The Duel: A Serious Ballad by Thomas Hood

“Like the two Kings of Brentford smelling at one nosegay.”

In Brentford town, of old renown,
There lived a Mister Bray,
Who fell in love with Lucy Bell,
And so did Mr. Clay.

To see her ride from Hammersmith,
By all it was allowed,
Such fair outsides are seldom seen,
Such Angels on a Cloud.

Said Mr. Bray to Mr. Clay,
You choose to rival me,
And court Miss Bell, but there your court
No thoroughfare shall be.

Unless you now give up your suit,
You may repent your love;
I who have shot a pigeon match,
Can shoot a turtle dove.

So pray before you woo her more,
Consider what you do;
If you pop aught to Lucy Bell–
I’ll pop it into you.

Said Mr. Clay to Mr. Bray,
Your threats I quite explode;
One who has been a volunteer
Knows how to prime and load.

And so I say to you unless
Your passion quiet keeps,
I who have shot and hit bulls’ eyes,
May chance to hit a sheep’s.

Now gold is oft for silver changed,
And that for copper red;
But these two went away to give
Each other change for lead.

But first they sought a friend apiece,
This pleasant thought to give–
When they were dead, they thus should have
Two seconds still to live.

To measure out the ground not long
The seconds then forbore,
And having taken one rash step,
They took a dozen more.

They next prepared each pistol-pan
Against the deadly strife,
By putting in the prime of death
Against the prime of life.

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Now all was ready for the foes,
But when they took their stands,
Fear made them tremble so, they found
They both were shaking hands.

Said Mr. C. to Mr. B.,
Here one of us may fall,
And like St. Paul’s Cathedral now
Be doomed to have a ball.

I do confess I did attach
Misconduct to your name;
If I withdraw the charge, will then
Your ramrod do the same?

Said Mr, B., I do agree–
But think of Honor’s Courts!
If we go off without a shot,
There will be strange reports.

But look, the morning now is bright,
Though cloudy it begun:
Why can’t we aim above, as if
We had called out the sun?

Soup into the harmless air
Their bullets they did send;
And may all other duels have
That upshot in the end!

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