BETA

The Eggs and the Horses.

[The following version of a popular English story, of which an
outline is given in Grose’s Dictionary, was one of the “ speeches”
at St Saviour’s Grammar School in November 1837. The youthful
author has already given to the world an attractive volume of
versified fables, under the title of “ Old Friends in a New
Dress.”*]
John Dobbins was so captivated1
By Mary Trueman’s fortune, face, and cap,2
(With near two thousand pounds the hook was baited)3
That in he popp’d to matrimony’s trap.4
One small ingredient towards happiness,5
It seems, ne’er occupied a single thought ;6
For his accomplish’d bride7
Appearing well supplied8
With the three charms of riches, beauty, dress,9
He did not, as he ought,10
Think of ought else ; so no inquiry made he11
As to the temper of the lady.12
And here was certainly a great omission ;13
None should accept of Hymen’s gentle fetter,14
For worse or better,”15
Whatever be their prospect or condition,16
Without acquaintance with each other’s nature ;17
For many a mild and quiet creature18
Of charming disposition,19
Alas ! by thoughtless marriage has destroy’d it.20
So, take advice ; let girls dress e’er so tastely,21
Don’t enter into wedlock hastily22
Unless you can’t avoid it.23
Week follow’d week, and, it must be confest,24
The bridegroom and the bride had both been blest :25
Month after month had languidly transpired,26
Both parties became tired :27
Year after year dragg’d on ;28
Their happiness was gone.29
Ah ! foolish pair !30
Bear and forbear31
Should be the rule for married folks to take.32
But blind mankind (poor discontented elves ! )33
Too often make34
The misery of themselves.35
At length the husband said, “ This will not do !36
Mary, I never will be ruled by you :37
So, wife, d’ye see ?38
To live together as we can’t agree,39
Suppose we part ! ”40
With woman’s pride,41
Mary replied42
With all my heart ! ”43
John Dobbins then to Mary’s father goes,44
And gives the list of his imagined woes.45
Dear son-in-law ! ” the father said, “ I see46
All is quite true that you’ve been telling me ;47
Yet there in marriage is such strange fatality,48
That when as much of life49
You will have seen50
As it has been51
My lot to see—I think you’ll own your wife52
As good or better than the generality.53
An interest in your case I really take,54
And therefore gladly this agreement make :55
An hundred eggs within this basket lie,56
With which your luck, to-morrow, you shall try ;57
Also my five best horses, with my cart ;58
And from the farm at dawn you shall depart.59
All round the country go,60
And be particular, I beg ;61
Where husbands rule—a horse bestow,62
But where the wives—an egg.63
And if the horses go before the eggs,64
I’ll ease you of your wife—I will—I fegs ! ”65
Away the married man departed,66
Brisk and light-hearted :67
Not doubting that, of course,68
The first five houses each would take a horse.69
At the first house he knock’d,70
He felt a little shock’d,71
To hear a female voice, with angry roar,72
Scream out— “ Hullo! 73
Who’s there below ?74
Why, husband, are you deaf ? go to the door,75
See who it is, I beg.”76
Our poor friend John77
Trudged quickly on,78
But first laid at the door an egg.79
I will not, all his journey through,80
The discontented traveller pursue ;81
Suffice it here to say82
That when his first day’s task was nearly done,83
He’d seen an hundred husbands, minus one,84
And eggs just ninety-nine had given away.85
Ha ! there’s a house where he I seek must dwell,” 86
At length cried John ; “ I’ll go and ring the bell.”87
The servant came—ask’d him, “ Pray,88
Friend, is your master in the way ? ”89
No,” said the man, with smiling phiz,90
My master is not, but my mistress is ;91
Walk in that parlour, sir, my lady’s in it ;92
Master will be himself there—in a minute.”93
The lady said her husband then was dressing,94
And, if his business was not very pressing,95
She would prefer that he should wait until96
His toilet was completed ;97
Adding, “ Pray, sir, be seated.”98
Madam, I will,”99
Said John, with great politeness; “ but I own100
That you alone101
Can tell me all I wish to know ;102
Will you do so ?103
Pardon my rudeness,104
And just have the goodness105

* London : Smith, Elder, and Co. 1827.
(A wager to decide) to tell me—do106
Who governs in this house—your spouse, or you ? ”107
Sir,” said the lady, with a doubting nod,108
Your question’s very odd :109
But as, I think, none ought to be110
Ashamed to do their duty (do you see ? )111
On that account I scruple not to say112
It always is my pleasure to obey.113
But here’s my husband (always sad without me) ;114
Take not my word, but ask him, if you doubt me.”115
Sir,” said the husband, ’ tis most true :116
I promise you,117
A more obedient, kind, and gentle woman118
Does not exist.”119
Give us your fist,” 120
Said John, “ and, as the case is something more than common,121
Allow me to present you with a beast122
Worth fifty guineas at the very least.123
There’s Smiler, sir, a beauty, you must own,124
There’s Prince, that handsome black,125
Ball the grey mare, and Saladin the roan,126
Besides old Dunn ;127
Come, sir, choose one ;128
But take advice from me,129
Let Prince be he ;130
Why, sir, you’ll look the hero on his back.”131
I’ll take the black, and thank you too.”132
Nay, husband, that will never do ;133
You know, you’ve often heard me say134
How much I long to have a grey ;135
And this one will exactly do for me.”136
No, no,” said he,137
Friend, take the four others back,138
And only leave the black.”139
Nay, husband, I declare140
I must have the grey mare.”141
Adding (with gentle force)142
The grey mare is, I’m sure, the better horse.”143
Well, if it must be so—good sir,144
The grey mare we prefer :145
So we accept your gift.” John made a leg ;146
“Allow me to present you with an egg ;147
’Tis my last egg remaining148
The cause of my regaining,149
I trust, the fond affection of my wife,150
Whom I will love the better all my life.151
Home to content has her kind father brought me ;152
I thank him for the lesson he has taught me.”153