Saturday, 18 May 2013

"For older ones there's the Madeira Walk"

I briefly mentioned Madeira Walk, Exmouth, in a previous post (see Microclimate). In that connection, I just managed to hack out of Google Books snippet view a piece of Victorian doggerel about Exmouth.
The poem was one of the entries to Truth magazine's Puzzle No. 607, which called for "rhymed descriptions of watering places and tourists' haunts".
Of a fair spot on Devon's coast I sing;
But, as there's bad and good in everything,
Before your notice first its charms l'll lay,
Then turn the picture round the other way.
For Paddling Infants' Paradise is here,
Bands, shells, and shrimps
To childhood's heart e'er dear
And children of a larger growth may play
At tennis, bowls, or archery all day;
While if to second childhood you draw near,
Upon the golf ground you may find your sphere.
Young lovers on the cliffs may sit and talk,
For older ones there's the Madeira Walk.
The country round, the river, sea, and sky
Combine to charm the landscape painter's eye:
Nor shall the sister arts forgotten be,
A real live poet you here may daily see
And music, Heav'nly Maid, is worship'd too,
The "Western Counties" show what she can do,
And if you love a politician now,
Here oft is Jesse Collings (minus cow).
But see, I've left myself so little space
To tell the drawbacks to this watering place,
For one, one only, room must here be found:
The local rate's a shilling in the pound.

Truth - Volume 28 - Page 701, 1890
Nothing much has changed, though there are a few contemporary references to puzzle out.
  • "Music, Heav'nly Maid" is an allusion to William Collins's The Passions, An Ode for Music ("When Music, heavenly maid, was young").
  • The "Western Counties" must be the Western Counties Musical Association, the precursor to the Exmouth Choral Society (see The History of Exmouth Choral Society).
  • Jesse Collings (born at Littleham, Exmouth, in 1831) was an MP and land ownership reform advocate who campaigned under the slogan "Three acres and a cow" (said to be the ideal/sufficient land holding for one person).
I so far haven't worked out who the "real live poet" was.

We revisited Madeira Walk today, in much warmer weather than last time.

An interesting grotto carved in the sandstone cliff in a garden adjacent to Madeira Walk

Exmouth coastscape: the sea is to the left of the sand dunes (foreground) which front The Maer, parkland that used to be
a lagoon below sandstone cliffs (below houses on right horizon). Madeira Walk runs along the foot of the cliffs.
- Ray

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