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The Ballad on Sir John Moore.
Globe and Traveller  No. 6843  (5 November 1824)
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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The Globe & Traveller.

No. 6843. FRIDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 5, 1824. Price 7d.


It appears that the Dr. Marshall, of Durham, in whose name a letter in the Courier claimed the Ode on Sir John Moore, is a farrier, and “the Reverend Doctor Alderson, of Butterby,” is the bellman of the city. A Correspondent of a Morning Paper, who communicates this information, says:—

Z, Ode on the Burial of Moore

When Mr. Taylor advises the Doctor to go back to Celsius and Galen, and as much as tells him he is not ambitious of taking his medicine, and shortly after fancifully invests him with a wig, and talks of him writing verses on the tomb-stones of his patients, I must confess that I felt my risible muscles as much tickled as in perusing the learned Doctor Marshall’s averment, that “he should not have thought the lines on Sir John Moore’s funeral worth owning, had not the false statement of The Chronicle met his eyes;” or, when he speaks of the copy he gave to his “friend and relation Captain Bell,” or, the stanza added afterwards, “at the suggestion of the Rev. Dr. Alderson, of Butterby.” Mr. Taylor himself, when he finds that he has in some measure been duped, as well as the Courier, will join in the laugh at the idea of talking of a practitioner of the noble art of farriery in such exalted terms. But it is time to acquit Dr. Marshall of any abuse in the deception practiced upon The Courier. I have said before that his name has been taken in vain in this affair, and I have no doubt, but when it comes to his ears, he will indignantly disclaim any participation in the offence. From the little knowledge I have of his character, I am sure he would disdain to adopt any piece of poetry not his own, and an occasional perusal of his productions qualifies me to say, that he is the most original poet in his native place; nor would he there be suspected of being the author of the ballad in question, which, however worthy of admiration, possesses none of those characteristic touches of elegance and refinement, in which his writings so eminently excel. There are some others, too, whose feelings will be wounded by seeing their names brought before the public. I mean Captain Bell, and Dr. Alderson, of Butterby, which latter, I doubt not, will offer a reward for the discovery of the author or authors of the hoax; and, what is more, will cry it himself, being possessed of the distinguished and honourable office of bellman of the city of Durham, and whose title to rank himself as a dignitary of the Church, is derived from the same imaginary source that has invested Dr. Marshall with a physician’s diploma. Z.

H Marshall, Ode on the Burial of Moore

We fear the Courier, by acknowledging, in the case of the Columbus’s reported arrival through the “new cut,” that any fool might practise a deception upon it, has opened a door for the exertions of a very numerous class of its correspondents. We hope it will take the earliest opportunity of contradicting its announcement. We, too, have received a letter on the subject, probably by mistake, as we suspect, from internal evidence, it may be the composition of one of that journal’s readers of 15 years’ standing.” We give it entire below:—


Hos ego versiculos scripsi tulit alter honorem.
They lie, the rogues, I wrote the ode before ’em.
Mr. Editor, Sir,—Good Heavens, Mr. Editor, grant me patience! Is this to be borne, and in a free country too—a country that boasts of its laws, its respect for literary property, its—Oh, I shall go wild. It’s mine, Mr. Editor, it’s all mine; I wrote the ode, every line of it; I wrote it all (except from the end of its first stanza to the concluding couplet of the last, inclusive, which were furnished me by the suggestion of my valued friend, Mr. Jones, the green-grocer of Honey-lane market), and I showed it to my other valued friend, Mr. Thompson, of No. 117, Crown-court, Little Britain, before
Lord Byron, or Sir John Moore, or any of them were born; and he has got a copy to this day, written in a roman-hand, upon a piece of whitey-brown paper, Yes, Sir, I repeat, “Ille ego qui quondam"—but no; I wont quote that now—that’s the beginning of one of my little Latin effusions, which I showed a twelvemonth since to my friend Smith, of Bucklersbury; and if I do, somebody, I suppose, will be claiming that. But at once to silence all pretenders, I enclose you a real genuine copy, as It was originally written—not upon Sir John Moore; no indeed, nor upon any such person, but upon a friend and relation of mine, one Dr. Ollepod, whose name I introduced in a play I composed some years ago; which, as well as many other trifles of mine, is a great favourite with the public. You will perceive, Mr. Editor, that some bungler has marred my verses to serve a purpose, and treated them as gipsies do stolen children, disfigured them to make them pass for his own; an original remark of mine—this, by-the-by, to one Sheridan, who has since been uncandid enough to make use of it without acknowledgment. Now read, Mr. Editor, read and judge for yourself.


Not a sous had he got—not a guinea or note;
And he look’d confoundedly flurried
As he bolted away without paying his shot,
And the landlady after him hurried.
We saw him again at dead of night.
When home from the club returning;
We twigg’d the Doctor beneath the light
Of the gas-lamps, brilliantly burning.
All bare and expos’d to the midnight dews,
Reclined in the gutter we found him;
And he look’d like a gentleman taking a snooze
With his Marshall cloak around him.
“The Doctor’s as drunk as the D—,” we said,
And we managed a shutter to borrow;
We rais’d him, and sigh’d at the thought that his head
Would consumedly ache on the morrow.
We bore him home and we put him to bed,
And we told his wife and his daughter
To give him next morning a couple of red-
Herrings with soda water.
Loudly they talk’d of his money that’s gone,
And his Lady began to upbraid him;
But little he reck’d, so they let him snore on,
’Neath the counterpane just as we laid him.
We tuck’d him in, and had hardly done,
When beneath the window calling,
We heard the rough voice of a son of a gun
Of a watchman “one o’clock” bawling.
Slowly and sadly we all walked down
From his room in the uppermost story;
A rush-light we placed on the cold hearth-stone,
And we left him alone in his glory.
Now, Sir I appeal to you—I appeal to all the world, and to the Rev. Dr. Butterboat in particular, whether a more abominable plagiarism was ever committed; whether the whole
Ode which Lord Byron so much approved, and so many people have claimed, is not as false and barefaced a fabrication as ever was foisted upon the public; fabricated, Sir, entirely from my lines? When I think of it I cannot help being a little ruffled—“Oh, I could do such deeds,” as one of my heroes, a black man, says in a Tragedy I wrote last winter. Nevertheless, do not suppose I am in a passion, Mr. Editor; no, I am too much of a philosopher, as well as a poet, for that; and to show the perfect contempt in which I hold all those who would rob me of my laurels, I shall conclude with four lines I have just composed, which will bear on this nefarious attempt to plunder me of my well-earned fame; and let the envyers of laurels construe them if they can.
Sic vos non vobls vellera fertis oves,
Sic vos non vobis mellificatis apes,
Sic vos non vobis fertis arata boves,
Sic vos non vobis nidificatis ayes!

I am Sir,
Years very truly,
North-street, Pentonville.