The Lazy Minstrel on the Thames


(the Thames related items from "The Lazy Minstrel",

copied by John Eade


And while his merry Banjo rang,

'Twas thus the Lazy Minstrel sang!


J. Ashby-Sterry, 1886

Born 1838 - died June 1st, 1917


Joseph Ashby-Sterry was a journalist, painter and river lover. Many of these rhymes were contributed to PUNCH. Click to look at his portrait to get an insight into what sort of man he was. (then click BACK to return here)


J Ashby-Sterry, Portrait


Judging by that he was well into the late Victorian dandy image; a natty dresser who enjoyed his food and drink and was immensely proud of his handlebar moustache.

In the poems he is clearly a romantic - and in a few the romance is with the river - but more often it is with the girls to be found or imagined on the river. Sometimes he is on the edge of needing a cold bath - the density of exclamation marks is high. In these 20 pages there are 149.


He published his book in the centre of the great Thames decade -


v     1881 George Leslie, Our River

v     1886 Julia Isham Taylor, A trip on the Thames

v     1886 J Ashby-Sterry, The Lazy Minstrel

v     1887 Charles Dickens, Dictionary of the Thames

v     1889 Jerome K Jerome, Three Men in a Boat







A CANOE CANZONET, Bolney Backwater, July. 4

THE TINY TRIP - Medmenham.. 5





A SHOWER SONG, Hurley Lock, June. 11

A LAY OF THE "LION" at Henley. 12


TAKEN IN TOW, Pangbourne, Streatley & Goring. 14

MISS SAILOR-BOY, Mapledurham Lock, August15








Does anybody know where is Blankton Weir? I can't find it (and the name sounds as if it might be made up).



A CAPITAL luncheon I've had at the "Lion",

I've drifted down here with the light Summer breeze;

I land at the bank, where the turf's brown and dry on,

And lazily list to the music of trees !

O, sweet is the air, with a perfume of clover,

O, sleepy the cattle in Remenham meads !

The lull of the lasher is soothing, moreover,

The wind whistles low in the stream-stricken reeds !

With sail closely furled, and a weed incandescent -

Made fast to a post is the swift Shuttlecock -

I think you will own 'tis uncommonly pleasant

To dream and do nothing by Hambleden Lock !


See a barge blunder through, overbearing and shabby,

With its captain asleep, and his wife in command;

Then a boatful of beauties for Medmenham Abbey,

And a cargo of campers all tired and tanned.

Two duffers collide, they don't know what they're doing -

They're both in the ways of the water unskilled -

But here is the Infant, so great at canoeing,

Sweet, saucy, short-skirted, and snowily frilled.

I notice the tint of a ribbon or feather,

The ripple of ruffle, the fashion of frock;

I languidly laze in the sweet Summer weather,

And muse o'er the maidens by Hambleden Lock !


What value they give to the bright panorama -

O, had I the pencil of Millais or Sandys ! -

The lasses with sunshades from far Yokohama,

The pretty girl-scullers with pretty brown hands !

Next the Syren steams in; see the kind-eyed old colley,

On the deck, in the sun, how he loves to recline !

Note the well -ordered craft and its skipper so jolly,

With friends, down to Marlow, he's taking to dine.

In the snug-curtained cabin, I can't help espying

A dew-clouded tankard of seltzer-and-hock,

And a plateful of peaches big babies are trying,

I note, as they glide out of Hambleden Lock !


A punt passes in, with Waltonians laden,

And boatmen rugose of mahogany hue;

And then comes a youth and a sunny-haired maiden

Who sit vis-a-vis in their bass-wood canoe.

Now look at the Admiral steering the Fairy,

O, where could he find a much better crew than

His dutiful daughters, Flo, Nina, and Mary,

Who row with such grace in his trim built randan?

I muse while the water is ebbing and flowing,

I silently smoke and serenely take stock

Of countless Thames toilers, now coming, now going,

Who take a pink ticket at Hambleden Lock !


A CANOE CANZONET, Bolney Backwater, July


The leaves scarce rustled in the trees,

And faintly blew the summer breeze;

A damsel drifted slowly down,

Aboard her ship to Henley town;

And as the white sail passed along,

A punted Poet sang this song !


