Samuel Bamford

(1788-1872 / England)

The Watch And Ward. - Poem by Samuel Bamford

SCENE—King Street, Middleton.

Come, all ye votaries of fame,
And listen to the warlike theme,
Which to my rustic lyre I sing,
Of Watch and Warders battling.
O, the gallant Watch and Ward,
Sleepy England's wakeful guard,
With dreadful rattle, pike, and hook,
They'll drive Owd Ludd fro' every nook.

The waning moon hung o'er the hill,
And faintly gleam'd on Irk's sweet rill,
When Watch and Warders in array,
Up King-street took their dangerous way.

Tom led the van, with cleaver bright,
And gilded stick, 'God and my right,'
Like summer posy painted gay,
To show his high authority.

Then came the Captain of the band;
A gleaming pike was in his hand;
With head erect and warrior stride,
He all the powers of Ludd defied.

Next stept the Doctor's 'manly limb,'
A pestle huge was borne by him;
His heart as valiant forsooth,
As ever dar'd to draw a tooth.

Close at his heels 'the gentry' came,
And I could mention many a name;
But prudence bind's Pegasus' wing,
Lest his rider he should fling.

With dandy gait all stiff as starch,
These guardians of the town did march;
Each mewing malkin quick did fly,
As warriors tramp'd the alleys by.

The rear, in awful silence still,
Trooped bravely up the hill,
Led on by manufacture Dick,
And George with umbrella stick.

Thus marched they on with hearts all stout
In quest of night's dark rabble-rout,
Which shrank dismayed, and further fled
Before the echo of their tread.

But scarce they'd gained the top o'th' hill,
When hark! a whistle loud and shrill,
Blown by some lurking Luddite's breath—
The Warders startled nigh to death.

The Captain spoke, 'pray whot is you?
It whistl't summut loike a mon;
It surely coom fro' th' pickit post
O' Gen'ral Ludd's approachin' host.

'Then back the frighted Warders hied,
The Captain ran himself, but cried—
'Stop lads a little bit, an pray,
'An' dunno' let us run away.'

With doubtful step again they turn'd,
Each heart with shame and anger burn'd;
Some damned the breath, and some the lip,
That started them into the trip.

And now a leader of the van
Back to his waiting comrades ran,
Reporting that, 'At top o'th' street,
A fearfu' object he did meet.

'Aw'm sure it has two blazin e'en,
'Its grinnin' fangs au've plainly seen;
'It looks as savage as a bear,
'An' it so horribly dus stare.'

'It's sure some boggart,*' cries the Cap,
'For that's abeawt o'th' boggart shap;
'Just as I yerd meh gronny tell,
'An' hoo had boggarts seen hursel.

'Iv't be a boggart, God forbid
''At I to it a mischief did;
'But iv it be some lurkin' Ludd,
'Lorjus, heaw wot will be meh blood!'

The Captain form'd them rank and file,
Whilst some their nether clothing soil;
Some cough, whilst others loudly sneeze,
Some shake like leaves on aspen trees.

'Curridge, meh lads, ween goo an' see't,
'It isno' dark, for th' moon gi's leet;
'Iv't be a Ludd, ween at him smash,
'Iv boggart, aw'll some questions ash.

Towards the object now they drew,
With rattle-rick an' loud halloo;
The Captain shook his curly head,
And slyly wished himself in bed.

Thrice he roll'd that noble eye,
Which looketh o'er his nose so sly;
As looks a magpie on a tree,
When coming shooter it doth see.

And now they drew the object near,
Behold! not blazing eyes were there,
But firmly standing 'gainst the wall,
An armed warrior stout and tall.

'Pray whot art theaw, 'at theer dus ston,'
Said Cap, 'art divle, or a mon?
'Or art some sperrit comn agen,
'To fyer a set o' honist men?'

The doughty fellow held his tongue,
Nor budg'd he from the halbert long,
But proudly in defiance stood,
The picket-post of General Ludd.

Await we now the battle fray,
And mark the halberd's lightning play;
Behold on slipp'ry honour's strand,
Like 'hope forlorn,' the warrior band.

And now the brave commander spoke,
Each Warder did his weapon poke;
And now, with one united push,
They on the steadfast foe did rush.

Dire was the meeting, thunder crack,
Like tennis-balls they bounded back;
When strange amaze and wild dismay
Did looks of Warder-men display.

The Luddite foe did bravely stand,
Nor shrunk from blow, nor wielded brand,
Nor couched lance, nor fixed targe,
But fearless braved the sweeping charge.

As grafted rocks do meet the flood,
So fast, so firm the Luddite stood;
As floods oppos'd do backwards dash,
So back the Watch and Ward did crash.

O! that my lyre had ne'er been strung,
Or only to the wild winds sung,
Ere it had tun'd with wail and woe,
The gallant Warder's overthrow.

But now a dreadful cry and roar,
The slumbering echoes wak'd once more,
As many a Warder prostrate lay,
Or crept on hands and knees away.

A halberdier so fierce in fight,
Made charge with all his gathered might,
When from the foe rebounding back
He tumbled over tailor Jack.

Then Jack arose with angry frown
And knock'd the gallant Doctor down;
The Doctor by old Galen swore,
He'd ne'er be Watch and Warder more.

Limping upon his bruised thigh,
Poor Collop-Joseph loud did cry;
And Whiffling-Johnny wish'd for light
That he could better see to fight.

Hard was the fate of Mister S—ls,
Beneath both B—tr—wth and W—ls;
Tom T—yl—r got a woeful squeeze
Beneath the paunch of bulky L—s.

Meanwhile at distance stood the chief,
With looks that spoke his inward grief,
To see his brave combatants fall
Before the warrior stout and tall.

For still the foe did bravely stand,
Nor warded blow, nor wielded brand,
Nor couched lance, nor fixed targe,
But steadfast brav'd the sweeping charge.

But ah! the brightest day must end,
To fate the bravest heroes bend;
And falling midst thy fallen foes,
Thy glory, gallant Ludd, must close.

The blacksmith pois'd his hammer high;
And swift as bolt from louring sky,
With Vulcan's force and fury swung,
Upon the Luddite's helm it rung.

Loud was the crash and wild the roar,
The mighty Ludd is now no more;
The broad hill trembled when he fell,
His fate the sighing breeze did tell.

But cloudless rode the moon on high,
Revealing to each Warder's eye
The dreaded foe, the mighty Ludd,
Was figure made from lump of wood.

Some waggish youths a stump had drest
With buckler, halbert, helm, and crest,
And nailed firmly 'gainst the wall,
It seem'd a warrior stout and tall.

His helm an iron pot, his hand
Held Luddite pike for burnish'd brand,
A boiler-lid, both large and strong,
Before him as his buckler hung.

'To Gath let not the tidings go,
'In Askalon let no one know;'
Lest they should wake the merry string
Of Watch and Warder's shame to sing.

O, the gallant Watch and Ward,
Sleepy England's wakeful guard,
With larum, rattle, pike, and hook,
Owd Ludd at Cabbage Ho' they took.
* In Lancashire dialect, a 'ghost'.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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