Percy's Reliques - St. George for England

St. George for England


            This was written by John Grubb, M.A. of Christ Church, Oxford. The occasion of its being composed is said to have been as follows. A set of gentlemen of the university had formed themselves into a club, all the members of which were to be of the name of George: their anniversary feast was to be held on St. George's day. Our author solicited strongly to be admitted; but his name being unfortunately John, this disqualification was dispensed with only upon this condition,-- that he would compose a song in honour of their patron saint, and would every year produce one or more new stanzas, to be sung on their annual festival. This gave birth to the following humorous performance, the several stanzas of which were the produce of many successive anniversaries.[ 1]

            This diverting poem was long handed about in manuscript; at length a friend of Grubb's undertook to get it printed, who, not keeping pace with the impatience of his friends, was addressed in the following whimsical macaronic lines, which, in such a collection as this, may not improperly accompany the poem itself.

EXPOSTULATIUNCULA, sive QUERIMONIUNCULA ad ANTONIUM [ATHERTON] ob Poema JOHANNIS GRUBB, Viri του πανυ [Greek: tou panu] ingeniosissimi in lucem nondum editi.

Toni! Tune sines divina poemata Grubb!
Intomb'd in secret thus still to remain any longer
Τουνοµα σου [Greek: Tounoma sou] shall last, Ω Γρυββε διαμπερες αει, [Greek: O Grubbe diamperes aei]
Grubbe tuum nomen vivet duet nobilis ale-a
Efficit heroas, dignamque heroe puellam.
Est genus heroum, quos nobilis efficit ale-a
Qui pro niperkin clamant, quaternque liquoris
Quem vocitant Homines Brandy, Superi Cherry-brandy,
Sĉpe illi long-cut, vel small-cut flare Tobacco
Sunt soliti pipos. Ast si generosior herba
(Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum)
Mundungus desit, tum non funcare recusant
Brown-paper tostâ, vel quod fit arundine bed-mat.
Hic labor, hoc opus est heroum ascendere sedes!
Ast ego quo rapiar? quo me feret entheus ardor,
Grubbe, tui memorem? Divinum expande poema.
Quae mora? quĉ ratio est, quin Grubbe protinus anser
Virgilii, Flaccique simul canat inter olores?

            At length the importunity of his friends prevailed; and Mr. Grubb's song was published at Oxford, under the following title:


A New Poem in honour of St. George


School-master of Christ-church

Oxon. 1688.

Favete linguis: carmina non prius
Audita, musarum sacerdos
Canto. --

Sold by Henry Clements. Oxon.

