William Makepeace Thackeray

Here you will find the Long Poem The King Of Brentfords Testament of poet William Makepeace Thackeray

The King Of Brentfords Testament

The noble King of Brentford
Was old and very sick,
He summon'd his physicians
To wait upon him quick;
They stepp'd into their coaches
And brought their best physick.

They cramm'd their gracious master
With potion and with pill;
They drench'd him and they bled him;
They could not cure his ill.
'Go fetch,' says he, 'my lawyer,
I'd better make my will.'

The monarch's royal mandate
The lawyer did obey;
The thought of six-and-eightpence
Did make his heart full gay.
'What is't,' says he, 'your Majesty
Would wish of me to-day?'

'The doctors have belabor'd me
With potion and with pill:
My hours of life are counted,
O man of tape and quill!
Sit down and mend a pen or two,
I want to make my will.

'O'er all the land of Brentford
I'm lord, and eke of Kew:
I've three-per-cents and five-per-cents;
My debts are but a few;
And to inherit after me
I have but children two.

Prince Thomas is my eldest son,
A sober Prince is he,
And from the day we breech'd him
Till now, he's twenty-three,
He never caused disquiet
To his poor Mamma or me.

'At school they never flogg'd him,
At college, though not fast,
Yet his little-go and great-go
He creditably pass'd,
And made his year's allowance
For eighteen months to last.

'He never owed a shilling.
Went never drunk to bed,
He has not two ideas
Within his honest head?
In all respects he differs
From my second son, Prince Ned.

'When Tom has half his income
Laid by at the year's end,
Poor Ned has ne'er a stiver
That rightly he may spend,
But sponges on a tradesman,
Or borrows from a friend.

'While Tom his legal studies
Most soberly pursues,
Poor Ned most pass his mornings
A-dawdling with the Muse:
While Tom frequents his banker,
Young Ned frequents the Jews.

'Ned drives about in buggies,
Tom sometimes takes a 'bus;
Ah, cruel fate, why made you
My children differ thus?
Why make of Tom a DULLARD,
And Ned a GENIUS?'

'You'll cut him with a shilling,'
Exclaimed the man of wits:
'I'll leave my wealth,' said Brentford,
'Sir Lawyer, as befits;
And portion both their fortunes
Unto their several wits.'

'Your Grace knows best,' the lawyer said
'On your commands I wait.'
'Be silent, Sir,' says Brentford,
'A plague upon your prate!
Come take your pen and paper,
And write as I dictate.'

The will as Brentford spoke it
Was writ and signed and closed;
He bade the lawyer leave him,
And turn'd him round and dozed;
And next week in the churchyard
The good old King reposed.

Tom, dressed in crape and hatband,
Of mourners was the chief;
In bitter self-upbraidings
Poor Edward showed his grief:
Tom hid his fat white countenance
In his pocket-handkerchief.

Ned's eyes were full of weeping,
He falter'd in his walk;
Tom never shed a tear,
But onwards he did stalk,
As pompous, black, and solemn,
As any catafalque.

And when the bones of Brentford?
That gentle king and just?
With bell and book and candle
Were duly laid in dust,
'Now, gentleman,' says Thomas,
'Let business be discussed.

'When late our sire beloved
Was taken deadly ill,
Sir Lawyer, you attended him
(I mean to tax your bill);
And, as you signed and wrote it,
I prithee read the will.'

The lawyer wiped his spectacles,
And drew the parchment out;
And all the Brentford family
Sat eager round about:
Poor Ned was somewhat anxious,
But Tom had ne'er a doubt.

'My son, as I make ready
To seek my last long home,
Some cares I had for Neddy,
But none for thee, my Tom:
Sobriety and order
You ne'er departed from.

'Ned hath a brilliant genius,
And thou a plodding brain;
On thee I think with pleasure,
On him with doubt and pain.'
('You see, good Ned,' says Thomas,
'What he thought about us twain.'

'Though small was your allowance,
You saved a little store;
And those who save a little
Shall get a plenty more.'
As the lawyer read this compliment,
Tom's eyes were running o'er.

'The tortoise and the hare, Tom,
Set out, at each his pace;
The hare it was the fleeter,
The tortoise won the race;
And since the world's beginning
This ever was the case.

'Ned's genius, blithe and singing,
Steps gayly o'er the ground;
As steadily you trudge it
He clears it with a bound;
But dulness has stout legs, Tom,
And wind that's wondrous sound.

'O'er fruits and flowers alike, Tom,
You pass with plodding feet;
You heed not one nor t'other
But onwards go your beat,
While genius stops to loiter
With all that he may meet;

'And ever as he wanders,
Will have a pretext fine
For sleeping in the morning,
Or loitering to dine,
Or dozing in the shade,