A Ballade


A Ballade.

Good People all attend to me,
Whilst I a tale unfold,
Concerning two most valiant knights
As eyes did e’er behold.

As ‘Lambeth’s Warden” one was known,
The other as its “Clerk;”
Together recently they roam’d
Exploring myst’ries dark.

Nor is it strange that they shou’d be
Companions, by my troth!
For what the Warden doth atchieve
The Clerk records, not loth.

It chanc’d of late as this good twain
Were ‘tending public prayer,
A messenger did them accost,
Whose eyes most wild did glare!

“My duty leads me to your pew,
Submissively, he said,
For I have found the damned house
Were rests our plunder’d dead.”

A consultation prompt was held
Within our mother Church;
When ’twas decreed, that they should leave
The Parson in the lurch.

Nor was it long before they rush’d
Thro’ porch, in spite of weather,
To claim the grave’s most sacred right,
Or perish both together.

Now down the Bishop’s Walk† they ran,
And eke thro’ Cut-Throat Lane,†
A place appropriate for those rogues,
Who rob, whom death has slain.

“This is the house,” the informant said,
“My attention well does fix,
May all its inmates, for such deeds,
Be drowned in the Styx.”

Quoth the Warden brave, “at the portal knock
Ourselves to introduce:”
“No,” says the Clerk, “with caution move,
Let’s adopt a wiser ruse.”

“And lo! A ladder straight I see
Affixed to the house,
The which I’ll mount with wary step,
And softy as a mouse.”

Then up he went, as Ranger did
In days of gallantry,
And soon he reached to the top
A deadly sight to see.

A sight it was, that might appal
Heroes of mighty line,
Which made the hair on Bobby’s head
Seem as a porcupine.

With falt’ring lips he then exclaim’d,
“My Ben, my master dear,
I see the object of our search
Extended on a bier.”

“Descend my Bobby, in a trice,
And I the sight will see,
For bold I feel in this good cause
And evidence will be.”

But first the Warden took a pinch
Of stimulating snuff,
And when the window-sill he reach’d,
Exclaim’d, “Enough! enough! enough!”

Embolden’d by the sight thus seen,
They to each other said;
“Let’s to the mansion’s front repair
And claim the church-yard’s dead.

“An obligation strong I feel,
And Bobby, thou’lt agree,
There’s none so fitting as myself
To explore this mystery.

“Have I not taken, as in trust,
A fee for the interment,
A premium for secure repose
Until the day of judgment?

“I’ll not relax my ardent zeal
’Till discover’d be those fellows,
Who, my cemet’rys do nightly rob,
Until they reach the gallows.”

He’d scarcely utter’d these strong words,
When at the door they stood:
They knocked loudly at the same
All for the public good.

Right soon appear’d a damsel fair,
Who, begg’d to know their pleasure;
“Pleasure, Madam! we come with pain
To claim our very treasure!

“I, of the Parish am the chief,
Here’s to the Vestry Clerk,
And we demand officially
To search this mansion dark.

“Inform’d are we that you have got,
Brought by some dammed knave,
A breathless trunk, unhallow’d ta’en,
From out the silent grave.”

The girl, astounded at the words
Of Ben and Bob the bold,
Not comprehended what was meant,
And, pray’d they wou’d unfold

More clearly to her puzzled mind,
All filled with surprise:
“Deny it not, in vain ’twill be,
we’ve seen it with our eyes!”

Most gracious sirs! your looks are good,
May such be your intent,
But by the Gods! of what you state
None in this house is pent.”

“The Gods with thee have nought to do,
Nor all who do disturb
The peaceful mansions of the dead—
Their god is Beelzebub.”

In vain the damsel urg’d her case,
Her truth and innocence;
For Bob said with averted looks,
“’Tis all a vile pretence.

“Come on! come on! my gallant chief,
And let this parley cease;
Delays may be quite dangerous
And all our cares increase.”

With that they rush’d impetuous
Along the corridor,
Nor did they stop until arriv’d
At the mysterious door;

The which when they had open’d wide
They saw within the gloom,
A lovely corpse incumbent lay
Appearing all in bloom.

They then approach’d the figure near,
And found, instead of shroud,
It was adorn’d with drapery
Befitting of the proud.

Upon inspection nearer still
To examine well its face,
In place of being pale and wan,
A court’t wou’d not disgrace.

They on its bosom plac’d their hands,
Yet with much trepidation,
When, strange to say, it prov’d to be
A mass of composition.

Our heroes now began to see,
’Twas needful to depart,
For what had fill’d them with such dread
Serv’d for the drawing art;

From which an artist made designs
For belles and beaux so gay,
Which furnish’d many a subject good
For “La Belle Assemblee.”

Our luckless wights did now retire
With many a lowly bow,
Right glad to cease knight-errantry
In famous Royal Row.

Then hasten’d back they to the church
T’ obtain some absolution
For this their very strange exploit,
But still more strange conclusion.

And now enclosed by holy walls,
They ceas’d from palpitation,
Much pleased to see the Rev. D——,
Likewise the congregation.

Then prayed they with fervency
Among the godly folks,
That they again might never be
The object of a hoax.

Then prosper long our valiant knights,
Sir Bobby and Sir Ben,‡
And may the Parish never lack
Such try’d and zealous men.

But should some dæmon of discord
Disturb our peace profound,
May he full soon be deep interr’d
In the New Burial Ground.

And should the devil him design
One dreary night to snatch,
May he alone be cheated by
Those who bodies catch.

But peace to the manes of good souls
Nor may they want protection;
But rest in quiet soft repose
’Till the day of resurrection.

Item Information help

  • Item ID
  • Genre
  • Illustrated
  • DCMI Type
    Still Image
  • Extent
    37.5 cm x 23.5 cm
  • Title
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