The Butcher's Horse and the Bees: a Village Tragedy (1807)

THE BUTCHER’S HORSE AND THE BEES.
A VILLAGE TRAGEDY (1807) [*] 

to the editor of the monthly magazine

Sir,

The following simple story contains nothing of fiction. The butcher, whose name was Catton, lived nearly opposite the present residence of our mutual friend, C. Lofft, Esq. at Troston; and the accident happened at the farm now in the occupation of Mr. Mothersole, at Sapiston, Suffolk.

Yours, &c.

ROB. BLOOMFIELD

’twas June, the sun was towering high [1] ,
When bees collect their yellow store,
A butcher’s steed, with drowsy eye, [2] 
Stood waiting [3]  at a farmer’s door.
Fast went his master’s tongue within,5
The mug, perhaps, was in his hand;
For many a tale would he begin,
Would go, and stay, and drink, and stand. [4] 
A beehive near, that instant [5]  fell,
The angry swarm by thousands rose,10
Where o’er the pales, sad tale to tell!
Lay poor old Dobbin’s harmless nose.
Quick vengeance sounded on their wings,
They saw their realms in ruins lie,
And darting forth their dreadful stings,15
All leagued to punish or to die. [6] 
At once they roar’d round Dobbin’s [7]  head:
He snapt his [8]  bridle, kick’d and flung,
And furious down the pasture fled;
They, just [9]  as furious round him clung.20
Unstrapt, the jolting baskets fell,
And on he ran with all his might;
But how, or where not long could tell;
His strength of limb out-lasted sight. [10] 
For sore they pierc’d his swelling eyes,25
And cluster’d round his lips and tongue:
Sharp were the stings of summer flies,
But angry bees more deadly stung. [11] 
In mid-day darkness plung’d the beast;
His unrelenting foes pursu’d;30
He toss’d his head, still unreleas’d,
Then round again the race renew’d. [12] 
Help came from cottage, field, and farm,
Children in terror gather’d round;
With many a bough they lash’d the swarm,35
And trampled hundreds on the ground. [13] 
Not one the less there seem’d to be,
Nor was their spite one moment stay’d;
On, on they went to victory,
And ev’ry gazer stood dismay’d. [14] 40
His throat inflam’d with many a wound,
Stretch’d out, he heav’d his panting side,
Till breath no more a passage found;
—Such was the death that Dobbin died!
O’er his poor beast the butcher wept—45
The good old man was mov’d to tears!
And hence, perhaps, my heart has kept
This tale from childhood’s early years. [15] 

Notes

*Published in The Monthly Mirror, NS 1 (January 1807), 59, The Sporting Magazine, 29 (1807), 308, and in The History of Little Davy’s New Hat. BACK

[1] towering high] burning hot The History of Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[2] A butcher’s steed, with drowsy eye] Old Dobbin’s bridle, hapless lot! Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[3] Stood waiting] Was fastened Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[4] Fast went his master’s tongue … and drink, and stand] omitted in Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[5] A beehive near, that instant] By accident a bee-hive Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[6] Quick vengeance sounded … punish or to die] omitted in Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[7] At once they roar’d round Dobbin’s] Enraged, they fastened round his Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[8] his] the Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[9] They, just] But just Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[10] Unstrapt, the jolting baskets … out-lasted sight] omitted in Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[11] For sore they pierc’d … more deadly stung] stanza five in Little Davy’s New Hat and reworded:

But still they pierced his swelling eyes,
And clustered round his lips and tongue.
Sharp are the stings of swarming flies,
But angry bees more deadly stung.
BACK

[12] In mid-day darkness … the race renew’d] omitted in Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[13] Help came from cottage … hundreds on the ground] stanza four in Little Davy’s New Hat and reworded:

His master came, the farmer, too,
And all who could at home be found;
They lashed the bees with many a bough,
And trampled hundreds on the ground;
BACK

[14] Not one the less … stood dismay’d] omitted in Little Davy’s New Hat BACK

[15] O’er his poor beast … from childhood’s early years]

The butcher felt his loss full sore,
He looked, and wept, and looked again;
For few poor beasts were valued more,
And few had died in greater pain.] Little Davy’s New Hat
BACK

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