The Poetical Works
of
Thomas Hood


With Biographical Introduction by
William Michael Rossetti

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Table of Contents

  1. To Hope
  2. The Departure of Summer
  3. The Sea of Death
  4. To an Absentee
  5. Lycus the Centaur
  6. The Two Peacocks of Bedfont
  7. Hymn to the Sun
  8. Midnight
  9. To a Sleeping Child
  10. To Fancy
  11. Fair Ines
  12. To a False Friend
  13. Ode
  14. Sonnet
  15. Sonnet
  16. Sonnet
  17. To a Cold Beauty
  18. Sonnet
  19. Serenade
  20. Verses in an Album
  21. The Forsaken
  22. Song
  23. Song
  24. Birthday Verses
  25. I Love Thee
  26. Lines
  27. False Poets and True
  28. The Two Swans
  29. Ode on a Distant Prospect of Clapham Academy
  30. Song
  31. The Water Lady
  32. Autumn
  33. I Remember, I Remember
  34. The Poet’s Portion
  35. Ode to the Moon
  36. Sonnet
  37. A Retrospective Review
  38. Ballad
  39. Time, Hope, and Memory
  40. Flowers
  41. Ballad
  42. Ruth
  43. The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies
  44. Hero and Leander
  45. Ballad
  46. Autumn
  47. Ballad
  48. The Exile
  49. TO——
  50. Ode to Melancholy
  51. Sonnet
  52. Sonnet
  53. Sonnet
  54. Sonnet
  55. The Dream of Eugene Aram
  56. Sonnet
  57. The Death-bed
  58. Anticipation
  59. To a Child Embracing His Mother
  60. Stanzas
  61. Sonnet to Ocean
  62. TO——
  63. Lines
  64. Stanzas
  65. Ode to Rae Wilson, Esq
  66. To My Daughter
  67. Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg
  68. The Lee Shore
  69. Sonnet
  70. The Elm Tree
  71. Lear
  72. Sonnet
  73. The Song of the Shirt
  74. The Pauper’s Christmas Carol
  75. The Haunted House
  76. The Mary
  77. The Lady’s Dream
  78. The Key
  79. The Workhouse Clock
  80. The Bridge of Sighs
  81. The Lay of the Laborer
  82. Stanzas
  83. Ode to Mr. Graham,
  84. A Friendly Address to Mrs. Fry in Newgate
  85. Ode to Richard Martin, Esq.
  86. Ode to the Great Unknown
  87. Ode to Joseph Grimaldi, Senior
  88. An Address to the Steam Washing Company
  89. Letter of Remonstrance
  90. Ode to Captain Paery
  91. Ode to W. Kitchener, M.D
  92. The Last Man
  93. Faithless Sally Brown
  94. “As it Fell Upon a Day.”
  95. The Stag-eyed Lady
  96. The Water Peri’s Song
  97. The Irish Schoolmaster
  98. Faithless Nelly Gray
  99. Bianca’s Dream
  100. The Demon-ship
  101. Tim Turpin
  102. Death’s Ramble
  103. A Sailor’s Apology for Bow-legs
  104. The Volunteer
  105. The Lover’s Progress
  106. The Epping Hunt
  107. The Drowning Ducks
  108. A Storm at Hastings,
  109. Lines to a Lady
  110. The Angler’s Farewell
  111. Ode
  112. A Report from Below!
  113. “I’m not a single man.”
  114. The Supper Superstition
  115. The Duel
  116. A Singular Exhibition at Somerset House
  117. Lines to Mary
  118. The Compass, with Variations
  119. The Ghost
  120. The Fall
  121. Our Village
  122. A Public Dinner
  123. Sally Simpkin’s Lament;
  124. Ode to Sir Andrew Agnew, Bart
  125. The Lost Heir
  126. The Fox and the Hen
  127. The Poacher
  128. A Waterloo Ballad
  129. A Lay of Real Life
  130. The Sweeps Complaint
  131. The Desert-born
  132. Agricultural Distress
  133. Domestic Poems
  134. The Green Man
  135. Hit or Miss
  136. The Forlorn Shepherd’s Complaint
  137. Lieutenant Luff
  138. Morning Meditations
  139. A Plain Direction
  140. The Assistant Drapers’ Petition
  141. The Bachelor’s Dream
  142. Rural Felicity
  143. A Flying Visit
  144. Queen Mab
  145. To Henrietta,
  146. A Parthian Glance
  147. A True Story
  148. The Mermaid of Margate
  149. A Fairy Tale
  150. Craniology
  151. The Wee Man
  152. The Progress of Art
  153. Those Evening Bells
  154. The Carelesse Nurse Mayd
  155. Domestic Asides; Or, Truth in Parentheses
  156. Shooting Pains
  157. John Day
  158. Huggins and Duggins
  159. The China-mender
  160. Domestic Didactics
  161. Lament for the Decline of Chivalry
  162. Playing at Soldiers
  163. Mary’s Ghost
  164. The Widow
  165. An Open Question
  166. A Black Job
  167. Etching Moralised
  168. A Tale of a Trumpet
  169. The Forge
  170. The University Feud

Biographical Introduction.

There were scarcely any events in the life of Thomas Hood. One condition there was of too potent determining importance — life-long ill health; and one circumstance of moment — a commercial failure, and consequent expatriation. Beyond this, little presents itself for record in the outward facts of this upright and beneficial career, bright with genius and coruscating with wit, dark with the lengthening and deepening shadow of death.

The father of Thomas Hood was engaged in business as a publisher and bookseller in the Poultry, in the city of London — a member of the firm of Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe. He was a Scotchman, and had come up to the capital early in life, to make his way. His interest in books was not solely confined to their saleable quality. He reprinted various old works with success; published Bloomfield’s poems, and dealt handsomely with him; and was himself the author of two novels, which are stated to have had some success in their day. For the sake of the son rather than the father, one would like to see some account, with adequate specimens, of these long-forgotten tales; for the queries which Thomas Hood asks concerning the piteous woman of his Bridge of Sighs interest us all concerning a man of genius, and interest us moreover with regard to the question of intellectual as well as natural affinity:—

“Who was his father,

Who was his mother?

Had he a sister,

Had he a brother?”

Another line of work in which the elder Hood is recorded to have been active was the opening of the English book-trade with America. He married a sister of the engraver Mr. Sands, and had by her a large family; two sons and four daughters survived the period of childhood. The elder brother, James, who died early of consumption, drew well, as did also one or two of the sisters. It would seem therefore, when we recall Thomas Hood’s aptitudes and frequent miscellaneous practice in the same line, that a certain tendency towards fine art, as well as towards literature, ran in the family. The consumption which killed James appears to have been inherited from his mother; she, and two of her daughters, died of the same disease; and a pulmonary affection of a somewhat different kind became, as we shall see, one of the poet’s most inveterate persecutors. The death of the father, which was sudden and unexpected, preceded that of the mother, but not of James, and left the survivors in rather straitened circumstances.

Thomas, the second of the two sons, was born in the Poultry, on or about the 23d of May, 1799. He is stated to have been a retired child, with much quiet humor; chuckling, we may guess, over his own quaint imaginings, which must have come in crowds, and of all conceivable or inconceivable sorts, to judge from the products of his after years; keeping most of these fancies and surprises to himself, but every now and then letting some of them out, and giving homely or stolid bystanders an inkling of insight into the many-peopled crannies of his boyish brain. He received his education at Dr. Wanostrocht’s school at Clapham. It is not very clear how far this education extended: I should infer that it was just about enough, and not more than enough, to enable Hood to shift for himself in the career of authorship, without serious disadvantage from inadequate early training, and also without much aid thence derived — without, at any rate, any such rousing and refining of the literary sense as would warrant us in attributing to educational influences either the inclination to become an author, or the manipulative power over language and style which Hood displayed in his serious poems, not to speak of those of a lighter kind. We seem to see him sliding, as it were, into the profession of letters, simply through capacity and liking, and the course of events — not because he had resolutely made up his mind to be an author, nor because his natural faculty had been steadily or studiously cultivated. As to details, it may be remarked that his schooling included some amount — perhaps a fair average amount — of Latin. We find it stated that he had a Latin prize at school, but was not apt at the language in later years. He had however one kind of aptitude at it — being addicted to the use of familiar Latin quotations or phrases, cited with humorous verbal perversions.

In all the relations of family life, and the forms of family affection, Hood was simply exemplary. The deaths of his elder brother and of his father left him the principal reliance of his mother, herself destined soon to follow them to the tomb: he was an excellent and devoted son. His affection for one of his sisters, Anne, who also died shortly afterwards, is attested in the beautiful lines named The Deathbed —

“We watched her breathing through the night.”

At a later date, the loves of a husband and a father seem to have absorbed by far the greater part of his nature and his thoughts: his letters to friends are steeped and drenched In “Jane,” “Fanny,” and “Tom junior.” These letters are mostly divided between perpetual family details and perennial jocularity: a succession of witticisms, or at lowest of puns and whimsicalities, mounts up like so many squibs and crackers, fizzing through, sparkling amid, or ultimately extinguished by, the inevitable shower — the steady rush and downpour — of the home-affections. It may easily be inferred from this account that there are letters which one is inclined to read more thoroughly, and in greater number consecutively, than Hood’s.

The vocation first selected for Hood, towards the age of fifteen, was one which he did not follow up for long — that of an engraver. He was apprenticed to his uncle Mr. Sands, and afterwards to one of the Le Keux family. The occupation was ill-suited to his constantly ailing health, and this eventually conduced to his abandoning it. He then went to Scotland to recruit, remaining there among his relatives about five years. According to a statement made by himself, he was in a merchant’s office within this interval; it is uncertain, however, whether this assertion is to be accepted as genuine, or as made for some purpose of fun. His first published writing appeared in the Dundee Advertiser in 1814 — his age being then, at the utmost, fifteen and a half; this was succeeded by some contribution to a local magazine. But as yet he had no idea of authorship as a profession.

Towards the middle of the year 1820, Hood was re-settled in London, improved in health, and just come of age. At first he continued practising as an engraver; but in 1821 he began to act as a sort of sub-editor for the London Magazine after the death of the editor, Mr. Scott, in a duel. He concocted fictitious and humorous answers to correspondents — a humble yet appropriate introduction to the insatiable habit and faculty for out-of-the-way verbal jocosity which marked-off his after career from that of all other excellent poets.

His first regular contribution to the magazine, in July, 1821, was a little poem To Hope: even before this, as early at any rate as 1815, he was in the frequent practice of writing correctly and at some length in verse, as witnessed by selections, now in print, from what he had composed for the amusement of his relatives. Soon afterwards, a private literary society was the recipient of other verses of the same order. The lines To Hope were followed, in the London Magazine, by the Ode to Dr. Kitchener and some further poems, including the important work, Lycus the Centaur— after the publication of which, there could not be much doubt of the genuine and uncommon powers of the new writer. The last contribution of Hood to this magazine was the Lines to a Cold Beauty. Another early work of his, and one which, like the verses To the Moon, affords marked evidence of the impression which he had received from Keats’s poetry, is the unfinished drama (or, as he termed it, “romance”) of Lamia: I do not find its precise date recorded. Its verse is lax, and its tone somewhat immature; yet it shows a great deal of sparkling and diversified talent. Hood certainly takes a rather more rational view than Keats did of his subject as a moral invention, or a myth having some sort of meaning at its root. A serpent transformed into a woman, who beguiles a youth of the highest hopes into amorous languid self-abandonment, is clearly not, in morals, the sort of person that ought to be left uncontrolled to her own devices. Keats ostentatiously resents the action of the unimpassioned philosopher Appollonius in revealing the true nature of the woman-serpent, and dissolving her spell. An elderly pedant to interfere with the pretty whims of a viper when she wears the outer semblance of a fine woman! Intolerable!

(Such is the sentiment of Keats; but such plainly is not altogether the conviction of Hood, although his story remains but partially developed.)

By this time it may have become pretty clear to himself and others that his proper vocation and destined profession was literature. Through the London Magazine, he got to know John Hamilton Reynolds (author of the Garden of Florence and other poems, and a contributor to this serial under the pseudonym of Edward Herbert), Charles Lamb, Allan Cunningham, De Quincey, and other writers of reputation. To Hood the most directly important of all these acquaintances was Mr. Reynolds; this gentleman having a sister, Jane, to whom Hood was introduced. An attachment ensued, and shortly terminated in marriage, the wedding taking place on the 5th of May, 1824. The father of Miss Reynolds was the head writing-master at Christ Hospital. She is stated to have had good manners, a cultivated mind, and literary tastes, though a high educational standard is not always traceable in her letters. At any rate the marriage was a happy one; Mrs. Hood being a tender and attentive wife, unwearied in the cares which her husband’s precarious health demanded, and he being (as I have said) a mirror of marital constancy and devotion, distinguishable from a lover rather by his intense delight in all domestic relations and details than by any cooling-down in his fondness. It would appear that, in the later years of Hood’s life, he was not on entirely good terms with some members of his wife’s family, including his old friend John Hamilton Reynolds. What may have caused this I do not find specified: all that we know of the character of Hood justifies us in thinking that he was little or not at all to blame, for he appears throughout a man of just, honorable, and loving nature, and free besides from that sort of self-assertion which invites a collision. Every one, however, has his blemishes; and we may perhaps discern in Hood a certain over-readiness to think himself imposed upon, and the fellow-creatures with whom he had immediately to do a generation of vipers — a state of feeling not characteristic of a mind exalted and magnanimous by habit, or “gentle” in the older and more significant meaning of the term.

The time was now come for Hood to venture a volume upon the world. Conjointly with Reynolds, he wrote, and published in 1825, his Odes and Addresses to Great People. The title-page bore no author’s name; but the extraordinary talent and point of the work could hardly fail to be noticed, even apart from its appeal to immediate popularity, dealing as it did so continually with the uppermost topics of the day. It had what it deserved, a great success. This volume was followed, in 1826, by the first series of Whims and Oddities, which also met with a good sale; the second series appeared in 1827. Next came two volumes of National Tales, somewhat after the manner of Boccaccio (but how far different from his spirit may easily be surmised), which are now little known. The volume containing the Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, Hero and Leander, and some other of Hood’s most finished and noticeable poems, came out in 1827. The Midsummer Fairies itself was one of the authors own favorite works, and certainly deserved to be so, as far as dainty elegance of motive and of execution is concerned: but the conception was a little too ingeniously remote for the public to ratify the author’s predilection. The Hero and Leander will be at once recognized as modelled on the style of Elizabethan narrative poems: indeed Marlow treated the very same subject, and his poem, left uncompleted, was finished by Chapman. Hood’s is a most astonishing example of revivalist poetry: it is reproductive and spontaneous at the same time. It resembles its models closely, not servilely — significantly, not mechanically; and has the great merit of resembling them with comparative moderation. Elizabethan here both in spirit and in letter, Hood is nevertheless a little less extreme than his prototypes. Where they loaded, he does not find it needful to overload, which is the ready and almost the inevitable resource of revivalists, all but the fewest: on the contrary, he alleviates a little — but only a little.

In 1829 appeared the most famous of all his poems of a narrative character —The Dream of Eugene Aram; it was published in the Gem, an annual which the poet was then editing. Besides this amount of literary activity, Hood continued writing in periodicals, sometimes under the signature of “Theodore M.”

His excessive and immeasurable addiction to rollicking fun, to the perpetual “cracking of jokes” (for it amounts to that more definitely than to anything else in the domain of the Comic Muse), is a somewhat curious problem, taken in connection with his remarkable genius and accomplishment as a poet, and his personal character as a solid housekeeping citizen, bent chiefly upon rearing his family in respectability, and paying his way, or, as the Church Catechism has neatly and unimprovably expressed it, upon “doing his duty in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call him.” His almost constant ill-health, and, in a minor degree, the troubles which beset him in money-matters, make the problem all the more noticeable. The influence of Charles Lamb may have had something to do with it — probably not very much. Perhaps there was something in the literary atmosphere or the national tone of the time which gave comicality a turn of predominance after the subsiding of the great poetic wave which filled the last years of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century in our country, in Blake, Burns, Wordsworth, Scott, Coleridge, Landor, Byron, Keats, and, supreme among all, Shelley. Something of the same transition may be noticed in the art of design; the multifarious illustrator in the prior generation is Stothard — in the later, Cruikshank. At any rate, in literature, Lamb, Hood, and then Dickens in his earliest works, the Sketches by Boz and Pickwick, are uncommonly characteristic and leading minds, and bent, with singular inveteracy, upon being “funny,”— though not funny and nothing else at all. But we should not force this consideration too far: Hood is a central figure in the group and the period, and the tendency of the time may be almost as much due to him as he to the tendency. Mainly, we have to fall back upon his own idiosyncrasy: he was born with a boundlessly whimsical perception, which he trained into an inimitable sleight-of-hand in the twisting of notions and of words; circumstances favored his writing for fugitive publications and skimming readers, rather than under conditions of greater permanency; and the result is as we find it in his works. His son expresses the opinion that part of Hood’s success in comic writing arose from his early reading of Humphrey Clinker, Tristram Shandy, Tom Jones, and other works of that period, and imbuing himself with their style: a remark, however, which applies to his prose rather than his poetical works. Certain it is that the appetite for all kinds of fun, verbal and other was a part of Hood’s nature. We see it in the practical jokes he was continually playing on his good-humored wife — such as altering into grotesque absurdity many of the words contained in her letters to friends: we see it — the mere animal love of jocularity, as it might be termed — in such a small point as his frequently addressing his friend Philip de Franck, in letters, by the words, “Tim, says he,” instead of any human appellative Hood reminds us very much of one of Shakespeare’s Fools (to use the word in no invidious sense) transported into the nineteenth century — the Fool in King Lear, or Touchstone. For the occasional sallies of coarseness or ribaldry, the spirit of the time has substituted a bourgeois good-humor which respects the family circle, and haunts the kitchen-stairs; for the biting jeer, intended to make some victim uncomfortable, it gives the sarcastic or sprightly banter, not unconscious of an effort at moral amelioration; for the sententious sagacity, and humorous enjoyment of the nature of man, it gives bright thoughts and a humanitarian sympathy. But, on the whole, the intellectual personality is nearly the same: seeking by natural affinity, and enjoying to the uttermost, whatever tends to lightness of heart and to ridicule — thus dwelling indeed in the region of the commonplace and the gross, but constantly informing it with some suggestion of poetry, somewise side-meaning, or some form of sweetness and grace. These observations relate of course to Hood’s humorous poems: into his grave and pathetic poems he can import qualities still loftier than these — though even here it is not often that he utterly forswears quaintness and oddity. The risible, the fantastic, was his beacon-light; sometimes as delicate as a dell of glow-worms; sometimes as uproarious as a bonfire; sometimes, it must be said (for he had to be perpetually writing whether the inspiration came or not, or his inspiration was too liable to come from the very platitudes and pettinesses of everyday life), not much more brilliant than a rush-light, and hardly more aromatic than the snuff of a tallow candle.

We must now glance again at Hood’s domestic affairs. His first child had no mundane existence worth calling such; but has nevertheless lived longer than most human beings in the lines which Lamb wrote for the occasion, On an Infant dying as soon as born. A daughter followed, and in 1830 was born his son, the Tom Hood who became editor of the comic journal Fun, and died in 1874. At the time of his birth, the family was living at Winchmore Hill: thence they removed about 1832, to the Lake House, Wanstead, a highly picturesque dwelling, but scanty in domestic comforts. The first of the Comic Annual series was brought out at Christmas, 1830. In the following couple of years, Hood did some theatrical work; writing the libretto for an English opera which (it is believed) was performed at the Surrey Theatre. Its name is now unknown, but it had a good run in its day; a similar fate has befallen an entertainment which he wrote for Mathews. He also composed a pantomime for the Adelphi; and, along with Reynolds, dramatized Gil Blas. This play is understood to have been acted at Drury Lane. The novel of Tylney Hall, and the poem of the Epping Hunt, were written at Wanstead.

Born in comfortable mediocrity, and early inured to narrow fortunes, Hood had no doubt entered upon the literary calling without expecting or caring to become rich. Hitherto, however, he seems to have prospered progressively, and to have had no reason to regret, even in a wordly sense, his choice of a profession. But towards the end of 1834 a disaster overtook him; and thenceforth, to the end of his days, he had nothing but tedious struggling and uphill work. To a man of his buoyant temperament, and happy in his home, this might have been of no extreme consequence, if only sound health had blessed him: unfortunately, the very reverse was the case. Sickly hitherto, he was soon to become miserably and hopelessly diseased: he worked on through everything bravely and uncomplainingly, but no doubt with keen throbs of discomfort, and not without detriment at times to the quality of his writings. The disaster adverted to was the failure of a firm with which Hood was connected, entailing severe loss upon him. With his accustomed probity, he refused to avail himself of any legal immunities, and resolved to meet his engagements in full eventually; but it became requisite that he should withdraw from England. He proposed to settle down in some one of the towns on the Rhine, and circumstances fixed his choice on Coblentz. A great storm which overtook him during the passage to Rotterdam told damagingly on his already feeble health. Coblentz, which he reached in March, 1835, pleased him at first; though it was not long before he found himself a good deal of an Englishman, and his surroundings vexatiously German. After a while he came to consider a German Jew and a Jew German nearly convertible terms; and indulged at times in considerable acrimony of comment, such as a reader of cosmopolitan temper is not inclined to approve. He had, however, at least one very agreeable acquaintance at Coblentz — Lieutenant Philip de Franck, an officer in the Prussian service, of partly English parentage: the good-fellowship which he kept up with this amiable gentleman, both in personal intercourse and by letter, was (as we have seen) even boyishly vivacious and exuberant. In the first instance Hood lived at No. 372 Castor Hof, where his family joined him in the Spring of 1835: about a year later, they removed to No. 752 Alten Graben.

Spasms in the chest now began to be a trying and alarming symptom of his ill-health, which, towards the end of 1836, took a turn for the worse; he never afterwards rallied very effectually, though the fluctuations were numerous —(in November, 1838, for instance, he fancied that a radical improvement had suddenly taken place)— and at times the danger was imminent. The unfavorable change in question was nearly simultaneous with a visit which he made to Berlin, accompanying Lieutenant de Franck and his regiment, on their transfer to Bromberg: the rate of travelling was from fifteen to twenty English miles per diem, for three days consecutively, and then one day of rest. Hood liked the simple unextortionate Saxon folk whom he encountered on the route, and contrasted them with the Coblentzers, much to the disadvantage of the latter. By the beginning of December he was back in his Rhineland home; but finally quitted it towards May, 1837. Several attacks of blood-spitting occurred in the interval; at one time Hood proposed for himself the deadly-lively epitaph, “Here lies one who spat more blood and made more puns than any other man.”

About this time he was engaged in writing Up the Rhine; performing, as was his wont, the greater part of the work during the night-hours. The sojourn at Coblentz was succeeded by a sojourn at Ostend; in which city — besides the sea, which Hood always supremely delighted in — he found at first more comfort in the ordinary mode of living, including the general readiness at speaking or understanding English. Gradually, however, the climate, extremely damp and often cold, proved highly unsuitable to him; and, when he quitted Ostend in the Spring of 1840, at the close of nearly three years’ residence there, it was apparent that his stay had already lasted too long. Within this period the publication of Hood’s Own had occurred, and put to a severe trial even his unrivalled fertility in jest: one of his letters speaks of the difficulty of being perfectly original in the jocose vein, more especially with reference to the concurrent demands of Hood’s Own, and of the Comic Annual of the year. At the beginning of 1839 he paid a visit of about three weeks to his often-regretted England, staying with one of his oldest and most intimate friends, Mr. Dilke, then editor of the Athenæum. Another of his best friends — one indeed who continued to the end roost unwearied and affectionate in his professional and other attentions, Dr. Elliot — now made a medical examination of Hood’s condition. He pronounced the lungs to be organically sound; the chief seat of disease being the liver, and the heart, which was placed lower down than usual. At a later stage of the disease, enlargement of the heart is mentioned, along with hæmorrhage from the lungs consequent on that malady, and recurring with terrible frequency: to these dropsy, arising from extreme weakness, was eventually superadded. Indeed, the catalogue of the illnesses of the unconquerably hilarious Hood, and the details of his sufferings, are painful to read. They have at least the merit of giving a touch of adventitious but intimate pathos even to some of his wildest extravagances of verbal fence — and of enhancing our sympathy and admiration for the force and beauty of his personal character, which could produce work such as this out of a torture of body and spirit such as that. During this visit to London, Hood scrutinized his publishing and other accounts, and found them sufficiently encouraging. The first edition of Up the Rhine, consisting of 1500 copies, sold off In a fortnight. Soon, however, some vexations with publishers ensued: Hood felt it requisite to take legal proceedings, and the action lingered on throughout and beyond the brief remainder of his life. Thus his prospects were again blighted, and his means crippled when most they needed to be unembarrassed.

The poet was back in England from Ostend in April 1840; and, under medical advice, he determined to prolong his visit into a permanent re-settlement in his native London. Here therefore he remained and returned, no more to the Continent. He took a house, with his family, in Camberwell, not far from the Green; removing afterwards to St. John’s Wood, and finally to another house in the same district, Devonshire Lodge, Finchley Road. He wrote in the New Monthly Magazine, then edited by Theodore Hook: his Rhymes for the Times, the celebrated Miss Kilmansegg, and other compositions, first appeared here. Hook dying in August 1841, Hood was invited to succeed him as editor, and closed with the offer: this gave him an annual salary of £300, besides the separate payments for any articles that he wrote. The Song of the Shirt, which it would be futile to praise or even to characterize, came out, anonymously of course, in the Christmas number of Punch for 1843: it ran like wildfire, and rang like a tocsin, through the land. Immediately afterwards, in January 1844, Hood’s connection with the New Monthly closed, and he started a publication of his own, Hood’s Magazine, which was a considerable success: more than half the first number was the actual handiwork of the editor. Many troubles and cross-purposes, however, beset the new periodical; difficulties with which Hood was ill fitted, by his now rapidly and fatally worsening health, to cope. They pestered him when he was most in need of rest; and he was in need of rest when most he was wanted to control the enterprise. The Haunted House, and various other excellent poems by Hood, were published in this magazine.

His last days and final agonies were a little cheered by the granting of a Government pension of £100, dating from June 1844, which, with kindly but ominous foresight, was conferred upon Mrs. Hood, as likely to prove the survivor. This was during the ministry of Sir Robert Peel, whose courteous communications to the poet, and expressions of direct personal interest in his writings, made the boon all the more acceptable. Hood, indeed, had not been directly concerned in soliciting it. At a somewhat earlier date, January 1841, the Literary Society had, similarly unasked, voted him a sum of £50; but this he returned, although his circumstances were such as might have made it by no means unwelcome. From Christmas 1844 he was compelled to take to his bed, and was fated never to leave his room again. The ensuing Spring, throughout which the poet lay seemingly almost at the last gasp day by day, was a lovely one. At times he was delirious; but mostly quite clear in mind, and full of gentleness and resignation. “Dying, dying,” were his last words; and shortly before, “Lord, say ‘Arise, take up thy cross, and follow me.’” On the 3d of May 1845 he lay dead.

Hood’s funeral took place in Kensal Green Cemetery: it was a quiet one, but many friends attended. His faithful and loving wife would not be long divided from him. Eighteen months later she was laid beside him, dying of an illness first contracted from her constant tendance on his sick-bed. In the closing period of his life, Hood could hardly bear her being out of his sight, or even write when she was away. Some years afterwards, a public subscription was got up, and a monument erected to mark the grave of the good man and true poet who “sang the Song of the Shirt.”

The face of Hood is best known by two busts and an oil-portrait which have both been engraved from. It is a sort of face to which apparently a bust does more than justice, yet less than right. The features, being mostly by no means bad ones, look better, when thus reduced to the mere simple and abstract contour, than they probably showed in reality, for no one supposed Hood to be a fine-looking man; on the other hand, the value of the face must have been in its shifting expression — keen, playful, or subtle — and this can be but barely suggested by the sculptor. The poet’s visage was pallid, his figure slight, his voice feeble; he always dressed in black, and is spoken of as presenting a generally clerical aspect. He was remarkably deficient in ear for music — not certainly for the true chime and varied resources of verse. His aptitude for the art of design was probably greater than might be inferred from the many comic woodcut-drawings which he has left. These are irresistibly ludicrous —(who would not laugh over “The Spoiled Child”—“What next? as the Frog said when his tail fell off”— and a host of others?)— and all the more ludicrous and effective for being drawn more childishly and less artistically than was within Hood’s compass. One may occasionally see some water-color landscape-bit or the like from his hands pleasantly done; and during his final residence in England he acted upon an idea he had long entertained, and produced some little in the way of oil-painting. He was also ingenious in any sort of light fancy-work — such, for instance, as carving the scenery for a child’s theatre which formed the delight of his little son and daughter. His religious faith was, according to the writers of the Memorials, deep and sincere, though his opposition to sectarian narrowness and spite of all sorts was vigorous, and caused him sometimes to be regarded as anti-religious. A letter of his to a tract-giving and piously censorious lady who had troubled him (published in the same book) is absolutely fierce, and indeed hardly to be reconciled with the courtesy due to a woman, as a mere question of sex. It would be convenient, I may observe, to know more plainly what the biographers mean by such expressions as “religious faith,” “Christian gentleman,” and the like. They are not explained, for instance, by adding that Hood honored the Bible too much to make it a task-book for his children. “Religious faith” covers many very serious differences of sentiment and conviction, between natural theology and historical Christianity; and, on hearing that a man possessed religious faith, one would like to learn which of the two extremes this faith was more nearly conversant with. In respect of political or social opinion, Hood appears to have been rather humane and philanthropic than democratic, or “liberal” in the distinct technical sense. His favorite theory of government, as he said in a letter to Peel, was “an angel from heaven, and a despotism.” He loved neither whigs nor tories, but was on the side of a national policy: war was his abhorrence, and so were the wicked corn-laws — an oligarchical device which survived him, but not for long. His private generosity, not the less true or hearty for the limits which a precarious and very moderate income necessarily imposed on it, was in accordance with the general sentiments of kindness which he was wont to express both in public and private: if he preached, he did not forget to practise.

It has been well said that “the predominant characteristics of his genius are humorous fancies grafted upon melancholy impressions.” Yet the term “grafted” seems hardly strong enough. Hood appears, by natural bent and permanent habit of mind, to have seen and sought for ludicrousness under all conditions — it was the first thing that struck him as a matter of intellectual perception or choice. On the other hand, his nature being poetic, his sympathies acute, and the condition of his life morbid, he very frequently wrote in a tone of deep and indeed melancholy feeling, and was a master both of his own art and of the reader’s emotion; but, even in work of this sort, the intellectual execration, when it takes precedence of the general feeling, is continually fantastic, grotesque, or positively mirthful. And so again with those of his works — including rude designs along with finished or off-hand writing — which are professedly comical: the funny twist of thought is the essential thing, and the most gloomy or horrible subject-matter is often selected as the occasion for the horse-laugh. In some of his works indeed (we might cite the poems named The Dead Robbery, The Forge, and The Supper Superstition) the horse-laugh almost passes into a nightmare laugh. A ghoul might seem to have set it going, and laughing hyenas to be chorusing it. A man of such a faculty and such a habit of work could scarcely, in all instances, keep himself within the bounds of good taste — a term which people are far too ready to introduce into serious discussions, for the purpose of casting disparagement upon some work which transcends the ordinary standards of appreciation, but a term nevertheless which has its important meaning and its true place. Hood is too often like a man grinning awry, or interlarding serious and beautiful discourse with a nod, a wink, or a leer, neither requisite nor convenient as auxiliaries to his speech: and to do either of these things is to fail in perfect taste. Sometimes, not very often, we are allowed to reach the close of a poem of his without having our attention jogged and called off by a single interpolation of this kind; and then we feel unalloyed — what we constantly feel also even under the contrary conditions — how exquisite a poetic sense and how choice a cunning of hand were his. On the whole, we can pronounce Hood the finest English poet between the generation of Shelley and the generation of Tennyson.

The authority — I might almost say, the one authority — for the life of Hood, is the Memorials published by his son and daughter. Any point which is not clearly brought out in that affectionate and interesting record will naturally be equally or more indefinite in my brief summary, founded as it is on the Memorials.

“Two years,” according to the Memorials; but the dates for this portion of Hood’s life are not accurately given in that work. Hood completed the fifteenth year of his age in May, 1814. It is certain, from the dates of his letters, that his sojourn in Scotland began not later than September, 1815; and the writer of the Memorials himself affirms that Hood “returned to London about 1820,” in or before July. If so, he was in Scotland about five years; and, from the fact that he had written in a Dundee newspaper in 1814, one might even surmise that the term of six years was nearer the mark. At any rate, as he had reached Scotland by September, 1815, he was there soon after completing his sixteenth year: yet Mr. Hessey (Memorials, p. 23) says that he was articled to the engraving business “at the age of fifteen or sixteen,” and his apprenticeship, according to Mr. Hood, junior, lasted “some years” even before his transfer from Mr. Sands to Mr. Le Keux. The apprenticeship did not begin until after the father’s death; but the year of that death is left unspecified, though the day and month are given. These dates, as the reader will readily perceive, are sometimes vague, and sometimes contradictory. In the text of my notice, I have endeavored to pick my way through their discrepancies.

This “Tim, says he,” is a perfect gag in many of Hood’s letters. It is curious to learn what was the kind of joke which could assume so powerful an ascendant over the mind and associations of this great humorist. Here it is, as given in the Hood Memorials from Sir Jonah Barrington’s Memoirs:—

“‘Tim,’ says he —

‘Sir,’ says he —

‘Fetch me my hat, says he;

‘That I may go,’ says he,

‘To Timahoe,’ says he,

‘And go to the fair,’ says he,

‘And see all that’s there,’ says he. —

‘First pay what you owe,’ says he;

‘And then you may go,’ says he,

‘To Timahoe,’ says he,

‘And go to the fair,’ says he,

‘And see all that’s there,’ says he. —

‘Now by this and by that,’ says he,

‘Tim, hang up my hat,’ says he.”

Horne’s New Spirit of the Age.

To Hope.

Oh! take, young Seraph, take thy harp,

And play to me so cheerily;

For grief is dark, and care is sharp,

And life wears on so wearily.

Oh! take thy harp!

Oh! sing as thou wert wont to do,

When, all youth’s sunny season long,

I sat and listened to thy song,

And yet ’twas ever, ever new,

With magic in its heaven-tuned string —

The future bliss thy constant theme.

Oh! then each little woe took wing

Away, like phantoms of a dream;

As if each sound

That flutter’d round,

Had floated over Lethe’s stream!

By all those bright and happy hours

We spent in life’s sweet eastern bow’rs,

Where thou wouldst sit and smile, and show,

Ere buds were come, where flowers would blow,

And oft anticipate the rise

Of life’s warm sun that scaled the skies;

By many a story of love and glory,

And friendships promised oft to me;

By all the faith I lent to thee —

Oh! take, young Seraph, take thy harp,

And play to me so cheerily;

For grief is dark, and care is sharp,

And life wears on so wearily.

Oh! take thy harp!

Perchance the strings will sound less clear,

That long have lain neglected by

In sorrow’s misty atmosphere;

It ne’er may speak as it hath spoken

Such joyous notes so brisk and high;

But are its golden chords all broken?

Are there not some, though weak and low,

To play a lullaby to woe?

But thou canst sing of love no more,

For Celia show’d that dream was vain;

And many a fancied bliss is o’er,

That comes not e’en in dreams again.

Alas! alas!

How pleasures pass,

And leave thee now no subject, save

The peace and bliss beyond the grave!

Then be thy flight among the skies:

Take, then, oh! take the skylark’s wing,

And leave dull earth, and heavenward rise

O’er all its tearful clouds, and sing

On skylark’s wing!

Another life-spring there adorns

Another youth — without the dread

Of cruel care, whose crown of thorns

Is here for manhood’s aching head.

Oh! there are realms of welcome day,

A world where tears are wiped away!

Then be thy flight among the skies:

Take, then, oh! take the skylark’s wing,

And leave dull earth, and heavenward rise

O’er all its tearful clouds, and sing

On skylark’s wing!

The Departure of Summer.

Summer is gone on swallows’ wings,

And Earth has buried all her flowers:

No more the lark — the linnet — sings,

But Silence sits in faded bowers.

There is a shadow on the plain

Of Winter ere he comes again —

There is in woods a solemn sound

Of hollow warnings whisper’d round,

As Echo in her deep recess

For once had turn’d a prophetess.

Shuddering Autumn stops to list,

And breathes his fear in sudden sighs,

With clouded face, and hazel eyes

That quench themselves, and hide in mist.

Yes, Summer’s gone like pageant bright;

Its glorious days of golden light

Are gone — the mimic suns that quiver,

Then melt in Time’s dark-flowing river.

Gone the sweetly-scented breeze

That spoke in music to the trees;

Gone — for damp and chilly breath,

As if fresh blown o’er marble seas,

Or newly from the lungs of Death.

Gone its virgin roses’ blushes,

Warm as when Aurora rushes

Freshly from the God’s embrace,

With all her shame upon her face.

Old Time hath laid them in the mould;

Sure he is blind as well as old,

Whose hand relentless never spares

Young cheeks so beauty-bright as theirs!

Gone are the flame-eyed lovers now

From where so blushing-blest they tarried

Under the hawthorn’s blossom-bough,

Gone; for Day and Night are married.

All the light of love is fled:—

Alas! that negro breasts should hide

The lips that were so rosy red,

At morning and at even-tide!

Delightful Summer! then adieu

Till thou shalt visit us anew:

But who without regretful sigh

Can say, adieu, and see thee fly?

Not he that e’er hath felt thy pow’r.

His joy expanding like a flow’r,

That cometh after rain and snow,

Looks up at heaven, and learns to glow:—

Not he that fled from Babel-strife

To the green sabbath-land of life,

To dodge dull Care ‘mid clustered trees,

And cool his forehead in the breeze —

Whose spirit, weary-worn perchance,

Shook from its wings a weight of grief,

And perch’d upon an aspen leaf,

For every breath to make it dance.

Farewell! — on wings of sombre stain,

That blacken in the last blue skies,

Thou fly’st; but thou wilt come again

On the gay wings of butterflies.

Spring at thy approach will sprout

Her new Corinthian beauties out,

Leaf-woven homes, where twitter-words

Will grow to songs, and eggs to birds;

Ambitious buds shall swell to flowers,

And April smiles to sunny hours,

Bright days shall be, and gentle nights

Full of soft breath and echo-lights,

As if the god of sun-time kept

His eyes half-open while he slept.

Roses shall be where roses were,

Not shadows, but reality;

As if they never perished there,

But slept in immortality:

Nature shall thrill with new delight,

And Time’s relumined river run

Warm as young blood, and dazzling bright,

As if its source were in the sun!

But say, hath Winter then no charms?

Is there no joy, no gladness warms

His aged heart? no happy wiles

To cheat the hoary one to smiles?

Onward he comes — the cruel North

Pours his furious whirlwind forth

Before him — and we breathe the breath

Of famish’d bears that howl to death.

Onward he comes from the rocks that blanch

O’er solid streams that never flow:

His tears all ice, his locks all snow,

Just crept from some huge avalanche —

A thing half-breathing and half-warm,

As if one spark began to glow

Within some statue’s marble form,

Or pilgrim stiffened in the storm.

Oh! will not Mirth’s light arrows fail

To pierce that frozen coat of mail?

Oh! will not joy but strive in vain

To light up those glazed eyes again?

No! take him in, and blaze the oak,

And pour the wine, and warm the ale;

His sides shall shake to many a joke,

His tongue shall thaw in many a tale,

His eyes grow bright, his heart be gay,

And even his palsy charm’d away.

What heeds he then the boisterous shout

Of angry winds that scowl without,

Like shrewish wives at tavern door?

What heeds he then the wild uproar

Of billows bursting on the shore?

In dashing waves, in howling breeze,

There is a music that can charm him;

When safe, and sheltered, and at ease,

He hears the storm that cannot harm him.

But hark! those shouts! that sudden din

Of little hearts that laugh within.

Oh! take him where the youngsters play,

And he will grow as young as they!

They come! they come! each blue-eyed Sport,

The Twelfth-Night King and all his court —

’Tis Mirth fresh crown’d with misletoe!

Music with her merry fiddles,

Joy “on light fantastic toe,”

Wit with all his jests and riddles,

Singing and dancing as they go.

And Love, young Love, among the rest,

A welcome — nor unbidden guest.

But still for Summer dost thou grieve?

Then read our Poets — they shall weave

A garden of green fancies still,

Where thy wish may rove at will.

They have kept for after-treats

The essences of summer sweets,

And echoes of its songs that wind

In endless music through the mind:

They have stamp’d in visible traces

The “thoughts that breathe,” in words that shine —

The flights of soul in sunny places —

To greet and company with thine.

These shall wing thee on to flow’rs —

The past or future, that shall seem

All the brighter in thy dream

For blowing in such desert hours.

The summer never shines so bright

As thought-of in a winter’s night;

And the sweetest loveliest rose

Is in the bud before it blows;

The dear one of the lover’s heart

Is painted to his longing eyes,

In charms she ne’er can realize —

But when she turns again to part.

Dream thou then, and bind thy brow

With wreath of fancy roses now,

And drink of Summer in the cup

Where the Muse hath mix’d it up;

The “dance, and song, and sun-burnt mirth,”

With the warm nectar of the earth:

Drink! ’twill glow in every vein,

And thou shalt dream the winter through:

Then waken to the sun again,

And find thy Summer Vision true!

The Sea of Death.

A Fragment.

—— Methought I saw

Life swiftly treading over endless space;

And, at her foot-print, but a bygone pace,

The ocean-past, which, with increasing wave,

Swallow’d her steps like a pursuing grave.

Sad were my thoughts that anchor’d silently

On the dead waters of that passionless sea,

Unstirr’d by any touch of living breath:

Silence hung over it, and drowsy Death,

Like a gorged sea-bird, slept with folded wings

On crowded carcases — sad passive things

That wore the thin gray surface, like a veil

Over the calmness of their features pale.

And there were spring-faced cherubs that did sleep

Like water-lilies on that motionless deep,

How beautiful! with bright unruffled hair

On sleek unfretted brows, and eyes that were

Buried in marble tombs, a pale eclipse!

And smile-bedimpled cheeks, and pleasant lips,

Meekly apart, as if the soul intense

Spake out in dreams of its own innocence:

And so they lay in loveliness, and kept

The birth-night of their peace, that Life e’en wept

With very envy of their happy fronts;

For there were neighbor brows scarr’d by the brunts

Of strife and sorrowing — where Care had set

His crooked autograph, and marr’d the jet

Of glassy locks, with hollow eyes forlorn,

And lips that curl’d in bitterness and scorn —

Wretched — as they had breathed of this world’s pain,

And so bequeathed it to the world again,

Through the beholder’s heart in heavy sighs.

So lay they garmented in torpid light,

Under the pall of a transparent night,

Like solemn apparitions lull’d sublime

To everlasting rest — and with them Time

Slept, as he sleeps upon the silent face

Of a dark dial in a sunless place.

To an Absentee.

O’er hill, and dale, and distant sea,

Through all the miles that stretch between,

My thought must fly to rest on thee,

And would, though worlds should intervene.

Nay, thou art now so dear, methinks

The farther we are forced apart,

Affection’s firm elastic links

But bind the closer round the heart.

For now we sever each from each,

I learned what I have lost in thee;

Alas, that nothing else could teach

How great indeed my love should be!

Farewell! I did not know thy worth;

But thou art gone, and now ’tis prized:

So angels walk’d unknown on earth,

But when they flew were recognized!

Lycus the Centaur.

From an Unrolled Manuscript of Apollonius Curius.

The Argument.

Lycus, detained by Circe in her magical dominion, is beloved by a Water Nymph, who, desiring to render him immortal, has recourse to the Sorceress. Circe gives her an incantation to pronounce, which should turn Lycus into a horse; but the horrible effect of the charm causing her to break off in the midst, he becomes a Centaur.

Who hath ever been lured and bound by a spell

To wander, fore-doomed, in that circle of hell

Where Witchery works with her will like a god,

Works more than the wonders of time at a nod —

At a word — at a touch — at a flash of the eye,

But each form is a cheat, and each sound is a lie,

Things born of a wish — to endure for a thought,

Or last for long ages — to vanish to nought,

Or put on new semblance? O Jove, I had given

The throne of a kingdom to know if that heaven,

And the earth and its streams were of Circe, or whether

They kept the world’s birthday and brighten’d together!

For I loved them in terror, and constantly dreaded

That the earth where I trod, and the cave where I bedded,

The face I might dote on, should live out the lease

Of the charm that created, and suddenly cease:

And I gave me to slumber, as if from one dream

To another — each horrid — and drank of the stream

Like a first taste of blood, lest as water I quaff’d

Swift poison, and never should breathe from the draught —

Such drink as her own monarch husband drain’d up

When he pledged her, and Fate closed his eyes in the cup.

And I pluck’d of the fruit with held breath, and a fear

That the branch would start back and scream out in my ear;

For once, at my suppering, I plucked in the dusk

An apple, juice-gushing and fragrant of musk;

But by daylight my fingers were crimson’d with gore,

And the half-eaten fragment was flesh at the core;

And once — only once — for the love of its blush,

I broke a bloom bough, but there came such a gush

On my hand, that it fainted away in weak fright,

While the leaf-hidden woodpecker shriek’d at the sight;

And oh! such an agony thrill’d in that note,

That my soul, startling up, beat its wings in my throat,

As it long’d to be free of a body whose hand

Was doom’d to work torments a Fury had plann’d!

There I stood without stir, yet how willing to flee,

As if rooted and horror-turn’d into a tree —

Oh! for innocent death — and to suddenly win it,

I drank of the stream, but no poison was in it;

I plunged in its waters, but ere I could sink,

Some invisible fate pull’d me back to the brink;

I sprang from the rock, from its pinnacle height,

But fell on the grass with a grasshopper’s flight;

I ran at my fears — they were fears and no more,

For the bear would not mangle my limbs, nor the boar,

But moan’d — all their brutalized flesh could not smother

The horrible truth — we were kin to each other!

They were mournfully gentle, and group’d for relief,

All foes in their skin, but all friends in their grief:

The leopard was there — baby-mild in its feature;

And the tiger, black-barr’d, with the gaze of a creature

That knew gentle pity; the bristle-back’d boar,

His innocent tusks stain’d with mulberry gore;

And the laughing hyena — but laughing no more;

And the snake, not with magical orbs to devise

Strange death, but with woman’s attraction of eyes;

The tall ugly ape, that still bore a dim shine

Through his hairy eclipse of a manhood divine;

And the elephant stately, with more than its reason,

How thoughtful in sadness! but this is no season

To reckon them up from the lag-bellied toad

To the mammoth, whose sobs shook his ponderous load.

There were woes of all shapes, wretched forms, when I came,

That hung down their heads with a human-like shame;

The elephant hid in the boughs, and the bear

Shed over his eyes the dark veil of his hair;

And the womanly soul turning sick with disgust,

Tried to vomit herself from her serpentine crust;

While all groan’d their groans into one at their lot,

As I brought them the image of what they were not.

Then rose a wild sound of the human voice choking

Through vile brutal organs — low tremulous croaking:

Cries swallow’d abruptly — deep animal tones

Attuned to strange passion, and full-utter’d groans;

All shuddering weaken, till hush’d in a pause

Of tongues in mute motion and wide-yawning jaws;

And I guessed that those horrors were meant to tell o’er

The tale of their woes; but the silence told more,

That writhed on their tongues; and I knelt on the sod,

And pray’d with my voice to the cloud-stirring god,

For the sad congregation of supplicants there,

That upturn’d to his heaven brute faces of prayer;

And I ceased, and they utter’d a moaning so deep,

That I wept for my heart-ease — but they could not weep,

And gazed with red eyeballs, all wistfully dry,

At the comfort of tears in a stag’s human eye.

Then I motion’d them round, and, to soothe their distress,

I caress’d, and they bent them to meet my caress,

Their necks to my arm, and their heads to my palm,

And with poor grateful eyes suffer’d meekly and calm

Those tokens of kindness, withheld by hard fate

From returns that might chill the warm pity to hate;

So they passively bow’d — save the serpent, that leapt

To my breast like a sister, and pressingly crept

In embrace of my neck, and with close kisses blister’d

My lips in rash love — then drew backward, and glister’d

Her eyes in my face, and loud hissing affright,

Dropt down, but swift started away from my sight!

This sorrow was theirs, but thrice wretched my lot,

Turn’d brute in my soul, though my body was not,

When I fled from the sorrow of womanly faces,

That shrouded their woe in the shade of lone places,

And dash’d off bright tears, till their fingers were wet,

And then wiped their lids with long tresses of jet:

But I fled — though they stretch’d out their hands, all entangled

With hair, and blood-stain’d of the breasts they had mangled —

Though they call’d — and perchance but to ask, had I seen

Their loves, or to tell the vile wrongs that had been:

But I stayed not to hear, lest the story should hold

Some hell-form of words, some enchantment, once told,

Might translate me in flesh to a brute; and I dreaded

To gaze on their charms, lest my faith should be wedded

With some pity — and love in that pity perchance —

To a thing not all lovely; for once at glance,

Methought, where one sat, I descried a bright wonder

That flow’d like a long silver rivulet under

The long fenny grass — with so lovely a breast,

Could it be a snake-tail made the charm of the rest?

So I roamed in that circle of horrors, and Fear

Walk’d with me, by hills, and in valleys, and near

Cluster’d trees for their gloom — not to shelter from heat —

But lest a brute-shadow should grow at my feet;

And besides that full oft in the sunshiny place

Dark shadows would gather like clouds on its face,

In the horrible likeness of demons (that none

Could see, like invisible flames in the sun);

But grew to one monster that seized on the light,

Like the dragon that strangles the moon in the night;

Fierce sphinxes, long serpents, and asps of the south;

Wild birds of huge beak, and all horrors that drouth

Engenders of slime in the land of the pest,

Vile shapes without shape, and foul bats of the West,

Bringing Night on their wings; and the bodies wherein

Great Brahma imprisons the spirits of sin,

Many-handed, that blent in one phantom of fight

Like a Titan, and threatfully warr’d with the light;

I have heard the wild shriek that gave signal to close,

When they rushed on that shadowy Python of foes,

That met with sharp beaks and wide gaping of jaws,

With flappings of wings, and fierce grasping of claws,

And whirls of long tails:— I have seen the quick flutter

Of fragments dissevered — and necks stretch’d to utter

Long screamings of pain — the swift motion of blows,

And wrestling of arms — to the flight at the close,

When the dust of the earth startled upward in rings,

And flew on the whirlwind that follow’d their wings.

Thus they fled — not forgotten — but often to grow

Like fears in my eyes, when I walk’d to and fro

In the shadows, and felt from some beings unseen

The warm touch of kisses, but clean or unclean

I knew not, nor whether the love I had won

Was of heaven or hell — till one day in the sun,

In its very noon-blaze, I could fancy a thing

Of beauty, but faint as the cloud-mirrors fling

On the gaze of the shepherd that watches the sky,

Half-seen and half-dream’d in the soul of his eye.

And when in my musings I gazed on the stream,

In motionless trances of thought, there would seem

A face like that face, looking upward through mine:

With his eyes full of love, and the dim-drownd shine

Of limbs and fair garments, like clouds in that blue

Serene:— there I stood for long hours but to view

Those fond earnest eyes that were ever uplifted

Towards me, and wink’d as the water-weed drifted

Between; but the fish knew that presence, and plied

Their long curvy tails, and swift darted aside.

There I gazed for lost time, and forgot all the things

That once had been wonders — the fishes with wings,

And the glimmer of magnified eyes that look’d up

From the glooms of the bottom like pearls in a cup,

And the huge endless serpent of silvery gleam,

Slow winding along like a tide in the stream.

Some maid of the waters, some Naiad, methought

Held me dear in the pearl of her eye — and I brought

My wish to that fancy; and often I dash’d

My limbs in the water, and suddenly splash’d

The cool drops around me, yet clung to the brink,

Chill’d by watery fears, how that beauty might sink

With my life in her arms to her garden, and bind me

With its long tangled grasses, or cruelly wind me

In some eddy to hum out my life in her ear,

Like a spider-caught bee — and in aid of that fear

Came the tardy remembrance — Oh falsest of men!

Why was not that beauty remember’d till then?

My love, my safe love, whose glad life would have run

Into mine — like a drop — that our fate might be one,

That now, even now — may-be — clasp’d in a dream,

That form which I gave to some jilt of the stream,

And gazed with fond eyes that her tears tried to smother

On a mock of those eyes that I gave to another!

Then I rose from the stream, but the eyes of my mind,

Still full of the tempter, kept gazing behind

On her crystalline face, while I painfully leapt

To the bank, and shook off the curst waters, and wept

With my brow in the reeds; and the reeds to my ear

Bow’d, bent by no wind, and in whispers of fear,

Growing small with large secrets, foretold me of one

That loved me — but oh to fly from her, and shun

Her love like a pest — though her love was as true

To mine as her stream to the heavenly blue;

For why should I love her with love that would bring

All misfortune, like hate, on so joyous a thing?

Because of her rival — even Her whose witch-face

I had slighted, and therefore was doom’d in that place

To roam, and had roam’d, where all horrors grew rank,

Nine days ere I wept with my brow on that bank;

Her name be not named, but her spite would not fail

To our love like a blight; and they told me the tale

Of Scylla — and Picus, imprison’d to speak

His shrill-screaming woe through a woodpecker’s beak.

Then they ceased — I had heard as the voice of my star

That told me the truth of my fortunes — thus far

I had read of my sorrow, and lay in the hush

Of deep meditation — when lo! a light crush

Of the reeds, and I turn’d and look’d round in the night

Of new sunshine, and saw, as I sipp’d of the light

Narrow-winking, the realized nymph of the stream,

Rising up from the wave with the bend and the gleam

Of a fountain, and o’er her white arms she kept throwing

Bright torrents of hair, that went flowing and flowing

In falls to her feet, and the blue waters roll’d

Down her limbs like a garment, in many a fold,

Sun-spangled, gold-broider’d, and fled far behind,

Like an infinite train. So she came and reclined

In the reeds, and I hunger’d to see her unseal

The buds of her eyes that would ope and reveal

The blue that was in them; — they oped and she raised

Two orbs of pure crystal, and timidly gazed

With her eyes on my eyes; but their color and shine

Was of that which they look’d on, and mostly of mine —

For she loved me — except when she blush’d, and they sank,

Shame-humbled, to number the stones on the bank,

Or her play-idle fingers, while lisping she told me

How she put on her veil, and in love to behold me

Would wing through the sun till she fainted away

Like a mist, and then flew to her waters and lay

In love-patience long hours, and sore dazzled her eyes

In watching for mine ‘gainst the midsummer skies.

But now they were heal’d — O my heart, it still dances

When I think of the charm of her changeable glances,

And my image how small when it sank in the deep

Of her eyes where her soul was — Alas! now they weep,

And none knoweth where. In what stream do her eyes

Shed invisible tears? Who beholds where her sighs

Flow in eddies, or sees the ascent of the leaf

She has pluck’d with her tresses? Who listens her grief

Like a far fall of waters, or hears where her feet

Grow emphatic among the loose pebbles, and beat

Them together? Ah! surely her flowers float adown

To the sea unaccepted, and little ones drown

For need of her mercy — even he whose twin-brother

Will miss him forever; and the sorrowful mother

Imploreth in vain for his body to kiss

And cling to, all dripping and cold as it is,

Because that soft pity is lost in hard pain

We loved — how we loved! — for I thought not again

Of the woes that were whisper’d like fears in that place

If I gave me to beauty. Her face was the face,

Far away, and her eyes were the eyes that were drown’d

For my absence — her arms were the arms that sought round

And claspt me to nought; for I gazed and became

Only true to my falsehood, and had but one name

For two loves, and call’d ever on Ægle, sweet maid

Of the sky-loving waters — and was not afraid

Of the sight of her skin; — for it never could be;

Her beauty and love were misfortunes to me!

Thus our bliss had endured for a time-shorten’d space,

Like a day made of three, and the smile of her face

Had been with me for joy — when she told me indeed

Her love was self-task’d with a work that would need

Some short hours, for in truth ’twas the veriest pity

Our love should not last, and then sang me a ditty,

Of one with warm lips that should love her, and love her

When suns were burnt dim and long ages past over.

So she fled with her voice, and I patiently nested

My limbs in the reeds, in still quiet, and rested

Till my thoughts grew extinct, and I sank in a sleep

Of dreams — but their meaning was hidden too deep

To be read what their woe was; — but still it was woe

That was writ on all faces that swam to and fro

In that river of night; — and the gaze of their eyes

Was sad — and the bend of their brows — and their cries

Were seen, but I heard not. The warm touch of tears

Travell’d down my cold cheeks, and I shook till my fears

Awaked me, and lo! I was couch’d in a bower,

The growth of long summers rear’d up in an hour!

Then I said, in the fear of my dream, I will fly

From this magic, but could not, because that my eye

Grew love-idle among the rich blooms; and the earth

Held me down with its coolness of touch, and the mirth

Of some bird was above me — who, even in fear,

Would startle the thrush? and methought there drew near

A form as of Ægle — but it was not the face

Hope made, and I knew the witch-Queen of that place,

Even Circe the Cruel, that came like a Death,

Which I fear’d, and yet fled not, for want of my breath.

There was thought in her face, and her eyes were not raised

From the grass at her foot, but I saw, as I gazed,

Her spite — and her countenance changed with her mind

As she plann’d how to thrall me with beauty, and bind

My soul to her charms — and her long tresses play’d

From shade into shine and from shine into shade,

Like a day in mid-autumn — first fair, O how fair!

With long snaky locks of the adder-black hair

That clung round her neck — those dark locks that I prize,

For the sake of a maid that once loved me with eyes

Of that fathomless hue — but they changed as they roll’d,

And brighten’d, and suddenly blazed into gold

That she comb’d into flames, and the locks that fell down

Turn’d dark as they fell, but I slighted their brown,

Nor loved, till I saw the light ringlets shed wild,

That innocence wears when she is but a child;

And her eyes — Oh I ne’er had been witched with their shine,

Had they been any other, my Ægle, than thine!

Then I gave me to magic, and gazed till I madden’d

In the full of their light — but I sadden’d and sadden’d

The deeper I look’d — till I sank on the snow

Of her bosom, a thing made of terror and woe,

And answer’d its throb with the shudder of fears,

And hid my cold eyes from her eyes with my tears,

And strain’d her white arms with the still languid weight

Of a fainting distress. There she sat like the Fate

That is nurse unto Death, and bent over in shame

To hide me from her the true Ægle — that came

With the words on her lips the false witch had fore-given

To make me immortal — for now I was even

At the portals of Death, who but waited the hush

Of world-sounds in my ears to cry welcome, and rush

With my soul to the banks of his black-flowing river.

Oh, would it had flown from my body forever,

Ere I listen’d those words, when I felt with a start,

The life-blood rush back in one throb to my heart,

And saw the pale lips where the rest of that spell

Had perished in horror — and heard the farewell

Of that voice that was drown’d in the dash of the stream!

How fain had I follow’d, and plunged with that scream

Into death, but my being indignantly lagg’d

Through the brutalized flesh that I painfully dragg’d

Behind me:— O Circe! O mother of spite!

Speak the last of that curse! and imprison me quite

In the husk of a brute — that no pity may name

The man that I was — that no kindred may claim —

“The monster I am! Let me utterly be

Brute-buried, and Nature’s dishonor with me

Uninscribed!”— But she listen’d my prayer, that was praise

To her malice, with smiles, and advised me to gaze

On the river for love — and perchance she would make

In pity a maid without eyes for my sake,

And she left me like Scorn. Then I ask’d of the wave,

What monster I was, and it trembled and gave

The true shape of my grief, and I turn’d with my face

From all waters forever, and fled through that place,

Till with horror more strong than all magic I pass’d

Its bounds, and the world was before me at last.

There I wander’d in sorrow, and shunned the abodes

Of men, that stood up in the likeness of Gods,

But I saw from afar the warm shine of the sun

On the cities, where man was a million, not one;

And I saw the white smoke of their altars ascending,

That show’d where the hearts of many were blending,

And the wind in my face brought shrill voices that came

From the trumpets that gather’d whole bands in one fame

As a chorus of man — and they stream’d from the gates

Like a dusky libation poured out to the Fates.

But at times there were gentler processions of peace

That I watch’d with my soul in my eyes till their cease,

There were women! there men! but to me a third sex

I saw them all dots — yet I loved them as specks:

And oft to assuage a sad yearning of eyes

I stole near the city, but stole covert-wise

Like a wild beast of love, and perchance to be smitten

By some hand that I rather had wept on than bitten!

Oh, I once had a haunt near a cot where a mother

Daily sat in the shade with her child, and would smother

Its eyelids in kisses, and then in its sleep

Sang dreams in its ear of its manhood, while deep

In a thicket of willows I gazed o’er the brooks

That murmur’d between us and kiss’d them with looks;

But the willows unbosom’d their secret, and never

I return’d to a spot I had startled forever,

Though I oft long’d to know, but could ask it of none,

Was the mother still fair, and how big was her son?

For the haunters of fields they all shunn’d me by flight;

The men in their horror, the women in fright;

None ever remain’d save a child once that sported

Among the wild bluebells, and playfully courted

The breeze; and beside him a speckled snake lay

Tight strangled, because it had hiss’d him away

From the flower at his finger; he rose and drew near

Like a Son of Immortals, one born to no fear,

But with strength of black locks and with eyes azure bright

To grow to large manhood of merciful might.

He came, with his face of bold wonder, to feel,

The hair of my side, and to lift up my heel,

And question’d my face with wide eyes; but when under

My lids he saw tears — for I wept at his wonder,

He stroked me, and utter’d such kindliness then,

That the once love of women, the friendship of men

In past sorrow, no kindness e’er came like a kiss

On my heart in its desolate day such as this!

And I yearn’d at his cheeks in my love, and down bent,

And lifted him up in my arms with intent

To kiss him — but he cruel-kindly, alas!

Held out to my lips a pluck’d handful of grass!

Then I dropt him in horror, but felt as I fled

The stone he indignantly hurl’d at my head,

That dissever’d my ear — but I felt not, whose fate

Was to meet more distress in his love that his hate!

