1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A New Ballad, intitled Napper's Lamentation; or the Downfall of the Champion of Ireland.

Public Advertiser (17 March 1792).

Pasquin


A burlesque pastoral ballad in ten double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Pasquin." The inspiration for this prison eclogue is less William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad than John Gay's Beggar's Opera: "Thus asham'd my sad figure to shew, | My plumage and gaffs are so cut, | No more on my dunghill I'll crow, | But leave stouter cocks there to strut." James Napper Tandy (1740-1803) was an ally of Grattan and a leader of the Protestant section of the United Irishman; he had been arrested an imprisoned for issuing a challenge to the attorney general. Tandy was soon released and returned to his political activities. During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, being fitted out by the French with a ship, he landed in Donegal with a troop of soldiers; he was tried and convicted, escaping execution through the intercession of Napoleon. The anti-Gallican Public Advertiser may have reprinted this poem from an Irish newspaper.

Note on "Malbrouk": "It is thus spelt in the French ballad, and which we suppose modestly prevented him from saying MARLBOROUGH."



As Napper sat rueful alone,
Debating 'twixt patience and strife,
His face in convulsions was thrown,
And he long'd to get rid of this life;
For Fighting no stomach he had,
(Sad reproach to a Volunteer Chief!)
And killing himself he thought bad,
And a damnable way of relief.

His sword and his truncheon flung down,
And pale as the spectre of Banquo!
He mourn'd o'er the loss of renown,
Like the grim visag'd Knight of La Mancha!
Contending with phrenzy and spleen,
(A sight not to laught at, but pity!)
And dreading by all to be seen,
He groan'd out this sorrowful ditty.

Ah! what are become of the days,
When I swagger'd and dash'd thro' the town?
The popular pride, and the gaze!
And the scourge of the Courtiers and Crown?
When dress'd in my Bombadier cloaths,
The Ladies proclaim me the dandy!
Whilst the crowd would cry out — "there he goes;
That's the great — there's the bold N—r T—y!"

Not a Nurse but would gossip my fame,
And prate of my Gorgon-like head!
Castle-brats, when they heard of my name,
Would cling to their mothers in dread.
Thus MALBROUK — a Chieftain of old,
Like me, who could bluster and prance!
Was a Hero and Bugbear, I'm told,
And frighten'd the children of France.

When the COMMONS or AGGREGATE met,
I always stood foremost to brawl,
And roar'd no temptation or threat
Should force me from Liberty's call.
But now there's no FORUM for me,
My flaming orations to utter;
For tho' I have made myself free,
I've thrown myself down in the gutter!

Oh! curse on the damn'd fatal hour,
I put all my fame to the test,
And grappl'd with valour and power,
Which prov'd my past bragging a jest;
For had I been destin'd to fight,
And not like a cur ran away,
I still had been shewn as a sight!
And now the Jack Wilkes of the day.

But threaten'd by pistols or jail,
I scarce knew myself what to do:
'Till I gave to the Greyhounds leg-bail;
Like a poor hunted puss, they pursue.
Thus asham'd my sad figure to shew,
My plumage and gaffs are so cut,
No more on my dunghill I'll crow,
But leave stouter cocks there to strut.

Then adieu to the spear and the shield,
Their pomp, and their honours I wave;
For how can I now take the Field?
Or face my companions so brave?
But like Cincinnatus of Rome,
My services past they'll allow,
And till better times change my doom,
I'll work at my pen, like a plough.

But if fate is not fix'd to my curse,
I may bounce into favour again;
For how many fools have done worse,
And after been very great men?
What mortals has Fortune crush'd down,
And rais'd up again in her sport;
Nay BLOOD, after stealing the Crown,
Was plac'd and was pension'd at Court.

Ah! No, I've no hopes to do well,
So Fame and Ambition adieu!
From what a high prospect I fell,
By grasping too much in my view!
I'll never get pension or place,
No chances or changes can raise me;
For now I'm cast off by his Grace,
Both parties renounce and dispraise me.

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