Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/105

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91
JOHN BYROM

and then he extemporises a copy of verses on the appearance of the president of a club, for example, in 'a black bob-wig,' What can be the cause?

A phrenzy? or a periwigmanee
That overruns his pericranie?

That he could enjoy some amusements which seem scarcely in character is proved by the verses on Figg and Sutton, done into prose in Thackeray's Virginians, and Dr. Ward has to remind us that this was 'not a brutal prize-fight,' but an ultra-vigorous 'assault-at-arms.' The line seems rather hard to draw. Byrom at least sympathises with the familiar sentiment about the 'British Grenadier.'

Were Hector himself, with Apollo to back him,
To encounter with Sutton,—zooks! how he would thwack him!
Or Achilles, though old Mother Thetis had dipt him,
With Figg—odds my life! how he would have unript him!

Another of Byrom's characteristic performances was prompted by his interest in his fellow-townsman, Samuel Johnson, a fiddler and dancing-master, who produced a strange medley called Hurlothrumbo. Dr. Ward, who has read it, as in duty bound, says that it is sheer burlesque, though some critics seem to be haunted by an uncomfortable suspicion that its apparent madness conceals