1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Half-peel'd Turnip. A Pastoral Ballad.

Poems, chiefly by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall. In Two Volumes. [Rev. Richard Polwhele, ed.]

Edward Drewe


Eleven double-quatrain stanzas, signed "D. E." This parody of William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad unfolds like a farmer's daughter joke, as the Corydon declares his love for young Phillis, who has been locked up by her mother on a rainy day. The humor of the poem, apart from treating low matter in low diction, turns on erotic suggestion, like Corydon's address to the cat: ""Go pur, and go rub in my love, | By mewing express what I feel; | Oh! try that hard bosom to move, | I'll give thee a supper on eel." The verses are prefaced by an unidentified epigraph: "Hail, gentle Shenstone! prince of Namby-Pamby; | Bless'd be thy Lark, thy Linnet, and thy Lamby." This is the first of three Shenstone burlesques by Drewe in the volume.

Richard Polwhele: "D. E. is the signature of Edward Drewe, esq; of Exeter. The Military Sketches of this gentleman, humorous, spirited, and brilliant, have been for several years before the public; who have just cause, indeed, to regret that he has not favoured them with other specimens of his talents. And these few pieces of Mr. Drewe, whilst they reflect fresh lustre on him as a poet, must excite a wish that his literary pursuits were less interrupted" 1:vii.

European Magazine: "Among the Pastoral Pieces, Dr. Downman's Milon and Dametas, from Gessner, is a genuine offspring of the Sicilian Poet. Mr. Drewe's Pastorals are excellent, whether serious or humorous. His Half-peel'd Turnip, and his Pastoral Ballads, are admirable parodies of Shenstone" 22 (September 1792) 194.

Headnote by Joseph Dennie in the Port Folio [Philadelphia]: "The Schoolmistress of Shenstone is universally admired, but the lullaby strain of many of his pastoral ditties nauseates the judicious reader. The following burlesque poem is intended to ridicule his famous ballad, 'Ye shepherds, so cheerful and gay,' &c." 4 (24 November 1804) 376.



The rain, it is coming down fast,
The frogs they are hopping around;
The season of drought it is past,
The earth-worms crawl out of the ground:
The ants, that so crept up the trees,
Are all now retir'd to their nest;
Snug in hive stay the flower-loving bees,
'Tis holiday all, and 'tis rest:

The rook no more caws in the grove,
Nor the wood-dove she maketh her moan;
All dull is the season of love,
And Corydon's pleasure is flown:
For Phillis had promis'd to meet—
All down in the dew-sprinkled vale;
But he saw not the prints of her feet,
He saw not the marks of her pail:

The rain had kept Phillis at home,
To catch a sad cold was her fear;
Her mother forbid her to roam,
So she sat by the fire in her chair.
Sad Corydon put on his hat,
And hied him away to her house;
At the door he espied the lov'd cat,—
The cat had been seeking a mouse:

"Pretty pussy," says he, "are you wet?
Alas! let me open the door;
Were I, like fond pussy, a pet,
My breast would feel sorrow no more!"
The cat he did cock up his tail,
He purr'd, and he rubb'd on his leg:
"Dear pussy! ah, could I prevail,
One favour of thee would I beg—

"Go pur, and go rub in my love,
By mewing express what I feel;
Oh! try that hard bosom to move,
I'll give thee a supper on eel."
As Phillis now sat by the fire,
She heard the fond shepherd complain,
And kindly said, "Swain, I desire,
That you will come out of the rain."

He caught up the cat in his arms,
Her summons so proud to obey;
For Phillis, dear Phillis, had charms,
And so all the shepherds would say.
"Dear Phillis," says he, "how dye do?"
As soon as she heard the swain speak,
"Kind shepherd," says she, "how are you?"
And the blushes, they cover'd her cheek:

"Ah! why would you stay out of the door?
Ah! why in the rain would you wait?
See the poker, it lies on the floor,
Pray stir up the coals in the grate."
"Ah! shy should I poak up the fire?
Or why should I stir up the coal?
What is coal to my ardent desire?
What is fire to the fire of my soul?

"So would flame yonder new-made hay-stack,
If with candle the hay you should touch;
So the kidney be scorch'd and turn black,
Which the cook-maid has griddled too much:
So the cook-maid, if spit will not turn,
Will roast on one side all her meat:
So with frost aching, chilblains will burn,
Which little girls have on their feet."

"Oh! talk not of chilblains," she cries,
"But aid me, kind shepherd, I pray;
This turnip my patience defies,
It will not be peeled to-day.
Ah, shepherd! if love sway thy breast
By this fond request I shall see;
Oh! give my tir'd fingers some rest,
And peel the tough turnip for me."

He took out his knife in a trice—
The knife it was crooked and keen,
He gave to the turnip a slice,
A slice such as never was seen:
The turnip was peeled well nigh,
The mother was feeding the hogs,
When, ah! she return'd from the sty,
The swain knew the sound of her clogs!

All hurry'd he ran out of the door,
And took not his hat in his hand;
The turnip roll'd down on the floor,
And Phillis was quite at a stand.
Home went Corydon, heartily soak'd,
Poor Phillis was lock'd up in spite;
So the fire, it no longer was poak'd,
Nor the turnip was peel'd for the night!

[pp. 99-102]