Even worse in verse: a poet puts the boot in

Sensible editors are reluctant to accept any form of verse on their pages. One poem in print brings an avalanche of the most ghastly doggerel.

But these are a bit different — early 19th-century rhymes about three of our towns that might amuse you. And to think that people are rude about the Medway towns now …


The people of Stroud¹,

Talk long and talk loud,

And herd in a croud,

Traducing their innocent neighbours;

While envy by fits

Mid the congress sits,

Gives a whet to their wits,

And smiles on their scandalous labours.

This place, like an eel,

Where the publicans steal,

Is dirty, base, long, foul, and slippery;

And the belles flirt about,

With their persons deck’d out,

With run muslin, and second-hand frippery.


Rochester’s a town²

Of specious renown,

Full of tinkers and taylors,

And slopmen and sailors,

And magistrates who often blundered;

Coquettes without beauty,

Old maids past their duty,

And Venus’ gay nymphs by the hundred.

Vile inns without beds,

And men without heads,

By which poor Britannia’s undone;

Extortionate bills,

Anti-venery pills,

And port manufactured in London.

Honest Dick Watts³ of yore,

Their good name to restore,

Decreed (such enormities scorning)

Each travelling wight,

A warm couch for the night,

And fourpence in cash in the morning.


Old Chatham’s a place,

That’s the nation’s disgrace,

Where the club and the fist prove the law, sir;

And presumption is seen

To direct the marine,

Who know not a spike from a hawser.

Here the dolts show with pride

How the men-of-war ride,

Who Gallia’s proud first-rates can shiver,

And a fortified hill

All the Frenchmen to kill

That land on the banks of the river!

Such towns and such men,

We shall ne’er see again,

Where smuggling’s a laudable function;

In some high windy day,

May the devil fly away

With the whole of the dirty conjunction!

1 Strood was spelled Stroud until the late 1800s, so this isn’t poetic licence.
2 But this is poetic licence: Rochester was a city then, as it is now — despite some council bureaucrat’s best efforts to the contrary.
3 Richard Watts, city benefactor.
Rochester & Strood
Medway villages
Medway at war
Crimes that Shocked the Medway Towns

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