Richard Harris Barham 1788 (Canterbury) – 1845 (London)
'Look at the Clock!' quoth Winifred Pryce,
As she open'd the door to her husband's knock,
Then paus'd to give him a piece of advice,
'You nasty Warmint, look at the Clock!
Is this the way, you
Wretch, every day you
Treat her who vow'd to love and obey you?
Out all night!
Me in a fright;
Staggering home as it's just getting light!
You intoxified brute! you insensible block!
Look at the Clock!-- Do!-- Look at the Clock!'
Winifred Pryce was tidy and clean,
Her gown was a flower'd one, her petticoat green,
Her buckles were bright as her milking cans,
And her hat was a beaver, and made like a man's;
Her little red eyes were deep set in their socket-holes,
Her gown-tail was turn'd up, and tuck'd through the pocket-holes:
A face like a ferret
Betoken'd her spirit:
To conclude, Mrs. Pryce was not over young,
Had very short legs, and a very long tongue.
Now David Pryce
Had one darling vice;
Remarkably partial to anything nice,
Nought that was good to him came amiss,
Whether to eat, or to drink, or to kiss!
Especially ale --
If it was not too stale
I really believe he'd have emptied a pail;
Not that in Wales
They talk of their Ales;
To pronounce the word they make use of might trouble you,
Being spelt with a C, two Rs, and a W.
That particular day,
As I've heard people say,
Mr. David Pryce had been soaking his clay,
And amusing himself with his pipe and cheroots,
The whole afternoon at the Goat in Boots,
With a couple more soakers,
Both, like himself, prime singers and jokers;
And, long after day had drawn to a close,
And the rest of the world was wrapp'd in repose,
They were roaring out 'Shenkin!' and 'Ar hydd y nos;'
While David himself, to a Sassenach tune,
Sang, 'We've drunk down the Sun, boys! let's drink down the Moon!'
What have we with day to do?
Mrs. Winifred Pryce, 'twas made for you!'--
At length, when they couldn't well drink any more,
Old 'Goat-in-Boots' show'd them the door;
And then came that knock,
And the sensible shock
David felt when his wife cried, 'Look at the Clock!'
For the hands stood as crooked as crooked might be,
The long at the Twelve, and the short at the Three!
This self-same Clock had long been a bone
Of contention between this Darby and Joan;
And often among their pother and rout,
When this otherwise amiable couple fell out,
Pryce would drop a cool hint,
With an ominous squint
At its case, of an 'Uncle' of his, who'd a 'Spout.'
That horrid word 'Spout'
No sooner came out,
Than Winifred Pryce would turn her about,
And with scorn on her lip,
And a hand on each hip,
'Spout' herself till her nose grew red at the tip.
'You thundering willain,
I know you'd be killing
Your wife,-- ay, a dozen of wives,-- for a shilling!
You may do what you please,
You may sell my chemise,
(Mrs. P. was too well-bred to mention her stock,)
But I never will part with my Grandmother's Clock!'
Mrs. Pryce's tongue ran long and ran fast;
But patience is apt to wear out at last,
And David Pryce in temper was quick,
So he stretch'd out his hand, and caught hold of a stick;
Perhaps in its use he might mean to be lenient,
But walking just then wasn't very convenient,
So he threw it, instead,
Direct at her head.
It knock'd off her hat;
Down she fell flat;
Her case, perhaps, was not much mended by that:
But, whatever it was,-- whether rage and pain
Produced apoplexy, or burst a vein,
Or her tumble induced a concussion of brain,
I can't say for certain,-- but this I can,
When, sober'd by fright, to assist her he ran,
Mrs. Winifred Pryce was as dead as Queen Anne!
The fearful catastrophe
Named in my last strophe
As adding to grim Death's exploits such a vast trophy,
Soon made a great noise; and the shocking fatality
Ran over, like wild-fire, the whole Principality.
And then came Mr. Ap Thomas, the Coroner,
With his jury to sit, some dozen or more, on her.
Mr. Pryce to commence
His 'ingenious defence,'
Made a 'powerful appeal' to the jury's 'good sense,'
'The world he must defy
Ever to justify
Any presumption of 'Malice Prepense;'
The unlucky lick
From the end of his stick
He 'deplored,' he was 'apt to be rather too quick;'
But, really, her prating
Was so aggravating:
Some trifling correction was just what he meant; all
The rest, he assured them, was 'quite accidental!'
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"'Look at The Clock!' : Patty Morgan The Milkmaid's Story" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 21 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/30090/'look-at-the-clock!'-:-patty-morgan-the-milkmaid's-story>.