Thus I wander’d, companion’d of grief and forlorn

Till I wish’d for that land where my being was born

But what was that land with its love, where my home

Was self-shut against me; for why should I come

Like an after-distress to my gray-bearded father,

With a blight to the last of his sight? — let him rather

Lament for me dead, and shed tears in the urn

Where I was not, and still in fond memory turn

To his son even such as he left him. Oh, how

Could I walk with the youth once my fellows, but now

Like Gods to my humbled estate? — or how bear

The steeds once the pride of my eyes and the care

Of my hands? Then I turn’d me self-banish’d, and came

Into Thessaly here, where I met with the same

As myself. I have heard how they met by a stream

In games, and were suddenly changed by a scream

That made wretches of many, as she roll’d her wild eyes

Against heaven, and so vanish’d. — The gentle and wise

Lose their thoughts in deep studies, and others their ill

In the mirth of mankind where they mingle them still.

The Two Peacocks of Bedfont.

1.

Alas! That breathing Vanity should go

Where Pride is buried — like its very ghost,

Uprisen from the naked bones below,

In novel flesh, clad in the silent boast

Of gaudy silk that flutters to and fro,

Shedding its chilling superstition most

On young and ignorant natures — as it wont

To haunt the peaceful churchyard of Bedfont!

2.

Each Sabbath morning, at the hour of prayer,

Behold two maidens, up the quiet green

Shining, far distant, in the summer air

That flaunts their dewy robes and breathes between

Their downy plumes — sailing as if they were

Two far-off ships — until they brush between

The churchyard’s humble walls, and watch and wait

On either side of the wide open’d gate,

3.

And there they stand — with haughty necks before

God’s holy house, that points towards the skies —

Frowning reluctant duty from the poor,

And tempting homage from unthoughtful eyes:

And Youth looks lingering from the temple door,

Breathing its wishes in unfruitful sighs,

With pouting lips — forgetful of the grace,

Of health, and smiles, on the heart-conscious face; —

4.

Because that Wealth, which has no bliss beside,

May wear the happiness of rich attire;

And those two sisters, in their silly pride,

May change the soul’s warm glances for the fire

Of lifeless diamonds; — and for health denied —

With art, that blushes at itself, inspire

Their languid cheeks — and flourish in a glory

That has no life in life, nor after-story.

5.

The aged priest goes shaking his gray hair

In meekest censuring, and turns his eye

Earthward in grief, and heavenward in pray’r,

And sighs, and clasps his hands, and passes by,

Good-hearted man! what sullen soul would wear

Thy sorrow for a garb, and constantly

Put on thy censure, that might win the praise

Of one so gray in goodness and in days?

6.

Also the solemn clerk partakes the shame

Of this ungodly shine of human pride,

And sadly blends his reverence and blame

In one grave bow, and passes with a stride

Impatient:— many a red-hooded dame

Turns her pain’d head, but not her glance, aside

From wanton dress, and marvels o’er again,

That heaven hath no wet judgments for the vain.

7.

“I have a lily in the bloom at home,”

Quoth one, “and by the blessed Sabbath day

I’ll pluck my lily in its pride, and come

And read a lesson upon vain array; —

And when stiff silks are rustling up, and some

Give place, I’ll shake it in proud eyes and say —

Making my reverence — ‘Ladies, an you please,

King Solomon’s not half so fine as these,’”

8.

Then her meek partner, who has nearly run

His earthly course — “Nay, Goody, let your text

Grow in the garden. — We have only one —

Who knows that these dim eyes may see the next?

Summer will come again, and summer sun,

And lilies too — but I were sorely vext

To mar my garden, and cut short the blow

Of the last lily I may live to grow,”

9.

“The last!” quoth she, “and though the last it were —

Lo! those two wantons, where they stand so proud

With waving plumes, and jewels in their hair,

And painted cheeks, like Dagons to be bow’d

And curtsey’d to! — last Sabbath after pray’r,

I heard the little Tomkins ask aloud

If they were angels — but I made him know

God’s bright ones better, with a bitter blow!”

10.

So speaking, they pursue the pebbly walk

That leads to the white porch the Sunday throng,

Hand-coupled urchins in restrainëd talk,

And anxious pedagogue that chastens wrong,

And posied churchwarden with solemn stalk,

And gold-bedizen’d beadle flames along,

And gentle peasant clad in buff and green,

Like a meek cowslip in the spring serene;

11.

And blushing maiden — modestly array’d

In spotless white — still conscious of the glass;

And she, the lonely widow, that hath made

A sable covenant with grief — alas!

She veils her tears under the deep, deep shade,

While the poor kindly-hearted, as they pass,

Bend to unclouded childhood, and caress

Her boy — so rosy! — and so fatherless!

And she, the lonely widow,

12.

And she, the lonely widow,

Thus, as good Christians ought, they all draw near

The fair white temple, to the timely call

Of pleasant bells that tremble in the ear. —

Now the last frock, and scarlet hood, and shawl

Fade into dusk, in the dim atmosphere

Of the low porch, and heav’n has won them all,

— Saying those two, that turn aside and pass,

In velvet blossom, where all flesh is grass.

And she, the lonely widow,

13.

And she, the lonely widow,

Ah me! to see their silken manors trail’d

In purple luxuries — with restless gold —

Flaunting the grass where widowhood has wail’d

In blotted black — over the heapy mould

Panting wave-wantonly! They never quail’d

How the warm vanity abused the cold;

Nor saw the solemn faces of the gone

Sadly uplooking through transparent stone:

And she, the lonely widow,

14.

And she, the lonely widow,

But swept their dwellings with unquiet light,

Shocking the awful presence of the dead;

Where gracious natures would their eyes benight,

Nor wear their being with a lip too red,

Nor move too rudely in the summer bright

Of sun, but put staid sorrow in their tread,

Meting it into steps, with inward breath,

In very pity to bereaved death.

And she, the lonely widow,

15.

And she, the lonely widow,

Now in the church, time-sober’d minds resign

To solemn pray’r, and the loud chaunted hymn —

With glowing picturings of joys divine

Painting the mist-light where the roof is dim;

But youth looks upward to the window shine,

Warming with rose and purple and the swim

Of gold, as if thought-tinted by the stains

Of gorgeous light through many-color’d panes;

And she, the lonely widow,

16.

And she, the lonely widow,

Soiling the virgin snow wherein God hath

Enrobed his angels — and with absent eyes

Hearing of Heav’n, and its directed path,

Thoughtful of slippers — and the glorious skies

Clouding with satin — till the preacher’s wrath

Consumes his pity, and he glows and cries

With a deep voice that trembles in its might,

And earnest eyes grow eloquent in light:

And she, the lonely widow,

17.

And she, the lonely widow,

“Oh, that the vacant eye would learn to look

On very beauty, and the heart embrace

True loveliness, and from this holy book

Drink the warm-breathing tenderness and grace

Of love indeed! Oh, that the young soul took

Its virgin passion from the glorious face

Of fair religion, and address’d its strife,

To win the riches of eternal life!”

And she, the lonely widow,

18.

And she, the lonely widow,

“Doth the vain heart love glory that is none,

And the poor excellence of vain attire?

Oh go, and drown your eyes against the sun,

The visible ruler of the starry quire,

Till boiling gold in giddy eddies run,

Dazzling the brain with orbs of living fire;

And the faint soul down-darkens into night,

And dies a burning martyrdom to light.”

And she, the lonely widow,

19.

And she, the lonely widow,

Oh go, and gaze — when the low winds of ev’n

Breathe hymns, and Nature’s many forests nod

Their gold-crown’d heads; and the rich blooms of heav’n

Sun-ripen’d give their blushes up to God;

And mountain-rocks and cloudy steeps are riv’n

By founts of fire, as smitten by the rod

Of heavenly Moses — that your thirsty sense

May quench its longings of magnificence!

And she, the lonely widow,

20.

And she, the lonely widow,

“Yet suns shall perish — stars shall fade away —

Day into darkness — darkness into death —

Death into silence; the warm light of day,

The blooms of summer, the rich glowing breath

Of even — all shall wither and decay,

Like the frail furniture of dreams beneath

The touch of morn — or bubbles of rich dyes

That break and vanish in the aching eyes.”

And she, the lonely widow,

21.

And she, the lonely widow,

They hear, soul-blushing, and repentant shed

Unwholesome thoughts in wholesome tears, and pour

Their sin to earth — and with low drooping head

Receive the solemn blessing, and implore

Its grace — then soberly with chasten’d tread,

They meekly press towards the gusty door

With humbled eyes that go to graze upon

The lowly grass — like him of Babylon.

And she, the lonely widow,

22.

And she, the lonely widow,

The lowly grass! — O water-constant mind!

Fast-ebbing holiness! — soon-fading grace

Of serious thought, as if the gushing wind

Through the low porch had wash’d it from the face

For ever! — How they lift their eyes to find

Old vanities! — Pride wins the very place

Of meekness, like a bird, and flutters now

With idle wings on the curl-conscious brow!

And she, the lonely widow,

23.

And she, the lonely widow,

And lo! with eager looks they seek the way

Of old temptation at the lowly gate;

To feast on feathers, and on vain array,

And painted cheeks, and the rich glistering state

Of jewel-sprinkled locks — But where are they,

The graceless haughty ones that used to wait

With lofty neck, and nods, and stiffen’d eye? —

None challenge the old homage bending by.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

24.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

In vain they look for the ungracious bloom

Of rich apparel where it glow’d before —

For Vanity has faded all to gloom,

And lofty Pride has stiffen’d to the core,

For impious Life to tremble at its doom —

Set for a warning token evermore,

Whereon, as now, the giddy and the wise

Shall gaze with lifted hands and wond’ring eyes.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

25.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

The aged priest goes on each Sabbath morn,

But shakes not sorrow under his gray hair;

The solemn clerk goes lavender’d and shorn

Nor stoops his back to the ungodly pair; —

And ancient lips that pucker’d up in scorn,

Go smoothly breathing to the house of pray’r;

And in the garden-plot, from day to day,

The lily blooms its long white life away.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

26.

To feast on feathers, and on vain array

And where two haughty maidens used to be,

In pride of plume, where plumy Death had trod,

Trailing their gorgeous velvets wantonly,

Most unmeet pall, over the holy sod;

There, gentle stranger, thou may’st only see

Two sombre Peacocks.

Age, with sapient nod

Marking the spot, still tarries to declare

How they once lived, and wherefore they are there.

Hymn to the Sun.

Giver of glowing light!

Though but a god of other days,

The kings and sages

Of wiser ages

Still live and gladden in thy genial rays!

King of the tuneful lyre,

Still poets’ hymns to thee belong;

Though lips are cold

Whereon of old

Thy beams all turn’d to worshipping and song!

Lord of the dreadful bow,

None triumph now for Python’s death;

But thou dost save

From hungry grave

The life that hangs upon a summer breath.

Father of rosy day,

No more thy clouds of incense rise;

But waking flow’rs

At morning hours,

Give out their sweets to meet thee in the skies.

God of the Delphic fame,

No more thou listenest to hymns sublime;

But they will leave

On winds at eve,

A solemn echo to the end of time.

Midnight.

Unfathomable Night! how dost thou sweep

Over the flooded earth, and darkly hide

The mighty city under thy full tide;

Making a silent palace for old Sleep,

Like his own temple under the hush’d deep,

Where all the busy day he doth abide,

And forth at the late dark, outspreadeth wide

His dusky wings, whence the cold waters sweep!

How peacefully the living millions lie!

Lull’d unto death beneath his poppy spells;

There is no breath — no living stir — no cry

No tread of foot — no song — no music-call —

Only the sound of melancholy bells —

The voice of Time — survivor of them all!

To a Sleeping Child.

1.

Oh, ’tis a touching thing, to make one weep —

A tender infant with its curtain’d eye,

Breathing as it would neither live nor die

With that unchanging countenance of sleep!

As if its silent dream, serene and deep,

Had lined its slumber with a still blue sky

So that the passive cheeks unconscious lie

With no more life than roses — just to keep

The blushes warm, and the mild, odorous breath.

O blossom boy! so calm is thy repose.

So sweet a compromise of life and death,

’Tis pity those fair buds should e’er unclose

For memory to stain their inward leaf,

Tinging thy dreams with unacquainted grief.

2.

Thine eyelids slept so beauteously, I deem’d

No eyes could wake so beautiful as they:

Thy rosy cheeks in such still slumbers lay,

I loved their peacefulness, nor ever dream’d

Of dimples:— for those parted lips so seem’d,

I never thought a smile could sweetlier play,

Nor that so graceful life could chase away

Thy graceful death — till those blue eyes upbeam’d.

Now slumber lies in dimpled eddies drown’d

And roses bloom more rosily for joy,

And odorous silence ripens into sound,

And fingers move to sound. — All-beauteous boy!

How thou dost waken into smiles, and prove,

If not more lovely thou art more like Love!

To Fancy.

Most delicate Ariel! submissive thing,

Won by the mind’s high magic to its hest —

Invisible embassy, or secret guest —

Weighing the light air on a lighter wing; —

Whether into the midnight moon, to bring

Illuminate visions to the eye of rest —

Or rich romances from the florid West —

Or to the sea, for mystic whispering —

Still by thy charm’d allegiance to the will,

The fruitful wishes prosper in the brain,

As by the fingering of fairy skill —

Moonlight, and waters, and soft music’s strain,

Odors, and blooms, and my Miranda’s smile,

Making this dull world an enchanted isle.

Fair Ines.

O Saw ye not fair Ines?

She’s gone into the West,

To dazzle when the sun is down,

And rob the world of rest:

She took our daylight with her,

The smiles that we love best,

With morning blushes on her cheek,

And pearls upon her breast.

O turn again, fair Ines,

Before the fall of night,

For fear the moon should shine alone,

And stars unrivall’d bright;

And blessed will the lover be

That walks beneath their light,

And breathes the love against thy cheek

I dare not even write!

Would I had been, fair Ines,

That gallant cavalier,

Who rode so gaily by thy side,

And whisper’d thee so near!

Were there no bonny dames at home,

Or no true lovers here,

That he should cross the seas to win

The dearest of the dear?

I saw thee, lovely Ines,

Descend along the shore,

With bands of noble gentlemen,

And banners waved before;

And gentle youth and maidens gay,

And snowy plumes they wore;

It would have been a beauteous dream,

— If it had been no more!

Alas, alas, fair Ines,

She went away with song,

With Music waiting on her steps,

And shoutings of the throng;

But some were sad, and felt no mirth,

But only Musics wrong,

In sounds that sang Farewell, Farewell,

To her you’ve loved so long.

Farewell, farewell, fair Ines,

That vessel never bore

So fair a lady on its deck,

Nor danced so light before —

Alas, for pleasure on the sea,

And sorrow on the shore!

The smile that blest one lover’s heart

Has broken many more!

To a False Friend.

Our hands have met, but not our hearts;

Our hands will never meet again.

Friends, if we have ever been,

Friends we cannot now remain:

I only know I loved you once,

I only know I loved in vain;

Our hands have met, but not our hearts;

Our hands will never meet again!

Then farewell to heart and hand!

I would our hands had never met:

Even the outward form of love

Must be resign’d with some regret.

Friends, we still might seem to be,

If I my wrong could e’er forget;

Our hands have join’d but not our hearts:

I would our hands had never met!

Ode.

Autumn.

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn

Stand shadowless like Silence, listening

To silence, for no lonely bird would sing

Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,

Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;

Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright

With tangled gossamer that fell by night,

Pearling his coronet of golden corn.

Where are the songs of Summer? — With the sun,

Opening the dusky eyelids of the south,

Till shade and silence waken up as one,

And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.

Where are the merry birds? — Away, away,

On panting wings through the inclement skies,

Lest owls should prey

Undazzled at noon-day,

And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.

Where are the blooms of Summer? — In the west,

Blushing their last to the last sunny hours.

When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest

Like tearful Proserpine, snatch’d from her flow’rs

To a most gloomy breast.

Where is the pride of Summer — the green prime —

The many, many leaves all twinkling? — Three

On the moss’d elm; three on the naked lime

Trembling — and one upon the old oak tree!

Where is the Dryad’s immortality? —

Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,

Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through

In the smooth holly’s green eternity.

The squirrel gloats on his accomplish’d hoard,

The ants have brimm’d their garners with ripe grain,

And honey been save stored

The sweets of summer in their luscious cells;

The swallows all have wing’d across the main;

But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,

And sighs her tearful spells

Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.

Alone, alone,

Upon a mossy stone,

She sits and reckons up the dead and gone,

With the last leaves for a love-rosary;

Whilst all the wither’d world looks drearily,

Like a dim picture of the drownëd past

In the hush’d mind’s mysterious far-away,

Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last

Into that distance, gray upon the gray.

O go and sit with her, and be o’ershaded

Under the languid downfall of her hair;

She wears a coronal of flowers faded

Upon her forehead, and a face of care; —

There is enough of wither’d everywhere

To make her bower — and enough of gloom;

There is enough of sadness to invite,

If only for the rose that died, whose doom

Is Beauty’s — she that with the living bloom

Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:

There is enough of sorrowing, and quite

Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear —

Enough of chilly droppings from her bowl;

Enough of fear and shadowy despair,

To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!

Sonnet.

Silence.

There is a silence where hath been no sound,

There is a silence where no sound may be,

In the cold grave — under the deep deep sea,

Or in wide desert where no life is found,

Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;

No voice is hush’d — no life treads silently,

But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free.

That never spoke, over the idle ground:

But in green ruins, in the desolate walls

Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,

Though the dun fox, or wild hyæna, calls,

And owls, that flit continually between,

Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan —

There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

Sonnet.

Written in Keats’ “Endymion.”

I saw pale Dian, sitting by the brink

Of silver falls, the overflow of fountains

From cloudy steeps; and I grew sad to think

Endymion’s foot was silent on those mountains.

And he but a hush’d name, that Silence keeps

In dear remembrance — lonely, and forlorn,

Singing it to herself until she weeps

Tears, that perchance still glisten in the morn:—

And as I mused, in dull imaginings,

There came a flash of garments, and I knew

The awful Muse by her harmonious wings

Charming the air to music as she flew —

Anon there rose an echo through the vale

Gave back Enydmion in a dreamlike tale.

Sonnet.

To an Enthusiast.

Young ardent soul, graced with fair Nature’s truth,

Spring warmth of heart, and fervency of mind,

And still a large late love of all thy kind.

Spite of the world’s cold practice and Time’s tooth —

For all these gifts, I know not, in fair sooth,

Whether to give thee joy, or bid thee blind

Thine eyes with tears — that thou hast not resign’d

The passionate fire and freshness of thy youth:

For as the current of thy life shall flow,

Gilded by shine of sun or shadow-stain’d,

Through flow’ry valley or unwholesome fen,

Thrice blessed in thy joy, or in thy woe

Thrice cursed of thy race — thou art ordain’d

To share beyond the lot of common men.

To a Cold Beauty.

Lady, wouldst thou heiress be

To Winters cold and cruel part?

When he sets the rivers free,

Thou dost still lock up thy heart; —

Thou that shouldst outlast the snow,

But in the whiteness of thy brow?

Scorn and cold neglect are made

For winter gloom and winter wind,

But thou wilt wrong the summer air,

Breathing it to words unkind —

Breath which only should belong

To love, to sunlight, and to song!

When the little buds unclose.

Red, and white, and pied, and blue,

And that virgin flow’r, the rose,

Opes her heart to hold the dew,

Wilt thou lock thy bosom up

With no jewel in its cup?

Let not cold December sit

Thus in Love’s peculiar throne:

Brooklets are not prison’d now,

But crystal frosts are all agone,

And that which hangs upon the spray,

It is no snow, but flow’r of May!

Sonnet.

Death.

It is not death, that sometime in a sigh

This eloquent breath shall take its speechless flight;

That sometime these bright stars, that now reply

In sunlight to the sun, shall set in night;

That warm conscious flesh shall perish quite,

And all life’s ruddy springs forget to flow;

That thoughts shall cease, and the immortal sprite

Be lapp’d in alien clay and laid below;

It is not death to know this — but to know

That pious thoughts, which visit at new graves

In tender pilgrimage, will cease to go

So duly and so oft — and when grass waves

Over the past-away, there may be then

No resurrection in the minds of men.

Serenade.

Ah, sweet, thou little knowest how

I wake and passionate watches keep;

And yet while I address thee now,

Methinks thou smilest in thy sleep.

’Tis sweet enough to make me weep,

That tender thought of love and thee,

That while the world is hush’d so deep,

Thy soul’s perhaps awake to me!

Sleep on, sleep on, sweet bride of sleep!

With golden visions of thy dower,

While I this midnight vigil keep,

And bless thee in thy silent bower;

To me ’tis sweeter than the power

Of sleep, and fairy dreams unfurl’d,

That I alone, at this still hour,

In patient love outwatch the world.

Verses in an Album.

Far above the hollow

Tempest, and its moan,

Singeth bright Apollo

In his golden zone —

Cloud doth never shade him,

Nor a storm invade him,

On his joyous throne.

So when I behold me

In an orb as bright,

How thy soul doth fold me

In its throne of light!

Sorrow never paineth,

Nor a care attaineth

To that blessed height.

The Forsaken.

The dead are in their silent graves,

And the dew is cold above,

And the living weep and sigh,

Over dust that once was love.

Once I only wept the dead,

But now the living cause my pain:

How couldst thou steal me from my tears,

To leave me to my tears again?

My Mother rests beneath the sod —

Her rest is calm and very deep:

I wish’d that she could see our loves —

But now I gladden in her sleep.

Last night unbound my raven locks,

The morning saw them turned to gray,

Once they were black and well beloved,

But thou art changed — and so are they!

The useless lock I gave thee once,

To gaze upon and think of me,

Was ta’en with smiles — but this was torn

In sorrow that I send to thee!

Song.

The stars are with the voyager

Wherever he may sail;

The moon is constant to her time;

The sun will never fail;

But follow, follow round the world,

The green earth and the sea,

So love is with the lover’s heart,

Wherever he may be.

Wherever he may be, the stars

Must daily lose their light;

The moon will veil her in the shade;

The sun will set at night.

The sun may set, but constant love

Will shine when he’s away;

So that dull night is never night,

And day is brighter day.

Song.

O Lady, leave thy silken thread

And flowery tapestrie:

There’s living roses on the bush,

And blossoms on the tree;

Stoop where thou wilt, thy careless hand

Some random bud will meet;

Thou canst not tread, but thou wilt find

The daisy at thy feet.

’Tis like the birthday of the world,

When earth was born in bloom;

The light is made of many dyes,

The air is all perfume;

There’s crimson buds, and white and blue —

The very rainbow showers

Have turn’d to blossoms where they fell,

And sown the earth with flowers.

There’s fairy tulips in the east,

The garden of the sun;

The very streams reflect the hues,

And blossom as they run:

While Morn opes like a crimson rose,

Still wet with pearly showers;

Then, lady, leave the silken thread

Thou twinest into flowers!

Birthday Verses.

Good morrow to the golden morning,

Good morrow to the world’s delight —

I’ve come to bless thy life’s beginning,

Since it makes my own so bright!

I have brought no roses, sweetest,

I could find no flowers, dear —

It was when all sweets were over

Thou wert born to bless the year.

But I’ve brought thee jewels, dearest,

In thy bonny locks to shine —

And if love shows in their glances,

They have learn’d that look of mine!

I Love Thee.

I love thee — I love thee!

’Tis all that I can say; —

It is my vision in the night,

My dreaming in the day;

The very echo of my heart,

The blessing when I pray:

I love thee — I love thee!

Is all that I can say.

I love thee — I love thee!

Is ever on my tongue;

In all my proudest poesy

That chorus still is sung;

It is the verdict of my eyes,

Amidst the gay and young:

I love thee — I love thee!

A thousand maids among.

I love thee — I love thee!

Thy bright hazel glance,

The mellow lute upon those lips,

Whose tender tones entrance;

But most, dear heart of hearts, thy proofs

That still these words enhance,

I love thee — I love thee!

Whatever be thy chance.

Lines.

Let us make a leap, my dear,

In our love, of many a year,

And date it very far away,

On a bright clear summer day,

When the heart was like a sun

To itself, and falsehood none;

And the rosy lips a part

Of the very loving heart,

And the shining of the eye

But a sign to know it by; —

When my faults were all forgiven,

And my life deserved of Heaven.

Dearest, let us reckon so,

And love for all that long ago;

Each absence count a year complete,

And keep a birthday when we meet.

False Poets and True.

To Wordsworth.

Look how the lark soars upward and is gone,

Turning a spirit as he nears the sky!

His voice is heard, but body there is none

To fix the vague excursions of the eye.

So, poets’ songs are with us, tho’ they die

Obscured, and hid by death’s oblivious shroud,

And Earth inherits the rich melody

Like raining music from the morning cloud.

Yet, few there be who pipe so sweet and loud

Their voices reach us through the lapse of space:

The noisy day is deafen’d by a crowd

Of undistinguished birds, a twittering race;

But only lark and nightingale forlorn

Fill up the silences of night and morn.

The Two Swans.

A Fairy Tale.

1.

Immortal Imogen, crown’d queen above

The lilies of thy sex, vouchsafe to hear

A fairy dream in honor of true love —

True above ills, and frailty, and all fear —

Perchance a shadow of his own career

Whose youth was darkly prison’d and long-twined

By serpent-sorrow, till white Love drew near,

And sweetly sang him free, and round his mind

A bright horizon threw, wherein no grief may wind.

2.

I saw a tower builded on a lake,

Mock’d by its inverse shadow, dark and deep —

That seem’d a still intenser night to make,

Wherein the quiet waters sank to sleep —

And, whatso’er was prison’d in that keep,

A monstrous Snake was warden:— round and round

In sable ringlets I beheld him creep

Blackest amid black shadows to the ground,

Whilst his enormous head, the topmost turret crown’d.

3.

From whence he shot fierce light against the stars,

Making the pale moon paler with affright;

And with his ruby eye out-threaten’d Mars —

That blaz’d in the mid-heavens, hot and bright —

Nor slept, nor wink’d, but with a steadfast spite

Watch’d their wan looks and tremblings in the skies;

And that he might not slumber in the night,

The curtain-lids were pluck’d from his large eyes,

So he might never drowse, but watch his secret prize.

4.

Prince or princess in dismal durance pent,

Victims of old Enchantment’s love or hate,

Their lives must all in painful sighs be spent,

Watching the lonely waters soon and late,

And clouds that pass and leave them to their fate,

Or company their grief with heavy tears:—

Meanwhile that Hope can spy no golden gate

For sweet escapement, but in darksome fears

They weep and pine away as if immortal years.

5.

No gentle bird with gold upon its wing

Will perch upon the grate — the gentle bird

Is safe in leafy dell, and will not bring

Freedom’s sweet key-note and commission-word

Learn’d of a fairy’s lips, for pity stirr’d —

Lest while he trembling sings, untimely guest!

Watch’d by that cruel Snake and darkly heard,

He leave a widow on her lonely nest,

To press in silent grief the darlings of her breast.

6.

No gallant knight, adventurous, in his bark,

Will seek the fruitful perils of the place,

To rouse with dipping oar the waters dark

That bear that serpent image on their face.

And Love, brave Love! though he attempt the base,

Nerved to his loyal death, he may not win

His captive lady from the strict embrace

Of that foul Serpent, clasping her within

His sable folds — like Eve enthrall’d by the old Sin.

7.

But there is none — no knight in panoply,

Nor Love, intrench’d in his strong steely coat:

No little speck — no sail — no helper nigh,

No sign — no whispering — no plash of boat:—

The distant shores show dimly and remote,

Made of a deeper mist — serene and gray —

And slow and mute the cloudy shadows float

Over the gloomy wave, and pass away,

Chased by the silver beams that on their marges play.

8.

And bright and silvery the willows sleep

Over the shady verge — no mad winds tease

Their hoary heads; but quietly they weep

Their sprinkling leaves — half fountains and half trees:

Their lilies be — and fairer than all these,

A solitary Swan her breast of snow

Launches against the wave that seems to freeze

Into a chaste reflection, still below

Twin shadow of herself wherever she may go.

9.

And forth she paddles in the very noon

Of solemn midnight like an elfin thing,

Charm’d into being by the argent moon —

Whose silver light for love of her fair wing

Goes with her in the shade, still worshipping

Her dainty plumage:— all around her grew

A radiant circlet, like a fairy ring;

And all behind, a tiny little clue

Of light, to guide her back across the waters blue.

10.

And sure she is no meaner than a fay,

Redeem’d from sleepy death, for beauty’s sake,

By old ordainment:— silent as she lay,

Touched by a moonlight wand I saw her wake,

And cut her leafy slough, and so forsake

The verdant prison of her lily peers,

That slept amidst the stars upon the lake —

A breathing shape — restored to human fears,

And new-born love and grief — self-conscious of her tears.

11.

And now she clasps her wings around her heart,

And near that lonely isle begins to glide,

Pale as her fears, and oft-times with a start

Turns her impatient head from side to side

In universal terrors — all too wide

To watch; and often to that marble keep

Upturns her pearly eyes, as if she spied

Some foe, and crouches in the shadows steep

That in the gloomy wave go diving fathoms deep.

12.

And well she may, to spy that fearful thing

All down the dusky walls in circlets wound;

Alas! for what rare prize, with many a ring

Girding the marble casket round and round?

His folded tail, lost in the gloom profound,

Terribly darkeneth the rocky base;

But on the top his monstrous head is crown’d

With prickly spears, and on his doubtful face

Gleam his unwearied eyes, red watchers of the place.

13.

Alas! of the hot fires that nightly fall,

No one will scorch him in those orbs of spite,

So he may never see beneath the wall

That timid little creature, all too bright,

That stretches her fair neck, slender and white,

Invoking the pale moon, and vainly tries

Her throbbing throat, as if to charm the night

With song — but, hush — it perishes in sighs,

And there will be no dirge sad-swelling, though she dies!

14.

She droops — she sinks — she leans upon the lake,

Fainting again into a lifeless flower;

But soon the chilly springs anoint and wake

Her spirit from its death, and with new power

She sheds her stifled sorrows in a shower

Of tender song, timed to her falling tears —

That wins the shady summit of that tower,

And, trembling all the sweeter for its fears,

Fills with imploring moan that cruel monster’s ears.

15.

And, lo! the scaly beast is all deprest,

Subdued like Argus by the might of sound —

What time Apollo his sweet lute addrest

To magic converse with the air, and bound

The many monster eyes, all slumber-drown’d:—

So on the turret-top that watchful Snake

Pillows his giant head, and lists profound,

As if his wrathful spite would never wake,

Charm’d into sudden sleep for Love and Beauty’s sake!

16.

His prickly crest lies prone upon his crown,

And thirsty lip from lip disparted flies,

To drink that dainty flood of music down —

His scaly throat is big with pent-up sighs —

And whilst his hollow ear entranced lies,

His looks for envy of the charmed sense

Are fain to listen, till his steadfast eyes,

Stung into pain by their own impotence,

Distil enormous tears into the lake immense.

17.

Oh, tuneful Swan! oh, melancholy bird!

Sweet was that midnight miracle of song,

Rich with ripe sorrow, needful of no word

To tell of pain, and love, and love’s deep wrong —

Hinting a piteous tale — perchance how long

Thy unknown tears were mingled with the lake,

What time disguised thy leafy mates among —

And no eye knew what human love and ache

Dwelt in those dewy leaves, and heart so nigh to break.

18.

Therefore no poet will ungently touch

The water-lily, on whose eyelids dew

Trembles like tears; but ever hold it such

As human pain may wander through and through,

Turning the pale leaf paler in its hue —

Wherein life dwells, transfigured, not entomb’d,

By magic spells. Alas! who ever knew

Sorrow in all its shapes, leafy and plumed,

Or in gross husks of brutes eternally inhumed?

19.

And now the winged song has scaled the height

Of that dark dwelling, builded for despair,

And soon a little casement flashing bright

Widens self-open’d into the cool air —

That music like a bird may enter there

And soothe the captive in his stony cage;

For there is nought of grief, or painful care,

But plaintive song may happily engage

From sense of its own ill, and tenderly assuage.

20.

And forth into the light, small and remote,

A creature, like the fair son of a king,

Draws to the lattice in his jewell’d coat

Against the silver moonlight glistening,

And leans upon his white hand listening

To that sweet music that with tenderer tone

Salutes him, wondering what kindly thing

Is come to soothe him with so tuneful moan,

Singing beneath the walls as if for him alone!

11.

And while he listens, the mysterious song,

Woven with timid particles of speech.

Twines into passionate words that grieve along

The melancholy notes, and softly teach

The secrets of true love — that trembling reach

His earnest ear, and through the shadows dun

He missions like replies, and each to each

Their silver voices mingle into one,

Like blended streams that make one music as they run.

12.

“Ah! Love, my hope is swooning in my heart — ”

“Ay, sweet, my cage is strong and hung full high —”

“Alas! our lips are held so far apart,

Thy words come faint — they have so far to fly! —”

“If I may only shun that serpent-eye — ”

“Ah me! that serpent-eye doth never sleep; —”

“Then, nearer thee, Love’s martyr, I will die! —”

“Alas, alas! that word has made me weep!

For pity’s sake remain safe in thy marble keep!”

13.

“My marble keep! it is my marble tomb —”

“Nay, sweet! but thou hast there thy living breath —”

“Aye to expend in sighs for this hard doom; —”

“But I will come to thee and sing beneath,”

“And nightly so beguile this serpent wreath; —”

“Nay, I will find a path from these despairs.”

“Ah, needs then thou must tread the back of death,

Making his stony ribs thy stony stairs. —

Behold his ruby eye, how fearfully it glares!”

14.

Full sudden at these words, the princely youth

Leaps on the scaly back that slumbers, still

Unconscious of his foot, yet not for ruth,

But numb’d to dulness by the fairy skill

Of that sweet music (all more wild and shrill

For intense fear) that charm’d him as he lay —

Meanwhile the lover nerves his desperate will,

Held some short throbs by natural dismay,

Then down the serpent-track begins his darksome way.

15.

Now dimly seen — now toiling out of sight,

Eclipsed and cover’d by the envious wall;

Now fair and spangled in the sudden light,

And clinging with wide arms for fear of fall;

Now dark and shelter’d by a kindly pall

Of dusky shadow from his wakeful foe;

Slowly he winds adown — dimly and small,

Watch’d by the gentle Swan that sings below,

Her hope increasing, still, the larger he doth grow.

16.

But nine times nine the serpent folds embrace

The marble walls about — which he must tread

Before his anxious foot may touch the base:

Long in the dreary path, and must be sped!

But Love, that holds the mastery of dread,

Braces his spirit, and with constant toil

He wins his way, and now, with arms outspread,

Impatient plunges from the last long coil;

So may all gentle Love ungentle Malice foil!

17.

The song is hush’d, the charm is all complete,

And two fair Swans are swimming on the lake:

But scarce their tender bills have time to meet,

When fiercely drops adown that cruel Snake —

His steely scales a fearful rustling make,

Like autumn leaves that tremble and foretell

The sable storm; — the plumy lovers quake —

And feel the troubled waters pant and swell,

Heaved by the giant bulk of their pursuer fell.

18.

His jaws, wide yawning like the gates of Death,

Hiss horrible pursuit — his red eyes glare

The waters into blood — his eager breath

Grows hot upon their plumes:— now, minstrel fair!

She drops her ring into the waves, and there

It widens all around, a fairy ring

Wrought of the silver light — the fearful pair

Swim in the very midst, and pant and cling

The closer for their fears, and tremble wing to wing.

19.

Bending their course over the pale gray lake,

Against the pallid East, wherein light play’d

In tender flushes, still the baffled Snake

Circled them round continually, and bay’d

Hoarsely and loud, forbidden to invade

The sanctuary ring — his sable mail

Roll’d darkly through the flood, and writhed and made

A shining track over the waters pale,

Lash’d into boiling foam by his enormous tail.

20.

And so they sail’d into the distance dim,

Into the very distance — small and white,

Like snowy blossoms of the spring that swim

Over the brooklets — follow’d by the spite

Of that huge Serpent, that with wild affright

Worried them on their course, and sore annoy,

Till on the grassy marge I saw them ‘light,

And change, anon, a gentle girl and boy,

Lock’d in embrace of sweet unutterable joy!

21.

Then came the Morn, and with her pearly showers

Wept on them, like a mother, in whose eyes

Tears are no grief; and from his rosy bowers

The Oriental sun began to rise,

Chasing the darksome shadows from the skies;

Wherewith that sable Serpent far away

Fled, like a part of night — delicious sighs

From waking blossoms purified the day,

And little birds were singing sweetly from each spray.

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Clapham Academy.

1.

Ah me! those old familiar bounds!

That classic house, those classic grounds

My pensive thought recalls!

What tender urchins now confine,

What little captives now repine,

Within yon irksome walls?

2.

Ay, that’s the very house! I know

Its ugly windows, ten a-row!

Its chimneys in the rear!

And there’s the iron rod so high,

That drew the thunder from the sky

And turn’d our table-beer!

3.

There I was birch’d! there I was bred!

There like a little Adam fed

From Learning’s woeful tree!

The weary tasks I used to con! —

The hopeless leaves I wept upon! —

Most fruitless leaves to me! —

4.

The summon’d class! — the awful bow! —

I wonder who is master now

And wholesome anguish sheds!

How many ushers now employs,

How many maids to see the boys

Have nothing in their heads!

5.

And Mrs. S——? — Doth she abet

(Like Pallas in the parlor) yet

Some favor’d two or three —

The little Crichtons of the hour,

Her muffin-medals that devour,

And swill her prize — bohea?

6.

Ay, there’s the playground! there’s the lime,

Beneath whose shade in summer’s prime

So wildly I have read! —

Who sits there now, and skims the cream

Of young Romance, and weaves a dream

Of Love and Cottage-bread?

7.

Who struts the Randall of the walk?

Who models tiny heads in chalk?

Who scoops the light canoe?

What early genius buds apace?

Where’s Poynter? Harris? Bowers? Chase?

Hal Baylis? blithe Carew?

8.

Alack! they’re gone — a thousand ways!

And some are serving in “the Greys,”

And some have perish’d young! —

Jack Harris weds his second wife;

Hal Baylis drives the wane of life;

And blithe Carew — is hung!

9.

Grave Bowers teaches A B C

To savages at Owhyee;

Poor Chase is with the worms! —

All, all are gone — the olden breed! —

New crops of mushroon boys succeed,

“And push us from our forms!”

10.

Lo! where they scramble forth, and shout,

And leap, and skip, and mob about,

At play where we have play’d!

Some hop, some run, (some fall,) some twine

Their crony arms; some in the shine —

And some are in the shade!

11.

Lo there what mix’d conditions run!

The orphan lad; the widow’s son;

And Fortune’s favor’d care —

The wealthy-born, for whom she hath

Mac-Adamised the future path —

The Nabob’s pamper’d heir!

12.

Some brightly starr’d — some evil born —

For honor some, and some for scorn —

For fair or foul renown!

Good, bad, indiff’rent — none may lack!

Look, here’s a White, and there’s a Black

And there’s a Creole brown!

13.

Some laugh and sing, some mope and weep,

And wish their frugal sires would keep

Their only sons at home; —

Some tease their future tense, and plan

The full-grown doings of the man,

And plant for years to come!

14.

A foolish wish! There’s one at hoop;

And four at fives! and five who stoop

The marble taw to speed!

And one that curvets in and out,

Reining his fellow Cob about —

Would I were in his steed!

15.

Yet he would glady halt and drop

That boyish harness off, to swop

With this world’s heavy van —

To toil, to tug. O little fool!

While thou canst be a horse at school,

To wish to be a man!

16.

Perchance thou deem’st it were a thing

To wear a crown — to be a king!

And sleep on regal down!

Alas! thou know’st not kingly cares;

For happier is thy head that wears

That hat without a crown!

17.

And dost thou think that years acquire

New added joys? Dost think thy sire

More happy than his son?

That manhood’s mirth? — Oh, go thy ways

To Drury-lane when —plays,

And see how forced our fun!

18.

Thy taws are brave! — thy tops are rare! —

Our tops are spun with coils of care,

Our dumps are no delight! —

The Elgin marbles are but tame,

And ’tis at best a sorry game

To fly the Muse’s kite!

19.

Our hearts are dough, our heels are lead,

Our topmost joys fall dull and dead

Like balls with no rebound!

And often with a faded eye

We look behind, and send a sigh

Towards that merry ground!

20.

Then be contented. Thou hast got

The most of heaven in thy young lot;

There’s sky-blue in thy cup!

Thou’lt find thy Manhood all too fast —

Soon come, soon gone! and Age at last

A sorry breaking-up!

No connection with any other Ode.

Song.

There is dew for the flow’ret

And honey for the bee,

And bowers for the wild bird,

And love for you and me.

There are tears for the many

And pleasures for the few;

But let the world pass on, dear,

There’s love for me and you.

There is care that will not leave us,

And pain that will not flee;

But on our hearth unalter’d

Sits Love —‘tween you and me.

Our love it ne’er was reckon’d,

Yet good it is and true,

It’s half the world to me, dear,

It’s all the world to you.

The first two stanzas by Hood, the other two contributed by Barry Cornwall at the request of Mrs. Hood, with a view to the poem being set to music.

The Water Lady.

Alas, the moon should ever beam

To show what man should never see! —

I saw a maiden on a stream,

And fair was she!

I staid awhile, to see her throw

Her tresses black, that all beset

The fair horizon of her brow

With clouds of jet.

I staid a little while to view

Her cheek, that wore in place of red

The bloom of water, tender blue,

Daintily spread.

I staid to watch, a little space,

Her parted lips if she would sing;

The waters closed above her face

With many a ring.

And still I staid a little more,

Alas! she never comes again!

I throw my flowers from the shore,

And watch in vain.

I know my life will fade away,

I know that I must vainly pine,

For I am made of mortal clay,

But she’s divine!

Suggested, according to Hood’s son, by a water-color drawing by Keats’s friend Severn.

Autumn.

The Autumn is old,

The sere leaves are flying; —

He hath gather’d up gold,

And now he is dying; —

Old Age, begin sighing!

The vintage is ripe,

The harvest is heaping; —

But some that have sow’d

Have no riches for reaping; —

Poor wretch, fall a-weeping!

The year’s in the wane,

There is nothing adorning,

The night has no eve,

And the day has no morning; —

Cold winter gives warning.

The rivers run chill,

The red sun is sinking,

And I am grown old,

And life is fast shrinking;

Here’s enow for sad thinking!

I Remember, I Remember.

I remember, I remember,

The house where I was born,

The little window where the sun

Came peeping in at morn;

He never came a wink too soon,

Nor brought too long a day,

But now, I often wish the night

Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,

The roses, red and white,

The violets, and the lily-cups,

Those flowers made of light!

The lilacs where the robin built,

And where my brother set

The laburnum on his birthday —

The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,

Where I was used to swing,

And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing;

My spirit flew in feathers then,

That is so heavy now,

And summer pools could hardly cool

The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,

The fir trees dark and high;

I used to think their slender tops

Were close against the sky:

It was a childish ignorance,

But now ’tis little joy

To know I’m farther off from Heav’n

Than when I was a boy.

The Poet’s Portion.

What is a mine — a treasury — a dower —

A magic talisman of mighty power?

A poet’s wide possession of the earth.

He has th’ enjoyment of a flower’s birth

Before its budding — ere the first red streaks —

And Winter cannot rob him of their cheeks.

Look — if his dawn be not as other men’s!

Twenty bright flushes — ere another kens

The first of sunlight is abroad — he sees

Its golden ‘lection of the topmost trees,

And opes the splendid fissures of the morn.

When do his fruits delay, when doth his corn

Linger for harvesting? Before the leaf

Is commonly abroad, in his piled sheaf

The flagging poppies lose their ancient flame.

No sweet there is, no pleasure I can name,

But he will sip it first — before the lees.

’Tis his to taste rich honey — ere the bees

Are busy with the brooms. He may forestall

June’s rosy advent for his coronal;

Before th’ expectant buds upon the bough,

Twining his thoughts to bloom upon his brow.

Oh! blest to see the flower in its seed,

Before its leafy presence; for indeed

Leaves are but wings on which the summer flies,

And each thing perishable fades and dies,

Escap’d in thought; but his rich thinkings be

Like overflows of immortality:

So that what there is steep’d shall perish never,

But live and bloom, and be a joy forever.

Ode to the Moon.

1.

Mother of light! how fairly dost thou go

Over those hoary crests, divinely led! —

Art thou that huntress of the silver bow,

Fabled of old? Or rather dost thou tread

Those cloudy summits thence to gaze below,

Like the wild Chamois from her Alpine snow,

Where hunter never climb’d — secure from dread?

How many antique fancies have I read

Of that mild presence! and how many wrought!

Wondrous and bright,

Upon the silver light,

Chasing fair figures with the artist, Thought!

2.

What art thou like? — Sometimes I see thee ride

A far-bound galley on its perilous way,

Whilst breezy waves toss up their silvery spray; —

Sometimes behold thee glide,

Cluster’d by all thy family of stars,

Like a lone widow, through the welkin wide,

Whose pallid cheek the midnight sorrow mars; —

Sometimes I watch thee on from steep to steep,

Timidly lighted by thy vestal torch,

Till in some Latmian cave I see thee creep,

To catch the young Endymion asleep —

Leaving thy splendor at the jagged porch! —

3.

Oh, thou art beautiful, howe’er it be!

Huntress, or Dian, or whatever named;

And he, the veriest Pagan, that first framed

A silver idol, and ne’er worshipp’d thee! —

It is too late — or thou should’st have my knee —

Too late now for the old Ephesian vows,

And not divine the crescent on thy brows! —

Yet, call thee nothing but the mere mild Moon,

Behind those chestnut boughs,

Casting their dappled shadows at my feet;

I will be grateful for that simple boon,

In many a thoughtful verse and anthem sweet,

And bless thy dainty face when’er we meet.

4.

In nights far gone — ay, far away and dead —

Before Care-fretted, with a lidless eye —

I was thy wooer on my little bed,

Letting the early hours of rest go by,

To see thee flood the heaven with milky light,

And feed thy snow-white swans, before I slept;

For thou wert then purveyor of my dreams —

Thou wert the fairies’ armourer, that kept

Their burnish’d helms, and crowns, and corslets bright,

Their spears, and glittering mails;

And ever thou didst spill in winding streams

Sparkles and midnight gleams,

For fishes to new gloss their ardent scales! —

5.

Why sighs? — why creeping tears? — why clasped hands? —

Is it to count the boy’s expended dow’r?

That fairies since have broke their gifted wands?

That young Delight, like any o’erblown flower,

Gave, one by one, its sweet leaves to the ground? —

Why then, fair Moon, for all thou mark’st no hour,

Thou art a sadder dial to old Time

Than ever I have found

On sunny garden-plot, or moss-grown tow’r,

Motto’d with stern and melancholy rhyme.

6.

Why should I grieve for this? — Oh I must yearn

Whilst Time, conspirator with Memory,

Keeps his cold ashes in an ancient urn,

Richly emboss’d with childhood’s revelry,

With leaves and cluster’d fruits, and flow’rs eterne —

(Eternal to the world, though not to me),

Aye there will those brave sports and blossoms be,

The deathless wreath, and undecay’d festoon,

When I am hearsed within —

Less than the pallid primrose to the Moon,

That now she watches through a vapor thin.

7.

So let it be:— Before I lived to sigh,

Thou wert in Avon, and a thousand rills,

Beautiful Orb! and so, whene’er I lie

Trodden, thou wilt be gazing from thy hills.

Blest be thy loving light, where’er it spills,

And blessëd thy fair face, O Mother mild!

Still shine, the soul of rivers as they run,

Still lend thy lonely lamp to lovers fond,

And blend their plighted shadows into one:—

Still smile at even on the bedded child,

And close his eyelids with thy silver wand!

Sonnet.

Written in a Volume of Shakspeare.

How bravely Autumn paints upon the sky

The gorgeous fame of Summer which is fled!

Hues of all flow’rs, that in their ashes lie,

Trophied in that fair light whereon they fed —

Tulip, and hyacinth, and sweet rose red —

Like exhalations from the leafy mould,

Look here how honor glorifies the dead,

And warms their scutcheons with a glance of gold! —

Such is the memory of poets old,

Who on Parnassus’ hill have bloom’d elate;

Now they are laid under their marbles cold,

And turned to clay, whereof they were create;

But god Apollo hath them all enroll’d,

And blazon’d on the very clouds of Fate!

A Retrospective Review.

1.

Oh, when I was a tiny boy,

My days and nights were full of joy,

My mates were blithe and kind! —

No wonder that I sometimes sigh,

And dash the tear-drop from my eye,

To cast a look behind!

2.

A hoop was an eternal round

Of pleasure. In those days I found

A top a joyous thing; —

But now those past delights I drop,

My head, alas! is all my top,

And careful thoughts the string!

3.

My marbles — once my bag was stored —

Now I must play with Elgin’s lord,

With Theseus for a taw!

My playful horse has slipt his string,

Forgotten all his capering,

And harness’d to the law!

4.

My kite — how fast and far it flew!

Whilst I, a sort of Franklin, drew

My pleasure from the sky!

’Twas paper’d o’er with studious themes,

The tasks I wrote — my present dreams

Will never soar so high!

5.

My joys are wingless all and dead;

My dumps are made of more than lead; —

My flights soon find a fall;

My fears prevail, my fancies droop,

Joy never cometh with a hoop,

And seldom with a call!

6.

My football’s laid upon the shelf;

I am a shuttlecock myself

The world knocks to and fro; —

My archery is all unlearn’d,

And grief against myself has turn’d

My arrows and my bow!

7.

No more in noontide sun I bask;

My authorship’s an endless task,

My head’s ne’er out of school:

My heart is pain’d with scorn and slight,

I have too many foes to fight,

And friends grown strangely cool!

8.

The very chum that shared my cake

Holds out so cold a hand to shake,

It makes me shrink and sigh:—

On this I will not dwell and hang —

The changeling would not feel a pang

Though these should meet his eye!

9.

No skies so blue or so serene

As then; — no leaves look half so green

As clothed the playground tree!

All things I loved are altered so,

Nor does it ease my heart to know

That change resides in me!

10.

Oh for the garb that marked the boy,

The trousers made of corduroy,

Well ink’d with black and red;

The crownless hat, ne’er deem’d an ill —

It only let the sunshine still

Repose upon my head!

11.

Oh for the riband round the neck!

The careless dogs-ears apt to deck

My book and collar both!

How can this formal man be styled

Merely an Alexandrine child,

A boy of larger growth?

12.

Oh for that small, small beer anew!

And (heaven’s own type) that mild sky-blue

That wash’d my sweet meals down;

The master even! — and that small Turk

That fagg’d me! — worse is now my work —

A fag for all the town!

13.

Oh for the lessons learned by heart!

Ay, though the very birch’s smart

Should mark those hours again;

I’d “kiss the rod,” and be resign’d

Beneath the stroke, and even find

Some sugar in the cane!

14.

The Arabian Nights rehearsed in bed!

The Fairy Tales in school-time read,

By stealth, ’twixt verb and noun!

The angel form that always walk’d

In all my dreams, and look’d and talk’d

Exactly like Miss Brown!

15.

The omne bene— Christmas come!

The prize of merit, won for home —

Merit had prizes then!

But now I write for days and days,

For fame — a deal of empty praise,

Without the silver pen!

16.

Then “home, sweet home!” the crowded coach —

The joyous shout — the loud approach —

The winding horns like rams’!

The meeting sweet that made me thrill,

The sweetmeats, almost sweeter still,

No ‘satis’ to the ‘jams’! —

17.

When that I was a tiny boy

My days and nights were full of joy,

My mates were blithe and kind!

No wonder that I sometimes sigh,

And dash the tear-drop from my eye,

To cast a look behind!

Ballad.

It was not in the Winter

Our loving lot was cast;

It was the Time of Roses —

We plucked them as we passed!

That churlish season never frown’d

On early lovers yet:—

Oh, no — the world was newly crown’d

With flowers when first we met!

’Twas twilight, and I bade you go,

But still you held me fast;

It was the Time of Roses —

We pluck’d them as we pass’d. —

What else could peer thy glowing cheek,

That tears began to stud?

And when I ask’d the like of Love,

You snatched a damask bud;

And oped it to the dainty core,

Still glowing to the last. —

It was the Time of Roses —

We plucked them as we pass’d!

Time, Hope, and Memory.

I heard a gentle maiden, in the spring,

Set her sweet sighs to music, and thus sing:

“Fly through the world, and I will follow thee,

Only for looks that may turn back on me;

“Only for roses that your chance may throw —

Though withered — Twill wear them on my brow,

To be a thoughtful fragrance to my brain —

Warm’d with such love, that they will bloom again.”

“Thy love before thee, I must tread behind,

Kissing thy foot-prints, though to me unkind;

But trust not all her fondness, though it seem,

Lest thy true love should rest on a false dream.”

“Her face is smiling, and her voice is sweet;

But smiles betray, and music sings deceit;

And words speak false; — yet, if they welcome prove,

I’ll be their echo, and repeat their love.”

“Only if waken’d to sad truth, at last,

The bitterness to come, and sweetness past;

When thou art vext, then turn again, and see

Thou hast loved Hope, but Memory loved thee.”

Flowers.

I will not have the mad Clytie,

Whose head is turned by the sun;

The tulip is a courtly queen,

Whom, therefore, I will shun;

The cowslip is a country wench,

The violet is a nun; —

But I will woo the dainty rose,

The queen of every one.

The pea is but a wanton witch,

In too much haste to wed,

And clasps her rings on every hand;

The wolfsbane I should dread;

Nor will I dreary rosemarye,

That always mourns the dead; —

But I will woo the dainty rose,

With her cheeks of tender red.

The lily is all in white, like a saint,

And so is no mate for me —

And the daisy’s cheek is tipped with a blush,

She is of such low degree;

Jasmine is sweet, and has many loves,

And the broom’s betroth’d to the bee; —

But I will plight with the dainty rose,

For fairest of all is she.

Ballad.

She’s up and gone, the graceless girl,

And robb’d my failing years!

My blood before was thin and cold

But now ’tis turn’d to tears; —

My shadow falls upon my grave,

So near the brink I stand,

She might have stay’d a little yet,

And led me by the hand!

Aye, call her on the barren moor,

And call her on the hill:

’Tis nothing but the heron’s cry,

And plover’s answer shrill;

My child is flown on wilder wings

Than they have ever spread,

And I may even walk a waste

That widen’d when she fled.

Full many a thankless child has been,

But never one like mine;

Her meat was served on plates of gold,

Her drink was rosy wine;

But now she’ll share the robin’s food,

And sup the common rill,

Before her feet will turn again

To meet her father’s will!

Ruth.

She stood breast high amid the corn

Clasp’d by the golden light of morn,

Like the sweetheart of the sun,

Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush,

Deeply ripen’d; — such a blush

In the midst of brown was born,

Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,

Which were blackest none could tell,

But long lashes veil’d a light,

That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,

Made her tressy forehead dim; —

Thus she stood amid the stooks,

Praising God with sweetest looks:—

Sure, I said, Heav’n did not mean,

Where I reap thou shouldst but glean,

Lay thy sheaf adown and come,

Share my harvest and my home.

The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies.

1.

’Twas in that mellow season of the year

When the hot sun singes the yellow leaves

Till they be gold — and with a broader sphere

The Moon looks down on Ceres and her sheaves;

When more abundantly the spider weaves,

And the cold wind breathes from a chillier clime; —

That forth I fared, on one of those still eves,

Touch’d with the dewy sadness of the time,

To think how the bright months had spent their prime,

2.

So that, wherever I address’d my way,

I seem’d to track the melancholy feet

Of him that is the Father of Decay,

And spoils at once the sour weed and the sweet; —

Wherefore regretfully I made retreat

To some unwasted regions of my brain,

Charm’d with the light of summer and the heat,

And bade that bounteous season bloom again,

And sprout fresh flowers in mine own domain.

3.

It was a shady and sequester’d scene,

Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,

Planted with his own laurels evergreen,

And roses that for endless summer blow;

And there were fountain springs to overflow

Their marble basins — and cool green arcades

Of tall o’erarching sycamores, to throw

Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades —

With timid coneys cropping the green blades.

4.

And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,

Argent and gold; and some of Tyrian skin,

Some crimson-barr’d; — and ever at a wish

They rose obsequious till the wave grew thin

As glass upon their backs, and then dived in,

Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom;

Whilst others with fresh hues row’d forth to win

My changeable regard — for so we doom

Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.

5.

And there were many birds of many dyes,

From tree to tree still faring to and fro,

And stately peacocks with their splendid eyes,

And gorgeous pheasants with their golden glow,

Like Iris just bedabbled in her bow,

Beside some vocalists, without a name,

That oft on fairy errands come and go,

With accents magical; — and all were tame,

And peckled at my hand where’er I came.

6.

And for my sylvan company, in lieu

Of Pampinea with her lively peers,

Sate Queen Titania with her pretty crew,

All in their liveries quaint, with elfin gears,

For she was gracious to my childish years,

And made me free of her enchanted round;

Wherefore this dreamy scene she still endears,

And plants her court upon a verdant mound,

Fenced with umbrageous woods and groves profound.

7.

“Ah me,” she cries, “was ever moonlight seen

So clear and tender for our midnight trips?

Go some one forth, and with a trump convene

My lieges all!”— Away the goblin skips

A pace or two apart, and deftly strips

The ruddy skin from a sweet rose’s cheek,

Then blows the shuddering leaf between his lips,

Making it utter forth a shrill small shriek,

Like a fray’d bird in the gray owlet’s beak.

8.

And lo! upon my fix’d delighted ken

Appear’d the loyal Fays. — Some by degrees

Crept from the primrose buds that open’d then,

Ana some from bell-shaped blossoms like the bees,

Some from the dewy meads, and rushy leas,

Flew up like chafers when the rustics pass;

Some from the rivers, others from tall trees

Dropp’d, like shed blossoms, silent to the grass,

Spirits and elfins small, of every class.

9.

Peri and Pixy, and quaint Puck the Antic,

Brought Robin Goodfellow, that merry swain;

And stealthy Mab, queen of old realms romantic,

Came too, from distance, in her tiny wain,

Fresh dripping from a cloud — some bloomy rain,

Then circling the bright Moon, had wash’d her car,

And still bedew’d it with a various stain:

Lastly came Ariel, shooting from a star,

Who bears all fairy embassies afar.

10.

But Oberon, that night elsewhere exiled,

Was absent, whether some distemper’d spleen

Kept him and his fair mate unreconciled,

Or warfare with the Gnome (whose race had been

Sometime obnoxious), kept him from his queen,

And made her now peruse the starry skies

Prophetical, with such an absent mien;

Howbeit, the tears stole often to her eyes,

And oft the Moon was incensed with her sighs —

11.

Which made the elves sport drearily, and soon

Their hushing dances languish’d to a stand,

Like midnight leaves, when, as the Zephyrs swoon,

All on their drooping stems they sink unfann’d —

So into silence droop’d the fairy band,

To see their empress dear so pale and still,

Crowding her softly round on either hand,

As pale as frosty snowdrops, and as chill,

To whom the sceptred dame reveals her ill.

12.

“Alas,” quoth she, “ye know our fairy lives

Are leased upon the fickle faith of men;

Not measured out against Fate’s mortal knives,

Like human gosamers — we perish when

We fade and are forgot in worldly kens —

Though poesy has thus prolong’d our date,

Thanks be to the sweet Bard’s auspicious pen

That rescued us so long! — howbeit of late

I feel some dark misgivings of our fate.”

13.

“And this dull day my melancholy sleep

Hath been so thronged with images of woe,

That even now I cannot choose but weep

To think this was some sad prophetic show

Of future horror to befall us so,

Of mortal wreck and uttermost distress,

Yea, our poor empire’s fall and overthrow,

For this was my long vision’s dreadful stress,

And when I waked my trouble was not less.”

14.

“Whenever to the clouds I tried to seek,

Such leaden weight dragg’d these Icarian wings,

My faithless wand was wavering and weak,

And slimy toads had trespass’d in our rings —

The birds refused to sing for me — all things

Disown’d their old allegiance to our spells;

The rude bees prick’d me with their rebel stings;

And, when I pass’d, the valley-lily’s bells

Rang out, methought, most melancholy knells.”

15.

“And ever on the faint and flagging air

A doleful spirit with a dreary note

Cried in my fearful ear, ‘Prepare! prepare!’

Which soon I knew came from a raven’s throat,

Perch’d on a cypress-bough not far remote —

A cursed bird, too crafty to be shot,

That alway cometh with his soot-black coat

To make hearts dreary:— for he is a blot

Upon the book of life, as well ye wot! —”

16.

“Wherefore some while I bribed him to be mute,

With bitter acorns stuffing his foul maw,

Which barely I appeased, when some fresh bruit

Startled me all aheap! — and soon I saw

The horridest shape that ever raised my awe —

A monstrous giant, very huge and tall,

Such as in elder times, devoid of law,

With wicked might grieved the primeval ball,

And this was sure the deadliest of them all!”

17.

“Gaunt was he as a wolf of Languedoc,

With bloody jaws, and frost upon his crown

So from his barren poll one hoary lock

Over his wrinkled front fell far adown,

Well nigh to where his frosty brows did frown

Like jagged icicles at cottage eaves;

And for his coronal he wore some brown

And bristled ears gather’d from Ceres’ sheaves,

Entwined with certain sere and russet leaves.”

18.

“And lo! upon a mast rear’d far aloft,

He bore a very bright and crescent blade,

The which he waved so dreadfully, and oft,

In meditative spite, that, sore dismay’d,

I crept into an acorn-cup for shade;

Meanwhile the horrid effigy went by:

I trow his look was dreadful, for it made

The trembling birds betake them to the sky,

For every leaf was lifted by his sigh.”

19.

“And ever, as he sigh’d, his foggy breath

Blurr’d out the landscape like a flight of smoke:

Thence knew I this was either dreary Death

Or Time, who leads all creatures to his stroke.

Ah wretched me!”— Here, even as she spoke,

The melancholy Shape came gliding in,

And lean’d his back against an antique oak,

Folding his wings, that were so fine and thin,

They scarce were seen against the Dryad’s skin.

20.

Then what a fear seized all the little rout!

Look how a flock of panick’d sheep will stare —

And huddle close — and start — and wheel about,

Watching the roaming mongrel here and there —

So did that sudden Apparition scare

All close aheap those small affrighted things;

Nor sought they now the safety of the air,

As if some leaden spell withheld their wings;

But who can fly that ancientest of Kings?

21.

Whom now the Queen, with a forestalling tear

And previous sigh, beginneth to entreat,

Bidding him spare, for love, her lieges dear:

“Alas!” quoth she, “is there no nodding wheat

Ripe for thy crooked weapon, and more meet —

Or wither’d leaves to ravish from the tree —

Or crumbling battlements for thy defeat?

Think but what vaunting monuments there be

Builded in spite and mockery of thee.”

22.

