'The Bill of Fare'


MS in Maria Beadnell's hand (1831).


Dickens, Charles


Beinecke Library, Yale University.



Parody of Oliver Goldsmith's 'Retaliation: A Poem'.


Bibliographic Citation

Dickens, Charles. 'Lodgings To Let.' Autograph Album of Maria Beadnell (1831). Dickens Search. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. https://dickenssearch.com/verse/1831_The_Bill_of_Fare.


As the great rage just now is imitation,
'Mong high-born & low, throughout the whole Nation,
I trust 'twill excuse the few following lines,
Of which I'll say nothing, but that these poor rhymes,
As you might expect, in degenerate days
Like these, are entitled to no share of praise
Because they are novel, – the ground work at least,
Is a copy from Goldsmith's ever famed Feast.
"And a bad one it is too," – you'll say, I fear,
But let me entreat you, don't be too severe. –
If, in a fair face, 'twill elicit a smile,
If one single moment 'twill serve to beguile, –
I shall think on it with great satisfaction,
Et cet'ra, – & so forth: – now then to action!

Without further preface to waste the time in
We'll set to at once, – If you please we'll begin.
We'll say a small party to Dinner are met,
And the guests are themselves about to be eat;
Without saying Grace, – (I own I'm a sinner, –)
We'll endeavor to see what we've for dinner.

Mr. Beadnell's a good fine sirloin of beef,
Though to see him cut up would cause no small grief;
And then Mrs. Beadnell, I think I may name,
As being an excellent Rib of the same.
The Miss B's are next, who it must be confessed
Are two nice little Ducks; and very well dressed.
William Moule's of a trifle, a trifling dish;
Mr. Leigh we all know is a very great fish;
Mrs. Leigh a Curry, smart, hot & biting,
Although a dish that is always inviting.
For cooking our meat we utensils won't lack
So Miss Leigh shall be called a fine roasting Jack,
A thing of great use, when we dine or we sup,
A patent one too – never wants winding up.
Mr Moule's a bottle of excellent Port;
Mrs. Moule of Champagne, – good humor's her forte;
The Miss M's of Snipe are a brace, if you please,
And Joe is a very fine flavored Dutch-Cheese;
Mrs. Lloyd & her spouse are a nice side dish, –
(Some type of their most happy state I must wish
To produce; – let me see, I've found out one soon)
Of Honey & sweets in the form of a Moon;
Arthur Beetham, – this dish has cost me some pains,
Is a tongue with a well made garnish of brains;
M'Namara, I think must by the same rule
Be a dish of excellent gooseberry-fool;
And Charles Dickens, who in our Feast plays a part,
Is a young Summer Cabbage, without any heart; –
Not that he's heartless, but because, as folks say,
He lost his a twelve month ago from last May.
Now let us suppose that the dinner is done,
And the guests have roll'd on the floor one by one: –
I don't mean to say that they're at the completion,
Trying the fam'd city cure for repletion.
Nor do I by any means raise up the question
Whether they owe their deaths to indigestion.
We'll say they're all dead; it's a terrible sight
But I'll dry my tears, and their Epitaphs write.

Here lies Mr. Beadnell, beyond contradiction,
An excellent man, and a good politician;
His opinions were always sound and sincere,
Come here! ye Reformers, o'er him drop a tear:
Come here, and with me weep at his sudden end,
Ye who're to ballot & freedom a friend.
Come here, all of ye who to him ever listened,
Praise on rare quality – he was consistent;
And if any one can say so much for you
We'll try to write on you an epitaph too.
He was most hospitable, friendly & kind;
An enemy, I'm sure, he's not left behind;
And if he be fairly, and all in all ta'en,
"We never shall look upon his like again."

Here lies Mrs. Beadnell, whose conduct through life,
As a mother, a woman, a friend, a wife,
I shall think, while I possess recollection,
Can be summ'd up in one word – PERFECTION.
Her faults I'd tell you beyond any doubt,
But for this plain reason, – I ne'er found them out:
Her character from my own knowledge I tell,
For when she was living she was, I then knew her well.
It chances to've been by the fates brought about,
That she was the means of first bringing me out: –
All my thanks for that & her kindness since then
I'd vainly endeavor to tell with my pen:
I think what I'd say, – I feel it, that's better,
Or I'd scorn to write of these lines one letter.

