1685
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dialogue, between a Thatcher and a Gardener, for Precedency, on Occasion of a Pot of Ale with this Inscription; Detur Digniori.

Maggots, or, Poems on several Subjects, never before handled. By a Schollar.

Rev. Samuel Wesley


A burlesque singing contest in triplet measures. Samuel Wesley's dialogue derives from the disputes between shepherds and goatherds that were traditional in pastoral, though by adopting a gardener and a thatcher for he anticipates what would become one of the more popular pastoral genres of the eighteenth century: the trades eclogue: "Stay, Cuddy, and judge whether Trade must prevail, | For the best of our two wins a Pot of good Ale." The humor of the poem turns on the characters' learned allusions to theology and ancient history, which the Thatcher at least seems to have learned from Sylvester Du Bartas. The poem is illustrated with three columns of notes ("Dennis" is "Dyonisius the Tyrant of Sicily"). The superstition theme is as old as Theocritus, though the father of John Wesley gives it a more modern treatment in this poem.

C. H. Timperley: "Father of John and Charles Wesley, the two celebrated founders of the methodists. He was rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire, where he died, April 25, 1735. Mr. Wesley was a very voluminous author; and though his poetry was far from being excellent, he made amends for it by the goodness of his life. John Dunton, who was nearly related to him by marriage, says, 'He loves too much the Heliconian strand, | Whose stream's unfurnished with the golden sand'" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:609.



THATCHER.
Down, down to the Clod out of which thou art made,
Nor with thy Tinder-box-hoof my Ladder invade!
The Pot shall be mine in spight of thy Spade.

GARDENER.
And dares the poor Thatcher with the Gardener vye?
Sure his Noddle's grown giddy with sitting so high;
Let our Titles be try'd by the next that comes by.

THATCHER.
Content!

GARDNER.
And content; and look over the plain,
Where Cuddy the Shepherd comes trotting amain:
Who but he should decide which is best of the twain?

THATCHER.
Tho' a Shepherd may be partial, he's honest and true,
He's old, and he's grave, and he Justice will do,
And Cuddy will be equal to me and to you.

GARDENER.
But look, he's just here: pr'y thee tell him the Tale;

THATCHER.
Stay, Cuddy, and judge whether Trade must prevail,
For the best of our two wins a Pot of good Ale.

CUDDY.
I stay while I can, but then quickly begin,
I neither expect the Honour to win!
For my Landlord in haste has sent for me in.

GARDENER.
Nice straining of Complements now would be vain,
The eldest and noblest of Trades I'le maintain;
A Gardener was Adam, but a Thatcher was Cain.

THATCHER.
Not so fast Mr. Gard'ner! with Reeds and with Boughs
His Father before him had cover'd a House:
Sure you dare not deny what Dubartas avows.

GARDENER.
The Hero's from Gardens and Solitudes came,
And sallying from thence fill'd the World with their Name;
But who ever heard of a Thatcher of Fame?

THATCHER.
Epicurus indeed from a Garden did rise,
But Atheism never can a Thatcher surprize,
Since he alwayes is viewing the Sun and the Skys.

GARDENER.
From the tops of their Houses Aegyptians must own
To the rest of the World Idolatry's flown,
And too many Gods are scarce better than none.

THATCHER.
If you're driven into Aegypt, and fly from the Greek,
Very far from your Lodge, one need not go seek,
To find out the omnipotent Onion and Leek.

GARDENER.
Their Trophies Kings, Captains and Emperors bring,
And all over-board for one Shovel they fling;
But who ever heard of a Thatcher a King?

THATCHER.
The Gallows and Garden when all other means fails!
Thus Dennis when scap'd from Sicilian Jayls,
Fell from cutting of throats to cutting of tails.

GARDENER.
Each Beggar the name of a Thatcher can tell,
For nothing you're fit but a Cottage and Cell;
I with Princes and Lords by their Palaces dwell.

THATCHER.
Thatch keeps out all Care as well as all Cold,
Besides by my Grandsire I've often been told,
That Straw has been Cov'ring for Churches of old.

GARDENER.
Scarce once in a Moon you mount from the ground,
And another Trade too, or you'll starve, must be found,
I ha' still pleasant work that holds all the year round.

THATCHER.
No doubt on't; and Winter must never infest
Your fortunate Regions with Summer still blest,
Nor fix you like a Cuckow clung up in his Nest!

CUDDY.
Brave Boys, both! so well you each other abuse,
There's hardly between you a halter to chuse:
I judge that to make one another amends,
I drink off the Ale, you shake hands and be Friends.

[pp. 126-30]