1790 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Elegy written at Furnival's Inn.]

Gentleman's Magazine 88 (June 1818) 544.

J. C.


Eight anonymous, untitled quatrains published in 1818. The poem is part of the series of imitations of Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard concerned with criminals and the legal system — here taking the form of a verse character of an attorney's clerk. The resemblance to the original is oblique; appearing in the description of the below-ground dining hall at Furnival's Inn: "There future Hardwickes, future Talbots, Cokes, | Hales, Blackstones, Wallace's in law profound, | Dispute, harangue, and crack their legal jokes, | In lightsome cellar six feet under ground." The occasion for the belated publication is explained in the headnote. It may be that the published stanzas are part of a longer poem; the concluding lines in particular begin to sound like an imitation of Philips's The Splendid Shilling.

Headnote: "Mr. Urban, As Furnival's Inn will be razed to the ground before your next number appears, I send you, by way of a memorial of it, the Lamentation of an Attorney's Clerk, written thirty years ago, and which has never yet appeared in print. J. C." p. 544.

Note: "Furnival's Inn Cellar; a place well known to the professional gentlemen, where a good dinner may be had at a reasonable price. Here is a Law Society, on being a member of which (if I have dived into the secret) you pay for two pots of porter, which is brought to you in a large silver cup, called Sweetlips. The place boasts of having been visited by L—d Th—rl—w, L—d K—ny—n, and others in days of yore" p. 544.



The Clock strikes nine, the painful hour arrives,
To open Chambers, and the toil begin;
With stomachs keener even than our knives,
We set to work in Furnival's fam'd Inn.

How hard our lot thus doom'd to scribble on
The lazy hours, which our impatience mock,
Hark! now it strikes — by Heavens 'tis only one,
Another long hour to come till two o'clock.

At length — at length arrives th' appointed hour—
To eat we go, but not to eat a dinner,
Heav'n well knows how little we've th' power
To fill our bellies — true as I'm a sinner!

Yet some there are, and those a happy set,
Whose purse permits them at the Dive to dine,
See future Judges, Serjeants — Counsel — met
Soaking their silver Sweetlips or their wine.

There future Hardwickes, future Talbots, Cokes,
Hales, Blackstones, Wallace's in law profound,
Dispute, harangue, and crack their legal jokes,
In lightsome cellar six feet under ground.

Cases — Opinions — Affadavits — Fees—
Demurrers — Judgments — Executions — Writs,
There are as thick as leaves upon the trees,
What scope for genius, and what food for wits!

Soon as the labour of the day is past,
Whilst Gray's Inn Bell in gloomy night does ring
Homeward I trudge, but not to feast, but fast,
No pipe — tobacco — porter — no such thing.

At single knock the surly landlord comes
With bosom hard and obdurate as steel;
Each night and morn he insolently duns,
O! must not he who suffers also feel!

[p. 544]