1824 Poem, George Dugall, ‘The R —l Hubbub’

Author: George Dugall

Date: 1824

Source: Poem: ‘The R —l Hubbub’, from The Northern Cottage and other poems; written partly in the Dialect of the North of Ireland by George Dugall (Londonderry: William McCorkell, 1824)

Comments: George Dugall (c.1790-1855) was the son of Rev. George Dugall, Presbyterian minister of Magherafelt from 1786-1810, and lived most of his life near Newtowncunningham in Donegal. He was a schoolteacher in north Donegal, and his only book of poems The Northern Cottage contains an extensive glossary of Ulster-Scots words. The vocabulary and cultural context of his poems are rich in Ulster-Scots reference.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1800-1899/058



Revised, from a sketch written in July, 1814.

“Life is a farce — the world a jest.”Swift.

When Rhenish Lairds grown wise by chance,

Rebell’d like starving swine;

And squeak’d for Liberty, till France

Shook half-way to the Rhine;

Equality’s long-smother’d flame

A spark o’ courage gied them;

And Rights of Man becam’ the theme

Of Tyrants roaring — Freedom.

Field Marshal Boreas having form’d

A junction with the Czar;

The Gauls were chas’d frae trenches storm’d

To h--- or Lord knows whar:

Then Prussians, Austrians, Swedes an’ a’

Gied France a waefu’ flegging;

Brak’ Bony out o’ house an’ ha’,

An’ clean o’erturn’d the biggin’.

When Summer nights were eve an’ morn

Wi’ scarce a shade between;

The dews hung on the shooting corn,

An’ sparkl’d on the green;

P--tl---h her bonny margin view’d,

Bedeck’d with many a blossom;

Ere yet the sun ‘yont Grawnie’s wood[1]

Had sunk in Swilly’s bosom.

Ae night amang those scenes I rov’d,

Thrice happy as I stray’d,

To trace the streams my lambkins lov’d;

The rocks round which they play’d.

In waking dreams there fancy raves,

And sullen meditation,

Through scenes alas! long since the graves

Of many an expectation.

Care’s weary sons were sleeping sound;

The village dogs were still;

Nor breeze nor voice was heard around,

Except the whisp’ring rill;

’Twas there, that whether true or fause,

A vision or vagary,

I saw (or thought I saw) gude cause

To mak’ me something eerie.

A grousome spectre stood fu’ grim,

Atween me an’ the knowe;

Yon star that guides the cossack hame

Scarce blinkit owr his pow:

Full many a beech does Grawnie boast;

The tallest o’ her treasure,

I’d mak’ a bet (nor fear to lose’t)

Would scarce his shank-bane measure.

Olympus on his shoulders rose;

Twa full-orb’d moons, his een;

Ten’riffe his chin — the Peak[2] his nose —

Charybdis gap’d between.

The E------r in his fist he took,

An’ down the bills cam’ tumbling;

An’ thrice his dark braid wings he shook

Wi’ mutt’ring an’ wi’ grumbling.

Quo’ he — (but his was such a voice,

That just a pop-gun’s mair,

Would like an egg-shell crack’d the skies

An’ laid the regions bare:)

“I’m genius of a thousand ranks;

Extravagance my name is:

I come to shew what princely pranks

Were play’d about St. Jamie’s.

Dull prudence, by resistless force,

I’ve chas’d to climes afar;

Whiles frae the pulpit I discourse;

Whiles blunder at the bar:

By me with self-important sneer,

The politician swaggers;

And from the peasant to the peer

I fill the land wi’ beggars.

For years by dint o’ magic slight,

I’ve jumbl’d time an’ place,

An’ lies an’ truth, an’ wrong an’ wright,

To suit the varied case;

Till truth’s at length become absurd;

An’ facts are grown deceiving:

You’ll may be, faith, misdoubt my word;

“But seeing is believing.”

His cloak in front he open’d wide:

Some spell he surely cast;

For straight appear’d frae side to side

A circus grand and vast;

Lo! there in all its splendor lies

A view o’ L----n city;

Here streets project, there columns rise;

A prospect new and pretty.

All sexes and all ranks this day

Assembl’d raise the hum;

For let the Lord’s be whar it may,

The day of kings is come.

Ev’n aged men run butt an’ ben,

Through spectacles they snivel;

And seem as fain as youth o’ ten,

To see the Grand Arrival.

Here Editors in ranks appear;

Stars, Suns, and ither graith:

This day they’ll see them as they are

They’ve worshipp’d lang through faith:

Allegiance to a single throne

Will soon become a libel;

And modern fact wi’ honest John

Will supersede the Bible.

Now from Blackheath to Charing Cross

The streets are lin’d and cramm’d;

Some get sair squeezes, some a toss,

And some are badly lam’d.

“There!” — ’Twas some craw that by them flew;

“There, there,” cries many a capon;

Because they ha’e na kings anew,

They’re a’ for mair kings gaping.

Oh, sad begunk! For wo is me!

John Bull in mute amaze

May staun an’ glow’r; — true Royalty

Still shuns the vulgar gaze:

For now at Pulteney hotel

The Czar incog’s arriving;

And e’en the post-boy canna smell

The Royalty he’s driving.