“O fret away the fabric walls of Fame,

And grind down marble Cæsars with the dust:

Make tombs inscriptionless — raze each high name,

And waste old armors of renown with rust:

Do all of this, and thy revenge is just:

Make such decays the trophies of thy prime,

And check Ambition’s overweening lust,

That dares exterminating war with Time —

But we are guiltless of that lofty crime.”

23.

“Frail feeble spirits! — the children of a dream!

Leased on the sufferance of fickle men,

Like motes dependent on the sunny beam,

Living but in the sun’s indulgent ken,

And when that light withdraws, withdrawing then; —

So do we flutter in the glance of youth

And fervid fancy — and so perish when

The eye of faith grows aged; — in sad truth,

Feeling thy sway, O Time! though not thy tooth!”

24.

“Where be those old divinities forlorn,

That dwelt in trees, or haunted in a stream?

Alas! their memories are dimm’d and torn,

Like the remainder tatters of a dream:

So will it fare with our poor thrones, I deem; —

For us the same dark trench Oblivion delves,

That holds the wastes of every human scheme.

O spare us then — and these our pretty elves —

We soon, alas! shall perish of ourselves!”

25.

Now as she ended, with a sigh, to name

Those old Olympians, scatter’d by the whirl

Of Fortune’s giddy wheel and brought to shame,

Methought a scornful and malignant curl

Show’d on the lips of that malicious churl,

To think what noble havocs he had made;

So that I fear’d he all at once would hurl

The harmless fairies into endless shade —

Howbeit he stopp’d awhile to whet his blade.

26.

Pity it was to hear the elfins’ wail

Rise up in concert from their mingled dread,

Pity it was to see them, all so pale,

Gaze on the grass as for a dying bed; —

But Puck was seated on a spider’s thread,

That hung between two branches of a briar,

And ‘gan to swing and gambol, heels o’er head,

Like any Southwark tumbler on a wire,

For him no present grief could long inspire.

27.

Meanwhile the Queen with many piteous drops,

Falling like tiny sparks full fast and free,

Bedews a pathway from her throne; — and stops

Before the foot of her arch enemy,

And with her little arms enfolds his knee,

That shows more grisly from that fair embrace;

But she will ne’er depart. “Alas!” quoth she,

“My painful fingers I will here enlace

Till I have gain’d your pity for our race.”

28.

“What have we ever done to earn this grudge,

And hate —(if not too humble for thy hating?)—

Look o’er our labors and our lives, and judge

If there be any ills of our creating;

For we are very kindly creatures, dating

With nature’s charities still sweet and bland:—

O think this murder worthy of debating!”

Herewith she makes a signal with her hand,

To beckon some one from the Fairy band.

29.

Anon I saw one of those elfin things,

Clad all in white like any chorister,

Come fluttering forth on his melodious wings,

That made soft music at each little stir,

But something louder than a bee’s demur

Before he lights upon a bunch of broom,

And thus ‘gan he with Saturn to confer —

And O his voice was sweet, touch’d with the gloom

Of that sad theme that argued of his doom!

30.

Quoth he, “We make all melodies our care,

That no false discords may offend the Sun,

Music’s great master — tuning everywhere

All pastoral sounds and melodies, each one

Duly to place and season, so that none

May harshly interfere. We rouse at morn

The shrill sweet lark; and when the day is done,

Hush silent pauses for the bird forlorn,

That singeth with her breast against a thorn.”

31.

“We gather in loud choirs the twittering race,

That make a chorus with their single note;

And tend on new-fledged birds in every place,

That duly they may get their tunes by rote;

And oft, like echoes, answering remote,

We hide in thickets from the feather’d throng,

And strain in rivalship each throbbing throat,

Singing in shrill responses all day long,

Whilst the glad truant listens to our song.”

32.

“Wherefore, great King of Years, as thou dost love

The raining music from a morning cloud,

When vanish’d larks are carolling above,

To wake Apollo with their pipings loud; —

If ever thou hast heard in leafy shroud

The sweet and plaintive Sappho of the dell,

Show thy sweet mercy on this little crowd,

And we will muffle up the sheepfold bell

Whene’er thou listenest to Philomel.”

33.

Then Saturn thus; —“Sweet is the merry lark,

That carols in man’s ear so clear and strong;

And youth must love to listen in the dark

That tuneful elegy of Tereus’ wrong;

But I have heard that ancient strain too long,

For sweet is sweet but when a little strange,

And I grow weary for some newer song;

For wherefore had I wings, unless to range

Through all things mutable, from change to change?”

34.

“But would’st thou hear the melodies of Time,

Listen when sleep and drowsy darkness roll

Over hush’d cities, and the midnight chime

Sounds from their hundred clocks, and deep bells toll

Like a last knell over the dead world’s soul,

Saying, ‘Time shall be final of all things,

Whose late, last voice must elegize the whole,’—

O then I clap aloft my brave broad wings,

And make the wide air tremble while it rings!”

35.

Then next a fair Eve-Fay made meek address,

Saying, “We be the handmaids of the Spring;

In sign whereof, May, the quaint broideress,

Hath wrought her samplers on our gauzy wing.

We tend upon buds birth and blossoming,

And count the leafy tributes that they owe —

As, so much to the earth — so much to fling

In showers to the brook — so much to go

In whirlwinds to the clouds that made them grow.”

36.

“The pastoral cowslips are our little pets,

And daisy stars, whose firmament is green;

Pansies, and those veil’d nuns, meek violets,

Sighing to that warm world from which they screen;

And golden daffodils, pluck’d for May’s Queen;

And lonely harebells, quaking on the heath;

And Hyacinth, long since a fair youth seen,

Whose tuneful voice, turn’d fragrance in his breath,

Kiss’d by sad Zephyr, guilty of his death.”

37.

“The widow’d primrose weeping to the moon

And saffron crocus in whose chalice bright

A cool libation hoarded for the noon

Is kept — and she that purifies the light,

The virgin lily, faithful to her white,

Whereon Eve wept in Eden for her shame;

And the most dainty rose, Aurora’s spright,

Our every godchild, by whatever name —

Spares us our lives, for we did nurse the same!”

38.

Then that old Mower stamp’d his heel, and struck

His hurtful scythe against the harmless ground,

Saying, “Ye foolish imps, when am I stuck

With gaudy buds, or like a wooer crown’d

With flow’ry chaplets, save when they are found

Withered? — Whenever have I pluck’d a rose,

Except to scatter its vain leaves around?

For so all gloss of beauty I oppose,

And bring decay on every flow’r that blows.”

39.

“Or when am I so wroth as when I view

The wanton pride of Summer; — how she decks

The birthday world with blossoms ever-new,

As if Time had not lived, and heap’d great wrecks

Of years on years? — O then I bravely vex

And catch the gay Months in their gaudy plight,

And slay them with the wreaths about their necks,

Like foolish heifers in the holy rite,

And raise great trophies to my ancient might.”

40.

Then saith another, “We are kindly things,

And like her offspring nestle with the dove —

Witness these hearts embroidered on our wings,

To show our constant patronage of love:—

We sit at even, in sweet bow’rs above

Lovers, and shake rich odors on the air,

To mingle with their sighs; and still remove

The startling owl, and bid the bat forbear

Their privacy, and haunt some other where.”

41.

“And we are near the mother when she sits

Beside her infant in its wicker bed;

And we are in the fairy scene that flits

Across its tender brain: sweet dreams we shed,

And whilst the tender little soul is fled,

Away, to sport with our young elves, the while

We touch the dimpled cheek with roses red,

And tickle the soft lips until they smile,

So that their careful parents they beguile.”

42.

“O then, if ever thou hast breathed a vow

At Love’s dear portal, or at pale moon-rise

Crush’d the dear curl on a regardful brow,

That did not frown thee from thy honey prize —

If ever thy sweet son sat on thy thighs,

And wooed thee from thy careful thoughts within

To watch the harmless beauty of his eyes,

Or glad thy fingers on his smooth soft skin,

For Love’s dear sake, let us thy pity win!”

43.

Then Saturn fiercely thus:—“What joy have I

In tender babes, that have devour’d mine own,

Whenever to the light I heard them cry,

Till foolish Rhea cheated me with stone?

Whereon, till now, is my great hunger shown,

In monstrous dint of my enormous tooth;

And — but the peopled world is too full grown

For hunger’s edge — I would consume all youth

At one great meal, without delay or ruth!”

44.

“For I am well nigh crazed and wild to hear

How boastful fathers taunt me with their breed,

Saying, ‘We shall not die nor disappear,

But, in these other selves, ourselves succeed

Ev’n as ripe flowers pass into their seed

Only to be renew’d from prime to prime,’

All of which boastings I am forced to read,

Besides a thousand challenges to Time,

Which bragging lovers have compiled in rhyme.”

45.

“Wherefore, when they are sweetly met o’ nights,

There will I steal and with my hurried hand

Startle them suddenly from their delights

Before the next encounter hath been plann’d,

Ravishing hours in little minutes spann’d;

But when they say farewell, and grieve apart,

Then like a leaden statue I will stand,

Meanwhile their many tears encrust my dart,

And with a ragged edge cut heart from heart.”

46.

Then next a merry Woodsman, clad in green,

Step vanward from his mates, that idly stood

Each at his proper ease, as they had been

Nursed in the liberty of old Shérwood,

And wore the livery of Robin Hood,

Who wont in forest shades to dine and sup —

So came this chief right frankly, and made good

His haunch against his axe, and thus spoke up,

Doffing his cap, which was an acorn’s cup:—

47.

“We be small foresters and gay, who tend

On trees, and all their furniture of green,

Training the young boughs airily to bend,

And show blue snatches of the sky between; —

Or knit more close intricacies, to screen

Birds’ crafty dwellings, as may hide them best,

But most the timid blackbird’s — she that, seen,

Will bear black poisonous berries to her nest,

Lest man should cage the darlings of her breast.”

48.

“We bend each tree in proper attitude,

And founting willows train in silvery falls;

We frame all shady roofs and arches rude,

And verdant aisles leading to Dryads’ halls,

Or deep recesses where the Echo calls; —

We shape all plumy trees against the sky,

And carve tall elms’ Corinthian capitals —

When sometimes, as our tiny hatchets ply,

Men say, the tapping woodpecker is nigh.”

49.

“Sometimes we scoop the squirrel’s hollow cell,

And sometimes carve quaint letters on trees’ rind,

That haply some lone musing wight may spell

Dainty Aminta — Gentle Rosalind —

Or chastest Laura — sweetly call’d to mind

In sylvan solitudes, ere he lies down; —

And sometimes we enrich gray stems with twined

And vagrant ivy — or rich moss, whose brown

Burns into gold as the warm sun goes down.”

50.

“And, lastly, for mirth’s sake and Christmas cheer,

We bear the seedling berries, for increase,

To graft the Druid oaks, from year to year,

Careful that mistletoe may never cease; —

Wherefore, if thou dost prize the shady peace

Of sombre forests, or to see light break

Through sylvan cloisters, and in spring release

Thy spirit amongst leaves from careful ake,

Spare us our lives for the Green Dryad’s sake.”

51.

Then Saturn, with a frown:—“Go forth, and fell

Oak for your coffins, and thenceforth lay by

Your axes for the rust, and bid farewell

To all sweet birds, and the blue peeps of sky

Through tangled branches, for ye shall not spy

The next green generation of the tree;

But hence with the dead leaves, whene’e they fly —

Which in the bleak air I would rather see,

Than flights of the most tuneful birds that be.”

52.

“For I dislike all prime, and verdant pets,

Ivy except, that on the aged wall

Prays with its worm-like roots, and daily frets

The crumbled tower it seems to league withal,

King-like, worn down by its own coronal:—

Neither in forest haunts love I to won,

Before the golden plumage ‘gins to fall,

And leaves the brown bleak limbs with few leaves on,

Or bare — like Nature in her skeleton.”

53.

“For then sit I amongst the crooked boughs,

Wooing dull Memory with kindred sighs;

And there in rustling nuptials we espouse,

Smit by the sadness in each other’s eyes; —

But Hope must have green bowers and blue skies,

And must be courted with the gauds of Spring;

Whilst Youth leans god-like on her lap, and cries,

‘What shall we always do, but love and sing?’—

And Time is reckon’d a discarded thing.”

54.

Here in my dream it made me fret to see

How Puck, the antic, all this dreary while

Had blithely jested with calamity,

With mis-timed mirth mocking the doleful style

Of his sad comrades, till it raised my bile

To see him so reflect their grief aside,

Turning their solemn looks to have a smile —

Like a straight stick shown crooked in the tide; —

But soon a novel advocate I spied.

55.

Quoth he —“We teach all natures to fulfil

Their fore-appointed crafts, and instincts meet —

The bee’s sweet alchemy — the spider’s skill —

The pismire’s care to garner up his wheat —

And rustic masonry to swallows fleet —

The lapwing’s cunning to preserve her nest —

But most, that lesser pelican, the sweet

And shrilly ruddock, with its bleeding breast,

Its tender pity of poor babes distrest.”

56.

“Sometimes we cast our shapes, and in sleek skins

Delve with the timid mole, that aptly delves

From our example; so the spider spins,

And eke the silk-worm, pattern’d by ourselves:

Sometimes we travail on the summer shelves

Of early bees, and busy toils commence,

Watch’d of wise men, that know not we are elves,

But gaze and marvel at our stretch of sense,

And praise our human-like intelligence.”

57.

“Wherefore, by thy delight in that old tale,

And plaintive dirges the late robins sing,

What time the leaves are scatter’d by the gale,

Mindful of that old forest burying; —

As thou dost love to watch each tiny thing,

For whom our craft most curiously contrives,

If thou hast caught a bee upon the wing,

To take his honey-bag — spare us our lives,

And we will pay the ransom in full hives.”

58.

“Now by my glass,” quoth Time, “ye do offend

In teaching the brown bees that careful lore,

And frugal ants, whose millions would have end,

But they lay up for need a timely store,

And travail with the seasons evermore;

Whereas Great Mammoth long hath pass’d away,

And none but I can tell what hide he wore;

Whilst purblind men, the creatures of a day,

In riddling wonder his great bones survey.”

59.

Then came an elf, right beauteous to behold,

Whose coat was like a brooklet that the sun

Hath all embroider’d with its crooked gold,

It was so quaintly wrought and overrun

With spangled traceries — most meet for one

That was a warden of the pearly streams; —

And as he stept out of the shadows dun,

His jewels sparkled in the pale moon’s gleams,

And shot into the air their pointed beams.

60.

Quoth he — “We bear the gold and silver keys

Of bubbling springs and fountains, that below

Course thro’ the veiny earth — which when they freeze

Into hard crysolites, we bid to flow,

Creeping like subtle snakes, when, as they go,

We guide their windings to melodious falls,

At whose soft murmurings, so sweet and low,

Poets have tuned their smoothest madrigals,

To sing to ladies in their banquet-halls.”

61.

“And when the hot sun with his steadfast heat

Parches the river god — whose dusty urn

Drips miserly, till soon his crystal feet

Against his pebbly floor wax faint and burn

And languid fish, unpoised, grow sick and yearn —

Then scoop we hollows in some sandy nook,

And little channels dig, wherein we turn

The thread-worn rivulet, that all forsook

The Naiad-lily, pining for her brook.”

62.

“Wherefore, by thy delight in cool green meads,

With living sapphires daintily inlaid —

In all soft songs of waters and their reeds —

And all reflections in a streamlet made,

Haply of thy own love, that, disarray’d,

Kills the fair lily with a livelier white —

By silver trouts upspringing from green shade,

And winking stars reduplicate at night,

Spare us, poor ministers to such delight.”

63.

Howbeit his pleading and his gentle looks

Moved not the spiteful Shade:— Quoth he, “Your taste

Shoots wide of mine, for I despise the brooks

And slavish rivulets that run to waste

In noontide sweats, or, like poor vassals, haste

To swell the vast dominion of the sea,

In whose great presence I am held disgraced,

And neighbor’d with a king that rivals me

In ancient might and hoary majesty.”

64.

“Whereas I ruled in Chaos, and still keep

The awful secrets of that ancient dearth,

Before the briny fountains of the deep

Brimm’d up the hollow cavities of earth; —

I saw each trickling Sea-God at his birth,

Each pearly Naiad with her oozy locks,

And infant Titans of enormous girth,

Whose huge young feet yet stumbled on the rocks,

Stunning the early world with frequent shocks.”

65.

“Where now is Titan, with his cumbrous brood,

That scared the world? — By this sharp scythe they fell,

And half the sky was curdled with their blood:

So have all primal giants sigh’d farewell.

No wardens now by sedgy fountains dwell,

Nor pearly Naiads. All their days are done

That strove with Time, untimely, to excel;

Wherefore I razed their progenies, and none

But my great shadow intercepts the sun!”

66.

Then saith the timid Fay —“Oh, mighty Time!

Well hast thou wrought the cruel Titans’ fall,

For they were stain’d with many a bloody crime:

Great giants work great wrongs — but we are small,

For love goes lowly; — but Oppression’s tall,

And with surpassing strides goes foremost still

Where love indeed can hardly reach at all;

Like a poor dwarf o’erburthen’d with good will,

That labors to efface the tracks of ill. —”

67.

“Man even strives with Man, but we eschew

The guilty feud, and all fierce strifes abhor;

Nay, we are gentle as the sweet heaven’s dew,

Beside the red and horrid drops of war,

Weeping the cruel hates men battle for,

Which worldly bosoms nourish in our spite:

For in the gentle breast we ne’er withdraw,

But only when all love hath taken flight,

And youth’s warm gracious heart is hardened quite.”

68.

“So are our gentle natures intertwined

With sweet humanities, and closely knit

In kindly sympathy with human kind.

Witness how we befriend, with elfin wit,

All hopeless maids and lovers — nor omit

Magical succors unto hearts forlorn:—

We charm man’s life, and do not perish it; —

So judge us by the helps we showed this morn,

To one who held his wretched days in scorn.”

69.

“’Twas nigh sweet Amwell; — for the Queen had task’d

Our skill to-day amidst the silver Lea,

Whereon the noontide sun had not yet bask’d,

Wherefore some patient man we thought to see,

Planted in moss-grown rushes to the knee,

Beside the cloudy margin cold and dim; —

Howbeit no patient fisherman was he

That cast his sudden shadow from the brim,

Making us leave our toils to gaze on him.”

70.

“His face was ashy pale, and leaden care

Had sunk the levell’d arches of his brow,

Once bridges for his joyous thoughts to fare

Over those melancholy springs and slow,

That from his piteous eyes began to flow,

And fell anon into the chilly stream;

Which, as his mimick’d image show’d below,

Wrinkled his face with many a needless seam,

Making grief sadder in its own esteem.”

71.

“And lo! upon the air we saw him stretch

His passionate arms; and, in a wayward strain,

He ‘gan to elegize that fellow wretch

That with mute gestures answer’d him again,

Saying, ‘Poor slave, how long wilt thou remain

Life’s sad weak captive in a prison strong,

Hoping with tears to rust away thy chain,

In bitter servitude to worldly wrong? —

Thou wear’st that mortal livery too long!’”

72.

“This, with more spleenful speeches and some tears,

When he had spent upon the imaged wave,

Speedily I convened my elfin peers

Under the lily-cups, that we might save

This woeful mortal from a wilful grave

By shrewd diversions of his mind’s regret,

Seeing he was mere Melancholy’s slave,

That sank wherever a dark cloud he met,

And straight was tangled in her secret net.”

73.

“Therefore, as still he watch’d the water’s flow,

Daintily we transform’d, and with bright fins

Came glancing through the gloom; some from below

Rose like dim fancies when a dream begins,

Snatching the light upon their purple skins;

Then under the broad leaves made slow retire:

One like a golden galley bravely wins

Its radiant course — another glows like fire —

Making that wayward man our pranks admire.”

74.

“And so he banish’d thought, and quite forgot

All contemplation of that wretched face;

And so we wiled him from that lonely spot

Along the river’s brink; till, by heaven’s grace,

He met a gentle haunter of the place,

Full of sweet wisdom gather’d from the brooks,

Who there discuss’d his melancholy case

With wholesome texts learned from kind nature’s books,

Meanwhile he newly trimm’d his lines and hooks.”

75.

Herewith the Fairy ceased. Quoth Ariel now —

“Let me remember how I saved a man,

Whose fatal noose was fastened on a bough,

Intended to abridge his sad life’s span;

For haply I was by when he began

His stern soliloquy in life dispraise,

And overheard his melancholy plan,

How he had made a vow to end his days,

And therefore follow’d him in all his ways.”

76.

“Through brake and tangled copse, for much he loathed

All populous haunts, and roam’d in forests rude,

To hide himself from man. But I had clothed

My delicate limbs with plumes, and still pursued,

Where only foxes and wild cats intrude,

Till we were come beside an ancient tree

Late blasted by a storm. Here he renew’d

His loud complaints — choosing that spot to be

The scene of his last horrid tragedy.”

77.

“It was a wild and melancholy glen,

Made gloomy by tall firs and cypress dark,

Whose roots, like any bones of buried men,

Push’d through the rotten sod for fear’s remark;

A hundred horrid stems, jagged and stark,

Wrestled with crooked arms in hideous fray,

Besides sleek ashes with their dappled bark,

Like crafty serpents climbing for a prey,

With many blasted oaks moss-grown and gray.”

78.

“But here upon his final desperate clause

Suddenly I pronounced so sweet a strain,

Like a pang’d nightingale, it made him pause,

Till half the frenzy of his grief was slain,

The sad remainder oozing from his brain

In timely ecstasies of healing tears,

Which through his ardent eyes began to drain; —

Meanwhile the deadly Fates unclosed their shears:—

So pity me and all my fated peers!”

79.

Thus Ariel ended, and was some time hush’d:

When with the hoary shape a fresh tongue pleads,

And red as rose the gentle Fairy blush’d

To read the records of her own good deeds:—

“It chanced,” quoth she, “in seeking through the meads

For honied cowslips, sweetest in the morn,

Whilst yet the buds were hung with dewy beads.”

And Echo answered to the huntsman’s horn,

We found a babe left in the swaths forlorn.

80.

“A little, sorrowful, deserted thing,

Begot of love, and yet no love begetting;

Guiltless of shame, and yet for shame to wring;

And too soon banish’d from a mother’s petting,

To churlish nurture and the wide world’s fretting,

For alien pity and unnatural care; —

Alas! to see how the cold dew kept wetting

His childish coats, and dabbled all his hair,

Like gossamers across his forehead fair.”

81.

“His pretty pouting mouth, witless of speech,

Lay half-way open like a rose-lipp’d shell;

And his young cheek was softer than a peach,

Whereon his tears, for roundness, could not dwell,

But quickly roll’d themselves to pearls, and fell,

Some on the grass, and some against his hand,

Or haply wander’d to the dimpled well,

Which love beside his mouth had sweetly plann’d,

Yet not for tears, but mirth and smilings bland.”

82.

“Pity it was to see those frequent tears

Falling regardless from his friendless eyes;

There was such beauty in those twin blue spheres,

As any mother’s heart might leap to prize;

Blue were they, like the zenith of the skies

Softened betwixt two clouds, both clear and mild; —

Just touched with thought, and yet not over wise,

They show’d the gentle spirit of a child,

Not yet by care or any craft defiled.”

83.

“Pity it was to see the ardent sun

Scorching his helpless limbs — it shone so warm;

For kindly shade or shelter he had none,

Nor mother’s gentle breast, come fair or storm.

Meanwhile I bade my pitying mates transform

Like grasshoppers, and then, with shrilly cries,

All round the infant noisily we swarm,

Haply some passing rustic to advise —

Whilst providential Heaven our care espies.”

84.

“And sends full soon a tender-hearted hind,

Who, wond’ring at our loud unusual note,

Strays curiously aside, and so doth find

The orphan child laid in the grass remote,

And laps the foundling in his russet coat,

Who thence was nurtured in his kindly cot:—

But how he prosper’d let proud London quote,

How wise, how rich, and how renown’d he got,

And chief of all her citizens, I wot.”

85.

“Witness his goodly vessels on the Thames,

Whose holds were fraught with costly merchandise —

Jewels from Ind, and pearls for courtly dames,

And gorgeous silks that Samarcand supplies:

Witness that Royal Bourse he bade arise,

The mart of merchants from the East and West:

Whose slender summit, pointing to the skies,

Still bears, in token of his grateful breast,

The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest —”

86.

“The tender grasshopper, his chosen crest,

That all the summer, with a tuneful wing,

Makes merry chirpings in its grassy nest,

Inspirited with dew to leap and sing:—

So let us also live, eternal King!

Partakers of the green and pleasant earth:—

Pity it is to slay the meanest thing,

That, like a mote, shines in the smile of mirth:—

Enough there is of joy’s decrease and dearth!”

87.

“Enough of pleasure, and delight, and beauty,

Perish’d and gone, and hasting to decay; —

Enough to sadden even thee, whose duty

Or spite it is to havoc and to slay:

Too many a lovely race razed quite away,

Hath left large gaps in life and human loving; —

Here then begin thy cruel war to stay,

And spare fresh sighs, and tears, and groans, reproving

Thy desolating hand for our removing.”

88.

Now here I heard a shrill and sudden cry,

And, looking up, I saw the antic Puck

Grappling with Time, who clutch’d him like a fly,

Victim of his own sport — the jester’s luck!

He, whilst his fellows grieved, poor wight, had stuck

His freakish gauds upon the Ancient’s brow,

And now his ear, and now his beard, would pluck;

Whereas the angry churl had snatched him now,

Crying, “Thou impish mischief, who art thou?”

89.

“Alas!” quoth Puck, “a little random elf,

Born in the sport of nature, like a weed,

For simple sweet enjoyment of myself,

But for no other purpose, worth, or need;

And yet withal of a most happy breed;

And there is Robin Goodfellow besides,

My partner dear in many a prankish deed

To make dame Laughter hold her jolly sides,

Like merry mummers twain on holy tides.”

90.

“’Tis we that bob the angler’s idle cork,

Till e’en the patient man breathes half a curse;

We steal the morsel from the gossip’s fork,

And curdling looks with secret straws disperse,

Or stop the sneezing chanter at mid verse:

And when an infant’s beauty prospers ill,

We change, some mothers say, the child at nurse:

But any graver purpose to fulfil,

We have not wit enough, and scarce the will.”

91.

“We never let the canker melancholy

To gather on our faces like a rust,

But glass our features with some change of folly,

Taking life’s fabled miseries on trust,

But only sorrowing when sorrow must:

We ruminate no sage’s solemn cud,

But own ourselves a pinch of lively dust

To frisk upon a wind — whereas the flood

Of tears would turn us into heavy mud.”

92.

“Beshrew those sad interpreters of nature,

Who gloze her lively universal law,

As if she had not form’d our cheerful feature

To be so tickled with the slightest straw!

So let them vex their mumbling mouths, and draw

The corners downward, like a wat’ry moon,

And deal in gusty sighs and rainy flaw —

We will not woo foul weather all too soon,

Or nurse November on the lap of June.”

93.

“For ours are winging sprites, like any bird,

That shun all stagnant settlements of grief;

And even in our rest our hearts are stirr’d,

Like insects settled on a dancing leaf:—

This is our small philosophy in brief,

Which thus to teach hath set me all agape:

But dost thou relish it? O hoary chief!

Unclasp thy crooked fingers from my nape,

And I will show thee many a pleasant scrape.”

94.

Then Saturn thus:— shaking his crooked blade

O’erhead, which made aloft a lightning flash

In all the fairies’ eyes, dismally fray’d!

His ensuing voice came like the thunder crash —

Meanwhile the bolt shatters some pine or ash —

“Thou feeble, wanton, foolish, fickle thing!

Whom nought can frighten, sadden, or abash —

To hope my solemn countenance to wring

To idiot smiles! — but I will prune thy wing!”

95.

“Lo! this most awful handle of my scythe

Stood once a May-pole, with a flowery crown,

Which rustics danced around, and maidens blithe,

To wanton pipings; — but I pluck’d it down,

And robed the May Queen in a churchyard gown,

Turning her buds to rosemary and rue;

And all their merry minstrelsy did drown,

And laid each lusty leaper in the dew; —

So thou shalt fare — and every jovial crew!”

96.

Here he lets go the struggling imp, to clutch.

His mortal engine with each grisly hand,

Which frights the elfin progeny so much,

They huddle in a heap, and trembling stand

All round Titania, like the queen bee’s band,

With sighs and tears and very shrieks of woe! —

Meanwhile, some moving argument I plann’d,

To make the stern Shade merciful — when lo!

He drops his fatal scythe without a blow!

97.

For, just at need, a timely Apparition

Steps in between, to bear the awful brunt;

Making him change his horrible position,

To marvel at this comer, brave and blunt,

That dares Time’s irresistible affront,

Whose strokes have scarr’d even the gods of old; —

Whereas this seem’d a mortal, at mere hunt

For coneys, lighted by the moonshine cold,

Or stalker of stray deer, stealthy and bold.

98.

Who, turning to the small assembled fays,

Doffs to the lily queen his courteous cap,

And holds her beauty for a while in gaze,

With bright eyes kindling at this pleasant hap;

And thence upon the fair moon’s silver map,

As if in question of this magic chance,

Laid like a dream upon the green earth’s lap;

And then upon old Saturn turns askance,

Exclaiming, with a glad and kindly glance:—

99.

“Oh, these be Fancy’s revelers by night!

Stealthy companions of the downy moth —

Diana’s motes, that flit in her pale light,

Shunners of sunbeams in diurnal sloth; —

These be the feasters on night’s silver cloth; —

The gnat with shrilly trump is their convener,

Forth from their flowery chambers, nothing loth,

With lulling tunes to charm the air serener,

Or dance upon the grass to make it greener.”

100.

“These be the pretty genii of the flow’rs,

Daintily fed with honey and pure dew —

Midsummer’s phantoms in her dreaming hours,

King Oberon, and all his merry crew,

The darling puppets of romance’s view;

Fairies, and sprites, and goblin elves we call them,

Famous for patronage of lovers true; —

No harm they act, neither shall harm befall them,

So do not thus with crabbed frowns appal them.”

101.

O what a cry was Saturn’s then! — it made

The fairies quake. “What care I for their pranks,

However they may lovers choose to aid,

Or dance their roundelays on flow’ry banks? —

Long must they dance before they earn my thanks —

So step aside, to some far safer spot,

Whilst with my hungry scythe I mow their ranks,

And leave them in the sun, like weeds, to rot,

And with the next day’s sun to be forgot.”

102.

Anon, he raised afresh his weapon keen;

But still the gracious Shade disarm’d his aim,

Stepping with brave alacrity between,

And made his sore arm powerless and tame.

His be perpetual glory, for the shame

Of hoary Saturn in that grand defeat! —

But I must tell how here Titania, came

With all her kneeling lieges, to entreat

His kindly succor, in sad tones, but sweet.

103.

Saying, “Thou seest a wretched queen before thee,

The fading power of a failing land,

Who for a kingdom kneeleth to implore thee,

Now menaced by this tyrant’s spoiling hand;

No one but thee can hopefully withstand

That crooked blade, he longeth so to lift.

I pray thee blind him with his own vile sand,

Which only times all ruins by its drift,

Or prune his eagle wings that are so swift.”

104.

“Or take him by that sole and grizzled tuft,

That hangs upon his bald and barren crown;

And we will sing to see him so rebuff’d,

And lend our little mights to pull him down,

And make brave sport of his malicious frown,

For all his boastful mockery o’er men.

For thou wast born, I know, for this renown,

By my most magical and inward ken,

That readeth ev’n at Fate’s forestalling pen.”

105.

“Nay, by the golden lustre of thine eye,

And by thy brow’s most fair and ample span,

Thought’s glorious palace, framed for fancies high,

And by thy cheek thus passionately wan,

I know the signs of an immortal man —

Nature’s chief darling, and illustrious mate,

Destined to foil old Death’s oblivious plan,

And shine untarnish’d by the fogs of Fate,

Time’s famous rival till the final date!”

106.

“O shield us then from this usurping Time,

And we will visit thee in moonlight dreams;

And teach thee tunes, to wed unto thy rhyme,

And dance about thee in all midnight gleams,

Giving thee glimpses of our magic schemes,

Such as no mortal’s eye hath ever seen;

And, for thy love to us in our extremes,

Will ever keep thy chaplet fresh and green,

Such as no poet’s wreath hath ever been!”

107.

“And we’ll distil thee aromatic dews,

To charm thy sense, when there shall be no flow’rs;

And flavor’d syrups in thy drinks infuse,

And teach the nightingale to haunt thy bow’rs,

And with our games divert thy weariest hours,

With all that elfin wits can e’er devise.

And, this churl dead, there’ll be no hasting hours

To rob thee of thy joys, as now joy flies”:—

Here she was stopp’d by Saturn’s furious cries.

108.

Whom, therefore, the kind Shade rebukes anew,

Saying, “Thou haggard Sin, go forth, and scoop

Thy hollow coffin in some churchyard yew,

Or make th’ autumnal flow’rs turn pale, and droop;

Or fell the bearded corn, till gleaners stoop

Under fat sheaves — or blast the piny grove; —

But here thou shall not harm this pretty group,

Whose lives are not so frail and feebly wove,

But leased on Nature’s loveliness and love.”

109.

“’Tis these that free the small entangled fly,

Caught in the venom’d spider’s crafty snare; —

These be the petty surgeons that apply

The healing balsams to the wounded hare,

Bedded in bloody fern, no creature’s care! —

These be providers for the orphan brood,

Whose tender mother hath been slain in air,

Quitting with gaping bill her darling’s food,

Hard by the verge of her domestic wood.”

110.

“’Tis these befriend the timid trembling stag,

When, with a bursting heart beset with fears,

He feels his saving speed begin to flag;

For then they quench the fatal taint with tears,

And prompt fresh shifts in his alarum’d ears,

So piteously they view all bloody morts;

Or if the gunner, with his arms, appears,

Like noisy pyes and jays, with harsh reports,

They warn the wild fowl of his deadly sports.”

111.

“For these are kindly ministers of nature,

To soothe all covert hurts and dumb distress;

Pretty they be, and very small of stature —

For mercy still consorts with littleness; —

Wherefore the sum of good is still the less,

And mischief grossest in this world of wrong; —

So do these charitable dwarfs redress

The tenfold ravages of giants strong,

To whom great malice and great might belong.”

112.

“Likewise to them are Poets much beholden

For secret favors in the midnight glooms;

Brave Spenser quaff’d out of their goblets golden,

And saw their tables spread of prompt mushrooms,

And heard their horns of honeysuckle blooms

Sounding upon the air most soothing soft,

Like humming bees busy about the brooms —

And glanced this fair queen’s witchery full oft,

And in her magic wain soar’d far aloft.”

113.

“Nay I myself, though mortal, once was nursed

By fairy gossips, friendly at my birth,

And in my childish ear glib Mab rehearsed

Her breezy travels round our planet’s girth,

Telling me wonders of the moon and earth;

My gramarye at her grave lap I conn’d,

Where Puck hath been convened to make me mirth;

I have had from Queen Titania tokens fond,

And toy’d with Oberon’s permitted wand.”

114.

“With figs and plums and Persian dates they fed me,

And delicate cates after my sunset meal,

And took me by my childish hand, and led me

By craggy rocks crested with keeps of steel,

Whose awful bases deep dark woods conceal,

Staining some dead lake with their verdant dyes.

And when the West sparkled at Phoebus’ wheel,

With fairy euphrasy they purged mine eyes,

To let me see their cities in the skies.”

115.

“’Twas they first school’d my young imagination

To take its flights like any new-fledged bird,

And show’d the span of winged meditation

Stretch’d wider than things grossly seen or heard.

With sweet swift Ariel how I soar’d and stirr’d

The fragrant blooms of spiritual bow’rs!

’Twas they endear’d what I have still preferr’d,

Nature’s blest attributes and balmy pow’rs,

Her hills and vales and brooks, sweet birds and flow’rs.”

116.

“Wherefore with all true loyalty and duty

Will I regard them in my honoring rhyme,

With love for love, and homages to beauty,

And magic thoughts gather’d in night’s cool clime,

With studious verse trancing the dragon Time,

Strong as old Merlin’s necromantic spells;

So these dear monarchs of the summer’s prime

Shall live unstartled by his dreadful yells,

Till shrill larks warn them to their flowery cells.”

117.

Look how a poison’d man turns livid black,

Drugg’d with a cup of deadly hellebore,

That sets his horrid features all at rack —

So seem’d these words into the ear to pour

Of ghastly Saturn, answering with a roar

Of mortal pain and spite and utmost rage,

Wherewith his grisly arm he raised once more,

And bade the cluster’d sinews all engage,

As if at one fell stroke to wreck an age.

118.

Whereas the blade flash’d on the dinted ground,

Down through his steadfast foe, yet made no scar

On that immortal Shade, or death-like wound;

But Time was long benumb’d, and stood ajar,

And then with baffled rage took flight afar,

To weep his hurt in some Cimmerian gloom,

Or meaner fames (like mine) to mock and mar,

Or sharp his scythe for royal strokes of doom,

Whetting its edge on some old Cæsar’s tomb.

119.

Howbeit he vanish’d in the forest shade,

Distantly heard as if some grumbling pard,

And, like Nymph Echo, to a sound decay’d; —

Meanwhile the fays cluster’d the gracious Bard,

The darling centre of their dear regard:

Besides of sundry dances on the green,

Never was mortal man so brightly starr’d,

Or won such pretty homages, I ween.

“Nod to him, Elves!” cries the melodious queen.

120.

“Nod to him, Elves, and flutter round about him,

And quite enclose him with your pretty crowd,

And touch him lovingly, for that, without him,

The silkworm now had spun our dreary shroud; —

But he hath all dispersed Death’s tearful cloud,

And Time’s dread effigy scared quite away:

Bow to him then, as though to me ye bow’d,

And his dear wishes prosper and obey

Wherever love and wit can find a way!”

121.

“‘Noint him with fairy dews of magic savors,

Shaken from orient buds still pearly wet,

Roses and spicy pinks — and, of all favors,

Plant in his walks the purple violet,

And meadow-sweet under the hedges set,

To mingle breaths with dainty eglantine

And honeysuckles sweet — nor yet forget

Some pastoral flowery chaplets to entwine,

To vie the thoughts about his brow benign!”

122.

“Let no wild things astonish him or fear him,

But tell them all how mild he is of heart,

Till e’en the timid hares go frankly near him,

And eke the dappled does, yet never start;

Nor shall their fawns into the thickets dart,

Nor wrens forsake their nests among the leaves,

Nor speckled thrushes flutter far apart; —

But bid the sacred swallow haunt his eaves,

To guard his roof from lightning and from thieves.”

123.

“Or when he goes the nimble squirrel’s visitor,

Let the brown hermit bring his hoarded nuts,

For, tell him, this is Nature’s kind Inquisitor —

Though man keeps cautious doors that conscience shuts,

For conscious wrong all curious quest rebuts —

Nor yet shall bees uncase their jealous stings,

However he may watch their straw-built huts; —

So let him learn the crafts of all small things,

Which he will hint most aptly when he sings.”

124.

Here she leaves off, and with a graceful hand

Waves thrice three splendid circles round his head;

Which, though deserted by the radiant wand,

Wears still the glory which her waving shed,

Such as erst crown’d the old Apostle’s head,

To show the thoughts there harbor’d were divine,

And on immortal contemplations fed:—

Goodly it was to see that glory shine

Around a brow so lofty and benign! —

125.

Goodly it was to see the elfin brood

Contend for kisses of his gentle hand,

That had their mortal enemy withstood,

And stay’d their lives, fast ebbing with the sand.

Long while this strife engaged the pretty band;

But now bold Chanticleer, from farm to farm,

Challenged the dawn creeping o’er eastern land,

And well the fairies knew that shrill alarm,

Which sounds the knell of every elfish charm.

126.

And soon the rolling mist, that ‘gan arise

From plashy mead and undiscover’d stream,

Earth’s morning incense to the early skies,

Crept o’er the failing landscape of my dream.

Soon faded then the Phantom of my theme —

A shapeless shade, that fancy disavowed,

And shrank to nothing in the mist extreme,

Then flew Titania — and her little crowd,

Like flocking linnets, vanished in a cloud.

The opening Poem in the volume published by Hood in 1827, under the same title. The Poem was prefaced by the following letter to Charles Lamb:—

“My dear Friend, I thank my literary fortune that I am not reduced like many better wits to barter dedications, for the hope or promise of patronage, with some nominally great man; but that where true affection points, and honest respect, I am free to gratify my head and heart by a sincere inscription. An intimacy and dearness, worthy of a much earlier date than our acquaintance can refer to, direct me at once to your name; and with this acknowledgment of your ever kind feeling towards me, I desire to record a respect and admiration for you as a writer, which no one acquainted with our literature, save Elia himself, will think disproportionate or misplaced. If I had not these better reasons to govern me, I should be guided to the same selection by your intense yet critical relish for the works of the great Dramatist, and for that favorite play in particular which has furnished the subject of my verses.

It is my design in the following poem to celebrate by an allegory that immortality which Shakspeare has conferred on the fairy mythology by his Midsummer Night’s Dream. But for him, those pretty children of our childhood would leave barely their names to our maturer years; they belong, as the mites upon the plumb, to the bloom of fancy, a thing generally too frail and beautiful to withstand the rude handling of time: but the Poet has made this most perishable part of the mind’s creation equal to the most enduring; he has so intertwined the Elfins with human sympathies, and linked them by so many delightful associations with the productions of nature, that they are as real to the mind’s eye, as their green magical circles to the outer sense. It would have been a pity for such a race to go extinct, even though they were but as the butterflies that hover about the leaves and blossoms of the visible world. I am, my dear friend, yours most truly,

T. HOOD.”

Hero and Leander.

To S. T. Coleridge.

It is not with a hope my feeble praise

Can add one moment’s honor to thy own,

That with thy mighty name I grace these lays;

I seek to glorify myself alone:

For that some precious favor thou hast shown

To my endeavor in a bygone time,

And by this token I would have it known

Thou art my friend, and friendly to my rhyme!

It is my dear ambition now to climb

Still higher in thy thought — if my bold pen

May thrust on contemplations more sublime. —

But I am thirsty for thy praise, for when

We gain applauses from the great in name,

We seem to be partakers of their fame.

1.

Oh Bards of old! What sorrows have ye sung,

And tragic stories, chronicled in stone —

Sad Philomel restored her ravish’d tongue,

And transform’d Niobe in dumbness shown;

Sweet Sappho on her love forever calls,

And Hero on the drown’d Leander falls!

2.

Was it that spectacles of sadder plights

Should make our blisses relish the more high?

Then all fair dames, and maidens, and true knights,

Whose flourish’d fortunes prosper in Love’s eye,

Weep here, unto a tale of ancient grief,

Traced from the course of an old bas-relief.

3.

There stands Abydos! — here is Sestos’ steep,

Hard by the gusty margin of the sea,

Where sprinkling waves continually do leap;

And that is where those famous lovers be,

A builded gloom shot up into the gray,

As if the first tall watch-tow’r of the day.

4.

Lo! how the lark soars upward and is gone;

Turning a spirit as he nears the sky,

His voice is heard, though body there is none,

And rain-like music scatters from on high;

But Love would follow with a falcon spite,

To pluck the minstrel from his dewy height.

5.

For Love hath framed a ditty of regrets,

Tuned to the hollow sobbings on the shore,

A vexing sense, that with like music frets,

And chimes this dismal burthen o’er and o’er,

Saying, Leander’s joys are past and spent,

Like stars extinguish’d in the firmament.

6.

For ere the golden crevices of morn

Let in those regal luxuries of light,

Which all the variable east adorn,

And hang rich fringes on the skirts of night,

Leander, weaning from sweet Hero’s side,

Must leave a widow where he found a bride.

7.

Hark! how the billows beat upon the sand!

Like pawing steeds impatient of delay;

Meanwhile their rider, ling’ring on the land,

Dallies with love, and holds farewell at bay

A too short span. — How tedious slow is grief!

But parting renders time both sad and brief.

8.

“Alas!” (he sigh’d), “that this first glimpsing light,

Which makes the wide world tenderly appear,

Should be the burning signal for my flight

From all the world’s best image, which is here;

Whose very shadow, in my fond compare,

Shines far more bright than Beauty’s self elsewhere.”

9.

Their cheeks are white as blossoms of the dark,

Whose leaves close up and show the outward pale,

And those fair mirrors where their joys did spark,

All dim and tarnish’d with a dreary veil,

No more to kindle till the night’s return,

Like stars replenish’d at Joy’s golden urn.

10.

Ev’n thus they creep into the spectral gray,

That cramps the landscape in its narrow brim,

As when two shadows by old Lethe stray,

He clasping her, and she entwining him;

Like trees, wind-parted, that embrace anon —

True love so often goes before ’tis gone.

11.

For what rich merchant but will pause in fear,

To trust his wealth to the unsafe abyss?

So Hero dotes upon her treasure here,

And sums the loss with many an anxious kiss,

Whilst her fond eyes grow dizzy in her head,

Fear aggravating fear with shows of dread.

12.

She thinks how many have been sunk and drown’d,

And spies their snow-white bones below the deep,

Then calls huge congregated monsters round,

And plants a rock wherever he would leap;

Anon she dwells on a fantastic dream,

Which she interprets of that fatal stream.

13.

Saying, “That honied fly I saw was thee,

Which lighted on a water-lily’s cup,

When, lo! the flower, enamor’d of my bee,

Closed on him suddenly and lock’d him up,

And he was smother’d in her drenching dew;

Therefore this day thy drowning I shall rue.”

14.

But next, remembering her virgin fame,

She clips him in her arms and bids him go,

But seeing him break loose, repents her shame,

And plucks him back upon her bosom’s snow;

And tears unfix her iced resolve again,

As steadfast frosts are thaw’d by show’rs of rain.

15.

O for a type of parting! — Love to love

Is like the fond attraction of two spheres,

Which needs a godlike effort to remove,

And then sink down their sunny atmospheres,

In rain and darkness on each ruin’d heart,

Nor yet their melodies will sound apart.

16.

So brave Leander sunders from his bride;

The wrenching pang disparts his soul in twain;

Half stays with her, half goes towards the tide —

And life must ache, until they join again.

Now wouldst thou know the wideness of the wound? —

Mete every step he takes upon the ground.

17.

And for the agony and bosom-throe,

Let it be measured by the wide vast air,

For that is infinite, and so is woe,

Since parted lovers breathe it everywhere.

Look how it heaves Leander’s laboring chest,

Panting, at poise, upon a rocky crest!

18.

From which he leaps into the scooping brine,

That shocks his bosom with a double chill;

Because, all hours, till the slow sun’s decline,

That cold divorcer will be ’twixt them still;

Wherefore he likens it to Styx’ foul tide,

Where life grows death upon the other side.

19.

Then sadly he confronts his twofold toil

Against rude waves and an unwilling mind,

Wishing, alas! with the stout rower’s toil,

That like a rower he might gaze behind,

And watch that lonely statue he hath left,

On her bleak summit, weeping and bereft!

20.

Yet turning oft, he sees her troubled locks

Pursue him still the furthest that they may;

Her marble arms that overstretch the rocks,

And her pale passion’d hands that seem to pray

In dumb petition to the gods above:

Love prays devoutly when it prays for love!

21.

Then with deep sighs he blows away the wave,

That hangs superfluous tears upon his cheek,

And bans his labor like a hopeless slave,

That, chain’d in hostile galley, faint and weak,

Plies on despairing through the restless foam,

Thoughtful of his lost love, and far-off home.

22.

The drowsy mist before him chill and dank,

Like a dull lethargy o’erleans the sea,

When he rows on against the utter blank,

Steering as if to dim eternity —

Like Love’s frail ghost departing with the dawn;

A failing shadow in the twilight drawn.

23.

And soon is gone — or nothing but a faint

And failing image in the eye of thought,

That mocks his model with an after-paint,

And stains an atom like the shape she sought;

Then with her earnest vows she hopes to fee

The old and hoary majesty of sea.

24.

“O King of waves, and brother of high Jove,

Preserve my sumless venture there afloat;

A woman’s heart, and its whole wealth of love,

Are all embark’d upon that little boat;

Nay! — but two loves, two lives, a double fate —

A perilous voyage for so dear a freight.”

25.

“If impious mariners be stain’d with crime,

Shake not in awful rage thy hoary locks;

Lay by thy storms until another time,

Lest my frail bark be dash’d against the rocks:

O rather smooth thy deeps, that he may fly

Like Love himself, upon a seeming sky!”

26.

“Let all thy herded monsters sleep beneath,

Nor gore him with crook’d tusks, or wreathëd horns;

Let no fierce sharks destroy him with their teeth,

Nor spine-fish wound him with their venom’d thorns;

But if he faint, and timely succor lack,

Let ruthful dolphins rest him on their back.”

27.

“Let no false dimpling whirlpools suck him in,

Nor slimy quicksands smother his sweet breath;

Let no jagg’d corals tear his tender skin,

Nor mountain billows bury him in death”; —

And with that thought forestalling her own fears,

She drowned his painted image in her tears.

28.

By this, the climbing Sun, with rest repair’d,

Look’d through the gold embrasures of the sky,

And ask’d the drowsy world how she had fared; —

The drowsy world shone brighten’d in reply;

And smiling off her fogs, his slanting beam

Spied young Leander in the middle stream.

31.

His face was pallid, but the hectic morn

Had hung a lying crimson on his cheeks,

And slanderous sparkles in his eyes forlorn;

So death lies ambush’d in consumptive streaks;

But inward grief was writhing o’er its task,

As heart-sick jesters weep behind the mask.

30.

He thought of Hero and the lost delight,

Her last embracings, and the space between;

He thought of Hero and the future night,

Her speechless rapture and enamor’d mien,

When, lo! before him, scarce two galleys’ space,

His thoughts confronted with another face!

31.

Her aspect’s like a moon, divinely fair,

But makes the midnight darker that it lies on;

’Tis so beclouded with her coal-black hair

That densely skirts her luminous horizon,

Making her doubly fair, thus darkly set,

As marble lies advantaged upon jet.

32.

She’s all too bright, too argent, and too pale,

To be a woman; — but a woman’s double,

Reflected, on the wave so faint and frail,

She tops the billows like an air-blown bubble;

Or dim creation of a morning dream,

Fair as the wave-bleached lily of the stream.

33.

The very rumor strikes his seeing dead:

Great beauty like great fear first stuns the sense:

He knows not if her lips be blue or red,

Nor of her eyes can give true evidence:

Like murder’s witness swooning in the court,

His sight falls senseless by its own report.

34.

Anon resuming, it declares her eyes

Are tint with azure, like two crystal wells

That drink the blue complexion of the skies,

Or pearls outpeeping from their silvery shells:

Her polish’d brow, it is an ample plain,

To lodge vast contemplations of the main.

35.

Her lips might corals seem, but corals near

Stray through her hair like blossoms on a bower;

And o’er the weaker red still domineer,

And make it pale by tribute to more power;

Her rounded cheeks are of still paler hue,

Touch’d by the bloom of water, tender blue.

36.

Thus he beholds her rocking on the water,

Under the glossy umbrage of her hair,

Like pearly Amphitrite’s fairest daughter,

Naiad, or Nereid — or Syren fair,

Mislodging music in her pitiless breast,

A nightingale within a falcon’s nest.

37.

They say there be such maidens in the deep,

Charming poor mariners, that all too near

By mortal lullabies fall dead asleep,

As drowsy men are poison’d through the ear;

Therefore Leander’s fears begin to urge,

This snowy swan is come to sing his dirge.

38.

At which he falls into a deadly chill,

And strains his eyes upon her lips apart;

Fearing each breath to feel that prelude shrill,

Pierce through his marrow, like a breath-blown dart

Shot sudden from an Indian’s hollow cane,

With mortal venom fraught, and fiery pain.

39.

Here then, poor wretch, how he begins to crowd

A thousand thoughts within a pulse’s space;

There seem’d so brief a pause of life allow’d,

His mind stretch’d universal, to embrace

The whole wide world, in an extreme farewell —

A moment’s musing — but an age to tell.

40.

For there stood Hero, widow’d at a glance,

The foreseen sum of many a tedious fact,

Pale cheeks, dim eyes, and wither’d countenance,

A wasted ruin that no wasting lack’d;

Time’s tragic consequents ere time began,

A world of sorrow in a tear-drop’s span.

41.

A moment’s thinking is an hour in words —

An hour of words is little for some woes;

Too little breathing a long life affords

For love to paint itself by perfect shows;

Then let his love and grief unwrong’d lie dumb,

Whilst Fear, and that it fears, together come.

42.

As when the crew, hard by some jutty cape,

Struck pale and panick’d by the billow’s roar,

Lay by all timely measures of escape,

And let their bark go driving on the shore;

So fray’d Leander, drifting to his wreck,

Gazing on Scylla, falls upon her neck.

43.

For he hath all forgot the swimmer’s art,

The rower’s cunning, and the pilot’s skill,

Letting his arms fall down in languid part,

Sway’d by the waves, and nothing by his will,

Till soon he jars against that glossy skin,

Solid like glass, though seemingly as thin.

44.

Lo! how she startles at the warning shock,

And straightway girds him to her radiant breast,

More like his safe smooth harbor than his rock;

Poor wretch, he is so faint and toil-opprest,

He cannot loose him from his grappling foe,

Whether for love or hate, she lets not go.

45.

His eyes are blinded with the sleety brine,

His ears are deafen’d with the wildering noise;

He asks the purpose of her fell design,

But foamy waves choke up his struggling voice;

Under the ponderous sea his body dips,

And Hero’s name dies bubbling on his lips.

46.

Look how a man is lower’d to his grave —

A yearning hollow in the green earth’s lap;

So he is sunk into the yawning wave —

The plunging sea fills up the watery gap;

Anon he is all gone, and nothing seen

But likeness of green turf and hillocks green.

47.

And where he swam, the constant sun lies sleeping,

Over the verdant plain that makes his bed;

And all the noisy waves go freshly leaping.

Like gamesome boys over the churchyard dead;

The light in vain keeps looking for his face:—

Now screaming sea-fowl settle in his place.

48.

Yet weep and watch for him, though all in vain!

Ye moaning billows, seek him as ye wander!

Ye gazing sunbeams, look for him again!

Ye winds, grow hoarse with asking for Leander!

Ye did but spare him for more cruel rape,

Sea-storm and ruin in a female shape!

49.

She says ’tis love hath bribed her to this deed,

The glancing of his eyes did so bewitch her.

O bootless theft! unprofitable meed!

Love’s treasury is sack’d, but she no richer;

The sparkles of his eyes are cold and dead,

And all his golden looks are turn’d to lead!

50.

She holds the casket, but her simple hand

Hath spill’d its dearest jewel by the way;

She hath life’s empty garment at command,

But her own death lies covert in the prey;

As if a thief should steal a tainted vest,

Some dead man’s spoil, and sicken of his pest.

51.

Now she compels him to her deeps below,

Hiding his face beneath her plenteous hair,

Which jealously she shakes all round her brow,

For dread of envy, though no eyes are there

But seals’, and all brute tenants of the deep,

Which heedless through the wave their journeys keep.

52.

Down and still downward through the dusky green

She bore him, murmuring with joyous haste

In too rash ignorance, as he had been

Born to the texture of that watery waste;

That which she breathed and sigh’d, the emerald wave,

How could her pleasant home become his grave!

53.

Down and still downward through the dusky green

She bore her treasure, with a face too nigh

To mark how life was alter’d in its mien,

Or how the light grew torpid in his eye,

Or how his pearly breath, unprison’d there,

Flew up to join the universal air.

54.

She could not miss the throbbings of his heart,

Whilst her own pulse so wanton’d in its joy;

She could not guess he struggled to depart,

And when he strove no more, the hapless boy!

She read his mortal stillness for content,

Feeling no fear where only love was meant.

55.

Soon she alights upon her ocean-floor,

And straight unyokes her arms from her fair prize;

Then on his lovely face begins to pore,

As if to glut her soul; — her hungry eyes

Have grown so jealous of her arms’ delight;

It seems she hath no other sense but sight.

56.

But O sad marvel! O most bitter strange!

What dismal magic makes his cheek so pale?

Why will he not embrace — why not exchange

Her kindly kisses; — wherefore not exhale

Some odorous message from life’s ruby gates,

Where she his first sweet embassy awaits?

57.

Her eyes, poor watchers, fix’d upon his looks,

Are grappled with a wonder near to grief,

As one, who pores on undecipher’d books,

Strains vain surmise, and dodges with belief;

So she keeps gazing with a mazy thought,

Framing a thousand doubts that end in nought.

58.

Too stern inscription for a page so young,

The dark translation of his look was death!

But death was written in an alien tongue,

And learning was not by to give it breath;

So one deep woe sleeps buried in its seal,

Which Time, untimely, hasteth to reveal.

59.

Meanwhile she sits unconscious of her hap,

Nursing Death’s marble effigy, which there

With heavy head lies pillow’d in her lap,

And elbows all unhinged; — his sleeking hair

Creeps o’er her knees, and settles where his hand

Leans with lax fingers crook’d against the sand;

60.

And there lies spread in many an oozy trail,

Like glossy weeds hung from a chalky base,

That shows no whiter than his brow is pale;

So soon the wintry death had bleach’d his face

Into cold marble — with blue chilly shades,

Showing wherein the freezy blood pervades.

61.

And o’er his steadfast cheek a furrow’d pain

Hath set, and stiffened like a storm in ice,

Showing by drooping lines the deadly strain

Of mortal anguish; — yet you might gaze twice

Ere Death it seem’d, and not his cousin, Sleep,

That through those creviced lids did underpeep.

62.

But all that tender bloom about his eyes,

Is Death’s own violets, which his utmost rite

It is to scatter when the red rose dies;

For blue is chilly, and akin to white:

Also he leaves some tinges on his lips,

Which he hath kiss’d with such cold frosty nips.

63.

“Surely,” quoth she, “he sleeps, the senseless thing,

Oppress’d and faint with toiling in the stream!”

Therefore she will not mar his rest, but sing

So low, her tune shall mingle with his dream;

Meanwhile, her lily fingers task to twine

His uncrispt locks uncurling in the brine.

64.

“O lovely boy!”— thus she attuned her voice —

“Welcome, thrice welcome, to a sea-maid’s home,

My love-mate thou shalt be, and true heart’s choice;

How have I long’d such a twin-self should come —

A lonely thing, till this sweet chance befell,

My heart kept sighing like a hollow shell.”

65.

“Here thou shalt live, beneath this secret dome,

An ocean-bow’r, defended by the shade

Of quiet waters, a cool emerald gloom

To lap thee all about. Nay, be not fray’d,

Those are but shady fishes that sail by

Like antic clouds across my liquid sky!”

66.

“Look how the sunbeam burns upon their scales,

And shows rich glimpses of their Tyrian skins;

They flash small lightnings from their vigorous tails,

And winking stars are kindled at their fins;

These shall divert thee in thy weariest mood,

And seek thy hand for gamesomeness and food.”

67.

“Lo! those green pretty leaves with tassel bells,

My flow’rets those, that never pine for drouth;

Myself did plant them in the dappled shells,

That drink the wave with such a rosy mouth —

Pearls wouldst thou have beside? crystals to shine?

I had such treasures once — now they are thine.”

68.

“Now, lay thine ear against this golden sand,

And thou shalt hear the music of the sea,

Those hollow tunes it plays against the land —

Is’t not a rich and wondrous melody?

I have lain hours, and fancied in its tone

I heard the languages of ages gone!”

69.

“I too can sing when it shall please thy choice,

And breathe soft tunes through a melodious shell,

Though heretofore I have but set my voice

To some long sighs, grief-harmonized, to tell

How desolate I fared; — but this sweet change

Will add new notes of gladness to my range!”

70.

“Or bid me speak, and I will tell thee tales,

Which I have framed out of the noise of waves;

Ere now I have communed with senseless gales,

And held vain colloquies with barren caves;

But I could talk to thee whole days and days,

Only to word my love a thousand ways.”

71.

“But if thy lips will bless me with their speech,

Then ope, sweet oracles! and I’ll be mute;

I was born ignorant for thee to teach,

Nay all love’s lore to thy dear looks impute;

Then ope thine eyes, fair teachers, by whose light

I saw to give away my heart aright!”

72.

But cold and deaf the sullen creature lies

Over her knees, and with concealing clay,

Like hoarding Avarice, locks up his eyes,

And leaves her world impoverish’d of day;

Then at his cruel lips she bends to plead,

But there the door is closed against her need.

73.

Surely he sleeps — so her false wits infer!

Alas! poor sluggard, ne’er to wake again!

Surely he sleeps, yet without any stir

That might denote a vision in his brain;

Or if he does not sleep, he feigns too long,

Twice she hath reach’d the ending of her song.

74.

Therefore ’tis time she tells him to uncover

Those radiant jesters, and disperse her fears,

Whereby her April face is shaded over,

Like rainy clouds just ripe for showering tears;

Nay, if he will not wake, so poor she gets,

Herself must open those lock’d-up cabinets.

75.

With that she stoops above his brow, and bids

Her busy hands forsake his tangled hair,

And tenderly lift up those coffer-lids,

That she may gaze upon the jewels there,

Like babes that pluck an early bud apart,

To know the dainty color of its heart.

76.

Now, picture one, soft creeping to a bed,

Who slowly parts the fringe-hung canopies,

And then starts back to find the sleeper dead;

So she looks in on his uncover’d eyes,

And seeing all within so drear and dark,

Her own bright soul dies in her like a spark.

77.

Backward she falls, like a pale prophetess,

Under the swoon of holy divination:

And what had all surpass’d her simple guess,

She now resolves in this dark revelation;

Death’s very mystery — oblivious death; —

Long sleep — deep night, and an entranced breath.

78.

Yet life, though wounded sore, not wholly slain,

Merely obscured, and not extinguish’d, lies;

Her breath that stood at ebb, soon flows again,

Heaving her hollow breast with heavy sighs,

And light comes in and kindles up the gloom,

To light her spirit from its transient tomb.

79.

Then like the sun, awaken’d at new dawn,

With pale bewilder’d face she peers about,

And spies blurr’d images obscurely drawn,

Uncertain shadows in a haze of doubt;

But her true grief grows shapely by degrees —

A perish’d creature lying on her knees.

80.

And now she knows how that old Murther preys,

Whose quarry on her lap lies newly slain:

How he roams all abroad and grimly slays,

Like a lean tiger in Love’s own domain;

Parting fond mates — and oft in flowery lawns

Bereaves mild mothers of their milky fawns.

81.

O too dear knowledge! O pernicious earning!

Foul curse engraven upon beauty’s page!

