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A Case Of Libel.

Thomas Moore 1779 (Dublin) – 1852 (Bromham)

"The greater the truth, the worse the libel."

A certain Sprite, who dwells below,
('Twere a libel perhaps to mention where,)
Came up incog. some years ago
To try for a change the London air.

So well he lookt and drest and talkt,
And hid his tail and horns so handy,
You'd hardly have known him as he walkt
From C----e, or any other Dandy.

(His horns, it seems, are made to unscrew;
So he has but to take them out of the socket,
And--just as some fine husbands do--
Conveniently clap them into his pocket.)

In short, he lookt extremely natty,
And even contrived--to his own great wonder--
By dint of sundry scents from Gattie,
To keep the sulphurous hogo under.

And so my gentleman hoofed about,
Unknown to all but a chosen few
At White's and Crockford's, where no doubt
He had many post-obits falling due.

Alike a gamester and a wit,
At night he was seen with Crockford's crew,
At morn with learned dames would sit--
So past his time 'twixt black and blue.

Some wisht to make him an M. P.,
But, finding Wilks was also one, he
Swore, in a rage, "he'd be damned, if he
"Would ever sit in one house with Johnny."

At length as secrets travel fast,
And devils, whether he or she,
Are sure to be found out at last,
The affair got wind most rapidly.

The Press, the impartial Press, that snubs
Alike a fiend's or an angel's capers--
Miss Paton's soon as Beelzebub's,
Fired off a squib in the morning papers:

"We warn good men to keep aloof
"From a grim old Dandy seen about
"With a fire-proof wig and a cloven hoof
"Thro' a neat-cut Hoby smoking out."

Now,--the Devil being gentleman,
Who piques himself on well-bred dealings,--
You may guess, when o'er these lines he ran,
How much they hurt and shockt his feelings.

Away he posts to a Man of Law,
And 'twould make you laugh could you have seen 'em,
As paw shook hand, and hand shook paw,
And 'twas "hail, good fellow, well met," between 'em.

Straight an indictment was preferred--
And much the Devil enjoyed the jest,
When, asking about the Bench, he heard
That, of all the Judges, his own was Best.

In vain Defendant proffered proof
That Plaintiff's self was the Father of Evil--
Brought Hoby forth to swear to the hoof
And Stultz to speak to the tail of the Devil.

The Jury (saints, all snug and rich,
And readers of virtuous Sunday papers)
Found for the Plaintiff--on hearing which
The Devil gave one of his loftiest capers.

For oh, 'twas nuts to the Father of Lies
(As this wily fiend is named in the Bible)
To find it settled by laws so wise,
That the greater the truth, the worse the libel!
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:31 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,527
Words 498
Stanzas 17
Stanza Lengths 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore was an Irish poet singer songwriter and entertainer now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and the The Last Rose of Summer more…

All Thomas Moore poems | Thomas Moore Books

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    "A Case Of Libel." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/56769/a-case-of-libel.>.

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    Are you a poetry master?

    AA Milne wrote: "A bear, however hard he tries..."
    • A. "grows tubby with no exercise"
    • B. "can never stop telling lies"
    • C. "has very very tired eyes"
    • D. "stinks and attracts the flies"