Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HOBBS AND DOBBS, by HORACE SMITH



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HOBBS AND DOBBS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Love in a village, where the parties revel
Last Line: "men's and women's conscia recti!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Envy; Love


LOVE in a village, where the parties revel
In all the neighbourly civility
Of cheerful, social amiability,
Is vastly pleasant;
But hatred in a village is the devil!
Because each peasant
Is ever meeting in that narrow circle,
The very man on whom he longs to work ill.
How sad the pity that our beau ideal
Is never real; --
That envy, hatred, jealousy, and malice,
Should hold their chalice
Up to the lips of rustics, who were meant
By Nature to be innocent,
And harmless as the household dove,
That type of love!

After this pretty bit of flummery,
Or moral sentimental proem,
(An apt exordium to my poem,)
I must be quick, concise, and summary,
And without any more preparative,
Commence my narrative.

At Oakley, in the Western Riding
Of Yorkshire, were two men residing,
Named Hobbs and Dobbs, whose constant quarrels,
Springing from rivalry in trade,
A sort of village warfare made,
Which sadly spoilt the people's morals,
Splitting them into furious factions;
Some warmly advocating Hobbs,
While others, both by words and actions,
Supported Dobbs.
And yet these foolish fellows ought
In their two leaders to have found
Men of strong understanding, taught
With friendly stitches,
To patch up, not occasion breaches,
And mend the soles of all the rustics round,
For they were both shoemakers, and their labours
Should have been circumscribed to putting
Their friends and customers, and neighbours,
On a good footing.

They lived, unfortunately, vis-a-vis,
And soon began the work of emulation,
By flaming shopboards, where in gilt
And lackered lustre, you might see
The symbols of their occupation,
Much paint in blue and crimson being spilt,
That each might be more splendid than the other,
And win all custom from his baffled brother.

Hobbs, who had somehow given handle
For undeserved reproach and scandal,
When he new-dizened out his board,
Wrote at its foot this Latin scrap --
"Mens conscia recti," which he took
From some heraldic motto-book,
Meaning thereby to have a slap
At his maligners and afford
Proof that his path he still pursued,
Strong in a conscious rectitude.

This was a source of envious dolour
To Dobbs, who, in his first confusion,
Knowing his rival was no scholar,
Deduced the natural conclusion
That "conscia recti" doubtless meant
Some article of trade, perchance,
Some fashion just arrived from France,
And being resolutely bent
His hated rival to eclipse,
He sent forthwith for Mr. Cripps,
Painter and glazier,
When thus ejaculated Dobbs --
"Paint me a still more flaming board,
Of green, and gold, and azure;
What! do you think I can't afford
To pay for it as well as Hobbs?
Be these French kickshaws what they will,
I am resolved to beat him still,
To which effect I
Desire you'll print in gold at bottom,
(That folks may fancy I have got 'em,)
Men's AND WOMEN'S conscia recti!"





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