Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven

The Stoker

Funny Folks Mar 6 1875

Once in February dreary, while the Commons, weak and weary,
Pondered many a quaint and curious Tory measure then in store,
While they nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the chamber-door;
“Some new member ’tis,” they muttered, “tapping at our chamber-door;
’Tis Kenealy[1] — nothing more!”
But the house was in a flutter when, without a “Hem” or stutter,
In there walked a stately Counsel some of them had seen before;
Not the least obeisance made he — not a minute stopped or stayed he,
But with mien of ancient member took his place upon the floor,
Hitched his “gamp”[2] upon the mace,[3] and hung his hat behind the door—
Hitched and stood, and nothing more!
Stood the Counsel grim, beguiling their “gay wisdom” into smiling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance he wore—
“None come here without proposer,” said the Speaker, as a poser;
“’Tis the Parliamentary custom for two hundred years and more;”
But outspoke the doughty Premier, “Truly all know how he came here;
He’s Kenealy — nothing more!”
Mr. Whalley,[4] sitting lonely on his placid bench, spoke only
But one word, as if his soul on that one word he did outpour;
Nothing further then he uttered. He was just a little fluttered.
While a host of members muttered, “Other bores have flown before;
Some fine morning he will leave us as our bores have left before.”
Whalley whispered, “Nevermore!”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said they, “what he utters is his only stock and store,
Caught from Liberal disaster when that party had no master,
When mistakes came fast and faster, and their songs one burden bore,
When the dirges of their hopes that melancholy burden bore
Of never, nevermore.”
Members willing to be civil said, “Oh, quit the Tichborne drivel!
By the roof that bends above us — by the Commons we adore.
Tell our souls with sorrow laden that our Parliamentary Aidenn
Shall not echo with the name of “Arthur Orton[5] any more;
That the mystery unriddled who the name Sir Roger[6] bore
Shall not vex us any more!”
But Kenealy, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
With his gingham[7] hitched upon the mace, his hat behind the door,
And his eyes have all the seeming of a Counsel who is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor,
And the Commons, in that shadow that lies floating on the floor,
Have a pretty treat in store!

Joseph Verey (1830–1912), was born in Oxford, and worked as a journalist in London. He wrote several novels, the last being Tender Tyrants (1872).


  1. Kenealy — Irish-born Edward Vaughan Hyde Kenealy QC (1819–1880) was elected Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent in 1875, but was already notorious in the press for being disbarred as a barrister because of his behaviour during the “Tichborne Case” (about a man claiming to be the missing heir of a baronetcy). Kenealy, representing the claimant, had been openly abusive to both witnesses and judges, and was at least partly responsible for turning it into what was then the longest trial in UK history (running from 1871 to 1874). As such, when he entered the House of Commons, none of his fellow MPs wanted to (as was customary at the time) introduce him. (back to text)
  2. “gamp” — Umbrella, named after Charles Dickens’s character Sarah Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit, who carried one. (back to text)
  3. mace — An ornamental mace that symbolises the UK Parliament’s royal authority. (back to text)
  4. George Hammond Whalley — (1813–78), Liberal MP for Peterborough. He, too, was involved in the Tichborne case (on the side of the claimant, and, hence, of Kenealy), and was even fined for contempt of court for giving speeches claiming the Attorney General and the Government were trying to control the outcome of the trial. (back to text)
  5. Arthur Orton — The possible true name of the claimant in the Tichborne case (who of course claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne). (back to text)
  6. Sir Roger — The point of the Tichborne case was for the claimant to prove they were, really, Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne. (back to text)
  7. gingham — Another slang term for an umbrella, due to the type of cloth used as a covering. (back to text)

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