Hood, Thomas

British, (1799-1845)

The Lament of Toby, The Learned Pig

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.” — Pope

  1.  
  2. Oh, heavy day! oh, day of woe!
  3. To misery a poster,
  4. Why was I ever farrowed, why
  5. Not spitted for a roaster?
  6.  
  7. In this world, pigs, as well as men,
  8. Must dance to fortune’s fiddlings,
  9. But must I give the classics up,
  10. For barley-meal and middlings?
  11.  
  12. Of what avail that I could spell
  13. And read, just like my betters,
  14. If I must come to this at last,
  15. To litters, not to letters?
  16.  
  17. Oh, why are pigs made scholars of?
  18. It baffles my discerning,
  19. What griskins, fry, and chitterlings
  20. Can have to do with learning.
  21.  
  22. Alas! my learning once drew cash,
  23. But public fame’s unstable,
  24. So I must turn a pig again
  25. And fatten for the table.
  26.  
  27. To leave my literary line
  28. My eyes get red and leaky;
  29. But Giblett doesn’t want me blue,
  30. But red and white, and streaky.
  31.  
  32. Old Mullins used to cultivate
  33. My learning like a gard’ner;
  34. But Giblett only thinks of lard,
  35. And not of Doctor Lardner.
  36.  
  37. He does not care about my brain
  38. The value of two coppers,
  39. All that he thinks about my head
  40. Is, how I’m off for choppers.
  41.  
  42. Of all my literary kin
  43. A farewell must be taken,
  44. Goodbye to the poetic Hogg!
  45. The philosophic Bacon!
  46.  
  47. Day after day my lessons fade,
  48. My intellect gets muddy;
  49. A trough I have, and not a desk,
  50. A stye — and not a study!
  51.  
  52. Another little month, and then
  53. My progress ends, like Bunyan’s;
  54. The seven sages that I loved
  55. Will be chopped up with onions!
  56.  
  57. Then over head and ears in brine
  58. They’ll souse me, like a salmon,
  59. My mathematics turned to brawn,
  60. My logic into gammon.
  61.  
  62. My Hebrew will all retrograde,
  63. Now I’m put up to fatten,
  64. My Greek, it will all go to grease,
  65. The dogs will have my Latin!
  66.  
  67. Farewell to Oxford ! — and to Bliss!
  68. To Milman, Crowe, and Glossop, —
  69. I now must be content with chats,
  70. Instead of learned gossip!
  71.  
  72. Farewell to ‘Town!’ farewell to ‘Gown!’
  73. I’ve quite outgrown the latter, —
  74. Instead of Trencher-cap my head
  75. Will soon be in a platter!
  76.  
  77. Oh, why did I at Brazen-Nose
  78. Rout up the roots of knowledge?
  79. A butcher that can’t read will kill
  80. A pig that’s been to college!
  81.  
  82. For sorrow I could stick myself,
  83. But conscience is a dasher;
  84. A thing that would be rash in man
  85. In me would be a rasher!
  86.  
  87. One thing I ask — when I am dead
  88. And past the Stygian ditches —
  89. And that is, let my schoolmaster
  90. Have one of my two Hitches.
  91.  
  92. ’twas he who taught my letters so
  93. I ne’er mistook or missed ’em,
  94. Simply by ringing at the nose
  95. According to Bell’s system.

The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hood. London: Henry Frowde, 1906.

