KENSINGTON GARDENS

IN

1830.


A Satirical Trifle.

By Major John Richardson


© London: Marsh and Miller, Oxford Street, 1830


 

KENSINGTON GARDENS

IN 1830.

A SATIRICAL TRIFLE.




—————
CANTO I.



I.
 


COME Muse and mount thy Pegasus, and sing
    In noblest verse fair Kensington’s famed bowers;
Where youth and beauty treat the mazy ring
    Of fashion, vying with the choicest flowers
Which grow not there;—whence then, I pray, may spring

5

    The pompous name by which it proudly towers?
Some half-burnt grass—a few score lofty trees
May make a park—a garden’s more than these— [Page 3]


II.

But still n’importe, since, be it park or garden,
    It is the great resort of western town:

10

Here girls and spouses first begin to harden
    Beneath the glance which might be ’clep’d a frown,
For since the beard is worn like bear or pard on,
    Men look their flames as tho’ they’d knock one down:
’Tis making love too in the Turkish manner—

15

Forcing the sex to range beneath their banner.


III.


Here mothers group to get their daughters mated,
    (A goodly brood from thirty to sixteen)
While wives of twenty, with their husbands sated,
    Seek out wherewith to lay their rising spleen:

20

All smirking, smiling, more or less elated,
    As they manœuvre o’er the dusty green,
And point their batteries ’gainst foot and horse,
Who fall in turn beneath the glance intorse. [Page 4]


IV.


Both English ringlets and Parisian curls

25

    Serve as the masks from which the leering eye
Sends forth its messengers of death—unfurls
    Its glittering banners, and doth e’en defy
All ranks and ages—dandies, rakes, and churls,
    To single combat whence they scorn to fly:

30

Yet, like true Amazons, our ladies choose
To try their strength against the Guards and Blues.


V.


The Guards are comely men—that is they’re tall—
    And women prize men often for their length;
Though in some climes we frequent see the small

35

    Much more remarkable for use and strength,
Being ever ready at a lady’s call,
    (Few ladies said as much for our swell Tenth)
Or in the ball room, boudoir, or the grove,
Or any other place designed for love. [Page 5]

40

VI.


The Guards too greatly have the sex their debtor,
    For music, tender ailment of passion,
Dealt out at moments stated to a letter
    As the musician’s served his daily ration;
And marches, waltzes, mostly of the better

45

    Sort, are warbled to the dames of fashion,
Whose softened souls pass through their burning eyes,
And wake the fulness of responsive sighs.


VII.


Then they’re obliged to stand, which shows the figure
    In all the dearest witchery of art,

50

There being scarcely any chairs—’tis rigour
    To leave these to the more plebeian part,
Who gifted with strong elbows, and much vigour,
    Fight their own battles with a stouter heart,
And when once well established at their post,

55
Would no more yield it than yield up the ghost. [Page 6]

VIII.


Should fashion be the object of the beau
    He ne’er must seek her on the crowded bench
’Tis here considered very mauvais ton,
    And only tolerated in the French

60

Or other strangers who, of course, can’t know
    That she’s accounted but a common wench
Who to a stone prefers a wooden seat,
And ’stead of dangling, loves to rest her feet.


IX.


Just fancy now, a dirty brick old wall

65

    On which the softest limbs in life repose,
From her whose frame erect, majestic, tall,
    Scarce suffers earth to kiss her tips of toes,
To her who, cast in Nature’s very small-
    Est mould, sits cramped and red as any rose,

70

And you may form a somewhat proper notion
How fashion claims the female throng’s devotion. [Page 7]


X.


Yet one there is before whom fashion bends
    As far too mighty to receive her laws;
One who such matchless grace with beauty blends

75

    As wrests from gazing eyes the soul’s applause,
While as the unmixed praise half breathed ascends,
    Proving its truth in many a lengthened pause,
All hearts confess the magic charm and power
Which chain their homage in that crowded bower.

80

XI.


Soft as the orb of Venus now that eye
    Whose languid fires like summer moonbeams play,
Now lighting deeper in its cerulean dye,
    Like haughty Pallas arming for the fray,
She moves all beauty, love, and majesty,

85

    E’en such as when, on that eventful day,
To Ida’s mount each rival goddess drawn,
To sue the shepherd’s voice—of this anon. [Page 8]


XII.