Ev’n now the sorrow of that deadly learning

Ploughs up her brow, like an untimely age,

And on her cheek stamps verdict of death’s truth

By canker blights upon the bud of youth!

82.

For as unwholesome winds decay the leaf,

So her cheeks’ rose is perish’d by her sighs,

And withers in the sickly breath of grief;

Whilst unacquainted rheum bedims her eyes,

Tears, virgin tears, the first that ever leapt

From those young lids, now plentifully wept.

83.

Whence being shed, the liquid crystalline

Drops straightway down, refusing to partake

In gross admixture with the baser brine,

But shrinks and hardens into pearls opaque,

Hereafter to be worn on arms and ears;

So one maid’s trophy is another’s tears!

84.

“O foul Arch-Shadow, thou old cloud of Night,”

(Thus in her frenzy she began to wail,)

“Thou blank Oblivion — blotter-out of light,

Life’s ruthless murderer, and dear love’s bale!

Why hast thou left thy havoc incomplete,

Leaving me here, and slaying the more sweet?”

85.

“Lo! what a lovely ruin thou hast made!

Alas! alas! thou hast no eye to see,

And blindly slew’st him in misguided shade.

Would I had lent my doting sense to thee!

But now I turn to thee, a willing mark,

Thine arrows miss me in the aimless dark!”

86.

“O doubly cruel! — twice misdoing spite,

But I will guide thee with my helping eyes,

Or — walk the wide world through, devoid of sight —

Yet thou shalt know me by my many sighs.

Nay, then thou should’st have spared my roses, false Death,

And known Love’s flow’r by smelling his sweet breath;”

87.

“Or, when thy furious rage was round him dealing,

Love should have grown from touching of his skin;

But like cold marble thou art all unfeeling.

And hast no ruddy springs of warmth within,

And being but a shape of freezing bone,

Thy touching only turn’d my love to stone!”

88.

“And here, alas! he lies across my knees,

With cheeks still colder than the stilly wave.

The light beneath his eyelids seems to freeze;

Here then, since Love is dead and lacks a grave,

O come and dig it in my sad heart’s core —

That wound will bring a balsam for its sore!”

89.

“For art thou not a sleep where sense of ill

Lies stingless, like a sense benumb’d with cold,

Healing all hurts only with sleep’s good-will?

So shall I slumber, and perchance behold

My living love in dreams — O happy night,

That lets me company his banish’d spright!”

90.

“O poppy Death! — sweet poisoner of sleep;

Where shall I seek for thee, oblivious drug,

That I may steep thee in my drink, and creep

Out of life’s coil? Look, Idol! how I hug

Thy dainty image in this strict embrace,

And kiss this clay-cold model of thy face!”

91.

“Put out, put out these sun-consuming lamps,

I do but read my sorrows by their shine;

O come and quench them with thy oozy damps,

And let my darkness intermix with thine;

Since love is blinded, wherefore should I see?

Now love is death — death will be love to me!”

92.

“Away, away, this vain complaining breath,

It does but stir the troubles that I weep;

Let it be hush’d and quieted, sweet Death;

The wind must settle ere the wave can sleep —

Since love is silent, I would fain be mute;

O death, be gracious to my dying suit!”

93.

Thus far she pleads, but pleading nought avails her,

For Death, her sullen burthen, deigns no heed;

Then with dumb craving arms, since darkness fails her,

She prays to heaven’s fair light, as if her need

Inspired her there were Gods to pity pain,

Or end it — but she lifts her arms in vain!

94.

Poor gilded Grief! the subtle light by this

With mazy gold creeps through her watery mine,

And, diving downward through the green abyss,

Lights up her palace with an amber shine;

There, falling on her arms — the crystal skin

Reveals the ruby tide that fares within.

95.

Look how the fulsome beam would hang a glory

On her dark hair, but the dark hairs repel it;

Look how the perjured glow suborns a story

On her pale lips, but lips refuse to tell it;

Grief will not swerve from grief, however told

On coral lips, or character’d in gold;

96.

Or else, thou maid! safe anchor’d on Love’s neck,

Listing the hapless doom of young Leander,

Thou would’st not shed a tear for that old wreck,

Sitting secure where no wild surges wander;

Whereas the woe moves on with tragic pace,

And shows its sad reflection in thy face.

97.

Thus having travell’d on, and track’d the tale,

Like the due course of an old bas-relief,

Where Tragedy pursues her progress pale,

Brood here awhile upon that sea-maid’s grief,

And take a deeper imprint from the frieze

Of that young Fate, with Death upon her knees.

98.

Then whilst the melancholy Muse withal

Resumes her music in a sadder tone,

Meanwhile the sunbeam strikes upon the wall,

Conceive that lovely siren to live on,

Ev’n as Hope whisper’d, the Promethean light

Would kindle up the dead Leander’s spright.

99.

“’Tis light,” she says, “that feeds the glittering stars,

And those were stars set in his heavenly brow;

But this salt cloud, this cold sea-vapor, mars

Their radiant breathing, and obscures them now;

Therefore I’ll lay him in the clear blue air,

And see how these dull orbs will kindle there.”

100.

Swiftly as dolphins glide, or swifter yet,

With dead Leander in her fond arms’ fold,

She cleaves the meshes of that radiant net

The sun hath twined above of liquid gold,

Nor slacks till on the margin of the land

She lays his body on the glowing sand.

101.

There, like a pearly waif, just past the reach

Of foamy billows he lies cast. Just then,

Some listless fishers, straying down the beach,

Spy out this wonder. Thence the curious men,

Low crouching, creep into a thicket brake,

And watch her doings till their rude hearts ache.

102.

First she begins to chafe him till she faints,

Then falls upon his mouth with kisses many,

And sometimes pauses in her own complaints

To list his breathing, but there is not any —

Then looks into his eyes where no light dwells;

Light makes no pictures in such muddy wells.

103.

The hot sun parches his discover’d eyes,

The hot sun beats on his discolor’d limbs,

The sand is oozy whereupon he lies,

Soiling his fairness; — then away she swims,

Meaning to gather him a daintier bed,

Plucking the cool fresh weeds, brown, green, and red.

104.

But, simple-witted thief, while she dives under,

Another robs her of her amorous theft;

The ambush’d fishermen creep forth to plunder,

And steal the unwatch’d treasure she has left;

Only his void impression dints the sands;

Leander is purloin’d by stealthy hands!

105.

Lo! how she shudders off the beaded wave,

Like Grief all over tears, and senseless falls —

His void imprint seems hollow’d for her grave;

Then, rising on her knees, looks round and calls

On “Hero! Hero!” having learn’d this name

Of his last breath, she calls him by the same.

106.

Then with her frantic hands she rends her hairs,

And casts them forth, sad keepsakes to the wind,

As if in plucking those she plucked her cares;

But grief lies deeper, and remains behind

Like a barb’d arrow, rankling in her brain,

Turning her very thoughts to throbs of pain.

107.

Anon her tangled locks are left alone,

And down upon the sand she meekly sits,

Hard by the foam, as humble as a stone,

Like an enchanted maid beside her wits,

That ponders with a look serene and tragic,

Stunn’d by the mighty mystery of magic.

108.

Or think of Ariadne’s utter trance,

Crazed by the flight of that disloyal traitor,

Who left her gazing on the green expanse

That swallowed up his track — yet this would mate her,

Ev’n in the cloudy summit of her woe,

When o’er the far sea-brim she saw him go.

109.

For even so she bows, and bends her gaze

O’er the eternal waste, as if to sum

Its waves by weary thousands all her days,

Dismally doom’d! meanwhile the billows come,

And coldly dabble with her quiet feet,

Like any bleaching stones they wont to greet.

110.

And thence into her lap have boldly sprung,

Washing her weedy tresses to and fro,

That round her crouching knees have darkly hung;

But she sits careless of waves’ ebb and flow,

Like a lone beacon on a desert coast,

Showing where all her hope was wreck’d and lost.

111.

Yet whether in the sea or vaulted sky,

She knoweth not her lover’s abrupt resort,

So like a shape of dreams he left her eye,

Winking with doubt. Meanwhile, the churls’ report

Has throng’d the beach with many a curious face,

That peeps upon her from its hiding place.

112.

And here a head, and there a brow half seen,

Dodges behind a rock. Here on his hands

A mariner his crumpled cheeks doth lean

Over a rugged crest. Another stands,

Holding his harmful arrow at the head,

Still check’d by human caution and strange dread.

113.

One stops his ears — another close beholder

Whispers unto the next his grave surmise;

This crouches down — and just above his shoulder,

A woman’s pity saddens in her eyes,

And prompts her to befriend that lonely grief,

With all sweet helps of sisterly relief.

114.

And down the sunny beach she paces slowly,

With many doubtful pauses by the way;

Grief hath an influence so hush’d and holy —

Making her twice attempt, ere she can lay

Her hand upon that sea-maid’s shoulder white,

Which makes her startle up in wild affright.

115.

And, like a seal, she leaps into the wave

That drowns the shrill remainder of her scream;

Anon the sea fills up the watery cave,

And seals her exit with a foamy seam —

Leaving those baffled gazers on the beach,

Turning in uncouth wonder each to each.

116.

Some watch, some call, some see her head emerge,

Wherever a brown weed falls through the foam;

Some point to white eruptions of the surge:—

But she is vanish’d to her shady home,

Under the deep, inscrutable — and there

Weeps in a midnight made of her own hair.

117.

Now here, the sighing winds, before unheard,

Forth from their cloudy caves begin to blow,

Till all the surface of the deep is stirr’d,

Like to the panting grief it hides below;

And heaven is cover’d with a stormy rack,

Soiling the waters with its inky black.

118.

The screaming fowl resigns her finny prey,

And labors shoreward with a bending wing,

Rowing against the wind her toilsome way;

Meanwhile, the curling billows chafe, and fling

Their dewy frost still further on the stones,

That answer to the wind with hollow groans.

119.

And here and there a fisher’s far-off bark

Flies with the sun’s last glimpse upon its sail,

Like a bright flame amid the waters dark,

Watch’d with the hope and fear of maidens pale;

And anxious mothers that upturn their brows,

Freighting the gusty wind with frequent vows,

120.

For that the horrid deep has no sure path

To guide Love safe into his homely haven.

And lo! the storm grows blacker in its wrath,

O’er the dark billow brooding like a raven,

That bodes of death and widow’s sorrowing,

Under the dusky covert of his wing.

121.

And so day ended. But no vesper spark

Hung forth its heavenly sign; but sheets of flame

Play’d round the savage features of the dark,

Making night horrible. That night, there came

A weeping maiden to high Sestos’ steep,

And tore her hair and gazed upon the deep.

122.

And waved aloft her bright and ruddy torch,

Whose flame the boastful wind so rudely fann’d,

That oft it would recoil, and basely scorch

The tender covert of her sheltering hand;

Which yet, for Love’s dear sake, disdain’d retire,

And, like a glorying martyr, braved the fire.

123.

For that was love’s own sign and beacon guide

Across the Hellespont’s wide weary space,

Wherein he nightly struggled with the tide:—

Look what a red it forges on her face,

As if she blush’d at holding sucha light,

Ev’n in the unseen presence of the night!

124.

Whereas her tragic cheek is truly pale,

And colder than the rude and ruffian air

That howls into her ear a horrid tale

Of storm and wreck, and uttermost despair,

Saying, “Leander floats amid the surge,

And those are dismal waves that sing his dirge.”

125.

And hark! — a grieving voice, trembling and faint,

Blends with the hollow sobbings of the sea;

Like the sad music of a siren’s plaint,

But shriller than Leander’s voice should be,

Unless the wintry death had changed its tone —

Wherefore she thinks she hears his spirit moan.

126.

For now, upon each brief and breathless pause,

Made by the raging winds, it plainly calls

On “Hero! Hero!”— whereupon she draws

Close to the dizzy brink, that ne’er appals

Her brave and constant spirit to recoil,

However the wild billows toss and toil.

127.

“Oh! dost thou live under the deep deep sea?

I thought such love as thine could never die;

If thou hast gain’d an immortality

From the kind pitying sea-god, so will I;

And this false cruel tide that used to sever

Our hearts, shall be our common home forever!”

128.

“There we will sit and sport upon one billow,

And sing our ocean ditties all the day,

And lie together on the same green pillow,

That curls above us with its dewy spray;

And ever in one presence live and dwell,

Like two twin pearls within the selfsame shell!”

129.

One moment then, upon the dizzy verge

She stands; — with face upturn’d against the sky;

A moment more, upon the foamy surge

She gazes, with a calm despairing eye;

Feeling that awful pause of blood and breath,

Which life endures when it confronts with death; —

130.

Then from the giddy steep she madly springs,

Grasping her maiden robes, that vainly kept

Panting abroad, like unavailing wings,

To save her from her death. — The sea-maid wept

And in a crystal cave her corse enshrined;

No meaner sepulchre should Hero find!

Ballad.

Spring it is cheery,

Winter is dreary,

Green leaves hang, but the brown must fly;

When he’s forsaken,

Wither’d and shaken,

What can an old man do but die?

Love will not clip him,

Maids will not lip him,

Maud and Marian pass him by;

Youth it is sunny,

Age has no honey —

What can an old man do but die?

June it was jolly,

Oh for its folly!

A dancing leg and a laughing eye;

Youth may be silly,

Wisdom is chilly —

What can an old man do but die?

Friends, they are scanty,

Beggars are plenty,

If he has followers, I know why;

Gold’s in his clutches,

(Buying him crutches!)

What can an old man do but die?

Autumn

The Autumn skies are flush’d with gold,

And fair and bright the rivers run;

These are but streams of winter cold,

And painted mists that quench the sun.

In secret boughs no sweet birds sing,

In secret boughs no bird can shroud;

These are but leaves that take to wing,

And wintry winds that pipe so loud.

’Tis not trees’ shade, but cloudy glooms

That on the cheerless valleys fall,

The flowers are in their grassy tombs,

And tears of dew are on them all.

Ballad.

Sigh on, sad heart, for Love’s eclipse

And Beauty’s fairest queen,

Though ’tis not for my peasant lips

To soil her name between:

A king might lay his sceptre down,

But I am poor and nought,

The brow should wear a golden crown

That wears her in its thought.

The diamonds glancing in her hair,

Whose sudden beams surprise,

Might bid such humble hopes beware

The glancing of her eyes;

Yet looking once, I look’d too long,

And if my love is sin,

Death follows on the heels of wrong,

And kills the crime within.

Her dress seem’d wove of lily leaves,

It was so pure and fine,

O lofty wears, and lowly weaves —

But hodden-gray is mine;

And homely hose must step apart,

Where garter’d princes stand,

But may he wear my love at heart

That wins her lily hand!

Alas! there’s far from russet frieze

To silks and satin gowns,

But I doubt if God made like degrees

In courtly hearts and clowns.

My father wrong’d a maiden’s mirth,

And brought her cheeks to blame,

And all that’s lordly of my birth

Is my reproach and shame!

’Tis vain to weep — ’tis vain to sigh,

’Tis vain, this idle speech,

For where her happy pearls do lie,

My tears may never reach;

Yet when I’m gone, e’en lofty pride

May say, of what has been,

His love was nobly born and died,

Though all the rest was mean!

My speech is rude — but speech is weak

Such love as mine to tell,

Yet had I words, I dare not speak,

So, Lady, fare thee well;

I will not wish thy better state

Was one of low degree,

But I must weep that partial fate

Made such a churl of me.

The Exile.

The swallow with summer

Will wing o’er the seas,

The wind that I sigh to

Will visit thy trees.

The ship that it hastens

Thy ports will contain,

But me! — I must never

See England again!

There’s many that weep there,

But one weeps alone,

For the tears that are falling

So far from her own;

So far from thy own, love,

We know not our pain;

If death is between us,

Or only the main.

When the white cloud reclines

On the verge of the sea,

I fancy the white cliffs,

And dream upon thee;

But the cloud spreads its wings

To the blue heav’n and flies.

We never shall meet, love,

Except in the skies!

To ——

Welcome, dear Heart, and a most kind good-morrow;

The day is gloomy, but our looks shall shine:—

Flowers I have none to give thee, but I borrow

Their sweetness in a verse to speak for thine.

Here are red roses, gather’d at thy cheeks —

The white were all too happy to look white:

For love the rose, for faith the lily speaks;

It withers in false hands, but here ’tis bright!

Dost love sweet Hyacinth? Its scented leaf

Curls manifold — all love’s delights blow double:

’Tis said this flow’ret is inscribed with grief —

But let that hint of a forgotten trouble.

I pluck’d the Primrose at night’s dewy noon;

Like Hope, it show’d its blossoms in the night; —

’Twas, like Endymion, watching for the Moon!

And here are Sun-flowers, amorous of light!

These golden Buttercups are April’s seal —

The Daisy-stars her constellations be:

These grew so lowly, I was forced to kneel,

Therefore I pluck no Daisies but for thee!

Here’s Daisies for the morn, Primrose for gloom

Pansies and Roses for the noontide hours:—

A wight once made a dial of their bloom —

So may thy life be measured out by flowers!

Ode to Melancholy.

Come, let us set our careful breasts,

Like Philomel, against the thorn,

To aggravate the inward grief,

That makes her accents so forlorn;

The world has many cruel points,

Whereby our bosoms have been torn,

And there are dainty themes of grief,

In sadness to outlast the morn —

True honor’s dearth, affection’s death,

Neglectful pride, and cankering scorn,

With all the piteous tales that tears

Have water’d since the world was born.

The world! — it is a wilderness,

Where tears are hung on every tree;

For thus my gloomy phantasy

Makes all things weep with me!

Come let us sit and watch the sky,

And fancy clouds, where no clouds be;

Grief is enough to blot the eye,

And make heaven black with misery.

Why should birds sing such merry notes,

Unless they were more blest than we?

No sorrow ever chokes their throats,

Except sweet nightingale; for she

Was born to pain our hearts the more

With her sad melody.

Why shines the Sun, except that he

Makes gloomy nooks for Grief to hide,

And pensive shades for Melancholy,

When all the earth is bright beside?

Let clay wear smiles, and green grass wave,

Mirth shall not win us back again,

Whilst man is made of his own grave,

And fairest clouds but gilded rain!

I saw my mother in her shroud,

Her cheek was cold and very pale;

And ever since I’ve look’d on all

As creatures doom’d to fail!

Why do buds ope except to die?

Ay, let us watch the roses wither,

And think of our loves’ cheeks;

And oh! how quickly time doth fly

To bring death’s winter hither!

Minutes, hours, days, and weeks,

Months, years, and ages, shrink to nought;

An age past is but a thought!

Ay, let us think of Him awhile

That, with a coffin for a boat,

Rows daily o’er the Stygian moat,

And for our table choose a tomb:

There’s dark enough in any skull

To charge with black a raven plume;

And for the saddest funeral thoughts

A winding-sheet hath ample room,

Where Death, with his keen-pointed style,

Hath writ the common doom.

How wide the yew-tree spreads its gloom,

And o’er the dead lets fall its dew,

As if in tears it wept for them,

The many human families

That sleep around its stem!

How cold the dead have made these stones,

With natural drops kept ever wet!

Lo! here the best — the worst — the world

Doth now remember or forget,

Are in one common ruin hurl’d,

And love and hate are calmly met;

The loveliest eyes that ever shone,

The fairest hands, and locks of jet.

Is’t not enough to vex our souls,

And fill our eyes, that we have set

Our love upon a rose’s leaf,

Our hearts upon a violet?

Blue eyes, red cheeks, are frailer yet;

And sometimes at their swift decay

Beforehand we must fret.

The roses bud and bloom, again;

But Love may haunt the grave of Love,

And watch the mould in vain.

O clasp me, sweet, whilst thou art mine,

And do not take my tears amiss;

For tears must flow to wash away

A thought that shows so stern as this:

Forgive, if somewhile I forget,

In woe to come, the present bliss;

As frighted Proserpine let fall

Her flowers at the sight of Dis,

Ev’n so the dark and bright will kiss.

The sunniest things throw sternest shade,

And there is ev’n a happiness

That makes the heart afraid!

Now let us with a spell invoke

The full-orb’d moon to grieve our eyes;

Not bright, not bright, but, with a cloud

Lapp’d all about her, let her rise

All pale and dim, as if from rest

The ghost of the late-buried sun

Had crept into the skies.

The Moon! she is the source of sighs,

The very face to make us sad;

If but to think in other times

The same calm quiet look she had,

As if the world held nothing base,

Of vile and mean, of fierce and bad;

The same fair light that shone in streams,

The fairy lamp that charmed the lad;

For so it is, with spent delights

She taunts men’s brains, and makes them mad.

All things are touch’d with Melancholy,

Born of the secret soul’s mistrust,

To feel her fair ethereal wings

Weigh’d down with vile degraded dust;

Even the bright extremes of joy

Bring on conclusions of disgust,

Like the sweet blossoms of the May,

Whose fragrance ends in must.

O give her, then, her tribute just,

Her sighs and tears, and musings holy;

There is no music in the life

That sounds with idiot laughter solely;

There’s not a string attuned to mirth,

But has its chord in Melancholy.

Sonnet.

By ev’ry sweet tradition of true hearts,

Graven by Time, in love with his own lore;

By all old martyrdoms and antique smarts,

Wherein Love died to be alive the more;

Yea, by the sad impression on the shore,

Left by the drown’d Leander, to endear

That coast for ever, where the billow’s roar

Moaneth for pity in the Poet’s ear;

By Hero’s faith, and the foreboding tear

That quench’d her brand’s last twinkle in its fall;

By Sappho’s leap, and the low rustling fear

That sigh’d around her flight; I swear by all,

The world shall find such pattern in my act,

As if Love’s great examples still were lack’d.

Sonnet.

To My Wife.

The curse of Adam, the old curse of all,

Though I inherit in this feverish life

Of worldly toil, vain wishes, and hard strife,

And fruitless thought, in Care’s eternal thrall,

Yet more sweet honey than of bitter gall

I taste, through thee, my Eve, my sweet wife.

Then what was Man’s lost Paradise! — how rife

Of bliss, since love is with him in his fall!

Such as our own pure passion still might frame,

Of this fair earth, and its delightful bow’rs,

If no fell sorrow, like the serpent, came

To trail its venom o’er the sweetest flow’rs; —

But oh! as many and such tears are ours,

As only should be shed for guilt and shame!

Sonnet.

On Receiving a Gift.

Look how the golden ocean shines above

Its pebbly stones, and magnifies their girth;

So does the bright and blessed light of Love

Its own things glorify, and raise their worth.

As weeds seem flowers beneath the flattering brine,

And stones like gems, and gems as gems indeed,

Ev’n so our tokens shine; nay, they outshine

Pebbles and pearls, and gems and coral weed;

For where be ocean waves but half so clear,

So calmly constant, and so kindly warm,

As Love’s most mild and glowing atmosphere,

That hath no dregs to be upturn’d by storm?

Thus, sweet, thy gracious gifts are gifts of price,

And more than gold to doting Avarice.

Sonnet.

Love, dearest Lady, such as I would speak,

Lives not within the humor of the eye; —

Not being but an outward phantasy,

That skims the surface of a tinted cheek —

Else it would wane with beauty, and grow weak,

As if the rose made summer — and so lie

Amongst the perishable things that die,

Unlike the love which I would give and seek:

Whose health is of no hue — to feel decay

With cheeks’ decay, that have a rosy prime.

Love is its own great loveliness alway,

And takes new lustre from the touch of time;

Its bough owns no December and no May,

But bears its blossom into Winter’s clime.

The Dream of Eugene Aram.

1.

’Twas in the prime of summer time,

An evening calm and cool,

And four-and-twenty happy boys

Came bounding out of school:

There were some that ran and some that leapt,

Like troutlets in a pool.

2.

Away they sped with gamesome minds,

And souls untouch’d by sin;

To a level mead they came, and there

They drave the wickets in:

Pleasantly shone the setting sun

Over the town of Lynn.

3.

Like sportive deer they coursed about,

And shouted as they ran —

Turning to mirth all things of earth,

As only boyhood can;

But the Usher sat remote from all,

A melancholy man!

4.

His hat was off, his vest apart,

To catch heaven’s blessed breeze;

For a burning thought was in his brow,

And his bosom ill at ease:

So he lean’d his head on his hands, and read

The book between his knees!

5.

Leaf after leaf he turn’d it o’er,

Nor ever glanced aside,

For the peace of his soul he read that book

In the golden eventide:

Much study had made him very lean,

And pale, and leaden-eyed.

6.

At last he shut the ponderous tome,

With a fast and fervent grasp

He strain’d the dusky covers close,

And fix’d the brazen hasp:

“Oh, God! could I so close my mind,

And clasp it with a clasp!”

7.

Then leaping on his feet upright,

Some moody turns he took —

Now up the mead, then down the mead,

And past a shady nook —

And, lo! he saw a little boy

That pored upon a book!

8.

“My gentle lad, what is’t you read —

Romance or fairy fable?

Of is it some historic page,

Or kings and crowns unstable?”

The young boy gave an upward glance —

“It is ‘The Death of Abel.’”

9.

The Usher took six hasty strides,

As smit with sudden pain —

Six hasty strides beyond the place,

Then slowly back again;

And down he sat beside the lad,

And talk’d with him of Cain;

10.

And, long since then, of bloody men,

Whose deeds tradition saves;

Of lonely folk cut off unseen,

And hid in sudden graves;

Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn,

And murders done in caves;

11.

And how the sprites of injured men

Shriek upward from the sod —

Ay, how the ghostly hand will point

To show the burial clod;

And unknown facts of guilty acts

Are seen in dreams from God!

12.

He told how murderers walk the earth

Beneath the curse of Cain —

With crimson clouds before their eyes,

And flames about their brain:

For blood has left upon their souls

Its everlasting stain!

13.

“And well,” quoth he, “I know, for truth,

Their pangs must be extreme —

Woe, woe, unutterable woe —

Who spill life’s sacred stream!

For why? Methought, last night, I wrought

A murder, in a dream!”

14.

“One that had never done me wrong —

A feeble man, and old;

I led him to a lonely field —

The moon shone clear and cold:

Now here, said I, this man shall die,

And I will have his gold!”

15.

“Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,

And one with a heavy stone,

One hurried gash with a hasty knife —

And then the deed was done:

There was nothing lying at my foot

But lifeless flesh and bone!”

16.

“Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,

That could not do me ill;

And yet I feared him all the more,

For lying there so still:

There was a manhood in his look,

That murder could not kill!”

17.

“And, lo! the universal air

Seemed lit with ghastly flame; —

Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes

Were looking down in blame:

I took the dead man by his hand,

And called upon his name!”

18.

“Oh, God! it made me quake to see

Such sense within the slain!

But when I touched the lifeless clay,

The blood gush’d out amain!

For every clot, a burning spot

Was scorching in my brain!”

19.

“My head was like an ardent coal,

My heart as solid ice:

My wretched, wretched soul, I knew,

Was at the Devil’s price:

A dozen times I groan’d the dead

Had never groan’d but twice!”

20.

And now, from forth the frowning sky,

From the Heaven’s topmost height,

I heard a voice — the awful voice

Of the blood-avenging Sprite:—

“Thou guilty man! take up thy dead

And hide it from my sight!”

21.

“I took the dreary body up,

And cast it in a stream —

A sluggish water, black as ink,

The depth was so extreme:—

My gentle Boy, remember this

Is nothing but a dream!”

22.

“Down went the corse with a hollow plunge,

And vanish’d in the pool;

Anon I cleansed my bloody hands,

And wash’d my forehead cool,

And sat among the urchins young,

That evening in the school.”

23.

“Oh, Heaven! to think of their white souls,

And mine so black and grim!

I could not share in childish prayer,

Nor join in Evening Hymn:

Like a Devil of the Pit I seem’d,

‘Mid holy Cherubim!”

24.

“And peace went with them, one and all,

And each calm pillow spread:

But Guilt was my grim Chamberlain

That lighted me to bed;

And drew my midnight curtains round,

With fingers bloody red!”

25.

“All night I lay in agony,

In anguish dark and deep;

My fever’d eyes I dared not close,

But stared aghast at Sleep:

For Sin had render’d unto her

The keys of Hell to keep!”

26.

“All night I lay in agony,

From weary chime to chime,

With one besetting horrid hint,

That rack’d me all the time;

A mighty yearning, like the first

Fierce impulse unto crime!”

27.

“One stern tyrannic thought, that made

All other thoughts its slave;

Stronger and stronger every pulse

Did that temptation crave —

Still urging me to go and see

The Dead Man in his grave!”

28.

“Heavily I rose up, as soon

As light was in the sky,

And sought the black accursed pool

With a wild misgiving eye;

And I saw the Dead in the river bed,

For the faithless stream was dry.”

29.

“Merrily rose the lark, and shook

The dew-drop from its wing;

But I never mark’d its morning flight,

I never heard it sing:

For I was stooping once again

Under the horrid thing.”

30.

“With breathless speed, like a soul in chase,

I took him up and ran; —

There was no time to dig a grave

Before the day began:

In a lonesome wood, with heaps of leaves,

I hid the murder’d man!”

31.

“And all that day I read in school,

But my thought was other where;

As soon as the mid-day task was done,

In secret I was there:

And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,

And still the corse was bare!”

32.

“Then down I cast me on my face,

And first began to weep,

For I knew my secret then was one

That earth refused to keep:

Or land or sea, though he should be

Ten thousand fathoms deep.”

33.

“So wills the fierce avenging Sprite,

Till blood for blood atones!

Ay, though he’s buried in a cave,

And trodden down with stones,

And years have rotted off his flesh —

The world shall see his bones!”

34.

“Oh, God! that horrid, horrid dream

Besets me now awake!

Again again, with dizzy brain,

The human life I take;

And my red right hand grows raging hot,

Like Cranmer’s at the stake.”

35.

“And still no peace for the restless clay

Will wave or mould allow;

The horrid thing pursues my soul —

It stands before me now!”

The fearful Boy look’d up, and saw

Huge drops upon his brow.

36.

That very night, while gentle sleep

The urchin eyelids kiss’d,

Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,

Through the cold and heavy mist;

And Eugene Aram walk’d between.

With gyves upon his wrist.

Hood edited The Gem, one of the many annuals of that day, for the year 1829. The volume is memorable for having contained his fine poem.

“The remarkable name of Eugene Aram, belonging to a man of unusual talents and acquirements, is unhappily associated with a deed of blood as extraordinary in its details as any recorded in our calendar of crime. In the year 1745, being then an usher and deeply engaged in the study of Chaldee, Hebrew, Arabic, and the Celtic dialects, for the formation of a lexicon, he abruptly turned over a still darker page in human knowledge, and the brow that learning might have made illustrious was stamped ignominious forever with the brand of Cain. To obtain a trifling property he concerted with an accomplice, and with his own hand effected the violent death of one Daniel Clarke, a shoe-maker, of Knaresborough, in Yorkshire. For fourteen years nearly the secret slept with the victim in the earth of St. Robert’s Cave, and the manner of its discovery would appear a striking example of the divine justice even amongst those marvels narrated in that curious old volume alluded to in the Fortunes of Nigel, under its quaint title of ‘God’s Revenge against Murther.’

“The accidental digging up of a skeleton, and the unwary and emphatic declaration of Aram’s accomplice that it could not be that of Clarke, betraying a guilty knowledge of the true bones, he was wrought to a confession of their deposit. The learned homicide was seized and arraigned, and a trial of uncommon interest was wound up by a defence as memorable as the tragedy itself for eloquence and ingenuity — too ingenious for innocence, and eloquent enough to do credit even to that long premeditation which the interval between the deed and its discovery had afforded. That this dreary period had not passed without paroxysms of remorse may be inferred from a fact of affecting interest. The late Admiral Burney was a scholar at the school at Lynn in Norfolk when Aram was an usher, subsequent to his crime. The Admiral stated that Aram was beloved by the boys, and that he used to discourse to them of murder, not occasionally, as I have written elsewhere, but constantly, and in somewhat of the spirit ascribed to him in the poem.

“For the more imaginative part of the version I must refer back to one of those unaccountable visions which come upon us like frightful monsters thrown up by storms from the great black deeps of slumber. A lifeless body, in love and relationship the nearest and dearest, was imposed upon my back, with an overwhelming sense of obligation — not of filial piety merely, but some awful responsibility, equally vague and intense, and involving, as it seemed, inexpiable sin, horrors unutterable, torments intolerable — to bury my dead, like Abraham, out of my sight. In vain I attempted, again and again, to obey the mysterious mandate — by some dreadful process the burthen was replaced with a more stupendous weight of injunction, and an apalling conviction of the impossibility of its fulfilment. My mental anguish was indescribable; — the mighty agonies of souls tortured on the supernatural racks of sleep are not to be penned — and if in sketching those that belong to blood-guiltiness I have been at all successful, I owe it mainly to the uninvoked inspiration of that terrible dream.”

The introduction of Admiral Burney’s name makes it likely that Hood may have owed his first interest in the story to Charles Lamb. The circumstance that the book over which the gentle boy was poring when questioned by the usher was called the Death of Abel, is by no means forced or unnatural. Salomon Gessner’s prose poem, Der Tod Abels, published in 1758, attained an astonishing popularity throughout Europe, and appeared in an English version somewhere about the time of the discovery of Aram’s crime.

Sonnet.

For the 14TH Of February.

No popular respect will I omit

To do thee honor on this happy day,

When every loyal lover tasks his wit

His simple truth in studious rhymes to pay,

And to his mistress dear his hopes convey.

Rather thou knowest I would still outrun

All calendars with Love’s — whose date alway

Thy bright eyes govern better than the Sun —

For with thy favor was my life begun;

And still I reckon on from smiles to smiles,

And not by summers, for I thrive on none

But those thy cheerful countenance complies:

Oh! if it be to choose and call thee mine,

Love, thou art every day my Valentine.

The Death-bed.

We watch’d her breathing through the night.

Her breathing soft and low,

As in her breast the wave of life

Kept heaving to and fro.

So silently we seem’d to speak,

So slowly moved about,

As we had lent her half our powers

To eke her living out.

Our very hopes belied our fears,

Our fears our hopes belied —

We thought her dying when she slept,

And sleeping when she died.

For when the morn came dim and sad,

And chill with early showers,

Her quiet eyelids closed — she had

Another morn than ours.

The Englishman’s Magazine, August 1831. This magazine was a venture of Edward Moxon, the publisher, but had a career of only seven months. It is memorable, however, for including, besides the above and various papers by Charles Lamb, poetical contributions from Tennyson and Arthur Hallam, and also for containing the review by the latter of Tennyson’s first volume of poems, published in 1830. The beautiful stanzas of Hood’s appear here, as far as I have discovered, for the first time. The date of their composition remains unfixed. Hood’s son was under the impression that they were written on the death of one of his father’s sisters, but supplied no evidence bearing on the question.

Anticipation.

“Coming events cast their shadow before.”

I had a vision in the summer light —

Sorrow was in it, and my inward sight

Ached with sad images. The touch of tears

Gushed down my cheeks:— the figured woes of years

Casting their shadows across sunny hours.

Oh, there was nothing sorrowful in flowers

Wooing the glances of an April sun,

Or apple blossoms opening one by one

Their crimson bosoms — or the twittered words

And warbled sentences of merry birds; —

Or the small glitter and the humming wings

Of golden flies and many colored things —

Oh, these were nothing sad — nor to see Her,

Sitting beneath the comfortable stir

Of early leaves — casting the playful grace

Of moving shadows in so fair a face —

Nor in her brow serene — nor in the love

Of her mild eyes drinking the light above

With a long thirst — nor in her gentle smile —

Nor in her hand that shone blood-red the while

She raised it in the sun. All these were dear

To heart and eye — but an invisible fear

Shook in the trees and chilled upon the air,

And if one spot was laughing brightest — there

My soul most sank and darkened in despair! —

As if the shadows of a curtained room

Haunted me in the sun — as if the bloom

Of early flow’rets had no sweets for me,

Nor apple blossoms any blush to see —

As if the hour had brought too bright a day —

And little birds were all too gay! — too gay! —

As if the beauty of that Lovely One

Were all a fable. — Full before the sun

Stood Death and cast a shadow long before,

Like a dark pall enshrouding her all o’er,

Till eyes, and lips, and smiles, were all no more!

These impressive, if rather morbid, lines seem to have been hitherto overlooked by Hood’s editors, and are here collected for the first time.

To a Child Embracing His Mother.

Love thy mother, little one!

Kiss and clasp her neck again —

Hereafter she may have a son

Will kiss and clasp her neck in vain.

Love thy mother, little one!

Gaze upon her living eyes,

And mirror back her love for thee —

Hereafter thou mayst shudder sighs

To meet them when they cannot see.

Gaze upon her living eyes!

Press her lips the while they glow

With love that they have often told —

Hereafter thou mayst press in woe,

And kiss them till thine own are cold.

Press her lips the while they glow!

Oh, revere her raven hair!

Although it be not silver-gray;

Too early Death, led on by Care,

May snatch save one dear lock away.

Oh, revere her raven hair!

Pray for her at eve and morn,

That Heaven may long the stroke defer —

For thou mayst live the hour forlorn

When thou wilt ask to die with her.

Pray for her at eve and morn!

Stanzas

(From Tylney Hall.)

Still glides the gentle streamlet on,

With shifting current new and strange;

The water that was here is gone,

But those green shadows do not change.

Serene, or ruffled by the storm,

On present waves as on the past,

The mirrored grave retains its form,

The self-same trees their semblance cast.

The hue each fleeting globule wears,

That drop bequeaths it to the next,

One picture still the surface bears,

To illustrate the murmured text.

So, love, however time may flow,

Fresh hours pursuing those that flee

One constant image still shall show

My tide of life is true to thee!

From Hood’s novel of Tylney Hall, published in 1834; apparently one of the many tender tributes originally addressed by Hood to his wife.

Sonnet to Ocean.

Shall I rebuke thee, Ocean, my old love,

That once, in rage, with the wild winds at strife,

Thou darest menace my unit of a life,

Sending my clay below, my soul above,

Whilst roar’d thy waves, like lions when they rove

By night, and bound upon their prey by stealth!

Yet didst thou n’er restore my fainting health? —

Didst thou ne’er murmur gently like the dove?

Nay, dost thou not against my own dear shore

Full break, last link between my land and me? —

My absent friends talk in thy very roar,

In thy waves’ beat their kindly pulse I see,

And, if I must not see my England more,

Next to her soil, my grave be found in thee!

Written in 1835 after Hood’s disastrous voyage to Rotterdam, in which the ship was nearly lost, and Hood’s health was permanently affected.

To ——

Composed at Rotterdam.

1.

I gaze upon a city —

A city new and strange —

Down many a watery vista

My fancy takes a range;

From side to side I saunter,

And wonder where I am;

And can you be in England,

And I at Rotterdam!

2.

Before me lie dark waters

In broad canals and deep,

Whereon the silver moonbeams

Sleep, restless in their sleep;

A sort of vulgar Venice

Reminds me where I am;

Yes, yes, you are in England,

And I’m at Rotterdam.

3.

Tall houses with quaint gables,

Where frequent windows shine,

And quays that lead to bridges,

And trees in formal line,

And masts of spicy vessels

From western Surinam,

All tell me you’re in England,

But I’m in Rotterdam.

4.

Those sailors, how outlandish

The face and form of each!

They deal in foreign gestures,

And use a foreign speech;

A tongue not learn’d near Isis,

Or studied by the Cam,

Declares that you’re in England,

And I’m at Rotterdam.

5.

And now across a market

My doubtful way I trace,

Where stands a solemn statue,

The Genius of the place;

And to the great Erasmus

I offer my salaam;

Who tells me you’re in England,

But I’m at Rotterdam.

6.

The coffee-room is open —

I mingle in its crowd —

The dominos are noisy —

The hookahs raise a cloud;

The flavor, none of Fearon’s,

That mingles with my dram,

Reminds me you’re in England,

And I’m at Rotterdam.

7.

Then here it goes, a bumper —

The toast it shall be mine,

In schiedam, or in sherry,

Tokay, or hock of Rhine;

It well deserves the brightest,

Where sunbeam ever swam —

“The Girl I love in England”

I drink at Rotterdam!

Lines

On Seeing My Wife and Two Children
Sleeping in the Same Chamber.

And has the earth lost its so spacious round,

The sky its blue circumference above,

That in this little chamber there is found

Both earth and heaven — my universe of love!

All that my God can give me, or remove,

Here sleeping, save myself, in mimic death.

Sweet that in this small compass I behove

To live their living and to breathe their breath!

Almost I wish that, with one common sigh,

We might resign all mundane care and strife,

And seek together that transcendent sky,

Where Father, Mother, Children, Husband, Wife,

Together pant in everlasting life!

Written at Coblenz, where Hood and his family were then settled, in November 1835.

Stanzas.

Is there a bitter pang for love removed,

O God! The dead love doth not cost more tears

Than the alive, the loving, the beloved —

Not yet, not yet beyond all hopes and fears!

Would I were laid

Under the shade

Of the calm grave, and the long grass of years —

That love might die with sorrow:— I am sorrow;

And she, that loves me tenderest, doth press

Most poison from my cruel lips, and borrow

Only new anguish from the old caress;

Oh, this world’s grief

Hath no relief

In being wrung from a great happiness.

Would I had never filled thine eyes with love,

For love is only tears: would I had never

Breathed such a curse-like blessing as we prove;

Now, if “Farewell” could bless thee, I would sever!

Would I were laid

Under the shade

Of the cold tomb, and the long grass forever!

Assigned by Hood’s son to the year 1835, but apparently only on conjecture.

Ode to Rae Wilson, Esq.

To the Editor of the Athenæum.

MY DEAR SIR— The following Ode was written anticipating the tone of some strictures on my writings by the gentleman to whom it is addressed. I have not seen his book; but I know by hearsay that some of my verses are characterized as “profaneness and ribaldry”— citing, in proof, the description of a certain sow, from whose jaw a cabbage sprout

“Protruded, as the dove so staunch

For peace supports an olive branch.”

If the printed works of my Censor had not prepared me for any misapplication of types, I should have been surprised by this misapprehension of one of the commonest emblems. In some cases the dove unquestionably stands for the Divine Spirit; but the same bird is also a lay representative of the peace of this world, and, as such, has figured time out of mind in allegorical pictures. The sense in which it was used by me is plain from the context; at least, it would be plain to any one but a fisher for faults, predisposed to carp at some things, to dab at others, and to flounder in all. But I am possibly in error. It is the female swine, perhaps, that is profaned in the eyes of the Oriental tourist. Men find strange ways of marking their intolerance; and the spirit is certainly strong enough, in Mr. W.‘s works, to set up a creature as sacred, in sheer opposition to the Mussulman, with whom she is a beast of abomination. It would only be going the whole sow. — I am, dear Sir, yours very truly, THOS. HOOD.

“Close, close your eyes with holy dread,

And weave a circle round him thrice,

For he on honey-dew hath fed

And drunk the milk of Paradise.”— COLERIDGE.

“It’s very hard them kind of men

Won’t let a body be.”—Old Ballad.

A wanderer, Wilson, from my native land,

Remote, O Rae, from godliness and thee,

Where rolls between us the eternal sea,

Besides some furlongs of a foreign sand —

Beyond the broadest Scotch of London Wall;

Beyond the loudest Saint that has a call;

Across the wavy waste between us stretch’d,

A friendly missive warns me of a stricture,

Wherein my likeness you have darkly etch’d,

And though I have not seen the shadow sketch’d,

Thus I remark prophetic on the picture.

I guess the features:— in a line to paint

Their moral ugliness, I’m not a saint.

Not one of those self-constituted saints,

Quacks — not physicians — in the cure of souls,

Censors who sniff out mortal taints,

And call the devil over his own coals —

Those pseudo Privy Councillors of God,

Who write down judgments with a pen hard-nibb’d;

Ushers of Beelzebub’s Black Rod,

Commending sinners, not to ice thick-ribb’d,

But endless flames, to scorch them up like flax —

Yet sure of heav’n themselves, as if they’d cribb’d

Th’ impression of St. Peter’s keys in wax!

Of such a character no single trace

Exists, I know, in my fictitious face;

There wants a certain cast about the eye;

A certain lifting of the nose’s tip;

A certain curling of the nether lip,

In scorn of all that is, beneath the sky;

In brief it is an aspect deleterious,

A face decidedly not serious,

A face profane, that would not do at all

To make a face at Exeter Hall —

That Hall where bigots rant, and cant, and pray,

And laud each other face to face,

Till ev’ry farthing-candle ray

Conceives itself a great gas-light of grace.

Well! — be the graceless lineaments confest!

I do enjoy this bounteous beauteous earth;

And dote upon a jest

“Within the limits of becoming mirth”; —

No solemn sanctimonious face I pull,

Nor think I’m pious when I’m only bilious —

Nor study in my sanctum supercilious

To frame a Sabbath Bill or forge a Bull.

I pray for grace — repent each sinful act —

Peruse, but underneath the rose, my Bible;

And love my neighbor far too well, in fact,

To call and twit him with a godly tract

That’s turn’d by application to a libel.

My heart ferments not with the bigot’s leaven,

All creeds I view with toleration thorough,

And have a horror of regarding heaven

As anybody’s rotten borough.

What else? no part I take in party fray,

With troops from Billingsgate’s slang-whanging tartars,

I fear no Pope — and let great Ernest play

At Fox and Goose with Foxs’ Martyrs!

I own I laugh at over-righteous men,

I own I shake my sides at ranters,

And treat sham-Abr’am saints with wicked banters,

I even own, that there are times — but then

It’s when I’ve got my wine — I say d —— canters!

I’ve no ambition to enact the spy

On fellow souls, a Spiritual Pry —

’Tis said that people ought to guard their noses,

Who thrust them into matters none of theirs;

And tho’ no delicacy discomposes

Your Saint, yet I consider faith and pray’rs

Amongst the privatest of men’s affairs.

I do not hash the Gospel in my books,

And thus upon the public mind intrude it,

As if I thought, like Otaheitan cooks,

No food was fit to eat till I had chewed it.

On Bible stilts I don’t affect to stalk;

Nor lard with Scripture my familiar talk —

For man may pious texts repeat,

And yet religion have no inward seat;

’Tis not so plain as the old Hill of Howth,

A man has got his belly full of meat

Because he talks with victuals in his mouth!

Mere verbiage — it is not worth a carrot!

Why, Socrates — or Plato — where’s the odds? —

Once taught a jay to supplicate the Gods,

And made a Polly-theist of a Parrot!

A mere professor, spite of all his cant, is

Not a whit better than a Mantis —

An insect, of what clime I can’t determine,

That lifts its paws most parson-like, and thence,

By simple savages — thro’ sheer pretence —

Is reckon’d quite a saint amongst the vermin.

But where’s the reverence, or where the nous,

To ride on one’s religion thro’ the lobby,

Whether a stalking-horse or hobby,

To show its pious paces to “the house”?

I honestly confess that I would hinder

The Scottish member’s legislative rigs,

That spiritual Pinder,

Who looks on erring souls as straying pigs,

That must be lash’d by law, wherever found,

And driv’n to church, as to the parish pound.

I do confess, without reserve or wheedle,

I view that grovelling idea as one

Worthy some parish clerk’s ambitious son,

A charity-boy, who longs to be a beadle.

On such a vital topic sure ’tis odd

How much a man can differ from his neighbor:

One wishes worship freely giv’n to God,

Another wants to make it statute-labor —

The broad distinction in a line to draw,

As means to lead us to the skies above,

You say — Sir Andrew and his love of law,

And I— the Saviour with his law of love.

Spontaneously to God should tend the soul,

Like the magnetic needle to the Pole;

But what were that intrinsic virtue worth,

Suppose some fellow, with more zeal than knowledge,

Fresh from St. Andrew’s College,

Should nail the conscious needle to the north?

I do confess that I abhor and shrink

From schemes, with a religious willy-nilly,

That frown upon St. Giles’s sins, but blink

The peccadilloes of all Piccadilly —

My soul revolts at such a bare hypocrisy,

And will not, dare not, fancy in accord

The Lord of Hosts with an Exclusive Lord

Of this world’s aristocracy.

It will not own a notion so unholy,

As thinking that the rich by easy trips

May go to heav’n, whereas the poor and lowly

Must work their passage, as they do in ships.

One place there is — beneath the burial sod,

Where all mankind are equalized by death;

Another place there is — the Fane of God,

Where all are equal, who draw living breath; —

Juggle who will elsewhere with his own soul,

Playing the Judas with a temporal dole —

He who can come beneath that awful cope,

In the dread presence of a Maker just,

Who metes to ev’ry pinch of human dust

One even measure of immortal hope —

He who can stand within that holy door,

With soul unbow’d by that pure spirit-level,

And frame unequal laws for rich and poor —

Might sit for Hell and represent the Devil!

Such are the solemn sentiments, O Rae,

In your last Journey-Work, perchance you ravage,

Seeming, but in more courtly terms, to say

I’m but a heedless, creedless, godless savage;

A very Guy, deserving fire and faggots —

A Scoffer, always on the grin,

And sadly given to the mortal sin

Of liking Maw-worms less than merry maggots!

The humble records of my life to search,

I have not herded with mere pagan beasts;

But sometimes I have “sat at good men’s feasts,”

And I have been “where bells have knoll’d to church.”

Dear bells! how sweet the sounds of village bells

When on the undulating air they swim!

Now loud as welcomes! faint, now, as farewells!

And trembling all about the breezy dells

As flutter’d by the wings of Cherubim.

Meanwhile the bees are chanting a low hymn;

And lost to sight th’ ecstatic lark above

Sings, like a soul beatified, of love —

With, now and then, the coo of the wild pigeon; —

O Pagans, Heathens, Infidels and Doubters!

If such sweet sounds can’t woo you to religion,

Will the harsh voices of church cads and touters?

A man may cry “Church! Church!” at ev’ry word,

With no more piety than other people —

A daw’s not reckon’d a religious bird

Because it keeps a-cawing from a steeple.

The Temple is a good, a holy place,

But quacking only gives it an ill savor;

While saintly mountebanks the porch disgrace,

And bring religion’s self into disfavor!

Behold yon servitor of God and Mammon,

Who, binding up his Bible with his Ledger,

Blends Gospel texts with trading gammon,

A black-leg saint, a spiritual hedger,

Who backs his rigid Sabbath, so to speak,

Against the wicked remnant of the week,

A saving bet against his sinful bias —

“Rogue that I am,” he whispers to himself,

“I lie — I cheat — do anything for pelf,

But who on earth can say I am not pious?”

In proof how over-righteousness re-acts,

Accept an anecdote well based on facts.

One Sunday morning —(at the day don’t fret)—

In riding with a friend to Ponder’s End

Outside the stage, we happened to commend

A certain mansion that we saw To Let.

“Ay,” cried our coachman, with our talk to grapple

“You’re right! no house along the road comes nigh it!

’Twas built by the same man as built yon chapel

And master wanted once to buy it —

But t’other driv the bargain much too hard —

He ax’d sure-ly a sum purdigious!

But being so particular religious,

Why, that, you see, put master on his guard!”

Church is “a little heav’n below,

I have been there and still would go,”—

Yet I am none of those, who think it odd

A man can pray unbidden from the cassock,

And, passing by the customary hassock,

Kneel down remote upon the simple sod,

And sue in formâ pauperis to God.

As for the rest — intolerant to none,

Whatever shape the pious rite may bear,

Ev’n the poor Pagan’s homage to the Sun

I would not harshly scorn, lest even there

I spurn’d some elements of Christian pray’r —

An aim, tho’ erring, at a “world ayont,”

Acknowledgment of good — of man’s futility,

A sense of need, and weakness, and indeed

That very thing so many Christians want —

Humility.

Such, unto Papists, Jews or turban’d Turks,

Such is my spirit —(I don’t mean my wraith!)

Such, may it please you, is my humble faith;

I know, full well, you do not like my works!

I have not sought, ’tis true, the Holy Land,

As full of texts as Cuddie Headrigg’s mother,

The Bible in one hand,

And my own commonplace-book in the other —

But you have been to Palestine — alas!

Some minds improve by travel, others, rather,

Resemble copper wire, or brass,

Which gets the narrower by going farther!

Worthless are all such Pilgrimages — very!

If Palmers at the Holy Tomb contrive

The human heats and rancor to revive

That at the Sepulchre they ought to bury.

A sorry sight it is to rest the eye on,

To see a Christian creature graze at Sion,

Then homeward, of the saintly pasture full,

Rush bellowing, and breathing fire and smoke,

At crippled Papistry to butt and poke,

Exactly as a skittish Scottish bull

Hunts an old woman in a scarlet cloak!

Why leave a serious, moral, pious home,

Scotland, renown’d for sanctity of old,

Far distant Catholics to rate and scold

For — doing as the Romans do at Rome?

With such a bristling spirit wherefore quit

The Land of Cakes for any land of wafers,

About the graceless images to flit,

And buzz and chafe importunate as chafers,

Longing to carve the carvers to Scotch collops? —

People who hold such absolute opinions

Should stay at home, in Protestant dominions,

Not travel like male Mrs. Trollopes.

Gifted with noble tendency to climb,

Yet weak at the same time,

Faith is a kind of parasitic plant,

That grasps the nearest stem with tendril-rings;

And as the climate and the soil may grant,

So is the sort of tree to which it clings.

Consider then, before, like Hurlothrumbo

You aim your club at any creed on earth,

That, by the simple accident of birth,

You might have been High Priest to Mumbo Jumbo.

For me — thro’ heathen ignorance perchance,

Not having knelt in Palestine — I feel

None of that griffinish excess of zeal,

Some travellers would blaze with here in France.

Dolls I can see in virgin-like array,

Nor for a scuffle with the idols hanker

Like crazy Quixote at the puppet’s play,

If their “offence be rank,” should mine be rancor?

Mild light, and by degrees, should be the plan

To cure the dark and erring mind;

But who would rush at a benighted man,

And give him two black eyes for being blind?

Suppose the tender but luxuriant hop

Around a canker’d stem should twine,

What Kentish boor would tear away the prop

So roughly as to wound, nay, kill the bine?

The images, ’tis true, are strangely dress’d,

With gauds and toys extremely out of season;

The carving nothing of the very best,

The whole repugnant to the eye of reason,

Shocking to Taste, and to Fine Arts a treason —

Yet ne’er o’erlook in bigotry of sect

One truly Catholic, one common form,

At which uncheck’d

All Christian hearts may kindle or keep warm.

Say, was it to my spirit’s gain or loss,

One bright and balmy morning, as I went

From Liege’s lovely environs to Ghent,

If hard by the wayside I found a cross,

That made me breathe a pray’r upon the spot —

While Nature of herself, as if to trace

The emblem’s use, had trail’d around its base

The blue significant Forget-me-not?

Methought, the claims of Charity to urge

More forcibly, along with Faith and Hope,

The pious choice had pitched upon the verge

Of a delicious slope

Giving the eye much variegated scope; —

“Look round,” it whisper’d, “on that prospect rare,

Those vales so verdant, and those hills so blue;

Enjoy the sunny world, so fresh, and fair,

But”—(how the simple legend pierced me thro’!)

“PRIEZ POUR LES MALHEUREUX.”

With sweet kind natures, as in honey’d cells,

Religion lives, and feels herself at home;

But only on a formal visit dwells

Where wasps instead of bees have formed the comb.

Shun pride, O Rae! — whatever sort beside

You take in lieu, shun spiritual pride!

A pride there is of rank — a pride of birth,

A pride of learning, and a pride of purse,

A London pride — in short, there be on earth

A host of prides, some better and some worse;

But of all prides, since Lucifer’s attaint,

The proudest swells a self-elected Saint.

To picture that cold pride so harsh and hard,

Fancy a peacock in a poultry yard.

Behold him in conceited circles sail,

Strutting and dancing, and now planted stiff,

In all his pomp of pageantry, as if

He felt “the eyes of Europe” on his tail!

As for the humble breed retain’d by man,

He scorns the whole domestic clan —

He bows, he bridles,

He wheels, he sidles,

At last, with stately dodgings, in a corner

He pens a simple russet hen, to scorn her

Full in the blaze of his resplendent fan!

“Look here,” he cries (to give him words),

“Thou feather’d clay — thou scum of birds!”

Flirting the rustling plumage in her eyes —

“Look here, thou vile predestined sinner,

Doom’d to be roasted for a dinner,

Behold those lovely variegated dyes!

These are the rainbow colors of the skies,

That Heav’n has shed upon me con amore

A Bird of Paradise? — a pretty story!

I am that Saintly Fowl, thou paltry chick!

Look at my crown of glory!

Thou dingy, dirty, drabbled, draggled jill!”

And off goes Partlet, wriggling from a kick,

With bleeding scalp laid open by his bill!

That little simile exactly paints

How sinners are despised by saints.

By saints! — the Hypocrites that ope heav’n’s door

Obsequious to the sinful man of riches —

But put the wicked, naked, barelegg’d poor

In parish stocks instead of breeches.

The Saints! — the Bigots that in public spout,

Spread phosphorus of zeal on scraps of fustian,

And go like walking “Lucifers” about

Mere living bundles of combustion.

The Saints! — the aping Fanatics that talk

All cant and rant, and rhapsodies high-flown —

That bid you baulk

A Sunday walk,

And shun God’s work as you should shun your own.

The Saints! — the Formalists, the extra pious,

Who think the mortal husk can save the soul,

By trundling with a mere mechanic bias,

To church, just like a lignum-vitæ bowl!

The Saints! — the Pharisees, whose beadle stands

Beside a stern coercive kirk.

A piece of human mason-work,

Calling all sermons contrabands,

In that great Temple that’s not made with hands!

Thrice blessed, rather, is the man, with whom

The gracious prodigality of nature,

The balm, the bliss, the beauty, and the bloom,

The bounteous providence in ev’ry feature,

Recall the good Creator to his creature,

Making all earth a fane, all heav’n its dome!

To his tuned spirit the wild heather-bells

Ring Sabbath knells;

The jubilate of the soaring lark

Is chant of clerk;

For choir, the thrush and the gregarious linnet;

The sod’s a cushion for his pious want;

And, consecrated by the heav’n within it,

The sky-blue pool, a font.

Each cloud-capped mountain is a holy altar;

An organ breathes in every grove;

And the full heart’s a Psalter,

Rich in deep hymns of gratitude and love!

Sufficiently by stern necessitarians

Poor Nature, with her face begrimed by dust,

Is stoked, coked, smoked, and almost choked; but must

Religion have its own Utilitarians,

Labell’d with evangelical phylacteries,

To make the road to heav’n a railway trust,

And churches — that’s the naked fact — mere factories?

Oh! simply open wide the Temple door,

And let the solemn, swelling, organ greet,

With Voluntaries meet,

The willing advent of the rich and poor!

And while to God the loud Hosannas soar,

With rich vibrations from the vocal throng —

From quiet shades that to the woods belong,

And brooks with music of their own,

Voices may come to swell the choral song

With notes of praise they learned in musings lone.

How strange it is while on all vital questions,

That occupy the House and public mind,

We always meet with some humane suggestions

Of gentle measures of a healing kind,

Instead of harsh severity and vigor,

The Saint alone his preference retains

For bills of penalties and pains,

And marks his narrow code with legal rigor!

Why shun, as worthless of affiliation,

What men of all political persuasion

Extol — and even use upon occasion —

That Christian principle, Conciliation?

But possibly the men who make such fuss

With Sunday pippins and old Trots infirm,

Attach some other meaning to the term,

As thus:

One market morning, in my usual rambles,

Passing along Whitechapel’s ancient shambles,

Where meat was hung in many a joint and quarter,

I had to halt awhile, like other folks,

To let a killing butcher coax

A score of lambs and fatted sheep to slaughter.

A sturdy man he looke’d to fell an ox,

Bull-fronted, ruddy, with a formal streak

Of well-greased hair down either cheek,

As if he dee-dash-dee’d some other flocks

Beside those woolly-headed stubborn blocks

That stood before him, in vexatious huddle —

Poor little lambs, with bleating wethers group’d,

While, now and then, a thirsty creature stoop’d

And meekly snuff’d, but did not taste the puddle.

Fierce bark’d the dog, and many a blow was dealt,

That loin, and chump, and scrag and saddle felt,

Yet still, that fatal step they all declined it —

And shunn’d the tainted door as if they smelt

Onions, mint sauce, and lemon juice behind it.

At last there came a pause of brutal force,

The cur was silent, for his jaws were full

Of tangled locks of tarry wool,

The man had whoop’d and holloed till dead hoarse.

The time was ripe for mild expostulation,

And thus it stammer’d from a stander-by —

“Zounds! — my good fellow — it quite makes me — why,

It really — my dear fellow — do just try Conciliation!”

Stringing his nerves like flint,

The sturdy butcher seized upon the hint —

At least he seized upon the foremost wether —

And hugg’d and lugg’d and tugg’d him neck and crop

Just nolens volens thro’ the open shop —

If tails come off he didn’t care a feather —

Then walking to the door and smiling grim,

He rubb’d his forehead and his sleeve together —

“There! — I have conciliated him!”

Again — good-humoredly to end our quarrel —

(Good humor should prevail!)

I’ll fit you with a tale,

Whereto is tied a moral.

Once on a time a certain English lass

Was seized with symptoms of such deep decline,

Cough, hectic flushes, ev’ry evil sign,

That, as their wont is at such desperate pass,

The Doctors gave her over — to an ass.

Accordingly, the grisly Shade to bilk,

Each morn the patient quaff’d a frothy bowl

Of asinine new milk,

Robbing a shaggy suckling of a foal

Which got proportionably spare and skinny —

Meanwhile the neighbors cried “Poor Mary Ann!

She can’t get over it! she never can!”

When lo! to prove each prophet was a ninny

The one that died was the poor wet-nurse Jenny.

To aggravate the case,

There were but two grown donkeys in the place;

And most unluckily for Eve’s sick daughter,

The other long ear’d creature was a male,

Who never in his life had given a pail

Of milk, or even chalk and water.

No matter: at the usual hour of eight

Down trots a donkey to the wicket-gate,

With Mister Simon Gubbins on his back —

“Your sarvant, Miss” — a worry spring-like day —

Bad time for hasses tho’! good lack! good lack!

Jenny be dead, Miss — but I’ve brought ye Jack,

He doesn’t give no milk — but he can bray.

So runs the story,

And, in vain self-glory,

Some Saints would sneer at Gubbins for his blindness —

But what the better are their pious saws

To ailing souls, than dry hee-haws,

Without the milk of human kindness?

To My Daughter

On Her Birthday.

Dear Fanny! nine long years ago,

While yet the morning sun was low,

And rosy with the Eastern glow

The landscape smiled —

Whilst lowed the newly-waken’d herds —

Sweet as the early song of birds,

I heard those first, delightful words,

“Thou hast a Child!”

