The Adventures of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque
Dr. Syntax Tumbling into the Water
Excerpts from Canto 10
Dr. Syntax, after falling into the lake in Canto 9, becomes sick:
“…It was not Vice that e’er could keep
Dear Syntax from refreshing sleep;
For no foul thought, no wicked art.
In his pure life e’er bore a part.
Some ailment dire his slumbers broke.
And, ere the sun arose he awoke;
When such a tremor o’er him pass’d.
He thought that hour would prove his last.
His limbs were all besieg’d by pain;
He now grew hot, then cold again:
His tongue was parch’d, his lips were dry,
And, heaving the unbidden sigh.
He rang the bell, and call’d for aid.
Then groan’d so loud, th’ affrighted maid
Spread the alarm throughout the house;
When straight the landlord and his spouse
Made all despatch to do their best
And ease the sufferings of their guest. …”
Eventually Dr. Syntax regains his health and he goes forward on his quest for the picturesque — which so far has brought him more trouble than anything else.
When, on the fourth, in health renew’d.
His anxious journey he pursu’d.
In two days more, before his eyes
The stately towers of York arise.
“But what,” said he, “can all this mean?
What is yon crowded busy .scene?
Ten thousand souls, I do maintain,
Are scattered over yonder plain,”
“Ay, more than that,” a man replied.
Who trotted briskly by his side,
“And if you choose, I’ll be your guide:
For sure you will not pass this way.
And miss the pleasure of the day:
These are the races, to whose sport
Nobles and gentry all resort.”Thought Syntax I’ll just take a look;
Twill give a subject to my book. …”
Dr. Syntax loses his money at the Race ground at York
It will come as no surprise to those of you who’ve followed the good doctor’s journey so far that the man who offers his services is less than honest! He tempts Dr Syntax into a wager — which results in a loss of 20 pounds. Another dilemma for our hero.
What would have been his hapless fate.
In this most unexpected state,
May well be guess’d: but, lo! a friend
Fortune was kind enough to send.
An honest ‘Squire, who smok’d the trick,
Appeared well arm’d with oaken stick.
And placing many a sturdy blow
Upon the shoulders of the foe,
“It is with all my soul I beat
This vile, this most notorious cheat…”
“… Syntax his simple story told ; —
The ‘Squire, as kind as he was bold.
His full protection now affords
And cheer’d him both with wine and words.
“I love the Clergy from my heart,
And always take a parson’s part.
My father, Doctor, wore the gown;
A better man was never known….”
There follows another long conversation extolling the virtues of the clergy. Dr. Syntax, in his own opinion, has never had a clerical lliving (job) worthy of his abilities, and he tells that to almost everyone he meets. To a great extent thiese dialogues prepare us for the denouement to come after many more adventures.
Excerpts from Canto 11
After a comfortable night with the squire and his wife, over a hearty breakfast Dr. Syntax is addressed by his host:
This morning I intend to go
To see the military show.
The light dragoons, now quartered here.
Will all in grand review appear :
They are a regiment of renown.
And some great general is come down
To see them all, in bright array,
Act the fierce battle of the day.
If you should like such sights as these, —
If Warlike feats your fancy please.
We’ll to the common take a ride.
And I myself will be your guide:
So, if you please, within an hour
Our nags shall be before the door.”…
Dr. Syntax at the Review
Naturally the good doctor agrees. But just as they are about to leave he receives a letter from his wife, full of loal gossip from home…which concludes as follows:
“…So fare you well, my dearest life,—-
And I remain your loving wife.”
” But if you fear that you shall come
Without a bag of money home,
Twere better far that you should take
A leap at once into the Lake:
I’d rather hear that you were drown’d,
Than that you should my hopes confound!”
These tender lines did not impart
Much comfort to the Doctor’s heart;
He therefore thought it would be better
To lay aside this pretty letter;
Nor suffer its contents to sour
The pleasure of the present hour.
The ‘Squire now became his guide,
So off they trotted, side by side;
And, ere they pass’d a mile or two,^
Beheld the scene of the review.
The troops drawn up in proud array,
An animating sight display ;
The well-form’d squadrons wheel around.
The standards wave, the trumpets sound…”
The horese Grizzle recalls her long-ago days as a war horse by resonding vigorously to the trumpets. But Dr. Syntax manages to survive the charge and eventually returns to his host’s home, where the Squire and his Wife entertain him with some songs. Dr. Syntax reciprocates.
“Doctor Syntax’s Song.
I’ve got a scold of a wife.
The plague and storm of my life;
O! were she in coal-pit bottom.
And all such jades, ‘od rot ’em!
My cares would then be over.
And I should live in clover;
With harum scarum, horum scorum,
Stew’d prunes for ever!
Stew’d prunes for ever! …
The song continues for many verses and concludes:
…By fam’d UIlyssus’ stream
How oft I fondly dream,
When I read in classic pages,
Of all the ancient sages;
But they were born to die,
And so were you and I;
With harum scarum, horum scorum,-
Stew’d prunes for everl
Stew’d prunes for ever !
Thus, with many a pleasant lay,
The party clos’d th’ exhausted day.
More to come…