Poets of John Company/Tom Raw the Griffin



Tom Raw the Griffin.

Now Mister Thomas Raw was so methodical,
That letters recommendatory he sorted
All alphabetically,—'tis a mode I call
Wise in a youth—we know not where he caught it.
Thus Mister A. was first to be resorted
To,—Mister Z. the very last of all.
His breakfast finished, and his best clothes sported,
To Buxoo, his factotum, loud the call
Of "Ticka-palkee," echoed through the punch-house hall.

Buxoo the mandate (quite artem secundum).
Immediately obeyed.—He knew the ahib logue,
In Town, Chowringhee, Allipore and Dumdum,
The offices, and Europe-shops in vogue,
Palmer and Co., and Davidson and Hogue;
In short, he'd shew his master all the lions;
Tom in his palkee tumbled, while the rogue
Became a peon,—each servitory science
Having well learnt and practised—out of sheer compliance.

Park Street they follow, and, at number three.
The Palkee stops—"Is Mister A. at home?"
Cries Tom—"Don't know," says Buxoo, "but I see;
"Ho! Durwan, ho!—ho! Durwanjee—he's dumb,
"He smoke his hookah, and he will not come."
"If there's a bell, go ring it with a vengeance,"
Replied his master, as he cocked his thumb.
The Durwan peeps, as he e'er peeps at plain gents,
And, yawning, proves you quite unworthy his attendance.

"Sahib Ghur me hi?"—"Is Mr. A. within?"
Exclaimed the master and his squire at once,
"Hum poochinga," cried Cerberus, with a grin.
"Here, take my card," roared Tom,—"the man's a dunce!"
Then, waiting full ten minutes in the sun's
O'erpowering influ'nce, counting every throb
That beat upon his brain, the brute returns,
Throws back the portals that keep out the mob,
And with stentorian bawl, proclaims a Bar ke Sahib!

A hundred menials posted at the door,
Demand his name, as, mounting up the flight
Of steps he strides, and proudly march before
To shew the way—'Twas an appalling sight.
But on he bounds, exerting all his might.
Brandishing a red handkerchief to dry
The dew-drops clustering with effulgence bright
On his carnation brow.—His heart beat high
As the exalted chieftain he was drawing nigh.

Now through a spacious dining-room they go,
Where one long table and four dozen chairs
Are seen, and twelve large globe lamps, hanging low.
And in each corner a zepoy, which bears
An Indian shade—while a long punkah stares
The Griffin in the face. Their journey's end.
The study of the great Qui hi, appears;
The door is opened—Jemmadars low bend
Their well-oiled, pliant backs, and usher in—our friend.

There seated, was a most cadav'rous figure,
With sallow visage, long and wrinkled too,
A large hooked nose, and twinkling eyes—no bigger
Than gooseberries, with just their greenish hue;
His spindle shanks were twined with treble screw;
And the thin hoary honours of his head
Fell long and lank, and scraped into a queue;
His clothes might o'er him and his wife have spread,
And shoes of red nankeen he wore—stitched with white thread.

Before a desk he sat—bestrewed with papers,
Some English correspondence, and some Persian,
A chamber candlestick with waxen tapers,
Law documents and missals in reversion,
Sewals, jewaubs, et cetera—a version
Of Ayn Akbarry—Nasdan Kyabooka,
A brass pheckdan (our very great aversion)
The saliva receiver of a smoker
Who day and night puffs copiously—a gilded hookah.

Soon as he heard our hero's name, and saw
The youth approach, his glasses were displaced;
And there, indeed, stood honest Thomas Raw,
Just in the act to bow,—with look amazed;
Four strides he'd made, and, at the fifth, he raised
His right leg, which a curve soon brought to bear
Obliquely forward, till the toe just grazed
The matted floor—It made a circuit there
Smart to the right, and ended at length—"as you were."

One hand his dripping forehead wiped,—the other
Was fumbling in his pocket for the letter,
Which was produced in form, while many a brother
Fell to the ground, unbound by tape or fetter.
"What?—from my friend Will Raw—there never a better
"Old boy, existed," called out Mr. A.
"And you, sir, I presume's his son?—Well get a
"Chair, and sit down—Here, Chokey-low, I say
"I'm glad to see you—When sail'd you from England,—pray?'

"But tell me how you left the squire, Sir Harry?
"Many's the time I've joined him in the chase"—
"Why, first of all, he was induced to marry,
"And, never afterwards, held up his face;
"They said he broke his neck in Hymen's race.
"He died, however—jointuring well his widow,
"Who, passing to his heir, the fine old place,
"For one whole fortnight, scrupulously hid her
"Pretended grief, and, now's for sale to th' highest bidder!"

The Qui hi paused,—the pause was long and dreary,
He'd nothing more to ask, nor Tom to say.
He yawned—stretched out his limbs, and seemed most weary,
The youth with no encouragement to stay.
Twirled round his Bicknell's hat in every way:
Hope had bespoke him quarters where he was,
But "taza Chillum" dimmed its lively ray.
And soon it suffered a negation poz,
When from his chair the thin old Indian stiffly rose;

With "sorry can't invite you to my house,
"But hope you'll come to-morrow, here, to dinner;
"Just now there's Major Flask and Mrs. Grouse,
"And I expect from Meerut—Colonel Skinner.
"Your ship's come up—I hope you're not still in her;
"My breakfast hour is, always, half past eight,
"You'll then see Mrs. A.—You've not yet seen her?
"We dine at seven,—take care you're not too late,"
And then he bowed our hero fairly to the gate.