Have you heard of Philip Slingsby,
   Slingsby of the manly chest;
How he slew the Snapping Turtle
   In the regions of the West?

Every day the huge Cawana
   Lifted up its monstrous jaws;
And it swallowed Langton Bennett,
   And digested Rufus Dawes.

Riled, I ween, was Philip Slingsby,
   Their untimely deaths to hear;
For one author owed him money,
   And the other loved him dear.

"Listen now, sagacious Tyler,
   Whom the loafers all obey;
What reward will Congress give me,
   If I take this pest away?"

Then sagacious Tyler answered,
   "You're the ring-tailed squealer! Less
Than a hundred heavy dollars
   Won't be offered you, I guess!

"And a lot of wooden nutmegs
   In the bargain, too, we'll throw---
Only you jest fix the critter---
   Won't you liquor ere you go?"

Straightway leaped the valiant Slingsby
   Into armour of Seville,
With a strong Arkansas toothpick
   Screwed in every joint of steel.

"Come thou with me, Cullen Bryant,
   Come with me as squire, I pray;
Be the Homer of the battle
   That I go to wage to-day."

So they went along careering
   With a loud and martial tramp,
Till they neared the Snapping Turtle
   In the dreary Swindle Swamp.

But when Slingsby saw the water,
   Somewhat pale, I ween, was he.
"If I come not back, dear Bryant,
   Tell the tale to Melanie!

"Tell her that I died devoted,
   Victim to a noble task!
Ha'n't you got a drop of brandy
   In the bottom of your flask?"

As he spoke, an alligator
   Swam across the sullen creek;
And the two Columbians started
   When they heard the monster shriek:

For a snout of huge dimensions
   Rose above the waters high,
And took down the alligator,
   As a trout takes down a fly.

"'Tarnal death! the Snapping Turtle!"
   Thus the squire in terror cried;
But the noble Slingsby straightway
   Drew the toothpick from his side.

"Fare thee well!" he cried, and dashing
   Through the waters, strongly swam:
Meanwhile Cullen Bryant, watching,
   Breathed a prayer and sucked a dram.

Sudden from the slimy bottom
   Was the snout again upreared,
With a snap as loud as thunder,---
   And the Slingsby disappeared.

Like a mighty steam-ship foundering,
   Down the monstrous vision sank;
And the ripple, slowly rolling,
   Plashed and played upon the bank.

Still and stiller grew the water,
   Hushed the canes within the brake;
There was but a kind of coughing
   At the bottom of the lake.

Bryant wept as loud and deeply
   As a father for a son---
"He's a finished 'coon, is Slingsby,
   And the brandy's nearly done!"


In a trance of sickening anguish,
   Cold, and stiff, and sore, and damp,
For two days did Bryant linger
   By the dreary Swindle Swamp;

Always peering at the water,
   Always waiting for the hour,
When those monstrous jaws should open
   As he saw them ope before.

Still in vain;---the alligators
   Scrambled through the marshy brake,
And the vampire leeches gaily
   Sucked the garfish in the lake.

But the Snapping Turtle never
   Rose for food or rose for rest,
Since he lodged the steel deposit
   In the bottom of his chest.

Only always from the bottom
   Violent sounds of coughing rolled,
Just as if the huge Cawana
   Had a most confounded cold.

On the bank lay Cullen Bryant,
   As the second moon arose;
Gouging on the sloping green sward
   Some imaginary foes.

When the swamp began to tremble
   And the canes to rustle fast,
As if some stupendous body
   Through their roots was crushing past.

And the water boiled and bubbled,
   And in groups of twos and threes,
Several alligators bounded,
   Smart as squirrels, up the trees.

Then a hideous head was lifted,
   With such huge distended jaws,
That they might have held Goliath
   Quite as well as Rufus Dawes.

Paws of elephantine thickness
   Dragged its body from the bay,
And it glared at Cullen Bryant
   In a most unpleasant way.

Then it writhed as if in torture,
   And it staggered to and fro;
And its very shell was shaken,
   In the anguish of its throe:

And its cough grew loud and louder,
   And its sob more husky thick;
For, indeed, it was apparent
   That the beast was very sick.

Till, at last, a violent vomit
   Shook its carcass through and through,
And, as if from out a cannon,
   All in armour Slingsby flew.

Bent and bloody was the bowie,
   Which he held within his grasp;
And he seemed so much exhausted
   That he scarce had strength to gasp---

"Gouge him, Bryant! darn ye, gouge him!
   Gouge him while he's on the shore!"
And his thumbs were straightway buried
   Where no thumbs had pierced before.

Right from out their bony sockets,
   Did he scoop the monstrous balls;
And, with one convulsive shudder,
   Dead the Snapping Turtle falls!

"Post the tin, sagacious Tyler!"
   But the old experienced file,
Leering first at Clay and Webster,
   Answered, with a quiet smile---

"Since you dragged the 'tarnal crittur
   From the bottom of the ponds,
Here's the hundred dollars due you,
    All in Pennsylvanian Bonds! "

William Edmondstoune Aytoun and Theodore Martin, from Bon Gaultier Ballads, 1845

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