"The Exhibition as it Might Have Been in Days of Yore, by a Disciple of Retrogress." Punch 20 (21 May 1851), 12.

full text

Strenge dayes be these, my masters; ‘tis amad world, by my fay!
I doe not lyke these bad new times at all, the sooth to saye;
Your pace ytt is too faste for me: I wolde not goe ahedd;
Noe, I had liefer travaille back, an yff I mote, instedd.

The World ytts Fair may be a sight full well ynoughe to see,
Of goodes, and wares, and marchandise, in store and grete plentyé;
But only thinke, good gentlefolke, how moche more brave a shewe
We mote have hadd, in merry Hyde Park, four hundred yeer agoe!

Men wolde have hadd a stout building in those old dayés gone,
And not a Pallas of Crystáll, devised by Paxtón.
Gramercy, naye, ye wolden have seen, I wis, a goodly halle,
Soe made that ye mote hang up shields and banners on the walle.

Instedd of goodes and handiwork, sent here from foreign partes,
Thereat wolde have been bowes, and bills, and pikes, and speares, and darts;
And diverse welthe, no doubte, as well, fetched hither from afar;
But, marrye! all the spoyle of foes that we had slayne in war.

There wolde have been, for steam-engéns, that run upon the rayle,
Good effigies of gallant steedes, and worthy knightes in mayl;
For carvéd ymages and soche, the work of cunning hande,
Some sondry helmes and corselets, cleft and brast with axe or brande.

Instedd of wycked clod-crushers the erth to wryng and taxe,
Ye would have hadd a semely shewe of thumscrewes and of rackes,
Of pillouries for rogues and theeves that plonder their neighbóures,
And stakes and chaines and chopping-blocks for witches and traitóures,

Of Battye hys Circús hard by, I warrant, in the lieu,
There wolde have been a Tournament with reall deedes of dooe;
A true ladyé as Beauty’s Queen for Miss I know not whome,
And some stout Erle indede for Lorde in place of Widdeycombe.

And then when rival lordes were mett, there must have been a fyghte,
And a cryinge "To the Rescue, and Seynt George defend the ryghte!"
And worthy knyghtes and men-at-arms had manfullye bene slayne:
Alacke that wee bee never more to see soche times agayne!

There mote have been some traytour knave to hang and eke to drawe,
By waye of good ensample, and in honour of the lawe;
Alsó, perchance, a heretyke in Smyhtfeeld for to brenn,
As was the use in merry Ynglond when Ynglishmen were men.

The crowde, too, being grete and foule, belike ther had been brewed
A good old Ynglish pestilence among the multitude;
So wolde the poeple have been thinn’d, which mote be no bad thing,
And thus the Exibicyon wolde have hadd a good ending.


This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

Return to the list of reviews