A Pastoral Ballad in Four Parts.

A Pastoral Ballad in Four Parts: Admiration, Hope, Disappointment, Success.

Samuel Johnson of Shrewsbury

A parody of William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad (1755), published anonymously by Samuel Johnson of Shrewsbury (1738 or 9-1798). The parody introduces the burlesque manner of John Gay's Shepherd's Week, though Johnson overgoes Gay in his imitation of Theocritus, since his pair of bumpkin lovers, like the the Sicilian Cyclops, have but one eye apiece. They also lack a leg, though the narrative turns on the more critical matter that the lady is deaf. The tone of imperturbable simplicity is very much in the tradition of eighteenth-century Spenserianism.

Preface: "Gentle Reader, If thou art a Critic of very fine taste, do not read the following trifle: thou wilt reject it with disdain on account of the liberties taken with the most beautiful pastoral in our language, tho' it be not in the power of this writer to lessen the merit of that elegant performance, if he were indeed so vitiously inclined. Art thou of a risible disposition? Indulge thy humour, and shake thy sides with him: but, if thou art averse to that wholesome exercise, and art proud of a different twist of features (for which life will give thee ample occasion) gratify thy spleen, think such a writer's folly contemptible, and thy own wisdom an object of envy" p. 3.

Argument: A certain Shepherdess (ycleped MARGARET TIMBERTOE) had the misfortune to be born without the sense of hearing, and was consequently dumb; she had likewise by accident lost the entire use of one leg and one eye. In otherrespects she was not without some very powerful attractions, at least in the eye of a neighbouring Shepherd, (by name PHELIM O GIMLET) who, being in the same situation as to the two latter particulars, became enamoured of the Nymph, and thus he spake his passion" p. 5.

Monthly Review: "This merry performance will not admit of extracts, without injury to the merit of the whole. Peruse it, and laugh, as we have done; and be thankful to the very ingenious Writer, — and to us too, gentle Reader, for recommending to thy risibility, a piece that will afford thee a delicious opportunity of indulging in what wise authors, and this Author among the rest, have set down as a most wholesome exercise" 50 (June 1774) 484.

Critical Review: "An humorous burlesque, representing the passion of a shepherd with one leg and one eye, for a shepherdess in the same situation, and who was also born dumb" 38 (July 1774) 76.

Westminster Magazine: "Ha! ha! ha! ha! Bravo! Encore! We recommend this risible ridicule of Shenstone's celebrated Pastoral to every lover of fun and humour" 2 (July 1774) 336.

Devil burn 'em — these wits are jack-asses!
Tumble down their vile books from my shelves!
They goddesses make of the lasses,
And simpletons make of themselves.

Away with their nonsense away!—
MOGGY TIMBERTOE let me endite,
Whose eye is as bright as the day,
And whose tongue is as still as the night.

With storms should the elements crack,
How fearless is virtue the while!
Let the brave be dismay'd at the smack;
Her face wears an ever-green smile.

So gracefully PHYLLIDA moves,
So lightly she trips o'er the ground,
Each shepherd, that looks at her, loves;
Each shepherdess envies the wound.

But how wou'd the blunderers stare
To see little TIMBERTOE run!
Or, how wou'd Miss PHYLLIDA bear
To foot it for ever on one!

I knew that her fortune was noble,
I was smit with her presence behind;
And, blest with a similar hobble,
I wrote her a piece of my mind.

"I have seen a complexion as fair,
JENNY TWINKLE has one eye as fine;
But where shall we meet with a pair,
So bright as that twinkler of thine?

"My passion in vain I wou'd stifle,
Like a cinder I'm burnt black and blue;
Nor can I be cur'd by a trifle,
Unless I've that trifle from You.

"We have two pretty legs here between us,
And a very complete pair of eyes;
The folk that on one side have seen us,
Have seen nothing there to despise.

"It is not your cottage I want,
'Gainst an old oak's broad body reclin'd,
With a wide-gaping window in front,
And a snug little peep-hole behind.

"It is not the smell of your kitchen,
Where plenty and cleanliness please,
With a whole ham and half of a flitch, in
Reserve for potatoes and peas.

"It is not your mare to ride double,
Bereft like ourselves of one eye;
No, nor twenty fat geese on the stubble,
Nor a sow and nine pigs in the stye.

"It is not dear MOGGY your purse,
But your person I PHELIM adore;
And I'll take you for better or worse,
Will any man take you for more?"

Kind nature had thrown off the load,
Which in winter she commonly bore;
And the sun jogg'd along the same road,
He had travell'd some thousand times o'er.

Mother earth had put on her new clothes,
'Twas (in English) the sweet month of May;
When love led me forth by the nose,
Where dear MOGGY TIMBERTOE lay:

On the marge of a river reclin'd,
I trembled to see her asleep;
Lest she wake on the side that was blind,
And roll adown into the deep.

Young Zephyr play'd roguishly by,
And whistled quite up to her knee;
I respectfully shut my one eye,
And the devil a bit did I see.

