1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Banks of Balize. A Ballad.

European Magazine 46 (November 1804) 375.

James Bannatine


A pastoral ballad in seven burlesque quatrains with a variable refrain, published in 1804 under the signature "Senned." The complete title is given as "The Banks of Balize. A Ballad. Written by a Lady residing near the River Balize, in the Bay of Honduras." The singer encourages all to come and partake of the simple pleasures of colonial life: "Here young alligators are playfully sporting, | Here tigers so nimble, and droves of warrees; | All frisking like lambkins, and wantonly courting, | Along the sweet banks of the River Balize." There is a sting in the last stanza.

In 1809 the poem was claimed by James Bannatine, with the statement that it had been written twenty-one years earlier. It was then reprinted by him in the Monthly Magazine accompanied with additional notes. I have not identified Bannatine.

Honduras was a Spanish colony until it gained independence in 1821. In this vein, compare "A Pastoral, adapted to the Meridian of Bengal" in St. James's Chronicle or British Evening Post (17 February 1787).

Headnote in Monthly Magazine: "Sir, As through the medium of one of your last Numbers [May 1809, 332-35], I dared to make a profane attack on Shenstone's famous ballad, an effort of the Pastoral Muse exquisitely delectable to all the love-stricken swains and damsels throughout the United Kingdom, I now beg leave, by your permission, to give your inamourate readers, of both sexes, the full opportunity of retort by unmercifully criticising the following Pastoral in the Shenstonian strain, which I adventured to indite, one-and-twenty years ago, in the Bay of Honduras, as well as the notes I have now added, illustrative of the Natural History &c. of that country. Your's, &c. James Bannatine, Temple-street, St. George's Fields, May 15, 1809 28 (October 1809) 255.



While songsters their rivers to praise do combine,
Their Arno's, their Banna's, their Tweed's, and their Dee's;
To the Nymphs of Honduras the task shall be mine,
To sing the more beautiful Banks of Balize.

See the nymphs and the swains in their Dories are singing,
While echo the music resounds through the trees;
Observe how the fishes around them are springing,
Their joy to express in the River Balize.

Here young alligators are playfully sporting,
Here tigers so nimble, and droves of warrees;
All frisking like lambkins, and wantonly courting,
Along the sweet banks of the River Balize.

No proud marble domes upon these rural plains,
Nor mansions of grandeur the traveller sees;
But marks what a charming simplicity reigns
In the wood-cutter's hut on the Banks of Balize.

Let those who delight in fine fish and fresh air,
Enjoy their own pleasures on Honduras' Quays;
More happy am I in attending the fair
On the banks of the smooth flowing River Balize.

Ye Aldermen who on rich turtle would feast,
Or would wish to indulge on our fam'd Mannatees,
Leave the city awhile, then come hither, and taste
This delicate food on the Banks of Balize.

The songs of Moskitoes shall lull you to sleep;
Songs sweet as the whisp'ring of winds thro' the trees;
While Doctors and Sand-flies their vigils do keep,
To suck your rich blood on the Banks of Balize.

[p. 375]