Richard Harris Barham

Here you will find the Long Poem Some Account of a New Play of poet Richard Harris Barham

Some Account of a New Play

'The play's the thing!'-- Hamlet. 

Tavistock Hotel, Nov. 1839. 
Dear Charles, 
-- In reply to your letter, and Fanny's, 
Lord Brougham, it appears, isn't dead,-- though Queen Anne is; 
'Twas a 'plot' and a 'farce'-- you hate farces, you say -- 
Take another 'plot,' then, viz. the plot of a Play. 

The Countess of Arundel, high in degree, 
As a lady possess'd of an earldom in fee, 
Was imprudent enough at fifteen years of age, 
A period of life when we're not over sage, 
To form a liaison -- in fact, to engage 
Her hand to a Hop-o'-my-thumb of a Page. 
This put her Papa -- 
She had no Mamma -- 
As may well be supposed, in a deuce of a rage. 

Mr. Benjamin Franklin was wont to repeat, 
In his budget of proverbs, 'Stolen Kisses are sweet;' 
But they have their alloy -- 
Fate assumed, to annoy 
Miss Arundel's peace, and embitter her joy, 
The equivocal shape of a fine little Boy. 

When, through 'the young Stranger,' her secret took wind, 
The Old Lord was neither 'to haud nor to bind.' 
He bounced up and down, 
And so fearful a frown 
Contracted his brow, you'd have thought he'd been blind. 
The young lady, they say, 
Having fainted away, 
Was confined to her room for the whole of that day; 
While her beau -- no rare thing in the old feudal system -- 
Disappear'd the next morning, and nobody miss'd him. 

The fact is, his Lordship, who hadn't, it seems, 
Form'd the slightest idea, not ev'n in his dreams, 
That the pair had been wedded according to law, 
Conceived that his daughter had made a faux pas; 
So he bribed at a high rate 
A sort of a Pirate 
To knock out the poor dear young Gentleman's brains, 
And gave him a handsome douceur for his pains. 
The Page thus disposed of, his Lordship now turns 
His attention at once to the Lday's concerns; 
And, alarm'd for the future, 
Looks out for a suitor, 
One not fond of raking, nor giv'n to 'the pewter,' 
But adapted to act both the husband and tutor -- 
Finds a highly respectable, middle-aged, widower, 
Marries her off, and thanks Heaven that he's rid o' her. 

Relieved from his cares, 
The old Peer now prepares 
To arrange in good earnest his worldly affairs; 
Has his will made new by a Special Attorney, 
Sickens, takes to his bed, and sets out on his journey. 
Which way he travell'd 
Has not been unravell'd; 
To speculate much on the point were too curious, 
If the climate he reach'd were serene or sulphureous. 
To be sure in his balance-sheet all must declare 
One item -- The Page -- was an awkward affair; 
But, per contra, he'd lately endow'd a new Chantry 
For Priests, with ten marks and the run of the pantry. 
Be that as it may, 
It's sufficient to say 
That his tomb in the chancel stands there to this day, 
Built of Bethersden marble -- a dark bluish grey. 
The figure, a fine one of pure alabaster, 
A cleanly churchwarden has cover'd with plaster; 
While some Vandal or Jew, 
With a taste for virtu, 
Has knock'd off his toes, to place, I suppose, 
In some Pickwick Museum, with part of his nose; 
From his belt and his sword 
And his misericorde 
The enamel's been chipp'd out, and never restored; 
His ci-gît in old French is inscribed all around, 
And his head's in his helm, and his heel's on his hound, 
The palms of his hands, as if going to pray, 
Are join'd and upraised o'er his bosom -- But stay! 
I forgot that his tomb's not described in the Play! 

Lady Arundel, now in her own right a Peeress, 
Perplexes her noddle with no such nice queries, 
But produces in time, to her husband's great joy, 
Another remarkably 'fine little boy.' 
As novel connections 
Oft change the affections, 
And turn all one's love into different directions, 
Now to young 'Johnny Newcome' she seems to confine hers, 
Neglecting the poor little dear out at dry-nurse; 
Nay, far worse than that, 
She considers 'the brat' 
As a bore -- fears her husband may smell out a rat. 
As her legal adviser 
She takes an old Miser, 
A sort of 'poor cousin.' She might have been wiser; 
For this arrant deceiver, 
By name Maurice Beevor, 
A shocking old scamp, should her own issue fail, 
By the law of the land stands the next in entail. 
So, as soon as she ask'd him to hit on some plan 
To provide for her eldest, away the rogue ran 
To that self-same unprincipled sea-faring man; 
In his ear whisper'd low ...--'Bully Gaussen' said 'done!-- 
I Burked the papa, now I'll Bishop the son!' 
'Twas agreed; and, with speed 
To accomplish the deed, 
He adopted a scheme he was sure would succeed. 
By long cock-and-bull stories 
Of Candish and Noreys, 
Of Drake and bold Raleigh, then fresh in his glories, 
Acquired 'mongst the Indians and Rapparee Tories, 
He so