In your canoe, love, when you are going,

With white sail flowing and merry song;

In your canoe, love, with ripples gleaming

And sunshine beaming, you drift along !

While you are dreaming, or idly singing,

Your sweet voice ringing, when skies are blue:

In summer days, love, on water-ways, love,

You like to laze, love, - in your canoe !


In your canoe, love, I'd be a tripper,

If you were skipper and I were mate;

In your canoe, love, where sedges shiver

And willows quiver, we'd navigate !

Upon the river, you'd ne'er be lonely,

For, if you had only room for two,

I'd pass my leisure with greatest pleasure

With you, my treasure, - in your canoe !


In your canoe, love, when breezes sigh light,

In tender twilight, we'd drift away;

In your canoe, love, light as a feather,

Were we together - what should I say?

In sunny weather, were Fates propitious,

A tale delicious I'd tell to you !

In quiet spots, love, forget-me-nots, love,

We'd gather lots, love, - in your canoe !

THE TINY TRIP - Medmenham




She was cargo and crew,

She was boatswain and skipper,

She was passenger too,

Of the Nutshell canoe;

And the eyes were so blue

Of this sweet tiny tripper !

She was cargo and crew,

She was boatswain and skipper !




How I bawled, "Ship, ahoy !"

Hard by Medmenham Ferry !

And she answered with joy,

She would like a convoy,

And would love to employ

A bold pilot so merry:

How I bawled, "Ship, ahoy !"

Hard by Medmenham Ferry !




'Neath the trees gold and red,

In that bright autumn weather,

When our white sails were spread,

O'er the waters we sped -

What was it she said?

When we drifted together !

'Neath the trees gold and red,

In that bright autumn weather !




Ah ! The moments flew fast,

But our trip too soon ended !

When we reached land at last,

And our craft was made fast,

It was six or half-past -

And Mama looked offended !

Ah ! The moments flew fast,

But our trip too soon ended !




O, BISHAM BANKS are fresh and fair,

And Quarry Woods are green,

And pure and sparkling is the air,

Enchanting is the scene !

I love the music of the weir,

As swift the stream runs down,

For, O, the water's deep and clear

That flows by Marlow town !


When London's getting hot and dry,

And half the season's done,

To Marlow you should quickly fly,

And bask there in the sun.

There pleasant quarters you may find -

The "Angler" or the "Crown"

Will suit you well, if you're inclined

To stay in Marlow town.


I paddle up to Harleyford,

And sometimes I incline

To cushions take with lunch aboard,

And play with rod and line.

For in a punt I love to laze,

And let my face get brown;

And dream away the sunny days

By dear old Marlow town !


I go to luncheon at the lawn,

I muse, I sketch, I rhyme;

I headers take at early dawn,

I list to All Saints' chime.

And in the river, flashing bright,

Dull care I strive to drown -

And get a famous appetite

At pleasant Marlow town !


So when, no longer, London life

You feel you can endure;

Just quit its noise, its whirl, its strife,

And try the "Marlow-cure" !

You'll smooth the wrinkles on your brow

And scare away each frown -

Feel young again once more, I vow,

At quaint old Marlow town !


Here Shelley dreamed and thought and wrote,

And wandered o'er the leas;

And sung and drifted in his boat

Beneath the Bisham trees.

So let me sing, although I'm no

Great poet of renown -

Of hours that much too quickly go,

At good old Marlow town !



Beside the river in the rain -

The sopping sky is leaden grey -

I watch the drops run down the pane !


Assuming the Tapleyan vein -

I sit and drone a dismal lay -

Beside the river in the rain !


With pluvial patter for refrain;

I've smoked the very blackest clay;

I watch the drops run down the pane.


I've gazed upon big fishes slain,

That on the walls make brave display,

Beside the river in the rain.


It will not clear, 'tis very plain,

The rain will last throughout the day -

I watch the drops run down the pane.


I almost feel my boundless brain

At last shows signs of giving way;

Beside the river in the rain.


O. never will I stop again -

No more will I attempt to stay,

Beside the river in the rain,

To watch the drops run down the pane !



OCTOBER is the time of year;

For no regattas interfere,

The river then is fairly clear

Of steaming "spindles"

You then have space to moor your punt,

You then can get a room in front

Of Skindle's.


