Phelps Ancestry

Ethel May Kitson 1874-1945

Our grandmother, Ethel May Kitson, was born in 1874. She was the second child and older daughter of John Hawthorn Kitson and Jessie Kitson, nee Ellershaw. For the first eleven years of her life the family lived at 138 Cardigan Road near the Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds. After her grandfather, James Kitson I's death in 1885 they moved to his substantial residence Elmete in Roundhay Park. Hawthorn had been running the Railway Works in Hunslet after his older brother Frederick's death at the age of 48. Hawthorn's second brother, James, became MP for Colne Valley and subsequently Lord Airedale. Ethel studied History at Newnham College, Cambridge in the 1890s. 

In February 1907 she married Murray Phelps and they lived in Carpenter Road, Birmingham where he practised as a solicitor. They had four children: Cynthia, Daphne, Bridget and John Murray (known as Jack). During the First World War Murray served as an Assistant Provost Marshall in the Military Police. In the 1920s they moved to Hadlow Down near Mayfield in East Sussex because Ethel missed the countryside of the Yorkshire Dales near Leeds. Like other married women she became a housewife and mother. She never fulfilled her early academic ambitions. After her death in 1945, Newnham College published an obituary.

(N.C. 1895-9)
Every generation of students has its notable figures who take a foremost place in the life of the College, and are loved and admired by their contemporaries. Of such was Ethel Kitson (Mrs Murray Phelps) to those who came up in 1895 - fifty-one years ago. Her gifts of mind and character were many, and were displayed with complete lack of self-consciousness or vanity. In person, too, her fair complexion, golden hair and bright blue eyes made her vividly distinct, and she somehow managed always to preserve an exquisite trimness in the midst of the most energetic pursuits. For she delighted in vigorous exercise, whether of mind or body, and would tackle the reading for the Historical Tripos, a political argument, or a dangerous opponent at lawn-tennis with equal enjoyment. In all these directions she was in the front rank, and she seemed to achieve a First Class in the Tripos with the same ease with which she spoke from the Liberal front bench in the Political Society, or, with her steady drive and neat style, won her tennis matches. It was, of course, in the daily and nightly discussions of everything under the sun that the long range of Ethel kitson's mind became apparent. She was already familiar when she came up with political and social questions such as Women's Suffrage, Temperance, and Home Rule, and she approached them with a much more mature judgment than the ordinary student. She looked to the Liberal Party to bring about the social reforms she so urgently desired, and to justify her deeply rooted belief that progress is impossible without freedom. Frivolous Unionists eagerly enjoying her hospitality might smile to see the signed photograph of Mr Gladstone presiding over the cocoa party, but they carried away with them unfading impressions of a resolute mind, a spirit active in goodness, a cheerful and warm friendliness.

Her marriage, not long after going down, to Murray Phelps, took her from her home near Leeds to Birmingham where most of her married life was spent. Absorbed as she was by a most happy family life and by the upbringing of four children, she yet remained as alert as ever about public questions, and she never forgot Newnham or the friends she made there.

When she was a teenager in 1892, Ethel went with her parents, brother Robert and sister Beatrice on a holiday to the Alps. She wrote the following poem which has a ring of Hiawatha about it.

I Will Sing of all our Travels
I will sing of all our travels
In the country of the strange
In the land where curious jabbering
Falls out the lips like water
Falls from the lips of natives.
T’was on a day in August
When we left the smoky city
City of ten thousand chimneys,
City of the rich and thriving,
City of the poor and wretched,
Sons of toil and slaves of hunger.
Leeds the name of this great city
Where the mighty Kitson family,
Family of countless members,
Long has dwelt secure and happy.

Forth we sallied from the city,
Entered then the train for London
As the hour approaches three
We, the family of Kitsons,
Kitsons of the branch of Hawthorn,
Of the noble branch of Hawthorn:
First the Governor the Father,
He a man of portly figure
Then his better half the Mother,
She a very nervous lady,
Very timid, and as fussy
As a hen with chickens many
Greatly dreaded she these travels,
Full of danger and of peril
Danger from the savage nations
Whom she thought for blood were thirsting,
Thirsting for the blood of Kitsons
From the branch of Hawthorn springing
And sometimes her nerves waxed rampant,
Then with awful wild excitement
Clutched she at the thing was nearest,
Clutched she at her husband’s forelock
Clutched she at her son or daughter
Till the danger was averted,
Till the danger she imagined
Like the ghost it was had vanished.