Excuse me, dear reader, for pause now I must;
Here two charming Sisters lie low in the dust. –
But why should I pause? do they want my poor aid
To tell of their virtues while with us they stayed?
Can a few words from me add a hundredth part
To the regret felt for them in every heart?
No, no! 't is impossible; still I must try,
To speak of them here, for I can't pass them by.
And first then for Anne I'll my banner unfurl
A truly delightful and sweet tempered girl,
And, what's very odd, and will add to her fame,
Is this one plain fact, – she was always the same.
She was witty, clever, – you liked what she said;
Without being blue, she was very well read.
Her favourite Author, or else I'm a fibber,
And have been deceived, was a famed Colley Cibber.
I don't think dear reader 'twill interest you,
But still, if you please, keep that quite entre nous.
I grow tedious, so of her I'll not din more, –
Oh! – She sometimes drest her hair a la Chinois.
Ladies, if you want this fashion to follow,
And don't know where you the pattern can borrow,
Don't look in "the fashions" 'mong bows & wreathings,
You'll find it on any antique China Tea things.
But who have we here? alas what sight is this?
Has her spirit flown back to regions of bliss?
Has Maria left this World of trouble & care
Because for us she was too good & too fair?
Has Heaven in its jealousy ta'en her away
As a blessing too great for us children of clay?
All ye fair & beautiful, sadly come here,
And Springs early flowers strew over her bier;
Fit emblems are they of life's short fleeting day,
Fit tributes are they to her mem'ry to pay;
For though blooming now, they will soon be decayed,
They blossom one moment, then wither and fade.
I linger here now, and I hardly know why,
I've no wish, no hope now, but this one – to die.
My bright hopes & fond wishes were all centered here
Their brightness has vanished, they're now dark & drear.
The impression that Mem'ry engraves in my heart
Is all I have left, and with that I ne'er part.
I might tell you much, & I say't with a sigh,
Of the grace of her form, & the glance of her eye;
I might tell of happy days now pass'd away,
Which I fondly hoped then would never decay,
But 'twere useless – I should only those times deplore, 
I know that again I can see them no more.
But what's this small form that she folds to her breast,
As if it had only laid down there to rest?
Poor thing is it living? – Ah no! it's dead quite;
It is a small dog, liver-colored & white.
Dear me, now I see – 'tis the little dog that
Would eat mutton chops if you cut off the fat!
So very happy was its situation
An object it was of such admiration,
That I'd resign all my natural graces,
E'en now, if I could with "Daphne" change places.

William Moule next alas with the dead lieth here,
And his loss we shall ne'er recover I fear;
No more shall the young men, among whom am I,
Regard with great envy his elegant tie;
No more shall the girls, with anxiety wait,
At a party, and mourn that he came in late;
Though it was not his fault, it must be confess'd
We knew very well that he lived "in the West"1
And men of great fashion now never go out,
Till long after twelve when engaged to a rout.
No more shall he waltz an hour with one lady,
To the delight of tut'ress, Miss A. B.
Who no more shall turn to me, & whispering low,
Say "Doesn't he waltz well? I taught him, you know."
No more shall he curse all the City Folks' Balls,
And vow that he never will honor their halls;
No more from "the London", will he be turned back
Because of his wearing a Kerchief of black;
No more when we sit round the blithe supper table
Shall he hush to silence the prattling Babel,
By, – When a lady, a speech made upon her –
Rising to return us her thanks for the honor.
No more – but I think I'll use that phrase no more,
I feel that I can't this loss enough deplore.