When Taplow Woods are russet-red,

When half the poplar-leaves are shed,

When silence reigns at Maidenhead,

And autumn dwindles

'Tis good to lounge upon that lawn,

Though beauties of last June are gone

From Skindle's.


We toiled in June all down to Bray,

And yarns we spun for Mab and May;

O, who would think such girls as they

Would turn out swindles?

But now we toil and spin for jack,

And in the evening we get back

To Skindle's.


And after dinner - passing praise -

'Tis sweet to meditate and laze,

To watch the ruddy logs ablaze;

And as one kindles

The post-prandial cigar,

My friend, be thankful that we are

At Skindle's.



Henry Taunt's Photograph of Skindles




'TIS a queer old pile of timbers, all gnarled and rough and green,

Both moss o'ergrown and weed-covered, and jaggèd too, I ween !

'Tis battered and 'tis spattered, all worn and knocked about,

Reclamped with rusty rivets, and bepatched with timbers stout;

A tottering, trembling structure, enshrining memories dear,

This weather-beaten barrier, this quaint old Blankton Weir.


While leaning on those withered rails, what feelings oft come back,

As I watch the white foam sparkling and note the current's track;

What crowds of fleeting fancies coming dancing through my brain !

And the good old days of Blankton, I live them o'er again;

What hopes and fear, gay smiles, sad tears, seem mirrored in the mere,

While looking on its glassy face by tell-tale Blankton Weir !


I've seen it basking 'neath the rays of summer's golden glow,

And when sweetly by the moonlight, silver ripples ebb and flow.

When nature starts in spring-time, awakening into life;

When autumn leaves are falling, and the yellow corn is rife;

'Mid the rime and sleet of winter, all through the livelong year,

I've watched the water rushing through this tide-worn Blankton Weir.


And I mind me of one even, so calm and clear and bright,

What songs we sang - whose voices rang - that lovely summer night.

Where are the hearty voices now who trolled those good old lays?

And where the silvery laughter that rang in bygone days?

Come back, that night of long ago ! Come back, the moonlight clear !

When hearts beat light, and eyes were bright, about old Blankton Weir.


Was ever indolence so sweet, were ever days so fine,

As when we lounged in that old punt and played with rod and line?

'Tis true few fish we caught there, but the good old ale we quaffed,

As we chatted, too, and smoked there, and idled, dreamed, and laughed:

Then thought we only of to-day, of morrow had no fear,

For sorrow scarce had tinged the stream that flowed through Blankton Weir.


Those dreamy August afternoons, when in our skiff we lay,

To hear the current murmuring as slow it swirled away;

The plaintive hum of dragon-fly, the old weir's plash and roar,

While some-one's gentle voice, too seems whispering there once more;

Come back, those days of love and trust, those times of hope and fear,

When girls were girls, and hearts were hearts, about old Blankton Weir !


Those brilliant sunny mornings when we tumbled out of bed,

And hurried on a few rough clothes, and to the river sped !

What laughing joyaunce hung about those merry days agone,

We clove the rushing current at the early flush of dawn !

Tremendous headers took we in the waters bright and clear,

And splashed and dashed, and dived and swam, just off old Blankton Weir.


Then that pleasant picnic-party, when all the girls were there,

In pretty morning dresses and with freshly-braided hair;

Fair Annie, with those deep-blue eyes, and rosy, laughing Nell,

Dark Helen, sunny Amy, and the stately Isobel;

Ah ! Lizzie, 'twas but yesterday - at least 'twould so appear -

We plighted vows of constancy, not far from Blankton Weir.


Those flashing eyes, those brave true hearts, are gone, and few remain

To mourn the loss of sunny hours that ne'er come back again:

Some married are - ah ! Me, how changed - for they will think no more

Of how they joined our chorus there, or helped to pull the oar:

One gentle voice is hushed for aye - we miss a voice so dear -

Who cheered along with evensong our path by Blankton Weir.


Amid the whirl of weary life - I hear it o'er and o'er,

That plaintive well-loved lullaby - the old weir's distant roar:

It gilds the cloud of daily toil with sunshine's fitful gleams,

It breaks upon my slumber, and I hear it in my dreams:

Like music of the good old times, it strikes upon mine ear -

If there's an air can banish care, 'tis that of Blankton Weir !


