News from Worthing, in a Letter from a Beast of Burden to her Brother Jack (1807)


Brother Jack, I am going to inform you
Of things that ne’er enter’d your head,
And I hope the narration will charm you
Wherever you’r driven or led;
For it grieves me to think of your hampers, 5
And the cudgel that thumps you behind;
You have none of my frolics and scampers;
My labour’s as light as the wind.
On a fine level, form’d by the tide,
The beach and the ocean between,10
Fashion here, tells young lasses to ride
On the best walk, that ever was seen.
The sands, brother Jack, that’s the spot
Where the ladies exhibit their graces;
There they push me along till I trot, 15
Midst a circle of giggling faces.
Not one of the party stands idle,
For, when I move just like a snail,
One half of them pull at my bridle,
And t’other half push at my tail.20
Then up, full of frolic and glee,
One will mount, and will scold, and will strike,
And ride me knee deep in the sea,
Where I stop—just as long as I like.
For what are their tricks and manoeuvres? 25
They may pull me, and haul me, and teize; [1] 
But I plague them as they plague their lovers,
O, I like to do just as I please!
Don’t be envious—Hark what I tell— [2] 
You would never do here for a prude,30
Because Jack, you know very well,
You were always inclin’d to be rude;
And if you should set up your braying,
And give them but two or three staves,
You would stop all the children from playing, 35
Or frighten them into the waves!
Sometimes a sick lady will ride me,
More tender and delicate still;
And employ a poor boy just to guide me,
Where I cannot go wrong if I will;40
Then back through the town gently creeping,
We stop at some library door;
Where, nonsense preferring to sleeping,
She loads me with novels [3]  a score.
And, dear Jack, by the by, I’ve long guest, 45
Though, good ladies, I’ve no wish to spite ’em;
That ’tis we bring these books in request,
And that some of our family write ‘em.
But who’d go to boast about that?
No, I’ll finish by telling you true,50
That at Worthing we all might grow fat,
And keep the best company too.
So love to you, Jack, till next season;
I’ll be happy as long as I can;
For an ass that complains without reason, 55
Becomes—just as bad as a man!


*Published in April 1807 in The Monthy Mirror and as a broadside ballad illustrated by Isaac Cruikshank, on 25 May 1807, by Robert Laurie and James Whittle, 53, Fleet Street, London. BACK

[1] tease] Remains BACK

[2] Don’t envy, but hark what I tell—] Remains BACK

[3] [Bloomfield’s note:] Every reader will surely know what kind of novels are here alluded to; and, at the same time, truth obliges me to say, that I received personal attentions from Mrs. Spooner, of the Colonnade library, which I remember with gratitude. BACK