1813
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Molly of Brydges-Street. By T. C.

A Sequel to Rejected Addresses; or, the Theatrum Poetarum Minorum. By another Author.

Anonymous


A burlesque of Thomas Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming, in nine Spenserians. The volume is an imitation of Horace and James Smith's wildly successful Rejected Addresses, written to mark the reopening of Drury Lane Theatre (the successful address was by Byron). In this parody, Campbell's Gertrude is recast as fair Molly, who offers Whitbread's ale and other favors to the bricklayers and carpenters rebuilding the theater. Thus, Campbell's opening lines, "Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall, | And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore, | Whose beauty was the love of Pensylvania's shore!" are recast as: "Let me the pleasures of thy haunts display, | Where Molly, pot-girl at the house-of-call, | Flourish'd the glowing flame of youthful bricklayers all." The anonymous poet does little with Campbell's story; the humor, such as it is, derives from burlesquing the overly-refined original by means of a low subject.

Gentleman's Magazine: "Though the three last words in the Title-page are not necessary; and though this little volume has many inequalities; it might have claimed much commendation had it been the 'older brother.' It contains Thirteen Imitations of the style of Popular Writers; some of which are in prose. In the first article the praises of Molly of Drury Lane are sweetly sung by 'T. C.' in nine stanzas not devoid of harmony" (Supplement to Part II, 1812) 638.

Analectic Magazine [Philadelphia]: "It is a very rare occurrence when the continuation of a popular book rivals the book itself in merit. We wish that we were able to promise our readers the gratification which arises from that rarity on the present occasion: but the Sequel to the (fictitious) Rejected Addresses proceeds from a very inferior hand. The first supposed candidate for the prize is Mr. Campbell; and although he certainly would have afforded a good subject for imitation in the former jeu d'esprit, yet we cannot understand the wit of his being classed among the Poetae Minores of Great Britain, in the trifle before us. His marked peculiarities of manner (taking them as they are displayed in Gertrude of Wyoming) are grossly burlesqued in a vapid vulgarism called 'Molly of Bridges Street.' For the excessive refinement and laboured polish of the original, we have the wiredrawn want of thought and careless composition of a copyist, whose humour is without strength, and whose coarseness is unredeemed by vivacity" 2 (August 1813) 120.



By Drury's western side, fair Brydges-street!
Where now the busy builders daily come,
Where once the play-going crowd were wont to meet,
Rushing to Drury's or her Sister's dome;
Scenes where my youth has often joy'd to stray,
And cull the apple from the fruiterer's stall;
Let me the pleasures of thy haunts display,
Where Molly, pot-girl at the house-of-call,
Flourish'd the glowing flame of youthful bricklayers all.

O'er her fat cheek the rose had shed its bloom,
Her buxom bosom knew no stays' restraints;
O'er her thick limbs glad Health delights to roam,
And drive away vile Luxury's complaints:
Her brawny form ne'er knew consumptive faints,
Or mad hysterics, or sad spirits low;
She made no mournful groan, no sickly plaints;
Thro' rain or heat she would uncover'd go,
Shrill screaming through the echoing streets, "Pots below!"

Oft would the wearied bricklayer stay his feet,
And drink a pot within the Magpye's walls,
Toying with Molly on the pot-house seat,
Till some fresh customer for porter calls:
Then Molly flies to ply the bending drawer,
Unlocking straight the gushing frothy tide;
And slyly looking round that no one saw her,
She sucks a drop beneath the crested pride,
And then receives the pence the customer supplied,

The spell of Molly's charms did oft detain
The am'rous joiner from his hammer and nails;
And Molly's charms the blacksmith did enchain
In links far stronger than he forg'd for pails.
Drury, forsaken by her labouring train,
Soon felt the rival force of Molly's power:
Not kindling flames around her walls again,
But oft attracting at the noon-day hour
The Sons of Brick and Mortar to her boozing bower.

Oft Wyatt comes, and oft the angry Rowle,
And find the workmen from their labour fled:
Whitbread beholds with wrath-indignant soul,
The sluggish growth of Drury's infant head:
Thund'ring he turns them off, and in their stead,
From Bedford's plains a hardy race he sends—
Disbanded train-bands in their rags of red:
Each to the Magpye soon his footsteps bends,
Where beauty's influence o'er each boorish soul extends.

The more of Whitbread's porter they imbibe,
Their hearts more soften'd to the charms of Molly:
The muzzy, love-sick, ardent Bedford tribe,
Leave Drury's scaffolds in pursuit of folly.
And thus the Brewer's, hurts the Manager's trade,
The Brown Stout sells, but Drury meanwhile sleeps;
For grasping man was surely never made
To lay up wealth in multifarious heaps,
By brewing, building, spouting, patronizing sweeps.

To seek his workmen Whitbread speeds one day,
Straight to the Magpye, with indignant fury;
There he discovers at their amorous play.
The truant bricklayers from the walls of Drury.
Molly was seated on Jack Higgins' knee,
Tom Brown was off'ring her the sparkling pot:
The Manager saw their joy with raging ee;
And in his fury he had quite forgot,
That all they drank cost three-pence halfpenny per pot.

On Molly soon he pour'd his vengeance forth,
The latent Circe of the bricklayers' hod,
As from the chill blast driving from the North,
Molly stood shrinking from the demi-god.
The glittering pewter-pot which grac'd her hand,
Just for one moment caught the hero's sight:
He stands appeas'd, his passions at command;
Smiling he sees his liquor sparkling bright,
And asks the girl how many pots she sold last night.

To Southill's regions Whitbread sends the lass;
For he foresaw the mischief of her charms,
If at the Magpye bricklayer youths could pass
The day and night in Molly's circling arms.
A skullion wench, she plies the reeking clout,
And washes dishes now, instead of Pewter:
Hymen has join'd her to a rustic lout—
For none of Whitbread's livery men would suit her—
Preferring wedlock's blissful chastity in future.

[pp. 1-3]