The Tale of Chloe eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 97 pages of information about The Tale of Chloe.

without a hint of a domino title.  So likewise the pictorial historian is merry over ‘Dewlap alliances’ in his description of the society of that period.  He has read the ballad, but disregarded the memoirs of the beau.  Writers of pretension would seem to have an animus against individuals of the character of Mr. Beamish.  They will treat of the habits and manners of highwaymen, and quote obscure broadsheets and songs of the people to colour their story, yet decline to bestow more than a passing remark upon our domestic kings:  because they are not hereditary, we may suppose.  The ballad of ‘The Duke and the Dairymaid,’ ascribed with questionable authority to the pen of Mr. Beamish himself in a freak of his gaiety, was once popular enough to provoke the moralist to animadversions upon an order of composition that ’tempted every bouncing country lass to sidle an eye in a blowsy cheek’ in expectation of a coronet for her pains—­and a wet ditch as the result!  We may doubt it to have been such an occasion of mischief.  But that mischief may have been done by it to a nobility-loving people, even to the love of our nobility among the people, must be granted; and for the particular reason, that the hero of the ballad behaved so handsomely.  We perceive a susceptibility to adulteration in their worship at the sight of one of their number, a young maid, suddenly snatched up to the gaping heights of Luxury and Fashion through sheer good looks.  Remembering that they are accustomed to a totally reverse effect from that possession, it is very perceptible how a breach in their reverence may come of the change.

Otherwise the ballad is innocent; certainly it is innocent in design.  A fresher national song of a beautiful incident of our country life has never been written.  The sentiments are natural, the imagery is apt and redolent of the soil, the music of the verse appeals to the dullest ear.  It has no smell of the lamp, nothing foreign and far-fetched about it, but is just what it pretends to be, the carol of the native bird.  A sample will show, for the ballad is much too long to be given entire: 

          Sweet Susie she tripped on a shiny May morn,
          As blithe as the lark from the green-springing corn,
          When, hard by a stile, ’twas her luck to behold
          A wonderful gentleman covered with gold!

          There was gold on his breeches and gold on his coat,
          His shirt-frill was grand as a fifty-pound note;
          The diamonds glittered all up him so bright,
          She thought him the Milky Way clothing a Sprite!

          ‘Fear not, pretty maiden,’ he said with a smile;
          ’And, pray, let me help you in crossing the stile. 
          She bobbed him a curtsey so lovely and smart,
          It shot like an arrow and fixed in his heart.

          As light as a robin she hopped to the stone,
          But fast was her hand in the gentleman’s own;
          And guess how she stared, nor her senses could trust,
          When this creamy gentleman knelt in the dust!

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The Tale of Chloe from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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