A Slang Pastoral

A Slang Pastoral
By R. TOMLINSON:—a Parody on a poem by Dr. Byrom, “My time, O ye muses, was happily spent”.


My time, O ye kiddies, was happily spent, 1 companions
When Nancy trigg’d with me wherever I went; 2 accompanied
Ten thousand sweet joys ev’ry night did we prove;
Sure never poor fellow like me was in love!
But since she is nabb’d, and has left me behind, 3 jailed
What a marvellous change on a sudden I find!
When the constable held her as fast as could be,
I thought ’twas Bet Spriggins; but damme ’twas she.


With such a companion, a green-stall to keep,
To swig porter all day, on a flock-bed to sleep, 4 drink
I was so good-natur’d, so bobbish and gay, 5 light-hearted
And I still was as smart as a carrot all day:
But now I so saucy and churlish am grown,
So ragged and greasy, as never was known;
My Nancy is gone, and my joys are all fled,
And my arse hangs behind me, as heavy as lead.


The Kennel, that’s wont to run swiftly along,
And dance to soft murmurs dead kittens among,
Thou know’st, little buckhorse, if Nancy was there,
’Twas pleasure to look at, ’twas music to hear:
But now that she’s off, I can see it run past,
And still as it murmurs do nothing but blast.
Must you be so cheerful, while I go in pain?
Stop your clack, and be damn’d t’ye, and hear me complain.


When the bugs in swarms round me wou’d oftentimes play,
And Nancy and I were as frisky as they,
We laugh’d at their biting, and kiss’d all the time,
For the spring of her beauty was just in its prime!
But now for their frolics I never can sleep,
So I crack ’em by dozens, as o’er me they creep:
Curse blight you! I cry, while I’m all over smart,
For I’m bit by the arse, while I’m stung to the heart.


The barber I ever was pleased to see,
With his paigtail come scraping to Nancy and me;
And Nancy was pleas’d too, and to the man said,
Come hither, young fellow, and frizzle my head:
But now when he’s bowing, I up with my stick,
Cry, blast you, you scoundrel! and give him a kick—
And I’ll lend him another, for why should not John
Be as dull as poor Dermot, when Nancy is gone?


When sitting with Nancy, what sights have I seen!
How white was the turnep, the col’wart how green!
What a lovely appearance, while under the shade,
The carrot, the parsnip, the cauliflow’r made!
But now she mills doll, tho’ the greens are still there, 6 picks oakum
They none of ’em half so delightful appear:
It was not the board that was nail’d to the wall,
Made so many customers visit our stall.


Sweet music went with us both all the town thro’,
To Bagnigge, White Conduit, and Sadler’s-Wells too; 7 Notes
Soft murmur’d the Kennels, the beau-pots how sweet,
And crack went the cherry-stones under our feet:
But now she to Bridewell has punch’d it along, 8 gone
My eye, Betty Martin! on music a song:
’Twas her voice crying mack’rel, as now I have found,
Gave ev’ry-thing else its agreeable sound.


Gin! What is become of thy heart-chearing fire,
And where is the beauty of Calvert’s Intire?
Does aught of its taste Double Gloucester beguile,
That ham, those potatoes, why do they not smile,
Ah! rot ye, I see what it was you were at,
Why you knocked up your froth, why you flash’d off your fat:
To roll in her ivory, to pleasure her eye,
To be tipt by her tongue, on her stomach to lie.


How slack is the crop till my Nancy return!
No duds in my pocket, no sea-coal to burn! 9 money
Methinks if I knew where the watchman wou’d tread,
I wou’d follow, and lend him a punch o’ the head.
Fly swiftly, good watchman, bring hither my dear,
And, blast me! I’ll tip ye a gallon of beer. 10 treat
Ah, sink him! the watchman is full of delay,
Nor will budge one foot faster for all I can say.


Will no blood-hunting foot-pad, that hears me complain,
Stop the wind of that nabbing-cull, constable Payne? 11 Note
If he does, he’ll to Tyburn next sessions be dragg’d,
And what kiddy’s so rum as to get himself scragg’d? 12 foolish
No! blinky, discharge her, and let her return;
For ne’er was poor fellow so sadly forlorn.
Zounds! what shall I do? I shall die in a ditch;
Take warning by me how you’re leagu’d with a bitch.


Of R. Tomlinson nothing is known. The Dr. Byrom whose poem is here parodied is perhaps best remembered as the author of a once famous system of shorthand. He was born in 1691, went to the Merchant Taylor’s School, and at the age of 16 was admitted a pensioner of Trinity College Cambridge. It was here that he wrote My time, O ye muses. He died in 1763, and his poems, no inconsiderable collection, were published in 1773.

Taken from Musa Pedestris, Three Centuries of Canting Songs and Slang Rhymes [1536―1896], collected and annotated by John S. Farmer.

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. . .
The Rum-Mort’s Praise Of Her Faithless Maunder
The Black Procession
Frisky Moll’s Song
The Canter’s Serenade
Retoure My Dear Dell
The Vain Dreamer
When My Dimber Dell I Courted
The Oath Of The Canting Crew
Come All You Buffers Gay
The Potato Man
A Slang Pastoral
Ye Scamps, Ye Pads, Ye Divers
The Sandman’s Wedding
The Happy Pair
The Bunter’s Christening
The Masqueraders
The Flash Man of St. Giles
A Leary Mot
The Night Before Larry was Stretched
The Song of the Young Prig
The Milling Match
. . .