Come we to the olive branches
Olive branches three in number
And the Governor the Father
And the better half the mother
Oft would chortle in their joy
Saying one unto the other
Very glad we are, our offspring
Are not more than three in number.

First of all the olive branches
Comes the son, the dark haired Robert
19 years in all he numbered,
In his stockings nearly six feet
Stockings, ah! We beg their pardon,
In his socks all azure tinted
He would measure nearly si feet
Very fond he was of Science
As a botanist was famous
Famous for his love of long names
Names his lips would linger over,
Truth to tell the plants he loved best
Always had the longest titles,
Titles of a hundred letters,
Dazzling to the brain of most men
Anything that had a short name 
Was not worthy of his notice
Was not worthy he should trouble
To pronounce it or to name it.
So much for the dark haired Robert
For the lover of the long names
And the scorner of all others.

Cometh next the maiden Ethel
She the author of these pages
Of these lines of wit and wisdom,
Which come from her pen as quickly
As the water from a duck’s back
As the scholar from his studies.

Last but in her estimation
Very far from being the least
Comes the tomboy Jessie Beatrice,
Maiden of the mighty ankles
Maiden of the understandings.
Very long and firm her stride was
And her gait was very slouching
As of grooms that see the horses
Or of men whose minds are guilty
And who slink as if they fain would
‘Scape the searching eye of justice.

But my Muse must not pass over
The attendant sprite Miss Allen
Damsel with defective eyesight
Damsel who could jabber Français
With the quickness of a gamine
Hurling torrents of invectives
At the head of harmless victims.

These the Travellers, the Wanderers
Who had left their native city
And were starting on their journey
Left the black and smoky city
On this brilliant day in August.
Soon they reached the town of London
Dined there and went on to Dover,
Where they made their nightly sojourn.
But ‘ere ten o’clock next morning
Went they forth from their own land
In the steamboat the Invicta
Steamed they o’er the mighty ocean
Mighty ocean that resembled 
Some still pond that ducks frequent
Not a ripple stirred its surface
Save when the great duck
Paddled o’er the pond’s smooth surface
Quacked and flapped its wings in passing
And disturbed the oily stillness
Of the mighty sea the Duck pond.
Of the shining big sea water.
Rapidly they travelled onwards
In the steamboat the Invicta
Till at last they entered Calais
Landed in the port of Calais
Midst a crowd of jabbering natives
Natives yelling, natives piping
In a lingo quite original,
Monsieur, Monsieur, ici, ici
I alone can guide you safely,
Bring you safe from out the rabble
With your baggage and your offspring.

Then at hurried lunch at Calais
In the crowded railway buffet
‘Ere the Paris train we enter
Which deposits us at Paris
‘Ere the shades of night descending
Hide from us the brilliant city
City fashionable and busy
City frivolous and gay.
All next day was spent in misery
Save the early hours of morning
When we went to gaze on pictures
In the world renowned gallery
Of the grand ancestral Louvre
Virgins, Martyrs, Saints and Prophets,
Nymphs and swains and courtiers gallant
All were here in glowing colours,
Handed down to future Ages
By the brush of some great Master.

Now my Muse is filled with sadness
Filled with sadness at the suffering
Of the family of Kitsons
Kitsons of the branch of Hawthorn
For alack when duty summons
Even Kitsons fain must follow.
They must call on strange old females
Curious old Parisian females,
Who will gush and cringe and flatter
Ah! Que Monsieur parle bon Français
Ah! Que Mademoiselle est gentille
Et comme Madame est Parisienne.
Such the language these old toadies
Used unto the Kitson family
And the Governor the father
And the better half the mother
Sooth to say were quite delighted
Yes, they sure will send their daughter
Send the tomboy Jessie Beatrice
And the author of these pages
To the cringing, flattering toadies
To be taught how they may parler
Parler Français at a great rate.

