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Ballad on Sir John Moore.
Morning Chronicle  No. 17,333  (5 November 1824)
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH


No. 17,333. LONDON, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1824. Price Sevenpence.


The following letter throws some light on the nature of the new Durham claim to the honour of the above lines. We wonder The Courier did not ask himself the question how any of his readers could write verses on Sir John Moore!


Sir—Allow me to thank you for affording me, by a perusal of your Paper of this morning, one of the most convulsive fits of merriment that it has been my fortune to enjoy for years.—“Laughter holding both his sides” was never more truly personified than when I conned over the letter addressed to The Courier from Durham, in which a new claimant sets himself forth as the author of the lines on Sir John Moore; nor did my laughter subside on reading Mr. Taylor's reply to the attack made upon his character for veracity, and which he very naturally resents in very warm language.

Medwin, Conversations of Lord Byron
The Courier, Ode on the Burial of Moore

As you will be at a loss to what to attribute my mirth, I will at once let you into the cause of it, and The Courier may join in our amusement, should he feel inclined to enjoy a joke made at his own expence, and chuckle over a discovery in which he figures as the most egregious dupe of a wicked & designing hoax.

In the first place, I will set The Courier right with regard to the title of his pretended Correspondent, whose name has been so cruelly taken in vain on this occasion. That Doctor Marshall does lay claim to that title, is true; and it is, moreover, a designation by which he is generally known in the venerable city where he resides. That he is a professor of the healing art, is also a fact; nor is he a quack, as Mr. Taylor, in his letter, would wish to insinuate. So far I have gone on swimmingly to make out the respectability and dignity of The Courier's pretended Correspondent.

H. Marshall, Ode on the Burial of Moore

One little circumstance alone remains behind—a trifling one, I allow, but which it will be as well to mention. It is that the Dr.'s patients are, or were (for I believe he has for some time given up practice), horses instead of men. Consequently, 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.—I am, Sir, your amused reader, Z.

London, Nov. 4, 1824.