Along with that uprising dew

Tears glisten’d in my eyes, though few,

To hail a dawning quite as new

To me, as Time:

It was not sorrow — not annoy —

But like a happy maid, though coy,

With grief-like welcome even Joy

Forestalls its prime.

So mayst thou live, dear! many years,

In all the bliss that life endears,

Not without smiles, nor yet from tears

Too strictly kept:

When first thy infant littleness

I folded in my fond caress,

The greatest proof of happiness

Was this — I wept.

Written at Ostend in September 1839.

Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg.

A Golden Legend.

“What is here?

Gold! yellow, glittering, precious gold?”

Timon of Athens.

Her Pedigree.
1.

To trace the Kilmansegg pedigree

To the very root of the family tree

Were a task as rash as ridiculous:

Through antediluvian mists as thick

As London fog such a line to pick

Were enough, in truth, to puzzle old Nick,

Not to name Sir Harris Nicolas.

2.

It wouldn’t require much verbal strain

To trace the Kill-man, perchance, to Cain;

But, waiving all such digressions,

Suffice it, according to family lore,

A Patriarch Kilmansegg lived of yore,

Who was famed for his great possessions.

3.

Tradition said he feather’d his nest

Through an Agricultural Interest

In the Golden Age of Farming;

When golden eggs were laid by the geese,

And Colehian sheep wore a golden fleece,

And golden pippins — the sterling kind

Of Hesperus — now so hard to find —

Made Horticulture quite charming!

4.

A Lord of Land, on his own estate,

He lived at a very lively rate,

But his income would bear carousing;

Such acres he had of pastures and heath,

With herbage so rich from the ore beneath,

The very ewe’s and lambkin’s teeth

Were turn’d into gold by browsing.

5.

He gave, without any extra thrift,

A flock of sheep for a birthday gift

To each son of his loins, or daughter:

And his debts — if debts he had — at will

He liquidated by giving each bill

A dip in Pactolian water.

6.

’Twas said that even his pigs of lead,

By crossing with some by Midas bred,

Made a perfect mine of his piggery.

And as for cattle, one yearling bull

Was worth all Smithfield-market full

Of the Golden Bulls of Pope Gregory.

7.

The high-bred horses within his stud,

Like human creatures of birth and blood,

Had their Golden Cups and flagons:

And as for the common husbandry nags,

Their noses were tied in money-bags,

When they stopp’d with the carts and wagons.

8.

Moreover, he had a Golden Ass,

Sometimes at stall, and sometimes at grass,

That was worth his own weight in money

And a golden hive, on a Golden Bank,

Where golden bees, by alchemical prank,

Gather’d gold instead of honey.

9.

Gold! and gold! and gold without end!

He had gold to lay by, and gold to spend,

Gold to give, and gold to lend,

And reversions of gold in futuro.

In wealth the family revell’d and roll’d,

Himself and wife and sons so bold; —

And his daughters sang to their harps of gold

“O bella eta del’oro!”

10.

Such was the tale of the Kilmansegg Kin,

In golden text on a vellum skin,

Though certain people would wink and grin,

And declare the whole story a parable —

That the Ancestor rich was one Jacob Ghrimes,

Who held a long lease, in prosperous times,

Of acres, pasture and arable.

11.

That as money makes money, his golden bees

Were the Five per Cents, or which you please,

When his cash was more than plenty —

That the golden cups were racing affairs;

And his daughters, who sang Italian airs,

Had their golden harps of Clementi.

12.

That the Golden Ass, or Golden Bull,

Was English John, with his pockets full,

Then at war by land and water:

While beef, and mutton, and other meat,

Were almost as dear as money to eat,

And farmers reaped Golden Harvests of wheat

At the Lord knows what per quarter!

13.

What different dooms our birthdays bring!

For instance, one little manikin thing

Survives to wear many a wrinkle;

While Death forbids another to wake,

And a son that it took nine moons to make

Expires without even a twinkle!

14.

Into this world we come like ships,

Launch’d from the docks, and stocks, and slips,

For fortune fair or fatal;

And one little craft is cast away

In its very first trip in Babbicome Bay,

While another rides safe at Port Natal.

15.

What different lots our stars accord!

This babe to be hail’d and woo’d as a Lord!

And that to be shun’d like a leper!

One, to the world’s wine, honey, and corn,

Another, like Colchester native, born

To its vinegar, only, and pepper.

16.

One is litter’d under a roof

Neither wind nor water proof —

That’s the prose of Love in a Cottage —

A puny, naked, shivering wretch,

The whole of whose birthright would not fetch,

Though Robins himself drew up the sketch,

The bid of “a mess of pottage.”

17.

Born of Fortunatus’s kin

Another comes tenderly ushered in

To a prospect all bright and burnish’d:

No tenant he for life’s back slums —

He comes to the world, as a gentleman comes

To a lodging ready furnish’d.

18.

And the other sex — the tender — the fair —

What wide reverses of fate are there!

Whilst Margaret, charm’d by the Bulbul rare,

In a garden of Gul reposes —

Poor Peggy hawks nosegays from street to street

Till — think of that, who find life so sweet! —

She hates the smell of roses!

19.

Not so with the infant Kilmansegg!

She was not born to steal or beg,

Or gather cresses in ditches;

To plait the straw, or bind the shoe,

Or sit all day to hem and sew,

As females must — and not a few —

To fill their insides with stitches!

20.

She was not doom’d, for bread to eat,

To be put to her hands as well as her feet —

To carry home linen from mangles —

Or heavy-hearted, and weary-limb’d,

To dance on a rope in a jacket trimm’d

With as many blows as spangles.

21.

She was one of those who by Fortune’s boon

Are born, as they say, with a silver spoon

In her mouth, not a wooden ladle:

To speak according to poet’s wont,

Plutus as sponsor stood at her font,

And Midas rocked the cradle.

22.

At her first début she found her head

On a pillow of down, in a downy bed,

With a damask canopy over.

For although, by the vulgar popular saw,

All mothers are said to be “in the straw,”

Some children are born in clover.

23.

Her very first draught of vital air,

It was not the common chameleon fare

Of plebeian lungs and noses —

No — her earliest sniff

Of this world was a whiff

Of the genuine Otto of Roses!

24.

When she saw the light, it was no mere ray

Of that light so common — so everyday —

That the sun each morning launches —

But six wax tapers dazzled her eyes,

From a thing — a gooseberry bush for size —

With a golden stem and branches.

25.

She was born exactly at half-past two,

As witness’d a timepiece in ormolu

That stood on a marble table —

Showing at once the time of day,

And a team of Gildings running away

As fast as they were able,

With a golden God, with a golden Star,

And a golden Spear, in a golden Car,

According to Grecian fable.

26.

Like other babes, at her birth she cried;

Which made a sensation far and wide —

Ay, for twenty miles around her:

For though to the ear ’twas nothing more

Than an infant’s squall, it was really the roar

Of a Fifty-thousand Pounder!

It shook the next heir

In his library chair,

And made him cry, “Confound her!”

27.

Of signs and omens there was no dearth,

Any more than at Owen Glendower’s birth,

Or the advent of other great people

Two bullocks dropp’d dead,

As if knock’d on the head,

And barrels of stout

And ale ran about,

And the village bells such a peal rang out,

That they crack’d the village steeple.

28.

In no time at all, like mushroom spawn,

Tables sprang up all over the lawn;

Not furnish’d scantly or shabbily,

But on scale as vast

As that huge repast,

With its loads and cargoes

Of drink and botargoes,

At the Birth of the Babe in Rabelais.

29.

Hundreds of men were turn’d into beasts,

Like the guests at Circe’s horrible feasts,

By the magic of ale and cider:

And each country lass, and each country lad

Began to caper and dance like mad,

And ev’n some old ones appear’d to have had

A bite from the Naples Spider.

30.

Then as night came on,

It had scared King John

Who considered such signs not risible,

To have seen the maroons,

And the whirling moons,

And the serpents of flame,

And wheels of the same,

That according to some were “whizzable.”

31.

Oh, happy Hope of the Kilmanseggs!

Thrice happy in head, and body, and legs,

That her parents had such full pockets!

For had she been born of Want and Thrift,

For care and nursing all adrift,

It’s ten to one she had had to make shift

With rickets instead of rockets!

32.

And how was the precious baby drest?

In a robe of the East, with lace of the West,

Like one of Croesus’s issue —

Her best bibs were made

Of rich gold brocade,

And the others of silver tissue.

33.

And when the baby inclined to nap,

She was lull’d on a Gros de Naples lap,

By a nurse in a modish Paris cap,

Of notions so exalted,

She drank nothing lower than Curaçoa

Maraschino, or pink Noyau,

And on principle never malted.

34.

From a golden boat, with a golden spoon,

The babe was fed night, morning, and noon;

And altho’ the tale seems fabulous,

’Tis said her tops and bottoms were gilt,

Like the oats in that Stable-yard Palace built

For the horse of Heliogabalus.

35.

And when she took to squall and kick —

For pain will wring, and pins will prick,

E’en the wealthiest nabob’s daughter —

They gave her no vulgar Dalby or gin,

But a liquor with leaf of gold therein,

Videlicet — Dantzic Water.

36.

In short she was born, and bred, and nurst,

And drest in the best from the very first,

To please the genteelest censor —

And then, as soon as strength would allow,

Was vaccinated, as babes are now,

With virus ta’en from the best-bred cow

Of Lord Althorpe’s — now Earl Spencer.

Her Christening.
37.

Though Shakspeare asks us, “What’s in a name?”

(As if cognomens were much the same),

There’s really a very great scope in it.

A name? — why, wasn’t there Doctor Dodd,

That servant at once of Mammon and God,

Who found four thousand pounds and odd,

A prison — a cart — and a rope in it?

38.

A name? — if the party had a voice,

What mortal would be a Bugg by choice?

As a Hogg, a Grubb, or a Chubb rejoice?

Or any such nauseous blazon?

Not to mention many a vulgar name,

That would make a door-plate blush for shame,

If door-plates were not so brazen!

39.

A name? — it has more than nominal worth,

And belongs to good or bad luck at birth —

As dames of a certain degree know.

In spite of his Page’s hat and hose,

His Page’s jacket, and buttons in rows,

Bob only sounds like a page in prose

Till turn’d into Rupertino.

40.

Now to christen the infant Kilmansegg,

For days and days it was quite a plague,

To hunt the list in the Lexicon:

And scores were tried, like coin, by the ring,

Ere names were found just the proper thing

For a minor rich as a Mexican.

41.

Then cards were sent, the presence to beg

Of all the kin of Kilmansegg,

White, yellow, and brown relations:

Brothers, Wardens of City Halls,

And Uncles — rich as three Golden Balls

From taking pledges of nations.

42.

Nephews, whom Fortune seem’d to bewitch,

Rising in life like rockets —

Nieces, whose dowries knew no hitch —

Aunts, as certain of dying rich

As candles in golden sockets —

Cousins German and Cousins’ sons,

All thriving and opulent — some had tons

Of Kentish hops in their pockets!

43.

For money had stuck to the race through life

(As it did to the bushel when cash so rife

Posed Ali Baba’s brother’s wife)—

And down to the Cousins and Coz-lings,

The fortunate brood of the Kilmanseggs,

As if they had come out of golden eggs,

Were all as wealthy as “Goslings.”

44.

It would fill a Court Gazette to name

What East and West End people came

To the rite of Christianity:

The lofty Lord, and the titled Dame,

All di’monds, plumes, and urbanity:

His Lordship the May’r with his golden chain,

And two Gold Sticks, and the Sheriffs twain,

Nine foreign Counts, and other great men

With their orders and stars, to help “M. or N.”

To renounce all pomp and vanity.

45.

To paint the maternal Kilmansegg

The pen of an Eastern Poet would beg,

And need an elaborate sonnet;

How she sparkled with gems whenever she stirr’d,

And her head niddle-noddled at every word,

And seem’d so happy, a Paradise Bird

Had nidificated upon it.

46.

And Sir Jacob the Father strutted and bow’d,

And smiled to himself, and laugh’d aloud,

To think of his heiress and daughter —

And then in his pockets he made a grope,

And then, in the fulness of joy and hope,

Seem’d washing his hands with invisible soap

In imperceptible water.

47.

He had roll’d in money like pigs in mud.

Till it scem’d to have entered into his blood

By some occult projection:

And his cheeks instead of a healthy hue,

As yellow as any guinea grew,

Making the common phrase seem true,

About a rich complexion.

48.

And now came the nurse, and during a pause,

Her dead-leaf satin would fitly cause

A very autumnal rustle —

So full of figure, so full of fuss,

As she carried about the babe to buss,

She seem’d to be nothing but bustle.

49.

A wealthy Nabob was Godpapa,

And an Indian Begum was Godmamma,

Whose jewels a Queen might covet —

And the Priest was a Vicar, and Dean withal

Of that Temple we see with a Golden Ball,

And a Golden Cross above it.

50.

The Font was a bowl of American gold,

Won by Raleigh in days of old,

In spite of Spanish bravado;

And the Book of Pray’r was so overrun

With gilt devices, it shone in the sun

Like a copy — a presentation one —

Of Humboldt’s “El Dorada.”

51.

Gold! and gold! and nothing but gold!

The same auriferous shine behold

Wherever the eye could settle!

On the walls — the sideboard — the ceiling-sky —

On the gorgeous footmen standing by,

In coats to delight a miner’s eye

With seams of the precious metal.

52.

Gold! and gold! and besides the gold,

The very robe of the infant told

A tale of wealth in every fold,

It lapp’d her like a vapor!

So fine! so thin! the mind at a loss

Could compare it to nothing except a cross

Of cobweb with bank-note paper.

53.

Then her pearls —’twas a perfect sight, forsooth,

To see them, like “the dew of her youth,”

In such a plentiful sprinkle.

Meanwhile, the Vicar read through the form,

And gave her another, not overwarm,

That made her little eyes twinkle.

54.

Then the babe was cross’d and bless’d amain!

But instead of the Kate, or Ann, or Jane,

Which the humbler female endorses —

Instead of one name, as some people prefix,

Kilmansegg went at the tails of six,

Like a carriage of state with its horses.

55.

Oh, then the kisses she got and hugs!

The golden mugs and the golden jugs

That lent fresh rays to the midges!

The golden knives, and the golden spoons,

The gems that sparkled like fairy boons,

It was one of the Kilmansegg’s own saloons,

But looked like Rundell and Bridge’s!

56.

Gold! and gold! the new and the old!

The company ate and drank from gold,

They revell’d, they sang, and were merry;

And one of the Gold Sticks rose from his chair,

And toasted “the Lass with the golden hair”

In a bumper of Golden Sherry.

57.

Gold! still gold! it rained on the nurse,

Who — unlike Danäe — was none the worse!

There was nothing but guineas glistening!

Fifty were given to Doctor James,

For calling the little Baby names,

And for saying, Amen!

The Clerk had ten,

And that was the end of the Christening.

Her Childhood.
58.

Our youth! our childhood! that spring of springs!

’Tis surely one of the blessedest things

That nature ever intended!

When the rich are wealthy beyond their wealth,

And the poor are rich in spirits and health,

And all with their lots contented!

59.

There’s little Phelim, he sings like a thrush,

In the selfsame pair of patchwork plush,

With the selfsame empty pockets,

That tempted his daddy so often to cut

His throat, or jump in the water-butt —

But what cares Phelim? an empty nut

Would sooner bring tears to their sockets.

60.

Give him a collar without a skirt,

(That’s the Irish linen for shirt)

And a slice of bread with a taste of dirt,

(That’s Poverty’s Irish butter)

And what does he lack to make him blest?

Some oyster-shells, or a sparrow’s nest,

A candle-end and a gutter.

61.

But to leave the happy Phelim alone,

Gnawing, perchance, a marrowless bone,

For which no dog would quarrel —

Turn we to little Miss Kilmansegg,

Cutting her first little toothy-peg

With a fifty-guinea coral —

A peg upon which

About poor and rich

Reflection might hang a moral.

62.

Born in wealth, and wealthily nursed,

Capp’d, papp’d, napp’d, and lapp’d from the first

On the knees of Prodigality,

Her childhood was one eternal round

Of the game of going on Tickler’s ground

Picking up gold — in reality.

63.

With extempore carts she never play’d,

Or the odds and ends of a Tinker’s Trade,

Or little dirt pies and puddings made,

Like children happy and squalid;

The very puppet she had to pet,

Like a bait for the “Nix my Dolly” set,

Was a Dolly of gold — and solid!

64.

Gold! and gold! ’twas the burden still!

To gain the Heiress’s early good-will

There was much corruption and bribery —

The yearly cost of her golden toys

Would have given half London’s Charity Boys

And Charity Girls the annual joys

Of a holiday dinner at Highbury.

65.

Bon-bons she ate from the gilt cornet;

And gilded queens on St. Bartlemy’s day;

Till her fancy was tinged by her presents —

And first a Goldfinch excited her wish,

Then a spherical bowl with its Golden fish,

And then two Golden Pheasants.

66.

Nay, once she squall’d and scream’d like wild —

And it shows how the bias we give to a child

Is a thing most weighty and solemn:—

But whence was wonder or blame to spring

If little Miss K. — after such a swing —

Made a dust for the flaming gilded thing

On the top of the Fish Street column?

Her Education.
67.

According to metaphysical creed,

To the earliest books that children read

For much good or much bad they are debtors —

But before with their A B C they start,

There are things in morals, as well as art,

That play a very important part —

“Impressions before the letters.”

68.

Dame Education begins the pile,

Mayhap in the graceful Corinthian style,

But alas for the elevation!

If the Lady’s maid or Gossip the Nurse

With a load of rubbish, or something worse,

Have made a rotten foundation.

69.

Even thus with little Miss Kilmansegg,

Before she learnt her E for egg,

Ere her Governess came, or her Masters —

Teachers of quite a different kind

Had “cramm’d” her beforehand, and put her mind

In a go-cart on golden casters.

70.

Long before her A B and C,

They had taught her by heart her L. S. D.

And as how she was born a great Heiress;

And as sure as London is built of bricks,

My Lord would ask her the day to fix,

To ride in a fine gilt coach and six,

Like Her Worship the Lady May’ress.

71.

Instead of stories from Edgeworth’s page,

The true golden lore for our golden age,

Or lessons from Barbauld and Trimmer,

Teaching the worth of Virtue and Health,

All that she knew was the Virtue of Wealth,

Provided by vulgar nursery stealth

With a Book of Leaf Gold for a primer.

72.

The very metal of merit they told,

And praised her for being as “good as gold”!

Till she grew as a peacock haughty;

Of money they talk’d the whole day round,

And weigh’d desert, like grapes, by the pound,

Till she had an idea from the very sound

That people with nought were naughty.

73.

They praised — poor children with nothing at all!

Lord! how you twaddle and waddle and squall

Like common-bred geese and ganders!

What sad little bad little figures you make

To the rich Miss K., whose plainest seed-cake

Was stuff’d with corianders!

74.

They praised her falls, as well as her walk,

Flatterers make cream cheese of chalk,

They praised — how they praised — her very small talk,

As if it fell from the Solon;

Or the girl who at each pretty phrase let drop

A ruby comma, or pearl full-stop,

Or an emerald semi-colon.

75.

They praised her spirit, and now and then

The Nurse brought her own little “nevy” Ben,

To play with the future May’ress,

And when he got raps, and taps, and slaps,

Scratches, and pinches, snips, and snaps,

As if from a Tigress or Bearess,

They told him how Lords would court that hand,

And always gave him to understand,

While he rubb’d, poor soul,

His carroty poll,

That his hair has been pull’d by a Hairess.

76.

Such were the lessons from maid and nurse,

A Governess help’d to make still worse,

Giving an appetite so perverse

Fresh diet whereon to batten —

Beginning with A B C to hold

Like a royal playbill printed in gold

On a square of pearl-white satin

77.

The books to teach the verbs and nouns,

And those about countries, cities, and towns,

Instead of their sober drabs and browns,

Were in crimson silk, with gilt edges; —

Her Butler, and Enfield, and Entick — in short

Her “Early Lessons” of every sort,

Look’d like Souvenirs, Keepsakes, and Pledges.

78.

Old Johnson shone out in as fine array

As he did one night when he went to the play;

Chambaud like a beau of King Charles’s day —

Lindley Murray in like conditions —

Each weary, unwelcome, irksome task,

Appear’d in a fancy dress and a mask; —

If you wish for similar copies, ask

For Howell and James’s Editions.

79.

Novels she read to amuse her mind,

But always the affluent match-making kind

That ends with Promessi Sposi,

And a father-in-law so wealthy and grand,

He could give cheque-mate to Coutts in the Strand;

So, along with a ring and posy,

He endows the Bride with Golconda off hand,

And gives the Groom Potosi.

80.

Plays she perused — but she liked the best

Those comedy gentlefolks always possess’d

Of fortunes so truly romantic —

Of money so ready that right or wrong

It always is ready to go for a song,

Throwing it, going it, pitching it strong —

They ought to have purses as green and long

As the cucumber call’d the Gigantic.

81.

Then Eastern Tales she loved for the sake

Of the Purse of Oriental make,

And the thousand pieces they put in it —

But Pastoral scenes on her heart fell cold,

For Nature with her had lost its hold,

No field but the Field of the Cloth of Gold

Would ever have caught her foot in it.

82.

What more? She learnt to sing, and dance,

To sit on a horse, although he should prance,

And to speak a French not spoken in France

Any more than at Babel’s building —

And she painted shells, and flowers, and Turks,

But her great delight was in Fancy Works

That are done with gold or gilding.

83.

Gold! still gold! — the bright and the dead,

With golden beads, and gold lace, and gold thread

She work’d in gold, as if for her bread;

The metal had so undermined her,

Gold ran in her thoughts and fill’d her brain,

She was golden-headed as Peter’s cane

With which he walked behind her.

Her Accident.
84.

The horse that carried Miss Kilmansegg,

And a better nether lifted leg,

Was a very rich bay, call’d Banker —

A horse of a breed and a mettle so rare —

By Bullion out of an Ingot mare —

That for action, the best of figures, and air,

It made many good judges hanker.

85.

And when she took a ride in the Park,

Equestrian Lord, or pedestrian Clerk,

Was thrown in an amorous fever,

To see the Heiress how well she sat,

With her groom behind her, Bob or Nat,

In green, half smother’d with gold, and a hat

With more gold lace than beaver.

86.

And then when Banker obtain’d a pat,

To see how he arch’d his neck at that!

He snorted with pride and pleasure!

Like the Steed in the fable so lofty and grand,

Who gave the poor Ass to understand

That he didn’t carry a bag of sand,

But a burden of golden treasure.

87.

A load of treasure? — alas! alas!

Had her horse been fed upon English grass,

And shelter’d in Yorkshire spinneys,

Had he scour’d the sand with the Desert Ass,

Or where the American whinnies —

But a hunter from Erin’s turf and gorse,

A regular thoroughbred Irish horse,

Why, he ran away, as a matter of course,

With a girl worth her weight in guineas!

88.

Mayhap ’tis the trick of such pamper’d nags

To shy at the sight of a beggar in rags —

But away, like the bolt of a rabbit —

Away went the horse in the madness of fright,

And away went the horsewoman mocking the sight —

Was yonder blue flash a flash of blue light,

Or only the skirt of her habit?

89.

Away she flies, with the groom behind —

It looks like a race of the Calmuck kind,

When Hymen himself is the starter,

And the Maid rides first in the fourfooted strife,

Riding, striding, as if for her life,

While the Lover rides after to catch him a wife,

Although it’s catching a Tartar.

90.

But the Groom has lost his glittering hat!

Though he does not sigh and pull up for that —

Alas! his horse is a tit for Tat

To sell to a very low bidder —

His wind is ruin’d, his shoulder is sprung,

Things, though a horse be handsome and young,

A purchaser will consider.

91.

But still flies the Heiress through stones and dust,

Oh, for a fall, if she must,

On the gentle lap of Flora!

But still, thank Heaven! she clings to her seat —

Away! away! she could ride a dead heat

With the Dead who ride so fast and fleet,

In the Ballad of Leonora!

92.

Away she gallops! — it’s awful work!

It’s faster than Turpin’s ride to York,

On Bess that notable clipper!

She has circled the Ring! — she crosses the Park!

Mazeppa, although he was stripp’d so stark,

Mazeppa couldn’t outstrip her!

93.

The fields seem running away with the folks!

The Elms are having a race for the Oaks

At a pace that all Jockeys disparages!

All, all is racing! the Serpentine

Seems rushing past like the “arrowy Rhine,”

The houses have got on a railway line,

And are off like the first-class carriages!

94.

She’ll lose her life! she is losing her breath!

A cruel chase, she is chasing Death,

As female shriekings forewarn her:

And now — as gratis as blood of Guelph —

She clears that gate, which has clear’d itself

Since then, at Hyde Park Corner!

95.

Alas! for the hope of the Kilmanseggs!

For her head, her brains, her body, and legs,

Her life’s not worth a copper!

Willy-nilly,

In Piccadilly,

A hundred hearts turn sick and chilly,

A hundred voices cry, “Stop her!”

And one old gentleman stares and stands,

Shakes his head and lifts his hands,

And says, “How very improper!”

96.

On and on! — what a perilous run!

The iron rails seem all mingling in one,

To shut out the Green Park scenery!

And now the Cellar its dangers reveals,

She shudders — she shrieks — she’s doom’d, she feels,

To be torn by powers of horses and wheels,

Like a spinner by steam machinery!

97.

Sick with horror she shuts her eyes,

But the very stones seem uttering cries,

As they did to that Persian daughter,

When she climb’d up the steep vociferous hill,

Her little silver flagon to fill

With the magical Golden Water!

98.

“Batter her! shatter her!

Throw and scatter her!”

Shouts each stony-hearted chatterer!

“Dash at the heavy Dover!

Spill her! kill her! tear and tatter her!

Smash her! crash her!” (the stones didn’t flatter her!)

“Kick her brains out! let her blood spatter her!

Roll on her over and over!”

99.

For so she gather’d the awful sense

Of the street in its past unmacadamized tense,

As the wild horse overran it —

His four heels making the clatter of six,

Like a Devil’s tattoo, play’d with iron sticks

On a kettle-drum of granite!

100.

On! still on! she’s dazzled with hints

Of oranges, ribbons, and color’d prints,

A Kaleidoscope jumble of shapes and tints,

And human faces all flashing,

Bright and brief as the sparks from the flints,

That the desperate hoof keeps dashing!

101.

On and on! still frightfully fast!

Dover Street, Bond Street, all are past!

But — yes — no — yes! — they’re down at last!

The Furies and Fates have found them!

Down they go with sparkle and crash,

Like a Bark that’s struck by the lightning flash —

There’s a shriek — and a sob —

And the dense dark mob

Like a billow closes around them!

102.

“She breathes!”

“She don’t!”

“She’ll recover!”

“She won’t!”

“She’s stirring! she’s living, by Nemesis!”

Gold, still gold! on counter and shelf!

Golden dishes as plenty as delf;

Miss Kilmansegg’s coming again to herself

On an opulent Goldsmith’s premises!

103.

Gold! fine gold! — both yellow and red,

Beaten, and molten — polish’d, and dead —

To see the gold with profusion spread

In all forms of its manufacture!

But what avails gold to Miss Kilmansegg,

When the femoral bone of her dexter log

Has met with a compound fracture?

104.

Gold may soothe Adversity’s smart;

Nay, help to bind up a broken heart;

But to try it on any other part

Were as certain a disappointment,

As if one should rub the dish and plate,

Taken out of a Staffordshire crate —

In the hope of a Golden Service of State —

With Singleton’s “Golden Ointment.”

105.

“As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined,”

Is an adage often recall’d to mind,

Referring to juvenile bias:

And never so well is the verity seen,

As when to the weak, warp’d side we lean,

While Life’s tempests and hurricanes try us.

106.

Even thus with Miss K. and her broken limb:

By a very, very remarkable whim,

She show’d her early tuition:

While the buds of character came into blow

With a certain tinge that served to show

The nursery culture long ago,

As the graft is known by fruition!

107.

For the King’s Physician, who nursed the case,

His verdict gave with an awful face,

And three others concurr’d to egg it;

That the Patient to give old Death the slip,

Like the Pope, instead of a personal trip,

Must send her Leg as a Legate.

108.

The limb was doom’d — it couldn’t be saved!

And like other people the patient behaved,

Nay, bravely that cruel parting braved,

Which makes some persons so falter,

They rather would part, without a groan,

With the flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone,

They obtain’d at St. George’s altar.

109.

But when it came to fitting the stump

With a proxy limb — then flatly and plump

She spoke, in the spirit olden;

She couldn’t — she shouldn’t — she wouldn’t have wood!

Nor a leg of cork, if she never stood,

And she swore an oath, or something as good,

The proxy limb should be golden!

110.

A wooden leg! what, a sort of peg,

For your common Jockeys and Jennies!

No, no, her mother might worry and plague —

Weep, go down on her knees, and beg,

But nothing would move Miss Kilmansegg!

She could — she would have a Golden Leg,

If it cost ten thousand guineas!

111.

Wood indeed, in Forest or Park,

With its sylvan honors and feudal bark,

Is an aristocratic article:

But split and sawn, and hack’d about town,

Serving all needs of pauper or clown,

Trod on! stagger’d on! Wood cut down

Is vulgar — fibre and particle!

112.

And Cork! — when the noble Cork Tree shades

A lovely group of Castilian maids,

’Tis a thing for a song or sonnet! —

But cork, as it stops the bottle of gin,

Or bungs the beer — the small beer — in,

It pierced her heart like a corking-pin,

To think of standing upon it!

113.

A Leg of Gold — solid gold throughout,

Nothing else, whether slim or stout,

Should ever support her, God willing!

She must — she could — she would have her whim,

Her father, she turn’d a deaf ear to him —

He might kill her — she didn’t mind killing!

He was welcome to cut off her other limb —

He might cut her all off with a shilling!

114.

All other promised gifts were in vain.

Golden Girdle, or Golden Chain,

She writhed with impatience more than pain,

And utter’d “pshaws!” and “pishes!”

But a Leg of Gold as she lay in bed,

It danced before her — it ran in her head!

It jump’d with her dearest wishes!

115.

“Gold — gold — gold! Oh, let it be gold!”

Asleep or awake that tale she told,

And when she grew delirious:

Till her parents resolved to grant her wish,

If they melted down plate, and goblet, and dish,

The case was getting so serious.

116.

So a Leg was made in a comely mould,

Of gold, fine virgin glittering gold,

As solid as man could make it —

Solid in foot, and calf, and shank,

A prodigious sum of money it sank;

In fact ’twas a Branch of the family Bank,

And no easy matter to break it.

117.

All sterling metal — not half-and-half,

The Goldsmith’s mark was stamp’d on the calf —

’Twas pure as from Mexican barter!

And to make it more costly, just over the knee,

Where another ligature used to be,

Was a circle of jewels, worth shillings to see,

A new-fangled Badge of the Garter!

118.

’Twas a splendid, brilliant, beautiful Leg,

Fit for the Court of Scander-Beg,

That Precious Leg of Miss Kilmansegg!

For, thanks to parental bounty,

Secure from Mortification’s touch,

She stood on a Member that cost as much

As a Member for all the County!

Her Fame.
119.

To gratify stern ambition’s whims,

What hundreds and thousands of precious limbs

On a field of battle we scatter!

Sever’d by sword, or bullet, or saw,

Off they go, all bleeding and raw —

But the public seems to get the lock-jaw,

So little is said on the matter!

120.

Legs, the tightest that ever were seen,

The tightest, the lightest, that danced on the green,

Cutting capers to sweet Kitty Clover;

Shatter’d, scatter’d, cut, and bowl’d down,

Off they go, worse off for renown,

A line in the Times, or a talk about town,

Than the leg that a fly runs over!

121.

But the Precious Leg of Miss Kilmansegg,

That gowden, goolden, golden leg,

Was the theme of all conversation!

Had it been a Pillar of Church and State,

Or a prop to support the whole Dead Weight,

It could not have furnished more debate

To the heads and tails of the nation!

122.

East and west, and north and south,

Though useless for either hunger or drouth —

The Leg was in everybody’s mouth,

To use a poetical figure,

Rumor, in taking her ravenous swim,

Saw, and seized on the tempting limb,

Like a shark on the leg of a nigger.

123.

Wilful murder fell very dead;

Debates in the House were hardly read;

In vain the Police Reports were fed

With Irish riots and rumpuses

The Leg! the Leg! was the great event,

Through every circle in life it went,

Like the leg of a pair of compasses.

124.

The last new Novel seem’d tame and flat,

The Leg, a novelty newer than that,

Had tripp’d up the heels of Fiction!

It Burked the very essays of Burke,

And, alas! how Wealth over Wit plays the Turk!

As a regular piece of goldsmith’s work,

Got the better of Goldsmith’s diction.

125.

“A leg of gold! what, of solid gold?”

Cried rich and poor, and young and old —

And Master and Miss and Madam —

’Twas the talk of ‘Change — the Alley — the Bank —

And with men of scientific rank,

It made as much stir as the fossil shank

Of a Lizard coeval with Adam!

126.

Of course with Greenwich and Chelsea elves,

Men who had lost a limb themselves,

Its interest did not dwindle —

But Bill, and Ben, and Jack, and Tom

Could hardly have spun more yarns therefrom,

If the leg had been a spindle.

127.

Meanwhile the story went to and fro,

Till, gathering like the ball of snow,

By the time it got to Stratford-le-Bow,

Through Exaggeration’s touches,

The Heiress and hope of the Kilmanseggs

Was propp’d on two fine Golden Legs,

And a pair of Golden Crutches!

128.

Never had Leg so great a run!

’Twas the “go” and the “Kick” thrown into one!

The mode — the new thing under the sun,

The rage — the fancy — the passion!

Bonnets were named, and hats were worn,

A la Golden Leg instead of Leghorn,

And stockings and shoes,

Of golden hues,

Took the lead in the walks of fashion!

129.

The Golden Leg had a vast career,

It was sung and danced — and to show how near

Low Folly to lofty approaches,

Down to society’s very dregs,

The Belles of Wapping wore “Kilmanseggs,”

And St. Gile’s Beaux sported Golden Legs

In their pinchbeck pins and brooches!

Her First Step.
130.

Supposing the Trunk and Limbs of Man

Shared, on the allegorical plan,

By the Passions that mark Humanity,

Whichever might claim the head, or heart,

The stomach, or any other part,

The Legs would be seized by Vanity.

131.

There’s Bardus, a six-foot column of fop,

A lighthouse without any light atop,

Whose height would attract beholders,

If he had not lost some inches clear

By looking down at his kerseymere,

Ogling the limbs he holds so dear,

Till he got a stoop in his shoulders.

132.

Talk of Art, of Science, or Books,

And down go the everlasting looks,

To his rural beauties so wedded!

Try him, wherever you will, you find

His mind in his legs, and his legs in his mind,

All prongs and folly — in short a kind

Of fork — that is Fiddle-headed.

133.

What wonder, then, if Miss Kilmansegg,

With a splendid, brilliant, beautiful leg,

Fit for the court of Scander-Beg,

Disdain’d to hide it like Joan or Meg,

In petticoats stuff’d or quilted?

Not she! ’twas her convalescent whim

To dazzle the world with her precious limb —

Nay, to go a little high-kilted.

134.

So cards were sent for that sort of mob

Where Tartars and Africans hob-and-nob,

And the Cherokee talks of his cab and cob

To Polish or Lapland lovers —

Cards like that hieroglyphical call

To a geographical Fancy Ball

On the recent Post-Office covers.

135.

For if Lion-hunters — and great ones too —

Would mob a savage from Latakoo,

Or squeeze for a glimpse of Prince Le Boo,

That unfortunate Sandwich scion —

Hundreds of first-rate people, no doubt,

Would gladly, madly, rush to a rout

That promised a Golden Lion!

Her Fancy Ball.
136.

Of all the spirits of evil fame,

That hurt the soul or injure the frame,

And poison what’s honest and hearty,

There’s none more needs a Mathew to preach

A cooling, antiphlogistic speech,

To praise and enforce

A temperate course,

Than the Evil Spirit of Party.

137.

Go to the House of Commons, or Lords,

And they seem to be busy with simple words

In their popular sense or pedantic —

But, alas! with their cheers, and sneers, and jeers,

They’re really busy, whatever appears,

Putting peas in each other’s ears,

To drive their enemies frantic!

137.

Thus Tories like to worry the Whigs,

Who treat them in turn like Schwalbach pigs,

Giving them lashes, thrashes, and digs,

With their writhing and pain delighted —

But after all that’s said, and more,

The malice and spite of Party are poor

To the malice and spite of a party next door,

To a party not invited.

139.

On with the cap and out with the light,

Weariness bids the world good night,

At least for the usual season;

But hark! a clatter of horses’ heels;

And Sleep and Silence are broken on wheels,

Like Wilful Murder and Treason!

140.

Another crash — and the carriage goes —

Again poor Weariness seeks the repose

That Nature demands, imperious;

But Echo takes up the burden now,

With a rattling chorus of row-de-dow-dow,

Till Silence herself seems making a row,

Like a Quaker gone delirious!

141.

’Tis night — a winter night — and the stars

Are shining like winkin’— Venus and Mars

Are rolling along in their golden cars

Through the sky’s serene expansion —

But vainly the stars dispense their rays,

Venus and Mars are lost in the blaze

Of the Kilmanseggs’ luminous mansion!

142.

Up jumps Fear in a terrible fright!

His bedchamber windows look so bright —

With light all the Square is glutted!

Up he jumps, like a sole from the pan,

And a tremor sickens his inward man,

For he feels as only a gentleman can,

Who thinks he’s being “gutted.”

143.

Again Fear settles, all snug and warm;

But only to dream of a dreadful storm

From Autumn’s sulphurous locker;

But the only electrical body that falls

Wears a negative coat, and positive smalls,

And draws the peal that so appals

From the Kilmanseggs’ brazen knocker!

144.

’Tis Curiosity’s Benefit night —

And perchance ’tis the English Second-Sight,

But whatever it be, so be it —

As the friends and guests of Miss Kilmansegg

Crowd in to look at her Golden Leg,

As many more

Mob round the door,

To see them going to see it!

145.

In they go — in jackets and cloaks,

Plumes and bonnets, turbans and toques,

As if to a Congress of Nations:

Greeks and Malays, with daggers and dirks,

Spaniards, Jews, Chinese, and Turks —

Some like original foreign works,

But mostly like bad translations.

146.

In they go, and to work like a pack,

Juan, Moses, and Shacabac,

Tom, and Jerry and Springheel’d Jack —

For some of low Fancy are lovers —

Skirting, zigzagging, casting about,

Here and there, and in and out,

With a crush, and a rush, for a full-bodied rout

In one of the stiffest of covers.

147.

In they went, and hunted about,

Open-mouth’d like chub and trout,

And some with the upper lip thrust out,

Like that fish for routing, a barbel —

While Sir Jacob stood to welcome the crowd,

And rubb’d his hands, and smiled aloud,

And bow’d, and bow’d, and bow’d, and bow’d,

Like a man who is sawing marble.

148.

For Princes were there, and Noble Peers;

Dukes descended from Norman spears;

Earls that dated from early years;

And lords in vast variety —

Besides the Gentry both new and old —

For people who stand on legs of gold

Are sure to stand well with society.

149.

“But where — where — where?” with one accord,

Cried Moses and Mufti, Jack and my Lord,

Wang-Fong and Il Bondocani —

When slow, and heavy, and dead as a dump,

They heard a foot begin to stump,

Thump! lump!

Lump! thump!

Like the Spectre in “Don Giovanni”!

150.

And lo! the Heiress, Miss Kilmansegg,

With her splendid, brilliant, beautiful leg,

In the garb of a Goddess olden —

Like chaste Diana going to hunt,

With a golden spear — which of course was blunt,

And a tunic loop’d up to a gem in front,

To show the Leg that was Golden!

151.

Gold! still gold; her Crescent behold,

That should be silver, but would be gold;

And her robe’s auriferous spangles!

Her golden stomacher — how she would melt!

Her golden quiver, and golden belt,

Where a golden bugle dangles!

152.

And her jewell’d Garter! Oh Sin, oh Shame!

Let Pride and Vanity bear the blame,

That bring such blots on female fame!

But to be a true recorder,

Besides its thin transparent stuff,

The tunic was loop’d quite high enough

To give a glimpse of the Order!

153.

But what have sin or shame to do

With a Golden Leg — and a stout one too?

Away with all Prudery’s panics!

That the precious metal, by thick and thin,

Will cover square acres of land or sin,

Is a fact made plain

Again and again,

In Morals as well as Mechanics.

154.

A few, indeed, of her proper sex,

Who seem’d to feel her foot on their necks,

And fear’d their charms would meet with checks

From so rare and splendid a blazon —

A few cried “fie!”— and “forward”— and “bold!”

And said of the Leg it might be gold,

But to them it look’d like brazen!

155.

’Twas hard they hinted for flesh and blood,

Virtue and Beauty, and all that’s good,

To strike to mere dross their topgallants —

But what were Beauty, or Virtue, or Worth,

Gentle manners, or gentle birth,

Nay, what the most talented head on earth

To a Leg worth fifty Talents!

156.

But the men sang quite another hymn

Of glory and praise to the precious Limb —

Age, sordid Age, admired the whim

And its indecorum pardon’d —

While half of the young — ay, more than half —

Bow’d down and worshipp’d the Golden Calf,

Like the Jews when their hearts were harden’d.

157.

A Golden Leg! — what fancies it fired!

What golden wishes and hopes inspired!

To give but a mere abridgment —

What a leg to leg-bail Embarrassment’s serf!

What a leg for a Leg to take on the turf!

What a leg for a marching regiment!

158.

A Golden Leg! — whatever Love sings,

’Twas worth a bushel of “Plain Gold Rings”

With which the Romantic wheedles.

’Twas worth all the legs in stockings and socks —

’Twas a leg that might be put in the Stocks,

N.B. — Not the parish beadle’s!

159.

And Lady K. nid-nodded her head,

Lapp’d in a turban fancy-bred,

Just like a love-apple huge and red,

Some Mussul-womanish mystery;

But whatever she meant

To represent,

She talked like the Muse of History.

160.

She told how the filial leg was lost;

And then how much the gold one cost;

With its weight to a Trojan fraction:

And how it took off, and how it put on;

And call’d on Devil, Duke, and Don,

Mahomet, Moses, and Prester John,

To notice its beautiful action.

161.

And then of the Leg she went in quest;

And led it where the light was best;

And made it lay itself up to rest

In postures for painter’s studies:

It cost more tricks and trouble by half,

Than it takes to exhibit a six-legg’d Calf

To a boothful of country Cuddies.

162.

Nor yet did the Heiress herself omit

The arts that help to make a hit,

And preserve a prominent station.

She talk’d and laugh’d far more than her share;

And took a part in “Rich and Rare

Were the gems she wore”— and the gems were there,

Like a Song with an Illustration.

163.

She even stood up with a Count of France

To dance — alas! the measures we dance

When Vanity plays the piper!

Vanity, Vanity, apt to betray,

And lead all sorts of legs astray,

Wood, or metal, or human clay —

Since Satan first play’d the Viper!

164.

But first she doff’d her hunting gear,

And favor’d Tom Tug with her golden spear

To row with down the river —

A Bonz had her golden bow to hold;

A Hermit her belt and bugle of gold;

And an Abbot her golden quiver.

165.

And then a space was clear’d on the floor,

And she walk’d the Minuet de la Cour,

With all the pomp of a Pompadour,

But although she began andante,

Conceive the faces of all the Rout,

When she finished off with a whirligig bout,

And the Precious Leg stuck stiffly out

Like the leg of a Figuranté.

166.

So the courtly dance was goldenly done,

And golden opinions, of course, it won

From all different sorts of people —

Chiming, ding-dong, with flattering phrase,

In one vociferous peal of praise,

Like the peal that rings on Royal days

From Loyalty’s parish steeple.

167.

And yet, had the leg been one of those

That danced for bread in flesh-color’d hose,

With Rosina’s pastora bevy,

The jeers it had met — the shouts! the scoff!

The cutting advice to “take itself off”

For sounding but half so heavy.

168.

Had it been a leg like those, perchance,

That teach little girls and boys to dance,

To set, poussette, recede, and advance,

With the steps and figures most proper —

Had it hopp’d for a weekly or quarterly sum,

How little of praise or grist would have come

To a mill with such a hopper!

169.

But the Leg was none of those limbs forlorn —

Bartering capers and hops for corn —

That meet with public hisses and scorn,

Or the morning journal denounces —

Had it pleased to caper from morning till dusk,

There was all the music of “Money Musk”

In its ponderous bangs and bounces.

170.

But hark; — as slow as the strokes of a pump,

Lump, thump!

Thump, lump!

As the Giant of Castle Otranto might stump,

To a lower room from an upper —

Down she goes with a noisy dint,

For, taking the crimson turban’s hint,

A noble Lord at the Head of the Mint

Is leading the Leg to supper!

171.

But the supper, alas! must rest untold,

With its blaze of light and its glitter of gold,

For to paint that scene of glamour,

It would need the Great Enchanter’s charm,

Who waves over Palace, and Cot, and Farm,

An arm like the Goldbeater’s Golden Arm

That wields a Golden Hammer.

172.

He — only HE— could fitly state

THE MASSIVE SERVICE OF GOLDEN PLATE,

With the proper phrase and expansion —

The Rare Selection of FOREIGN WINES—

The ALPS OF ICE and MOUNTAINS OF PINES,

The punch in OCEANS and sugary shrines,

The TEMPLE OF TASTE from GUNTER’S DESIGNS—

In short, all that WEALTH with A FEAST combines,

In a SPLENDID FAMILY MANSION.

173.

Suffice it each mask’d outlandish guest

Ate and drank of the very best,

According to critical conners —

And then they pledged the Hostess and Host,

But the Golden Leg was the standing toast,

And as somebody swore,

Walk’d off with more

Than its share of the “Hips!” and honors!

174.

“Miss Kilmansegg! —

Full-glasses I beg! —

Miss Kilmansegg and her Precious Leg!”

And away went the bottle careering!

Wine in bumpers! and shouts in peals!

Till the Clown didn’t know his head from his heels,

The Mussulman’s eyes danced two-some reels,

And the Quaker was hoarse from cheering!

Her Dream.
175.

Miss Kilmansegg took off her leg,

And laid it down like a cribbage-peg,

For the Rout was done and the riot:

The Square was hush’d; not a sound was heard;

The sky was gray, and no creature stirr’d,

Except one little precocious bird,

That chirp’d — and then was quiet.

176.

So still without — so still within; —

It had been a sin

To drop a pin —

So intense is silence after a din,

It seem’d like Death’s rehearsal!

To stir the air no eddy came;

And the taper burnt with as still a flame,

As to flicker had been a burning shame,

In a calm so universal.

177.

The time for sleep had come at last;

And there was the bed, so soft, so vast,

Quite a field of Bedfordshire clover;

Softer, cooler, and calmer, no doubt,

From the piece of work just ravell’d out,

For one of the pleasures of having a rout

Is the pleasure of having it over.

178.

No sordid pallet, or truckle mean,

Of straw, and rug, and tatters unclean;

But a splendid, gilded, carved machine,

That was fit for a Royal Chamber.

On the top was a gorgeous golden wreath;

And the damask curtains hung beneath,

Like clouds of crimson and amber;

179.

Curtains, held up by two little plump things,

With golden bodies and golden wings —

Mere fins for such solidities —

Two cupids, in short,

Of the regular sort,

But the housemaid call’d them “Cupidities.”

180.

No patchwork quilt, all seams and scars,

But velvet, powder’d with golden stars,

A fit mantle for Night-Commanders!

And the pillow, as white as snow undimm’d

And as cool as the pool that the breeze has skimmed,

Was cased in the finest cambric, and trimm’d

With the costliest lace of Flanders.

181.

And the bed — of the Eider’s softest down,

’Twas a place to revel, to smother, to drown

In a bliss inferr’d by the Poet;

For if Ignorance be indeed a bliss,

What blessed ignorance equals this,

To sleep — and not to know it?

182.

Oh bed! oh bed! delicious bed!

That heaven upon earth to the weary head;

But a place that to name would be ill-bred,

To the head with a wakeful trouble —

’Tis held by such a different lease!

To one, a place of comfort and peace,

All stuff’d with the down of stubble geese,

To another with only the stubble!

183.

To one, a perfect Halcyon nest,

All calm, and balm, and quiet, and rest,

And soft as the fur of the cony —

To another, so restless for body and head,

That the bed seems borrow’d from Nettlebed,

And the pillow from Stratford the Stony!

184.

To the happy, a first-class carriage of ease,

To the Land of Nod, or where you please;

But alas! for the watchers and weepers,

Who turn, and turn, and turn again,

But turn, and turn, and turn in vain,

With an anxious brain,

And thoughts in a train

That does not run upon sleepers!

185.

Wide awake as the mousing owl,

Night-hawk, or other nocturnal fowl —

But more profitless vigils keeping —

Wide awake in the dark they stare,

Filling with phantoms the vacant air,

As if that Crookback’d Tyrant Care

Had plotted to kill them sleeping.

186.

And oh! when the blessed diurnal light

Is quench’d by the providential night,

To render our slumber more certain!

Pity, pity the wretches that weep,

For they must be wretched, who cannot sleep

When God himself draws the curtain!

187.

The careful Betty the pillow beats,

And airs the blankets, and smooths the sheets,

And gives the mattress a shaking —

But vainly Betty performs her part,

If a ruffled head and a rumpled heart,

As well as the couch want making.

188.

There’s Morbid, all bile, and verjuice, and nerves,

Where other people would make preserves,

He turns his fruits into pickles:

Jealous, envious, and fretful by day,

At night, to his own sharp fancies a prey,

He lies like a hedgehog roll’d up the wrong way,

Tormenting himself with his prickles.

189.

But a child — that bids the world good night

In downright earnest and cuts it quite —

A Cherub no Art can copy —

’Tis a perfect picture to see him lie

As if he had supp’d on a dormouse pie,

(An ancient classical dish, by the bye)

With a sauce of syrup of poppy.

190.

Oh, bed! bed! bed! delicious bed!

That heaven upon earth to the weary head,

Whether lofty or low its condition!

But instead of putting our plagues on shelves,

In our blankets how often we toss ourselves,

Or are toss’d by such allegorical elves

As Pride, Hate, Greed, and Ambition!

191.

The independent Miss Kilmansegg

Took off her independent Leg

And laid it beneath her pillow,

And then on the bed her frame she cast,

The time for repose had come at last,

But long, long, after the storm is past

Rolls the turbid, turbulent billow.

192.

No part she had in vulgar cares

That belong to common household affairs —

Nocturnal annoyances such as theirs,

Who lie with a shrewd surmising,

That while they are couchant (a bitter cup!)

Their bread and butter are getting up,

And the coals, confound them, are rising.

193.

No fear she had her sleep to postpone,

Like the crippled Widow who weeps alone,

And cannot make a doze her own,

For the dread that mayhap on the morrow,

The true and Christian reading to baulk,

A broker will take up her bed and walk,

By way of curing her sorrow.

194.

No cause like these she had to bewail:

But the breath of applause had blown a gale,

And winds from that quarter seldom fail

To cause some human commotion;

But whenever such breezes coincide

With the very spring-tide

Of human pride,

There’s no such swell on the ocean!

195.

Peace, and ease, and slumber lost,

She turn’d, and roll’d, and tumbled and toss’d,

With a tumult that would not settle.

A common case, indeed, with such

As have too little, or think too much,

Of the precious and glittering metal.

196.

Gold! — she saw at her golden foot

The Peer whose tree had an olden root,

The Proud, the Great, the Learned to boot,

The handsome, the gay, and the witty —

The Man of Science — of Arms — of Art,

The man who deals but at Pleasure’s mart,

And the man who deals in the City.

197.

Gold, still gold — and true to the mould!

In the very scheme of her dream it told;

For, by magical transmutation,

From her Leg through her body it seem’d to go,

Till, gold above, and gold below.

She was gold, all gold, from her little gold toe

To her organ of Veneration!

198.

And still she retain’d through Fancy’s art

The Golden Bow, and the Golden Dart,

With which she had play’d a Goddess’s part

In her recent glorification:

And still, like one of the selfsame brood,

On a Plinth of the selfsame metal she stood

For the whole world’s adoration.

199.

And hymns and incense around her roll’d,

From Golden Harps and Censers of Gold —

For Fancy in dreams is as uncontroll’d

As a horse without a bridle:

What wonder, then, from all checks exempt,

If, inspired by the Golden Leg, she dreamt

She was turn’d to a Golden Idol?

Her Courtship.
200.

When leaving Eden’s happy land

The grieving Angel led by the hand

Our banish’d Father and Mother,

Forgotten amid their awful doom,

The tears, the fears, and the future’s gloom,

On each brow was a wreath of Paradise bloom,

That our Parents had twined for each other.

201.

It was only while sitting like figures of stone,

For the grieving Angel had skyward flown,

As they sat, those Two in the world alone,

With disconsolate hearts nigh cloven,

That scenting the gust of happier hours,

They look’d around for the precious flow’rs,

And lo! — a last relic of Eden’s dear bow’rs —

The chaplet that Love had woven!

202.

And still, when a pair of Lovers meet,

There’s a sweetness in air, unearthly sweet,

That savors still of that happy retreat

Where Eve by Adam was courted:

Whilst the joyous Thrush, and the gentle Dove,

Woo’d their mates in the boughs above,

And the Serpent, as yet, only sported.

203.

Who hath not felt that breath in the air,

A perfume and freshness strange and rare,

A warmth in the light, and a bliss everywhere,

When young hearts yearn together?

All sweets below, and all sunny above,

Oh! there’s nothing in life like making love,

Save making hay in fine weather!

204.

Who hath not found amongst his flow’rs

A blossom too bright for this world of ours,

Like a rose among snows of Sweden?

But to turn again to Miss Kilmansegg,

Where must Love have gone to beg,

If such a thing as a Golden Leg

Had put its foot in Eden!

205.

And yet — to tell the rigid truth —

Her favor was sought by Age and Youth —

For the prey will find a prowler!

She was follow’d, flatter’d, courted, address’d,

Woo’d, and coo’d, and wheedled, and press’d,

By suitors from North, South, East, and West,

Like that Heiress, in song, Tibbie Fowler!

206.

But, alas! alas! for the Woman’s fate,

Who has from a mob to choose a mate!

’Tis a strange and painful mystery!

But the more the eggs, the worse the hatch;

The more the fish, the worse the catch;

The more the sparks, the worse the match;

Is a fact in Woman’s history.

207.

Give her between a brace to pick,

And, mayhap, with luck to help the trick,

She will take the Faustus, and leave the Old Nick —

But her future bliss to baffle,

Amongst a score let her have a voice,

And she’ll have as little cause to rejoice,

As if she had won the “Man of her choice”

In a matrimonial raffle!

208.

Thus, even thus, with the Heiress and Hope,

Fulfilling the adage of too much rope,

With so ample a competition,

She chose the least worthy of all the group,

Just as the vulture makes a stoop,

And singles out from the herd or troop

The beast of the worst condition.

209.

A Foreign Count — who came incog.,

Not under a cloud, but under a fog,

In a Calais packet’s fore-cabin,

To charm some lady British-born,

With his eyes as black as the fruit of the thorn,

And his hooky nose, and his beard half-shorn,

Like a half-converted Rabbin.

210.

And because the Sex confess a charm

In the man who has slash’d a head or arm

Or has been a throat’s undoing,

He was dress’d like one of the glorious trade,

At least when glory is off parade,

With a stock, and a frock, well trimm’d with braid,

And frogs — that went a-wooing.

211.

Moreover, as Counts are apt to do,

On the left-hand side of his dark surtout,

At one of those holes that buttons go through,

(To be a precise recorder,)

A ribbon he wore, or rather a scrap,

About an inch of ribbon mayhap.

That one of his rivals, a whimsical chap,

Described as his “Retail Order.”

212.

And then — and much it help’d his chance —

He could sing, and play first fiddle, and dance,

Perform charades, and Proverbs of France —

Act the tender, and do the cruel;

For amongst his other killing parts,

He had broken a brace of female hearts,

And murder’d three men in duel!

213.

Savage at heart, and false of tongue,

Subtle with age, and smooth to the young,

Like a snake in his coiling and curling —

Such was the Count — to give him a niche —

Who came to court that Heiress rich,

And knelt at her foot — one needn’t say which —

Besieging her castle of Stirling.

214.

With pray’rs and vows he open’d his trench,

And plied her with English, Spanish, and French

In phrases the most sentimental:

And quoted poems in High and Low Dutch,

With now and then an Italian touch,

Till she yielded, without resisting much,

To homage so continental.

215.

And then — the sordid bargain to close —

With a miniature sketch of his hooky nose,

And his dear dark eyes, as black as sloes,

And his beard and whiskers as black as those,

The lady’s consent he requited —

And instead of the lock that lovers beg,

The Count received from Miss Kilmansegg

A model, in small, of her Precious Leg —

And so the couple were plighted!

216.

But, oh! the love that gold must crown!

Better — better, the love of the clown,

Who admires his lass in her Sunday gown,

As if all the fairies had dress’d her!

Whose brain to no crooked thought gives birth,

Except that he never will part on earth

With his true love’s crooked tester!

217.

Alas! for the love that’s link’d with gold!

Better — better a thousand times told —

More honest, happy, and laudable,

The downright loving of pretty Cis,

Who wipes her lips, though there’s nothing amiss,

And takes a kiss, and gives a kiss,

In which her heart is audible!

218.

Pretty Cis, so smiling and bright,

Who loves — as she labors — with all her might,

And without any sordid leaven!

Who blushes as red as haws and hips,

Down to her very finger-tips,

For Roger’s blue ribbons — to her, like strips

Cut out of the azure of Heaven!

Her Marriage.
219.

’Twas morn — a most auspicious one!

From the Golden East, the Golden Sun

Came forth his glorious race to run,

Through clouds of most splendid tinges;

Clouds that lately slept in shade,

But now seem’d made

Of gold brocade,

With magnificent golden fringes.

220.

Gold above, and gold below,

The earth reflected the golden glow,

From river, and hill, and valley;

Gilt by the golden light of morn,

The Thames — it look’d like the Golden Horn,

And the Barge, that carried coal or corn,

Like Cleopatra’s Galley!

221.

Bright as clusters of Golden-rod,

Suburban poplars began to nod,

With extempore splendor furnish’d;

While London was bright with glittering clocks,

Golden dragons, and Golden cocks,

And above them all,

The dome of St. Paul,

With its Golden Cross and its Golden Ball,

Shone out as if newly burnished!

222.

And lo! for Golden Hours and Joys,

Troops of glittering Golden Boys

Danced along with a jocund noise,

And their gilded emblems carried!

In short, ’twas the year’s most Golden Day,

By mortals call’d the First of May,

When Miss Kilmansegg,

Of the Golden Leg,

With a Golden Ring was married!

223.

And thousands of children, women, and men,

Counted the clock from eight till ten,

From St. James’s sonorous steeple;

For next to that interesting job,

The hanging of Jack, or Bill, or Bob,

There’s nothing so draws a London mob

As the noosing of very rich people.

224.

And a treat it was for the mob to behold

The Bridal Carriage that blazed with gold!

And the Footmen tall and the Coachman bold,

In liveries so resplendent —

Coats you wonder’d to see in place,

They seem’d so rich with golden lace,

That they might have been independent.

225.

Coats, that made those menials proud

Gaze with scorn on the dingy crowd,

From their gilded elevations;

Not to forget that saucy lad

(Ostentation’s favorite cad);

The Page, who look’d, so splendidly clad,

Like a Page of the “Wealth of Nations.”

226.

But the Coachman carried off the state,

With what was a Lancashire body of late

Turn’d into a Dresden Figure;

With a bridal Nosegay of early bloom,

About the size of a birchen broom,

And so huge a White Favor, had Gog been Groom

He need not have worn a bigger.

227.

And then to see the Groom! the Count

With Foreign Orders to such an amount,

And whiskers so wild — nay, bestial;

He seem’d to have borrow’d the shaggy hair

As well as the Stars of the Polar Bear,

To make him look celestial!

228.

And then — Great Jove! — the struggle, the crush,

The screams, the heaving, the awful rush,

The swearing, the tearing, and fighting —

The hats and bonnets smash’d like an egg —

To catch a glimpse of the Golden Leg,

Which, between the steps and Miss Kilmansegg,

Was fully display’d in alighting!

229.

From the Golden Ankle up to the Knee

There it was for the mob to see!

A shocking act had it chanced to be

A crooked leg or a skinny:

But although a magnificent veil she wore.

Such as never was seen before,

In case of blushes, she blush’d no more

Than George the First on a guinea!

230.

Another step, and lo! she was launched!

All in white, as Brides are blanched,

With a wreath of most wonderful splendor —

Diamonds, and pearls, so rich in device,

That, according to calculation nice,

Her head was worth as royal a price

As the head of the Young Pretender.

231.

Bravely she shone — and shone the more

As she sail’d through the crowd of squalid and poor,

Thief, beggar, and tatterdemalion —

Led by the Count, with his sloe-black eyes

Bright with triumph, and some surprise,

Like Anson on making sure of his prize

The famous Mexican Galleon!

232.

Anon came Lady K., with her face

Quite made up to act with grace,

But she cut the performance shorter;

For instead of pacing stately and stiff,

At the stare of the vulgar she took a miff,

And ran, full speed, into Church, as if

To get married before her daughter.

233.

But Sir Jacob walk’d more slowly, and bow’d

Eight and left to the gaping crowd,

Wherever a glance was seizable;

For Sir Jacob thought he bow’d like a Guelph,

And therefore bow’d to imp and elf,

And would gladly have made a bow to himself,

Had such a bow been feasible.

234.

And last — and not the least of the sight,

Six “Handsome Fortunes,” all in white,

Came to help in the marriage rite —

And rehearse their own hymeneals;

And then the bright procession to close,

They were followed by just as many Beaux

Quite fine enough for Ideals.

235.

Glittering men, and splendid dames,

Thus they enter’d the porch of Saint James’,

Pursued by a thunder of laughter;

For the Beadle was forced to intervene,

For Jim the Crow, and his Mayday Queen,

With her gilded ladle, and Jack i’ the Green,

Would fain have follow’d after!

236.

Beadle-like he hush’d the shouts;

But the temple was full “inside and out,”

And a buzz kept buzzing all round about

Like bees when the day is sunny —

A buzz universal that interfered

With the right that ought to have been revered,

As if the couple already were smear’d

With Wedlock’s treacle and honey!

237.