I know the river's rushing, but it rushes not for me,

I feel the morning blushing, though I am not there to see;

For younger hearts now live and love where once we used to dwell,

And others laugh, and dream, and sing, in spots we loved so well;

Their motto "Carpe diem" - 'twas ours for many a year -

As show these rhymes of sunny times about old Blankton Weir.

A SHOWER SONG, Hurley Lock, June


My heart was light and whole aboard -

As I sculled swift by Harleyford

The rain began to patter -

But when I saw in Hurley Lock

That Naiad in the gingham frock,

'Twas quite another matter !


The banks are soft with mud and slosh,

And shiny is each mackintosh,

Each hat and coat well soaken:

My spirits droop, and as I scan

That beauty in a trim randan,

I fear my heart is broken !


She hath a graceful little head,

Her lips are ripe and round and red,

Her teeth are short and pearly;

And on a rosy sun-kissed cheek

Her dimples play at hide-and-seek,

Within the lock at Hurley !


I strive to make a mental note,

The while she lounges in her boat

Beneath the big umbrella.

I wonder if she's Gwendoline,

Or Gillian or Geraldine,

Or Sylvia, or Stella?

Is she engaged to Stroke or Bow?

I would they could assure me now

She loves to flirt with others !

Will stalwart Sculls e'er claim her hand?

How gladly would I understand

Her crew are naught but brothers !


Her hat with lilies is bedight

Her voice is low, her laugh is light,

Her figure slight and girly.

How cheerfully I'd take a trip,

With such a Pilot for my ship,

And sail away from Hurley !


I wonder if her heart is true?

I know her eyes are peerless blue,

Long lashes downward sweeping;

A snow-white ruff around her throat,

Beneath her pouting petticoat

A little foot out-peeping.


O, is she wooed and is she won,

Or is she very fond of fun?

I make a thousand guesses !

A sweet young face, so full of hope,

A dainty hand on tiller-rope,

And raindrops in her tresses.


Three tiny rosebuds lightly rest

Within the haven of her breast -

Her locks are short and curly.

The sun is gone ! Down comes the rain !

I leave my heart cleft well in twain

Within the Lock at Hurley !

A LAY OF THE "LION" at Henley

At the "Red Lion", Henley-on-Thames, Shenstone scratched the following well-known lines upon the window-pane:

"Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,

Where'er his stages may have been,

May sigh to think that he has found

His warmest welcome at an inn !"


'TIS joyful to run from the turmoil of town,

To flee from its worry and bustle;

To put on your flannels and get your hands brown

Is good for the mind and the muscle.

When Goodwood is done and the Season is o'er,

'Tis pleasant the river to ply on,

Or lounge on the lawn, free from worry and bore,

At the "Lion" !


'Tis a finely toned, picturesque, sunshiny place,

Recalling a dozen old stories;

With a rare British, good-natured, ruddy-hued face,

Suggesting old wines and old Tories:

Ah, many's the magnum of rare crusted port,

Of vintage no one could cry fie on,

Has been drunk by good men of the old-fashioned sort

At the "Lion" !


O, sweet is the exquisite lime-scented breeze

Awaft o'er the Remenham reaches !

What lullaby lurks in the music of trees,

The concert of poplars and beeches !

Shall I go for a row, or lounge in a punt,

The stream - half asleep - throw a fly on?

Or watch pretty girls feed the cygnets in front

Of the "Lion"?


I see drifting by such a smart little crew,

Bedight in most delicate colours,

In ivory white and forget-me-not blue -

A couple of pretty girl scullers.

A pouting young puss, in the shortest of frocks -

A nice little nautical scion-

The good ship she steers, like a clever young "cox"

Past the "Lion" !


I lazily muse and I smoke cigarettes,

While rhymes I together am stringing;

Listen and nod to the dreamy duets

The girls on the first-floor are singing.

The sunshine is hot and the summer-breeze sighs,

There's scarcely a cloudlet the sky on -

Ah ! Were it but cooler, how I'd moralize

At the "Lion" !