Now at the gay court o’ St. James

The Prussian core arrive:

Poor chiels nae doubt wi’ empty wames,

For furiously they drive:

Formality ta’en unawares

Gi’es them a welcome cheering;

Wi’ borrow’d rite worth all her airs,

The hearty squeeze of Erin.

Then lastly comes a warlike chiel;

’Tis Blucher’s sel’ they view:

Not us’d wi’ hiding in a creel,

He proudly prances through:

With conscious dignity he greets

Each new-made London crony;

An’ drives as bauldly through their streets

As through the ranks of Bony.

To the Horse Guards he shapes his speed,

To greet our gallant Chief;

But compliments nae cat will feed

When hunger thinks on beef:

To C-rl-n he flies, an’ there

Our R-y-al R-g-nt knights him;

And as he looks for something mair,

To dinner he invites him.

Wi’ chiefs supine frae warlike toil

The dining-room is stor’d;

Whilst luxuries of ev’ry soil

Oppress the ample board:

Carouse! a fig for the expense;

The c---l l---t maun pay for’t;

Though many sair-wrought poor men’s weans

Maun hungry gang an’ dry for’t.

The tenpennies it cost mysel’

Nae blawin-horn I mak’:

Some empty wames the like can tell;

An’ mony a naked back.

Avaunt ye Opp-s-t-n crew!

Why preach about starvation?

L--d C-------- makes no ado,

But gives you an oration.

They hack roast beef, fed veal an’ pork,

Wi’ mony an awkward scar;

And some that handle knife an’ fork,

Could better carve in war:

Aul’ Innishow’n haud up thy pow!

The Royal Czar o’ Russia

Has trinkets now, that mair than thou

He does na ken the use o’.

Ye northern wolves! devour wi’ haste;

Just lift it in your paws;

For may be never such a feast

Again shall creesh your jaws.

John Bull now shews the strangers play;

He’s swall’d up like a hillock:

Poor chiel “it is na ev’ry day

That Manus kills a bullock.”[3]

To Ascot Heath[4] now pour along

Crown’d head an’ motley face;

No horse can start in such a throng;

No ladies mind a race.

On Platow,[5] like some fav’rite pug,

They show’r down praise and blessing;

An’ though he’s hair frae lug to lug,

Can hardly keep frae kissing.

And now in Blucher’s silv’ry fleece,

Each fair one claims a share:

Alas! he has na hairs a piece;

His pow is maistly bare:

Yet ay they press, an’ ay they gaze

About the aul’ commander:

Thus flocks o’ geese upon our braes

Crowd round some aged gander.

What gossiping, what swapping strings,

What gadding here an’ there:

Ev’n London fam’d, for men an’ things,

The Goths think unco queer.

To Oxford now as they ha’e time,

They hie to view the college;

Whar weel they’re ply’d wi’ doggrel rhime,

To shew them jingling knowledge.

There wits demure, explaining a’,

Are laugh’d at by the knaves;

They neither learning want, nor law,

To govern crouching slaves.

So Johnny lad, tak’ back your guests,

To arts you’re most complete in;

And teach in idle shows an’ feasts,

Your nonsense and your eating.

Now H-rtf-rd’s bonny Marchioness

Invites them to a ball;

Where flambeaux, stars, festoons and wreaths,

Bedeck the princely hall:

A hundred sitters at her hip,

She eyes them like a goshawk:

Wha kens but that her ladyship

May catch some sturdy cossack.

Wi’ waltz, cotillion, jig an’ reel,

The bouncing is begun;

And Breeding spite o’ Chesterfiel’[6]

Is laughing at the fun.

There Lord an’ Lady, Clown an’ King,

In circling eddies wheeling:

And Royal Sawney shows a fling,[7]

That far exceeds the Highlan’.

Hail Britons! fam’d for arts of peace;

Philosophers, Divines!

At Lowther’s[8] in unrivall’d grace

Your disposition shines:

By collar-bones genteelly broke,

With much in science deeper,

Thames’ pugilists surprise and shock

The semi-brutes of Dnieper.

How can our grateful isle reward

Your kind fraternal care?

Your left hands come wi’ bibles stor’d,

Your right for boxing bare.

Wi’ Erin’s sons, for a’ your boast,

You’ll naething mak’ by squabbling;

If heroism rul’d the roast,

The crown would be in Dublin.

The fight began — the claret flew;

I shunn’d the beastly sight:

Just then the mighty scene withdrew;

I look’d, and all was night.

Arous’d as frae some idle dream

O’ visionary glory,

Atween an’ day I stacher’d hame;

An’ penn’d this simple story.


[1] See page 75, Note. [In pencil, “75” is lined across and “72” substituted.]

[2] Peak of Teneriffe.

[3] A well known homely proverb, expressing how seldom feasts occur among the poorer classes of the peasantry.

[4] A race-course near London.

[5] General of the Cossacks.

[6] Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh since the creation of the world. A man of parts and fashion is therefore often seen to smile, but seldom heard to laugh. — Chesterfield’s Letters.

[7] The German waltz fling.

[8] Lord Lowther's, where Blucher, Plawtow, &c. &c. witnessed a grand pugilistic fete.

Other poems from ‘The Northern Cottage’


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