1800 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Somerville Gala.

A Collection of Poems, mostly original, by Several Hands. Vol. III. [Joshua Edkins, ed.]

William Preston


An undated burlesque decription of an Irish ball; the poet "who to dancing am little inclin'd, | Amusement, in Spenser and Politics, find" p. 283. William Preston was an Irish judge and an early supporter of Catholic emancipation. Much of his occasional verse is collected in this Dublin miscellany edited by Joshua Edkins.

Headnote: "The following Jeu D'Esprit was occasioned by the Author's being importuned to write on a Ball given by Sir Marcus Somerville, at his Seat in the County of Meath" p. 282.



To SOMERVILLE'S GALA, the muse takes her flight,
And, were she a GOURMAND, would sing with delight,
Of the turbot, the venison, the melons, and pines,
The sweet-meats, and ices, the liqueurs, and the wines;
The pies, and the toss-ups, so savory and warm,
Would the heart and the tripes, of an Alderman charm;
Like Gods we carouse, tho' like Mortals we eat,
'Till the fiddles and dulcimers sound a retreat;
While the rays of bright beauty, with Champaign combin'd,
The senses to cheer and enliven the mind;
For Everard, the polish'd, the gentle, and fair,
With the three little Graces, her Daughters, was there;
And sure, I must ever remember with pain,
The eyes of bright Fisher, the glory of Slane;
Had I paper and time, I could name many more,
For of Beauties Sir Mark had assembled two score,
Besides others, for reasons full easily guess'd,
Who are welcome at Dances, for foils to the rest.

So to dancing they fall, fiddles, dulcimers, chime,
And a Lad, with his drumsticks, keeps beating the time;
While I, who to dancing am little inclin'd,
Amusement, in Spenser and Politics, find;
With shuff'ling and cutting, and capering and bowing,
They dust it away, 'till the cocks fall a crowing;
Then supper is serv'd, we wheel off to the right;
And "spark'ling Champaign," is the word of the night.

The supper, like dinner, was marvellous good,
And the Baronet's wine ran about like a flood;
Soups, turkies, and chickens, and lobsters, and grouse,—
"Well, truly, Sir Marcus, you keep a good house;"
Superb were the ornaments, ice in profusion,
Magnifique the dessert; without any confusion
We all were attended. — Now supper is done,—
Ha! — the fiddles again, — to the dancing room run;
Where the feet of the dancers so merrily sped,
We saw the Champaign had crept up to the head;
A few were excepted, sedate and compos'd,
Who sat quietly down, and deliciously doz'd;
Among this sober set, there befel a mischance,
Such as I, in my life, never heard at a dance;
Our features we scarcely knew how to compose,
When R— caught D—, aloud by the nose;
The Lady was ancient, and starch was her wig,
Tho' youthful the Squire, he was fat as a pig;
So great a report, you may think could arise,
From cheeks of no common circumference and size.—
Some call'd it a pistol-shot, others a rocket,
One said, "He let off air balloons from his pocket,"—
He dream'd he smelt powder, and 'woke with a start,—
"Oh foh! you rude beast, a Lady to f—t,"
Mrs. D— exclaim'd, and then hid, with her fan,
Her visage, and scuttled away from the man;
My companions took warning, from this signal gun,
To turn out in fresh air, so we cut, and we run;
And home with the sun we were trundled along,
Which brings to a period, my Supper and Song.

[pp. 282-84]