Momus & Bacchus, both be merry no more,
Your friend Mr. Leigh lies dead on the floor.
Weep both of ye, each hide your sorrowful head,
For he isn't dead drunk, but he's really dead.
We shall never again see his good humored face,
We shall never again much admire the grace
With which he would drink off his bottle of wine,
Or with which he'd ask you next Sunday to dine.
We shall never again laugh aloud at his fun, 
We shall never in turn amuse him with a pun.
In his Will I hope as a Legacy that
He's left me that elegant, pretty dress hat,
The shape, make, & color of which were so rare;
And which on all extra occasions he'd wear.
I really do his loss most deeply regret,
As the kindest best temper'd man, I e'er met.
I'm as hale and as hearty as any one here
So I'll help to carry him to his new bier.

Mrs. Leigh's life, alas, has come to an end: –
But I can't speak of her, I fear to offend;
I don't think the truth need her feelings much gall,
But if I can't tell it I won't write at all.
If 'twere not for the lesson that I've been taught
I'd have painted her as in justice I ought;
I'd have said she was friendly, good hearted, kind,
Her wit I'd have praised and intelligent mind;
'Bout scandal, or spreading reports without heed,
Of course I'd say nothing, how could I indeed?
Because if I did I should certainly lie,
And my remarks here, doubtless, would not apply.
So as I fear either to praise or to blame,
I will not her faults or her virtues here name.

And Mary Anne Leigh's death I much regret too,
Though the greatest tormentor that I e'er knew;
Whenever she met you, at morn, noon or night
To tease & torment you, was her chief delight;
To each glance or smile she'd a meaning apply,
On every flirtation she kept a sharp eye.
Though – tender feelings I trust I'm not hurting –
She ne'er herself much objected to flirting.2
She to each little secret always held the candle,
And I think she liked a small bit of scandal.
I think, too, that she used to dress her hair well,
Although Arthur said, – but that tale I won't tell.
In short though she was so terribly teasing
So pretty she looked, her ways were so pleasing,
That when she had finished I used to remain
Half fearing, half hoping, to be teased again.

Here lies – Mr. Moule, at whose plentiful board
We often have sat, and where, with one accord,
Mirth, pleasure, good humor & capital Wine,
Seem'd always to meet when one went there to dine.
To his friends he was always good-humored and kind
And a much better host 'twould be hard to find.
If he for an instant his good humor missed
I've heard it would be at a rubber of whist;
At least I've sometimes heard his Partners say so;
Though of course I myself this fact cannot know.
His hospitality deserved great credit;
Indeed I much wish all men did inherit
That merit from him; I'm sure it is needed,
That some should prize it as highly as he did.
I think his opinions were not always quite
So kind, or so just as they should be of right.
However that question I'll not travel though,
'Twould not I think become me so to do.
Some others in this point like him we may see,
So I will say requiescat in pace.

Mrs. Moule alas lieth here with the dead,
Her good temper vanish'd, her light spirits fled;
I'd say much of her but all knew her too well,
To leave any thing new for me here to tell,
So I'll only say, – in thus speaking of her
I'm sure all she e'er knew will concur –
If kindness & temper as virtues are held
She never by any one yet was excelled.
Louisa Moule's next, – I can't better call her
Than the same pattern, – N.B. a size smaller.

Here lies Fanny Moule, of whom't may be said,
That romance or sentiment quite turned her head.
Her chief pleasure was, but I cannot tell why
To sit by herself in a corner and sigh.
You might talk for an hour to her thinking she heard,
And find out at last she had not heard a word;
She'd start turn her head, – the case was a hard one, –
And say with a sigh, "Dear! I beg your pardon."
Whether this arose from love, doubt, hesitation,
Or whether indeed, 'twas all affectation,
I will not by my own decision abide,
I'll leave it to others the point to decide;
Thus much though, I will say, – I think it is droll,
That one who so pleasing might be on the whole,
Should take so much trouble, – it must be a toil, –
All her charms and graces entirely to spoil.
Here lies honest Joe, & I'm sure when I say
That he'd a good heart, there's no one will say nay,
The themes, of all others, on which he would doat
Were splendid gold lace & a flaming red Coat;
His mind always ran on battles & slaughters,
Guards, Bands, Kettle-drums & splendid Head Quarters.
I've heard that the best bate to catch a young girl
Is a red coat & a mustachio's curl;
Bait your hook with but this, & Joe would soon bite
Hint at it, he'd talk on from morning to night.
In portraits of Soldiers he spent all his hoard;
You talked of a penknife – he thought of a sword.
Inspecting accounts he ne'er could get through
His mind would revert to some former review.
He ne'er made a bill out, smaller or larger
But he thought he was then mounting his charger.
He ne'er to the counting house trudged in a heat
But he thought of forced marches & a retreat
And ne'er from the play to his home went again
But trembling he thought of the roll call at TEN.
But fallen at last is this "gay young deceiver,"
A prey to Death and a bad Scarlet fever.

