Petition from the single ladies of Guernsey to the King, on the arrival of the Veteran Battalion

23rd January 2017

October 1820. From a commonplace book in the Library, Flowers, from the Garden of Imagination. The compiler of the book is unknown, but there is a cipher on the flyleaf that appears to read 'FDC.' Another poem, To a Lady, is dated 'Guildford, August 2, 1817,' and has the legend, 'On her Friend's leaving Guildford for Ireland, where she is soon to join her.'

The petition was laid at your Majesty’s feet
(Or address, since addresses are now more in fashion)
Has for object, most humbly to beg an entreat
You would look on our case with your royal compassion.

We all know your Majesty’s gallantry, well
And that gives us courage our grievance to tell.
I’m but one among many, my talent is small,
But ‘tis I who are chosen to plead for us all.

There is but one thing makes me hesitate now,
I would say what it was, but I hardly know how.

It is—as your Majesty always preferred
The substantial allurements of twice three time ten,
You may have imagined (but trust me, you erred,)
That we too had taste for the charms of old men;
But let me assure you, for none of our joys
Will we e’er be obliged to such gothic old boys!

I can’t now be persuaded that you were the cause
Of such strange violation of gallantry’s laws—
Of so great a mistake, Sir, to call it the least
Is to send among Beauties a Regiment of Beasts!

Now by Beasts, I don’t mean by four legs, understand
These are Bipeds, and boast of one arm and a hand,
Tho’ tradition informs us & may be its true,
That some fifty years since they’d been blest with two.

As to legs they have them in usual profusion
Though few are exempt from some bruise or contusion,
And that some are of cork, I’ve heard stoutly contended
But perhaps as a jest this was only intended.
All is know is, when drest they look very like stilts,
And Heaven forbid they should even wear Kilts!

With respect to their eyes, some have two, others one,
But e’en this, we agree, is far better than none,
For at times they contrive (by the aid of their glasses)
To distinguish (when near them) the Lads from the Lasses.

But these are not the whole of our grievances yet,
We could pardon their looks and their blindness forget,
But in vain to amuse them we try to be gay,
For they’re so deaf they can’t hear a word that we say!

After this would you have us surrender our charms
To the time-worn embrace of a Veteran’s arms?
T’were a barb’rous invasion of nature’s design*
And a liberal throwing of pearls before swine.

Now I don’t mean to say that because they are old
Or because they are ugly, they always are cold.
For sometimes to convince us they’ve not quite forgot
How to dance, I have seen them excessively hot!

Can your Majesty fancy such dismal old beaux,
Yet such are the beings for or safety you send us,
From such guardians in future may Heaven defend us!
Or—if its your Ministers—they may have wives
As old and as ugly to weary their lives!

Their toilette’s exactly what might be supposed
To belong to the corps of ex-beaux all composed.
Their coats are too large & their waistcoats too long
Their shoes are ill-made, their cravats put on wrong,
And as to their dittos—one horrid old fellow
Came out in nankeens! And silk stockings as yellow.

Now having described them without and within,
To urge our request in few words I’ll begin:
It is that your Majesty kindly would send us
A more able corps from our foes to defend us.

We don’t want old men to wage war against Cupid
That’s all they can do, they’re so old and so stupid,
Our grandmothers’ hearts were enslaved by their powers?
Then DO send us their grandsons to try and win ours.

 October 1820.

*To the great end of Nature’s Law is bliss, Milton.