Yet Wedlock’s a very awful thing!

’Tis something like that feat in the ring,

Which requires good nerve to do it —

When one of a “Grand Equestrian Troop”

Makes a jump at a gilded hoop,

Not certain at all

Of what may befall

After his getting through it!

338.

But the Count he felt the nervous work

No more than any polygamous Turk,

Or bold piratical skipper,

Who, during his buccaneering search,

Would as soon engage a hand in church

As a hand on board his clipper!

239.

And how did the Bride perform her part?

Like any bride who is cold at heart.

Mere snow with the ice’s glitter;

What but a life of winter for her!

Bright but chilly, alive without stir,

So splendidly comfortless — just like a Fir

When the frost is severe and bitter.

240.

Such were the future man and wife!

Whose bale or bliss to the end of life

A few short words were to settle —

“Wilt thou have this woman?”

“I will”— and then,

“Wilt thou have this man?”

“I will,” and “Amen”—

And those Two were one Flesh, in the Angels’ ken,

Except one Leg — that was metal.

241.

Then the names were sign’d — and kiss’d the kiss:

And the Bride, who came from her coach a Miss,

As a Countess walk’d to her carriage —

Whilst Hymen preen’d his plumes like a dove,

And Cupid flutter’d his wings above,

In the shape of a fly — as little a Love

As ever look’d in at a marriage!

242.

Another crash — and away they dash’d,

And the gilded carriage and footmen flash’d

From the eyes of the gaping people —

Who turn’d to gaze at the toe-and-heel

Of the Golden Boys beginning a reel,

To the merry sound of a wedding peal

From St. James’s musical steeple.

243.

Those wedding bells! those wedding bells!

How sweetly they sound in pastoral dells

From a tow’r in an ivy-green jacket!

But town-made joys how dearly they cost;

And after all are tumbled and tost,

Like a peal from a London steeple, and lost

In town-made riot and racket.

244.

The wedding peal, how sweetly it peals

With grass or heather beneath our heels —

For bells are Music’s laughter! —

But a London peal, well mingled, be sure,

With vulgar noises and voices impure —

With a harsh and discordant overture

To the Harmony meant to come after!

245.

But hence with Discord — perchance, too soon

To cloud the face of the honeymoon

With a dismal occultation! —

Whatever Fate’s concerted trick,

The Countess and Count, at the present nick,

Have a chicken, and not a crow, to pick

At a sumptuous Cold Collation.

246.

A Breakfast — no unsubstantial mess,

But one in the style of Good Queen Bess,

Who — hearty as hippocampus —

Broke her fast with ale and beef,

Instead of toast and the Chinese leaf,

And — in lieu of anchovy — grampus.

247.

A breakfast of fowl, and fish, and flesh,

Whatever was sweet, or salt, or fresh;

With wines the most rare and curious —

Wines, of the richest flavor and hue;

With fruits from the worlds both Old and New;

And fruits obtain’d before they were due

At a discount most usurious.

248.

For wealthy palates there be, that scout

What is in season, for what is out,

And prefer all precocious savor:

For instance, early green peas, of the sort

That costs some four or five guineas a quart;

Where the Mint is the principal flavor.

249.

And many a wealthy man was there,

Such as the wealthy City could spare,

To put in a portly appearance —

Men, whom their fathers had help’d to gild:

And men, who had had their fortunes to build

And — much to their credit — had richly fill’d

Their purses by pursy-verance.

250.

Men, by popular rumor at least,

Not the last to enjoy a feast!

And truly they were not idle!

Luckier far than the chestnut tits,

Which, down at the door, stood champing their bits,

At a different sort of bridle.

251.

For the time was come — and the whisker’d Count

Help’d his Bride in the carriage to mount,

And fain would the Muse deny it,

But the crowd, including two butchers in blue,

(The regular killing Whitechapel hue,)

Of her Precious Calf had as ample a view,

As if they had come to buy it!

252.

Then away! away! with all the speed

That golden spurs can give to the steed —

Both Yellow Boys and Guineas, indeed,

Concurr’d to urge the cattle —

Away they went, with favors white,

Yellow jackets, and panels bright,

And left the mob, like a mob at night,

Agape at the sound of a rattle.

253.

Away! away! they rattled and roll’d,

The Count, and his Bride, and her Leg of Gold —

That faded charm to the charmer!

Away — through old Brentford rang the din

Of wheels and heels, on their way to win

That hill, named after one of her kin,

The Hill of the Golden Farmer!

254.

Gold, still gold — it flew like dust!

It tipp’d the post-boy, and paid the trust;

In each open palm it was freely thrust;

There was nothing but giving and taking!

And if gold could ensure the future hour,

What hopes attended that Bride to her bow’r,

But alas! even hearts with a four-horse pow’r

Of opulence end in breaking!

Her Honeymoon.
255.

The moon — the moon, so silver and cold,

Her fickle temper has oft been told,

Now shady — now bright and sunny —

But of all the lunar things that change,

The one that shows most fickle and strange,

And takes the most eccentric range,

Is the moon — so call’d — of honey!

256.

To some a full-grown orb reveal’d

As big and as round as Norval’s shield,

And as bright as a burner Bude-lighted;

To others as dull, and dingy, and damp,

As any oleaginous lamp,

Of the regular old parochial stamp,

In a London fog benighted.

257.

To the loving, a bright and constant sphere,

That makes earth’s commonest things appear

All poetic, romantic, and tender:

Hanging with jewels a cabbage-stump,

And investing a common post, or a pump,

A currant-bush, or a gooseberry clump,

With a halo of dreamlike splendor.

258.

A sphere such as shone from Italian skies,

In Juliet’s dear, dark, liquid eyes,

Tipping trees with its argent braveries —

And to couples not favor’d with Fortune’s boons

One of the most delightful of moons,

For it brightens their pewter platters and spoons

Like a silver service of Savory’s!

259.

For all is bright, and beauteous, and clear,

And the meanest thing most precious and dear

When the magic of love is present:

Love, that lends a sweetness and grace

To the humblest spot and the plainest face —

That turns Wilderness Row into Paradise Place,

And Garlick Hill to Mount Pleasant!

260.

Love that sweetens sugarless tea,

And makes contentment and joy agree

With the coarsest boarding and bedding:

Love, that no golden ties can attach,

But nestles under the humblest thatch,

And will fly away from an Emperor’s match

To dance at a Penny Wedding!

261.

Oh, happy, happy, thrice happy state,

When such a bright Planet governs the fate

Of a pair of united lovers!

’Tis theirs, in spite of the Serpent’s hiss,

To enjoy the pure primeval kiss,

With as much of the old original bliss

As mortality ever recovers!

262.

There’s strength in double joints, no doubt,

In double X Ale, and Dublin Stout,

That the single sorts know nothing about —

And a fist is strongest when doubled —

And double aqua-fortis, of course,

And double soda-water, perforce,

Are the strongest that ever bubbled!

263.

There’s double beauty whenever a Swan

Swims on a Lake, with her double thereon;

And ask the gardener, Luke or John,

Of the beauty of double-blowing —

A double dahlia delights the eye;

And it’s far the loveliest sight in the sky

When a double rainbow is glowing!

264.

There’s warmth in a pair of double soles;

As well as a double allowance of coals —

In a coat that is double-breasted —

In double windows and double doors;

And a double U wind is blest by scores

For its warmth to the tender-chested.

265.

There’s a twofold sweetness in double pipes;

And a double barrel and double snipes

Give the sportsman a duplicate pleasure;

There’s double safety in double locks:

And double letters bring cash for the box:

And all the world knows that double knocks,

Are gentility’s double measure.

266.

There’s a double sweetness in double rhymes,

And a double at Whist and a double Times

In profit are certainly double —

By doubling, the Hare contrives to escape;

And all seamen delight in a doubled Cape,

And a double-reef’d topsail in trouble.

267.

There’s a double chuck at a double chin,

And of course there’s a double pleasure therein,

If the parties were brought to telling:

And however our Dennises take offence,

A double meaning shows double sense;

And if proverbs tell truth,

A double tooth

Is Wisdom’s adopted dwelling!

268.

But double wisdom, and pleasure, and sense,

Beauty, respect, strength, comfort, and thence

Through whatever the list discovers,

They are all in the double blessedness summ’d,

Of what was formerly doubled-drumm’d,

The Marriage of two true Lovers!

269.

Now the Kilmansegg Moon — it must be told —

Though instead of silver it tipp’d with gold —

Shone rather wan, and distant, and cold,

And before its days were at thirty,

Such gloomy clouds began to collect,

With an ominous ring of ill effect,

As gave but too much cause to expect

Such weather as seamen call dirty!

270.

And yet the moon was the “Young May Moon,”

And the scented hawthorn had blossom’d soon,

And the thrush and the blackbird were singing —

The snow-white lambs were skipping in play,

And the bee was humming a tune all day

To flowers, as welcome as flowers in May,

And the trout in the stream was springing!

271.

But what were the hues of the blooming earth,

Its scents — its sounds — or the music and mirth

Of its furr’d or its feather’d creatures,

To a Pair in the world’s last sordid stage,

Who had never look’d into Nature’s page,

And had strange ideas of a Golden Age,

Without any Arcadian features?

272.

And what were joys of the pastoral kind

To a Bride — town-made — with a heart and a mind

With simplicity ever at battle?

A bride of an ostentatious race,

Who, thrown in the Golden Farmer’s place,

Would have trimm’d her shepherds with golden lace,

And gilt the horns of her cattle.

273.

She could not please the pigs with her whim,

And the sheep wouldn’t cast their eyes at a limb

For which she had been such a martyr:

The deer in the park, and the colts at grass,

And the cows unheeded let it pass;

And the ass on the common was such an ass,

That he wouldn’t have swopp’d

The thistle he cropp’d

For her Leg, including the Garter!

274.

She hated lanes and she hated fields —

She hated all that the country yields —

And barely knew turnips from clover;

She hated walking in any shape,

And a country stile was an awkward scrape,

Without the bribe of a mob to gape

At the Leg in clambering over!

275.

O blessed nature, “O rus! O rus!”

Who cannot sigh for the country thus,

Absorb’d in a wordly torpor —

Who does not yearn for its meadow-sweet breath,

Untainted by care, and crime, and death,

And to stand sometimes upon grass or heath —

That soul, spite of gold, is a pauper!

276.

But to hail the pearly advent of morn,

And relish the odor fresh from the thorn,

She was far too pamper’d a madam —

Or to joy in the daylight waxing strong,

While, after ages of sorrow and wrong,

The scorn of the proud, the misrule of the strong,

And all the woes that to man belong,

The Lark still carols the selfsame song

That he did to the uncurst Adam!

277.

The Lark! she had given all Leipzig’s flocks

For a Vauxhall tune in a musical box;

And as for the birds in the thicket,

Thrush or ousel in leafy niche,

The linnet or finch, she was far too rich

To care for a Morning Concert, to which

She was welcome without any ticket.

278.

Gold, still gold, her standard of old,

All pastoral joys were tried by gold,

Or by fancies golden and crural —

Till ere she had pass’d one week unblest,

As her agricultural Uncle’s guest,

Her mind was made up, and fully imprest,

That felicity could not be rural!

279.

And the Count? — to the snow-white lambs at play,

And all the scents and the sights of May,

And the birds that warbled their passion,

His ears and dark eyes, and decided nose,

Were as deaf and as blind and as dull as those

That overlook the Bouquet de Rose,

The Huile Antique,

The Parfum Unique,

In a Barber’s Temple of Fashion.

280.

To tell, indeed, the true extent

Of his rural bias, so far it went

As to covet estates in ring fences —

And for rural lore he had learn’d in town

That the country was green, turn’d up with brown,

And garnish’d with trees that a man might cut down

Instead of his own expenses.

281.

And yet had that fault been his only one,

The Pair might have had few quarrels or none,

For their tastes thus far were in common;

But faults he had that a haughty bride

With a Golden Leg could hardly abide —

Faults that would even have roused the pride

Of a far less metalsome woman!

282.

It was early days indeed for a wife,

In the very spring of her married life,

To be chill’d by its wintry weather —

But instead of sitting as Love-Birds do,

On Hymen’s turtles that bill and coo —

Enjoying their “moon and honey for two,”

They were scarcely seen together!

283.

In vain she sat with her Precious Leg

A little exposed, à la Kilmansegg,

And roll’d her eyes in their sockets!

He left her in spite of her tender regards,

And those loving murmurs described by bards,

For the rattling of dice and the shuffling of cards,

And the poking of balls into pockets!

284.

Moreover he loved the deepest stake

And the heaviest bets the players would make;

And he drank — the reverse of sparely —

And he used strange curses that made her fret;

And when he play’d with herself at piquet,

She found, to her cost,

For she always lost,

That the Count did not count quite fairly.

285.

And then came dark mistrust and doubt,

Gather’d by worming his secrets out,

And slips in his conversations —

Fears, which all her peace destroy’d,

That his title was null — his coffers were void —

And his French Château was in Spain, or enjoy’d

The most airy of situations.

286.

But still his heart — if he had such a part —

She — only she — might possess his heart,

And hold his affections in fetters —

Alas! that hope, like a crazy ship,

Was forced its anchor and cable to slip

When, seduced by her fears, she took a dip

In his private papers and letters.

287.

Letters that told of dangerous leagues;

And notes that hinted as many intrigues

As the Count’s in the “Barber of Seville”—

In short such mysteries came to light,

That the Countess-Bride, on the thirtieth night,

Woke and started up in affright,

And kick’d and scream’d with all her might,

And finally fainted away outright,

For she dreamt she had married the Devil!

Her Misery.
288.

Who hath not met with home-made bread,

A heavy compound of putty and lead —

And home-made wines that rack the head,

And home-made liqueurs and waters?

Home-made pop that will not foam,

And home-made dishes that drive one from home,

Not to name each mess,

For the face or dress,

Home-made by the homely daughters?

289.

Home-made physic that sickens the sick;

Thick for thin and thin for thick; —

In short each homogeneous trick

For poisoning domesticity?

And since our Parents, call’d the First,

A little family squabble nurst,

Of all our evils the worst of the worst

Is home-made infelicity.

290.

There’s a Golden Bird that claps its wings,

And dances for joy on its perch, and sings

With a Persian exultation:

For the Sun is shining into the room,

And brightens up the carpet-bloom,

As if it were new, bran new, from the loom,

Or the lone Nun’s fabrication.

291.

And thence the glorious radiance flames

On pictures in massy gilded frames —

Enshrining, however, no painted Dames,

But portraits of colts and fillies —

Pictures hanging on walls, which shine,

In spite of the bard’s familiar line,

With clusters of “Gilded lilies.”

292.

And still the flooding sunlight shares

Its lustre with gilded sofas and chairs,

That shine as if freshly burnish’d —

And gilded tables, with glittering stocks

Of gilded china, and golden clocks,

Toy, and trinket, and musical box,

That Peace and Paris have furnish’d.

293.

And lo! with the brightest gleam of all

The glowing sunbeam is seen to fall

On an object as rare as spendid —

The golden foot of the Golden Leg

Of the Countess — once Miss Kilmansegg —

But there all sunshine is ended.

294.

Her cheek is pale, and her eye is dim,

And downward cast, yet not at the limb,

Once the centre of all speculation;

But downward dropping in comfort’s dearth,

As gloomy thoughts are drawn to the earth —

Whence human sorrows derive their birth —

By a moral gravitation.

295.

Her golden hair is out of its braids,

And her sighs betray the gloomy shades

That her evil planet revolves in —

And tears are falling that catch a gleam

So bright as they drop in the sunny beam,

That tears of aqua regia they seem,

The water that gold dissolves in;

296.

Yet, not in filial grief were shed

Those tears for a mother’s insanity;

Nor yet because her father was dead,

For the bowing Sir Jacob had bow’d his head

To Death — with his usual urbanity;

The waters that down her visage rill’d

Were drops of unrectified spirit distill’d

From the limbeck of Pride and Vanity.

297.

Tears that fell alone and unchecked,

Without relief, and without respect,

Like the fabled pearls that the pigs neglect,

When pigs have that opportunity —

And of all the griefs that mortals share,

The one that seems the hardest to bear

Is the grief without community.

298.

How bless’d the heart that has a friend

A sympathising ear to lend

To troubles too great to smother!

For as ale and porter, when flat, are restored

Till a sparkling bubbling head they afford,

So sorrow is cheer’d by being pour’d

From one vessel into another.

299.

But a friend or gossip she had not one

To hear the vile deeds that the Count had done,

How night after night he rambled;

And how she had learn’d by sad degrees

That he drank, and smoked, and worse than these,

That he “swindled, intrigued, and gambled.”

300.

How he kiss’d the maids, and sparr’d with John;

And came to bed with his garments on;

With other offences as heinous —

And brought strange gentlemen home to dine

That he said were in the Fancy Line,

And they fancied spirits instead of wine,

And call’d her lap-dog “Wenus.”

301.

Of “Making a book” how he made a stir,

But never had written a line to her,

Once his idol and Cara Sposa:

And how he had storm’d, and treated her ill,

Because she refused to go down to a mill,

She didn’t know where, but remember’d still

That the Miller’s name was Mendoza.

302.

How often he waked her up at night,

And oftener still by the morning light,

Reeling home from his haunts unlawful;

Singing songs that shouldn’t be sung,

Except by beggars and thieves unhung —

Or volleying oaths, that a foreign tongue

Made still more horrid and awful!

303.

How oft, instead of otto rose,

With vulgar smells he offended her nose,

From gin, tobacco, and onion!

And then how wildly he used to stare!

And shake his fist at nothing, and swear —

And pluck by the handful his shaggy hair,

Till he look’d like a study of Giant Despair

For a new Edition of Bunyan!

304.

For dice will run the contrary way,

As well is known to all who play,

And cards will conspire as in treason:

And what with keeping a hunting-box,

Following fox —

Friends in flocks,

Burgundies, Hocks,

From London Docks,

Stultz’s frocks,

Manton and Nock’s

Barrels and locks,

Shooting blue rocks,

Trainers and jocks,

Buskins and socks,

Pugilistical knocks,

And fighting-cocks,

If he found himself short in funds and stocks,

These rhymes will furnish the reason!

305.

His friends, indeed, were falling away —

Friends who insist on play or pay —

And he fear’d at no very distant day

To be cut by Lord and by cadger,

As one, who has gone, or is going, to smash,

For his checks no longer drew the cash,

Because, as his comrades explain’d in flash,

“He had overdrawn his badger.”

306.

Gold, gold — alas! for the gold

Spent where souls are bought and sold,

In Vice’s Walpurgis revel!

Alas! for muffles, and bulldogs, and guns,

The leg that walks, and the leg that runs,

All real evils, though Fancy ones,

When they lead to debt, dishonor, and duns,

Nay, to death, and perchance the devil!

307.

Alas! for the last of a Golden race!

Had she cried her wrongs in the market-place,

She had warrant for all her clamor —

For the worst of rogues, and brutes, and rakes,

Was breaking her heart by constant aches,

With as little remorse as the Pauper, who breaks

A flint with a parish hammer!

Her Last Will.
308.

Now the Precious Leg while cash was flush,

Or the Count’s acceptance worth a rush,

Had never created dissension;

But no sooner the stocks began to fall,

Than, without any ossification at all,

The limb became what people call

A perfect bone of contention.

309.

For alter’d days brought alter’d ways,

And instead of the complimentary phrase,

So current before her bridal —

The Countess heard, in language low,

That her Precious Leg was precious slow,

A good ’un to look at but bad to go,

And kept quite a sum lying idle.

310.

That instead of playing musical airs,

Like Colin’s foot in going upstairs —

As the wife in the Scottish ballad declares —

It made an infernal stumping.

Whereas a member of cork, or wood,

Would be lighter and cheaper and quite as good,

Without the unbearable thumping.

311.

P’raps she thought it a decent thing

To show her calf to cobbler and king,

But nothing could be absurder —

While none but the crazy would advertise

Their gold before their servants’ eyes,

Who of course some night would make it a prize,

By a Shocking and Barbarous Murder.

312.

But spite of hint, and threat, and scoff,

The Leg kept its situation:

For legs are not to be taken off

By a verbal amputation.

And mortals when they take a whim,

The greater the folly the stiffer the limb

That stand upon it or by it —

So the Countess, then Miss Kilmansegg,

At her marriage refused to stir a peg,

Till the Lawyers had fasten’d on her Leg

As fast as the Law could tie it.

313.

Firmly then — and more firmly yet —

With scorn for scorn, and with threat for threat,

The Proud One confronted the Cruel:

And loud and bitter the quarrel arose,

Fierce and merciless — one of those,

With spoken daggers, and looks like blows,

In all but the bloodshed a duel!

314.

Rash, and wild, and wretched, and wrong,

Were the words that came from Weak and Strong,

Till madden’d for desperate matters,

Fierce as tigress escaped from her den,

She flew to her desk —’twas open’d — and then,

In the time it takes to try a pen,

Or the clerk to utter his slow Amen,

Her Will was in fifty tatters!

315.

But the Count, instead of curses wild,

Only nodded his head and smiled,

As if at the spleen of an angry child;

But the calm was deceitful and sinister!

A lull like the lull of the treacherous sea —

For Hate in that moment had sworn to be

The Golden Leg’s sole Legatee,

And that very night to administer!

Her Death.
316.

’Tis a stern and startling thing to think

How often mortality stands on the brink

Of its grave without any misgiving:

And yet in this slippery world of strife,

In the stir of human bustle so rife,

There are daily sounds to tell us that Life

Is dying, and Death is living!

317.

Ay, Beauty the Girl, and Love the Boy,

Bright as they are with hope and joy,

How their souls would sadden instanter,

To remember that one of those wedding bells,

Which ring so merrily through the dells,

Is the same that knells

Our last farewells,

Only broken into a canter!

318.

But breath and blood set doom at nought —

How little the wretched Countess thought,

When at night she unloosed her sandal,

That the Fates had woven her burial-cloth,

And that Death, in the shape of a Death’s Head Moth,

Was fluttering round her candle!

319.

As she look’d at her clock of or-molu,

For the hours she had gone so wearily through

At the end of a day of trial —

How little she saw in her pride of prime

The dart of Death in the Hand of Time —

That hand which moved on the dial!

320.

As she went with her taper up the stair,

How little her swollen eye was aware

That the Shadow which followed was double!

Or when she closed her chamber door,

It was shutting out, and forevermore,

The world — and its worldly trouble.

321.

Little she dreamt, as she laid aside

Her jewels — after one glance of pride —

They were solemn bequests to Vanity —

Or when her robes she began to doff,

That she stood so near to the putting off

Of the flesh that clothes humanity.

322.

And when she quench’d the taper’s light,

How little she thought as the smoke took flight,

That her day was done — and merged in a night

Of dreams and duration uncertain —

Or along with her own,

That a Hand of Bone

Was closing mortality’s curtain!

323.

But life is sweet, and mortality blind,

And youth is hopeful, and Fate is kind

In concealing the day of sorrow;

And enough is the present tense of toil —

For this world is, to all, a stiffish soil —

And the mind flies back with a glad recoil

From the debts not due till to-morrow.

324.

Wherefore else does the Spirit fly

And bid its daily cares good-bye,

Along with its daily clothing?

Just as the felon condemn’d to die —

With a very natural loathing —

Leaving the Sheriff to dream of ropes,

From his gloomy cell in a vision elopes,

To a caper on sunny gleams and slopes,

Instead of a dance upon nothing.

325.

Thus, even thus, the Countess slept,

While Death still nearer and nearer crept,

Like the Thane who smote the sleeping —

But her mind was busy with early joys,

Her golden treasures and golden toys;

That flash’d a bright

And golden light

Under lids still red with weeping.

326.

The golden doll that she used to hug!

Her coral of gold, and the golden mug!

Her godfather’s golden presents!

The golden service she had at her meals,

The golden watch, and chain, and seals,

Her golden scissors, and thread, and reels,

And her golden fishes and pheasants!

327.

The golden guineas in silken purse —

And the Golden Legends she heard from her nurse

Of the Mayor in his gilded carriage —

And London streets that were paved with gold —

And the Golden Eggs that were laid of old —

With each golden thing

To the golden ring

At her own auriferous Marriage!

328.

And still the golden light of the sun

Through her golden dream appear’d to run,

Though the night, that roared without, was one

To terrify seamen or gypsies —

While the moon, as if in malicious mirth,

Kept peeping down at the ruffled earth,

As though she enjoy’d the tempest’s birth,

In revenge of her old eclipses.

329.

But vainly, vainly, the thunder fell,

For the soul of the Sleeper was under a spell

That time had lately embitter’d —

The Count, as once at her foot he knelt —

That foot, which now he wanted to melt!

But — hush! —’twas a stir at her pillow she felt —

And some object before her glitter’d.

330.

’Twas the Golden Leg! — she knew its gleam!

And up she started and tried to scream —

But ev’n in the moment she started

Down came the limb with a frightful smash,

And, lost in the universal flash

That her eyeballs made at so mortal a crash,

The Spark, call’d Vital, departed!

331.

Gold, still gold! hard, yellow, and cold,

For gold she had lived, and she died for gold —

By a golden weapon — not oaken;

In the morning they found her all alone —

Stiff, and bloody, and cold as stone —

But her Leg, the Golden Leg, was gone,

And the “Golden Bowl was broken!”

332.

Gold — still gold! it haunted her yet —

At the Golden Lion the Inquest met —

Its foreman, a carver and gilder —

And the Jury debated from twelve till three

What the Verdict ought to be,

And they brought it in as Felo de Se,

“Because her own Leg had kill’d her!”

Her Moral.

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!

Bright and yellow, hard and cold,

Molten, graven, hammer’d and roll’d;

Heavy to get, and light to hold;

Hoarded, barter’d, bought, and sold,

Stolen, borrow’d, squander’d, doled:

Spurn’d by the young, but hugg’d by the old

To the very verge of the churchyard mould;

Price of many a crime untold;

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold:

Good or bad a thousand-fold!

How widely its agencies vary —

To save — to ruin — to curse — to bless —

As even its minted coins express,

Now stamp’d with the image of Good Queen Bess,

And now of a Bloody Mary.

Originally published by instalments in Colburn’s New Monthly Magazine in 1840 and 1841, as one of a proposed series to be entitled “Rhymes for the Times.”

The Lee Shore.

Sleet! and Hail! and Thunder!

And ye Winds that rave,

Till the sands thereunder

Tinge the sullen wave —

Winds, that like a Demon,

Howl with horrid note

Round the toiling Seaman,

In his tossing boat —

From his humble dwelling,

On the shingly shore,

Where the billows swelling,

Keep such hollow roar —

From that weeping Woman,

Seeking with her cries

Succor superhuman

From the frowning skies —

From the Urchin pining

For his Father’s knee —

From the lattice shining —

Drive him out to sea!

Let broad leagues dissever

Him from yonder foam —

Oh, God! to think Man ever

Comes too near his Home!

Sonnet.

The world is with me, and its many cares,

Its woes — its wants — the anxious hopes and fears

That wait on all terrestrial affairs —

The shades of former and of future years —

Foreboding fancies, and prophetic tears,

Quelling a spirit that was once elate:—

Heavens! what a wilderness the earth appears,

Where Youth, and Mirth, and Health are out of date!

But no — a laugh of innocence and joy

Resounds, like music of the fairy race,

And gladly turning from the world’s annoy

I gaze upon a little radiant face,

And bless, internally, the merry boy

Who “makes a son-shine in a shady-place.”

The Elm Tree.

A Dream in the Woods.

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees.”—As You Like It.

’Twas in a shady Avenue,

Where lofty Elms abound —

And from a Tree

There came to me

A sad and solemn sound,

That sometimes murmur’d overhead,

And sometimes underground.

Amongst the leaves it seem’d to sigh,

Amid the boughs to moan;

It mutter’d in the stem, and then

The roots took up the tone;

As if beneath the dewy grass

The dead began to groan.

No breeze there was to stir the leaves;

No bolts that tempests launch,

To rend the trunk or rugged bark;

No gale to bend the branch;

No quake of earth to heave the roots,

That stood so stiff and staunch.

No bird was preening up aloft,

To rustle with its wing;

No squirrel, in its sport or fear.

From bough to bough to spring.

The solid bole

Had ne’er a hole

To hide a living thing!

No scooping hollow cell to lodge

A furtive beast or fowl,

The martin, bat,

Or forest cat

That nightly loves to prowl,

Nor ivy nooks so apt to shroud

The moping, snoring owl.

But still the sound was in my ear,

A sad and solemn sound,

That sometimes murmur’d overhead,

And sometimes underground —

’Twas in a shady Avenue

Where lofty Elms abound.

Oh hath the Dryad still a tongue

In this ungenial clime?

Have Sylvan Spirits still a voice

As in the classic prime —

To make the forest voluble,

As in the olden time?

The olden time is dead and gone;

Its years have fill’d their sum —

And e’en in Greece — her native Greece —

The Sylvan Nymph is dumb —

From ash, and beech, and aged oak,

No classic whispers come,

From Poplar, Pine, and drooping Birch,

And fragrant Linden Trees;

No living sound

E’er hovers round,

Unless the vagrant breeze,

The music of the merry bird,

Or hum of busy bees.

But busy bees forsake the Elm

That bears no bloom aloft —

The Finch was in the hawthorn-bush,

The Blackbird in the croft;

And among the firs the brooding Dove,

That else might murmur soft.

Yet still I heard that solemn sound,

And sad it was to boot,

From ev’ry overhanging bough,

And each minuter shoot;

From rugged trunk and mossy rind,

And from the twisted root.

From these — a melancholy moan;

From those — a dreary sigh;

As if the boughs were wintry bare,

And wild winds sweeping by —

Whereas the smallest fleecy cloud

Was steadfast in the sky.

No sign or touch of stirring air

Could either sense observe —

The zephyr had not breath enough

The thistle-down to swerve,

Or force the filmy gossamers

To take another curve.

In still and silent slumber hush’d

All Nature seem’d to be:

From heaven above, or earth beneath,

No whisper came to me —

Except the solemn sound and sad

From that MYSTERIOUS TREE!

A hollow, hollow, hollow, sound,

As is that dreamy roar

When distant billows boil and bound

Along a shingly shore —

But the ocean brim was far aloof,

A hundred miles or more.

No murmur of the gusty sea,

No tumult of the beach,

However they may foam and fret,

The bounded sense could reach —

Methought the trees in mystic tongue

Were talking each to each! —

Mayhap, rehearsing ancient tales

Of greenwood love or guilt,

Of whisper’d vows

Beneath their boughs;

Or blood obscurely spilt,

Or of that near-hand Mansion House

A royal Tudor built.

Perchance, of booty won or shared

Beneath the starry cope —

Or where the suicidal wretch

Hung up the fatal rope;

Or Beauty kept an evil tryste,

Insnared by Love and Hope.

Of graves, perchance, untimely scoop’d

At midnight dark and dank —

And what is underneath the sod

Whereon the grass is rank —

Of old intrigues,

And privy leagues,

Tradition leaves in blank.

Of traitor lips that mutter’d plots —

Of Kin who fought and fell —

God knows the undiscovered schemes,

The arts and acts of Hell,

Perform’d long generations since,

If trees had tongues to tell!

With wary eyes, and ears alert,

As one who walks afraid,

I wander’d down the dappled path

Of mingled light and shade —

How sweetly gleam’d that arch of blue

Beyond the green arcade!

How cheerily shone the glimpse of Heav’n

Beyond that verdant aisle!

All overarch’d with lofty elms,

That quench’d the light, the while,

As dim and chill

As serves to fill

Some old Cathedral pile!

And many a gnarlèd trunk was there,

That ages long had stood,

Till Time had wrought them into shapes

Like Pan’s fantastic brood;

Or still more foul and hideous forms

That Pagans carve in wood!

A crouching Satyr lurking here —

And there a Goblin grim —

As staring full of demon life

As Gothic sculptor’s whim —

A marvel it had scarcely been

To hear a voice from him!

Some whisper from that horrid mouth

Of strange, unearthly tone;

Or wild infernal laugh, to chill

One’s marrow in the bone.

But no — it grins like rigid Death,

And silent as a stone!

As silent as its fellows be,

For all is mute with them —

The branch that climbs the leafy roof —

The rough and mossy stem —

The crooked root,

And tender shoot,

Where hangs the dewy gem.

One mystic Tree alone there is,

Of sad and solemn sound —

That sometimes murmurs overhead,

And sometimes underground —

In all that shady Avenue,

Where lofty Elms abound.

Part 2.

The Scene is changed! No green Arcade,

No Trees all ranged a-row —

But scatter’d like a beaten host,

Dispersing to and fro;

With here and there a sylvan corse,

That fell before the foe.

The Foe that down in yonder dell

Pursues his daily toil;

As witness many a prostrate trunk,

Bereft of leafy spoil,

Hard by its wooden stump, whereon

The adder loves to coil.

Alone he works — his ringing blows

Have banish’d bird and beast;

The Hind and Fawn have canter’d off

A hundred yards at least;

And on the maple’s lofty top

The linnet’s song has ceased.

No eye his labor overlooks,

Or when he takes his rest,

Except the timid thrush that peeps

Above her secret nest,

Forbid by love to leave the young

Beneath her speckled breast.

The Woodman’s heart is in his work,

His axe is sharp and good:

With sturdy arm and steady aim

He smites the gaping wood;

From distant rocks

His lusty knocks

Re-echo many a rood.

His axe is keen, his arm is strong;

The muscles serve him well;

His years have reach’d an extra span,

The number none can tell;

But still his lifelong task has been

The Timber Tree to fell.

Through Summer’s parching sultriness,

And Winter’s freezing cold,

From sapling youth

To virile growth.

And Age’s rigid mould,

His energetic axe hath rung

Within that Forest old.

Aloft, upon his poising steel

The vivid sunbeams glance —

About his head and round his feet

The forest shadows dance;

And bounding from his russet coat

The acorn drops askance.

His face is like a Druid’s face,

With wrinkles furrow’d deep,

And tann’d by scorching suns as brown

As corn that’s ripe to reap;

But the hair on brow, and cheek, and chin,

Is white as wool of sheep.

His frame is like a giant’s frame;

His legs are long and stark;

His arms like limbs of knotted yew;

His hands like rugged bark;

So he felleth still

With right good will,

As if to build an Ark!

Oh! well within His fatal path

The fearful Tree might quake

Through every fibre, twig, and leaf,

With aspen tremor shake;

Through trunk and root,

And branch and shoot,

A low complaining make!

Oh! well to Him the Tree might breathe

A sad and solemn sound,

A sigh that murmur’d overhead,

And groans from underground;

As in that shady Avenue

Where lofty Elms abound!

But calm and mute the Maple stands,

The Plane, the Ash, the Fir,

The Elm, the Beech, the drooping Birch,

Without the least demur;

And e’en the Aspen’s hoary leaf

Makes no unusual stir.

The Pines — those old gigantic Pines,

That writhe — recalling soon

The famous Human Group that writhes

With Snakes in wild festoon —

In ramous wrestlings interlaced

A Forest Laocoon —

Like Titans of primeval girth

By tortures overcome,

Their brown enormous limbs they twine,

Bedew’d with tears of gum —

Fierce agonies that ought to yell,

But, like the marble, dumb.

Nay, yonder blasted Elm that stands

So like a man of sin,

Who, frantic, flings his arms abroad

To feel the Worm within —

For all that gesture, so intense,

It makes no sort of din!

An universal silence reigns

In rugged bark or peel,

Except that very trunk which rings

Beneath the biting steel —

Meanwhile the Woodman plies his axe

With unrelenting zeal!

No rustic song is on his tongue,

No whistle on his lips;

But with a quiet thoughtfulness

His trusty tool he grips,

And, stroke on stroke, keeps hacking out

The bright and flying chips.

Stroke after stroke, with frequent dint

He spreads the fatal gash;

Till, lo! the remnant fibres rend,

With harsh and sudden crash,

And on the dull resounding turf

The jarring branches lash!

Oh! now the Forest Trees may sigh,

The Ash, the Poplar tall,

The Elm, the Beech, the drooping Birch,

The Aspens — one and all,

With solemn groan

And hollow moan

Lament a comrade’s fall!

A goodly Elm, of noble girth,

That, thrice the human span —

While on their variegated course

The constant Seasons ran —

Through gale, and hail, and fiery bolt,

Had stood erect as Man.

But now, like mortal Man himself,

Struck down by hand of God,

Or heathen Idol tumbled prone

Beneath th’ Eternal’s nod,

In all its giant bulk and length

It lies along the sod!

Ay, now the Forest Trees may grieve

And make a common moan

Around that patriarchal trunk

So newly overthrown;

And with a murmur recognize

A doom to be their own!

The Echo sleeps: the idle axe,

A disregarded tool,

Lies crushing with its passive weight

The toad’s reputed stool —

The Woodman wipes his dewy brow

Within the shadows cool.

No Zephyr stirs: the ear may catch

The smallest insect-hum;

But on the disappointed sense

No mystic whispers come;

No tone of sylvan sympathy,

The Forest Trees are dumb.

No leafy noise, nor inward voice,

No sad and solemn sound,

That sometimes murmurs overhead,

And sometimes underground;

As in that shady Avenue,

Where lofty Elms abound!

Part 3.

The deed is done: the Tree is low

That stood so long and firm;

The Woodman and his axe are gone,

His toil has found its term;

And where he wrought the speckled Thrush

Securely hunts the worm.

The Cony from the sandy bank

Has run a rapid race,

Through thistle, bent, and tangled fern,

To seek the open space;

And on its haunches sits erect

To clean its furry face.

The dappled Fawn is close at hand,

The Hind is browsing near —

And on the Larch’s lowest bough

The Ousel whistles clear;

But checks the note

Within its throat,

As choked with sudden fear!

With sudden fear her wormy quest

The Thrush abruptly quits —

Through thistle, bent, and tangled fern

The startled Cony flits;

And on the Larch’s lowest bough

No more the Ousel sits.

With sudden fear

The dappled Deer

Effect a swift escape;

But well might bolder creatures start,

And fly, or stand agape,

With rising hair, and curdled blood,

To see so grim a Shape!

The very sky turns pale above;

The earth grows dark beneath;

The human Terror thrills with cold

And draws a shorter breath —

An universal panic owns

The dread approach of DEATH!

With silent pace, as shadows come,

And dark as shadows be,

The grisly Phantom takes his stand

Beside the fallen Tree,

And scans it with his gloomy eyes,

And laughs with horrid glee —

A dreary laugh and desolate,

Where mirth is void and null,

As hollow as its echo sounds

Within the hollow skull —

“Whoever laid this tree along,

His hatchet was not dull!

“The human arm and human tool

Have done their duty well!

But after sound of ringing axe

Must sound the ringing knell;

When Elm or Oak

Have felt the stroke,

My turn it is to fell!

“No passive unregarded tree,

A senseless thing of wood,

Wherein the sluggish sap ascends

To swell the vernal bud —

But conscious, moving, breathing trunks

That throb with living blood!

“No forest Monarch yearly clad

In mantle green or brown;

That unrecorded lives, and falls

By hand of rustic clown —

But Kings who don the purple robe,

And wear the jewell’d crown.

“Ah! little recks the Royal mind,

Within his Banquet Hall,

While tapers shine and Music breathes

And Beauty leads the Ball —

He little recks the oaken plank

Shall be his palace wall!

“Ah, little dreams the haughty Peer,

The while his Falcon flies —

Or on the blood-bedabbled turf

The antler’d quarry dies —

That in his own ancestral Park

The narrow dwelling lies!

“But haughty Peer and mighty King

One doom shall overwhelm!

The oaken cell

Shall lodge him well

Whose sceptre ruled a realm —

While he, who never knew a home,

Shall find it in the Elm!

“The tatter’d, lean, dejected wretch,

Who begs from door to door,

And dies within the cressy ditch,

Or on the barren moor,

The friendly Elm shall lodge and clothe

That houseless man and poor!

“Yea, this recumbent rugged trunk,

That lies so long and prone,

With many a fallen acorn-cup,

And mast, and furry cone —

This rugged trunk shall hold its share

Of mortal flesh and bone!

“A Miser hoarding heaps of gold,

But pale with ague-fears —

A Wife lamenting love’s decay,

With secret cruel tears,

Distilling bitter, bitter drops

From sweets of former years —

“A Man within whose gloomy mind

Offence had deeply sunk,

Who out of fierce Revenge’s cup

Hath madly, darkly drunk —

Grief, Avarice, and Hate shall sleep

Within this very trunk!

“This massy trunk that lies along,

And many more must fall —

For the very knave

Who digs the grave,

The man who spreads the pall,

And he who tolls the funeral bell,

The Elm shall have them all!

“The tall abounding Elm that grows

In hedgerows up and down;

In field and forest, copse and park,

And in the peopled town,

With colonies of noisy rooks

That nestle on its crown.

“And well th’ abounding Elm may grow

In field and hedge so rife,

In forest, copse, and wooded park,

And ‘mid the city’s strife,

For, every hour that passes by

Shall end a human life!”

The Phantom ends: the shade is gone;

The sky is clear and bright;

On turf, and moss, and fallen Tree,

There glows a ruddy light;

And bounding through the golden fern

The Rabbit comes to bite.

The Thrush’s mate beside her sits

And pipes a merry lay;

The Dove is in the evergreen;

And on the Larch’s spray

The Fly-bird flutters up and down,

To catch its tiny prey.

The gentle Hind and dappled Fawn

Are coming up the glade;

Each harmless furr’d and feather’d thing

Is glad, and not afraid —

But on my sadden’d spirit still

The Shadow leaves a shade.

A secret, vague, prophetic gloom,

As though by certain mark

I knew the fore-appointed Tree,

Within whose rugged bark

This warm and living frame shall find

Its narrow house and dark.

That mystic Tree which breathed to me

A sad and solemn sound,

That sometimes murmur’d overhead,

And sometimes underground;

Within that shady Avenue

Where lofty Elms abound.

Lear.

A poor old king, with sorrow for my crown,

Throned upon straw, and mantled with the wind —

For pity, my own tears have made me blind

That I might never see my children’s frown;

And, may be, madness, like a friend, has thrown

A folded fillet over my dark mind,

So that unkindly speech may sound for kind —

Albeit I know not. — I am childish grown —

And have not gold to purchase wit withal —

I that have once maintain’d most royal state —

A very bankrupt now that may not call

My child, my child — all beggar’d save in tears,

Wherewith I daily weep an old man’s fate,

Foolish — and blind — and overcome with years!

Sonnet.

My heart is sick with longing, tho’ I feed

On hope; Time goes with such a heavy pace

That neither brings nor takes from thy embrace,

As if he slept — forgetting his old speed:

For, as in sunshine only we can read

The march of minutes on the dial’s face,

So in the shadows of this lonely place

There is no love, and Time is dead indeed.

But when, dear lady, I am near thy heart,

Thy smile is time, and then so swift it flies,

It seems we only meet to tear apart,

With aching hands and lingering of eyes.

Alas, alas! that we must learn hours’ flight

By the same light of love that makes them bright!

The Song of the Shirt.

With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread —

Stitch! stitch! stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch

She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”

“Work! work! work!

While the cock is crowing aloof!

And work — work — work,

Till the stars shine through the roof!

It’s Oh! to be a slave

Along with the barbarous Turk,

Where woman has never a soul to save,

If this is Christian work!

“Work — work — work

Till the brain begins to swim;

Work — work — work

Till the eyes are heavy and dim!

Seam, and gusset, and band,

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Till over the buttons I fall asleep,

And sew them on in a dream!

“Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!

Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives!

It is not linen you’re wearing out,

But human creatures’ lives!

Stitch — stitch — stitch,

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

Sewing at once, with a double thread,

A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

“But why do I talk of Death?

That Phantom of grisly bone,

I hardly fear his terrible shape,

It seems so like my own —

It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep;

Oh, God! that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!”

“Work — work — work!”

My labor never flags;

And what are its wages? A bed of straw,

A crust of bread — and rags.

That shattered roof — and this naked floor —

A table — a broken chair —

And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank

For sometimes falling there!

“Work — work — work!

From weary chime to chime,

Work — work — work —

As prisoners work for crime!

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band,

Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb’d,

As well as the weary hand.

“Work — work — work,

In the dull December light,

And work — work — work,

When the weather is warm and bright —

While underneath the eaves

The brooding swallows cling

As if to show me their sunny backs

And twit me with the spring.

“Oh! but to breathe the breath

Of the cowslip and primrose sweet —

With the sky above my head,

And the grass beneath my feet,

For only one short hour

To feel as I used to feel,

Before I knew the woes of want

And the walk that costs a meal!

“Oh! but for one short hour!

A respite however brief!

No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,

But only time for Grief!

A little weeping would ease my heart,

But in their briny bed

My tears must stop, for every drop

Hinders needle and thread!”

With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread —

Stitch! stitch! stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch —

Would that its tone could reach the Rich! —

She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

The Pauper’s Christmas Carol.

Full of drink and full of meat,

On our SAVIOUR’S natal day,

CHARITY’S perennial treat;

Thus I heard a Pauper say:—

“Ought not I to dance and sing

Thus supplied with famous cheer?

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year.

“After labor’s long turmoil,

Sorry fare and frequent fast,

Two-and-fifty weeks of toil,

Pudding-time is come at last!

But are raisins high or low,

Flour and suet cheap or dear?

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year.

“Fed upon the coarsest fare

Three hundred days and sixty-four,

But for one on viands rare,

Just as if I wasn’t poor!

Ought not I to bless my stars,

Warden, clerk, and overseer?

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year.

“Treated like a welcome guest,

One of Nature’s social chain,

Seated, tended on, and press’d —

But when shall I be press’d again,

Twice to pudding, thrice to beef,

A dozen times to ale and beer?

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year.

“Come to-morrow how it will;

Diet scant and usage rough,

Hunger once has had its fill,

Thirst for once has had enough,

But shall I ever dine again?

Or see another feast appear?

Heigho!

I only know —

Christmas comes but once a year!

“Frozen cares begin to melt,

Hopes revive and spirits flow —

Feeling as I have not felt

Since a dozen months ago —

Glad enough to sing a song —

To-morrow shall I volunteer?

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year.

“Bright and blessed is the time,

Sorrows end and joys begin,

While the bells with merry chime

Ring the Day of Plenty in!

But the happy tide to hail,

With a sigh or with or a tear,

Heigho!

I hardly know —

Christmas comes but once a year!”

The Haunted House

A Romance.

“A jolly place, said he, in days of old,

But something ails it now: the spot is curst.”

WORDSWORTH.

Part 1.

Some dreams we have are nothing else but dreams,

Unnatural, and full of contradictions;

Yet others of our most romantic schemes

Are something more than fictions.

It might be only on enchanted ground;

It might be merely by a thought’s expansion;

But, in the spirit or the flesh, I found

An old deserted Mansion.

A residence for woman, child, and man,

A dwelling place — and yet no habitation;

A House — but under some prodigious ban

Of excommunication.

Unhinged the iron gates half open hung,

Jarr’d by the gusty gales of many winters,

That from its crumbled pedestal had flung

One marble globe in splinters.

No dog was at the threshold, great or small;

No pigeon on the roof — no household creature —

No cat demurely dozing on the wall —

Not one domestic feature.

No human figure stirr’d, to go or come,

No face look’d forth from shut or open casement;

No chimney smoked — there was no sign of Home

From parapet to basement.

With shatter’d panes the grassy court was starr’d;

The time-worn coping-stone had tumbled after;

And thro’ the ragged roof the sky shone, barr’d

With naked beam and rafter.

O’er all there hung a shadow and a fear;

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

The flow’r grew wild and rankly as the weed,

Roses with thistles struggled for espial,

And vagrant plants of parasitic breed

Had overgrown the Dial.

But gay or gloomy, steadfast or infirm,

No heart was there to heed the hour’s duration;

All times and tides were lost in one long term

Of stagnant desolation.

The wren had built within the Porch, she found

Its quiet loneliness so sure and thorough;

And on the lawn — within its turfy mound —

The rabbit made his burrow.

The rabbit wild and gray, that flitted thro’

The shrubby clumps, and frisk’d, and sat, and vanish’d,

But leisurely and bold, as if he knew

His enemy was banish’d.

The wary crow — the pheasant from the woods —

Lull’d by the still and everlasting sameness,

Close to the mansion, like domestic broods,

Fed with a “shocking tameness.”

The coot was swimming in the reedy pond,

Beside the water-hen, so soon affrighted;

And in the weedy moat the heron, fond

Of solitude, alighted.

The moping heron, motionless and stiff,

That on a stone, as silently and stilly,

Stood, an apparent sentinel, as if

To guard the water-lily.

No sound was heard except, from far away,

The ringing of the witwall’s shrilly laughter,

Or, now and then, the chatter of the jay,

That Echo murmur’d after.

But Echo never mock’d the human tongue;

Some weighty crime, that Heaven could not pardon,

A secret curse on that old Building hung,

And its deserted Garden.

The beds were all untouch’d by hand or tool;

No footstep marked the damp and mossy gravel,

Each walk as green as is the mantled pool,

For want of human travel.

The vine unpruned, and the neglected peach,

Droop’d from the wall with which they used to grapple;

And on the canker’d tree, in easy reach,

Rotted the golden apple.

But awfully the truant shunn’d the ground,

The vagrant kept aloof, and daring Poacher;

In spite of gaps that thro’ the fences round

Invited the encroacher.

For over all there hung a cloud of fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

The pear and quince lay squander’d on the grass;

The mould was purple with unheeded showers

Of bloomy plums — a Wilderness it was

Of fruits, and weeds, and flowers!

The marigold amidst the nettles blew,

The gourd embraced the rose bush in its ramble,

The thistle and the stock together grew,

The holly-hock and bramble.

The bear-bine with the lilac interlaced,

The sturdy bur-dock choked its slender neighbor,

The spicy pink. All tokens were effaced

Of human care and labor.

The very yew Formality had train’d

To such a rigid pyramidal stature,

For want of trimming had almost regain’d

The raggedness of nature.

The Fountain was a-dry — neglect and time

Had marr’d the work of artisan and mason,

And efts and croaking frogs, begot of slime,

Sprawl’d in the ruin’d bason.

The Statue, fallen from its marble base,

Amidst the refuse leaves, and herbage rotten,

Lay like the Idol of some bygone race,

Its name and rites forgotten.

On ev’ry side the aspect was the same,

All ruin’d, desolate, forlorn, and savage:

No hand or foot within the precinct came

To rectify or ravage.

For over all there hung a cloud of fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

Part 2.

O, very gloomy is the House of Woe,

Where tears are falling while the bell is knelling,

With all the dark solemnities which show

That Death is in the dwelling!

O very, very dreary is the room

Where Love, domestic Love, no longer nestles,

But, smitten by the common stroke of doom,

The Corpse lies on the trestles!

But House of Woe, and hearse, and sable pall,

The narrow home of the departed mortal,

Ne’er look’d so gloomy as that Ghostly Hall,

With its deserted portal!

The centipede along the threshold crept,

The cobweb hung across in mazy tangle,

And in its winding-sheet the maggot slept,

At every nook and angle.

The keyhole lodged the earwig and her brood,

The emmets of the steps had old possession,

And march’d in search of their diurnal food

In undisturb’d procession.

As undisturb’d as the prehensile cell

Of moth or maggot, or the spider’s tissue,

For never foot upon that threshold fell,

To enter or to issue.

O’er all there hung the shadow of a fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

Howbeit, the door I push’d — or so I dream’d —

Which slowly, slowly gaped — the hinges creaking

With such a rusty eloquence, it seem’d

That Time himself was speaking.

But Time was dumb within that Mansion old,

Or left his tale to the heraldic banners,

That hung from the corroded walls, and told

Of former men and manners:—

Those tatter’d flags, that with the open’d door,

Seem’d the old wave of battle to remember,

While fallen fragments danced upon the floor,

Like dead leaves in December.

The startled bats flew out — bird after bird —

The screech-owl overhead began to flutter,

And seem’d to mock the cry that she had heard

Some dying victim utter!

A shriek that echoed from the joisted roof,

And up the stair, and further still and further,

Till in some ringing chamber far aloof

It ceased its tale of murther!

Meanwhile the rusty armor rattled round,

The banner shudder’d, and the ragged streamer;

All things the horrid tenor of the sound

Acknowledged with a tremor.

The antlers, where the helmet hung, and belt,

Stirr’d as the tempest stirs the forest branches,

Or as the stag had trembled when he felt

The blood-hound at his haunches.

The window jingled in its crumbled frame,

And thro’ its many gaps of destitution

Dolorous moans and hollow sighings came,

Like those of dissolution.

The wood-louse dropped, and rolled into a ball,

Touch’d by some impulse occult or mechanic;

And nameless beetles ran along the wall

In universal panic.

The subtle spider, that from overhead

Hung like a spy on human guilt and error,

Suddenly turn’d, and up its slender thread

Ran with a nimble terror.

The very stains and fractures on the wall,

Assuming features solemn and terrific,

Hinted some Tragedy of that old Hall,

Lock’d up in hieroglyphic.

Some tale that might, perchance, have solved the doubt,

Wherefore amongst those flags so dull and livid,

The banner of the BLOODY HAND shone out

So ominously vivid.

Some key to that inscrutable appeal,

Which made the very frame of Nature quiver;

And ev’ry thrilling nerve and fibre feel

So ague-like a shiver.

For over all there hung a cloud of fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

If but a rat had lingered in the house,

To lure the thought into a social channel!

But not a rat remain’d, or tiny mouse,

To squeak behind the panel.

Huge drops roll’d down the walls, as if they wept;

And where the cricket used to chirp so shrilly

The toad was squatting, and the lizard crept

On that damp hearth and chilly.

For years no cheerful blaze had sparkled there,

Or glanced on coat of buff or knightly metal;

The slug was crawling on the vacant chair —

The snail upon the settle.

The floor was redolent of mould and must,

The fungus in the rotten seams had quicken’d;

While on the oaken table coats of dust

Perennially had thicken’d.

No mark of leathern jack or metal can,

No cup — no horn — no hospitable token —

All social ties between that board and Man

Had long ago been broken.

There was so foul a rumor in the air,

The shadow of a Presence so atrocious;

No human creature could have feasted there,

Even the most ferocious.

For over all there hung a cloud of fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

Part 3.

’Tis hard for human actions to account,

Whether from reason or from impulse only —

But some internal prompting bade me mount

The gloomy stairs and lonely.

Those gloomy stairs, so dark, and damp, and cold,

With odors as from bones and relics carnal,

Deprived of rite, and consecrated mould,

The chapel vault, or charnel.

Those dreary stairs, where with the sounding stress

Of ev’ry step so many echoes blended,

The mind, with dark misgivings, fear’d to guess

How many feet ascended.

The tempest with its spoils had drifted in,

Till each unwholesome stone was darkly spotted,

As thickly as the leopard’s dappled skin,

With leaves that rankly rotted.

The air was thick — and in the upper gloom

The bat — or something in its shape — was winging;

And on the wall, as chilly as a tomb,

The Death’s-Head moth was clinging.

That mystic moth, which, with a sense profound

Of all unholy presence, augurs truly;

And with a grim significance flits round

The taper burning bluely.

Such omens in the place there seem’d to be,

At ev’ry crooked turn, or on the landing,

The straining eyeball was prepared to see

Some Apparition standing.

For over all there hung a cloud of fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

Yet no portentous Shape the sight amazed;

Each object plain, and tangible, and valid;

But from their tarnish’d frames dark Figures gazed,

And Faces spectre-pallid.

Not merely with the mimic life that lies

Within the compass of Art’s simulation;

Their souls were looking thro’ their painted eyes

With awful speculation.

On ev’ry lip a speechless horror dwelt;

On ev’ry brow the burthen of affliction;

The old Ancestral Spirits knew and felt

The House’s malediction.

Such earnest woe their features overcast,

They might have stirr’d, or sigh’d, or wept, or spoken;

But, save the hollow moaning of the blast,

The stillness was unbroken.

No other sound or stir of life was there,

Except my steps in solitary clamber,

From flight to flight, from humid stair to stair,

From chamber into chamber.

Deserted rooms of luxury and state,

That old magnificence had richly furnish’d

With pictures, cabinets of ancient date,

And carvings gilt and burnish’d.

Rich hangings, storied by the needle’s art

With scripture history, or classic fable;

But all had faded, save one ragged part,

Where Cain was slaying Abel.

The silent waste of mildew and the moth

Had marr’d the tissue with a partial ravage;

But undecaying frown’d upon the cloth

Each feature stern and savage.

The sky was pale; the cloud a thing of doubt;

Some hues were fresh, and some decay’d and duller;

But still the BLOODY HAND shone strangely out

With vehemence of color!

The BLOODY HAND that with a lurid stain

Shone on the dusty floor, a dismal token,

Projected from the casement’s painted pane,

Where all beside was broken.

The BLOODY HAND significant of crime,

That glaring on the old heraldic banner,

Had kept its crimson unimpair’d by time,

In such a wondrous manner!

O’er all there hung the shadow of a fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

The Death Watch tick’d behind the panel’d oak,

Inexplicable tremors shook the arras,

And echoes strange and mystical awoke,

The fancy to embarrass.

Prophetic hints that filled the soul with dread,

But thro’ one gloomy entrance pointing mostly,

The while some secret inspiration said,

That Chamber is the Ghostly!

Across the door no gossamer festoon

Swung pendulous — no web — no dusty fringes,

No silky chrysalis or white cocoon

About its nooks and hinges.

The spider shunn’d the interdicted room,

The moth, the beetle, and the fly were banish’d,

And where the sunbeam fell athwart the gloom

The very midge had vanish’d.

One lonely ray that glanced upon a Bed,

As if with awful aim direct and certain

To show the BLOODY HAND in burning red

Embroider’d on the curtain.

And yet no gory stain was on the quilt —

The pillow in its place had slowly rotted;

The floor alone retain’d the trace of guilt,

Those boards obscurely spotted.

Obscurely spotted to the door, and thence

With mazy doubles to the grated casement —

Oh what a tale they told of fear intense,

Of horror and amazement!

What human creature in the dead of night

Had coursed like hunted hare that cruel distance?

Had sought the door, the window in his flight,

Striving for dear existence?

What shrieking Spirit in that bloody room

Its mortal frame had violently quitted? —

Across the sunbeam, with a sudden gloom,

A ghostly Shadow flitted.

Across the sunbeam, and along the wall,

But painted on the air so very dimly,

It hardly veil’d the tapestry at all,

Or portrait frowning grimly.

O’er all there hung the shadow of a fear,

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is Haunted!

From the opening number of Hood’s Magazine, January 1844. Written to accompany an engraving from a painting by Thomas Creswick, bearing the same title.

The Mary.

A Sea-side Sketch.

Lov’st thou not, Alice, with the early tide

To see the hardy Fisher hoist his mast,

And stretch his sail towards the ocean wide —

Like God’s own beadsman going forth to cast

His net into the deep, which doth provide

Enormous bounties, hidden in its vast

Bosom like Charity’s, for all who seek

And take its gracious boon thankful and meek?

The sea is bright with morning — but the dark

Seems still to linger on his broad black sail,

For it is early hoisted, like a mark

For the low sun to shoot at with his pale

And level beams: All round the shadowy bark

The green wave glimmers, and the gentle gale

Swells in her canvas, till the waters show

The keel’s new speed, and whiten at the bow.

Then look abaft —(for thou canst understand

That phrase)— and there he sitteth at the stern,

Grasping the tiller in his broad brown hand,

The hardy Fisherman. Thou may’st discern

Ten fathoms off the wrinkles in the tann’d

And honest countenance that he will turn

To look upon us, with a quiet gaze —

As we are passing on our several ways.

So, some ten days ago, on such a morn,

The Mary, like a seamew, sought her spoil

Amongst the finny race: ’twas when the corn

Woo’d the sharp sickle, and the golden toil

Summon’d all rustic hands to fill the horn

Of Ceres to the brim, that brave turmoil

Was at the prime, and Woodgate went to reap

His harvest too, upon the broad blue deep.

His mast was up, his anchor heaved aboard,

His mainsail stretching in the first gray gleams

Of morning, for the wind. Ben’s eye was stored

With fishes — fishes swam in all his dreams,

And all the goodly east seem’d but a hoard

Of silvery fishes, that in shoals and streams

Groped into the deep dusk that fill’d the sky,

For him to catch in meshes of his eye.

For Ben had the true sailor’s sanguine heart,

And saw the future with a boy’s brave thought,

No doubts, nor faint misgivings had a part

In his bright visions — ay, before he caught

His fish, he sold them in the scaly mart,

And summ’d the net proceeds. This should have brought

Despair upon him when his hopes were foil’d,

But though one crop was marr’d, again he toil’d;

And sow’d his seed afresh. — Many foul blights

Perish’d his hard-won gains — yet he had plann’d

No schemes of too extravagant delights —

No goodly houses on the Goodwin sand —

But a small humble home, and loving nights,

Such as his honest heart and earnest hand

Might fairly purchase. Were these hopes too airy?

Such as they were, they rested on thee, Mary.

She was the prize of many a toilsome year,

And hardwon wages, on the perilous sea —

Of savings ever since the shipboy’s tear

Was shed for home, that lay beyond the lee; —

She was purveyor for his other dear

Mary, and for the infant yet to be

Fruit of their married loves. These made him dote

Upon the homely beauties of his boat,

Whose pitch-black hull roll’d darkly on the wave,

No gayer than one single stripe of blue

Could make her swarthy sides. She seem’d a slave,

A negro among boats — that only knew

Hardship and rugged toil — no pennons brave

Flaunted upon the mast — but oft a few

Dark dripping jackets flutter’d to the air,

Ensigns of hardihood and toilsome care.

And when she ventured for the deep, she spread

A tawny sail against the sunbright sky,

Dark as a cloud that journeys overhead —

But then those tawny wings were stretch’d to fly

Across the wide sea desert for the bread

Of babes and mothers — many an anxious eye

Dwelt on her course, and many a fervent pray’r

Invoked the Heavens to protect and spare.

Where is she now? The secrets of the deep

Are dark and hidden from the human ken;

Only the sea-bird saw the surges sweep

Over the bark of the devoted Ben —

Meanwhile a widow sobs and orphans weep,

And sighs are heard from weatherbeaten men,

Dark sunburnt men, uncouth and rude and hairy,

While loungers idly ask, “Where is the Mary?”

The Lady’s Dream.

The lady lay in her bed,

Her couch so warm and soft,

But her sleep was restless and broken still;

For turning often and oft

From side to side, she mutter’d and moan’d,

And toss’d her arms aloft.

At last she startled up,

And gazed on the vacant air,

With a look of awe, as if she saw

Some dreadful phantom there —

And then in the pillow she buried her face

From visions ill to bear.