Here lies Mrs. Lloyd, I'm sorry to say
That she too from us is so soon snatched away;
That her fate is most hard it can't be denied,
When we think how recently she was a bride.
That she became one is no source of surprise,
For if all that's charming in critical eyes
Is likely to finish a dull single life,
I'm sure she ought t’ve been long since a wife
Though we lament one so pleasing, so witty,
And though her death we may think a great pitty
I really myself do quite envy her fate,
And I wish when with Death I've my tête à tête,
He'd do me the favor to take me away
When my prospects here were bright, blooming & gay,
When I'm quite happy, ere with sorrows jaded,
I wish for my grave, when my hopes are faded, –
When I might be certain of leaving behind
Those who would ne'er cease to bear me in mind
She's gone and who shall now those sweet ballads sing
Which still in my ears so delightfully ring?
"We met," "Friends depart" – I those sweet sounds retain,
And I feel I shall never forget them again.

And down here Mr. Lloyd's remains lie beside
Those of his so recently blooming young bride,
I'm sorry he's dead, for I knew him to be,
Good humored, most honest, kind hearted & free.
That he was consistent, I ne'er had a doubt,
Although scandal said, & 'twas whisper'd about,
That when he last Summer from Paris came home
(I think 'twas his marriage induced him to roam)
He his principles changed, – so runs the story,
Threw off the Whigs, & became a staunch Tory.
But be that as it may, I think it's but fair,
To say that I know he enjoyed the fresh air.

And is Arthur Beetham for the first time hush'd?
And has he returned to his original dust?
Has he gone the way of all flesh with the rest
In spite of the great care he took of his Chest!3
At our snug coteries will he never make one?
Will he never again gladden us with his fun?
Poor fellow! I fear, now he's laid in the earth,
That of our amusements we'll all find a dearth;
And yet he'd his fault, – to speak without joking,
He had a knack of being very provoking;
So much so that several times t' other day
I devoutly, heartily, wished him away;
But after I'd done so, my conscience me smote
And here perhaps a couple of lines I may quote
Missing his mirth and agreeable vein,
I directly wished we had him back again.

And does M'Namara with the dead recline?
Poor Francis, his waistcoats were wond'rously fine;
He certainly was an elegant fellow,
His coats were well made, his gloves a bright yellow;
Florists shall hold up his Pall by the corners,
Morgan4 & Watkins5 shall be his chief mourners.
Last, here's Charles Dickens, who's now gone for ever;
It's clear that he thought himself very clever;
To all his friends' faults – it almost makes me weep,
He was wide awake – to his own fast asleep.
Though blame he deserved for such wilful blindness
He had one merit – he ne'er forgot kindness.
Perhaps I don't do right to call that a merit
Which each human creature's bound to inherit;
But when old Death claimed the debt that he owed him
He felt most grateful to all that was showed him,
His faults, & there were not in number few,
As all his acquaintance extremely well knew,
Emanated – to speak of him in good part –
I think rather more from the head than the heart.
His death wasn't sudden, he had long been ill,
Slowly he languished & got worse, until,
No mortal means could the poor young fellow save,
And a sweet pair of eyes sent him home to his grave. 


1. The purlieus of Tottenham Court Road!!!
2. A singular fact.
3. The reason assigned by Mr. A. B. for constantly wearing his coat buttoned up to his chin, was his extreme anxiety to preserve his chest from cold.
4. a celebrated glove maker
5. a celebrated Tailor