Richard Harris Barham
Execution, The : A Sporting Anecdote Hon. Mr. Sucklethumbkin's Story
My Lord Tomnoddy got up one day;
It was half after two,
He had nothing to do,
So his Lordship rang for his cabriolet.
Was clean of limb,
His boots were polish'd, his jacket was trim
With a very smart tie in his smart cravat,
And a smart cockade on the top of his hat;
Tallest of boys, or shortest of men,
He stood in his stockings just four foot ten
And he ask'd, as he held the door on the swing,
'Pray, did your Lordship please to ring?'
My Lord Tomnoddy he raised his head,
And thus to Tiger Tim he said,
Taglioni has not yet arrived in her stead;
Tiger Tim, come tell me true,
What may a Nobleman find to do?--
Tim look'd up, and Tim look'd down,
He paused, and he put on a thoughtful frown,
And he held up his hat, and he peep'd in the crown;
He bit his lip, and he scratch'd his head,
He let go the handle, and thus he said,
As the door, released, behind him bang'd:
'An't please you, my Lord, there 's a man to be hang'd.
My Lord Tomnoddy jump'd up at the news,
'Run to M'Fuze,
And Lieutenant Tregooze,
And run to Sir Carnaby Jenks, of the Blues.
Rope-dancers a score
I've seen before --
Madame Sacchi, Antonio, and Master Blackmore;
But to see a man swing
At the end of a string,
With his neck in a noose, will be quite a new thing!'
My Lord Tomnoddy stept into his cab --
Dark rifle green, with a lining of drab;
Through street and through square,
His high-trotting mare,
Like one of Ducrow's, goes pawing the air.
Adown Piccadilly and Waterloo Place
Went the high-trotting mare at a very quick pace;
She produced some alarm,
But did no great harm,
Save frightening a nurse with a child on her arm,
Spattering with clay
Two urchins at play,
Knocking down -- very much to the sweeper's dismay --
An old woman who wouldn't get out of the way,
And upsetting a stall
Near Exeter Hall,
Which made all the pious Church-Mission folks squall.
But eastward afar,
Through Temple Bar,
My Lord Tomnoddy directs his car;
Never heeding their squalls,
Or their calls, or their bawls,
He passes by Waithman's Emporium for shawls,
And, merely just catching a glimpse of St. Paul's,
Turns down the Old Bailey,
Where in front of the gaol, he
Pulls up at the door of the gin-shop, and gaily
Cries, 'What must I fork out to-night, my trump,
For the whole first-floor of the Magpie and Stump?'
The clock strikes Twelve -- it is dark midnight --
Yet the Magpie and Stump is one blaze of light.
The parties are met;
The tables are set;
There is 'punch,' 'cold without,' 'hot with,' 'heavy wet,'
Ale-glasses and jugs,
And rummers and mugs,
And sand on the floor, without carpets or rugs,
Cold fowl and cigars,
Pickled onions in jars,
Welsh rabbits and kidneys -- rare work for the jaws!--
And very large lobsters, with very large claws;And there is M'Fuze,
And Lieutenant Tregooze,
And there is Sir Carnaby Jenks, of the Blues,
All come to see a man 'die in his shoes!'
The clock strikes One
Supper is done,
And Sir Carnaby Jenks is full of his fun,
Singing 'Jolly companions every one!'
My Lord Tomnoddy
Is drinking gin-toddy,
And laughing at ev'ry thing, and ev'ry body.--
The clock strikes Two! and the clock strikes Three!
--' Who so merry, so merry as we?'
Save Captain M'Fuze,
Who is taking a snooze,
While Sir Carnaby Jenks is busy at work,
Blacking his nose with a piece of burnt cork.
The clock strikes Four!-- Round the debtors' door
Are gather'd a couple of thousand or more,
As many await
At the press-yard gate,
Till slowly its folding doors open, and straight
The mob divides, and between their ranks
A waggon comes loaded with posts and with planks.
The clock strikes Five!
The Sheriffs arrive,
And the crowd is so great that the street seems alive;
But Sir Carnaby Jenks
Blinks, and winks,
A candle burns down in the socket, and stinks.
Is dreaming of Jews,
And acceptances all the bill-brokers refuse;
My Lord Tomnoddy
Has drunk all his toddy,
And just as the dawn is beginning to peep,
The whole of the party are fast asleep.
Sweetly, oh! sweetly, the morning breaks,
With roseate streaks,
Like the first faint blush on a maiden's cheeks;
Seem'd as that mild and clear blue sky
Smiled upon all things far and nigh,
On all -- save the wretch condemn'd to die!
Alack! that ever so fair a Sun
As that which its course has now begun,
Should rise on such a scene of misery!--
Should gild with rays so light and free
That dismal, dark-frowning Gallows-tree!And hark!-- a sound comes, big with fate;
The clock from St. Sepulchre's tower strikes -- Eight!--
List to that low funereal bell:
It is tolling, alas! a living man's knell!--
And see!-- from forth that opening door
They come -- HE steps that threshold o'er
Who never shall tread upon threshold more!
-- God! 'tis a fearsome thing to see
That pale wan man's mute agony,--
The glare of that wild, despairing eye,
Now bent on the crowd, now turn'd to the sky,
As though 'twere scanning, in doubt and in fear,
The path of the Spirit's unknown career;
Those pinion'd arms, those hands that ne'er
Shall be lifted again,-- not even in prayer;
That heaving chest!-- Enough --' tis done!
The bolt has fallen!-- the spirit is gone --
For weal or for woe is known but to One!--
-- Oh! 'twas a fearsome sight!-- Ah me!
A deed to shudder at,-- not to see.
Again that clock! 'tis time, 'tis time!
The hour is past: with its earliest chime
The cord is severed, the lifeless clay
By 'dungeon villains' is borne away:
Nine!--'twas the last concluding stroke!
And then -- my Lord Tomnoddy awoke!
And Tregooze and Sir Carnaby Jenks arose,
And Captain M'Fuze, with the black on his nose:
And they stared at each other, as much as to say
Here's a rum Go!
Why, Captain!-- my Lord!-- Here 's the devil to pay!
The fellow's been cut down and taken away!
What's to be done?
We've miss'd all the fun!--
Why, they'll laugh at and quiz us all over the town,
We are all of us done so uncommonly brown!'
What was to be done?--' twas perfectly plain
That they could not well hang the man over again:
What was to be done?-- The man was dead!
Nought could be done -- nought could be said;
So -- my Lord Tomnoddy went home to bed
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Comments about this poem (Execution, The : A Sporting Anecdote Hon. Mr. Sucklethumbkin's Story by Richard Harris Barham )
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
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