The very curtain shook,

Her terror was so extreme;

And the light that fell on the broider’d quilt

Kept a tremulous gleam;

And her voice was hollow, and shook as she cried:—

“Oh me! that awful dream”!

“That weary, weary walk,

In the churchyard’s dismal ground!

And those horrible things, with shady wings,

That came and flitted round —

Death, death, and nothing but death,

In every sight and sound!

“And oh! those maidens young,

Who wrought in that dreary room,

With figures drooping and spectres thin,

And cheeks without a bloom; —

And the Voice that cried, ‘For the pomp of pride,

We haste to an early tomb!

“‘For the pomp and pleasure of Pride,

We toil like Afric slaves,

And only to earn a home at last,

Where yonder cypress waves;’—

And then they pointed — I never saw

A ground so full of graves!

“And still the coffins came,

With their sorrowful trains and slow;

Coffin after coffin still,

A sad and sickening show;

From grief exempt, I never had dreamt

Of such a World of Woe!

“Of the hearts that daily break,

Of the tears that hourly fall,

Of the many, many troubles of life,

That grieve this earthly ball —

Disease and Hunger, and Pain, and Want,

But now I dreamt of them all!

“For the blind and the cripple were there,

And the babe that pined for bread,

And the houseless man, and the widow poor

Who begged — to bury the dead;

The naked, alas, that I might have clad,

The famish’d I might have fed!

“The sorrow I might have sooth’d,

And the unregarded tears;

For many a thronging shape was there,

From long-forgotten years,

Ay, even the poor rejected Moor,

Who raised my childish fears!

“Each pleading look, that long ago

I scann’d with a heedless eye,

Each face was gazing as plainly there,

As when I pass’d it by:

Woe, woe for me if the past should be

Thus present when I die!

“No need of sulphurous lake,

No need of fiery coal,

But only that crowd of human kind

Who wanted pity and dole —

In everlasting retrospect —

Will wring my sinful soul!

“Alas! I have walk’d through life

Too heedless where I trod;

Nay, helping to trample my fellow-worm,

And fill the burial sod —

Forgetting that even the sparrow falls

Not unmark’d of God!

“I drank the richest draughts;

And ate whatever is good —

Fish, and flesh, and fowl, and fruit,

Supplied my hungry mood;

But I never remember’d the wretched ones

That starve for want of food!

“I dress’d as the noble dress,

In cloth of silver and gold,

With silk, and satin, and costly furs,

In many an ample fold;

But I never remember’d the naked limbs

That froze with winter’s cold.

“The wounds I might have heal’d!

The human sorrow and smart!

And yet it never was in my soul

To play so ill a part:

But evil is wrought by want of Thought,

As well as want of Heart!”

She clasp’d her fervent hands,

And the tears began to stream;

Large, and bitter, and fast they fell,

Remorse was so extreme;

And yet, oh yet, that many a Dame

Would dream the Lady’s Dream!

The Key.

A Moorish Romance.

“On the east coast, towards Tunis, the Moors still preserve the key of their ancestors’ houses in Spain; to which country they still express the hopes of one day returning and again planting the crescent on the ancient walls of the Alhambra.”— SCOTT’S Travels in Morocco and Algiers.

“Is Spain cloven in such a manner as to want closing?”

SANCHO PANZA.

The Moor leans on his cushion,

With the pipe between his lips;

And still at frequent intervals

The sweet sherbét he sips;

But, spite of lulling vapor

And the sober cooling cup,

The spirit of the swarthy Moor

Is fiercely kindling up!

One hand is on his pistol,

On its ornamented stock,

While his finger feels the trigger

And is busy with the lock —

The other seeks his ataghan,

And clasps its jewell’d hilt —

Oh! much of gore in days of yore

That crooked blade has spilt!

His brows are knit, his eyes of jet

In vivid blackness roll,

And gleam with fatal flashes

Like the fire-damp of the coal;

His jaws are set, and through his teeth

He draws a savage breath,

As if about to raise the shout

Of Victory or Death!

For why? the last Zebeck that came

And moor’d within the Mole,

Such tidings unto Tunis brought

As stir his very soul —

The cruel jar of civil war,

The sad and stormy reign,

That blackens like a thunder cloud

The sunny land of Spain!

No strife of glorious Chivalry,

For honor’s gain or loss,

Nor yet that ancient rivalry,

The Crescent with the Cross.

No charge of gallant Paladins

On Moslems stern and stanch;

But Christians shedding Christian blood

Beneath the olive’s branch!

A war of horrid parricide,

And brother killing brother;

Yea, like to “dogs and sons of dogs”

That worry one another.

But let them bite and tear and fight,

The more the Kaffers slay,

The sooner Hagar’s swarming sons

Shall make the land a prey!

The sooner shall the Moor behold

Th’ Alhambra’s pile again;

And those who pined in Barbary

Shall shout for joy in Spain —

The sooner shall the Crescent wave

On dear Granada’s walls:

And proud Mohammed Ali sit

Within his fathers halls!

“Alla-il-alla!” tiger-like

Up springs the swarthy Moor,

And, with a wide and hasty stride,

Steps o’er the marble floor;

Across the hall, till from the wall,

Where such quaint patterns be,

With eager hand he snatches down

And old and massive Key!

A massive Key of curious shape,

And dark with dirt and rust,

And well three weary centuries

The metal might encrust!

For since the King Boabdil fell

Before the native stock,

That ancient Key, so quaint to see,

Hath never been in lock.

Brought over by the Saracens

Who fled accross the main,

A token of the secret hope

Of going back again;

From race to race, from hand to hand,

From house to house it pass’d;

O will it ever, ever ope

The Palace gate at last?

Three hundred years and fifty-two

On post and wall it hung —

Three hundred years and fifty-two

A dream to old and young;

But now a brighter destiny

The Prophet’s will accords:

The time is come to scour the rust,

And lubricate the wards.

For should the Moor with sword and lance

At Algesiras land,

Where is the bold Bernardo now

Their progress to withstand?

To Burgos should the Moslem come,

Where is the noble Cid

Five royal crowns to topple down

As gallant Diaz did?

Hath Xeres any Pounder now,

When other weapons fail,

With club to thrash invaders rash,

Like barley with a flail?

Hath Seville any Perez still,

To lay his clusters low,

And ride with seven turbans green

Around his saddle-bow?

No! never more shall Europe see

Such Heroes brave and bold,

Such Valor, Faith and Loyalty,

As used to shine of old!

No longer to one battle cry

United Spaniards run,

And with their thronging spears uphold

The Virgin and her Son!

From Cadiz Bay to rough Biscay

Internal discord dwells,

And Barcelona bears the scars

Of Spanish shot and shells.

The fleets decline, the merchants pine

For want of foreign trade;

And gold is scant; and Alicante

Is seal’d by strict blockade!

The loyal fly, and Valor falls,

Opposed by court intrigue;

But treachery and traitors thrive,

Upheld by foreign league;

While factions seeking private ends

By turns usurping reign —

Well may the dreaming, scheming Moor

Exulting point to Spain!

Well may he cleanse the rusty Key

With Afric sand and oil,

And hope an Andalusian home

Shall recompense the toil!

Well may he swear the Moorish spear

Through wild Castile shall sweep,

And where the Catalonian sowed

The Saracen shall reap!

Well may he vow to spurn the Cross

Beneath the Arab hoof,

And plant the Crescent yet again

Above th’ Alhambra’s roof —

When those from whom St. Jago’s name

In chorus once arose,

Are shouting Faction’s battle-cries,

And Spain forgets to “Close!”

Well may he swear his ataghan

Shall rout the traitor swarm,

And carve them into Arabesques

That show no human form —

The blame be theirs, whose bloody feuds

Invite the savage Moor,

And tempt him with the ancient Key

To seek the ancient door!

The Workhouse Clock.

An Allegory.

There’s a murmur in the air,

And noise in every street —

The murmur of many tongues,

The noise of numerous feet —

While round the Workhouse door

The Laboring Classes flock,

For why? the Overseer of the Poor

Is setting the Workhouse Clock.

Who does not hear the tramp

Of thousands speeding along

Of either sex and various stamp,

Sickly, cripple, or strong,

Walking, limping, creeping

From court and alley, and lane,

But all in one direction sweeping

Like rivers that seek the main?

Who does not see them sally

From mill, and garret, and room,

In lane, and court and alley,

From homes in poverty’s lowest valley,

Furnished with shuttle and loom —

Poor slaves of Civilization’s galley —

And in the road and footways rally,

As if for the Day of Doom?

Some, of hardly human form,

Stunted, crooked, and crippled by toil;

Dingy with smoke and dust and oil,

And smirch’d besides with vicious soil,

Clustering, mustering, all in a swarm.

Father, mother, and careful child,

Looking as if it had never smiled —

The Sempstress, lean, and weary, and wan,

With only the ghosts of garments on —

The Weaver, her sallow neighbor,

The grim and sooty Artisan;

Every soul — child, woman, or man,

Who lives — or dies — by labor.

Stirr’d by an overwhelming zeal,

And social impulse, a terrible throng!

Leaving shuttle, and needle, and wheel,

Furnace, and grindstone, spindle, and reel,

Thread, and yarn, and iron, and steel —

Yea, rest and the yet untasted meal —

Gushing, rushing, crushing along,

A very torrent of Man!

Urged by the sighs of sorrow and wrong,

Grown at last to a hurricane strong,

Stop its course who can!

Stop who can its onward course

And irresistible moral force;

O vain and idle dream!

For surely as men are all akin,

Whether of fair or sable skin,

According to Nature’s scheme,

That Human Movement contains within

A Blood-Power stronger than Steam.

Onward, onward, with hasty feet,

They swarm — and westward still —

Masses born to drink and eat,

But starving amidst Whitechapel’s meat,

And famishing down Cornhill!

Through the Poultry — but still unfed —

Christian Charity, hang your head!

Hungry — passing the Street of Bread;

Thirsty — the street of Milk;

Ragged — beside the Ludgate Mart,

So gorgeous, through Mechanic-Art,

With cotton, and wool, and silk!

At last, before that door

That bears so many a knock

Ere ever it opens to Sick or Poor,

Like sheep they huddle and flock —

And would that all the Good and Wise

Could see the Million of hollow eyes,

With a gleam deriv’d from Hope and the skies,

Upturn’d to the Workhouse Clock!

Oh that the Parish Powers,

Who regulate Labor’s hours,

The daily amount of human trial,

Weariness, pain, and self-denial,

Would turn from the artificial dial

That striketh ten or eleven,

And go, for once, by that older one

That stands in the light of Nature’s sun,

And takes its time from Heaven!

The Bridge of Sighs.

“Drown’d! drown’d!”—Hamlet.

One more Unfortunate,

Weary of breath,

Rashly importunate,

Gone to her death!

Take her up tenderly,

Lift her with care;

Fashion’d so slenderly,

Young, and so fair!

Look at her garments

Clinging like cerements;

Whilst the wave constantly

Drips from her clothing;

Take her up instantly,

Loving, not loathing. —

Touch her not scornfully;

Think of her mournfully,

Gently and humanly;

Not of the stains of her,

All that remains of her

Now is pure womanly.

Make no deep scrutiny

Into her mutiny

Bash and undutiful:

Past all dishonor,

Death has left on her

Only the beautiful.

Still, for all slips of hers,

One of Eve’s family —

Wipe those poor lips of hers

Oozing so clammily.

Loop up her tresses

Escaped from the comb,

Her fair auburn tresses;

Whilst wonderment guesses

Where was her home?

Who was her father?

Who was her mother?

Had she a sister?

Had she a brother?

Or was there a dearer one

Still, and a nearer one

Yet, than all other?

Alas! for the rarity

Of Christian charity

Under the sun!

Oh! it was pitiful!

Near a whole city full,

Home she had none.

Sisterly, brotherly,

Fatherly, motherly

Feelings had changed:

Love, by harsh evidence,

Thrown from its eminence;

Even God’s providence

Seeming estranged.

Where the lamps quiver

So far in the river,

With many a light

From window and casement,

From garret to basement,

She stood, with amazement,

Houseless by night.

The bleak wind of March

Made her tremble and shiver;

But not the dark arch,

Or the black flowing river:

Mad from life’s history,

Glad to death’s mystery,

Swit to be hurl’d —

Any where, any where

Out of the world!

In she plunged boldly,

No matter how coldly

The rough river ran —

Over the brink of it,

Picture it — think of it,

Dissolute Man!

Lave in it, drink of it,

Then, if you can!

Take her up tenderly,

Lift her with care;

Fashion’d so slenderly,

Young, and so fair!

Ere her limbs frigidly

Stiffen too rigidly,

Decently — kindly —

Smooth, and compose them;

And her eyes, close them,

Staring so blindly!

Dreadfully staring

Thro’ muddy impurity,

As when with the daring

Last look of despairing

Fix’d on futurity.

Perishing gloomily,

Spurr’d by contumely,

Cold inhumanity,

Burning insanity,

Into her rest. —

Cross her hands humbly,

As if praying dumbly,

Over her breast!

Owning her weakness,

Her evil behavior,

And leaving, with meekness,

Her sins to her Saviour!

The Lay of the Laborer.

A spade! a rake! a hoe!

A pickaxe, or a bill!

A hook to reap, or a scythe to mow,

A flail, or what ye will —

And here’s a ready hand

To ply the needful tool,

And skill’d enough, by lessons rough,

In Labor’s rugged school.

To hedge, or dig the ditch,

To lop or fell the tree,

To lay the swarth on the sultry field,

Or plough the stubborn lea;

The harvest stack to bind,

The wheaten rick to thatch,

And never fear in my pouch to find

The tinder or the match.

To a flaming barn or farm

My fancies never roam;

The fire I yearn to kindle and burn

Is on the hearth of Home;

Where children huddle and crouch

Through dark long winter days,

Where starving children huddle and crouch,

To see the cheerful rays,

A-glowing on the haggard cheek,

And not in the haggard’s blaze!

To Him who sends a drought

To parch the fields forlorn,

The rain to flood the meadows with mud,

The blight to blast the corn,

To Him I leave to guide

The bolt in its crooked path,

To strike the miser’s rick, and show

The skies blood-red with wrath.

A spade! a rake! a hoe!

A pickaxe, or a bill!

A hook to reap, or a scythe to mow,

A flail, or what ye will —

The corn to thrash, or the hedge to plash,

The market-team to drive,

Or mend the fence by the cover side,

And leave the game alive.

Ay, only give me work,

And then you need not fear

That I shall snare his Worship’s hare,

Or kill his Grace’s deer;

Break into his lordship’s house,

To steal the plate so rich;

Or leave the yeoman that had a purse

To welter in a ditch.

Wherever Nature needs,

Wherever Labor calls,

No job I’ll shirk of the hardest work,

To shun the workhouse walls;

Where savage laws begrudge

The pauper babe its breath,

And doom a wife to a widow’s life,

Before her partner’s death.

My only claim is this,

With labor stiff and stark,

By lawful turn, my living to earn,

Between the light and dark;

My daily bread, and nightly bed,

My bacon, and drop of beer —

But all from the hand that holds the land,

And none from the overseer!

No parish money, or loaf,

No pauper badges for me,

A son of the soil, by right of toil

Entitled to my fee.

No alms I ask, give me my task:

Here are the arm, the leg,

The strength, the sinews of a Man,

To work, and not to beg.

Still one of Adam’s heirs,

Though doom’d by chance of birth

To dress so mean, and to eat the lean

Instead of the fat of the earth;

To make such humble meals

As honest labor can,

A bone and a crust, with a grace to God,

And little thanks to man!

A spade! a rake! a hoe!

A pickaxe, or a bill!

A hook to reap, or a scythe to mow,

A flail, or what ye will —

Whatever the tool to ply,

Here is a willing drudge,

With muscle and limb, and woe to him

Who does their pay begrudge!

Who every weekly score

Docks labor’s little mite,

Bestows on the poor at the temple door,

But robb’d them over night.

The very shilling he hoped to save,

As health and morals fail,

Shall visit me in the new Bastille,

The Spital, or the Gaol!

Stanzas.

Farewell, Life! My senses swim,

And the world is growing dim;

Thronging shadows cloud the light,

Like the advent of the night —

Colder, colder, colder still,

Upward steals a vapor chill —

Strong the earthy odor grows —

I smell the mould above the rose!

Welcome, Life! the Spirit strives!

Strength returns, and hope revives;

Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn

Fly like shadows at the morn —

O’er the earth there comes a bloom —

Sunny light for sullen gloom,

Warm perfume for vapor cold —

smell the rose above the mould!

February 1845.

Hood’s last verses. They appeared in his Magazine in February 1845, and were thus probably composed during the previous month. In the original collection of Hood’s serious poems, published after his death, they were wrongly assigned to the April of this year. Hood died on the third of May.

Ode to Mr. Graham,

The Aeronaut.

“Up with me! — up with me into the sky!”

WORDSWORTH—on a Lark.

1.

Dear Graham, whilst the busy crowd,

The vain, the wealthy, and the proud,

Their meaner flights pursue,

Let us cast off the foolish ties

That bind us to the earth, and rise

And take a bird’s-eye view! —

2.

A few more whiffs of my segar

And then, in Fancy’s airy car,

Have with thee for the skies:—

How oft this fragrant smoke upcurl’d

Hath borne me from this little world,

And all that in it lies! —

3.

Away! — away! — the bubble fills —

Farewell to earth and all its hills! —

We seem to cut the wind! —

So high we mount, so swift we go,

The chimney tops are far below,

The Eagle’s left behind! —

4.

Ah me! my brain begins to swim! —

The world is growing rather dim;

The steeples and the trees —

My wife is getting very small!

I cannot see my babe at all! —

The Dollond, if you please! —

5.

Do, Graham, let me have a quiz;

Lord! what a Lilliput it is.

That little world of Mogg’s! —

Are those the London Docks? — that channel,

The mighty Thames? — a proper kennel

For that small Isle of Dogs! —

6.

What is that seeming tea-urn there?

That fairy dome, St. Paul’s! — I swear,

Wren must have been a Wren! —

And that small stripe? — it cannot be

The City Road! — Good lack! to see

The little ways of men!

7.

Little, indeed! — my eyeballs ache

To find a turnpike. — I must take

Their tolls upon my trust! —

And where is mortal labor gone?

Look, Graham, for a little stone

Mac Adamiz’d to dust!

8.

Look at the horses! — less than flies! —

Oh, what a waste it was of sighs

To wish to be a Mayor!

What is the honor? — none at all,

One’s honor must be very small

For such a civic chair! —

9.

And there’s Guildhall! —’tis far aloof —

Methinks, I fancy through the roof

Its little guardian Gogs,

Like penny dolls — a tiny show! —

Well — I must say they’re rul’d below

By very little logs! —

10.

Oh, Graham! how the upper air

Alters the standards of compare;

One of our silken flags

Would cover London all about —

Nay, then — let’s even empty out

Another brace of bags!

11.

Now for a glass of bright champagne

Above the clouds! — Come, let us drain

A bumper as we go! —

But hold! — for God’s sake do not cant

The cork away — unless you want

To brain your friends below.

12.

Think! what a mob of little men

Are crawling just within our ken,

Like mites upon a cheese! —

Pshaw! — how the foolish sight rebukes

Ambitious thoughts! — can there be Dukes

Of Gloster such as these! —

13.

Oh! what is glory? — what is fame?

Hark to the little mob’s acclaim,

’Tis nothing but a hum! —

A few near gnats would trump as loud

As all the shouting of a crowd

That has so far to come! —

14.

Well — they are wise that choose the near,

A few small buzzards in the ear,

To organs ages hence! —

Ah me! how distance touches all;

It makes the true look rather small,

But murders poor pretence

15.

“The world recedes! — it disappears!

Heav’n opens on my eyes — my ears

With buzzing noises ring!”—

A fig for Southey’s Laureat lore!”—

What’s Rogers here? — Who cares for Moore

That hears the Angels sing! —”

16.

A fig for earth, and all its minions! —

We are above the world’s opinions,

Graham! we’ll have our own! —

Look what a vantage height we’ve got! —

Now —do you think Sir Walter Scott

Is such a Great Unknown?

17.

Speak up! — or hath he hid his name

To crawl thro’ “subways” unto fame,

Like Williams of Cornhill? —

Speak up, my lad! — when men run small

We’ll show what’s little in them all,

Receive it how they will! —

18.

Think now of Irving! — shall he preach

The princes down — shall he impeach

The potent and the rich,

Merely on ethic stilts — and I

Not moralize at two mile high

The true didactic pitch!

19.

Come:— what d’ye think of Jeffrey, sir?

Is Gifford such a Gulliver

In Lilliput’s Review,

That like Colossus he should stride

Certain small brazen inches wide

For poets to pass through?

20.

Look down! the world is but a spot.

Now say — Is Blackwood’s low or not,

For all the Scottish tone?

It shall not weigh us here — not where

The sandy burden’s lost in air —

Our lading — where is’t flown?

21.

Now — like you Croly’s verse indeed —

In heaven — where one cannot read

The “Warren” on a wall?

What think you here of that man’s fame?

Tho’ Jerdan magnified his name,

To me ’tis very small!

22.

And, truly, is there such a spell

In those three letters, L. E. L.,

To witch a world with song?

On clouds the Byron did not sit,

Yet dar’d on Shakspeare’s head to spit,

And say the world was wrong!

23.

And shall not we? Let’s think aloud!

Thus being couch’d upon a cloud,

Graham, we’ll have our eyes!

We felt the great when we were less,

But we’ll retort on littleness

Now we are in the skies.

24.

O Graham, Graham, how I blame

The bastard blush — the petty shame,

That used to fret me quite —

The little sores I cover’d then,

No sores on earth, nor sorrows when

The world is out of sight!

25.

My name is Tims. — I am the man

That North’s unseen diminish’d clan

So scurvily abused!

I am the very P. A. Z.

The London’s Lion’s small pin’s head

So often hath refused!

26.

Campbell —(you cannot see him here)—

Hath scorn’d my lays:— do his appear

Such great eggs from the sky? —

And Longman, and his lengthy Co.

Long, only, in a little Row,

Have thrust my poems by!

27.

What else? — I’m poor, and much beset

With damn’d small duns — that is — in debt

Some grains of golden dust!

But only worth, above, is worth. —

What’s all the credit of the earth?

An inch of cloth on trust?

28.

What’s Rothschild here, that wealthy man!

Nay, worlds of wealth? — Oh, if you can

Spy out — the Golden Ball!

Sure as we rose, all money sank:

What’s gold or silver now? — the Bank

Is gone — the ‘Change and all!

29.

What’s all the ground-rent of the globe? —

Oh, Graham, it would worry Job

To hear its landlords prate!

But after this survey, I think

I’ll ne’er be bullied more, nor shrink

From men of large estate!

30.

And less, still less, will I submit

To poor mean acres’ worth of wit —

I that have heaven’s span —

I that like Shakspeare’s self may dream

Beyond the very clouds, and seem

An Universal Man!

31.

Mark, Graham, mark those gorgeous crowds!

Like Birds of Paradise the clouds

Are winging on the wind!

But what is grander than their range?

More lovely than their sunset change? —

The free creative mind!

32.

Well! the Adults’ School’s in the air!

The greatest men are lesson’d there

As well as the Lessee!

Oh could Earth’s Ellistons thus small

Behold the greatest stage of all,

How humbled they would be!

33.

“Oh would some Power the giftie gie ’em,

To see themselves as others see ’em,”

’Twould much abate their fuss!

If they could think that from the iskies

They are as little in our eyes

As they can think of us!

34.

Of us! are we gone out of sight?

Lessen’d! diminish’d! vanish’d quite!

Lost to the tiny town!

Beyond the Eagle’s ken — the grope

Of Dollond’s longest telescope!

Graham! we’re going down!

35.

Ah me! I’ve touch’d a string that opes

The airy valve! — the gas elopes —

Down goes our bright Balloon! —

Farewell the skies! the clouds! I smell

The lower world! Graham, farewell,

Man of the silken moon!

36.

The earth is close! the City nears —

Like a burnt paper it appears,

Studded with tiny sparks!

Methinks I hear the distant rout

Of coaches rumbling all about —

We’re close above the Parks!

37.

I hear the watchmen on their beats,

Hawking the hour about the streets.

Lord! what a cruel jar

It is upon the earth to light!

Well — there’s the finish of our flight!

I’ve smoked my last segar!

In Hood’s day Mr. Graham was one of a group of distinguished aeronauts which included Monck Mason, Hollond, Green, and others. Mr. Graham had made a memorable ascent in his Balloon in 1823.

A Friendly Address to Mrs. Fry IN Newgate.

“Sermons in stones.”—As You Like It.

“Out! out! damned spot!”—Macbeth.

1.

I like you, Mrs. Fry! I like your name!

It speaks the very warmth you feel in pressing

In daily act round Charity’s great flame —

I like the crisp Browne way you have of dressing,

Good Mrs. Fry! I like the placid claim

You make to Christianity — professing

Love, and good works— of course you buy of Barton,

Beside the young Fry’s bookseller, Friend Darton!

2.

I like, good Mrs. Fry, your brethren mute —

Those serious, solemn gentlemen that sport —

I should have said, that wear, the sober suit

Shap’d like a court dress — but for heaven’s court.

I like your sisters too — sweet Rachel’s fruit —

Protestant nuns! I like their stiff support

Of virtue — and I like to see them clad

With such a difference — just like good from bad!

3.

I like the sober colors — not the wet;

Those gaudy manufactures of the rainbow —

Green, orange, crimson, purple, violet —

In which the fair, the flirting, and the vain, go —

The others are a chaste, severer set,

In which the good, the pious, and the plain, go —

They’re moral standards, to know Christians by —

In short, they are your colors, Mrs. Fry!

4.

As for the naughty tinges of the prism —

Crimson’s the cruel uniform of war —

Blue — hue of brimstone! minds no catechism;

And green is young and gay — not noted for

Goodness, or gravity, or quietism,

Till it is sadden’d down to tea-green, or

Olive — and purple’s giv’n to wine, I guess;

And yellow is a convict by its dress!

5.

They’re all the devil’s liveries, that men

And women wear in servitude to sin —

But how will they come off, poor motleys, when

Sin’s wages are paid down, and they stand in

The Evil presence? You and I know, then,

How all the party colors will begin

To part — the Pittite hues will sadden there,

Whereas the Foxite shades will all show fair!

6.

Witness their goodly labors one by one!

Russet makes garments for the needy poor —

Dove-color preaches love to all — and dun

Calls every day at Charity’s street door —

Brown studies scripture, and bids woman shun

All gaudy furnishing —olive doth pour

Oil into wounds: and drab and slate supply

Scholar and book in Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

7.

Well! Heaven forbid that I should discommend

The gratis, charitable, jail-endeavor!

When all persuasions in your praises blend —

The Methodist’s creed and cry are, Fry forever!

No — I will be your friend — and, like a friend,

Point out your very worst defect — Nay, never

Start at that word! But I must ask you why

You keep your school in Newgate, Mrs. Fry?

8.

Top well I know the price our mother Eve

Paid for her schooling: but must all her daughters

Commit a petty larceny, and thieve —

Pay down a crime for “entrance” to your “quarters”?

Your classes may increase, but I must grieve

Over your pupils at their bread and waters!

Oh, tho’ it cost you rent —(and rooms run high)

Keep your school out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

9.

O save the vulgar soul before it’s spoil’d!

Set up your mounted sign without the gate —

And there inform the mind before ’tis soil’d!

’Tis sorry writing on a greasy slate!

Nay, if you would not have your labors foil’d,

Take it inclining tow’rds a virtuous state,

Not prostrate and laid flat — else, woman meek!

The upright pencil will but hop and shriek!

10.

Ah, who can tell how hard it is to drain

The evil spirit from the heart it preys in —

To bring sobriety to life again,

Choked with the vile Anacreontic raisin —

To wash Black Betty when her black’s ingrain —

To stick a moral lacquer on Moll Brazen,

Of Suky Tawdry’s habits to deprive her;

To tame the wild-fowl-ways of Jenny Diver!

11.

Ah, who can tell how hard it is to teach

Miss Nancy Dawson on her bed of straw —

To make Long Sal sew up the endless breach

She made in manners — to write heaven’s own law

On hearts of granite. — Nay, how hard to preach,

In cells, that are not memory’s — to draw

The moral thread, thro’ the immoral eye

Of blunt Whitechapel natures, Mrs. Fry!

12.

In vain you teach them baby-work within:

’Tis but a clumsy botchery of crime;

’Tis but a tedious darning of old sin —

Come out yourself, and stitch up souls in time —

It is too late for scouring to begin

When virtue’s ravell’d out, when all the prime

Is worn away, and nothing sound remains;

You’ll fret the fabric out before the stains!

13.

I like your chocolate, good Mistress Fry!

I like your cookery in every way;

I like your shrove-tide service and supply;

I like to hear your sweet Pandeans play;

I like the pity in your full-brimm’d eye;

I like your carriage, and your silken gray,

Your dove-like habits, and your silent preaching;

But I don’t like your Newgatory teaching.

14.

Come out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry! Repair

Abroad, and find your pupils in the streets.

O, come abroad into the wholesome air,

And take your moral place, before Sin seats

Her wicked self in the Professor’s chair.

Suppose some morals raw! the true receipt’s

To dress them in the pan, but do not try

To cook them in the fire, good Mrs. Fry!

15.

Put on your decent bonnet, and come out!

Good lack! the ancients did not set up schools

In jail — but at the Porch! hinting, no doubt,

That Vice should have a lesson in the rules

Before ’twas whipt by law. — O come about,

Good Mrs. Fry! and set up forms and stools

All down the Old Bailey, and thro’ Newgate Street,

But not in Mr. Wontner’s proper seat!

16.

Teach Lady Barrymore, if, teaching, you

That peerless Peeress can absolve from dolor;

Teach her it is not virtue to pursue

Ruin of blue, or any other color;

Teach her it is not Virtue’s crown to rue,

Month after month, the unpaid drunken dollar;

Teach her that “flooring Charleys” is a game

Unworthy one that bears a Christian name.

17.

O come and teach our children — that ar’n’t ours

That heaven’s straight pathway is a narrow way,

Not Broad St. Giles’s, where fierce Sin devours

Children, like Time — or rather they both prey

On youth together — meanwhile Newgate low’rs

Ev’n like a black cloud at the close of day,

To shut them out from any more blue sky:

Think of these hopeless wretches, Mrs. Fry!

18.

You are not nice — go into their retreats,

And make them Quakers, if you will. —’Twere best

They wore straight collars, and their shirts sans pleats;

That they had hats with brims — that they were drest

In garbs without lappels— than shame the streets

With so much raggedness. — You may invest

Much cash this way — but it will cost its price,

To give a good, round, real cheque to Vice!

19.

In brief — Oh teach the child its moral rote,

Not in the way from which ’twill not depart —

But out— out — out! Oh, bid it walk remote!

And if the skies are clos’d against the smart,

Ev’n let him wear the single-breasted coat,

For that ensureth singleness of heart. —

Do what you will, his every want supply,

Keep him — but out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

Elizabeth Fry had set up her school for the children in Newgate as early as 1817. Moll Brazen, Suky Tawdry, Jenny Diver, and the rest, are names borrowed from Gay’s Beggars’ Opera.

Ode to Richard Martin, Esq.,

M.P. For Galway.

Martin in this has proved himself a very good man!”

Boxiana.

1.

How many sing of wars,

Of Greek and Trojan jars —

The butcheries of men!

The Muse hath a “Perpetual Ruby Pen!”

Dabbling with heroes and the blood they spill;

But no one sings the man

That, like a pelican,

Nourishes Pity with his tender Bill!

2.

Thou Wilberforce of hacks!

Of whites as well as blacks,

Pyebald and dapple gray,

Chestnut and bay —

No poet’s eulogy thy name adorns!

But oxen, from the fens,

Sheep — in their pens,

Praise thee, and red cows with their winding horns!

Thou art sung on brutal pipes!

Drovers may curse thee,

Knackers asperse thee,

And sly M.P.‘s bestow their cruel wipes;

But the old horse neighs thee,

And zebras praise thee —

Asses, I mean — that have as many stripes!

3.

Hast thou not taught the Drover to forbear,

In Smithfield’s muddy, murderous, vile environ —

Staying his lifted bludgeon in the air!

Bullocks don’t wear

Oxide of iron!

The cruel Jarvy thou hast summon’d oft,

Enforcing mercy on the coarse Yahoo,

That thought his horse the courser of the two —

Whilst Swift smiled down aloft! —

O worthy pair! for this, when ye inhabit

Bodies of birds —(if so the spirit shifts

From flesh to feather)— when the clown uplifts

His hands against the sparrow’s nest, to grab it —

He shall not harm the MARTINS and the Swifts!

4.

Ah! when Dean Swift was quick, how he enhanc’d

The horse! — and humbled biped man like Plato!

But now he’s dead, the charger is mischanc’d —

Gone backward in the world — and not advanc’d —

Remember Cato!

Swift was the horse’s champion — not the King’s,

Whom Southey sings,

Mounted on Pegasus — would he were thrown!

He’ll wear that ancient hackney to the bone,

Like a mere clothes-horse airing royal things!

Ah well-a-day! the ancients did not use

Their steeds so cruelly! — let it debar men

From wanton rowelling and whip’s abuse —

Look at the ancients’ Muse!

Look at their Carmen!

5.

O, Martin I how thine eyes —

That one would think had put aside its lashes —

That can’t bear gashes

Thro’ any horse’s side, must ache to spy

That horrid window fronting Fetter-lane —

For there’s a nag the crows have pick’d for victual,

Or some man painted in a bloody vein —

Gods! is there no Horse-spital!

That such raw shows must sicken the humane!

Sure Mr. Whittle

Loves thee but little,

To let that poor horse linger in his pane!

6.

O build a Brookes’s Theatre for horses!

O wipe away the national reproach —

And find a decent Vulture for their corses!

And in thy funeral track

Four sorry steeds shall follow in each coach!

Steeds that confess “the luxury of wo!”

True mourning steeds, in no extempore black,

And many a wretched hack

Shall sorrow for thee — sore with kick and blow

And bloody gash — it is the Indian knack —

(Save that the savage is his own tormentor)—

Banting shall weep too in his sable scarf —

The biped woe the quadruped shall enter,

And Man and Horse go half and half,

As if their griefs met in a common Centaur!

The well-known Humanitarian, M. P. for Galway, the author of “Martin’s Act” for the protection of animals from ill-treatment, and one of the founders of the noble society having the same object. He died in 1834.

Ode to the Great Unknown.

“O breathe not his name!”—Moore.

1.

Thou Great Unknown!

I do not mean Eternity, nor Death,

That vast incog!

For I suppose thou hast a living breath,

Howbeit we know not from whose lungs ’tis blown,

Thou man of fog!

Parent of many children — child of none!

Nobody’s son!

Nobody’s daughter — but a parent still!

Still but an ostrich parent of a batch

Of orphan eggs — left to the world to hatch

Superlative Nil!

A vox and nothing more — yet not Vauxhall;

A head in papers, yet without a curl!

Not the Invisible Girl!

No hand — but a handwriting on a wall —

A popular nonentity,

Still call’d the same — without identity!

A lark, heard out of sight —

A nothing shin’d upon — invisibly bright,

“Dark with excess of light!”

Constable’s literary John-a-nokes —

The real Scottish wizard — and not which,

Nobody — in a niche;

Every one’s hoax!

Maybe Sir Walter Scott —

Perhaps not!

Why dost thou so conceal and puzzle curious folks?

2.

Thou — whom the second-sighted never saw,

The Master Fiction of fictitious history!

Chief Nong-tong-paw!

No mister in the world — and yet all mystery!

The “tricksy spirit” of a Scotch Cock Lane —

A novel Junius puzzling the world’s brain —

A man of Magic — yet no talisman!

A man of clair obscure — not he o’ the moon!

A star — at noon.

A non-descriptus in a caravan,

A private — of no corps — a northern light

In a dark lantern — Bogie in a crape —

A figure — but no shape;

A vizor — and no knight;

The real abstract hero of the age;

The staple Stranger of the stage;

A Some One made in every man’s presumption,

Frankenstein’s monster — but instinct with gumption;

Another strange state captive in the north,

Constable-guarded in an iron mask —

Still let me ask,

Hast thou no silver platter,

No door-plate, or no card — or some such matter,

To scrawl a name upon, and then cast forth?

3.

Thou Scottish Barmecide, feeding the hunger

Of Curiosity with airy gammon!

Thou mystery-monger,

Dealing it out like middle cut of salmon,

That people buy and can’t make head or tail of it;

(Howbeit that puzzle never hurts the sale of it;)

Thou chief of authors mystic and abstractical,

That lay their proper bodies on the shelf —

Keeping thyself so truly to thyself,

Thou Zimmerman made practical!

Thou secret fountain of a Scottish style,

That, like the Nile,

Hideth its source wherever it is bred,

But still keeps disemboguing

(Not disembroguing)

Thro’ such broad sandy mouths without a head!

Thou disembodied author — not yet dead —

The whole world’s literary Absentee!

Ah! wherefore hast thou fled,

Thou learned Nemo — wise to a degree,

Anonymous LL.D.!

4.

Thou nameless captain of the nameless gang

That do — and inquests cannot say who did it!

Wert thou at Mrs. Donatty’s death-pang?

Hast thou made gravy of Weare’s watch — or hid it?

Hast thou a Blue-Beard chamber? Heaven forbid it!

I should be very loth to see thee hang!

I hope thou hast an alibi well plann’d,

An innocent, altho’ an ink-black hand.

Tho’ that hast newly turn’d thy private bolt on

The curiosity of all invaders —

I hope thou art merely closeted with Colton,

Who knows a little of the Holy Land,

Writing thy next new novel — The Crusaders!

5.

Perhaps thou wert even born

To be Unknown. — Perhaps hung, some foggy morn,

At Captain Coram’s charitable wicket,

Pinn’d to a ticket

That Fate had made illegible, foreseeing

The future great unmentionable being. —

Perhaps thou hast ridden

A scholar poor on St. Augustine’s Back,

Like Chatterton, and found a dusty pack

Of Rowley novels in an old chest hidden;

A little hoard of clever simulation,

That took the town — and Constable has bidden

Some hundred pounds for a continuation —

To keep and clothe thee in genteel starvation.

6.

I like thy Waverley — first of thy breeding;

I like its modest “sixty years ago,”

As if it was not meant for ages’ reading.

I don’t like Ivanhoe,

Tho’ Dymoke does — it makes him think of clattering

In iron overalls before the king

Secure from battering, to ladies flattering,

Tuning, his challenge to the gauntlet’s ring —

Oh better far than all that anvil clang

It was to hear thee touch the famous string

Of Robin Hood’s tough bow and make it twang,

Rousing him up, all verdant, with his clan,

Like Sagittarian Pan!

7.

I like Guy Mannering — but not that sham son

Of Brown:— I like that literary Sampson,

Nine-tenths a Dyer, with a smack of Porson.

I like Dirk Hatteraick, that rough sea Orson

That slew the Gauger;

And Dandie Dinmont, like old Ursa Major;

And Merrilies, young Bertram’s old defender,

That Scottish Witch of Endor,

That doom’d thy fame. She was the Witch, I take it,

To tell a great man’s fortune — or to make it!

8.

I like thy Antiquary. With his fit on,

He makes me think of Mr. Britton,

I like thy Antiquary. With Ins fit on,

It makes me think

Who has — or had — within his garden wall,

A miniature Stone Henge, so very small

That sparrows find it difficult to sit on;

And Dousterwivel, like Poyais’ M’Gregor;

And Edie Ochiltree, that old Blue Beggar,

Painted so cleverly,

I think thou surely knowest Mrs. Beverly!

I like thy Barber — him that fir’d the Beacon —

But that’s a tender subject now to speak on!

9.

I like long-arm’d Rob Roy. — His very charms

Fashion’d him for renown! — In sad sincerity,

The man that robs or writes must have long arms,

If he’s to hand his deeds down to posterity!

Witness Miss Biffin’s posthumous prosperity,

Her poor brown crumpled mummy (nothing more)

Bearing the name she bore,

A thing Time’s tooth is tempted to destroy!

But Roys can never die — why else, in verity,

Is Paris echoing with “Vive le Roy“!

Aye, Rob shall live again, and deathless Di

Vernon, of course, shall often live again —

Whilst there’s a stone in Newgate, or a chain,

Who can pass by

Nor feel the Thief’s in prison and at hand?

There be Old Bailey Jarvies on the stand!

10.

I like thy Landlord’s Tales! — I like that Idol

Of love and Lammermoor — the blue-eyed maid

That led to church the mounted cavalcade,

And then pull’d up with such a bloody bridal!

Throwing equestrian Hymen on his haunches —

like the family (not silver) branches

That hold the tapers

To light the serious legend of Montrose. —

I like M’Aulay’s second-sighted vapors,

As if he could not walk or talk alone,

Without the devil — or the Great Unknown —

Dalgetty is the dearest of Ducrows!

11.

I like St. Leonard’s Lily — drench’d with dew!

I like thy Vision of the Covenanters,

That bloody-minded Grahame shot and slew.

I like the battle lost and won;

The hurly-burlys bravely done,

The warlike gallop and the warlike canters!

I like that girded chieftain of the ranters,

Ready to preach down heathens, or to grapple,

With one eye on his sword,

And one upon the Word —

How he would cram the Caledonian Chapel!

I like stern Claverhouse, though he cloth dapple

His raven steed with blood of many a corse —

I like dear Mrs. Headrigg, that unravels

Her texts of scripture on a trotting horse —

She is so like Rae Wilson when he travels!

12.

I like thy Kenilworth — but I’m not going

To take a Retrospective Re-Review

Of all thy dainty novels — merely showing

The old familiar faces of a few,

The question to renew,

How thou canst leave such deeds without a name,

Forego the unclaim’d Dividends of fame,

Forego the smiles of literary houris —

Mid-Lothian’s trump, and Fife’s shrill note of praise,

And all the Carse of Gowrie’s,

When thou might’st have thy statue in Cromarty —

Or see thy image on Italian trays,

Betwixt Queen Caroline and Buonaparté,

Be painted by the Titian of R.A’s,

Or vie in signboards with the Royal Guelph!

P’rhaps have thy bust set cheek by jowl with Homer’s,

P’rhaps send out plaster proxies of thyself

To other Englands with Australian roamers —

Mayhap, in Literary Owhyhee

Displace the native wooden gods, or be

The china-Lar of a Canadian shelf!

13.

It is not modesty that bids thee hide —

She never wastes her blushes out of sight:

It is not to invite

The world’s decision, for thy fame is tried —

And thy fair deeds are scatter’d far and wide,

Even royal heads are with thy readers reckon’d —

From men in trencher caps to trencher scholars

In crimson collars,

And learned serjeants in the Forty-Second!

Whither by land or sea art thou not beckon’d?

Mayhap exported from the Frith of Forth,

Defying distance and its dim control;

Perhaps read about Stromness, and reckon’d worth

A brace of Miltons for capacious soul —

Perhaps studied in the whalers, further north,

And set above ten Shakspeares near the pole!

14.

Oh, when thou writest by Aladdin’s lamp,

With such a giant genius at command,

Forever at thy stamp,

To fill thy treasury from Fairy Land,

When haply thou might’st ask the pearly hand

Of some great British Vizier’s eldest daughter,

Tho’ princes sought her,

And lead her in procession hymeneal,

Oh, why dost thou remain a Beau Ideal!

Why stay, a ghost, on the Lethean Wharf,

Envelop’d in Scotch mist and gloomy fogs?

Why, but because thou art some puny Dwarf,

Some hopeless Imp, like Biquet with the Tuft,

Fearing, for all thy wit, to be rebuff’d,

Or bullied by our great reviewing Gogs?

15.

What in this masquing age

Maketh Unknowns so many and so shy?

What but the critic’s page?

One hath a cast, he hides from the world’s eye;

Another hath a wen — he won’t show where;

A third has sandy hair,

A hunch upon his back, or legs awry,

Things for a vile reviewer to espy!

Another hath a mangel-wurzel nose —

Finally, this is dimpled,

Like a pale crumpet face, or that is pimpled,

Things for a monthly critic to expose —

Nay, what is thy own case — that being small,

Thou choosest to be nobody at all!

16.

Well, thou art prudent, with such puny bones —

E’en like Elshender, the mysterious elf,

That shadowy revelation of thyself —

To build thee a small hut of haunted stones —

For certainly the first pernicious man

That ever saw thee, would quickly draw thee

In some vile literary caravan —

Shown for a shilling

Would be thy killing,

Think of Crachami’s miserable span!

No tinier frame the tiny spark could dwell in

Than there it fell in —

But when she felt herself a show, she tried

To shrink from the world’s eye, poor dwarf! and died!

17.

O since it was thy fortune to be born

A dwarf on some Scotch Inch, and then to flinch

From all the Gog-like jostle of great men,

Still with thy small crow pen

Amuse and charm thy lonely hours forlorn —

Still Scottish story daintily adorn,

Be still a shade — and when this age is fled,

When we poor sons and daughters of reality

Are in our graves forgotten and quite dead,

And Time destroys our mottoes of morality —

The lithographic hand of Old Mortality

Shall still restore thy emblem on the stone,

A featureless death’s head,

And rob Oblivion ev’n of the Unknown!

After nearly eighty years it is almost pardonable to remind the reader that in the earlier days of the Waverley Novels their author was much talked of by the above title. The variety of Hood’s reading, and his resource in simile, are very noticeable in this Ode. The likening of Dominie Sampson to Lamb’s friend, George Dyer and the comparison of Mause Headrigg to Rae Wilson on his travels, are admirable examples.

Ode to Joseph Grimaldi, Senior.

“This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool,

And to do that well craves a kind of wit.”

Twelfth Night.

1.

Joseph! they say thou’st left the stage,

To toddle down the hill of life,

And taste the flannel’d ease of age,

Apart from pantomimic strife —

“Retir’d —(for Young would call it so)—

The world shut out”— in Pleasant Row!

2.

And hast thou really wash’d at last

From each white cheek the red half-moon!

And all thy public Clownship cast,

To play the private Pantaloon?

All youth — all ages — yet to be

Shall have a heavy miss of thee!

3.

Thou didst not preach to make us wise —

Thou hadst no finger in our schooling —

Thou didst not “lure us to the skies”—

Thy simple, simple trade was — Fooling!

And yet, Heav’n knows! we could — we can

Much “better spare a better man!”

4.

Oh, had it pleased the gout to take

The reverend Croly from the stage,

Or Southey, for our quiet’s sake,

Or Mr. Fletcher, Cupid’s sage,

Or, damme! namby-pamby Poole —

Or any other clown or fool!

5.

Go, Dibdin — all that bear the name,

Go, Byeway Highway man! go! go!

Go, Skeffy — man of painted fame,

But leave thy partner, painted Joe!

I could bear Kirby on the wane,

Or Signor Paulo with a sprain!

6.

Had Joseph Wilfrid Parkins made

His gray hairs scarce in private peace —

Had Waithman sought a rural shade —

Or Cobbett ta’en a turnpike lease —

Or Lisle Bowles gone to Balaam Hill —

I think I could be cheerful still!

7.

Had Medwin left off, to his praise,

Dead lion kicking, like — a friend! —

Had long, long Irving gone his ways,

To Muse on death at Ponder’s End

Or Lady Morgan taken leave

Of Letters — still I might not grieve!

8.

But, Joseph — everybody’s Jo! —

Is gone — and grieve I will and must!

As Hamlet did for Yorick, so

Will I for thee (though not yet dust),

And talk as he did when he miss’d

The kissing-crust that he had kiss’d!

9.

Ah, where is now thy rolling head!

Thy winking, reeling, drunken eyes,

(As old Catullus would have said),

Thy oven-mouth, that swallow’d pies —

Enormous hunger — monstrous drowth!

Thy pockets greedy as thou mouth!

10.

Ah, where thy ears, so often cuff’d! —

Thy funny, flapping, filching hands! —

Thy partridge body, always stuff’d

With waifs, and strays, and contrabands! —

Thy foot — like Berkeley’s Foote— for why?

’Twas often made to wipe an eye!

11.

Ah, where thy legs — that witty pair!

For “great wits jump”— and so did they!

Lord! how they leap’d in lamplight air!

Caper’d — and bounc’d — and strode away! —

That years should tame the legs — alack!

I’ve seen spring thro’ an Almanack!

12.

But bounds will have their bound — the shocks

Of Time will cramp the nimblest toes;

And those that frisk’d in silken clocks

May look to limp in fleecy hose —

One only —(Champion of the ring)

Could ever make his Winter — Spring!

13.

And gout, that owns no odds between

The toe of Czar and toe of Clown,

Will visit — but I did not mean

To moralize, though I am grown

Thus sad — Thy going seem’d to beat

A muffled drum for Fun’s retreat!

14.

And, may be —’tis no time to smother

A sigh, when two prime wags of London

Are gone — thou, Joseph, one — the other

A Joe! —“sic transit gloria Munden!”

A third departure some insist on —

Stage-apoplexy threatens Liston! —

15.

Nay, then, let Sleeping Beauty sleep

With ancient ”Dozey“ to the dregs —

Let Mother Goose wear mourning deep,

And put a hatchment o’er her eggs!

Let Farley weep — for Magic’s man

Is gone — his Christmas Caliban!

16.

Let Kemble, Forbes, and Willet rain,

As tho’ they walk’d behind thy bier —

For since thou wilt not play again,

What matters — if in heav’n or here!

Or in thy grave, or in thy bed! —

There’s Quick might just as well be dead!

17.

Oh, how will thy departure cloud

The lamplight of the little breast!

The Christmas child will grieve aloud

To miss his broadest friend and best —

Poor urchin! what avails to him

The cold New Monthly’s Ghost of Grimm?

18.

For who like thee could ever stride!

Some dozen paces to the mile! —

The motley, medley coach provide —

Or like Joe Frankenstein compile

The vegetable man complete! —

A proper Covent Garden feat!

19.

Oh, who like thee could ever drink,

Or eat — swill, swallow — bolt — and choke!

Nod, weep, and hiccup — sneeze and wink? —

Thy very yawn was quite a joke!

Tho’ Joseph, Junior, acts not ill,

“There’s no Fool like the old Fool” still!

20.

Joseph, farewell! dear funny Joe!

We met with mirth — we part in pain!

For many a long, long year must go

Ere Fun can see thy like again —

For Nature does not keep great stores

Of perfect Clowns — that are not Boors!

An Address to the Steam Washing Company.

“Archer. How many are there, Scrub?”

“Scrub. Five-and-forty, Sir.” Beaux’ Stratagem.

“For shame — let the linen alone!” M. W. of Windsor.

Mr. Scrub — Mr. Slop — or whoever you be!

The Cock of Steam Laundries — the head Patentee

Of Associate Cleansers — Chief founder and prime

Of the firm for the wholesale distilling of grime —

Co-partners and dealers, in linen’s propriety —

That make washing public — and wash in society —

O lend me your ear! if that ear can forego,

For a moment, the music that bubbles below —

From your new Surrey Geisers all foaming and hot —

That soft ”simmer’s sang” so endear’d to the Scot —

If your hands may stand still, or your steam without danger —

If your suds will not cool, and a mere simple stranger,

Both to you and to washing, may put in a rub —

O wipe out your Amazon arms from the tub —

And lend me your ear — Let me modestly plead

For a race that your labors may soon supersede —

For a race that, now washing no living affords —

Like Grimaldi must leave their aquatic old boards,

Not with pence in their pockets to keep them at ease,

Not with bread in the funds — or investments of cheese —

But to droop like sad willows that liv’d by a stream,

Which the sun has suck’d up into vapor and steam.

Ah, look at the laundress, before you begrudge —

Her hard daily bread to that laudable drudge —

When chanticleer singeth his earliest matins,

She slips her amphibious feet in her pattens,

And beginneth her toil while the morn is still gray,

As if she was washing the night into day —

Not with sleeker or rosier fingers Aurora

Beginneth to scatter the dewdrops before her;

Not Venus that rose from the billow so early,

Look’d down on the foam with a forehead more pearly

Her head is involv’d in an aërial mist,

And a bright-beaded bracelet encircles her wrist;

Her visage glows warm with the ardor of duty;

She’s Industry’s moral — she’s all moral beauty!

Growing brighter and brighter at every rub —

Would any man ruin her? — No, Mr. Scrub!

No man that is manly would work her mishap —

No man that is manly would covet her cap —

Nor her apron — her hose — nor her gown made of stuff —

Nor her gin — nor her tea — nor her wet pinch of snuff!

Alas! so she thought — but that slippery hope

Has betrayed her — as tho’ she had trod on her soap!

And she — whose support — like the fishes that fly,

Was to have her fins wet, must now drop from her sky —

She whose living it was, and a part of her fare,

To be damp’d once a day, like the great white sea bear,

With her hands like a sponge, and her head like a mop —

Quite a living absorbent that revell’d in slop —

She that paddled in water, must walk upon sand,

And sigh for her deeps like a turtle on land!

Lo, then, the poor laundress, all wretched she stands,

Instead of a counterpane wringing her hands!

All haggard and pinch’d, going down in life’s vale,

With no fagot for burning, like Allan-a-dale!

No smoke from her flue — and no steam from her pane,

There once she watch’d heaven, fearing God and the rain —

Or gaz’d o’er her bleach-field so fairly engross’d,

Till the lines wander’d idle from pillar to post!

Ah, where are the playful young pinners — ah, where

The harlequin quilts that cut capers in air —

The brisk waltzing stockings — the white and the black,

That danced on the tight-rope, or swung on the slack —

The light sylph-like garments, so tenderly pinn’d,

That blew into shape, and embodied the wind!

There was white on the grass — there was white on the spray —

Her garden — it looked like a garden of May!

But now all is dark — not a shirt’s on a shrub —

You’ve ruin’d her prospects in life, Mr. Scrub!

You’ve ruin’d her custom — now families drop her —

From her silver reduc’d — nay, reduc’d from her copper!

The last of her washing is done at her eye,

One poor little kerchief that never gets dry!

From mere lack of linen she can’t lay a cloth,

And boils neither barley nor alkaline broth —

But her children come round her as victuals grow scant,

And recall, with foul faces, the source of their want —

When she thinks of their poor little mouths to be fed,

And then thinks of her trade that is utterly dead,

And even its pearlashes laid in the grave —

Whilst her tub is a dry rotting, stave after stave,

And the greatest of Coopers, ev’n he that they dub

Sir Astley, can’t bind up her heart or her tub —

Need you wonder she curses your bones, Mr. Scrub!

Need you wonder, when steam has depriv’d her of bread,

If she prays that the evil may visit your head —

Nay, scald all the heads of your Washing Committee —

If she wishes you all the soot blacks of the city —

In short, not to mention all plagues without number,

If she wishes you all in the Wash at the Humber!

Ah, perhaps, in some moment of drowth and despair,

When her linen got scarce, and her washing grew rare —

When the sum of her suds might be summ’d in a bowl,

And the rusty cold iron quite enter’d her soul —

When, perhaps, the last glance of her wandering eye

Had caught “the Cock Laundresses’ Coach” going by,

Or her lines that hung idle, to waste the fine weather,

And she thought of her wrongs and her rights both together,

In a lather of passion that froth’d as it rose,

Too angry for grammar, too lofty for prose,

On her sheet — if a sheet were still left her — to write,

Some remonstrance like this then, perchance, saw the light —

Letter of Remonstrance

From Bridget Jones
To the Noblemen and Gentlemen Forming the Washing Committee.

It’s a shame, so it is — men can’t Let alone

Jobs as is Woman’s right to do — and go about there Own —

Theirs Reforms enuff Alreddy without your new schools

For washing to sit Up — and push the Old Tubs from their stools!

But your just like the Raddicals — for upsetting of the Sudds

When the world wagged well enuff — and Wommen washed your old dirty duds,

I’m Certain sure Enuff your Ann Sisters had no steem Indians, that’s Flat —

But I warrant your Four Fathers went as Tidy and gentlemanny for all that —

I suppose your the Family as lived in the Great Kittle

I see on Clapham Commun, some times a very considerable period back when I were little,

And they Said it went with Steem — But that was a joke!

For I never see none come of it — that’s out of it — but only sum Smoak —

And for All your Power of Horses about your Indians you never had but Two

In my time to draw you About to Fairs — and hang you, you know that’s true!

And for All your fine Perspectuses — howsomever you bewhich ’em,

Theirs as Pretty ones off Primerows Hill, as ever a one at Mitchum,

Tho’ I cant sea What Prospectives and washing has with one another to Do —

It aint as if a Bird’seye Hankicher could take a Birds-high view!

But Thats your look out — I’ve not much to do with that — But pleas God to hold up fine,

I’d show you caps and pinners and small things as lilliwhit as Ever crosst the Line

Without going any Father off then Little Parodies Place,

And Thats more than you Can — and I’ll say it behind your face —

But when Folks talks of washing, it aint for you to Speak —

As kept Dockter Pattyson out of his Shirt for a Weak!

Thinks I, when I heard it — Well there’s a pretty go!

That comes o’ not marking of things or washing out the marks, and Huddling ’em up so!

Till Their friends conies and owns them, like drownded corpeses in a Vault,

But may Hap you havint Larn’d to spel — and That aint your Fault,

Only you ought to leafe the Linnins to them as has Larn’d —

For if it warnt for Washing — and whare Bills is concarned

What’s the Yuse, of all the world, for a Womans Headication,

And Their Being maid Schollards of Sundays — fit for any Cityation.

Well, what I says is This — when every Kittle has its spout,

Theirs no nead for Companys to puff steem about!

To be sure its very Well, when Their aint enuff Wind

For blowing up Boats with — but not to hurt human kind

Like that Pearkins with his Blunderbush, that’s loaded with hot water,

Tho’ a X Sherif might know Better, than make things for slaughtter,

As if War warnt Cruel enuff — wherever it befalls,

Without shooting poor sogers, with sich scalding hot balls —

But thats not so Bad as a Sett of Bare Faced Scrubbs

As joins their Sopes together, and sits up Steem rubbing Clubs,

For washing Dirt Cheap — and eating other Peple’s grubs!

Which is all verry Fine for you and your Patent Tea,

But I wonders How Poor Wommen is to get Their Beau-He!

They must drink Hunt wash (the only wash God nose there will be!)

And their Little drop of Somethings as they takes for their Goods,

When you and your Steem has ruined (G— d forgive mee) their lively Hoods,

Poor Wommen as was born to Washing in their youth!

And now must go and Larn other Buisnesses Four Sooth!

But if so be They leave their Lines what are they to go at —

They won’t do for Angells — nor any Trade like That,

Nor we cant Sow Babby Work — for that’s all Bespoke —

For the Quakers in Bridle! and a vast of the confined Folk

Do their own of Themselves — even the better-most of em — aye, and evn them of middling degrees —

Why Lauk help you Babby Linen aint Bread and Cheese!

Nor we can’t go a hammering the roads into Dust,

But we must all go and be Bankers — like Mr. Marshes and Mr. Charnberses — and that’s what we must!

God nose you oght to have more Concern for our Sects,

When you nose you have suck’d us and hanged round our Mutherly necks,

And remembers what you Owes to Wommen Besides washing —

You aint, blame you! like Men to go a slushing and sloshing

In mop caps, and pattins, adoing of Females Labers

And prettily jear’d At you great Horse God Meril things, aint you now by your next door naybors —

Lawk I thinks I see you with your Sleaves tuckt up

No more like Washing than is drownding of a Pupp,

And for all Your Fine Water Works going round and round

They’ll scruntch your Bones some day — I’ll be bound

And no more nor be a gudgement — for it cant come to good

To sit up agin Providince, which your a doing — nor not fit It should,

For man warnt maid for Wommens starvation,

Nor to do away Laundrisses as is Links of the Creation —

And cant be dun without in any Country But a naked Hottinpot Nation.

Ah, I wish our Minister would take one of your Tubbs

And preach a Sermon in it, and give you some good rubs —

But I warrants you reads (for you cant spel we nose) nyther Bybills or Good Tracks,

Or youd no better than Taking the close off one’s Backs —

And let your neighbors oxin an Asses alone —

And every Thing thats hern — and give every one their Hone!

Well, its God for us All, and every Washer Wommen for herself,

And so you might, without shoving any on us off the shelf,

But if you warnt Noddis youd Let wommen abe

And pull off Your Pattins — and leave the washing to we

That nose what’s what — Or mark what I say,

Youl make a fine Kittle of fish of Your Close some Day —

When the Aulder men wants Their Bibs and their aint nun at all,

And Cristmass cum — and never a Cloth to lay in Gild Hall,

Or send a damp shirt to his Woship the Mare

Till hes rumatiz Poor Man, and cant set uprite to do good in his Harm-Chare —

Besides Miss-Matching Larned Ladys Hose, as is sent for you not to wash (for you don’t wash)

And make Peples Stockins yeller as oght to be Blew,

With a vast more like That — and all along of Steem

Which warnt meand by Nater for any sich skeam —

But thats your Losses and youl have to make It Good,

And I cant say I’m Sorry afore God if you shoud,

For men mought Get their Bread a great many ways

Without taking ourn — aye, and Moor to your Prays

You might go and skim the creme off Mr. Muck-Adam’s milky ways — that’s what you might,

Or bete Carpets — or get into Parleamint — or drive Crabrolays from morning to night,

Or, if you must be of our sects, be Watchmen, and slepe upon a poste!

(Which is an od way of sleping, I must say — and a very hard pillow at most,)

Or you might be any trade, as we are not on that I’m awares,

Or be Watermen now, (not Water-wommen) and roe peple up and down Hungerford stares,

Or if You Was even to Turn Dust Men a dry sifting Dirt!

But you oughtint to Hurt Them as never Did You no Hurt!

Yourn with Anymocity,
BRIDGET JONES.

Ode to Captain Paery

“By the North Pole, I do challenge thee!”

Love’s Labour’s Lost.

1.

Parry, my man! has thy brave leg

Yet struck its foot against the peg

On which the world is spun?

Or hast thou found No Thoroughfare

Writ by the hand of Nature there

Where man has never run!

2.

Hast thou yet traced the Great Unknown

Of channels in the Frozen Zone,

Or held at Icy Bay,

Hast thou still miss’d the proper track

For homeward Indian men that lack

A bracing by the way?

3.

Still hast thou wasted toil and trouble

On nothing but the North-Sea Bubble

Of geographic scholar?

Or found new ways for ships to shape,

Instead of winding round the Cape,

A short cut thro’ the collar?

4.

Hast found the way that sighs were sent to

The Pole — tho’ God knows whom they went to!

That track reveal’d to Pope —

Or if the Arctic waters sally,

Or terminate in some blind alley,

A chilly path to grope?