Behind this wall, divided by a ditch,
    Large troops of horsemen take their daily stand

90

Patient and suffering ’neath the sun’s hot pitch
    As Turks or Arabs in their native land;
Both old and ugly, handsome, young and rich—
    All linked together like a Theban band—
Some leaping down the moat to prove agility;

95

Others to see their friends and show civility.


XIII.


At first like flying Cossacks they appear
    Following at random in each other’s track,
And throwing clouds of dust from front to rear
    As thick as Platoff’s lancers in attack;

100

Then rein their coursers, which are various here
    From the Arabian to the English hack,
And take up what they deem a good position
For showing off their own and steed’s condition. [Page 9]


XIV.


Not Ibrahim’s squadrons at the fierce assault

105

    Of Missolonghi—by the way a stain
On Christian Europe and a moral fault,
    Which all attempt to blot out must be vain—
What follower of Ali from the Balt-
    Ic to the Caspian sea would e’er restrain

110

His wrath, or coolly see his brethren bleed
Beneath the vengeance of a hostile creed?


XV.


We Christians, though, are inconsistent men,
    And ever tumbling headlong in extremes:
Some ages since we sought the Saracen

115

    Beneath his native sun’s meridian beams—
And why? Because we would thrust down our ten-
    Ets into every throat, while ghastly dreams
Of lust and rapine filled us, and the sword
Alone proclaimed the glory of our Lord! [Page 10]

120

XVI.


Much blood and treasure in the cause was spent;
    But blood and treasure in those days were given
Profusely, and as so much value lent
    At interest to be well repaid in heaven—
That of the spiritual kind, of course, is meant;

125

    Though some few might ’tis true be driven
To barter future hopes for present gain,
As certain commissaries did in Spain.


XVII.


But now the case is changed—and blood and gold,
    And most especially this last, are rare:

130

And men, having learned to think, are grown more cold
    In matters calling for religious care:
While English statesmen, loth to lose their hold
    In politics, would see with easy air
All Greece in crescents and horse tails arrayed

135

Before they’d yield one atom of their trade. [Page 11]


XVIII.


Not that they care one jot if Greeks or Turks
    Should fall, or prove triumphant in the sequel:
’Tis only as the public interest works,
    For Greek and Moslem faith to them are equal;

140

And while their merchants barter goods for dirks
    With Hadi Soloman or Hadi Mekel,
And bring a certain revenue to the crown,
Both Turks and Christians may in turn go down.


XIX.


But to our song—as Ibrahim’s squadrons burned

145

    With secret wish, ere Missolonghi’s fall,
To see the stately dames who furious spurned
    Them, bleeding from the fortress’ battered wall,
Sending hot water from their tubs upturned,
    Mingled with lances and the whizzing ball,

150

Late given all resplendent in their charms
As soothing recompense for toil in arms.— [Page 12]


XX.


So do these gay and gallant cavaliers
    Devour with ardent gaze the female file,
And, as no filthy watering tubs or spears

155

    Threaten to pierce them or their beards defile,
Each much contented with his chance appears,
    And deems him fully favoured in a smile
Which gives fair hope and promise of the future
Such as would please the most impassioned suitor.

160

XXI.


And one might think the favour earned indeed
    To see them rooted with their stupid mien—
Some few there are who deign to leave the steed,
    And join the fairer loungers on the green—
These too are ever of the gentler breed:

165

    As such distinguished by their air serene;
Nor wanting false appearances to prove
Their claim to that high sphere in which they move. [Page 13]


XXII.


The case however’s different with the rest
    Who’ve yet a certain character to found:

170

What deep dismay would agitate each breast
    (While not like Centaurs to their horses bound)
Should fashion’s leaders—(who can stand such test?)
    The horseman with plebeian foot confound:
Such supposition were, in truth, far worse

175

To them than judgement, or Kehamah’s curse.


XXIII.


A few days since I saw a cavalier
    Whose face bears striking semblance to a Jew’s,
And has mustachios curled from ear to ear
    With an imperial (which few dames refuse

180

To grant the finest that is sported here,)
    And scarce less published than his shining shoes:—
For shoes, ye Gods! he wears with white silk stocking
Even on horseback—which to me is shocking— [Page 14]


XXIV.