THE story of King Arthur old
Is very memorable,
The number of his valiant knights,
And roundness of his table.
The knights around his table in
A circle sate, d'ye see.
And altogether made up one
Large hoop of chivalry.
He had a sword, both broad and sharp,
Y-cleped Caliburn,
Would cut a flint more easily
Than pen-knife cuts a corn;
As case-knife does a capon carve,
So would it carve a rock,
And split a man at single slash,
From noddle down to nock.
As Roman Augur's steel of yore
Dissected Tarquin's riddle,
So this would cut both conjurer
And whetstone thro' the middle.
He was the cream of Brecknock,
And flower of all the Welsh:
But George he did the dragon fell,
And gave him a plaguy squelsh.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Pendragon, like his father Jove,
Was fed with milk of goat;
And like him made a noble shield
Of she-goat's shaggy coat;
On top of burnisht helmet he
Did wear a crest of leeks
And onions' heads, whose dreadful nod
Drew tears down hostile cheeks.
Itch and Welsh blood did make him hot,
And very prone to ire;
H' was ting'd with brimstone, like a match,
And would as soon take fire.
As brimstone he took inwardly
When scurf gave him occasion,
His postern puff of wind was a
Sulphureous exhalation.
The Briton never tergivers'd,
But was for adverse drubbing,
And never turn'd his back to aught,
But to a post for scrubbing.
His sword would serve for battle, or
For dinner, if you please;
When it had slain a Cheshire man,
'Twould toast a Cheshire cheese.
He wounded, and, in their own blood,
Did anabaptize Pagans:
But George he made the dragon an
Example to all dragons.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Brave Warwick Guy, at dinner time,
Challeng'd a gyant savage;
And streight came out the unweildy lout
Brim-full of wrath and cabbage.
He had a phiz of latitude,
And was full thick i' th' middle;
The cheek of puffed trumpeter,
And paunch of squire Beadle.[ 2]
But the knight fell'd him, like an oak,
And did upon his back tread;
The valiant knight his weazon cut,
And Atropos his packthread.
Besides he fought with a dun cow,
As say the poets witty,
A dreadful dun, and horned too,
Like dun of Oxford city:
The fervent dog-days made her mad,
By causing heat of weather,
Syrius and Procyon baited her,
As bull-dogs did her father;
Grasiers, nor butchers this fell beast,
E'er of her frolick hindred;
John Dosset[ 3] she'd knock down as flat,
As John knocks down her kindred:
Her heels would lay ye all along,
And kick into a swoon;
Frewin's[ 4] cow-heels keep up your corpse,
But hers would beat you down.
She vanquisht many a sturdy wight,
And proud was of the honour;
Was pufft by mauling butchers so,
As if themselves had blown her.
At once she kickt, and pusht at Guy,
But all that would not fright him,
Who wav'd his winyard o'er sir-loyn,
As if he'd gone to knight him.
He let her blood, frenzy to cure,
And eke he did her gall rip;
His trenchant blade, like cook's long spit,
Ran thro' the monster's bald-rib;
He rear'd up the vast crooked rib,
Instead of arch triumphal:
But George hit th' dragon such a pelt,
As made him on his bum fall.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Tamerlain, with Tartarian bow,
The Turkish squadrons slew,
And fetch'd the pagan crescent down,
With half-moon made of yew.
His trusty bow proud Turks did gall
With showers of arrows thick,
And bow-strings, without strangling, sent
Grand Visiers to old Nick;
Much turbants, and much Pagan pates
He made to humble in dust;
And heads of Saracens he fixt
On spear, as on a sign-post;
He coop'd in cage Bajazet, the prop
Of Mahomet's religion,
As if 't had been the whispering bird
That prompted him, the pigeon.
In Turkey-leather scabbard, he
Did sheath his blade so trenchant:
But George he swing'd the dragon's tail,
And cut off every inch on't.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The amazon Thalestris was
Both beautiful and bold;
She sear'd her breasts with iron hot,
And bang'd her foes with cold.
Her hand was like the tool, wherewith
Jove keeps proud mortals under:
It shone just like his lightning,
And batter'd like his thunder.
Her eye darts lightning that would blast
The proudest he that swagger'd,
And melt the rapier of his soul,
In its corporeal scabbard.
Her beauty, and her drum to foes
Did cause amazement double;
As timorous larks amazed are
With light, and with a low-bell:
With beauty, and that Lapland charm,[ 5]
Poor men she did bewitch all;
Still a blind whining lover had,
As Pallas had her scrich-owl.
She kept the chastness of a nun
In armour, as in cloyster:
But George undid the dragon just
As you'd undo an oister.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Stout Hercules was offspring of
Great Jove and fair Alcmene;
One part of him celestial was,
One part of him terrene.
To scale the hero's cradle walls
Two fiery snakes combin'd,
And, curling into swaddling cloaths,
About the infant twin'd;
But he put out these dragons' fires,
And did their hissing stop;
As red-hot iron with hissing noise
Is quencht in blacksmith's shop.
He cleans'd a stable, and rubb'd down
The horses of new-comers;
And out of horse-dung he rais'd fame,
As Tom Wrench[ 6] does cucumbers.
He made a river help him through,
Alpheus was under-groom,
The stream, disgust at office mean,
Ran murmuring thro' the room:
This liquid ostler to prevent
Being tired with that long work,
His father Neptune's trident took,
Instead of three-tooth'd dung-fork.
This Hercules, as soldier, and
As spinster, could take pains;
His club would sometimes spin ye flax,
And sometimes knock out brains;
H' was forc'd to spin his miss a shift
By Juno's wrath and hér-spite;
Fair Omphale whipt him to his wheel,
As cook whips barking turn-spit.
From man, or churn, he well knew how
To get him lasting fame:
He'd pound a giant, till the blood,
And milk till butter came.
Often he fought with huge battoon,
And oftentimes he boxed;
Tapt a fresh monster once a month,
As Hervey[ 7] doth fresh hogshead.
He gave Anteus such a hug,
As wrestlers give in Cornwall:
But George he did the dragon kill,
As dead as any door-nail.
St. George he was for England;
St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The Gemini, sprung from an egg,
Were put into a cradle;
Their brains with knocks and bottled-ale,
Were often-times full addle;
And, scarcely hatch'd, these sons of him,
That hurls the bolt trisulcate,
With helmet-shell on tender head,
Did tustle with red-ey'd pole-cat.
Castor a horseman, Pollux tho'
A boxer was, I wist:
The one was fam'd for iron heel;
Th' other for leaden fist.
Pollux, to shew he was a god,
When he was in a passion
With fist made noses fall down flat
By way of adoration:
This fist, as sure as French disease,
Demolish'd noses' ridges;
He like a certain lord[ 8] was fam'd
For breaking down of bridges.
Castor the flame of fiery steed,
With well-spur'd boots took down;
As men, with leathern buckets, quench
A fire in country town.
His famous horse, that liv'd on oats,
Is sung on oaten quill;
By bards' immortal provender
The nag surviveth still.
This shelly brood on none but knaves
Employ'd their brisk artillery:
And flew as naturally at rogues,
As eggs at thief in pillory.[ 9]
Much sweat they spent in furious fight,
Much blood they did effund;
Their whites they vented thro' the pores;
Their yolks thro' gaping wound.
Then both were cleans'd from blood and dust
To make a heavenly sign;
The lads were, like their armour, scowr'd,
And then hung up to shine;
Such were the heavenly double-Dicks,
The sons of Jove and Tyndar;
But George he cut the dragon up,
As he had bin duck or windar.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Gorgon a twisted adder wore
For knot upon her shoulder;
She kemb'd her hissing periwig,
And curling snakes did powder.
These snakes they made stiff changelings
Of all the folks they hist on;
They turned barbars into hones,
And masons into free-stone.
Sworded magnetic Amazon
Her shield to load-stone changes;
Then amorous sword by magic belt
Clung fast unto her haunches.
This shield long village did protect,
And kept the army from-town,
And chang'd the bullies into rocks,
That came t' invade Long-Compton.[ 10]
She post-diluvian stores unmans,
And Pyrrha's work unravels;
And stares Deucalion's hardy boys
Into their primitive pebbles.
Red noses she to rubies turns,
And noddles into bricks:
But George made dragon laxative;
And gave him a bloody flix.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

