Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BALLAD TO THE TUNE - 'I'LL TELL THEE, DICK, THAT I HAVE BEEN', by PATRICK CAREY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BALLAD TO THE TUNE - 'I'LL TELL THEE, DICK, THAT I HAVE BEEN', by             Poet's Biography
First Line: And can you think that this translation
Last Line: Than to have none at all.
Subject(s): English Language; French Language; Great Britain - Parliament; Latin Language


AND can you think that this translation
Will benefit at all our nation,
Though fair be the pretence?
'Tis meet, you say, that in the land
Each one our laws should understand,
Since we are govern'd thence.


But tell me, pray, if ever you
Read th' English of Watt Montague,
Is't not more hard than French?
And yet that will much easier be
Than the strange gibb'ring mishmash, we
Shall henceforth hear at th' Bench.


For from the laws whilst French we'd banish,
We shall bring in Italian, Spanish,
And forty nations more;
Who'll then peruse the text, must know
Greek, Latin, Dutch, both High and Low,
With Hebrew too, before.


Because i' th' Greek there's chang'd a letter,
That they can understand it better,
Fools only will pretend;
As he, who did himself persuade
That he spoke Latin, cause he made
In bus each word to end.


But had we English words enough,
Yet ought we never to allow
This turning of our laws:
Much less t' admit that at the bar,
The merchand, clown, or man of war,
Should plead (forsooth) his cause.


Words may be common, clear, and pure,
Yet still the sense remain obscure,
And we as wise, as when
We should some long oration hear,
Which in a new-found language were
Ne'er heard by us till then.


'Twas not the language, 'twas the matter
(But that we love ourselves to flatter)
That most times darkness brung:
Some questions in philosophy,
To puzzle scholars would go nigh,
Though put in any tongue.


The shoemaker, beyond the shoe
Must not presume to have to do,
A painter said of old:
He said aright; for each man ought
To meddle with the craft he's taught,
And be no farther bold.


What th' anchor is, few ploughmen know;
Sailors can't tell what means gee-ho;
Terms proper hath each trade:
Nay, in our very sports, the bowler,
The tennis-player, huntsman, fowler,
New names for things have made.


So words i' th' laws are introduc'd
Which common talk has never us'd;
And therefore sure there's need
That the gown'd tribe be set apart
To learn by industry this art,
And that none else may plead.


Our Church still flourishing w' had seen
If th' holy-writ had ever been
Kept out of laymen's reach;
But, when 'twas English'd, men half-witted,
Nay women too, would be permitted
T' expound all texts, and preach.


Then what confusion did arise!
Cobblers divines 'gan to despise,
So that they could but spell:
This ministers to scorn did bring;
Preaching was held an easy thing,
Each one might do't as well.


This gulf church-government did swallow;
And after will the civil follow,
When laws translated are:
For ev'ry man that lists, will prattle;
Pleading will be but twittle-twattle,
And nought but noise at bar.


Then let's e'en be content t' obey,
And to believe what judges say,
Whilst for us, lawyers brawl:
Though four or five be thence undone,
'Tis better have some justice done,
Than to have none at all.

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