Richard Harris Barham

Here you will find the Long Poem The Bagman's Dog, : Mr. Peters's Story of poet Richard Harris Barham

The Bagman's Dog, : Mr. Peters's Story

Stant littore Puppies!-- Virgil. 

It was a litter, a litter of five, 
Four are drown'd and one left alive, 
He was thought worthy alone to survive; 
And the Bagman resolved upon bringing him up, 
To eat of his bread, and to drink of his cup, 
He was such a dear little cock-tail'd pup. 

The Bagman taught him many a trick; 
He would carry and fetch, and run after a stick, 
Could well understand 
The word of command, 
And appear to doze 
With a crust on his nose, 
Till the Bagman permissively waved his hand: 
Then to throw up and catch it he never would fail, 
As he sat up on end, on his little cock-tail. 
Never was puppy so bien instruit, 
Or possess'd of such natural talent as he; 
And as he grew older, 
Every beholder 
Agreed he grew handsomer, sleeker, and bolder.-- 

Time, however, his wheels we may clog, 
Wends steadily still with onward jog, 
And the cock-tail'd puppy's a curly-tail'd dog! 
When just at the time, 
He was reaching his prime, 
And all thought he'd be turning out something sublime, 
One unlucky day, 
How, no one could say, 
Whether some soft liaison induced him to stray, 
Or some kidnapping vagabond coax'd him away, 
He was lost to the view 
Like the morning dew; 
He had been, and was not -- that's all that they knew; 
And the Bagman storm'd, and the Bagman swore, 
As never a Bagman had sworn before; 
But storming or swearing but little avails, 
To recover lost dogs with great curly tails.-- 

In a large paved court, close by Billiter Square, 
Stands a mansion old, but in thorough repair, 
The only strange thing, from the general air 
Of its size and appearance, is, how it got there; 
In front is a short semicircular stair 
Of stone steps,-- some half score,-- 
Then you reach the ground floor, 
With a shell-pattern'd architrave over the door. 
It is spacious, and seems to be built on the plan 
Of a Gentleman's house in the reign of Queen Anne; 
Which is odd, for although, 
As we very well know, 
Under Tudors and Stuarts the City could show 
Many Noblemen's seats above Bridge and below, 
Yet that fashion soon after induced them to go 
From St. Michael Cornhill, and St. Mary le Bow, 
To St. James, and St. George, and St. Anne in Soho.-- 
Be this as it may,-- at the date I assign 
To my tale,-- that's about Seventeen Sixty Nine,-- 
This mansion, now rather upon the decline, 
Had less dignified owners, belonging in fine, 
To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne,-- 
A respectable House in the Manchester line. 

There were a score 
Of Bagmen and more, 
Who had travell'd full oft for the firm before; 
But just at this period they wanted to send 
Some person on whom they could safely depend, 
A trustworthy body, half agent, half friend, 
On some mercantile matter as far as Ostend; 
And the person they pitch'd on, was Anthony Blogg, 
A grave steady man not addicted to grog,-- 
The Bagman, in short, who had lost this great dog. 

'The Sea! the Sea! the open Sea!-- 
That is the place where we all wish to be, 
Rolling about on it merrily!'-- 
So all sing and say, 
By night and by day, 
In the boudoir, the street, at the concert, and play, 
In a sort of coxcombical roundelay; 
You may roam through the City, transversely or straight, 
From Whitechapel turnpike to Cumberland gate, 
And every young Lady who thrums a guitar, 
Ev'ry mustachio'd Shopman who smokes a cigar, 
With affected devotion, 
Promulgates his notion, 
Of being a 'Rover' and 'child of the Ocean'-- 
Whate'er their age, sex, or condition may be, 
They all of them long for the 'Wide, Wide Sea!' 
But, however they dote, 
Only set them afloat 
In any craft bigger at all than a boat, 
Take them down to the Nore 
And you'll see that before 
The 'Wessel' they 'Woyage' in has half made her way 
Between Shell-Ness Point and the pier at Herne Bay, 
Let the wind meet the tide in the slightest degree, 
They'll be all of them heartily sick of 'the Sea'! 

I've stood in Margate, on a bridge of size 
Inferior far to that described by Byron, 
Where 'palaces and pris'ns on each hand rise, ' 
-- That too's a stone one, this is made of iron -- 
And little donkey-boys your steps environ, 
Each proffering for your choice his tiny hack, 
Vaunting its excellence; and should you hire one, 
For sixpence, will he urge, with frequent thwack, 
The much-enduring beast to Buenos Ayres -- and back. 

And there, on many a raw and gusty day, 
I've stood and turn'd my gaze upon the pier, 
And seen the crews, that did embark so gay 
That self-same morn, now disembark so queer; 
Then to myself I've sigh'd and said, 'Oh dear! 
Who would believe yon sickly looking man's a 
London Jack Tar,-- a Cheapside Buccan