By boar-spear Meleager got
An everlasting name,
And out of haunch of basted swine,
He hew'd eternal fame.
This beast each hero's trouzers ript,
And rudely shew'd his bare-breech,
Prickt but the wem, and out there came
Heroic guts and garbadge.
Legs were secur'd by iron boots
No more than peas by peascods;
Brass helmets, with inclosed sculls,
Wou'd crackle in's mouth like chestnuts.
His tawny hairs erected were
By rage, that was resistless;
And wrath, instead of cobler's wax,
Did stiffen his rising bristles.
His tusk lay'd dogs so dead asleep,
Nor horn, nor whip cou'd wake 'urn;
It made them vent both their last blood,
And their last album-grecum.
But the knight gor'd him with his spear,
To make of him a tame one,
And arrows thick, instead of cloves,
He stuck in monster's gammon.
For monumental pillar, that
His victory might be known,
He rais'd up, in cylindric form,
A collar of the brawn.
He sent his shade to shades below,
In Stygian mud to wallow;
And eke the stout St. George eftsoon,
He made the dragon follow.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Achilles of old Chiron learnt
The great horse for to ride;
H' was taught by th' Centaur's rational part,
The hinnible to bestride.
Bright silver feet, and shining face
Had that stout hero's mother;
As rapier's silver'd at one end,
And wounds you at the other.
Her feet were bright, his feet were swift,
As hawk pursuing sparrow;
Her's had the metal, his the speed
Of Braburn's[ 11] silver arrow.
Thetis to double pedagogue
Commits her dearest boy;
Who bred him from a slender twig
To be the scourge of Troy;
But ere he lasht the Trojans, h' was
In Stygian waters steept,
As birch is soaked first in piss,
When boys are to be whipt.
With skin exceeding hard, he rose
From lake, so black and muddy,
As lobsters from the ocean rise,
With shell about their body,
And, as from lobster's broken claw,
Pick out the fish you might;
So might you from one unshell'd heel
Dig pieces of the knight.
His myrmidons robb'd Priam's barns
And hen-roosts, says the song;
Carried away both corn and eggs,
Like ants from whence they sprung.
Himself tore Hector's pantaloons,
And sent him down bare-breech'd
To pedant Radamanthus, in
A posture to be switch'd.
But George he made the dragon look,
As if he had been bewitch'd.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense

