For the story which succeeds I am indebted to Mrs. Botherby. She is a Shropshire lady by birth, and I overheard her, a few weeks since, in the nursery ehaunting the following, one of the Legends peculiar to her native county, for the amusement and information of Seaforth's little boy, who was indeed 'all ears.' As Ralph de Diceto, who alludes to the main facts, was Dean of St. Paul's in 1183, about the time that the Temple Church was consecrated, the history is evidently as ancient as it is authentic, though the author of the present paraphrase has introduced many unauthorized, as well as anachronismatical interpolations.-- For the interesting note on the ancient family of Ketch, I need scarcely say, I am obliged to the Simpkinson.
Bloudie Jacke of Shrewsberrie.
THE SHROPSHIRE BLUEBEARD.
A LEGEND OF 'THE PROUD SALOPIANS'
Hisce ferè temporibus, in agro Salopiensi, Quidam, cui nomen Johannes, Le Sanglaunt deinde nuncupatus, uxores quamplurimas ducit, enecat et (ita referunt) manducat; ossa solùm cani miræ magnitudinis relinquens. Tum demùm in flagrante delicto, vel 'manu rubrâ,' ut dicunt Jurisconsulti, deprensus, carnifice vix opprimitur.--
Radulphus de Diceto.
Oh! why doth thine eye gleam so bright,
Oh! why doth thine eye gleam so bright?--
The Mother's at home,
The Maid may not roam,
She never will meet thee to-night!
By the light
Of the moon -- it's impossible -- quite!
Yet thine eye is still brilliant and bright,
It gleams with a fiendish delight --
''Tis done -- She is won!
Nothing under the sun
Can loose the charm'd ring, though it's slight!
It fits so remarkably tight!'
The wire is as thin as a thread,
The wire is as thin as a thread!--
'Though slight be the chain,
Again might and main,
Cannot rend it in twain --S he is wed!
She is wed!
She is mine, be she living or dead!
Nay, laugh not, I pray thee, so loud,
Oh! laugh not so loud and so clear!
Though sweet is thy smile
The heart to beguile,
Yet thy laugh is quite shocking to hear,
It makes the blood curdle with fear!
The Maiden is gone by the glen,
She is gone by the glen and the wood--
it's a very odd thing
She should wear such a ring,
While her tresses are bound by a snood.
By the rood!
It's a thing that's not well understood!
The Maiden is stately and tall,
And stately she walks in her pride;
But the young Mary-Anne
Runs as fast as she can,
To o'ertake her, and walk by her side!
Though she chide --
She deems not her sister a bride!
But the Maiden is gone by the glen,
Mary-Anne she is gone by the lea;
She o'ertakes not her sister,
It's clear she has miss'd her,
And cannot think where she can be!
'Ho! ho!-- We shall see! we shall see!'
Mary-Anne is gone over the lea,
Mary-Anne she is come to the Tower!
But it makes her heart quail,
For it looks like a jail,
A deal more than a fair Lady's bower,
Its ugly grey walls seem to lour.
For the Barbican's massy and high,
And the oak-door is heavy and brown;
And with iron it's plated
To pour boiling oil and lead down;
How you'd frown
Should a ladle-full fall on your crown!
The rock that it stands on is steep,
To gain it one's forced for to creep;
The Portcullis is strong,
And the Drawbridge is long,
And the water runs all round the Keep;
At a peep
You can see that the Moat's very deep!
The Drawbridge is long, but it's down,
And the Portcullis hangs in the air;
And no Warder is near,
With his horn and his spear,
To give notice when people come there.--
Mary-Anne has run into the Square!
The oak-door is heavy and brown,
But the oak-door is standing ajar,
And no one is there
To say, 'Pray take a chair,
You seem tired, Miss, with running so far --
So you are --
With grown people you're scarce on a par!'
But the young Mary-Anne is not tired,
She roams o'er your Tower by herself;
She runs through, very soon,
Each boudoir and saloon
And examines each closet and shelf,
All your plate, and your china -- and delf.
She looks at your Arras so fine,
So rich, all description it mocks;
And she now and then pauses
To gaze at your vases
Your pictures, and ormolu clocks;
Every cupboard, and drawer she unlocks.
She looks at the paintings so rare,
That adorn every wall in your house;
Your impayable pieces,
Your Paul Veroneses,
Your Rembrandts, your Guidos, and Dows,
Claude's Landscapes,-- and Landseer's Bow-wows.
She looks at your Statues so fine,
And mighty great notice she takes
Of your Niobe crying,
Your Mirmillo dying,
Your Hercules strangling the snakes,--
How he shakes
The nasty great things as he wakes!
Your Laocoon, his serpent and boys,
She views with some little dismay;
A copy of that I can
See in the Vatican,
Unless the Pope's sent it away,
As they say,
In the Globe, he intended last May. <1>
There's your Belvidere Phoebus, with which,
Mr. Milman says none other vies.
(His lines on Apollo
Beat all the rest hollow,
And gain'd him the Newdigate prize.)