Then these visits being over
Over to their satisfaction
Straight return they to their dwelling
And prepare them to depart
But alas when all was ready
The portmanteaus will not fasten
‘Tis vain to push and struggle
Oh! Attendant sprite Miss Allen
Your poor strength is not sufficient
But the blooming olive branches
They the mighty baggage squashes
Sit but on them, straight they fasten
Conquered by their weight so ponderous
Conquered by the olive branches.

Dinner ‘ere away they hasten
Get them places in the night train
Very small and hot the beds were
Very close together crowded
Like to herrings in a barrel
Like to paupers in a workhouse
Or to flies upon a ceiling.
Aix-les-Bains at last they entered
Town where invalids are rife
And where bathers dishabille
Wrapped in towels, borne in litters
Meet the eye at every moment
Meet the eye and charm the senses
By the beauty of their aspect
And their garb of towels curious.

Then they drove up to the Splendide
And were met by Rossignoli
He the master of the Splendide
He a dapper little Frenchman
Full of antics and of gestures
Full of strange gesticulations
Full of welcome for the Kitsons
Pa and Ma and olive branches
Then they stayed at Aix till Monday
Passed two days of calm and quiet
On the third day they departed
In a steaming locomotive
Until Chambèry is reached
There they’re met by Jacob Forster
He the world renowned driver
He a fiery little person
With a face brown as a berry
Like two living coals his eyes were
Like two living coals of fire
Straight they get into his carriage
In his carriage large and roomy
Drawn by five most fiery chestnuts
And attended by a small dog
By a small dog known as Pilou.

Thus accoutred forth they sallied
Drove through miles of glorious scenery
Snowy mountains, fertile valleys
Clothed with dark and gloomy pine trees
Interspersed with glowing beech trees
Beeches all alive with sunlight.
Nine the hours when they started
Two it was before they broke bread
At the hamlet of Pierre d’Êntremont
There they had a lusty dinner
Then went on to Pierre de Chartreuse
Slept in charming little attics
Slept most soundly, snored most loudly
Yes, the tomboy Jessie Beatrice
Snored like to a locomotive
With its works all out of order
With its works that needed oiling.
But before they sought their couches
Sought their couches in the attic
See their vision was delighted
By a monk of mould enormous
Robed in white he ate his supper
Drank down wine and gobbled victuals
Till you’d swear his girth grew greater
As he sat and gobbled victuals.

Tuesday morn at 9 they started
Drove by rivers and by mountains
To Sappey where they had luncheon
Onward then unto Grenoble
Where they made their nightly sojourn. 
Wednesday dawned, again they started
Midst a mighty crowd of people
Who had come to stare and wonder
Thinking this must be some great prince
Travelling in such regal manner
Nor must I forget to mention
An addition to their party
Monsieur Couévon a Frenchman
Full of wild enthusiasm
And the queerest little fellow
He would roar and haha loudly
Slap his thigh and scratch his noddle
Make all manner of contortions
Roll about and shout with laughter
At each word of wit or folly
Spoken by the Kitson family
And his talk was all of flowers
Socialists and priests and peoples
Uttered in most curious English
Uttered midst his shrieks of laughter
Thus augmented drove they onwards
In the midst of drizzling downpour
Till Gavez where they alighted
Ate their lunch and took much interest
In the doings of a merchant
Who deceived the guileless peasants
Made them purchase heaps of rubbish
At a hundred times their value
Dazzling by his honeyed language
And the power of his blarney.

But they left the sale behind them
Journeyed on to Bourg d’Oisans
To a somewhat dirty hostel
Where they had a greasy dinner
Vain essays they made to stifle
Bursts of laughter at the drollness
Of the comic little Frenchman
With his gestures and his antics
And his wondrous evolutions.
On the morn they started early
Reached La Grave in time for luncheon
After they went for a long walk
To the glacier known as La “Meije” 
But the Governor the Father
And the tomboy Jessie Beatrice
Soon got weary and went homewards
Weary of the steep ascension
But the author of these pages,
M. Couéven, the Frenchman,
And the son the dark haired Robert
Went on in pursuit of flowers
Over rocks and stones and boulders
Right unto the wondrous glacier
Very long and rough their walk was
Very much they all enjoyed it
And returned home decorated with the trophies
With the trophies they had gathered,
Gathered from the mountain pastures.