Literary and Literal

  1. The March of Mind upon its mighty stilts,
  2. (A spirit by no means to fasten mocks on,)
  3. In travelling through Berks, Beds, Notts, and Wilts,
  4. Hants — Bucks, Herts, Oxon,
  5. Got up a thing our ancestors ne’er thought on,
  6. A thing that, only in our proper youth,
  7. We should have chuckled at — in sober truth,
  8. A Conversazione at Hog’s Norton!
  9.  
  10. A place whose native dialect, somehow,
  11. Has always by an adage been affronted,
  12. And that it is all gutterals, is now
  13. Taken for grunted.
  14.  
  15. Conceive the snoring of a greedy swine,
  16. The slobbering of a hungry Ursine Sloth —
  17. If you have ever heard such creature dine —
  18. And — for Hog’s Norton, make a mix of both! —
  19.  
  20. 0 shades of Shakspeare! Chaucer! Spenser!
  21. Milton! Pope! Gray! Warton!
  22. 0 Colman! Kenny! Planche! Poole! Peake!
  23. Pocock! Reynolds! Morton!
  24. O Grey! Peel! Sadler! Wilberforce! Burdett!
  25. Hume! Wilmot! Horton!
  26. Think of your prose and verse, and worse — delivered in
  27. Hog’s Norton! —
  28.  
  29. The founder of Hog’s Norton Athenaeum
  30. Framed her society
  31. With some variety
  32. From Mr. Roscoe’s Liverpool museum;
  33. Not a mere pic-nic, for the mind’s repast,
  34. But, tempting to the solid knife-and-forker,
  35. It held ita sessions in the house that last
  36. Had killed a porker.
  37.  
  38. It chanced one Friday,
  39. One Farmer Grayley stuck a very big hog,
  40. A perfect Gog or Magog of a pig-hog,
  41. Which made of course a literary high day, —
  42. Not that our Farmer was a man to go
  43. With literary tastes — so far from suiting ’em,
  44. When he heard mention of Professor Crowe,
  45. Or Lalla-Rookh, he always was for shooting ’em!
  46. In fact in letters he was quite a log,
  47. With him great Bacon
  48. Was literally taken,
  49. And Hogg — the Poet — nothing but a Hog!
  50. As to all others on the list of Fame,
  51. Although they were discussed and mentioned daily,
  52. He only recognized one classic name,
  53. And thought that she had hung herself — Miss Baillie!
  54.  
  55. To balance this, our Farmer’s only daughter
  56. Had a great taste for the Castalian water —
  57. A Wordsworth worshipper — a Southey wooer, —
  58. (Though men that deal in water-color cakes
  59. May disbelieve the fact — yet nothing’s truer)
  60. She got the bluer
  61. The more she dipped and dabbled in the Lakes.
  62. The secret truth is, Hope, the old deceiver,
  63. At future Authorship was apt to hint,
  64. Producing what some call the Type-us Fever,
  65. Which means a burning to be seen in print.
  66.  
  67. Of learning’s laurels — Miss Joanna Baillie —
  68. Of Mrs. Hemans — Mrs. Wilson — daily
  69. Dreamt Anne Priscilla Isabella Grayley;
  70. And Fancy hinting that she had the better
  71. Of L. E. L. by one initial letter,
  72. She thought the world would quite enraptured see
  73.  
  74. “Love Lays and Lyrics
  75. by
  76. A.P.I.G.”
  77.  
  78. Accordingly, with very great propriety,
  79. She joined the H. N. B. and double S.,
  80. That is, — Hog’s Norton Blue Stocking Society;
  81. And saving when her Pa his pigs prohibited,
  82. Contributed
  83. Her pork and poetry towards the mess.
  84.  
  85. This feast, we said, one Friday was the case,
  86. When farmer Grayley — from Macbeth to quote —
  87. Screwing his courage to the “sticking place,”
  88. Stuck a large knife into a grunter’s throat: —
  89. A kind of murder that the law’s rebuke
  90. Seldom condemns by shake of its peruke,
  91. Showing the little sympathy of big-wigs
  92. With pig-wigs!
  93.  
  94. The swine — poor wretch! — with nobody to speak for it,
  95. And beg its life, resolved to have a squeak for it;
  96. So — like the fabled swan — died singing out,
  97. And, thus, there issued from the farmer’s yard
  98. A note that notified without a card,
  99. An invitation to the evening rout.
  100.  
  101. And when the time came duly, — “At the close of
  102. The day,” as Beattie has it, “when the ham —”
  103. Bacon, and pork were ready to dispose of,
  104. And pettitoes and chit’lings too, to cram, —
  105. Walked in the H. N. B. and double S.’s
  106. All in appropriate and swinish dresses,
  107. For lo! it is a fact, and not a joke,
  108. Although the Muse might fairly jest upon it,
  109. They came — each “Pig-faced Lady,” in that bonnet
  110. We call a poke.
  111. The Members all assembled thus, a rare woman
  112. At pork and poetry was chosen chairwoman;
  113. In fact, the bluest of the Blues, Miss Ikey,
  114. Whose whole pronunciation was so piggy,
  115. She always named the authoress of “Psyche” —
  116. As Mrs. Tiggey!
  117.  
  118. And now arose a question of some moment, —
  119. What author for a lecture was the richer,
  120. Bacon or Hogg? there were no votes for Beaumont,
  121. But some for Flitcher;
  122. While others, with a more sagacious reasoning,
  123. Proposed another work,
  124. And thought their pork
  125. Would prove more relishing from Thomson’s Season-ing!
  126.  
  127. But, practised in Shakspearian readings daily, —
  128. O! Miss Macaulay! Shakspeare at Hog’s Norton! —
  129. Miss Anne Priscilla Isabella Grayley
  130. Selected him that evening to snort on.
  131. In short, to make our story not a big tale,
  132. Just fancy her exerting
  133. Her talents, and converting
  134. The Winter’s Tale to something like a pig-tale!
  135. Her sister auditory,
  136. All sitting round, with grave and learned faces,
  137. Were very plauditory,
  138. Of course, and clapped her at the proper places;
  139. Till fanned at once by fortune and the Muse,
  140. She thought herself the blessedest of Blues.
  141. But Happiness, alas! has blights of ill,
  142. And Pleasure’s bubbles in the air explode; —
  143. There is no travelling through life but still
  144. The heart will meet with breakers on the road!
  145.  
  146. With that peculiar voice
  147. Heard only from Hog’s Norton throats and noses,
  148. Miss G., with Perdita, was making choice
  149. Of buds and blossoms for her summer posies,
  150. When coming to that line, where Proserpine
  151. Lets fall her flowers from the wain of Dis;
  152. Imagine this —
  153. Uprose on his hind legs old Farmer Grayley,
  154. Grunting this question for the club’s digestion,
  155. “Do Dis’s Waggon go from the Ould Bäaley?”

