The Days Before Yesterday eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about The Days Before Yesterday.

My brother was a great admirer of the Ingoldsby Legends, and could himself handle Richard Barham’s fascinating metre very effectively.  He was meditating “A Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay,” dealing with leading personalities in the then House of Commons.  The idea came to nothing, as an “Ingoldsby Legend” must, from its very essence, be cast in a narrative form, and the subject did not lend itself to narrative.  Although it has nothing to do with the subject in hand, I must quote some lines from “The Raid of Carlisle,” another “Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay” of my brother’s, to show how easily he could use Barham’s metre, with its ear-tickling double rhyme, and how thoroughly he had assimilated the spirit of the Ingoldsby Legends.  The extracts are from an account of an incident which occurred in 1596 when Lord Scroop was Warden of the Western or English Marches on behalf of Elizabeth, while Buccleuch, on the Scottish side, was Warden of the Middle Marches on behalf of James VI.

    “Now, I’d better explain, while I’m still in the vein,
    That towards the close of Elizabeth’s reign,
    Though the ‘thistle and rose’ were no longer at blows,
    They’d a way of disturbing each other’s repose. 
    A mode of proceeding most clearly exceeding
    The rules of decorum, and palpably needing
    Some clear understanding between the two nations,
    By which to adjust their unhappy relations. 
    With this object in view, it occurred to Buccleuch
    That a great deal of mutual good would accrue
    If they settled that he and Lord Scroop’s nominee
    Should meet once a year, and between them agree
    To arbitrate all controversial cases
    And grant an award on an equable basis. 
    A brilliant idea that promised to be a
    Corrective, if not a complete panacea—­
    For it really appears that for several years,
    These fines of ‘poll’d Angus’ and Galloway steers
    Did greatly conduce, during seasons of truce,
    To abating traditional forms of abuse,
    And to giving the roues of Border society
    Some little sense of domestic propriety.

    So finding himself, so to speak, up a tree,
    And unable to think of a neat repartee,
    He wisely concluded (as Brian Boru did,
    On seeing his ‘illigant counthry’ denuded
    Of cattle and grain that were swept from the plain
    By the barbarous hand of the pillaging Dane)
    To bandy no words with a dominant foe,
    But to wait for a chance of returning the blow,
    And then let him have it in more suo.”

These extracts make me regret that the leading personalities in the Parliament of 1886 were not commemorated in the same pleasant, jingling metre.


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The Days Before Yesterday from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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