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West Country Poets

ELIAS TOZER (1825-1873)

Elias TOZER was born at Exeter, November 21, 1825.  He died December 13, 1873.  He was engaged for many years as a reporter on the Western Times, a paper published in Exeter.  He afterwards bought a newspaper, Chambers' Exeter Journal, which was at length merged into the Devon Weekly Times, of which he became joint-proprietor.

He published in 1873, with the nom de plume of 'Tickler', a book entitled 'Devonshire and other Original Poems, with Some Account of Ancient Customs, etc.'  This book was very popular; as was also another work entitled 'Devonshire Sketches: Dartmoor and its Borders' (1869).  From the former we give the following extract:

For  those unlucky enough not to be Devonian born and bred  this poem has been translated into standard English by Ian James, Poole, Dorset, UK. Researching; WHISCOMBE/WISCOMBE and variants (Somerset/Devon borders, Hampshire, Sussex, London and elsewhere) GALE (Hampshire)

SATAN'S VISIT TO NORTH LEW
AS TOLD BY MA GRANFER

The devil he cum to our parish wan day,
But he zed he didden intend vor to stay;
He was gwain on varther to vetch a vat Prior,
The layder of Tavistock's vair Abbey quire,
Who'd a been a behavin as no Prior shude do,
And he'd vix'd to make un a vine brimstone stew.

Now Granfer and Varmer Jan lik'd the old chap,
Vor he'd offen cum'd up pin tap of yon 'nap'
To ha a 'leetl chat, and tu drink zider cup,
And arterwards go wi' em hoam vor tu sup.
So Granfer and Varmer Jan zed in a trice -
'No, be darn'd if old Nick shall ha Jolly Price!

Vor thit wos es nam befor he wos priest -
Tha zin of a rich squire, nit proud in the least.
So they wishper'd together, and then zed to Nick:
'Plaize, yuer Hi'ness, the raws be mortally thick
Wy mud up to ankles, and there's bods on tha way,
So with us yu had better a leetle while stay.'

The Devil he did zo, till the vrost ded zet in,
An wan mornin he zed he wid start wi' the zin,
Old Granfer laff'd inwards, and zo ded old Jan
And they zed wan they paerted, 'Good-bye, thee doom'd man!'
The devil rawd on, and bamby cum a shout;
The vrost strook his tail, and ha died like a lout.

 

SATAN'S VISIT TO NORTH LEW
As told by my grandfather

The devil he came to our parish one day
But he said he didn't intend to stay
He was going on further to fetch a fat Prior
The leader of Tavistock's fair Abbey choir
Who'd been behaving as no Prior should do
And he'd fixed to make him a fine brimstone stew

Now Grandfather and Farmer Jan liked the old chap
Foe he'd often come up on top of the hill
To have a little chat and to drink some cider
And afterwards go home with them to eat
So grandfather and Farmer Jan said straight away
No, I'll be damned if Old Nick shall have Jolly Price

For that was his name before he was a priest
The son of a rich squire, not proud in the least
So they whispered together, and then said to Nick
Please, your Highness, the roads be very thick
with mud up to your ankles, and there are highwaymen on the road
So with us you had better stay for a little while

The Devil he did so, till the frost set in
And one morning he said he would start at daybreak
Old Grandfather laughed inwardly, and so did old Jan
And they said when they parted 'Goodbye you doomed man'
The devil rode on, and by-and-by came a shout
The frost struck his tail, and he died like a wastrel

 

Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt from: Wright, W. H. K.,(1896) West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works. London: Elliot Stock, pp.48-51

Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.

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