Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

A True Tale of a Country Squire


A true TALE of a Country Squire.

A Man of wisdom may disguise
His knowledge, and not seem too wise:
But, take it for a constant rule,
There’s no concealing of a Fool.
Of this the instances are plenty;
But one may serve as well as twenty.
         A worthy Knight, of great estate,
Prov’d to be so unfortunate,
That, with great cost and fruitless care,
He rear’d a Blockhead to his heir.
But, hoping it wou’d mend the breed,
Shou’d he some prudent Damsel wed,
He sent him out to court a Lady,
Whose Father he’d engag’d already.
But, first, he charg’d him, on his blessing,
To keep in mind this easy lesson.
HUMPHRY, says he, what e’er you do,
Take heed your words be very few:
For you’ll be counted wise, so long
As you have wit to hold your tongue.
Then never feed too greedily
On custard, pudding, or sweet pye;
Lest your ungovern’d appetite
Bring shame and sorrow in the night
But JOHN shall go, and he’ll advise ye,
And, let me tell you, JOHN’s no nisey.
         – Here, JOHN, d’you mind, give NUMPS a touch,
Whene’er he talks, or eats too much.
Be sure take heed he don’t neglect,
To pay the old Gentry great respect;
And all our services express
In handsome terms with good address.
         Instructed thus, they both took horse,
And tow’rds the Lady bent their course.
Whilst JOHN perform’d the teacher’s part,
NUMPS got his compliments by heart;
Which he deliver’d in such guise,
They thought him tolerably wise:
He held his tongue, this seem’d to be
A token of his modesty.
All pass’d on well, ’till supper came:
Oh hateful meal! Oh hateful name”!
Vile author of poor HUMPHREY’s shame!
From ev’ry dish most nicely drest,
Th’ old Lady still supply’d her guest.
All with astonishment beheld
His plate oft empty, often fill’d.
He eat; JOHN pull’d, and pull’d again.
Thy pulls, O JOHN, were all in vain:
For when he’d cramm’d up to the throat,
In came an apple-pye to boot.
When Madam saw how fond an eye
He cast upon the smoaking pye,
She fill’d his plate six inches high.
JOHN gave his elbow many a twitch.
Thought he, our JOHN may kiss my b[itch]
’Tis apple-pye, I’ll eat my fill,
Let consequence be what it will.
Fatal resolve! I dread to tell
The consequences which befell.
Let sordid nightmen tell the rest,
Who relish the unsavory jest.
My dainty Muse wou’d fain have done:
But truth commands, she must go on.
’Tis for repentance now too late:
The fish has gorg’d the slippery bait.
In the best bed the Squire must lie,
And JOHN in truckle bed just by;
Who slept till dismal voice and groan
At midnight cry’d, O help! Dear JOHN,
Or else for ever I’m undone:
For Heaven’s sake find some excuse,
The devilish apple-pye’s broke loose;
And as I lain upon’t, and roll’d it;
The bed’s scarce big enough to hold it.
JOHN wak’d, and thus began to pray,
The Devil take all fools, I say;
Why, choak ye, eat it up again,
And lick the sheets and bolster clean.
         – What can be done? here take my shirt,
And I’ll come wallow in the dirt.
Do you get up as soon as light,
I’ll lye, and try to set all right.
So said, so done; up got the Squire,
And JOHN lay tumbling in the mire.
He lay ’till two brisk Lasses come
To make the bed, and clean the room.
Soon in the damask bed friend JOHN
Was spy’d half bury’d in the down.
What’s here? quo’ NELL, as I’m live,
The Master rose soon after five.
Here is his man, a lazy loon,
Intends to lie a-bed till noon.
Quoth JOHN, I’ve had a tedious night,
That truckle bed has lam’d me quite.
I turn’d in here to take some rest,
This is a comfortable next:
One nap, dear Girls, is all I beg.
         – A nap! SU, give him some cold pig.
Come, come, says JOHN, don’t play the fool;
I’m laxative, you’ll make me pull.
And straining hard will force a stool.
They pull’d, JOHN squees’d, and gave a grunt;
And out he leap’d – Good faith I’ve don’t:
E’en thank your selves. – Away ran NELL
And SU, half poison’d with the smell.
         This story slipt not, you may swear,
But quickly reach’d the Master’s ear.
His Worship, tickled with the whim,
Cou’d not forbear at dinner time,
To banter JOHN; nor did he fail
T’enlarge upon the curious tale.
But, seeing JOHN with shame cast down,
He frankly tip him half a crown.
JOHN bow’d – Young Master sitting by,
Seeing the prize with envious eye,
Into JOHN’s fob directly go,
Cry’d out aloud, Why, JOHN, you know
The half crown is by right my due:
’Twas I be[shi]t the bed, not you.
         Oh blunder! never to be mended;
This one wise speech the courtship ended.
Home trotted JOHN in doleful dumps;
And far behind sneak’d hopeful NUMPS.
And Madam, thus diverted by her Squire,
Found out a cleanlier lover to lie by her.

(The Grub-street Journal, 23 September 1731)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "A True Tale of a Country Squire", 28 January 2006 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/squire.htm>

Return to list of Newspaper Reports