Friday was a glorious morning
And they drove past beauteous glaciers
White and shining in the sunlight
With a purity and beauty
Heightened by their rugged boulders
Strong and bold and dark and gloomy
Typical of evil spirits
Warring ‘gainst the light and sweetness
‘Gainst the chastity and glory
Of the peaks and snow-capped summits
But the landscape’s full perfection
Was not visible till lunchtime
Lautraut the place they lunched at
Very beautiful the Col was
Very loth they were to leave it
But ere nightfall they must enter
Briancon, that mighty fortress
In the vale by hills surrounded
Hills which on the day that followed
They must cross to reach Italia
Montgenèvre the pass they crossed by
Montgenèvre where hateful Douanes
Must examine all the luggage
Shove and prod and poke their noses
(noses very small and perky)
All amongst the goods and chattels
Of the mighty Kitson Family.
When the owners of the noses
Were sufficiently enlightened
(that is if the faintest glimmer
Faintest ray of light or wisdom
E’er could penetrate the great brains
Of those officers Italian
With their very tiny stature
And their very great assurance)
Onward then till Oulx was entered
Where their hunger they diminished
Whence for Turin they departed
Where they rested for the Sunday
Spent the most unhappy Sunday
For the heat was something awful
All day long they baked and frizzled
Nearly melted in the great heat
Refuge sought they at Superga
But in vain for La Superga
Were resembled the inferno
Where the evil melt and simmer
Melt and simmer in the furnace
Than a Mount with Holy Temple
Offering rest and joy and shelter
From the burning heat of noonday
From slow torture in a fire.

Now my muse is torn asunder
Twixt conflicting joy and anguish
For one member of the family
The attendant sprite Miss Allen
She the maiden of the goggles
She the maiden of the red shirt
Vanishes from out these pages
Where she for a week has figured
For a week of foolish blunders
Perpetrated every moment
By the damsel Lucy Allen.
She must leave the Kitson family
Who no longer can put up with
All her lies and taradiddles
All her airs and all her graces
All her hats and all her dresses
But above all her bad manners
And her many foolish blunders
Bitter tears she wept at parting
But the mighty Kitson family
Shrieked and chortled in their great joy
Very glad they were to leave her
Very sad she was to leave them
Thus my Muse is torn asunder
With desire to do full justice
To the sorrow of the Red Shirt
And the gladness of the Wanderers.

Now on Monday to Torino
Hotter was than the Inferno
So they left it by the railway
Steamed away unto Novara
There were met by Jacob Forster
With his carriage and his chestnuts.
Hot and dusty was the high road
Cross and grumpy were the Travellers
All except the dark haired Robert. 
When for lunch they reached Murano
Where they sat them in a dry ditch
And midst ants and clies refreshed them.
E’er nightfall they reached Baveno
By the placid lake reposing
By the Lake of Maggiore
Domodossola on Tuesday
And the Simplon Pass on Wednesday,
When at Isella they lunched
And at Sempione slumbered.

Lightly pass I o’er the next days
For my tale becomes too lengthy
Thursday Brieg they gained at lunch time
Fresch they reached e’er fall of even

And next day drove on to Münster
At Rhone Glacier nightly sojourned
Hospenthal the destination
They must reach e’er dawn of Sabbath
Therefore ever on they travelled
Past the mighty Rhonen Glekelen
To the summit of the Furka
There with rapid pace descending
Unto Galenstock for luncheon
And to Hospenthal for Sunday
But the quiet of their Sabbath
Was disturbed by squalling infants
Squalling babes and howling infants
Who, though much too young to toddle
Yet could howl in foreign lingos
Howl enough to knock the house down
In Italian, French and German.

So they left the Tower of Babel
Tower of Babel and of Babies
Early on the Monday morning
And went on to Tachormat
Thence to Disentis e’er nightfall
And next morn to Acqua Calda
O’er Lukmanier, a high pass
And thus on to Acqua Rossa
Famous for its iron water
For its waters very nasty.
Wednesday lunch at Bellinzona
And then on unto Locarno
Where they stayed a day to rest them
While the rain it fell in torrents
And the thunder loudly rumbled.

