Charles Stuart Calverley

(22 December 1831 – 17 February 1884 / Martley, Worchestershire)

The Cock And The Bull - Poem by Charles Stuart Calverley

You see this pebble-stone? It’s a thing I bought
Of a bit of a chit of a boy i’ the mid o’ the day —
I like to dock the smaller parts-o’-speech,
As we curtail the already cur-tail’d cur
(You catch the paronomasia, play ’po’ words?),
Did, rather, i’ the pre-Landseerian days.
Well, to my muttons. I purchased the concern,
And clapt it i’ my poke, having given for same
By way o’ chop, swop, barter or exchange —
‘Chop’ was my snickering dandiprat’s own term —
One shilling and fourpence, current coin o’ the realm.
O-n-e one and f-o-u-r four
Pence, one and fourpence — you are with me, sir? —
What hour it skills not: ten or eleven o’ the clock,
One day (and what a roaring day it was
Go shop or sight-see — bar a spit o’ rain!)
In February, eighteen sixty nine,
Alexandrina Victoria, Fidei
Hm — hm — how runs the jargon? being on throne.

Such, sir, are all the facts, succinctly put,
The basis or substratum — what you will —
Of the impending eighty thousand lines.
‘Not much in ’em either,’ quoth perhaps simple Hodge.
But there’s a superstructure. Wait a bit.
Mark first the rationale of the thing:
Hear logic rivel and levigate the deed.
That shilling — and for matter o’ that, the pence —
I had o’ course upo’ me — wi’ me say —
(Mecum’s the Latin, make a note o’ that)
When I popp’d pen i’ stand, scratch’d ear, wip’d snout,
(Let everybody wipe his own himself)
Sniff’d — tch! — at snuffbox; tumbled up, he-heed,
Haw-haw’d (not hee-haw’d, that’s another guess thing
Then fumbled at, and stumbled out of, door,
I shoved the timber ope wi’ my omoplat;
And in vestibulo, i’ the lobby to-wit,
(Iacobi Facciolati’s rendering, sir,)
Donn’d galligaskins, antigropeloes,
And so forth; and, complete with hat and gloves,
One on and one a-dangle i’ my hand,
And ombrifuge (Lord love you!), case o’ rain,
I flopp’d forth, ’sbuddikins! on my own ten toes,
(I do assure you there be ten of them,)
And went clump-clumping up hill and down dale
To find myself o’ the sudden i’ front o’ the boy.
Put case I hadn’t ’em on me, could I ha’ bought
This sort-o’-kind-o’-what-you-might-call toy,
This pebble-thing, o’ the boy-thing? Q.E.D.
That’s proven without aid from mumping Pope,
Sleek porporate or bloated Cardinal.
(Isn’t it, old Fatchaps? You’re in Euclid now.)
So, having the shilling — having i’ fact a lot —
And pence and halfpence, ever so many o’ them,
I purchased, as I think I said before,
The pebble (lapis, lapidis, -di, -dem, -de —
What nouns ’crease short i’ the genitive, Fatchaps, eh?)
O’ the boy, a bare-legg’d beggarly son of a gun,
For one-and-fourpence. Here we are again.

Now Law steps in, bigwigg’d, voluminous-jaw’d;
Investigates and re-investigates.
Was the transaction illegal? Law shakes head.
Perpend, sir, all the bearings of the case.

At first the coin was mine, the chattel his.
But now (by virtue of the said exchange
And barter) vice versa all the coin,
Per juris operationem, vests
I’ the boy and his assigns till ding o’ doom;
(In sæcula sæculo-o-o-orum;
I think I hear the Abate mouth out that.)
To have and hold the same to him and them… .
Confer some idiot on Conveyancing.
Whereas the pebble and every part thereof,
And all that appertaineth thereunto,
Quodcunque pertinet ad eam rem,
(I fancy, sir, my Latin’s rather pat)
Or shall, will, may, might, can, could, would or should,
(Subaudi cætera — clap we to the close —
For what’s the good of law in a case o’ the kind)
Is mine to all intents and purposes.
This settled, I resume the thread o’ the tale.

Now for a touch o’ the vendor’s quality.
He says a gen’lman bought a pebble of him,
(This pebble i’ sooth, sir, which I hold i’ my hand) —
And paid for ’t, like a gen’lman, on the nail.
‘Did I o’ercharge him a ha’penny? Devil a bit.
Fiddlepin’s end! Get out, you blazing ass!
Gabble o’ the goose. Don’t bugaboo-baby me!
Go double or quits? Yah! tittup! what’s the odds?’
— There’s the transaction view’d i’ the vendor’s light.

Next ask that dumpled hag, stood snuffling by,
With her three frowsy blowsy brats o’ babes,
The scum o’ the kennel, cream o’ the filth-heap — Faugh!
Aie, aie, aie, aie! ?t?t?t?t?t??,
(’Stead which we blurt out Hoighty toighty now) —
And the baker and candlestickmaker, and Jack and Gill,
Blear’d Goody this and queasy Gaffer that.
Ask the schoolmaster. Take schoolmaster first.

He saw a gentleman purchase of a lad
A stone, and pay for it rite, on the square,
And carry it off per saltum, jauntily,
Propria quæ maribus, gentleman’s property now
(Agreeably to the law explain’d above),
In proprium usum, for his private ends.
The boy he chuck’d a brown i’ the air, and bit
I’ the face the shilling: heaved a thumping stone
At a lean hen that ran cluck clucking by,
(And hit her, dead as nail i’ post o’ door,)
Then abiit — what’s the Ciceronian phrase? —
Excessit, evasit, erupit — off slogs boy;
Off like bird, avi similis — (you observed
The dative? Pretty i’ the Mantuan!) — Anglice,
Off in three flea skips. Hactenus, so far,
So good, tam bene. Bene, satis, male — ,
Where was I with my trope ’bout one in a quag?
I did once hitch the syntax into verse:
Verbum personale, a verb personal,
Concordat — ay, ‘agrees,’ old Fatchaps — cum
Nominativo, with its nominative,
Genere, i’ point o’ gender, numero,
O’ number, et persona, and person. Ut,
Instance: Sol ruit, down flops sun, et and,
Montes umbrantur, out flounce mountains. Pah!
Excuse me, sir, I think I’m going mad.
You see the trick on ’t though, and can yourself
Continue the discourse ad libitum.
It takes up about eighty thousand lines,
A thing imagination boggles at;
And might, odds-bobs, sir! in judicious hands,
Extend from here to Mesopotamy.


Comments about The Cock And The Bull by Charles Stuart Calverley

There is no comment submitted by members..



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



[Report Error]