1807
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Fragment of a Covent Garden Eclogue.

The Daily Advertiser, Oracle, and True Briton (15 January 1807).

Tim Tartlet


A burlesque eclogue in the pastoral ballad measure, the second of a pair of poems relating the mystery of a twelfth-night cake that had gone missing from Covent Garden Theater: "You may know the dear CAKE by this mark, | On the top is a gilt sugar Lyre, | And the Bust of APOLLO, that spark | That sets every genius on fire." While the poem is not signed, it would seem to be the work of the "Tim Tartlet" who contributed the first poem to the Daily Advertiser on 10 January. The epigraph is taken from Collin's Complaint: "Despairing beside a clear Stream," which is here attributed to John Gay rather than to Nicholas Rowe. "Kemble" is John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) who had been manager of Covent Garden Theater since 1803.



Did you see a TWELFTH-CAKE in your round;
A good one as ever was made?
'Tis sweet, and weighs many a pound—
Alas! it is stolen or stray'd!

You may know the dear CAKE by this mark,
On the top is a gilt sugar Lyre,
And the Bust of APOLLO, that spark
That sets every genius on fire.

To the Fiddlers, that sweetly do play,
This CAKE was presented so fine;
And, because it was on a TWELFTH-DAY,
Came with Twelve Bottles of Wine!

In a Hair-Dresser's room it was stow'd,
And carefully lock'd was the door,
Where nor Mouse nor a Rat had abode,
Yet the TWELFTH-CAKE was never seen more!

Long they search'd — and they search'd all around—
Long the search'd, but, alas! 'twas in vain;
When they heard a deep Bass Viol sound,
And a voice, sweetly sad, thus complain:

Ah! whither, TWELFTH-CAKE, art thou gone?
Shall we ne'er see thy sweet face again?
Art thou curing JOHN KEMBLE'S moan,
And dispeling his "aitches" and pain?

O no! JOHNNY KEMBLE replies,
By my "suvran" power I swear,
By my "burd," and the "conshince" I prize,
That TWELFTH-CAKE did never come here!

O'er BADDELLEY'S CAKE have I been
Full many times cheerful and gay;
But the FIDDLER'S CAKE ne'er have seen—
Then away, base complainer, away!

He said, and he march'd through the room
With a monstrous dignify'd air;
And with him went all the sad gloom,
Dame Tragedy's Stalk and her Stare.

Then listen once more unto me,
In sorrow 'tis well to be brief;
And if the dear CAKE we can't see,
Let's find out the name of the Thief.

The Box Book they search'd all in vain,
JEM BRANDON he lent them his aid;
But in the Old Ledger, 'twas plain,
A sweet DOUBLE ENTRY was made!

O ho! cried the Fiddlers all round,
We swear by our gut-scraping fame,
That though our TWELFTH-CAKE be not found,
This Ledger conceals the Rogue's name!
———*———*———*———*———
CAETERA DESUNT.

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