1815 6

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Epistle from Tom Cribb to Big Ben,
Concerning some Foul Play in a Late Transaction
The Morning Chronicle (August 31, 1815)
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXXV (October 1815), p. 352

What! BEN, my big hero, is this thy renown?
Is this the new go?—kick a man when he's down!
When the foe has knock'd under, to tread on him then—
By the fist of my father, I blush for thee, BEN!
"Foul! Foul!" all the Lads of the Fancy exclaim—
CHARLEY SHOCK is electrified—BELCHER spits flame—
And MOLYNEUX—aye, even BLACKY cries "shame!"[2]

Time was, when JOHN BULL little difference spied
Twixt the foe at his feet and the friend at his side;
When he found (such his humour in fighting and eating)
His foe, like his beef-steak, the sweeter for beating!—
But this comes, Master BEN, of your curst foreign notions,
Your trinkets, wigs, thingumbobs, gold lace and lotions;
Your Noyaus, Curacoas, and the Devil knows what—
(One swig of Blue Ruin[3] is worth the whole lot!)
Your great and small crosses—(my eyes, what a brood!
A cross-buttock from me would some of them good:)
Which have spoilt you, till hardly a drop, my old porpoise,
Of pure English claret is left in your corpus;
And (as JIM says) the only one trick, good or bad,
Of the Fancy you're up to, is fibbing, my lad!
Hence it comes—BOXIANA, disgrace to thy page!—
Having floor'd by good luck, the first swell of the age,
Having conquer'd the prime one, that mill'd us all round,
You kick'd him, old BEN, as he gasp'd on the ground!—
Aye—just at the time to show spunk, if you'd got any—
Kick'd him and jaw'd him and lag'd[4] him to Botany!

Oh shade of the Cheese-monger![5] —you, who, alas!
Doubled up, by the dozen, those Mounseers in brass,
On that great day of milling, when blood lay in lakes,
When Kings held the bottle and Europe the stakes,—
Look down upon BEN—see him, dunghill all o'er,
Insult the fall'n foe that can harm him no more!—
Out, cowardly spooney!—again and again,
By the fist of my Father, I blush for thee, BEN.
To shew the white feather[6] is many men's doom,
But, what of one feather? BEN shows a whole PLUME!


1. Tom Cribb was a famed pugilist of the day, noted also for his sense of fair play. See Leslie Marchand, Byron: A Biography (New York, 1957), I, 153, for his association with Byron.

2. Famous boxers of the time.

3. [Author's note]: "Gin."

4. [Author's note]: "Transported."

5. [Author's note]: "A Life Guardsman, one of the Fancy, who distinguished himself, and was killed in a late memorable set-to."

6. [Author's note]: "Exhibit symptoms of terror."

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