How the eyes
Seem watching the shaft as it flies!
There's a room full of satins and silks,
There's a room full of velvets and lace,
There are drawers full of rings
And a thousand fine things,
And a splendid gold watch with a case
O'er its face,
Is in every room in the place.
There are forty fine rooms on a floor,
And every room fit for a Ball,
It's so gorgeous and rich,
With so lofty a pitch,
And so long, and so broad, and so tall;
Save the last one -- and that's very small!
It boasts not stool, table, or chair,
But one Cabinet, costly and grand,
Which has little gold figures
Of little gold Niggers,
With fishing-rods stuck in each hand.--
And it's placed on a splendid buhl stand.
Its hinges and clasps are of gold,
And of gold are its key-hole and key,
And the drawers within
Have each a gold pin,
And they're number'd with 1, 2, and 3,
You may see
All the figures in gold filigree!
Number 1's full of emeralds green,
Number 2's full of diamond and pearl;
But what does she see
In drawer Number 3
That makes all her senses to whirl,
And each lock of her hair to uncurl?--
Wedding Fingers are sweet pretty things,
To salute them one eagerly strives,
When one kneels to 'propose'--
It's another quelque chose
When cut off at the knuckles with knives,
From our wives
They are tied up in bunches of fives.
Yet there they lie, one, two, three, four!
There lie they, five, six, seven, eight!
And by them, in rows,
Lie eight little Great-Toes
To match in size, colour, and weight!
From their state,
It would seem they'd been sever'd of late.
Beside them are eight Wedding-rings,
And the gold is as thin as a thread --
'Ho! ho!-- She is mine --
This will make up the Nine
Dear me! who those shocking words said?--
-- She fled
To hide herself under the bed.
But, alas! there's no bed in the room,
And she peeps from the window on high;
Only fancy her fright
And the terrible sight
Down below, which at once meets her eye!
She half utter'd,-- but stifled her cry.
For she saw it was You and your Man,
And she heard your unpleasant 'Haw! haw!!'
While her sister, stone dead,
By the hair of her head,
O'er the bridge you were trying to draw,
As she saw,--
A thing quite contra-ry to law!
Your Man has got hold of her heels,
Bloudie Jacke! you've got hold of her hair!--
But nor Jacke nor his Man
Can see young Mary. Anne,
She has hid herself under the stair,
Is a horrid great Dog, I declare!
His eye-balls are bloodshot and blear,
He's a sad ugly cur for a pet;
He seems of the breed
Of that 'Billy,' indeed,
Who used to kill rats for a bet;
-- I forget
How many one morning he ate.
He has skulls, ribs, and vertebræ there,
And thigh-bones;-- and, though it's so dim,
Yet it's plain to be seen
He has pick'd them quite clean,--
She expects to be torn limb from limb,
He looks at her -- and she looks at him.
She has given him a bun and a roll,
She has given him a roll and a bun,
And a Shrewsbury cake,
Of Hailin's <2> own make,
Which she happened to take ere her run
She begun --
She's been used to a luncheon at One.
It's 'a pretty particular Fix,'
-- Above,-- there's the Maiden that's dead;
Below -- growling at her --
There's that Cannibal Cur
Who at present is munching her bread,--
Of her leg,-- or her arm,-- or her head.
It's 'a pretty particular Fix,'
She is caught like a mouse in a trap;--
Stay!-- there's something, I think,
That has slipp'd through a chink,
And fall'n, by a singular hap,
Into poor little Mary-Anne's lap!
It's a very fine little gold ring,
Yet, though slight, it's remarkably stout,
But it's made a sad stain,
Which will always remain
On her frock -- for Blood will not wash out;
Salts of Lemon won't bring it about!
She has grasp'd that gold ring in her hand,
In an instant she stands on the floor,
She makes but one bound
O'er the back of the hound,
And a hop, skip, and jump to the door,
And she's o'er
The drawbridge she'd traversed before!
Her hair's floating loose in the breeze,
For gone is her 'bonnet of blue.'
-- Now the Barbican's past!--
Her legs 'go it' as fast
As two drumsticks a-beating tattoo,
As they do
At Réveille, Parade, or Review!
She has run into Shrewsbury town,
She has called out the Beadle and May'r,
And the Justice of Peace,
And the Rural Police,
Till 'Battle Field' swarms like a Fair,--
And see there!--
E'en the Parson's beginning to swear!!
There's a pretty to-do in your Tower,
In your Tower there's a pretty to-do!
All the people of Shrewsbury
Playing old gooseberry
With your choice bits of taste and virtù;
Is upset in their search after you!
They are playing the deuce with your things,
There's your Cupid is broken in two,
And so too, between us,
is Each of your Venuses,
The 'Antique' ones you bought of the Jew,
And the new
One, George Robins swears came from St. Cloud.
The CALLIPYGE'S injured behind,
The DE MEDICI'S injured before!
And the ANADYOMENE
's injured in so many
Places, I think there's a score,
If not more,
Of her fingers and toes on the floor.