A few days since I saw this new Narcissus;—

185

    Mythology says not that old was fair,
Although he wore no beard—nor much amiss is
    It the first with second to compare,
Since both were formed to centre all their blisses
    In admiration of their own sweet air;

190

With this sole change that Echo paid her court
To one, whereas the other’s echo’s sport.


XXV.


But I digress, and quite my theme forsake—
    I saw this self-adoring piece of clay
From an inactive dozing mood awake,

195

    And lashing manfully his long tailed bay,
With rattling boundings from the close throng break,
    Throwing up dust and terror in his way,
As if some feeling wanton, mad, or curious,
Had fiercely seiz’d him like Orlando furious. [Page 15]

200

XXVI.


Onward he dashed—then sudden stopped and wheeled
    Describing circles like a hawk or vulture,
Which, by the way, it cannot be concealed,
    Have beaks as like his nose as any sculpture
Is like to its original—he reeled

205

    As Irish peasant at a friend’s sepulture:—
The cause though different—his brain being frisky
With vanity—the other reels with whiskey.


XXVII.


Dragoons and foot, and maids and spouses looked—
    Those jealous sneered, the latter much admired

210

His skill in horsemanship, and he seemed booked
    For rising favour in the breasts he fired:
This liked him for his long proboscis hooked—
    That thought his large dark grayish eyes inspired,—
The men pronounced him all a son of Moses,

215

And, turning round from him, turned up their noses. [Page 16]


XXVIII.


So Europe, envious of Napoleon’s glory,
    Sneered at the hero’s first essay in arms,
Deeming that one of race unknown in story
    Could scarcely fill their empires with alarms,

220

Much less arrive, despite of generals hoary,
    To sweet enjoyment of the sceptre’s charms:
But fifty vict’ries,—each a stepping stone,—
Soon raised himself and brothers to the throne.


XXIX.


Oh, wild ambition! thou’rt a thing of chance!—

225

    Napoleon’s sprung from that fell revolution
Which stained with blood the fertile vales of France;
    Our present hero’s from the evolution
Of a bay steed well taught to wheel and prance;
    ’Twas this that gave him noble resolution

230

To meet the stare and censure of the jealous,
Whose lips puff fame out as a puffing bellows. [Page 17]


XXX.


But women love great warriors and great riders,
    And this must be your mutual recompense—
No one opinion’s worth a straw beside hers

235

    Whose glances amorous pay man’s hate intense;
For, although matrons on the whole are chiders,
    The youthful blooded manage to condense
Within their bosoms, till the tide’s at zero,
A flame as strong for dandy as for hero.

240

XXXI.


When erst Napoleon at Arcola
    (A bridge which should confound those vile detractors
Who’ve raised against his courage their hola
    As shrill as e’er was heard from rival actors),
Sprung forward, flag in hand, with “me viola!”—

245

    Or some such term, astonishing his factors,
(Which means, in war, his chiefs,) and grenadiers,
Who backed him nobly with a host of spears,— [Page 18]


XXXII.


Not more all-conquering, towering, or elate
    Shone forth the ardour of the “martial man”

250

On whose stern brow sat victory and fate
    (The last but equalled in the Turk’s divan),
Than stalked the horseman through the nearest gate,
    Dismounted now, and leading in the van
Of some few would-be dandies,—imitators,—

255

By no means of the number of self-haters.


XXXIII.


Thus certain apes—comparisons are odious—
    Besides these men have their respective merit:
Some have the thrilling tone—the lisp melodious,
    Others the loud coarse laugh which proves their spirit,

260

And so on to the end;—the sly Asmodeus,
    Who stole through house-tops like a thief or ferret,
Could scarce have shewn so much to Don Cleofas
As they recount of easy dames and sofas. [Page 19]


XXXIV.


No strutting peacock or Arabian barb;—

265

    No cornet sporting first a regimental;—
No Scottish chieftain in his Highland garb;—
    No steward chuckling o’er his bill of rental;—
Not even dashing Cupid of the Carb-
    Ineers, beloved by women as so gentle,—

270

E’er swelled with pride and glory unto bursting
As did Narcissus now for conquest thirsting.


XXXV.


Not conquest over women:—he disdained
    Such paltry bauble as a female heart;
Although it very possibly had pained

275

    His vanity,—by far the tend’rest part,—
To find such strong auxiliaries retained
    By any other rival who might start,
And urged to competition by some Phyllis,
To his half Hector play a whole Achilles. [Page 20]

280

XXXVI.


