Thursday, 11 July 2013


This blog brings you below another truly excruciating Victorian poem from the pen of another bad and anonymous Victorian poet.   These verses appeared in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post.  21st October 1868.


Stay now thine hand!
Proclaim not man's dominion
Over God's works by strewing rocks and sand
with sea-birds' blood-stained plumes and broken pinion.

Oh stay thy hand!
Spend not thy days of leisure
In scattering death along the peaceful strand
for very wantonness,  or pride,  or pleasure.

For bird's sake spare!
Leave it in happy motion
to wheel its easy circles in the air
or rest and rock upon the shining ocean.

For man's sake spare!
Leave him this 'thing of beauty'
To glance and glide before him everywhere
And throw a gleam on after days of duty.

For God's sake spare!
He notes each sea-bird falling
And in Creation's groans marks its sad share
Its dying cry - for retribution calling.

Oh stay thy hand!
Cease from this useless slaughter;
For though kind Nature from the rocks and sand
Washes the stains each day with briny water

Yet on thine hand
Raised against God's fair creature
Beware lest there be found a crimson brand
Indelible by any force of Nature.

'Thy hand'  or 'thine hand'?    I suppose it depends on whether you say ' 'and' or 'hand'.

There must,  in 1868,  have been a great number of happy shooters wandering along the beaches taking pot shots at 'sea-birds' for this fervent plea to have been written.  Fortunately we live in gentler times and the sea-birds know it.  A herring gull flew off with my MarksandSpencers' prime Angus beef sandwich the other day,  snatched it out of my hand,(mine 'and)  all on the Cathedral Green in Exeter.   Still , I wouldn't have wanted to shoot him.  No briny water there to wash away the blood!   Moreover he was a giant, snow white, gleaming 'thing of beauty'  and a joy for ever.  

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


In September 1868 a monster of a fish was caught and brought into Dawlish.   It was a tunny or tuna (thymnus vulgaris)    Whoever caught it,  I know no further details of the catch,  must have got the shock of his life.   It must have been 'Old Man and the Sea' stuff!     The fish was eight foot, seven inches long.   Its greatest circumference was five foot, two inches and it needed six strong men to carry it.    We know these facts because the fish was bought and caused to be taken to London by the celebrated Victorian naturalist,  Frank Buckland,, who made a  model of the fish for display in his Museum of Economic Fish Culture at the Horticultural Gardens in Kensington.

I hope the Dawlish fisherman or men had a good price for it.   It arrived in London 'anything but sweet smelling' and, after Frank Buckland had made his plaster cast, Mr Jerrard of the British Museum 'made a skeleton' of it.   No doubt its bones are still to be found there.

My source:   Trewman's EFP 23rd September 1868.