An Island in the Moon/Chapter XI

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Chap 11
Another merry meeting at the house of Steelyard the Lawgiver. After Supper Steelyard & Obtuse Angle. had pump’d Inflammable Gass quite dry. They play’d at forfeits & try’d every method to get good song then he sung humour.

Said Miss Gittipin, “Pray, Mr Obtuse Angle, sing us a song.”

Then he sung:
        “Upon a holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
        The children walking two & two in grey & blue & green,
        Grey headed beadles walk’d before with wands as white as snow,
        Till into the high dome of Paul’s they like Thames’ waters flow.
        O what a multitude they seem’d, these flowers of London town!
        Seated in companies, they sit with radiance all their own.
        The hum of multitudes were there, but multitudes of lambs,
         [And all in order sit and waiting the chief chanter’s commands]
        Thousands of little girls & boys raising their innocent hands
         [Then like a mighty wind they raise to heav’n the voice of song,
        Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heav’n among,
        When the whole multitude of innocents their voices raise
        Like angels on the throne of heav’n, raising the voice of phraise]

        Let Cherubim & Seraphim now raise their voices high]

        Then like a mighty wind they raise to heav’n the voice of song,
        Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heav’n among,
        Beneath them sit the rev’rend men the guardians of the poor
        Then cherish pity lest you drive an angel from your door.”[1]
After this they all sat silent for a quarter of an hour, [& Mrs Sistagatist]
& Mrs Nannicantipot said, “It puts me in Mind of my [grand] mother’s song:”
[The voice]
        “When the tongues of children are heard on the green,
                And laughing is heard on the hill,
        My heart is at rest within my breast,
                And every thing else is still.
       ‘Then come home my children the sun is gone down,
                And the dews of night arise;
        Come, Come, leave off play, & let us away
        Till the morning appears in the skies’ [PAGE 15]

        ‘No, No, let us play, for it is yet day,
                        And we cannot [go to] go to sleep [till it’s dark]
        [The flocks are at play & we can’t go away]
        Besides in the Sky the little birds fly,
                        And the meadows are cover’d with Sheep’
        ‘Well, Well, go & play till the light fades away,
                        And then go home to bed.
        The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d,
                        And all the hills echoed.” [2]

Then [Miss Gittipin] [Tilly Lally sung] [Quid] sung Quid:
         “O father father where are you going
                Oh do not walk so fast;
        Oh, speak, father, speak to your little boy,
                Or else I shall be lost.
        The night it was dark & no father was there,
                And the child was wet with dew.
        The mire was deep, & the child did weep
                And away the vapour flew.” [3]

Here nobody could sing any longer, till Tilly Lally pluck’d up a spirit & he sung:
        “O I say, you Joe,
        Throw us the ball.
        I’ve a good mind to go,
        And leave you all.
        I never saw such a bowler,
        To bowl the ball in a [turd] tansey,
        And to clean it with my handkercher
        Without saying a word.
        That Bill’s a foolish fellow,
        [To hit me with the bat]
        He has given me a black eye.
        He does not know how to handle a bat
        Any more than a dog or a cat.

        He has knock’d down the wicket
        And broke the stumps,
        And runs without shoes to save his pumps.”

Here a laugh began and Miss Gittipin sung:
        “Leave O leave [me] to my sorrows,
                Here Ill sit & fade away;
        Till I’m nothing but a spirit,
                And I lose this form of clay. [PAGE 16]

        Then if chance along this forest
                Any walk in pathless ways,
        Thro’ the gloom he'll see my shadow,
                Hear my voice upon the Breeze.”
The Lawgiver all the while sat delighted to see them in such a serious humour.

“Mr Scopprel,” said he, “you must be acquainted with a great many songs.”

“O, dear sir! Ho, Ho, Ho, I am no singer. I must beg of one of these tender hearted ladies to sing for me.”

They all declined, & he was forced to sing himself:
        “There’s Doctor Clash
                And Signior Falalasole:
        O they sweep in the cash
                Into their purse hole.
                        Fa me la sol. La me fa sol.

        [how many Blackamoors
        cou’d singwith their thick lips]

        Great A, little A,
                Bouncing B.
        Play away, Play away,
                Your out of the key.
                        Fa me la sol. La me fa sol.
        Musicians should have
                A pair of very good ears,
        And Long fingers & thumbs,
                And not like clumsy bears.
                        Fa me la sol. La me fa sol.

        Gentlemen, Gentlemen,
                Rap, Rap, Rap,
        Fiddle, Fiddle, Fiddle,
                Clap, Clap, Clap.
                        Fa me la sol. La me fa sol.

“Hm” said the Lawgiver, “Funny enough! Let’s have handel’s water piece.”

Then Sipsop sung:

        “A crowned king,
        On a white horse sitting,
        With his trumpets sounding,
        And Banners flying,
Thro’ the clouds of smoke he makes his way,
And the shout of his thousands fills his heart with rejoicing & victory:
And the shout of his thousands fills his heart with rejoicing & victory.
Victory Victory! ’twas William, the prince of Orange, —”
[Here a leaf or more is missing]

“—them Illuminating the Manuscript.”

“Ay,” said she, “that would be excellent.”

“Then,”said he, “I would have all the writing Engraved instead of Printed, & at every other leaf a high finish’d print — all in three Volumes folio — & sell them a hundred pounds apiece. They would print off two thousand.”
“Then,” said she, “whoever will not have them will be ignorant fools & will not deserve to live.”

“Don’t you think I have something of the Goat’s face?” says he.

“Very like a Goat’s face,” she answerd.

“I think your face,” said he, “is like that noble beast the Tyger. Oh, I was at Mrs Sicknaken’s & I was speaking of my abilities but their nasty hearts, poor devils, are
eat up with envy. They envy me my abilities, & all the Women envy your abilities.”

“My dear, they hate people who are of higher abil[it]ies than their nasty, filthy [Souls] Selves. But do you outface them, & then Strangers will see you have an

“Now I think we should do as much good as we can when we are at Mr Femality's. Do yo[u] snap, & take me up, and I will fall into such a passion. I’ll hollow and stamp & frighten all the People there, & show them what truth is.”

At this Instant Obtuse Angle came in.

“Oh, I am glad you are come,” said Quid.

<The End>


  1. First draft of “Holy Thursday” from “Songs of Innocence”.
  2. First draft of “Nurse song” from “Songs of Innocence”.
  3. First draft of “Little Boy lost” from “Songs of Innocence”.