The dew falls over the Heath, Brother
Donkeys, and the darkness falls,
but still through the gathering night
All around us spreads the Heath Bed-straw in glimmering sheets of
Dragged and trampled, and plucked and wasted, it patiently spreads
Kicked and thwacked, and prodded and over-laden, we patiently cling
to our lives.
Hee-haw! for the rest and silence of darkness that follow the labours
Hee-haw! for the hours from night to morning, that balance the hours
from morning to night.
Hee-haw! for the sweet night air that gives human beings cold in
Hee-haw! for the civilization that sends human beings to bed.
Rest, Brother Donkeys, rest, from the bit, the burden, the blow,
The dust, the flies, the restless children, the brutal roughs, the
greedy donkey-master, the greedier donkey-hirer, the
holiday-maker who knows no better, and the holiday-makers
who ought to know!
When the odorous furze-bush prickles the seeking nose, and the short
damp grass refreshes the tongue,—lend, Brother Donkeys, lend
a long and attentive ear!
Whilst I proudly bray
Of the one bright day
In our hard and chequered career.
I’ve dragged pots, and vegetables, and invalids, and
fish, and I’ve galloped with four costermongers to the races;
I’ve carried babies, and sea-coal, and sea-sand, and sea-weed in
panniers, and been sold to the gypsies, and been bought back
for the sea-side, and ridden (in a white saddle-cloth with
scarlet braid) by the fashionable visitors. (There was always
a certain distinction in my paces,
Though I say it who shouldn’t) I’ve spent a summer on the Heath, and
next winter near Covent Garden, and moved the following year
to the foot of a mountain, to take people up to the top to
show them the view.
But how little we know what’s before us! And how little I guessed I
should ever be chief charger at a Queen’s Birthday Review!
Did I triumph alone? No, Brother Donkeys, no! You also took your place
with the defenders of the nation;
Subordinate positions to my own, but meritoriously filled, though a
little more style would have well become so great an occasion.
That malevolent old Moke—may his next thistle choke him!—disgraced us
all with his jibbing—the ill-tempered old ass!
Young Neddy is shaggy and shy, but not amiss, if he’d held his ears up,
and not kept his eyes on the grass.
Nothing is more je-june (I may say vulgar) than to seem anxious to eat
when the crisis calls for public spirit, enthusiasm, and an
And I wish, Brother Donkeys, I wish that all had felt as I felt, the
responsibility of a March-Past the Throne!
Respect and self-respect delicately blended; one ear up, and the other
lowered to salute, as I passed the window from which we
(Unless I grievously misunderstood the young General