He coveted their suffrages as Members
    Not yet elected seek electors’ grace;
Or as a miser shivering o’er his embers
    Covets a verdict in a monied case;
The first ne’er later dreams of or remembers

285

    The humble tools which kept him in his place;
And, like the last, Narcissus only courted
The female voice to have his claims supported.


XXXVII.


A rival soon was found,—not quite Achilles,
    But one who passes for a modern Juan;

290

A dandy who has seven steeds and fillies,
    And ever manages to sport a new one,
But whether abler in the head or heel, is
    For men and horses to decide;—to do one
Fair Christian justice, talent should be reckon’d;—

295

Men see the first,—his horses feel the second. [Page 21]


XXXVIII.


Both whisker, and imperial, moustache,
    Profusely deck this English pioneer,
Who may—and yet not be considered rash—
    Contend with any Gallic grenadier

300

For bearded honours,—such as hourly flash
    Upon the eye in France from cuirassier,
Or lancer, or hussar, or garde-à-pied,
Which last excels our guard in every way.


XXXIX.


That is, in every way save one;—they’re high,

305

    And fierce, and have an air more military;
Then there’s much ardour in their flashing eye,
    And all their movements are less dilatory:
Each looks like a hero of the bloodiest dye,
    Anxious to be let loose, and kill a Terry,

310

A Sawney, Davy, or an English bull,
Till both of goring may have had their ‘full’. [Page 22]


XL.


But though superior in air and dress
    To our dull, rusty-coated grenadiers,
And, (what in soldiers should be prized no less.)

315

    They use their swords—not thumps about the ears—
When private feuds or inj’ries need redress,
    And thus exalt them over their compeers,
They do not face with due deliberation
The steel by which our guards uphold the nation.

320

XLI.


Yet both have laurels, medals, decorations,—
    The French, though, not so many as our guard,
Because that merit in its several stations
    Was wont to meet in France its just reward:—
We’ve ribbons quite enough to hang all nations;—

325

    The French have scarce an inch for our whole yard:
Pray what, in Spain, did not our soldiers do
To merit what is given for Waterloo? [Page 23]


XLII.


But to our Saracen,—our bearded goat,—
    Or whatsoever animal you choose to name him;

330

The man of visage strange, and stranger coat,
    Who really has some beauty could you tame him
Into slight tonsure of his bristling throat,
    Which seems to call some kindred flock to claim him:
Had he e’er conned Gay’s fable of “Capellus”

335

In sense inverse, of beard he were less jealous.


XLIII.


Great is the fame of this Ourang Outang,—
    This nondescript,—this courted debauchee,—
No one like him can reach the English slang,
    Or lisp soft nothings at a lady’s knee;

340

None better head a watchman-beating gang,
    Or grace a ball-room where from claret free:—
In short, a youth half Falstaff and half Crichton,
E’en such as women now-a-days delight on. [Page 24]


XLIV.


A mortal hater of the marriage vows, and

345

    Starting at the thought of matrimony,
He fears he yet must play the tender spouse, and
    Take good and evil,—both the wife and money:
’Tis true the sacrifice is great;—ten thousand
    Can scarcely temper Hymen’s gall with honey;—

350

Besides, ’t will scarce provide him rouge and tresses,
Two articles of moment when he dresses.


XLV.


Such was the rival our Narcissus found,
    Who ne’er had dreamt of this, his second self,
His flattering likeness, much more richly bound

355

    In frame of bristles, looking like an elf;
And, what was worse, the female throng around
    Evinced no wish to put him on the shelf,
But watched his beard—(the fact’s historical),—
As virgins erst were wont to watch the oracle. [Page 25]

360

XLVI.


As when two blustering monarchs of the grove,
    Beneath the umbrage of some spreading thorn,
By jealous fury fired,—urged on by love,—
    Lash the long tail, and point the threat’ning horn,
While careless heifers gaily bound and rove,

365

    And with their budding charms the scene adorn,
Curious to know if one or both shall fall
Ensanguined victims of the deadly brawl.—


XLVII.