Very dull are now these pages
For the Editor, the author,
Is weary of romancing
And of telling taradiddles
To amuse the General Public
General Public who consist of
But the maiden Jessie Beatrice
And the son the dark-haired Robert
Who are pleased to see their own names
Figuring in an epic poem
Which shall make their names immortal.

Pardon all the long digression
Which has led me from the Wanderers
Who on Friday left Locarno
By the train to Bellinzona
Then went up the Bernardino
In the carriage of the Forster.
Soon they felt them very peckish
But no halting place was found
So they broke bread as they drove on
Broke their bread and gnawed their chicken
In a manner most recherché
Comme il faut, élite, distinguée
Really quite the pick of fashion
Was the way they took their luncheon.
Very cold and keen the air was
Very beautiful the view was
As they neared San Bernardino
Where they spent the night of Friday.
(Ah! Methinks we have forgotten
All this while to sing the Triumph
Sing the Triumph of the Liberals
Headed by the mighty Gladstone
Man of glorious aims and projects
Man of wondrous execution
Whom the people of Gt Britain
Have elected to rule o’er them
To rule o’er them for the fourth time
While the Travellers, the Wanderers
Were proceeding on their journey
They at home had not been idle,
For the Queen, that worthy woman
Authorised great William Ewart
To take up the reins of office,
And to lead his band of Liberals
Liberals of all shades and colours
From the Rads unto the Irish
Lead this gallant band of followers
Into office, on to victory.
So much for the state of England,
Which much interested the Wanderers
We must come back to the muttons,
And describe how forth they started
On the morning of the next day
Drove on till they reached the summit
Of the Pass, the Bernardino
Then descended very swiftly
By a course of tortuous zig-zags  
Till they reached the town of Splügen
Where they stopped for two short hours
Ere they journeyed on to Thusis,
By the Gorge Aba Via Mala,
With its defiles steep and narrow
That struck terror to the liver
(Such the Ancients deemed the centre
Of the courage of the Warrior)
That struck terror to that portion
Of the better half the Mother
Who, so great her admiration
For the beauty of the scenery
Needs must walk to see it better.

At the hour of 9 on Monday
Forth they started out for Thusis
And drove up the Schyn valley
Alven au Bad reached for luncheon
(pardon my defective metre
But the names of all these places
Will not fit into my verses
Not without a lot of pressure
Pulling, twisting into order
Till poor things they’re maimed and mangled
Till their former shape has vanished)
But the family of the Kitsons
All this time were journeying onward
Till Bergur at last they entered
Whence they set out in the morning
And had luncheon at the Hospice
Of the Albula, a bleak pass
The eleventh that the Wanderers 
Had come over since they started.
Tuesday night at Pontresina
That most fashionable of places
In the midst of lovely mountains
And in sight of many glaciers,
But above all of the Roseg,
Next day over the Berniner
Where they lunched them at the Hospice
And drove down unto Le Prieu
On the lake of Poschiavo
Famous for its sulphur waters
Famous for its trout so monstrous.

The next day they started early
And the way was long and dreary
Very dusty was the high road
Into Italy which led them
To that land of flies and beggars
Land of grease and macaroni
Land of “dolce fa niente”.
But the Travellers, the Wanderers
Took much interest in the natives
Who in gaudy coloured garments
Looked so picturesque and dirty
Looked so very unconventional.

Opportunity was given
As they journeyed through Tireno
Where a fair was going forward
To observe this old world people
Whom before they thought existed
But in pictures or in stories
Or behind a barrel organ
In the crowded streets of London
Grinding rounds of fearful discord
From an old and wheezy organ.
Thus the dullness of the landscape
Was made up for by the people
Who inspired a lively interest
By the quaintness of their manners
And the boldness of their begging,
For they tried to wheedle money
From the pockets of the Wanderers
Tried by various arts and graces
Kissed their hands and raised their voices
And indulged in curious antics
Which prevailed not with the Wanderers
Who had lunch at Belladare
And ere nightfall came to Bormio
At the bottom of the Stelvio
Mighty Pass that on the morrow
They must cross, spite of the terror
Of the better half the Mother
At the thought of all its zigzags
But above all of the wild bears
That were numerous on the mountains
And which to herself she pictured
As enormous, huge and shaggy
Bloodthirsty and fierce and awful.

