Sensible editors are reluctant to accept any form of verse on their pages. One poem in print brings an avalanche of the most ghastly doggerel.
But these are a bit different — early 19th-century rhymes about three of our towns that might amuse you. And to think that people are rude about the Medway towns now …
The people of Stroud¹,
Talk long and talk loud,
And herd in a croud,
Traducing their innocent neighbours;
While envy by fits
Mid the congress sits,
Gives a whet to their wits,
And smiles on their scandalous labours.
This place, like an eel,
Where the publicans steal,
Is dirty, base, long, foul, and slippery;
And the belles flirt about,
With their persons deck’d out,
With run muslin, and second-hand frippery.
Rochester’s a town²
Of specious renown,
Full of tinkers and taylors,
And slopmen and sailors,
And magistrates who often blundered;
Coquettes without beauty,
Old maids past their duty,
And Venus’ gay nymphs by the hundred.
Vile inns without beds,
And men without heads,
By which poor Britannia’s undone;
And port manufactured in London.
Honest Dick Watts³ of yore,
Their good name to restore,
Decreed (such enormities scorning)
Each travelling wight,
A warm couch for the night,
And fourpence in cash in the morning.
Old Chatham’s a place,
That’s the nation’s disgrace,
Where the club and the fist prove the law, sir;
And presumption is seen
To direct the marine,
Who know not a spike from a hawser.
Here the dolts show with pride
How the men-of-war ride,
Who Gallia’s proud first-rates can shiver,
And a fortified hill
All the Frenchmen to kill
That land on the banks of the river!
Such towns and such men,
We shall ne’er see again,
Where smuggling’s a laudable function;
In some high windy day,
May the devil fly away
With the whole of the dirty conjunction!1 Strood was spelled Stroud until the late 1800s, so this isn’t poetic licence. 2 But this is poetic licence: Rochester was a city then, as it is now — despite some council bureaucrat’s best efforts to the contrary. 3 Richard Watts, city benefactor.