Thomas Hood. The complete poetical works of Thomas Hood. London, New York: H. Frowde (1906).

The Blue Boar

  1. ‘Tis known to man, ’tis known to woman,
  2. ‘Tis known to all the world in common,
  3. How politics and party strife
  4. Vex public, even private, life;
  5. But, till some days ago, at least
  6. They never worried brutal beast.
  7.  
  8. I wish you could have seen the creature,
  9. A tame domestic boar by nature,
  10. Gone wild as boar that ever grunted,
  11. By Baron Hoggerhausen hunted.
  12. His back was up, and on its ledge
  13. The bristles rose like quickset hedge;
  14. His eye was fierce and red as coal,
  15. Like furnace, shining through a hole,
  16. And restless turn’d for mischief seeking;
  17. His very hide with rage was reeking;
  18. And oft he gnash’d his crooked tusks,
  19. Chewing his tongue instead of husks,
  20. Till all his jaw was white and yesty,
  21. Showing him savage, fierce, and resty.
  22.  
  23. And what had caused this mighty vapour?
  24. A dirty fragment of a paper,
  25. That in his rambles he had found,
  26. Lying neglected on the ground;
  27. A relic of the Morning Post,
  28. Two tattered columns at the most,
  29. But which our irritated swine
  30. (Derived from Learned Toby’s line)
  31. Digested easy as his meals,
  32. Like any quidnunc Cit at Peel’s.
  33.  
  34. He read, and mused, and pored and read,
  35. His shoulders shrugg’d, and shook his head;
  36. Now at a line he gave a grunt,
  37. Now at a phrase took sudden stunt,
  38. And snorting turn’d his back upon it,
  39. But always came again to con it;
  40. In short he petted up his passion,
  41. After a very human fashion,
  42. When Temper’s worried with a bone
  43. She’ll neither like nor let alone.
  44. At last his fury reach’d the pitch
  45. Of that most irritating itch,
  46. When mind and will, in fever’d faction,
  47. Prompt blood and body into action;
  48. No matter what, so bone and muscle
  49. May vent the frenzy in a bustle;
  50. But whether by a fight or dance
  51. Is left to impulse and to chance.
  52. So stood the Boar, in furious mood
  53. Made up for any thing but good;
  54. He gave his tail a tighter twist,
  55. As men in anger clench the fist,
  56. And threw fresh sparkles in his eye
  57. From the volcano in his fry, —
  58. Ready to raze the parish pound,
  59. To pull the pigsty to the ground,
  60. To lay Squire Giles, his master, level,
  61. Ready, indeed, to play the devil.
  62.  
  63. So, stirr’d by raving demagogues,
  64. I’ve seen men rush, like rabid dogs,
  65. Stark staring from the Pig and Whistle,
  66. And like his Boarship, in a bristle,
  67. Resolved unanimous on rumpus
  68. From any quarter of the compass;
  69. But whether to duck Aldgate Pump,
  70. (For wits in madness never jump)
  71. To liberate the beasts from Cross’s;
  72. Or hiss at all the Wigs in Ross’s;
  73. On Waithman’s column hang a weeper;
  74. Or tar and feather the old sweeper;
  75. Or break the panes of landlord scurvy,
  76. And turn the King’s Head topsy-turvy;
  77. Rebuild, or pull down, London Wall;
  78. Or take his cross from old Saint Paul;
  79. Or burn those wooden Highland fellows,
  80. The snuff-men’s idols, ‘neath the gallows!
  81. None fix’d or cared — but all were loyal
  82. To one design — a battle royal.
  83.  
  84. Thus stood the Boar, athirst for blood,
  85. Trampling the Morning Post to mud,
  86. With tusks prepared to run a muck;
  87. And sorrow for the mortal’s luck
  88. That came across him Whig or Tory,
  89. It would have been a tragic story —
  90. But Fortune interposing now,
  91. Brought Bessy into play — a Sow; —
  92. A fat, sleek, philosophic beast,
  93. That never fretted in the least,
  94. Whether her grains were sour or sweet,
  95. For grains are grains, and she could eat.
  96. Absorb’d in two great schemes capacious,
  97. The farrow, and the farinaceous,
