and make,
Compare them—let's see—to the Derbyshire Peak.
They're one like the other, except that the wonder
Is seen here above ground, and there is seen under.

To the walks about seven you trace back your way,
Where the Sun marches off, and the ladies make day;
What crowding of charms! what Gods! rather Goddesses!
What beauties are there! what bright looks, airs, and dresses!
In the room of the waters had Helicon sprung,
Had the nymphs of the place by old poets been sung,
To invite the Gods hither they would have had reason,
And Jove had descended each night in the season.

If with things here below we compare things on high,
The walks are like yonder bright path in the sky,
Where heavenly bodies in such clusters mingle
As makes it invidious their graces to single.
See the charms of her sex unite in Miss K-ll-y;
If ever you've seen her, permit me to tell ye,
Descriptions are needless; for, after to you
No beauty, no graces can ever be new.

But when to their gaming the ladies withdraw,
Those beauties are fled which when walking you saw:
Most ungrateful the scene which there is display'd,
Chance murd'ring the features which heaven had made.
If the Fair Ones their charms did sufficiently prize,
Their elbows they'd spare for the sake of their eyes;
And the men too—what work! 'tis enough, in good faith is't,
Of the nonsense of chance to convince any Ath'ist.

But now it is proper to bid my friend "vale,"
Lest we tire you too long with our Tunbridgiale;
Which should the sour critics pretend to unravel,
Or at these lame verses should stupidly cavil,—
If this be our lot, tell those critics, I pray,
That I care not one farthing for all they can say.
And now I conclude with my service, good Peter,
To yourself and all friends;—farewell muse! farewell metre!





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