But who can be thoughtful, or lecture, or preach,

While Harry is flirting with Ella,

Or the red lips of Rosie pout over a peach,

Half hid by her snowy umbrella?

The Infant is drifting down in her canoe,

The Rector his cob canters by on;

The church clock is chiming a quarter past two,

Near the "Lion" !


Shall I drop off to sleep, or moon here all day,

And drowsily finish my ballad?

No ! "Luncheon is ready", I hear someone say;

"A lobster, a chicken, a salad":

A cool silver cup of the beadiest ale,

The white table cloth I descry on -

So clearly 'tis time I concluded my tale

Of the "Lion" !





On Henley Bridge, in sweet July,

A gentle breeze, a cloudless sky !

Indeed it is a pleasant place,

To watch the oarsmen go the pace,

As gasping crowds go roaring by.


And O, what dainty maids you spy,

What tasteful toilets you descry,

What symphonies in frills and lace,

On Henley Bridge !


But if you find a luncheon nigh -

A mayonnaise, a toothsome pie -

The chance you'll hasten to embrace !

You'll soon forget about the Race,

And take your Giesler cool and dry -

On Henley Bridge !


TAKEN IN TOW, Pangbourne, Streatley & Goring


How blithely the beauties break into a canter

And over the sward how their feet pit-a-pat !

The limber young lass in a white Tam o'Shanter,

The pouting young puss in a sailor-boy hat !


O, PANGBOURNE is pleasant in sweet Summertime,

And Streatley and Goring are worthy of rhyme:

The sunshine is hot and the breezes are still,

The river runs swift under Basildon Hill !

To lounge in a skiff is delightful to me,

I'm feeling as lazy as lazy can be;

I don't care to sail and I don't care to row -

Since I'm lucky enough to be taken in tow !


Though battered am I, like the old Téméraire,

My tow-ers are young and my tow-ers are fair:

The one is Eleven, the other Nineteen,

The merriest maidens that ever were seen.

They pull with a will and they keep the line tight,

Dimpled Dolly in blue and sweet Hetty in white;

And though you may think it is not comme il faut,

'Tis awfully nice to be taken in tow.


I loll on the cushions, I smoke and I dream,

And list to the musical song of the stream;

The boat gurgles on by the rushes and weeds,

And, crushing the lilies, scroops over the reeds.

The sky is so blue and the water so clear,

I'm almost to idle to think or to steer !

Let scullers delight in hot toiling, but O ! -

Let me have the chance to be taken in tow !


The dragon-fly hums and the skiff glides along,

The leaves whisper low and the stream runneth strong,

But still the two maidens tramp girlfully on,

I'll reward them for this when we get to the "Swan";

For then shall be rest for my excellent team,

A strawberry banquet, with plenty of cream ! -

Believe me, good people, for I ought to know,

'Tis capital fun to be taken in tow !


MISS SAILOR-BOY, Mapledurham Lock, August

I pause and watch the boats go by,

And paint her portrait on the sly !


Her age is twelve; half bold, half coy -

Her friends all call her "Sailor-Boy" -

With sweet brown eyes beyond compare,

And close-cropped, curling, sunny hair;

Her smart straw hat you'll notice, and

See "Jennie" broidered on the band,

Her sailor's knot and lanyard too,

With jersey trim of navy blue;

Her short serge frock distinctly shows

Well shapen legs in sable hose

And symphonies in needlework,

Where dimpled pearly shadows lurk -

Which, as she swings her skirts, you note

Peep out beneath her petticoat.

This sunburnt baby dives and floats,

She manages canoes or boats;

Can steer and scull, can reef or row.

Or punt or paddle, fish or tow.

The lithest lass you e'er could see

In all Short-petticoaterie !



Far, far from the town,

I spied drifting down,

Cheeks ruddy and brown -

Eyes so blue -

A sweet sailor-girl,

With hair all a-curl -

In canoe.


She dreams in the boat,

And sweet is the note

That little white throat

Carols through:

She languidly glides,

And skilfully guides -

Her canoe.


'Neath tremulous trees,

She loiters at ease,

And I, if you please,

Wonder who

May be the sweet maid,

Who moons in the shade -



Pray tell me who can,

Is she Alice or Ann?

Is she Florrie or Fan?

Is she Loo?