Thrice I roar'd out, — "arise pretty maid!"
But she cou'd not have heard the last trump;
Yet thrice to get up she essay'd,
And thrice she fell down again plump:

Then quick to assist her I went,
She was pleas'd my affection to see;
Her single eye shone with content,
And doubly it shone upon me.

She drew from her bosom my letter,
Love drew from his quiver a dart;
Ah, thought I, she can't have a better
To trip up the heels of my heart.

She smil'd when I kiss'd her dear hand:
Do your pleasure — as much as to say;
Yet so sweetly she bids me command,
By my faith that she makes me obey.

Oh, what pleasure to see her lips jabber
About something, that nobody knows!
And their taste is just like bonny-clabber
With 'tatoes bobbing up to one's nose.

Ye scenes of nonsensical noise,
Where often with pleasure I strove;
I fly from your bumpkinly joys
To the bosom of beauty and love.

No longer the cudgel I wield;
The glories of wrestling I shun:
Ye shepherds, the cob of the field
Is content with the fame, he has won.

Gentle hope, like an owl on her nest,
Stretch over my soul thy soft wing!
And the raptures, that can't be exprest,
Get up, little GIMLET, and sing.

Ye clouds of a dirt-colour die,
Besmut the bright face of the sun!
And let not the moon's silver eye
Make game of a lover undone!

Brown, brown be the earth, and ye floods
Tumble back your rude streams, or lie still!
Ye beasts of the field to the woods!
Ye feather'd fowls fly where ye will!

Plague take it — this love's a vile passion!
'Tis not worth an honest man's care;
It begins with a world of vexation;
It ends in disgust or despair.

These girls are so full of vagary,
One never knows when they are right;
They'll lead you a dance, till you're weary,
Then marry another in spite.

I pity those poor honest fellows,
Tied fast to their aprons for life;
They first give 'em cause to be jealous,
Then — "Dare you suspect your own wife?"

I thought, I'd secur'd my dear MOGGY,
As safe as a thief in a mill;
But I'm popt in a hole that is boggy,
And there I may lie if I will.

I found out a gift for my lass,
I found out the maker at YORK;
'Twas an eye neatly fashion'd of glass,
'Twas a leg nicely finish'd of cork.

"Special good are the members I bring,"
Said I, and (to please her the more,)
"My dear, you will find 'em the thing;
For I tried, and I prov'd 'em before.

"Look here, my sweet creature to grace
How charming this eye-ball doth shine;
It will give a new bloom to your face;
See, its fellow illuminates mine.

"Here's a limb! Your acceptance I beg,
Oh, 'tis better than that log of wood;
'Tis a brother to this little peg,"
And I caper'd as high as I coul'd.

How false are the pleasures we know!
How severe is the pang of disgrace!
When I offer'd them both, and bow'd low;
Why, she gave me a kick in the face.

Disappointment so blinded mine eye,
So confus'd the fine things I'd to say,
That my path I cou'd hardly espy,
As in dudgeon I hobbled away.

There be lovers of life so profuse,
If a mistress but happen to frown,
That will give their wise head to a noose,
Or will take to the water, and drown.

Now, why shou'd we quarrel with life,
Since life is at best but a span?
Is the loss of a termagant wife
Such an horrid misfortune to man?

A termagant wife is the Dee'l;
And can MOGGY a termagant prove?
Her foot to be sure made me reel,
But perhaps 'twas a proof of her love.

Ah, PHELIM, (said I to myself)
Why will not thy vanity see,
That a lady possest of such pelf,
May buy a much better than thee!

Then I call'd myself dastardly devil,
And thought upon all I'd been told;
How that beauty despises a SNIVEL,
And yields to the touch of the bold.

He's a knave and a noddy to boot,
That's abash'd, when a maiden says — nay;
And hastily gives up his suit,
Because he can't have his own way.

I knew that the gifts wou'd allure,
And I follow'd the issue to see;
But scarce had I gone from the door,
Little MOGGY came hopping to me.

On her lips I imprinted a kiss,
And another intended — but Oh!
She caught such a foretaste of bliss,
That she quak'd from her top to her toe.

I fear'd, that an ague had seiz'd her,
Her colour so went and so came;
But soon I perceiv'd, that it pleas'd her,
And pleas'd, I repeated the same.

Toward church I observ'd her eye squint,
Certain proof that she meant to be kind;
So I quickly improv'd on the hint,
And I silently told her my mind:

But when her compliance I guest,
I thought that my heart wou'd run wild:
By Saint PATRICK, it bumpt in my breast
Like the kicks of a never-born child.

To the Parson I artfully stray'd,
Who knew our perfections to scan;
He vow'd, so accomplish'd a maid
Never wedded so finish'd a man.

He declar'd, we were form'd for delight,
Tho' (to give honest LEVI his due)
Time and stingo so bother'd his sight,
That he scarce knew a P from a Q.

He bless'd us again and again,
In hopes I wou'd double his pay;
But, before the Clerk snuffled Amen,
We hopt like two magpies away.

[pp. 5-20]