  98. If cares she had, they could not stay,
  99. She drank, and wash’d them all away.
  100. In fact this philosophic sow
  101. Was very like a German frow;
  102. In brief — as wit should be and fun, —
  103. If sows turn Quakers, she was one;
  104. Clad from the duckpond, thick and slab,
  105. In bran-new muddy suit of drab.
  106.  
  107. To still the storm of such a lubber,
  108. She came like oil — at least like blubber —
  109. Her pigtail of as passive shape
  110. As ever droop’d o’er powder’d nape;
  111. Her snout, scarce turning up — her deep
  112. Small eyes half settled into sleep;
  113. Her ample ears, dependent, meek,
  114. Like fig-leaves shading either cheek;
  115. Whilst, from the corner of her jaw,
  116. A sprout of cabbage, green and raw,
  117. Protruded, — as the Dove, so stanch
  118. For Peace, supports an olive branch, —
  119. Her very grunt, so low and mild,
  120. Like the soft snoring of a child,
  121. Inquiring into his disquiets,
  122. Served like the Riot Act, at riots, —
  123. He laid his restive bristles flatter,
  124. And took to arguefy the matter.
  125.  
  126. “O Bess, O Bess, here’s heavy news!
  127. They mean to ‘mancipate the Jews!
  128. Just as they turn’d the blacks to whites,
  129. They want to give them equal rights,
  130. And, in the twinkling of a steeple,
  131. Make Hebrews quite like other people.
  132. Here, read — but I forget your fetters,
  133. You’ve studied litters more than letters.”
  134.  
  135. “Well,” quoth the Sow, “and no great miss,
  136. I’m sure my ignorance is bliss;
  137. Contentedly I bite and sup,
  138. And never let my flare flare-up;
  139. Whilst you get wild and fuming hot —
  140. What matters Jews be Jews or not?
  141. Whether they go with beards like Moses,
  142. Or barbers take them by the noses,
  143. Whether they live, permitted dwellers,
  144. In Cheapside shops, or Rag Fair cellars,
  145. Or climb their way to civic perches,
  146. Or go to synagogues or churches?”
  147.  
  148. “Churches! — ay, there the question grapples,
  149. No, Bess, the Jews will go to Chappell’s!”
  150.  
  151. “To chapel — well, — what’s that to you?
  152. A Berkshire Boar, and not a Jew?
  153. We pigs, — remember the remark
  154. Of our old drover Samuel Slark,
  155. When trying, but he tried in vain,
  156. To coax me into Sermon Lane,
  157. Or Paternoster’s pious Row, —
  158. But still I stood and grunted No!
  159. Of Lane of Creed an equal scorner,
  160. Till bolting off, at Amen Corner,
  161. He cried, provoked at my evasion,
  162. ‘Pigs, blow ’em! ar’n’t of no persuasion!’ “
  163.  
  164. “The more’s the pity, Bess, — the more — “
  165. Said, with sardonic grin, the Boar;
  166. “If Pigs were Methodists and Bunyans,
  167. They’d make a sin of sage and onions;
  168. The curse of endless flames endorse
  169. On every boat of apple-sauce;
  170. Give brine to Satan, and assess
  171. Blackpuddings with bloodguiltiness;
  172. Yea, call down heavenly fire and smoke
  173. To burn all Epping into coke!”
  174.  
  175. “Ay,” cried the Sow, extremely placid,
  176. In utter contrast to his acid,
  177. “Ay, that would be a Sect indeed!
  178. And every swine would like the creed,
  179. The sausage-making curse and all;
  180. And should some brother have a call,
  181. To thump a cushion to that measure,
  182. I would sit under him with pleasure;
  183. Nay, put down half my private fortune
  184. T’ endow a chapel at Hog’s Norton. —
  185. But what has this to do, my deary,
  186. With their new Hebrew whigmaleery?”
  187.  
  188. “Sow that you are! this Bill, if current,
  189. Would be as good as our death-warrant; —
  190. And, with its legislative friskings,
  191. Loose twelve new tribes upon our griskins!
  192. Unjew the Jews, what follows then?
  193. Why, they’ll eat pork like other men,
  194. And you shall see a Rabbi dish up
