Motoring Verse


On page 387 of your July issue you ask if readers can remember any motoring songs. I cannot remember any songs but I do remember snatches of a very clever and witty burlesque on Longfellow’s “The Hunting of Hiawatha,” which appeared round about 1905 to 1910 in “The Royal ” magazine which was at the time the opposite number of “The Strand” magazine. “The Royal” is now out of print but if you or any reader has a copy or can trace one (say through the British Museum) I am sure your readers would have many a chuckle when reading it. The ode, such as I remember it, ran as follows: —

The Motoring of Hiawatha 
You should hear how Hiawatha,
Finding horses legs too sluggish,
Left his lodge one day and motor’d.
Scorched and motor’d on the highway.
From his lodge came Hiawatha,
Dressed for travel and for mot’ring,
Dressed in shaggy coat and leggings,
(Leggings wound with spiral leather),
Coat so hairy he resembled
Much the Great Bear of the Mountains.
On his face the mask, Goggelsi.
Glazed by which his very mother
Or his father, would not know him.
On his head, a cap that yachtsmen
Well might carry in a nightmare.
Last he donned the wondrous mittens.
Mittens costing twenty florins,
Mittens reaching to the elbow,
Meant to guard him from the North Wind,
Meant to guard him from the East Wind.
In the road lay “Stin-ky-Grunta”
Shaking like a hundred grindstones
Driven hard by needy grinders.
Very spick-and-span her paint was,
Very oily were her engines
(Oily too the hired comrade
Who had spent four careful hours
Stretched upon his back beneath her).
Her he entered, palpitating
For, to tell the truth he never
Yet had tried her tricks or paces,
Paces that outstrip the railway,
Tricks that oft outstrip the temper.

The poem goes on to describe his erratic progress “as with course of worm or serpent” and “how he missed a charabanc completely packed with agitated trippers,” and other adventures until the police trap raises its sinister head: —

In a tree lurked “Bo-bee-Watcha,”
In a ditch skulked his companion,
Clad in blue and armed with dials
Over which pointers travelled
Five small spaces every second.

The finale is the court scene (“Forty bob for pigs and chickens, etc.”), leaving Hiawatha a sadder but wiser man. Hoping that you can trace the whole of the Vintage (or Veteran) gem.

I am, Yours, etc.,
C. P. Vaughan.