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The Hannah More Project

Computational Analysis, Author Attribution, and the Cheap Repository Tracts of the 18th Century

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John the Shopkeeper Part III



TURNED SAILOR; PART III. SHEWING How JOHN and his family actually took Boat, and how they had for a while a most delightful sail on the wide Ocean.


LONG has the Muse her tale delay’d,

Has stopt to talk of Johnny’s trade;

Wife, daughter, mother too, of John,

And quite forgot to travel on.

Long has the Muse with trembling fear,

View’d the sad scene that now is near;

Hung back indeed from very fright,

And shrunk and started at the sight.

As the tall steed, if he should spy

Some unknown form of danger nigh,

Starts from his path, his eye-balls glare,

His feet fly prancing in the air,

Round on the spot and round he wheels,

Upright upon his meer hind heels;

So have we started at the view

Of what our John is now to do,

Have gaily frisk’d it round and round,

Nor gain’d as you an inch of ground.

Come, gentle Muse, the tale declare,

Sing how this bold advent’rous pair,

With mother brave and willing daughter,

March’d to the borders of the water.

Sing how they trod the beech so steep,

Gaz’d at the wonders of the deep,

And stopt to view, as in a trance,

The awful ocean’s vast expanse,

Then gaz’d at ev’ry passing boat,

Till they quite long’d to get on float.

The Boatmen, as they cross the Strand,

Spring from an alehouse just at hand,

All on the party down they burst,

And each is sure that he was first.

Oh! how they press and fill the ground,

And push and elbow all around!

Each to a Lady makes his suit,

Till Nancy starts as at a brute:

While prudent Johnny marching down,

Hires a snug boat for half a crown,

Of smaller size, but stiff and tight;

And having seen that all is right,

Rallies his daughter, claims his wife,

Bursts thro’ the crowd and ends the strife.

And now with self-complacent grin,

The favor’d Boatman hands them in;

But first he plants, as is his rule,

On the wave’s edge his little stool,

And while he begs them to take care,

Presents his elbow high in air.

All in they stept, all down they sat;

All safe, all even, and all


The Boatman pushes off the boat;

Was e’er such treasure all afloat!

And now amid the sun’s bright gleam,

See how they cut the silver stream!

See how the breeze begins to play!

See how it wafts them far away!

Scarce had the party left the shore,

When Ruffman longs to spare his oar,

Points to the bench where lies a sail,

And begs to profit by the gale.

At first the Boatman’s words appal,

And all the female faces fall;

And Madam bets ten thousand pound,

“This instant we shall be drown’d.”

Mean time old Ruffman, with a sneer,

Forbids each vain and silly fear;

Talks of the seas that he hath cross’d,

Beaten, and blown, and tempest tost;

Tells of his dangers, now no more,

While a green youth in days of yore,

Of feats perform’d by way of fun,

And boasts of matches he has won:

Then drops his tone, and quite allays

All the new fears he seem’d to raise;

Pleads his great care, asserts his skill,

Begs each dear Lady’ll dread no ill;

For if he keeps the rope in hand,

The water’s just as safe as land.

Thus all objections down he beat,

And now the awful sail is set;

Ah, how they plough the whit’ning seas,

So fine so glorious is the breeze;

How fresh and cooling too the air,

While the sail shades them from the glare;

The Boatman, who a while before

Sat coatless heated at the oar,

Now lolls his ease, observes the wind,

Steers with one careful hand behind;

While his right fist holds hard the sa

Resists or humours well the gale;

Then half-appearing to turn back,

At once he stops and makes a tack;

Points at the distant and once more,

And seems to run you right ashore;

But ere he lets you quite touch ground,

Again he spins his vessel round,

And shifts across, with skill so nice,

The flutt’ring canvas in a trice;

Scuds o’er the spacious seas again;

Again he plows the mighty main;

Again the less’ning shore retires,

Woods, hills depart, and distant spires;

While the bright sun, yon clouds between,

Shines forth and gilds the glorious scene.

The party, eas’d of all their fright,

Gaze round and round with sweet delight;

Praise with one voice both land and seas,

And now they languish for a breeze;

Dread lest the slack’ning wind should fail,

And welcome every growing gale:

Swift o’er the swelling waves they fly,

And pleasure beams in ev’ry eye.

But, ah! how oft with genial fun,

While the gay course of life we run,

And fancy as we taste the treat,

Our human bliss is now compleat;—

How oft in that same favor’d hour,

Does the whole sky begin to lour!

The cheering sun-shine’s pass’d away,

There comes a dreary doleful day:

Afflictions gather like a cloud;

The swelling tempest roars aloud;

While from yon threat’ning heav’ns so dark,

It thunders round our little bark:

Unskill’d to struggle thro’ the breeze,

We toss in new and troubled seas,

And life’s gay morning all so bright,

Ends in some woeful tale at night,


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