Friday dawned, at 8 they started
And the Governor the Father
Full of joy did sing and whistle
For many years his object
Had been to mount the Stelvio,
And at last he saw it realised
Thus his great joy was unbounded.
But the better half the Mother
And the blooming olive branches
Found the mountains bleak and barren
Till at length they reached the summit
Reached it shortly after lunching
At the inn, Santa Maria,
Then appeared a vision glorious
For the group of Ortler Mountains
Lay in view all bathed in sunlight
Though the better half the Mother
Said that it was very ugly
Said ‘twas like a railway station
Screamed out, do you call this pleasure
Thus to drive in mortal danger
Down a road so steep and horrid.
“Hawthorn, Hawthorn, let me get out,
Bears I dread less than these zig-zags.”

Soon they came to Franzenhohen
And by chance they failed to notice
A signpost that bad them travel
Straight unto the Customs Office,
But an officer came running
And commanded fiercely, “Halt ye,
And return to Franzenhohen.
But the carriage of the Forster,
Could not turn round on a zig-zag
On a zig-zag steep and narrow
So the fiery little Jacob
Ever ready for explosion
Went off like a tinder barrel
Cursed and swore at the official
Who then answered I arrest thee
In the name of Emperor Francis. 

At the very self-same moment
Forster’s reins he wildly snatched
Who, his ire thus augmented,
Seized his ship and threatened fiercely,
Then the official, swift as lightening
Drew his sword from out the scabbard
But the Governor, the Father
Like a Peace Maker, a soother,
Placed his form between the fighters
Threw his arms around the official
Thus upon the troubled waters
Pouring oil, producing calm.
Then after the riled official
Had examined all the boxes,
See the fiery little Jacob,
And the Governor, the Father
With these same amazed officials
Smoked the pipe of peace together
Smoked in their alpine wigwam
And departed sleek and smiling
Unto Trafot where they halted
In an inn, an inn that smelt so
That they scarce could sleep within it
So departed with rejoicing
On the morn for Finstermüry
At St. Valentin had luncheon
And drove on midst rain in torrents
And reached Finstermüry for Sunday 
All that day and all the next day,
And in sooth the day that followed
Water from the skies came falling,
Tumbling, dashing, dripping, spitting
Washing rocks from off the hillside
Till the better half the Mother
Felt her nerves were on the rampage
For she feared they all would perish
In the elemental fury.

And they passed a lively Sunday
While without the tempest thundered
And within the fumes of ‘baccy’
Rose from out the lips of Germans.
Very cold and damp the air was
Very smelly the interior
Very ‘blasay’ were the Wanderers,
Ere they sought their downy couches
Which, alal, of down were guiltless
On the evening of that Sabbath.
Very darkly dawned the morrow
And the rain came down in torrents
But at 1 o’clock they started
Left Hoch Finstermüry behind them
And at 5 o’clock reached Sandbach
Very damp and cold and clammy.

After driving in such weather
On the morrow came the parting
Came the parting from the Forster
And from one whom Jessie Beatrice
Tells me I have never mentioned
Namely Fritz the maid of Jacob
Fritz his name, La Suisse his nation
Very fond he was of hitching
Up his nameless nether garments
Which like those far-famed in story
By a single pin were hanging,
Very much he dreaded Jacob,
Whom he served with slavish ardour
And who bullied him intensely,
But we come back to the parting
Which took place at Landech station,
First they said goodbye to Pilou
Then to the five fiery chestnuts,
Who so gallantly had drawn them
Over mount and stream and valley
Soldat, Tambour, Hans and Vainqueur
Licherlei the fifth and last one,
Let their names be ever honoured
As the drawers of the Kitsons
And the horses of the Forster.
Then there came the saddest moment
When mid sighs and tears and sorrow
They shook hands with Jacob Forster
And with Fritz his faithful henchman
Adieu, au revoir, bon voyage,
Rose up midst their sounds of anguish
And with hearts too full for language.

