1820
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Cheshire Pastoral. (Parody on Shenstone.)

British Stage and Literary Cabinet 4 (December 1820) 355.

Lucius Tantarabobus


Eleven burlesque anapestic quatrains signed "Lucius Tantarabobus," after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. The conceit for this description of low life in the country was suggested by the aroma of Cheshire cheese: "I have found out a gift for my fair, | In my Cheshire some rotten I've found: | But, let me the plunder forbear, | Nor give that dear bosom a wound!" These lines, and indeed much of the poem, are taken from "A Pastoral Ballad" by Edward Drewe, originally published in Poems, chiefly by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall (1792). Tantarabobus was a regular contributor to the British Stage. A "Dutch nightingale" is a frog.

Author's note: "Three verses are taken from Poems by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall. The Moral of Shenstone's Poem is that 'No man can be true in love, who robs a bird's nest.' The Moral of this Poem is that 'No man can be true in love, who eats rotten cheese" 355n.



My beds are well furnish'd with fleas,
Whose bitings invite me to scratch;
Well stock'd are my orchards with bees,
And my pig-styes well cover'd with thatch.

Not a rose in my garden is seen,
But, cabbage and lettuce abound;
My borders with onions are green,
Leeks and garlick spread over the ground.

No fields in the prime of the year
More charms than my dairy display;
Meux and Reed cannot boast better beer
Than the pot-house just over the way.

I seldom a pimple have met,
Such health does magnesia bestow;
My horse-pond is border'd with wet,
Where the flap-docks and sting-nettles grow.

The Dutch nightingale's amorous tone
From its inmost recesses proceeds;
And I add to her wooings my own,
As I sit on my dunghill of weeds.

I have found out a gift for my fair,
In my Cheshire some rotten I've found:
But, let me the plunder forbear,
Nor give that dear bosom a wound!

For, tho' oft from her lips I have heard
That the rotten her palate would please,
Yet, he ne'er could be true, she averr'd,
Who would rob a poor mite of its cheese.

And where does my Dorothy stray?
And where are her pattens and clogs?
As dirty as our's is the way?
Is the country as fruitful in hogs?

The land may be fruitful in bogs,
And dirty may be all the ways;
The shepherds in manners like hogs,
For mine are the manners to please.

Lubin's pate is as bald as a stone,
His graces of youth are quite fled,
His teeth are all rotten, or gone,
And his eyes almost sunk in his head.

Then, tho' Lubin is rich, I'll not fear,
That an old man will rifle her charms,
But trust the good sense of my dear
Will conduct her to Corydon's arms.

[p. 355]