The laziest pet,

You ever saw yet -

In canoe.


The river's like glass -

As slowly I pass,

This sweet little lass,

Raises two

Forget-me-not eyes,

In laughing surprise -

From canoe.


And as I float by,

Said I, "Miss, O why?

O why may not I

Drift with you?"

Said she, with a start,

"I've no room in my heart -

Or canoe !"









I waited last Monday at Medmenham Ferry, well -

Anxious for some one to ferry me o'er:

The man was at dinner, and I could tell very well

He would not return for an hour or more.

So I sat me down and smoked so steadily.

What should I do? I could not tell readily.

A maiden rowed by who had soft sunny hair,

Whose dimples and eyes were beyond all compare -

This water-girl was so uncommonly fair !


But only to think, as I pondered there wearily,

And gazed at the Abbey, and thought it a bore,

She leant on her sculls, and she offered most cheerily

To row me across to the opposite shore !

I said "How kind !" She pouted capriciously !

I stepped aboard, and she smiled deliciously !

And rowed off at once with so charming an air,

And feathered her sculls with such neatness and care -

This water-girl was so delightfully fair !


For once I'm in luck - there is not the least doubt of it !

Alas that the voyage is concluded so soon !

The skiff's by the shore, and I slowly get out of it,

And wish the fair damsel "a good afternoon".

I raise my hat, and she looks so thrillingly !

I thank her much, and depart unwillingly !

She smiles, and she ripples her soft sunny hair;

And leaves a heart broken beyond all repair !

This Water-Girl was so surpassingly fair !











The way was long, the sun was high,

The Minstrel was fatigued and dry !

From Wargrave he came walking down,

In hope to soon reach Henley town;

And at the "Lion" find repast,

To slake his thirst and break his fast.

Alas ! there's neither punt nor wherry

To take him over Bolney Ferry !


He gazes to the left and right -

No craft is anywhere in sight,

Except the horse-boat he espied

Secure upon the other side;

No skiff he finds to stem the swirl,

No ferryman, nor boy, nor girl !

He sits and sings there "Hey down derry !"

But can't get over Bolney Ferry !


No ferry-girl? Indeed I'm wrong,

For she, - the subject of my song -

So dainty, dimpled, young, and fair,

Is coolly sketching over there.

She gazes, stops, then seems to guess

The reason of the Bard's distress.

A brindled bull-dog she calls "Jerry"

Comes with her over Bolney Ferry !

She pulls, and then she pulls again,

With shapely hands, the rusty chain;

She smiles, and, with a softened frown,

She bids her faithful dog lie down.

As she approaches near the shore

She shows her dimples more and more.

Her short white teeth, lips like a cherry

Unpouting show, at Bolney Ferry !


With joy he steps aboard the boat,

The Rhymer's rescued and afloat !

She chirps and chatters, and the twain

Together pull the rusty chain:

He sighs to think each quaint clink-clank

But brings him nearer to the bank !

His heart is sad, her laugh is merry,

And so they part at Bolney Ferry !


The Minstrel sitting down to dine

To retrospection doth incline;

"A faultless figure, watchet eyes

As sweet as early summer skies !

What pretty hands, what subtle grace,

And what a winsome little face !"

In Mrs. Williams' driest sherry

He toasts the lass of Bolney Ferry !





OUR Crew it is stalwart, our Crew it is smart,

But needeth refreshment at noon;

Let's land at the lawn of the cheery "White Hart",

Now gay with the glamour of June !

For here can we lunch to the music of trees -

In sight of the swift river running -

Off cuts of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,

And a tankard of bitter at Sonning!


The garden is lovely, the host is polite,

His rose trees are ruddy with bloom,

The snowy-clad table with tankards bedight,

And pleasant that quaint little room;

So sit down at once, at your inn take your ease -

No man of our Crew will be shunning -

A cut of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,

And a tankard of bitter at Sonning !



We've had a long pull, and our hunger is keen,

We've all a superb appetite !

The lettuce is crisp, and the cresses are green,

The ale it is beady and bright;

New potatoes galore, and delicious green peas -

The Skipper avers they are "stunning" -

With cuts of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,

And a tankard of bitter at Sonning !