Full fatal to the Romans was
The Carthaginian Hanni-
bal; him I mean, who gave them such
A devilish thump at Cannĉ;
Moors, thick as goats on Penmenmure,
Stood on the Alpes's front;
Their one-eyed guide,[ 12] like blinking mole,
Bor'd thro' the hind'ring mount:
Who, baffled by the massy rock,
Took vinegar for relief;
Like plowmen, when they hew their way
Thro' stubborn rump of beef.
As dancing louts from humid toes
Cast atoms of ill savour
To blinking Hyatt,[ 13] when on vile crowd
He merriment does endeavour,
And saws from suffering timber out
Some wretched tune to quiver;
So Romans stunk and squeak'd at sight
Of Affrican carnivor.
The tawny surface of his phiz
Did serve instead of vizzard;
But George he made the dragon have
A grumbling in his gizzard.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The valour of Domitian,
It must not be forgotten;
Who from the jaws of worm-blowing flies,
Protected veal and mutton.
A squadron of flies errant,
Against the foe appears;
With regiments of buzzing knights,
And swarms of volunteers.
The warlike wasp encourag'd 'em
With animating hum;
And the loud brazen hornet next,
He was their kettle-drum;
The Spanish Don Cantharido
Did him most sorely pester,
And rais'd on skin of vent'rous knight
Full many a plaguy blister.
A bee whipt thro' his button-hole,
As thro' key-hole a witch,
And stabb'd him with her little tuck
Drawn out of scabbard breech;
But the undaunted knight lifts up
An arm both big and brawny,
And slasht her so, that here lay head,
And there lay bag and honey;
Then 'mongst the rout he flew as swift,
As weapon made by Cyclops,
And bravely quell'd seditious buz,
By dint of massy fly-flops.
Surviving flies do curses breathe,
And maggots too, at Caesar;
But George he shav'd the dragon's beard,
And Askelon[ 14] was his razor.
St. George he was for England; St.
Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

John Grubb, the facetious writer of the foregoing song, makes a distinguished figure among the Oxford wits so humorously enumerated in the following distich;

Alma novem genuit celebres Rhedycina poetas
Bub, Stubb, Grubb, Crabb, Trap, Young, Carey, Tickell, Evans.

            These were Bub Dodington (the late Lord Melcombe), Dr. Stubbs, our poet Grubb, Mr. Crabb, Dr. Trapp the poetry professor, Dr. Edw. Young the author of Night Thoughts, Walter Carey, Thomas Tickell, Esq. and Dr. Evans the epigrammatist.

            As for our poet Grubb, all that we can learn further of him, is contained in a few extracts from the University Register, and from his Epitaph. It appears from the former that he was matriculated in 1667, being the son of John Grubb, "de Acton Burnel in comitatu Salop. pauperis." He took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, June 28, 1671; and became Master of Arts, June 28, 1675. He was appointed Head Master of the Grammar School at Christ Church; and afterwards chosen into the same employment at Gloucester, where he died in 1697, as appears from his monument in the church of St. Mary de Crypt in Gloucester, which is inscribed with the following epitaph:--

H. S. E.


Natus apud Acton Burnel in agro Salopiens
Anno Dom. 1645.
Cujus variam in linguis notitiam,
et felicem erudiendis pueris industriam,
gratâ adhuc memoriâ testatur Oxonium.
Ibi enim Ĉdi Christi initiatus,
artes excoluit;
Pueros ad easdem mox excolendas
accuratè formavit;
Hunc demum
unanimi omnium consensu accitus,
eandem suscepit provinciam,
quam feliciter adeo absolvit,
ut nihil optandum sit
nisi ut diutius nobis interfuisset.
Fuit enim
propter festivam ingenii suavitatem,
simplicem morum candorem, et
prĉcipuam erga cognatos benevolentiam,
omnibus desideratissimus.
Obiit 2do die Aprilis, Anno D'ni. 1697,
Ĉtatis suĉ 51.


1. To this circumstance it is owing that the Editor has never met with two copies in which the stanzas are arranged alike: he has therefore thrown them into what appeared the most natural order. The verses are properly long Alexandrines, but the narrowness of the page made it necessary to subdivide them: they are here printed with many improvements.

2. Men of bulk answerable to their places, as is well known at Oxford.

3. A butcher that then served the college.

4. A cook, who on fast-nights was famous for selling cow-heel and tripe.

5. The drum.

6. Who kept Paradise gardens at Oxford.

7. A noted drawer at the Mermaid tavern in Oxford.

8. Lord Lovelace broke down the bridges about Oxford, at the beginning of the Revolution. See on this subject a ballad in Smith's Poems, p. 102. Lond. 1713.

9. It has been suggested by an ingenious correspondent that this was a popular subject at that time

Not carted bawd, or Dan de Foe,
In wooden ruff ere bluster'd so.
-- Smith's Poems, p. 117.

10. See the account of Rolricht Stones, in Dr. Plott's Hist. of Oxfordshire.

11. Braburn, a gentleman commoner of Lincoln college, gave a silver arrow to be shot for by the archers of the university of Oxford.

12. Hannibal had but one eye.

13. A one-eyed fellow, who pretended to make fiddles, as well as play on them; well known at that time in Oxford.

14. The name of St. George's sword.


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