Ariadne Steam Packet

Southampton Saturday, July 24, 1824
Being a humble imitation of a great attempt
Classical writing leave to men of letters
For me I only imitate my betters - Gay

"All darkling dangers of the channel crossing gone-
You who would not the waves be tossing on,
Haste in the Ariadne, now embark with me
You'll be at Jersey safe, before it's dark at sea" [Note 034.1]

We're all on board, and now the vessel under weigh,
My muse describe the scene, each passing wonder say.

The engine's force applied, we're slipping down the tide,
Southampton. Swiftly now by thy fam'd town we glide-
Southampton town, so famous for long passages
Bow windows and old maids, gas lights and sausages, [Note 034.2]
Adieu, thou'rt fast receding from my opticals,
Tears dim my view, and falling every drop trickles,
Hythe, village on the mud, receding fast art thou,
The surge, fair Ariadne's flinging past her prow,
Cutting the waves, as other crafts she's leaving, as
Though they as cloth of her original weaving was.

Who but bewails thy fate, O maid so beautiful,
Condemned for being industrious and dutiful, [Note 034.3]
To wear a spider's form poor flies to catch
And weave - nought but the web wherein thou liest to watch.
But cheer the Ariadne, fate now smiles on thee,
New metamorphosed, presto, thour't sent miles on sea,
Thy spider's legs by fate to wheel like fins are turn'd
Minerva¹ smiles again, and all thy sins are burn'd
In thine own small coal; while each juice evaporates [Note 034.4]
In clouds of steam, which forces thee to strap¹, o'rates
The fastest ere was known. Thy flimsy webb is seen
Conspicuous at flood tide, and eke at ebb, I ween,
When by the quay thy snares thou slily try'st to fling
Not to catch flies I trow, but all that flys¹ do bring. [Note 034.5]

Itchen*, we leave thee now, adieu each fisherman,
I pass your homes for that of a much richer man,
For rising o'er the frees, who'd but admire to see
The seat of W. Chamberlayne, Esquire, M.P.
Where, as you pass, Fatme's Temple  bursts upon you, meant
To stimulate your zeal - where Fox's Monument 
Rises beyond the filed that dress'd in clover is,
And says, O lack, that whiggery nearly over is -
This definition now, not very bad, I call,
For half who're now termed whigs, are merely radical. -
Now Netly's fort   is by so smoothly sliding seen
And in succession, all the seeming gliding scene
Flits past our view, till Calshot Castle leaving, we
The river bid adieu, and hail the heaving sea.
The engine's forceful power increased, Spithead we view,
And in process of time the Needles thread we too† [Note 034.6]
Camilla never (when swept o'er land and sea) [Note 034.7]
At speed and diligence was such a hand as thee;
Ovid¹ would smile and shake (his laurelled wig in) too
To see thee run such rigs²‡ - devoid of rigging¹ too!
Minerva's self would stare as none e'er saw her owl, [Note 034.8]
To see the swimming, fly like any waterfowl.

No dingy engineers each raging fire attend,
Volumes of pitchy smoke still higher and higher ascend.
But hold, thy ravenous maw is fed enough, and lo,
With heat intense, its feeders panting puff and blow :
But though they're hot, I'm cold, nor feel the fire; I trow
'Tis chill upon deck, so I'll retire below.
Gods, what sight! 'Twould make e'en hunger hung'rier.
Lofty's my verse, its praise should still be sung higher -
There bottled ale, and porter¹, wine, and sandwiches
And ev'ry thing that's wanted comes to hand, which is
Convenient as though brought by art that's magical -
A steward¹'s apron, a convenient badge I call -
It wipes plates dishes, knives and forks, and sundries
And covereth most cleanly all that under is.
Here corks fly popping, void of all economy,
And porter fizes¥ in my physiognomy.
The glutton here, with beef his paunch well lignin is,
The qualmish¹ female from a chicken dining is,
The miser, what he cannot eat is pocketing,
The assiduous steward there, doth a fresh stock get in,
The gouty invalid cries "one more blanket bring;"
While nausea in the corner, crowns the banqueting.---
Once more the deck I gain, feel strangely comical
Internally distressed, till from my stomach, all
That so tempting looked when 'twas the dishes on,
Having fed me, alas, to feed the fish is gone.
But see where Jersey in th' horizon rising, is
Like a thin cloud; it really most surprising is
To see its colour changing; as we near the view
That which was slate colour before, now clearly blue,
Like a Camelion changing as we near the shore,
Until shelving craggy rocks appear before,
Like lumps of sugar, not with hot tea over 'em
But just enough cold punch¹ to scarcely cover 'em.
Hail! To land of Crapeans, hail, and each that hears me, when
I say, hail cyder, frogs, eggs, butter, Jerseymen,
Brandy, tobacco, snuff and all that's duty free
All hail, all aliments¹, I'll sing till mute I be.

And now, O Ariadne, Ariadne, Oh!
To leave so sweet a nymph is very bad we know,
But when with Jersey tir'd and cash grow slack, amain
I'll haste to thee, once more to wheel me back again.

Footnotes as per Source

* I have confined myself to the names which places and things now bear: my muse soars not too high, lest her wings should be singed by the refulgent luminary that has lately illumined the poetic horizon (Byron??)

† The beautiful idea that chaste Ariadne playing at thread the needle is my own

‡ This exquisitely poetical allusion I confess is borrowed from a contemporary poet - I own the piracy, and beg his pardon.

¥ another piracy. I plead guilty