The windows are open, the lime-scented breeze

Comes mixed with the perfume of hay;

We list to the weir and the humming of bees

As we sit and we smoke in the bay !

Then here's to our host, ever anxious to please,

And here's to his brewers so cunning !

The cuts of cold beef and the prime Cheddar cheese,

And the tankards of bitter at Sonning !








YES ! Here I am ! I've drifted down -

The sun is hot, my face is brown -

Before the wind from Moulsford town,

So pleasantly and fleetly !

I know not what the time may be -

It must be half-past two or three -

And so I think I'll land and see,

Beside the "Swan" at Streatley !


And when you're here, I'm told that you

Should mount the hill and see the view;

And gaze and wonder, if you'd do

Its merits most completely:

The air is clear, the day is fine,

The prospect is, I know, divine -

But most distinctly I decline

To climb the hill at Streatley !


My Doctor, surely he knows best,

Avers that I'm in need of rest;

And so I heed his wise behest

And tarry here discreetly:

'Tis sweet to muse in leafy June,

'Tis doubly sweet this afternoon,

So I'll remain to muse and moon

Before the "Swan" at Streatley !

But from the Hill, I understand

You gaze across rich pasture-land;

And fancy you see Oxford and

P'r'aps Wallingford and Wheatley:

Upon the winding Thames you gaze,

And, though the view's beyond all praise,

I'd rather much sit here and laze

Than scale the Hill at Streatley !


I sit and lounge here on the grass,

And watch the river traffic pass;

Note a dimpled, fair young lass,

Who feather low and neatly:

Her hands are brown, her eyes are grey,

And trim her nautical array -

Alas ! she swiftly sculls away,

And leaves the "Swan" at Streatley !


She's gone ! Yes, now she's out of sight !

She's gone ! But still the sun is bright,

The sky is blue, the breezes light

With thyme are scented sweetly:

She may return ! So here I'll stay,

And, just to pass the time away,

I smoke and weave a lazy lay

About the "Swan" at Streatley.




O, COME down to Henley, for London is horrid;

There's no peace or quiet to sunset from dawn.

The Row is a bore, and the Park is too torrid,

So come down and lounge on the "Red Lion" Lawn !

Then, come down to Henley, no time like the present,

The sunshine is bright, the barometer's high -

O, come down at once, for Regatta-time's pleasant,

Thrice pleasant is Henley in laughing July !


Now, gay are the gardens of Fawley and Phyllis,

The Bolney backwaters are shaded from heat;

The rustle of poplars on Rememnham Hill is,

Mid breezes æstival, enchantingly sweet !

When hay-scented meadows with oarsmen are crowded -

Whose bright tinted blazers gay toilettes outvie -

When sunshine is hot and the sky is unclouded,

O, Henley is splendid in lovely July !


Ah me ! what a revel of exquisite colours,

What costumes in pink and in white and in blue,

By smart canoistes and pretty girl-scullers,

Are sported in randan, in skiff, and canoe !

What sun-shaded lasses we see out a-punting,

What fair gondoliere perchance we espy.

And house-boats and launches all blossom and bunting -

O, Henley's a picture in merry July !


If it rains, as it may, in this climate capricious,

And Beauty is shod in the gruesome galosh;

While each dainty head-dress and toilette delicious

Is shrouded from view in the grim mackintosh !

We'll flee to the cheery "Athena" for shelter -

The pâté is perfect, the Giesler is dry -

And think while we gaze, undismayed at the "pelter",

That Henley is joyous in dripping July !


The ancient grey bridge is delightful to moon on,

For ne'er such a spot for the mooner was made;

He'll spend, to advantage, a whole afternoon on

Its footway, and loll on its quaint balustrade !

For this of all others, the best is of places

To watch the brown rowers pull pantingly by,

To witness the spleandour, the shouting, the races,

At Henley Regatta in charming July !


When athletes are weary and hushed is the riot,

When launches have vanished and house-boats are gone,

When Henley once more is delightfully quiet -

'Tis soothing to muse on the "Red Lion" Lawn !

When the swans hold their own and the sedges scarce shiver -

As sweet summer breezes most tunefully sigh -

Let us laze at the ruddy-faced Inn by the River,

For Henley is restful in dreamy July !