As when two champions of the feathered tribe
    Spread their full wings and court the slumb’ring war,

370

And ruffled crests proclaim the haughty gibe
    With which each views his rival from afar,
While stately pullets (not o’erhard to bribe
    With show of valour, or the noble scar)
Tread the green lawn,—or, idly cackling, roam

375

To tell the quarrel to their friend at home.— [Page 26]


XLVIII.


Or as—but this is simile enough—
    They’re not the best,—take which may please you most:
We know that similes are wretched stuff,
    Unless some well-known master-hand they boast:

380

My tints I grant are weak,—my pencil rough,—
    But after all there’s very little lost;
Besides, for simple purpose of description,
There’s not much need for simile or fiction.


XLIX.


As one or both of these, the rivals bristled,—

385

    Each wond’ring how dame Nature in her freak
Had cast a creature like him up;—one whistled,
    Stroked his mustachio up his sallow cheek,
And frowned severe defiance down;—while this held
    His beard in hand with glance not more meek:

390

But when such men confine their ire to glances,
The hungry press not more than trade advances. [Page 27]


L.


That is, the trade of hewing, hacking, slaying,
    Which bears stern A——n——y’s iron seals,
Who think as little of man-carcase flaying

395

    As oyster-women do of skinning eels,
Deeming of course, with them, there’s no displaying
    One’s “art divine”, unless the victim feels.—
Whene’er I grow inclined to visit Lethe,
I’ll have my passport signed by A——n——y.

400

LI.


Some angry glances, then, were all that passed,
    And these were even of the fiercest kind;
Each making it his aim to have the last;—
    Which is a sort of vict’ry of the mind,
Or feelings, or—I know not how it’s classed,—

405

    But just amounts to shewing one’s not blind,
And that the modern fashionable stare
Comes much more ’whelming from large tufts of hair. [Page 28]


LII.


When giants combat, one must surely fall;
    And conquest leaneth to the stronger side,—

410

Of course the weaker goes against the wall,
    And that’s not flattering to human pride:
Thus poor Narcissus felt the rising gall
    Run through his aching heart in rapid tide,
As one last angry look, e’en ‘black as thunder’,

415

Bade him ‘give in’, or, if you choose, ‘knock under.’


LIII.


Since then ’tis said he’s grown extremely thin,
    And that oft-times in fits of desperate rage
He vows the steel shall bare his treacherous chin,
    Which would, yet could not, equal combat wage:

420

Nay more,—that quite tormented with the din
    Of his defeat, he’s striving to engage
Old Jupiter to change him to a flower,
Or fountain,—both much wanted in this bower. [Page 29]


LIV.


But really these my stanzas, grown quite serious,

425

    Are rather too much to one theme confined:
Sameness to verse is deleterious
    As too much claret to the frame or mind:
Perhaps my meaning here may seem mysterious,—
    And poets should be clear as ore refined;—

430

I mean, then, that this long heroic proem
May prove the cruel means to damn my poem.


LV.


And that would be a pity, if you knew
    What yet for Canto Second is reserved;
The gentler sex especially would rue

435

    A sentence so severe and undeserved,
Since many there will pass in fair review,
    Whose various charms in song should be preserved:
When once the must has shaken off her slumber,
To livelier strains she’ll tune the swelling number. [Page 30]

440

LVI.


For slumber now she must:—a muse requires
    As much repose as soldier on his route:
The latter walks some fifty miles, and tires,—
    The muse must run her fifty stanzas out,
Then sits down jaded, and recruits her fires,

445

    Unless she’s lamed,—not, Reader, by the gout,—
But by some snarling critic or reviewer,
Who pins her to the earth with iron skewer.


LVII.


E’en such may cavil at my strange dissection
    (What trifles will not occupy those seers),

450

Of certain words, and heave an interjection
    To see the “Baltic” and the “Carbineers”
Thus ploughed and mangled in each various section,
    While “tenets” even can’t escape the shears:
They must admit, with all their lore sublime,

455

That sense and grammar often yield to rhyme. [Page 31]


LVIII.


And with this trite remark I strike my flag,
    The Muses choosing to let go their anchor,
As tide and current both begin to lag,
    And scarce a hand on board is worth a spanker.

460

We soon shall greet you, Reader, with a bag
    Of home despatches, lying with our banker,—
A bag containing much more information
Than all the bags from every foreign station.




TO BE CONTINUED. [Page 32]