  195. A chine as freely as a Bishop!
  196. Thousands of years have pass’d, and pork
  197. Was never stuck on Hebrew fork;
  198. But now, suppose that relish rare
  199. Fresh added to their bill of fare,
  200. Fry, harslet, pettitoes, and chine,
  201. Leg, choppers, bacon, ham, and loin,
  202. And then, beyond all goose or duckling —”
  203.  
  204. “Yes, yes — a little tender suckling!
  205. It must be held the aptest savour
  206. To make the eager mouth to slaver!
  207. Merely to look on such a gruntling,
  208. A plump, white, sleek and sappy runtling,
  209. It makes one — ah! remembrance bitter!
  210. It made me eat my own dear litter!”
  211.  
  212. “Think, then, with this new waken’d fury,
  213. How we should fare if tried by Jewry !
  214. A pest upon the meddling Whigs!
  215. There’ll be a pretty run on pigs!
  216. This very morn a Hebrew brother,
  217. With three hats stuck on one another,
  218. And o’er his arm a bag, or poke,
  219. A thing pigs never find a joke,
  220. Stopp’d, — rip the fellow! — though he knew
  221. I’ve neither coat to sell nor shoe,
  222. And cock’d his nose — right at me, lovey!
  223. Just like a pointer at a covey!
  224.  
  225. To set our only friends agin us!
  226. That neither care to fat nor thin us!
  227. To boil, to broil, to roast, or fry us,
  228. But act like real Christians by us! —
  229. A murrain on all legislators!
  230. Thin wash, sour grains, and rotten ‘taters!
  231. A bulldog at their ears and tails!
  232. The curse of empty troughs and pails
  233. Famish their flanks as thin as weasels!
  234. May all their children have the measles;
  235. Or in the straw untimely smother,
  236. Or make a dinner for the mother!
  237. A cartwhip for all law inventors!
  238. And rubbing-posts stuck full of tenters!
  239. Yokes, rusty rings, and gates, to hitch in,
  240. And parish pounds to pine the flitch in,
  241. Cold, and high winds, the Devil send ’em, —
  242. And then may Sam the Sticker end ’em!”
  243.  
  244. ‘Twas strange to hear him how he swore!
  245. A Boar will curse, though like a boar,
  246. While Bess, like Pity, at his side
  247. Her swine-subduing voice supplied!
  248. She bade him such a rage discard;
  249. That anger is a foe to lard;
  250. ‘Tis bad for sugar to get wet,
  251. And quite as bad for fat to fret;
  252. “Besides,” — she argued thus at last —
  253. “The Bill you fume at has not pass’d,
  254. For why, the Commons and the Peers
  255. Have come together by the ears:
  256. Or rather, as we pigs repose,
  257. One’s tail beside the other’s nose,
  258. And thus, of course, take adverse views,
  259. Whether of Gentiles or of Jews.
  260. Who knows? They say the Lords’ ill-will
  261. Has thrown out many a wholesome Bill,
  262. And p’rhaps some Peer to Pigs propitious,
  263. May swamp a measure so Jew-dish-us!
  264.  
  265. The Boar was conquer’d: at a glance,
  266. He saw there really was a chance —
  267. That, as the Hebrew nose is hooked,
  268. The Bill was equally as crooked;
  269. And might outlast, thank party embers,
  270. A dozen tribes of Christian members; —
  271. So down he settled in the mud,
  272. With smoother back, and cooler blood,
  273. As mild, as quiet, a Blue Boar,
  274. As any over tavern-door.
  275.  
  276. MORAL.
  277. The chance is small that any measure
  278. Will give all classes equal pleasure;
  279. Since Tory Ministers or Whigs,
  280. Sometimes can’t even “please the Pigs.”

Thomas Hood. The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood: with some account of the author. Boston: Little Brown and Co. (1866).

About the Poet

Thomas Hood (1799-1845), English poet, humorist, engraver and editor, known during his lifetime for his comic writings, yet he also lampooned important contemporary issues of his day and wrote many serious works as well. [DES-6/03]

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