Ode To Richard Martin, Esq. by Thomas Hood


Martin in this has proved himself a very good man!”

[Note: The well-known Humanitarian, M. P. for Galway, the author of “Martin’s Act” for the protection of animals from ill-treatment, and one of the founders of the noble society having the same object. He died in 1834.]


How many sing of wars,
Of Greek and Trojan jars–
The butcheries of men!
The Muse hath a “Perpetual Ruby Pen!”
Dabbling with heroes and the blood they spill;
But no one sings the man
That, like a pelican,
Nourishes Pity with his tender Bill!


Thou Wilberforce of hacks!
Of whites as well as blacks,
Pyebald and dapple gray,
Chestnut and bay–
No poet’s eulogy thy name adorns!
But oxen, from the fens,
Sheep–in their pens,
Praise thee, and red cows with their winding horns!
Thou art sung on brutal pipes!
Drovers may curse thee,
Knackers asperse thee,
And sly M.P.’s bestow their cruel wipes;
But the old horse neighs thee,
And zebras praise thee,–
Asses, I mean–that have as many stripes!


Hast thou not taught the Drover to forbear,
In Smithfield’s muddy, murderous, vile environ,–
Staying his lifted bludgeon in the air!
Bullocks don’t wear
Oxide of iron!
The cruel Jarvy thou hast summon’d oft,
Enforcing mercy on the coarse Yahoo,
That thought his horse the courser of the two–
Whilst Swift smiled down aloft!–
O worthy pair! for this, when ye inhabit
Bodies of birds–(if so the spirit shifts
From flesh to feather)–when the clown uplifts
His hands against the sparrow’s nest, to grab it,–
He shall not harm the MARTINS and the Swifts!


See also  Sonnet 13

Ah! when Dean Swift was quick, how he enhanc’d
The horse!–and humbled biped man like Plato!
But now he’s dead, the charger is mischanc’d–
Gone backward in the world–and not advanc’d,–
Remember Cato!
Swift was the horse’s champion–not the King’s,
Whom Southey sings,
Mounted on Pegasus–would he were thrown!
He’ll wear that ancient hackney to the bone,
Like a mere clothes-horse airing royal things!
Ah well-a-day! the ancients did not use
Their steeds so cruelly!–let it debar men
From wanton rowelling and whip’s abuse–
Look at the ancients’ Muse!
Look at their Carmen!


O, Martin I how thine eyes–
That one would think had put aside its lashes,–
That can’t bear gashes
Thro’ any horse’s side, must ache to spy
That horrid window fronting Fetter-lane,–
For there’s a nag the crows have pick’d for victual,
Or some man painted in a bloody vein–
Gods! is there no Horse-spital!
That such raw shows must sicken the humane!
Sure Mr. Whittle
Loves thee but little,
To let that poor horse linger in his pane!


O build a Brookes’s Theatre for horses!
O wipe away the national reproach–
And find a decent Vulture for their corses!
And in thy funeral track
Four sorry steeds shall follow in each coach!
Steeds that confess “the luxury of wo!”
True mourning steeds, in no extempore black,
And many a wretched hack
Shall sorrow for thee,–sore with kick and blow
And bloody gash–it is the Indian knack–
(Save that the savage is his own tormentor)–
Banting shall weep too in his sable scarf–
The biped woe the quadruped shall enter,
And Man and Horse go half and half,
As if their griefs met in a common Centaur!

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