Pasteur Brown and his Duck

My last post was a poem from 1690.  Jumble the numbers and you arrive at 1906, five years before Wilfred Owen first came to Teignmouth.  This poem ‘Pasteur Brown and his Duck’ appeared in the 2nd February edition of the Teignmouth Post of that year.  It was written by a remarkable man – Thomas Henry Aggett – who was dubbed ‘The Railway Poet’, in a style reminiscent of Pam Ayres.  I discovered it in a pamphlet from the Teignmouth & Shaldon Heritage Centre.

The poem is purportedly based on a true incident involving someone called Pasteur Brown who lived in French Street, Teignmouth, (although I can not find a census reference to him).  At the time this incident occurred he was working at the building of Barnpark Terrace, either as a mason or as a mason’s labourer.

I am trying to track down a copy of Thomas Aggett’s book ‘Vagabond Verses’ so if anyone can let me have access to a copy that would be great.


Pasteur Brown and his Duck

One Pasteur Brown, like Browning was
At times somewhat obscure
But Browning wrote perhaps above
Our heads in literature.
While Brown, eccentric Nature’s ways
And freaks could not endure.

Now Pasteur had a small back yard
And one Minorca hen,
Quite proud he felt at morn to get
A fresh egg now and then;
And he could argue fowls with twice
Ten thousand Cornish men.

That hen, desiring to increase
Brown’s happiness and store,
Got broody, but alas! Her eggs
Were gone, excepting four;
So Pasteur went to Farmer Elms
And bought a dozen more.

“Fine eggs” quoth Brown, “which I could teach
My Grandmother to suck”.
So Farmer Elms put in the bag
An extra egg for luck,
And twelve of them were of the hen
And one was of the duck.

Brown sat his hen on thirteen eggs,
The hen began to cluck;
Within due course to thirteen chicks
There never was such luck!
And twelve of them were of the hen
And one was of the duck.

This puzzled Pasteur Brown and made
His brain too blunt to think,
For when he placed the water dish
Where all his stock might drink
This duckling bodily went in
By toppling o’er the brink.

Brown thought the missing link at last
Was either hatched or born,
But he felt more astonished when
He fed them night and morn,
And found, while twelve fed properly
One shovelled up his corn.

Now Pasteur such amazing greed
As this could not endure,
So he consulted with his friends
If best to kill or cure,
And they advised a cure – advice
Apparently quite pure.

Brown sought the duckling in the yard,
There he took by the neck it up,
And pared its bill to chick-beak shape,
(Enough to bring poor Becket up),
“I’ve stop’d your “shovelling corn” grinned Brown
“Now like the rest you’ll peck it up”.


Want to know more?  Checkout: Thomas Henry Aggett




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