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The Epping Hunt
by [?]


John Huggins was as bold a man
As trade did ever know,
A warehouse good he had, that stood
Hard by the church of Bow.

There people bought Dutch cheeses round,
And single Glo’ster flat,–
And English butter in a lump,
And Irish–in a pat.

Six days a week beheld him stand,
His business next his heart,
At counter, with his apron tied
About his counter-part.

The seventh, in a sluice-house box
He took his pipe and pot;
On Sundays, for eel-piety,
A very noted spot.

Ah, blest if he had never gone
Beyond its rural shed!
One Easter-tide, some evil guide
Put Epping in his head;

Epping, for butter justly famed,
And pork in sausage pop’t;
Where, winter time or summer time,
Pig’s flesh is always chop’t.

But famous more, as annals tell,
Because of Easter Chase:
There ev’ry year, ‘twixt dog and deer,
There is a gallant race.

With Monday’s sun John Huggins rose,
And slapt his leather thigh,
And sang the burthen of the song,
“This day a stag must die.”

For all the livelong day before,
And all the night in bed,
Like Beckford, he had nourished “Thoughts
On Hunting” in his head.

Of horn and morn, and hark and bark,
And echo’s answering sounds,
All poets’ wit hath ever writ
In dog-rel verse of hounds.

Alas! there was no warning voice
To whisper in his ear,
Thou art a fool in leaping Cheap
To go and hunt the deer!

No thought he had of twisted spine,
Or broken arms or legs;
Not chicken-hearted he, altho’
T’was whispered of his egg!

Ride out he would, and hunt he would,
Nor dreamt of ending ill;
Mayhap with Dr. Ridout’s fee,
And Surgeon Hunter’s bill.

So he drew on his Sunday boots,
Of lustre superfine;
The liquid black they wore that day
Was Warren-ted to shine.

His yellow buckskins fitted close,
As once upon a stag;
Thus well equipt he gaily skipt,
At once, upon his nag.

But first to him that held the rein
A crown he nimbly flung:
For holding of the horse?–why, no–
For holding of his tongue.

To say the horse was Huggins’ own,
Would only be a brag;
His neighbor Fig and he went halves,
Like Centaurs, in a nag.

And he that day had got the gray,
Unknown to brother cit;
The horse he knew would never tell,
Altho’ it was a tit.

A well-bred horse he was, I wis,
As he began to show,
By quickly “rearing up within
The way he ought to go.”

But Huggins, like a wary man,
Was ne’er from saddle cast;
Resolved, by going very slow,
On sitting very fast.

And so he jogged to Tot’n’am Cross,
An ancient town well known,
Where Edward wept for Eleanor
In mortar and in stone.

A royal game of fox and goose,
To play on such a loss;
Wherever she set down her orts,
Thereby he put a cross.

Now Huggins had a crony here,
That lived beside the way;
One that had promised sure to be
His comrade for the day.

Whereas the man had changed his mind,
Meanwhile upon the case!
And meaning not to hunt at all,
Had gone to Enfield Chase.

For why, his spouse had made him vow
To let a game alone,
Where folks that ride a bit of blood
May break a bit of bone.

“Now, be his wife a plague for life!
A coward sure is he”:
Then Huggins turned his horse’s head,
And crossed the bridge of Lea.