They took them to their places
To their places in the lunch car
On their way to Basle a large town
Where they spent the night of Tuesday
Spent the night and left the next day
In the train to Paris going.
When they got unto the frontier
To Petit Croisé on the frontier
Bills were posted on the station
Saying on account of cholera
They must bear examination
By a Medicine Man, a Doctor
Also all their dirty linen
Must submit to disinfection
So they opened wide the boxes
Took out all the dirty linen
Placing it in bags of netting
Sending it for fumigation.
Soon it came back hot and smoking
With strong fumes and odours reeking
And was put back in the boxes.

Then they reached Vesoul for luncheon
Eat a very hurried luncheon
And ere 7 o’clock reached Paris
On the morn again they set out
Bound for Calais were the Wanderers
To take ship for their own country
For their native shores of Albion
Calais Douvre the boat they went by
Much surprised they were to find out
That for once the English Channel
Was not like an oily duckpond,
But was really rough and stormy
And in sooth an aged sailor
On being questioned of the prospects
Of the prospects for smooth weather
“Very rough” was heard to answer
“Very much it may be”.
One by one the wretched victims
First grew yellow, then a pallid
Hue of green o’erspread their features
Till at last they quite succumbed them
Unto all the grisly horrors
Unto “mal de mer” belonging.
But the family of Kitsons
(All except the dark-haired Robert
Who was just a little verdant)
All felt extremely healthy
Yes, their rude health was aggressive,
For it looked so very heartless,
To stand there all red and rosy,
Revelling in the ocean’s fury
While around the sick and suffering
Cursed the hour which saw them there.
But all crossings have their endings
And they neared the cliffs of Dover,
Cliffs so dear to men of Albion,
Cliffs oft sung in song and story
Steps unto their native England
Steps to home and wife and friends.
Then upon the pier they landed
Where a crowd had come to watch them
Come to mock at all the anguish
Undergone by all the sufferers
Whom the Calais Douvre was landing,
Then the Travellers the Wanderers
Walked across to the Lord London,
There to spend of all their travels
This the very latest evening
For the morrow saw them set out
Through a fertile verdant landscape
Where the harvest was in progress;
And the hops were being gathered
By an army of hop-pickers,
Tattered, ragged, poor and grimy
Young and old all worked together
Glad to get away from London
Come from all their dirt and misery
To the fresh air and the sunlight
Which alas to them were strangers.
‘Ere midday they came to London
Drove across to the Great Northern
Where they lunched and whence they set out
To their own, their native city
Which they had not seen for long time
And towards which their hearts were yearning
Not for long, for soon rejoicing
Filled their hearts, for black and murky
Loometh near the dirty city
And at last they’re home again
And are met upon the doorway
Of their old ancestral mansion
Of the ancient Hall of Elmet
By the shining, red faced butler,
Clark the butler, who with visage
Wreathed in smiles and breathing welcome
Whereupon their travels ended,
Safely ended spite the terror
Of the better half the Mother,
We must leave them safe and happy
In their old ancestral mansion
But we first must fondly greet them
‘Ere farewell we say for ever
First the Governor the Father
Who by dint of all his wanderings
Is so thin you scarce can see him,
And in weight has lost a whole stone,
Then the better half the Mother
Who is weary of her travels
Weary of the constant dangers
Which she thought beset their pathway
Which made her nerves wax rampant,
Then the son the dark-haired Robert
Who has gained much floral knowledge
And has made himself quite useful
As a brusher and a squasher
Squasher of Refractory boxes
Then the Author of these Pages
“Nut Brown Maid we now might style her
Save that never nut existed
Of a hue so brown and coppery
As was now the maiden Ethel.
Then the tomboy Jessie Beatrice
She had leant to do her own hair
Though it cost her many a struggle
Many a tear and many a tangle
But she triumphed and was victor,
Victor o’er that wig so shaggy.
Now farewell, Auf wiedersehen,
You my lines of wit or folly
(Whisper softly, mostly folly
Is the verdict of the author)
But at least your lines remind me
Of the Travellers the Wanderers
And the countries where they journeyed
In the year of 1800
1800 two and ninety.