They are hunting you up stairs and down,
Every person to pass is forbid,
While they turn out the closets
And all their deposits --
'There's the dust-hole -- come lift up the lid!'
So they did --
But they could not find where you were hid!
Ah! Ah!-- they will have you at last
The chimneys to search they begin;--
They have found you at last!--
There you are, sticking fast,
With your knees doubled up to your chin,
Though you're thin!
-- Dear me! what a mess you are in!--
What a terrible pickle you're in,
Why, your face is as black as your hat!
Your fine Holland shirt
Is all over dirt!
And so is your point-lace cravat!
What a Flat
To seek such an asylum as that!
They can scarcely help laughing, I vow,
In the midst of their turmoil and strife;
You're not fit to be seen!
-- You look like Mr. Kean --
In the play where he murders his wife!--
On my life
You ought to be scraped with a knife!
They have pull'd you down flat on your back,
They have pull'd you down flat on your back!
And they smack, and they thwack,
Till your 'funny bones' crack,
As if you were stretched on the rack,
At each whack!--
Good lack! what a savage attack!
They call for the Parliament Man,
And the Hangman, the matter to clinch,
And they call for the Judge,
But others cry 'Fudge!
Don't budge Mr. Calcraft, <3>
Mr. Lynch! <4>
Will do very well at a pinch!'
It is useless to scuffle and cuff,
It is useless to struggle and bite!
And to kick and to scratch
You have met with your match,
And the Shrewsbury Boys hold you tight,
Your determined attempts 'to show fight.'
They are pulling you all sorts of ways,
They are twisting your right leg Nor-West,
And your left leg due South,
And your knee's in your mouth,
And your head is poked down on your breast,
And it's prest,
I protest, almost into your chest!
They have pulled off your arms and your legs,
As the naughty boys serve the blue flies;
And they've torn from their sockets,
And put in their pockets
Your fingers and thumbs for a prize!
And your eyes
A Doctor has bottled -- from Guy's. <5>
Your trunk, thus dismember'd and torn,
They hew, and they hack, and they chop;
And, to finish the whole,
They stick up a pole
In the place that's still called the Wylde Coppe,
And they pop
Your grim gory head on the top!
They have buried the fingers and toes,
Of the victims so lately your prey.
From those fingers and eight toes
Sprang early potatoes,
'Ladyes' Fyngers' they're called to this day;
-- So they say,--
And you usually dig them in May.
What became of the dear little girl?
What became of the young Mary Anne?
Why, I'm sadly afraid
That she died an Old Maid,
For she fancied that every Young Man
Had a plan
To trepan her like 'poor Sister Fan!'
So they say she is now leading apes,
And mends Bachelors' small-clothes below;
The story is old,
And has often been told,
But I cannot believe it is so--
Depend on't the tale is 'No Go!'
And now for the moral I'd fain,
That young Ladies should draw from my pen,--
It's --'Don't take these flights
Upon moon-shiny nights
With gay, harum-scarum young men,
Down a glen!--
You really can't trust one in ten!'
Let them think of your terrible Tower,
And don't let them liberties take,
Whether Maidens or Spouses,
In Bachelors' houses;
Or, some time or another, they'll make
And lose -- more than a Shrewsberrie Cake!
1. 'The Pope is said -- this fact is hardly credible -- to have sold the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvidere to the Emperor of Russia for nine millions of francs.'--
Globe and Traveller. Back.
2. Oh, Pailin! Prince of cake-compounders! the mouth liquefies at thy very name -- but there! Back.
3. Jehan de Ketche acted as Provost Marshal to the army of William the Conqueror, and received from that monarch a grant of the dignity of Hereditary Grand Functionary of England, together with a 'croft or parcel of land,' known by the name of the Old Bailie, Co. Middx., to be held by him, and the heirs general of his body, in Grand Serjeantry, by the yearly presentation of 'ane hempen cravatte.' After remaining for several generations in the same name, the office passed, by marriage of the heiress, into the ancient family of the Kirbys, and thence again to that of Callcraft (1st Eliz. 1558).-- Abhorson Callcraft, Esq., of Saffron Hill, co. Middx. the present representative of the Ketches, exercised his 'function' on a very recent occasion, and claimed and was allowed the fee of 13 1/2d. under the ancient grant as Hangman's Wages. Back.
ARMS.-- 1st and 4th, Quarterly, Argent and Sable; in the first quarter a Gibbet of the second, noosed proper, Callcraft. 2nd, Sable three Night-caps Argent, tufted Gules, 2 and 1, Ketche. 3rd, Or, Nosegay fleurant, Kirby.
SUPPORTERS.-- Dexter: A Sheriff in his pride, robed Gules, chained and collared Or.-- Sinister: An Ordinary display proper, wigged and banded Argent, nosed Gules.
MOTTO.-- SIC ITUR AD ASTRA!
4. The American Justinian, compiler of the 'Yankee Pandects.'
5. A similar appropriation is said to have been made, by an eminent practitioner, of those of the late Monsieur Courvoisier.