5.

Alas! tho’ Ross, in love with snows,

Has painted them couleur de rose,

It is a dismal doom,

As Clauclio saith, to Winter thrice,

“In regions of thick-ribbed ice”—

All bright — and yet all gloom!

6.

’Tis well for Gheber souls that sit

Before the fire and worship it

With pecks of Wallsend coals,

With feet upon the fender’s front,

Roasting their corns — like Mr. Hunt —

To speculate on poles.

7.

’Tis easy for our Naval Board —

’Tis easy for our Civic Lord

Of London and of ease,

That lies in ninety feet of down,

With fur on his nocturnal gown,

To talk of Frozen Seas!

8.

’Tis fine for Monsieur Ude to sit,

And prate about the mundane spit,

And babble of Cook’s track —

He’d roast the leather off his toes,

Ere he would trudge thro’ polar snows,

To plant a British Jack!

9.

Oh, not the proud licentious great,

That travel on a carpet skate,

Can value toils like thine!

What ’tis to take a Hecla range,

Through ice unknown to Mrs. Grange,

And alpine lumps of brine?

10.

But we, that mount the Hill o’ Rhyme,

Can tell how hard it is to climb

The lofty slippery steep,

Ah! there are more Snow Hills than that

Which doth black Newgate, like a hat,

Upon its forehead, keep.

11.

Perchance thou’rt now — while I am writing —

Feeling a bear’s wet grinder biting

About thy frozen spine!

Or thou thyself art eating whale,

Oily, and underdone, and stale,

That, haply, cross’d thy line!

12.

But I’ll not dream such dreams of ill —

Rather will I believe thee still

Safe cellar’d in the snow —

Reciting many a gallant story,

Of British kings and British glory,

To crony Esquimaux —

13.

Cheering that dismal game where Night

Makes one slow move from black to white

Thro’ all the tedious year —

Or smitten by some fond frost fair,

That comb’d out crystals from her hair,

Wooing a seal-skin dear!

14.

So much a long communion tends,

As Byron says, to make us friends

With what we daily view —

God knows the daintiest taste may come

To love a nose that’s like a plum

In marble, cold and blue!

15.

To dote on hair, an oily fleece!

As tho’ it hung from Helen o’ Greece —

They say that love prevails

Ev’n in the veriest polar land —

And surely she may steal thy hand

That used to steal thy nails!

16.

But ah, ere thou art fixed to marry,

And take a polar Mrs. Parry,

Think of a six months’ gloom —

Think of the wintry waste, and hers,

Each furnish’d with a dozen furs,

Think of thine icy dome!

17.

Think of the children born to blubber!

Ah me! hast thou an Indian rubber

Inside! — to hold a meal

For months — about a stone and half

Of whale, and part of a sea calf —

A fillet of salt veal! —

18.

Some walrus ham — no trifle but

A decent steak — a solid cut

Of seal — no wafer slice!

A reindeer’s tongue and drink beside!

Gallons of sperm — not rectified!

And pails of water-ice!

19.

Oh, canst thou fast and then feast thus?

Still come away, and teach to us

Those blessed alternations —

To-day to run our dinners fine,

To feed on air and then to dine

With Civic Corporations —

20.

To save th’ Old Bailey daily shilling,

And then to take a half-year’s filling

In P.N.‘s pious Row —

When ask’d to Hock and haunch o’ ven’son,

Thro’ something we have worn our pens on

For Longman and his Co.

21.

O come and tell us what the Pole is —

Whether it singular and sole is —

Or straight, or crooked bent —

If very thick or very thin —

Made of what wood — and if akin

To those there be in Kent?

22.

There’s Combe, there’s Spurzheim, and there’s Gall,

Have talk’d of poles — yet, after all,

What has the public learn’d?

And Hunt’s account must still defer —

He sought the poll at Westminster —

And is not yet return’d!

23.

Alvanly asks if whist, dear soul,

Is play’d in snow-towns near the Pole,

And how the fur-man deals?

And Eldon doubts if it be true,

That icy Chancellors really do

Exist upon the seals!

24.

Barrow, by well-fed office grates,

Talks of his own bechristen’d Straits,

And longs that he were there;

And Croker, in his cabriolet,

Sighs o’er his brown horse, at his Bay,

And pants to cross the mer!

25.

O come away, and set us right,

And, haply, throw a northern light

On questions such as these:—

Whether, when this drown’d world was lost.

The surflux waves were lock’d in frost,

And turned to Icy Seas!

26.

Is Ursa Major white or black?

Or do the Polar tribes attack

Their neighbors — and what for?

Whether they ever play at cuffs,

And then, if they take off their muffs

In pugilistic war?

27.

Tells us, is Winter champion there,

As in our milder fighting air?

Say, what are Chilly loans?

What cures they have for rheums beside,

And if their hearts get ossified

From eating bread of bones?

28.

Whether they are such dwarfs — the quicker

To circulate the vital liquor —

And then, from head to heel —

How short the Methodists must choose

Their dumpy envoys not to lose

Their toes in spite of zeal?

29.

Whether ’twill soften or sublime it

To preach of Hell in such a climate —

Whether may Wesley hope

To win their souls — or that old function

Of seals — with the extreme of unction —

Bespeaks them for the Pope?

30.

Whether the lamps will e’er be “learn’d”

Where six months’ “midnight oil” is burn’d

Or Letters must confer

With people that have never conn’d

An A, B, C, but live beyond

The Sound of Lancaster!

31.

O come away at any rate —

Well hast thou earn’d a downier state —

With all thy hardy peers —

Good lack, thou must be glad to smell dock,

And rub thy feet with opodeldock,

After such frosty years.

32.

Mayhap, some gentle dame at last,

Smit by the perils thou hast pass’d.

However coy before,

Shall bid thee now set up thy rest

In that Brest Harbor, woman’s breast,

And tempt the Fates no more!

The famous Arctic explorer was engaged for many years, from 1818 onwards, in his various efforts to discover the North-West Passage. He died in 1855.

Ode to W. Kitchener, M.D.

Author of “The Cook’s Oracle,” “Observations on Vocal Music,” “The Art of Invigorating and Prolonging Life,” “Practical Observations on Telescopes, Opera-glasses, and Spectacles,” “The Housekeeper’s Ledger,” and “The Pleasure of Making a Will.”

“I rule the roast, as Milton says! “—Caleb Quotem.

Oh! multifarious man!

Thou Wondrous, Admirable Kitchen Crichton!

Born to enlighten

The laws of Optics, Peptics, Music, Cooking —

Master of the Piano — and the Pan —

As busy with the kitchen as the skies!

Now looking

At some rich stew thro’ Galileo’s eyes —

Or boiling eggs — timed to a metronome —

As much at home

In spectacles as in mere isinglass —

In the art of frying brown — as a digression

On music and poetical expression,

Whereas, how few of all our cooks, alas!

Could tell Calliope from “Callipee!”

How few there be

Could leave the lowest for the highest stories, (Observatories,)

And turn, like thee, Diana’s calculator,

However cook’s synonymous with Kater!

Alas! still let me say,

How few could lay

The carving knife beside the tuning fork,

Like the proverbial Jack ready for any work!

2.

Oh, to behold thy features in thy book!

Thy proper head and shoulders in a plate,

How it would look!

With one rais’d eye watching the dial’s date,

And one upon the roast, gently cast down —

Thy chops — done nicely brown —

The garnish’d brow — with “a few leaves of bay”—

The hair —“done Wiggy’s way!”

And still one studious finger near thy brains,

As if thou wert just come

From editing some

New soup — or hashing Dibdin’s cold remains;

Or, Orpheus-like — fresh from thy dying strains

Of music — Epping luxuries of sound,

As Milton says, “in many a bout

Of linked sweetness long drawn out,”

Whilst all thy tame stuff’d leopards listen’d round!

3.

Oh, rather thy whole proper length reveal,

Standing like Fortune — on the jack — thy wheel.

(Thou art, like Fortune, full of chops and changes,

Thou hast a fillet too before thine eye!)

Scanning our kitchen, and our vocal ranges,

As tho’ it were the same to sing or fry —

Nay, so it is — hear how Miss Paton’s throat

Makes “fritters” of a note!

And how Tom Cook (Fryer and Singer born

By name and nature) oh! how night and morn

He for the nicest public taste doth dish up

The good things from that Pan of music, Bishop!

And is not reading near akin to feeding,

Or why should Oxford Sausages be fit

Receptacles for wit?

Or why should Cambridge put its little, smart,

Minc’d brains into a Tart?

Nay, then, thou wert but wise to frame receipts,

Book-treats,

Equally to instruct the Cook and cram her —

Receipts to be devour’d, as well as read,

The Culinary Art in gingerbread —

The Kitchen’s Eaten Grammar!

4.

Oh, very pleasant is thy motley page —

Aye, very pleasant in its chatty vein —

So — in a kitchen — would have talk’d Montaigne,

That merry Gascon — humorist, and sage!

Let slender minds with single themes engage,

Like Mr. Bowles with his eternal Pope —

Or Haydon on perpetual Haydon — or

Hume on “Twice three make four,”

Or Lovelass upon Wills — Thou goest on

Plaiting ten topics, like Tate Wilkinson!

Thy brain is like a rich Kaleidoscope,

Stuff’d with a brilliant medley of odd bits,

And ever shifting on from change to change,

Saucepans — old Songs — Pills — Spectacles — and Spits!

Thy range is wider than a Rumford Range!

Thy grasp a miracle! — till I recall

Th’ indubitable cause of thy variety —

Thou art, of course, th’ Epitome of all

That spying — frying — singing — mix’d Society

Of Scientific Friends, who used to meet

Welch Rabbits — and thyself — in Warren Street!

5.

Oh, hast thou still those Conversazioni,

Where learned visitors discoursed — and fed?

There came Belzoni,

Fresh from the ashes of Egyptian dead —

And gentle Poki — and that Royal Pair,

Of whom thou didst declare —

“Thanks to the greatest Cooke we ever read —

They were — what Sandwiches should be — half bred“!

There fam’d M’Adam from his manual toil

Relax’d — and freely own’d he took thy hints

On “making Broth with Flints“—

There Parry came, and show’d thee polar oil

For melted butter — Combe with his medullary

Notions about the Skullery,

And Mr. Poole, too partial to a broil —

There witty Rogers came, that punning elf!

Who used to swear thy book

Would really look

A Delphic “Oracle,” if laid on Delf

There, once a month, came Campbell and discuss’d

His own — and thy own —”Magazine of Taste“—

There Wilberforce the Just

Came, in his old black suit, till once he trac’d

Thy sly advice to Poachers of Black Folks,

That “do not break their yolks“—

Which huff’d him home, in grave disgust and haste!

6.

There came John Clare, the poet, nor forbore

Thy Patties— thou wert hand-and-glove with Moore,

Who call’d thee ”Kitchen Addison“— for why?

Thou givest rules for Health and Peptic Pills,

Forms for made dishes, and receipts for Wills,

Teaching us how to live and how to die!”

There came thy Cousin-Cook, good Mrs. Fry —

There Trench, the Thames Projector, first brought on

His sine Quay non —

There Martin would drop in on Monday eves,

Or Fridays, from the pens, and raise his breath

‘Gainst cattle days and death —

Answer’d by Mellish, feeder of fat beeves,

Who swore that Frenchmen never could be eager

For fighting on soup meagre —

“And yet, (as thou would’st add,) the French have seen

A Marshall Tureen“!

7.

Great was thy Evening Cluster! — often grac’d

With Dollond — Burgess — and Sir Humphry Davy!

’Twas there M’Dermot first inclin’d to Taste —

There Colborn learn’d the art of making paste

For puffs — and Accum analyzed a gravy.

Colman — the Cutter of Coleman Street, ’tis said

Came there — and Parkins with his Ex-wise-head,

(His claim to letters)— Kater, too, the Moon’s

Crony — and Graham, lofty on balloons —

There Croly stalk’d with holy humor heated,

Who wrote a light-horse play, which Yates completed —

And Lady Morgan, that grinding organ,

And Brasbridge telling anecdotes of spoons —

Madame Valbrèque thrice honor’d thee, and came

With great Rossini, his own bow and fiddle —

The Dibdins — Tom, Charles, Frognall — came with tuns

Of poor old books, old puns!

And even Irving spar’d a night from fame —

And talk’d — till thou didst stop him in the middle,

To serve round Tewah-diddle!

8.

Then all the guests rose up, and sighed good-bye!

So let them:— thou thyself art still a Host!

Dibdin — Cornaro — Newton — Mrs. Fry!

Mrs. Glasse, Mr. Spec! — Lovelass — and Weber,

Matthews in Quot’em — Moore’s fire-worshipping Gheber —

Thrice-worthy Worthy, seem by thee engross’d!

Howbeit the Peptic Cook still rules the roast,

Potent to hush all ventriloquial snarling —

And ease the bosom pangs of indigestion!

Thou art, sans question,

The Corporation’s love its Doctor Darling!

Look at the Civic Palate — nay, the Bed

Which set dear Mrs. Opie on supplying

Illustrations of Lying!

Ninety square feet of down from heel to head

It measured, and I dread

Was haunted by a terrible night Mare,

A monstrous burthen on the corporation! —

Look at the Bill of Fare for one day’s share,

Sea-turtles by the score — Oxen by droves,

Geese, turkeys, by the flock — fishes and loaves

Countless, as when the Lilliputian nation

Was making up the huge man-mountain’s ration!

9.

Oh! worthy Doctor! surely thou hast driven

The squatting Demon from great Garratt’s breast —

(His honor seems to rest! —)

And what is thy reward? — Hath London given

Thee public thanks for thy important service?

Alas! not even

The tokens it bestowed on Howe and Jervis! —

Yet could I speak as Orators should speak

Before the worshipful the Common Council

(Utter my bold bad grammar and pronounce ill,)

Thou should’st not miss thy Freedom, for a week,

Richly engross’d on vellum:— Reason urges

That he who rules our cookery — that he

Who edits soups and gravies, ought to be

A Citizen, where sauce can make a Burgess!

Hood, for obvious purposes, slightly departs from the true spelling of Dr. Kitchiner’s name. He was an M. D. of Glasgow, who, having been left a handsome fortune by his father, abandoned the active practice of his profession, and devoted himself to science, notably to that of optics, as well as to gastronomy, being himself eminent as a gourmet. He was the author of a once famous Cookery Book, The Cook’s Oracle; and an improved kitchen range still bears his name.

The Last Man.

1.

’Twas in the year two thousand and one,

A pleasant morning of May,

I sat on the gallows-tree, all alone,

A channting a merry lay —

To think how the pest had spared my life,

To sing with the larks that day!

2.

When up the heath came a jolly knave,

Like a scarecrow, all in rags:

It made me crow to see his old duds

All abroad in the wind, like flags; —

So up he came to the timber’s foot

And pitch’d down his greasy bags. —

3.

Good Lord! how blythe the old beggar was!

At pulling out his scraps —

The very sight of his broken orts

Made a work in his wrinkled chaps:

“Come down,” says he, “you Newgate-bird,

And have a taste of my snaps!”—

4.

Then down the rope, like a tar from the mast,

I slided, and by him stood:

But I wish’d myself on the gallows again

When I smelt that beggar’s food —

A foul beef bone and a mouldy crust; —

“Oh!” quoth he, “the heavens are good!”

5.

Then after this grace he cast him down:

Says I, “You’ll get sweeter air

A pace or two off, on the windward side”—

For the felons’ bones lay there —

But he only laugh’d at the empty skulls,

And offer’d them part of his fare.

6.

“I never harm’d them, and they won’t harm me:

Let the proud and the rich be cravens!”

I did not like that strange beggar man,

He look’d so up at the heavens —

Anon he shook out his empty old poke; —

“There’s the crumbs,” saith he, “for the ravens!”

7.

It made me angry to see his face,

It had such a jesting look;

But while I made up my mind to speak,

A small case-bottle he took:

Quoth he, “Though I gather the green water-cress,

My drink is not of the brook!”

8.

Full manners-like he tender’d the dram;

Oh it came of a dainty cask!

But, whenever it came to his turn to pull,

“Your leave, good sir, I must ask;

But I always wipe the brim with my sleeve,

When a hangman sups at my flask!”

9.

And then he laugh’d so loudly and long,

The churl was quite out of breath;

I thought the very Old One was come

To mock me before my death,

And wish’d I had buried the dead men’s bones

That were lying about the heath!

10.

But the beggar gave me a jolly clap —

“Come, let us pledge each other,

For all the wide world is dead beside,

And we are brother and brother —

I’ve a yearning for thee in my heart,

As if we had come of one mother.”

11.

“I’ve a yearning for thee in my heart

That almost makes me weep,

For as I pass’d from town to town

The folks were all stone-asleep —

But when I saw thee sitting aloft,

It made me both laugh and leap!”

12.

Now a curse (I thought) be on his love,

And a curse upon his mirth —

An it were not for that beggar man

I’d be the King of the earth —

But I promis’d myself, an hour should come

To make him rue his birth! —

13.

So down we sat and bons’d again

Till the sun was in mid-sky,

When, just as the gentle west-wind came,

We hearken’d a dismal cry:

“Up, up, on the tree,” quoth the beggar man,

“Till those horrible dogs go by!”

14.

And, lo! from the forest’s far-off skirts,

They came all yelling for gore,

A hundred hounds pursuing at once,

And a panting hart before,

Till he sunk adown at the gallows’ foot,

And there his haunches they tore!

15.

His haunches they tore, without a horn

To tell when the chase was done;

And there was not a single scarlet coat

To flaunt it in the sun! —

I turn’d, and look’d at the beggar man,

And his tears dropt one by one!

16.

And with curses sore he chid at the hounds,

Till the last dropt out of sight,

Anon saith he, “Let’s down again,

And ramble for our delight,

For the world’s all free, and we may choose

A right cozie barn for to-night!”

17.

With that, he set up his staff on end,

And it fell with the point due West;

So we far’d that way to a city great,

Where the folks had died of the pest —

It was fine to enter in house and hall,

Wherever it liked me best! —

18.

For the porters all were stiff and cold,

And could not lift their heads;

And when we came where their masters lay,

The rats leapt out of the beds:—

The grandest palaces in the land

Were as free as workhouse sheds.

19.

But the beggar man made a mumping face,

And knocked at every gate:

It made me curse to hear how he whined,

So our fellowship turn’d to hate,

And I bade him walk the world by himself,

For I scorn’d so humble a mate!

20.

So he turn’d right and I turn’d left,

As if we had never met;

And I chose a fair stone house for myself,

For the city was all to let;

And for three brave holydays drank my fill

Of the choicest that I could get.

21.

And because my jerking was coarse and worn,

I got me a properer vest;

It was purple velvet, stitch’d o’er with gold,

And a shining star at the breast —

’Twas enough to fetch old Joan from her grave

To see me so purely drest! —

22.

But Joan was dead and under the mould,

And every buxom lass;

In vain I watch’d, at the window pane,

For a Christian soul to pass; —

But sheep and kine wander’d up the street,

And brows’d on the new-come grass. —

23.

When lo! I spied the old beggar man,

And lustily he did sing! —

His rags were lapp’d in a scarlet cloak,

And a crown he had like a King;

So he stept right up before my gate

And danc’d me a saucy fling!

24.

Heaven mend us all! — but, within my mind,

I had kill’d him then and there;

To see him lording so braggart-like

That was born to his beggar’s fare,

And how he had stolen the royal crown

His betters were meant to wear.

25.

But God forbid that a thief should die

Without his share of the laws!

So I nimbly whipt my tackle out,

And soon tied up his claws —

I was judge, myself, and jury, and all,

And solemnly tried the cause.

26.

But the beggar man would not plead, but cried

Like a babe without its corals,

For he knew how hard it is apt to go

When the law and a thief have quarrels,

There was not a Christian soul alive

To speak a word for his morals.

27.

Oh, how gaily I doff’d my costly gear,

And put on my work-day clothes; —

I was tired of such a long Sunday life,

And never was one of the sloths;

But the beggar man grumbled a weary deal,

And made many crooked mouths.

28.

So I haul’d him off to the gallows’ foot.

And blinded him in his bags;

’Twas a weary job to heave him up,

For a doom’d man always lags;

But by ten of the clock he was off his legs

In the wind and airing his rags!

29.

So there he hung, and there I stood

The LAST MAN left alive,

To have my own will of all the earth:

Quoth I, now I shall thrive!

But when was ever honey made

With one bee in a hive!

30.

My conscience began to gnaw my heart

Before the day was done,

For other men’s lives had all gone out,

Like candles in the sun! —

But it seem’d as if I had broke, at last,

A thousand necks in one!

31.

So I went and cut his body down

To bury it decentlie; —

God send there were any good soul alive

To do the like by me!

But the wild dogs came with terrible speed,

And bay’d me up the tree!

32.

My sight was like a drunkard’s sight,

And my head began to swim,

To see their jaws all white with foam,

Like the ravenous ocean-brim; —

But when the wild dogs trotted away

Their jaws were bloody and grim!

33.

Their jaws were bloody and grim, good Lord!

But the beggar man, where was he? —

There was nought of him but some ribbons of rags

Below the gallows’ tree! —

I know the Devil, when I am dead,

Will send his hounds for me! —

34.

I’ve buried my babies one by one,

And dug the deep hole for Joan,

And cover’d the faces of kith and kin,

And felt the old churchyard stone

Go cold to my heart, full many a time,

But I never felt so lone!

35.

For the lion and Adam were company,

And the tiger him beguil’d;

But the simple kine are foes to my life,

And the household brutes are wild.

If the veriest cur would lick my hand,

I could love it like a child!

36.

And the beggar man’s ghost besets my dreams,

At night to make me madder —

And my wretched conscience, within my breast,

Is like a stinging adder; —

I sigh when I pass the gallows’ foot,

And look at the rope and ladder! —

37.

For hanging looks sweet — but, alas! in vain,

My desperate fancy begs —

I must turn my cup of sorrows quite up,

And drink it to the dregs —

For there is not another man alive,

In the world, to pull my legs!

Faithless Sally Brown.

An Old Ballad.

Young Ben he was a nice young man,

A carpenter by trade;

And he fell in love with Sally Brown,

That was a lady’s maid.

But as they fetch’d a walk one day,

They met a press-gang crew;

And Sally she did faint away,

Whilst Ben he was brought to.

The Boatswain swore with wicked words,

Enough to shock a saint.

That though she did seem in a fit,

’Twas nothing but a feint.

“Come, girl,” said he, “hold up your head,

He’ll be as good as me;

For when your swain is in our boat,

A boatswain he will be.”

So when they’d made their game of her,

And taken off her elf,

She roused, and found she only was

A coming to herself.

“And is he gone, and is he gone?”

She cried, and wept outright:

“Then I will to the water-side,

And see him out of sight.”

A waterman came up to her —

“Now, young woman,” said he,

“If you weep on so, you will make

Eye-water in the sea.”

“Alas! they’ve taken my beau, Ben,

To sail with old Benbow”;

And her woe began to run afresh,

As if she’d said Gee woe!

Says he, “They’ve only taken him

To the Tender-ship, you see”; —

“The Tender-ship,” cried Sally Brown,

What a hard-ship that must be!

“O! would I were a mermaid now,

For then I’d follow him;

But, oh! I’m not a fish-woman,

And so I cannot swim.

“Alas! I was not born beneath

‘The virgin and the scales,’

So I must curse my cruel stars,

And walk about in Wales,”

Now Ben had sail’d to many a place

That’s underneath the world;

But in two years the ship came home,

And all the sails were furl’d.

But when he call’d on Sally Brown,

To see how she went on,

He found she’d got another Ben,

Whose Christian name was John.

“O Sally Brown, O Sally Brown,

How could you serve me so,

I’ve met with many a breeze before,

But never such a blow!”

Then reading on his ‘bacco box,

He heaved a heavy sigh,

And then began to eye his pipe,

And then to pipe his eye.

And then he tried to sing “All’s Well,”

But could not, though he tried;

His head was turn’d, and so he chew’d

His pigtail till he died.

His death, which happen’d in his berth,

At forty-odd befell:

They went and told the sexton, and

The sexton toll’d the bell.

These famous verses were first published as from an anonymous correspondent in the London Magazine. When Hood reprinted them, under his own name, in the first series of Whims and Oddities, he prefaced them with the following words:—

“I have never been vainer of any verses than of my part in the following Ballad. Dr. Watts, amongst evangelical nurses, has an enviable renown; and Campbell’s Ballads enjoy a snug, genteel popularity. Sally Brown has been favored perhaps with as wide a patronage as the Moral Songs, though its circle may not have been of so select a class as the friends of ‘Hohenlinden.’ But I do not desire to see it amongst what are called Elegant Extracts. The lamented Emery, dressed as Tom Tug, sang it at his last mortal benefit at Covent Garden; and ever since it has been a great favorite with the watermen of Thames, who time their oars to it, as the wherrymen of Venice time theirs to the lines of Tasso. With the watermen it went naturally to Vauxhall, and over land to Sadler’s Wells. The Guards — not the mail coach, but the Lifeguards — picked it out from a fluttering hundred of others, all going to one air, against the dead wall at Knightsbridge. Cheap printers of Shoe Lane and Cow Cross (all pirates!) disputed about the copyrights, and published their own editions; and in the meantime the authors, to have made bread of their song (it was poor old Homer’s hard ancient case!), must have sung it about the streets. Such is the lot of Literature! the profits of ‘Sally Brown’ were divided by the Ballad Mongers; — it has cost, but has never brought me, a halfpenny.”

“As it Fell Upon a Day.”

Oh! what’s befallen Bessy Brown,

She stands so squalling in the street;

She’s let her pitcher tumble down,

And all the water’s at her feet!

The little school-boys stood about,

And laugh’d to see her pumping, pumping;

Now with a curtsey to the spout,

And then upon her tiptoes jumping.

Long time she waited for her neighbors,

To have their turns:— but she must lose

The watery wages of her labors —

Except a little in her shoes!

Without a voice to tell her tale,

And ugly transport in her face;

All like a jugless nightingale,

She thinks of her bereavèd case.

At last she sobs — she cries — she screams!

And pours her flood of sorrows out,

From eyes and mouth, in mingled streams,

Just like the lion on the spout.

For well poor Bessy knows her mother

Must lose her tea, for water’s lack,

That Sukey burns — and baby-brother

Must be dryrubb’d with huck-a-back!

The Stag-eyed Lady.

A Moorish Tale.

Scheherazade immediately began the following story.

1.

Ali Ben Ali (did you never read

His wond’rous acts that chronicles relate —

How there was one in pity might exceed

The Sack of Troy?) Magnificent he sate

Upon the throne of greatness — great indeed!

For those that he had under him were great —

The horse he rode on, shod with silver nails,

Was a Bashaw — Bashaws have horses’ tails.

2.

Ali was cruel — a most cruel one!

’Tis rumored he had strangled his own mother —

Howbeit such deeds of darkness he had done,

’Tis thought he would have slain his elder brother

And sister too — but happily that none

Did live within harm’s length of one another,

Else he had sent the Sun in all its blaze

To endless night, and shorten’d the Moon’s days.

3.

Despotic power, that mars a weak man’s wit,

And makes a bad man — absolutely bad,

Made Ali wicked — to a fault:—’tis fit

Monarchs should have some check-strings; but he had

No curb upon his will — no, not a bit

Wherefore he did not reign well — and full glad

His slaves had been to hang him — but they falter’d

And let him live unhang’d — and still unalter’d,

4.

Until he got a sage-bush of a beard,

Wherein an Attic owl might roost — a trail

Of bristly hair — that, honor’d and unshear’d,

Grew downward like old women and cow’s tail;

Being a sign of age — some gray appear’d,

Mingling with duskier brown its warnings pale;

But yet, not so poetic as when Time

Comes like Jack Frost, and whitens it in rime.

5.

Ben Ali took the hint, and much did vex

His royal bosom that he had no son,

No living child of the more noble sex,

To stand in his Morocco shoes — not one

To make a negro-pollard — or tread necks

When he was gone — doom’d, when his days were done,

To leave the very city of his fame

Without an Ali to keep up his name.

6.

Therefore he chose a lady for his love,

Singling from out the herd one stag-eyed dear;

So call’d, because her lustrous eyes, above

All eyes, were dark, and timorous, and clear;

Then, through his Muftis piously he strove,

And drumm’d with proxy-prayers Mohammed’s ear:

Knowing a boy for certain must come of it,

Or else he was not praying to his Profit.

7.

Beer will grow mothery, and ladies fair

Will grow like beer; so did that stag-eyed dame:

Ben Ali, hoping for a son and heir,

Boy’d up his hopes, and even chose a name

Of mighty hero that his child should bear;

He made so certain ere his chicken came:—

But oh! all worldly wit is little worth,

Nor knoweth what to-morrow will bring forth!

8.

To-morrow came, and with to-morrow’s sun

A little daughter to this world of sins —

Miss-fortunes never come alone — so one

Brought on another, like a pair of twins:

Twins! female twins! — it was enough to stun

Their little wits and scare them from their skins

To hear their father stamp, and curse, and swear,

Pulling his beard because he had no heir.

9.

Then strove their stag-eyed mother to calm down

This his paternal rage, and thus addrest;

“Oh! Most Serene! why dost thou stamp and frown,

And box the compass of the royal chest?”

“Ah! thou wilt mar that portly trunk, I own

I love to gaze on! — Pr’ythee, thou hadst best

Pocket thy fists. Nay, love, if you so thin

Your beard, you’ll want a wig upon your chin!”

10.

But not her words, nor e’en her tears, could slack

The quicklime of his rage, that hotter grew:

He call’d his slave to bring an ample sack

Wherein a woman might be poked — a few

Dark grimly men felt pity and look’d black

At this sad order; but their slaveships knew

When any dared demur, his sword so bending

Cut off the “head and front of their offending.”

11.

For Ali had a sword, much like himself,

A crooked blade, guilty of human gore —

The trophies it had lopp’d from many an elf

Were struck at his head-quarters by the score —

Not yet in peace belaid it on the shelf,

But jested with it, and his wit cut sore;

So that (as they of Public Houses speak)

He often did his dozen butts a week.

12.

Therefore his slaves, with most obedient fears,

Came with the sack the lady to enclose;

In vain from her stag-eyes “the big round tears

Coursed one another down her innocent nose”;

In vain her tongue wept sorrow in their ears;

Though there were some felt willing to oppose,

Yet when their heads came in their heads, that minute,

Though ’twas a piteous case, they put her in it.

13.

And when the sack was tied, some two or three

Of these black undertakers slowly brought her

To a kind of Moorish Serpentine; for she

Was doom’d to have a winding sheet of water.

Then farewell, earth — farewell to the green tree —

Farewell, the sun — the moon — each little daughter!

She’s shot from off the shoulders of a black,

Like bag of Wall’s-End from a coalman’s back.

14.

The waters oped, and the wide sack full-fill’d

All that the waters oped, as down it fell;

Then closed the wave, and then the surface rill’d

A ring above her, like a water-knell;

A moment more, and all its face was still’d,

And not a guilty heave was left to tell

That underneath its calm and blue transparence

A dame lay drownèd in her sack, like Clarence.

15.

But Heaven beheld, and awful witness bore —

The moon in black eclipse deceased that night,

Like Desdemona smother’d by the Moor —

The lady’s natal star with pale afright

Fainted and fell — and what were stars before,

Turn’d comets as the tale was brought to light;

And all looked downward on the fatal wave,

And made their own reflections on her grave.

16.

Next night, a head — a little lady head,

Push’d through the waters a most glassy face,

With weedy tresses, thrown apart and spread,

Comb’d by ‘live ivory, to show the space

Of a pale forehead, and two eyes that shed

A soft blue mist, breathing a bloomy grace

Over their sleepy lids — and so she rais’d

Her aqualine nose above the stream, and gazed.

17.

She oped her lips — lips of a gentle blush,

So pale it seem’d near drownèd to a white —

She oped her lips, and forth there sprang a gush

Of music bubbling through the surface light;

The leaves are motionless, the breezes hush

To listen to the air — and through the night

There come these words of a most plaintive ditty,

Sobbing as they would break all hearts with pity:

The Water Peri’s Song.

Farewell, farewell, to my mother’s own daughter.

The child that she wet-nursed is lapp’d in the wave;

The Mussulman, coming to fish in this water,

Adds a tear to the flood that weeps over her grave.

This sack is her coffin, this water’s her bier,

This grayish bath cloak is her funeral pall;

And, stranger, O stranger! this song that you hear

Is her epitaph, elegy, dirges, and all!

Farewell, farewell, to the child of Al Hassan,

My mother’s own daughter — the last of her race —

She’s a corpse, the poor body! and lies in this basin,

And sleeps in the water that washes her face.

The Irish Schoolmaster.

1.

Alack! ’tis melancholy theme to think

How Learning doth in rugged states abide,

And, like her bashful owl, obscurely blink,

In pensive glooms and corners, scarcely spied;

Not, as in Founders’ Halls and domes of pride,

Served with grave homage, like a tragic queen,

But with one lonely priest compell’d to hide,

In midst of foggy moors and mosses green,

In that clay cabin hight the College of Kilreen!

2.

This College looketh South and West alsoe,

Because it hath a cast in windows twain;

Crazy and crack’d they be, and wind doth blow

Through transparent holes in every pane,

Which Pan, with many paines, makes whole again

With nether garments, which his thrift doth teach

To stand for glass, like pronouns, and when rain

Stormeth, he puts, “once more unto the breach,”

Outside and in, tho’ broke, yet so he mendeth each.

3.

And in the midst a little door there is,

Whereon a board that doth congratulate

With painted letters, red as blood I wis,

Thus written,

“CHILDREN TAKEN IN TO BATE”:

And oft, indeed, the inward of that gate,

Most ventriloque, doth utter tender squeak,

And moans of infants that bemoan their fate,

In midst of sounds of Latin, French, and Greek,

Which, all i’ the Irish tongue, he teacheth them to speak.

4.

For some are meant to right illegal wrongs,

And some for Doctors of Divinitie,

Whom he doth teach to murder the dead tongues,

And soe win academical degree;

But some are bred for service of the sea,

Howbeit, their store of learning is but small,

For mickle waste he counteth it would be

To stock a head with bookish wares at all,

Only to be knock’d off by ruthless cannon-ball.

5.

Six babes he sways — some little and some big,

Divided into classes six; alsoe,

He keeps a parlor boarder of a pig,

That in the College fareth to and fro,

And picketh up the urchins’ crumbs below,

And eke the learned rudiments they scan,

And thus his A, B, C, doth wisely know —

Hereafter to be shown in caravan,

And raise the wonderment of many a learned man.

6.

Alsoe, he schools some tame familiar fowls,

Whereof, above his head, some two or three

Sit darkly squatting, like Minerva’s owls,

But on the branches of no living tree,

And overlook the learned family;

While, sometimes, Partlet, from her gloomy perch,

Drops feather on the nose of Dominie,

Meanwhile, with serious eye, he makes research

In leaves of that sour tree of knowledge — now a birch.

7.

No chair he hath, the awful Pedagogue,

Such as would magisterial hams imbed,

But sitteth lowly on a beechen log,

Secure in high authority and dread:

Large, as a dome for Learning, seems his head,

And, like Apollo’s, all beset with rays,

Because his locks are so unkempt and red,

And stand abroad in many several ways:—

No laurel crown he wears, howbeit his cap is baize.

8.

And, underneath, a pair of shaggy brows

O’erhang as many eyes of gizzard hue,

That inward giblet of a fowl, which shows

A mongrel tint, that is ne brown ne blue;

His nose — it is a coral to the view;

Well nourish’d with Pierian Potheen —

For much he loves his native mountain dew; —

But to depict the dye would lack, I ween,

A bottle-red, in terms, as well as bottle-green.

9.

As for his coat, ’tis such a jerkin short

As Spenser had, ere he composed his Tales;

But underneath he hath no vest, nor aught,

So that the wind his airy breast assails;

Below, he wears the nether garb of males,

Of crimson plush, but non-plushed at the knee; —

Thence further down the native red prevails,

Of his own naked fleecy hosierie:—

Two sandals, without soles, complete his cap-a-pie.

10.

Nathless, for dignity, he now doth lap

His function in a magisterial gown,

That shows more countries in it than a map —

Blue tinct, and red, and green, and russet brown,

Besides some blots, standing for country-town;

And eke some rents, for streams and rivers wide;

But, sometimes, bashful when he looks adown,

He turns the garment of the other side,

Hopeful that so the holes may never be espied!

11.

And soe he sits, amidst the little pack,

That look for shady or for sunny noon,

Within his visage, like an almanack —

His quiet smile foretelling gracious boon:

But when his mouth droops down, like rainy moon,

With horrid chill each little heart unwarms,

Knowing that infant show’rs will follow soon,

And with forebodings of near wrath and storms

They sit, like timid hares, all trembling on their forms.

12.

Ah! luckless wight, who cannot then repeat

“Corduroy Colloquy,”— or “Ki, Kæ, Kod,”—

Full soon his tears shall make his turfy seat

More sodden, tho’ already made of sod,

For Dan shall whip him with the word of God —

Severe by rule, and not by nature mild,

He never spoils the child and spares the rod,

But spoils the rod and never spares the child,

And soe with holy rule deems he is reconcil’d.

13.

But, surely, the just sky will never wink

At men who take delight in childish throe,

And stripe the nether-urchin like a pink

Or tender hyacinth, inscribed with woe;

Such bloody Pedagogues, when they shall know,

By useless birches, that forlorn recess,

Which is no holiday, in Pit below,

Will hell not seem design’d for their distress —

A melancholy place, that is all bottomlesse?

14.

Yet would the Muse not chide the wholesome use

Of needful discipline, in due degree.

Devoid of sway, what wrongs will time produce,

Whene’er the twig untrained grows up a tree.

This shall a Carder, that a Whiteboy be,

Ferocious leaders of atrocious bands,

And Learning’s help be used for infamie,

By lawless clerks, that, with their bloody hands,

In murder’d English write Rock’s murderous commands.

15.

But ah! what shrilly cry doth now alarm

The sooty fowls that dozed upon the beam,

All sudden fluttering from the brandish’d arm,

And cackling chorus with the human scream;

Meanwhile, the scourge plies that unkindly seam

In Phelim’s brogues, which bares his naked skin,

Like traitor gap in warlike fort, I deem,

That falsely lets the fierce besieger in,

Nor seeks the Pedagogue by other course to win.

16.

No parent dear he hath to heed his cries; —

Alas! his parent dear is far aloof,

And deep in Seven-Dial cellar lies,

Killed by kind cudgel-play, or gin of proof,

Or climbeth, catwise, on some London roof,

Singing, perchance, a lay of Erin’s Isle,

Or, whilst he labors, weaves a fancy-woof,

Dreaming he sees his home — his Phelim smile; —

Ah me! that luckless imp, who weepeth all the while!

17.

Ah! who can paint that hard and heavy time,

When first the scholar lists in Learning’s train,

And mounts her rugged steep, enforc’d to climb,

Like sooty imp, by sharp posterior pain,

From bloody twig, and eke that Indian cane,

Wherein, alas! no sugar’d juices dwell,

For this, the while one stripling’s sluices drain,

Another weepeth over chilblains fell,

Always upon the heel, yet never to be well!

18.

Anon a third, for his delicious root,

Late ravish’d from his tooth by elder chit,

So soon is human violence afoot,

So hardly is the harmless biter bit!

Meanwhile, the tyrant, with untimely wit

And mouthing face, derides the small one’s moan,

Who, all lamenting for his loss, doth sit,

Alack — mischance comes seldomtimes alone,

But aye the worried dog must rue more curs than one.

19.

For lo! the Pedagogue, with sudden drub,

Smites his scald-head, that is already sore —

Superfluous wound — such is Misfortune’s rub!

Who straight makes answer with redoubled roar,

And sheds salt tears twice faster than before,

That still, with backward fist, he strives to dry;

Washing, with brackish moisture, o’er and o’er,

His muddy cheek, that grows more foul thereby,

Till all his rainy face looks grim as rainy sky.

20.

So Dan, by dint of noise, obtains a peace,

And with his natural untender knack,

By new distress, bids former grievance cease,

Like tears dried up with rugged huckaback,

That sets the mournful visage all awrack;

Yet soon the childish countenance will shine

Even as thorough storms the soonest slack,

For grief and beef in adverse ways incline,

This keeps, and that decays, when duly soak’d in brine.

21.

Now all is hushed, and, with a look profound,

The Dominie lays ope the learned page;

(So be it called) although he doth expound

Without a book, both Greek and Latin sage;

Now telleth he of Rome’s rude infant age,

How Romulus was bred in savage wood,

By wet-nurse wolf, devoid of wolfish rage;

And laid foundation-stone of walls of mud,

But watered it, alas! with warm fraternal blood.

22.

Anon, he turns to that Homeric war,

How Troy was sieged like Londonderry town;

And stout Achilles, at his jaunting-car,

Dragged mighty Hector with a bloody crown;

And eke the bard, that sung of their renown,

In garb of Greece, most beggar-like and torn,

He paints, with colly, wand’ring up and down,

Because, at once, in seven cities born;

And so, of parish rights, was, all his days, forlorn.

23.

Anon, through old Mythology he goes,

Of Gods defunct, and all their pedigrees,

But shuns their scandalous amours, and shows

How Plato wise, and clear-ey’d Socrates,

Confess’d not to those heathen hes and shes;

But thro’ the clouds of the Olympic cope

Beheld St. Peter, with his holy keys,

And own’d their love was naught, and bow’d to Pope,

Whilst all their purblind race in Pagan mist did grope!

24.

From such quaint themes he turns, at last, aside,

To new philosophies, that still are green,

And shows what railroads have been track’d, to guide

The wheels of great political machine;

If English corn should grow abroad, I ween,

And gold be made of gold, or paper sheet;

How many pigs be born to each spalpeen;

And, ah! how man shall thrive beyond his meat —

With twenty souls alive, to one square sod of peat!

25.

Here, he makes end; and all the fry of youth,

That stood around with serious look intense,

Close up again their gaping eyes and mouth,

Which they had opened to his eloquence,

As if their hearing were a threefold sense.

But now the current of his words is done,

And whether any fruits shall spring from thence,

In future time, with any mother’s son,

It is a thing, God wot! that can be told by none.

26.

Now by the creeping shadows of the noon,

The hour is come to lay aside their lore;

The cheerful Pedagogue perceives it soon,

And cries, “Begone!” unto the imps — and four

Snatch their two hats and struggle for the door,

Like ardent spirits vented from a cask,

All blithe and boisterous — but leave two more,

With Reading made Uneasy for a task,

To weep, whilst all their mates in merry sunshine bask,

27.

Like sportive Elfins, on the verdant sod,

With tender moss so sleekly overgrown,

That doth not hurt, but kiss, the sole unshod,

So soothly kind is Erin to her own!

And one, at Hare and Hound, plays all alone —

For Phelim’s gone to tend his step-dame’s cow;

Ah! Phelim’s step-dame is a canker’d crone!

Whilst other twain play at an Irish row,

And, with shillelah small, break one another’s brow!

28.

But careful Dominie, with ceaseless thrift,

Now changeth ferula for rural hoe;

But, first of all, with tender hand doth shift

His college gown, because of solar glow,

And hangs it on a bush, to scare the crow:

Meanwhile, he plants in earth the dappled bean,

Or trains the young potatoes all a-row,

Or plucks the fragrant leek for pottage green,

With that crisp curly herb, call’d Kale in Aberdeen.

29.

And so he wisely spends the fruitful hours,

Linked each to each by labor, like a bee;

Or rules in Learning’s hall, or trims her bow’rs; —

Would there were many more such wights as he,

To sway each capital academie

Of Cam and Isis; for, alack! at each

There dwells, I wot, some dronish Dominie,

That does no garden work, nor yet doth teach,

But wears a floury head, and talks in flow’ry speech!

Faithless Nelly Gray.

A Pathetic Ballad.

Ben Battle was a soldier bold,

And used to war’s alarms;

But a cannon-ball took off his legs,

So he laid down his arms!

Now as they bore him off the field,

Said he, “Let others shoot,

For here I leave my second leg,

And the Forty-second Foot!”

The army-surgeons made him limbs:

Said he — “They’re only pegs:

But there’s as wooden members quite,

As represent my legs!”

Now Ben he loved a pretty maid,

Her name was Nelly Gray;

So he went to pay her his devours,

When he’d devour’d his pay!

But when he called on Nelly Gray,

She made him quite a scoff;

And when she saw his wooden legs,

Began to take them off!

“O, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!

Is this your love so warm?

The love that loves a scarlet coat

Should be more uniform!”

Said she, “I loved a soldier once,

For he was blithe and brave;

But I will never have a man

With both legs in the grave!”

“Before you had those timber toes,

Your love I did allow,

But then, you know, you stand upon

Another footing now!”

“O, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!

For all your jeering speeches,

At duty’s call, I left my legs

In Badajos’s breaches!

“Why, then,” said she, “you’ve lost the feet

Of legs in war’s alarms,

And now you cannot wear your shoes

Upon your feats of arms!”

“O, false and fickle Nelly Gray!

I know why you refuse:—

Though I’ve no feet — some other man

Is standing in my shoes!”

“I wish I ne’er had seen your face;

But, now, a long farewell!

For you will be my death:— alas!

You will not be my Nell!

Now when he went from Nelly Gray,

His heart so heavy got —

And life was such a burthen grown,

It made him take a knot!

So round his melancholy neck

A rope he did entwine,

And, for his second time in life,

Enlisted in the Line!

One end he tied around a beam,

And then removed his pegs,

And, as his legs were off — of course,

He soon was off his legs!

And there he hung, till he was dead

As any nail in town —

For though distress had cut him up,

It could not cut him down!

A dozen men sat on his corpse,

To find out why he died —

And they buried Ben in four cross-roads,

With a stake in his inside!

Bianca’s Dream.

A Venetian Story.

1.

Bianca! — fair Bianca! — who could dwell

With safety on her dark and hazel gaze,

Nor find there lurk’d in it a witching spell,

Fatal to balmy nights and blessed days?

The peaceful breath that made the bosom swell,

She turn’d to gas, and set it in a blaze;

Each eye of hers had Love’s Eupyrion in it,

That he could light his link at in a minute.

2.

So that, wherever in her charms she shone,

A thousand breasts were kindled into flame;

Maidens who cursed her looks forgot their own,

And beaux were turn’d to flambeaux where she came;

All hearts indeed were conquer’d but her own,

Which none could ever temper down or tame:

In short, to take our haberdasher’s hints,

She might have written over it — “from Flints.”

3.

She was, in truth, the wonder of her sex,

At least in Venice — where with eyes of brown

Tenderly languid, ladies seldom vex

An amorous gentle with a needless frown;

Where gondolas convey guitars by pecks,

And Love at casements climbeth up and down,

Whom for his tricks and custom in that kind,

Some have considered a Venetian blind.

4.

Howbeit, this difference was quickly taught,

Amongst more youths who had this cruel jailer,

To hapless Julio — all in vain he sought

With each new moon his hatter and his tailor;

In vain the richest padusoy he bought,

And went in bran new beaver to assail her —

As if to show that Love had made him smart

All over — and not merely round his heart.

5.

In vain he labor’d thro’ the sylvan park

Bianca haunted in — that where she came,

Her learned eyes in wandering might mark

The twisted cypher of her maiden name,

Wholesomely going thro’ a course of bark:

No one was touched or troubled by his flame,

Except the Dryads, those old maids that grow

In trees — like wooden dolls in embryo.

6.

In vain complaining elegies he writ,

And taught his tuneful instrument to grieve,

And sang in quavers how his heart was split,

Constant beneath her lattice with each eve;

She mock’d his wooing with her wicked wit,

And slash’d his suit so that it matched his sleeve,

Till he grew silent at the vesper star,

And, quite despairing, hamstring’d his guitar.

7.

Bianca’s heart was coldly frosted o’er

With snows unmelting — an eternal sheet,

But his was red within him, like the core

Of old Vesuvius, with perpetual heat;

And oft he longed internally to pour

His flames and glowing lava at her feet,

But when his burnings he began to spout.

She stopp’d his mouth, and put the crater out.

8.

Meanwhile he wasted in the eyes of men,

So thin, he seem’d a sort of skeleton-key

Suspended at death’s door — so pale — and then

He turn’d as nervous as an aspen tree;

The life of man is three score years and ten,

But he was perishing at twenty-three,

For people truly said, as grief grew stronger,

“It could not shorten his poor life — much longer.”

9.

For why, he neither slept, nor drank, nor fed,

Nor relished any kind of mirth below;

Fire in his heart, and frenzy in his head,

Love had become his universal foe,

Salt in his sugar — nightmare in his bed,

At last, no wonder wretched Julio,

A sorrow-ridden thing, in utter dearth

Of hope — made up his mind to cut her girth!

10.

For hapless lovers always died of old,

Sooner than chew reflection’s bitter cud;

So Thisbe stuck herself, what time ’tis told,

The tender-hearted mulberries wept blood;

And so poor Sappho when her boy was cold,

Drown’d her salt tear drops in a salter flood,

Their fame still breathing, tho’ their breath be past,

For those old suitors lived beyond their last.

11.

So Julio went to drown — when life was dull,

But took his corks, and merely had a bath;

And once he pull’d a trigger at his skull,

But merely broke a window in his wrath;

And once, his hopeless being to annul,

He tied a pack-thread to a beam of lath,

A line so ample, ’twas a query whether

’Twas meant to be a halter or a tether.

12.

Smile not in scorn, that Julio did not thrust

His sorrows thro’—’tis horrible to die!

And come down, with our little all of dust,

That dun of all the duns to satisfy:

To leave life’s pleasant city as we must,

In Death’s most dreary spunging-house to lie,

Where even all our personals must go

To pay the debt of nature that we owe!

13.

So Julio liv’d:—’twas nothing but a pet

He took at life — a momentary spite;

Besides, he hoped that time would some day get

The better of love’s flame, howover bright;

A thing that time has never compass’d yet,

For love, we know, is an immortal light.

Like that old fire, that, quite beyond a doubt,

Was always in — for none have found it out.

14.

Meanwhile, Bianca dream’d —’twas once when Night

Along the darken’d plain began to creep,

Like a young Hottentot, whose eyes are bright,

Altho’ in skin as sooty as a sweep:

The flow’rs had shut their eyes — the zephyr light

Was gone, for it had rock’d the leaves to sleep.

And all the little birds had laid their heads

Under their wings — sleeping in feather beds.

15.

Lone in her chamber sate the dark-ey’d maid,

By easy stages jaunting thro’ her pray’rs,

But list’ning side-long to a serenade,

That robb’d the saints a little of their shares;

For Julio underneath the lattice play’d

His Deh Vieni, and such amorous airs,

Born only underneath Italian skies,

Where every fiddle has a Bridge of Sighs.

16.

Sweet was the tune — the words were even sweeter —

Praising her eyes, her lips, her nose, her hair,

With all the common tropes wherewith in metre

The hackney poets overcharge their fair.

Her shape was like Diana’s, but completer;

Her brow with Grecian Helen’s might compare:

Cupid, alas! was cruel Sagittarius,

Julio — the weeping water-man Aquarius.

17.

Now, after listing to such laudings rare,

’Twas very natural indeed to go —

What if she did postpone one little pray’r —

To ask her mirror “if it was not so?”

’Twas a large mirror, none the worse for wear,

Reflecting her at once from top to toe:

And there she gazed upon that glossy track,

That show’d her front face tho’ it “gave her back.”

18.

And long her lovely eyes were held in thrall,

By that dear page where first the woman reads:

That Julio was no flatt’rer, none at all,

She told herself — and then she told her beads;

Meanwhile, the nerves insensibly let fall

Two curtains fairer than the lily breeds;

For Sleep had crept and kiss’d her unawares,

Just at the half-way milestone of her pray’rs.

19.

Then like a drooping rose so bended she,

Till her bow’d head upon her hand reposed;

But still she plainly saw, or seem’d to see,

That fair reflection, tho’ her eyes were closed,

A beauty-bright as it was wont to be,

A portrait Fancy painted while she dozed:

’Tis very natural some people say,

To dream of what we dwell on in the day.

20.

Still shone her face — yet not, alas! the same,

But ‘gan some dreary touches to assume,

And sadder thoughts, with sadder changes came —

Her eyes resigned their light, her lips their bloom,

Her teeth fell out, her tresses did the same,

Her cheeks were tinged with bile, her eyes with rheum:

There was a throbbing at her heart within,

For, oh! there was a shooting in her chin.

21.

And lo! upon her sad desponding brow,

The cruel trenches of besieging age,

With seams, but most unseemly, ‘gan to show

Her place was booking for the seventh stage;

And where her raven tresses used to flow,

Some locks that Time had left her in his rage.

And some mock ringlets, made her forehead shady,

A compound (like our Psalms) of tête and braidy.

22.

Then for her shape — alas! how Saturn wrecks,

And bends, and corkscrews all the frame about,

Doubles the hams, and crooks the straightest necks,

Draws in the nape, and pushes forth the snout,

Makes backs and stomachs concave or convex:

Witness those pensioners called In and Out,

Who all day watching first and second rater,

Quaintly unbend themselves — but grow no straighter.

23.

So Time with fair Bianca dealt, and made

Her shape a bow, that once was like an arrow;

His iron hand upon her spine he laid,

And twisted all awry her “winsome marrow.”

In truth it was a change! — she had obey’d

The holy Pope before her chest grew narrow,

But spectacles and palsy seem’d to make her

Something between a Glassite and a Quaker.

24.

Her grief and gall meanwhile were quite extreme,

And she had ample reason for her trouble;

For what sad maiden can endure to seem

Set in for singleness, tho’ growing double.

The fancy madden’d her; but now the dream,

Grown thin by getting bigger, like a bubble,

Burst — but still left some fragments of its size,

That, like the soapsuds, smarted in her eyes.

25.

And here — just here — as she began to heed

The real world, her clock chimed out its score;

A clock it was of the Venetian breed,

That cried the hour from one to twenty-four;

The works moreover standing in some need

Of workmanship, it struck some dozens more;

A warning voice that clench’d Bianca’s fears,

Such strokes referring doubtless to her years.

26.

At fifteen chimes she was but half a nun,

By twenty she had quite renounced the veil;

She thought of Julio just at twenty-one,

And thirty made her very sad and pale,

To paint that ruin where her charms would run;

At forty all the maid began to fail,

And thought no higher, as the late dream cross’d her,

Of single blessedness, than single Gloster.

27.

And so Bianca changed; — the next sweet even,

With Julio in a black Venetian bark,

Row’d slow and stealthily — the hour, eleven,

Just sounding from the tow’r of old St. Mark;

She sate with eyes turn’d quietly to heav’n,

Perchance rejoicing in the grateful dark

That veil’d her blushing cheek — for Julio brought her

Of course — to break the ice upon the water.

28.

But what a puzzle is one’s serious mind

To open; — oysters, when the ice is thick,

Are not so difficult and disinclin’d;

And Julio felt the declaration stick

About his throat in a most awful kind;

However, he contrived by bits to pick

His trouble forth — much like a rotten cork

Grop’d from a long-necked bottle with a fork.

29.

But love is still the quickest of all readers;

And Julio spent besides those signs profuse

That English telegraphs and foreign pleaders,

In help of language, are so apt to use,

Arms, shoulders, fingers, all were interceders,

Nods, shrugs, and bends — Bianca could not choose

But soften to his suit with more facility,

He told his story with so much agility.

30.

“Be thou my park, and I will be thy dear,

(So he began at last to speak or quote;)

Be thou my bark, and I thy gondolier,

(For passion takes this figurative note;)

Be thou my light, and I thy chandelier;

Be thou my dove, and I will be thy cote:

My lily be, and I will be thy river;

Be thou my life — and I will be thy liver.”

31.

This, with more tender logic of the kind,

He pour’d into her small and shell-like ear,

That timidly against his lips inclin’d;

Meanwhile her eyes glanced on the silver sphere

That even now began to steal behind

A dewy vapor, which was lingering near,

Wherein the dull moon crept all dim and pale,

Just like a virgin putting on the veil:—

32.

Bidding adieu to all her sparks — the stars,

That erst had woo’d and worshipp’d in her train,

Saturn and Hesperus, and gallant Mars —

Never to flirt with heavenly eyes again.

Meanwhile, remindful of the convent bars,

Bianca did not watch these signs in vain,

But turn’d to Julio at the dark eclipse,

With words, like verbal kisses, on her lips.

33.

He took the hint full speedily, and, back’d

By love, and night, and the occasion’s meetness,

Bestow’d a something on her cheek that smack’d

(Tho’ quite in silence) of ambrosial sweetness;

That made her think all other kisses lack’d

Till then, but what she knew not, of completeness;

Being used but sisterly salutes to feel,

Insipid things — like sandwiches of veal.

34.

He took her hand, and soon she felt him wring

The pretty fingers all instead of one;

Anon his stealthy arm began to cling

About her waist that had been clasp’d by none,

Their dear confessions I forbear to sing,

Since cold description would but be outrun;

For bliss and Irish watches have the pow’r,

In twenty minutes, to lose half an hour!

The Demon-ship.

’Twas off the Wash — the sun went down — the sea look’d black and grim,

For stormy clouds, with murky fleece, were mustering at the brim;

Titanic shades! enormous gloom! — as if the solid night

Of Erebus rose suddenly to seize upon the light!

It was a time for mariners to bear a wary eye

With such a dark conspiracy between the sea and sky!

Down went my-helm — close reef’d — the tack held freely in my hand —

With ballast snug — I put about, and scudded for the land.

Loud hiss’d the sea beneath her lee — my little boat flew fast,

But faster still the rushing storm came borne upon the blast.

Lord! what a roaring hurricane beset the straining sail!

What furious sleet, with level drift, and fierce assaults of hail!

What darksome caverns yawn’d before! what jagged steeps behind!

Like battle-steeds, with foamy manes, wild tossing in the wind.

Each after each sank down astern, exhausted in the chase,

But where it sank another rose and galloped in its place;

As black as night — they turned to white, and cast against the cloud

A snowy sheet, as if each surge upturned a sailor’s shroud:—

Still flew my boat; alas! alas! her course was nearly run!

Behold yon fatal billow rise — ten billows heap’d in one!

With fearful speed the dreary mass came rolling, rolling, fast,

As if the scooping sea contain’d one only wave at last!

Still on it came, with horrid roar, a swift pursuing grave;

It seem’d as though some cloud had turned its hugeness to a wave!

Its briny sleet began to beat beforehand in my face —

I felt the rearward keel begin to climb its swelling base!

I saw its alpine hoary head impending over mine!

Another pulse — and down it rush’d — an avalanche of brine!

Brief pause had I, on God to cry, or think of wife and home;

The waters clos’d — and when I shriek’d, I shriek’d below the foam!

Beyond that rush I have no hint of any after deed —

For I was tossing on the waste, as senseless as a weed.

“Where am I? in the breathing world, or in the world of death?”

With sharp and sudden pang I drew another birth of breath;

My eyes drank in a doubtful light, my ears a doubtful sound —

And was that ship a real ship whose tackle seem’d around?

A moon, as if the earthly moon, was shining up aloft;

But were those beams the very beams that I had seen so oft?

A face, that mock’d the human face, before me watch’d alone;

But were those eyes the eyes of man that look’d against my own?

Oh! never may the moon again disclose me such a sight

As met my gaze, when first I look’d, on that accursed night!

I’ve seen a thousand horrid shapes begot of fierce extremes

Of fever; and most frightful things have haunted in my dreams —

Hyenas — cats — blood-loving bats — and apes with hateful stare —

Pernicious snakes, and shaggy bulls — the lion, and she-bear —

Strong enemies, with Judas looks, of treachery and spite —

Detested features, hardly dimm’d and banish’d by the light!

Pale-sheeted ghosts, with gory locks, upstarting from their tombs —

All phantasies and images that flit in midnight glooms —

Hags, goblins, demons, lemures, have made me all aghast —

But nothing like that GRIMLY ONE who stood beside the mast!

His cheek was black — his brow was black — his eyes and hair as dark;

His hand was black, and where it touch’d, it left a sable mark;

His throat was black, his vest the same, and when I look’d beneath,

His breast was black — all, all, was black, except his grinning teeth.

His sooty crew were like in hue, as black as Afric slaves!

Oh, horror! e’en the ship was black that plough’d the inky waves!

“Alas!” I cried, “for love of truth and blessed mercy’s sake,

Where am I? in what dreadful ship? upon what dreadful lake?”

“What shape is that, so very grim, and black as any coal?

It is Mahound, the Evil One, and he has gain’d my soul!

Oh, mother dear! my tender nurse! dear meadows that beguil’d

My happy days, when I was yet a little sinless child —

My mother dear — my native fields, I never more shall see:

I’m sailing in the Devil’s Ship, upon the Devil’s Sea!”

Loud laugh’d that SABLE MARINER, and loudly in return

His sooty crew sent forth a laugh that rang from stem to stern —

A dozen pair of grimly cheeks were crumpled on the nonce —

As many sets of grinning teeth came shining out at once:

A dozen gloomy shapes at once enjoy’d the merry fit,

With shriek and yell, and oaths as well, like Demons of the Pit.

They crow’d their fill, and then the Chief made answer for the whole; —

“Our skins,” said he, “are black, ye see, because we carry coal;

You’ll find your mother sure enough, and see your native fields —

For this here ship has pick’d you up — the Mary Ann of Shields!”

Tim Turpin.

A Pathetic Ballad.

Tim Turpin he was gravel blind,

And ne’er had seen the skies:

For Mature, when his head was made,

Forgot to dot his eyes.

So, like a Christmas pedagogue,

Poor Tim was forc’d to do —

Look out for pupils, for he had

A vacancy for two.

There’s some have specs to help their sight

Of objects dim and small:

But Tim had specks within his eyes,

And could not see at all.

Now Tim he woo’d a servant-maid,

And took her to his arms;

For he, like Pyramus, had cast

A wall-eye on her charms.

By day she led him up and down

Where’er he wished to jog,

A happy wife, altho’ she led

The life of any dog.

But just when Tim had liv’d a month

In honey with his wife,

A surgeon ope’d his Milton eyes,

Like oysters, with a knife.

But when his eyes were open’d thus,

He wish’d them dark again:

For when he look’d upon his wife,

He saw her very plain.

Her face was bad, her figure worse,

He couldn’t bear to eat:

For she was any thing but like

A Grace before his meat.

Tim he was a feeling man:

For when his sight was thick,

It made him feel for every thing —

But that was with a stick.

So with a cudgel in his hand —

It was not light or slim —

He knocked at his wife’s head until

It open’d unto him.

And when the corpse was stiff and cold,

He took his slaughter’d spouse,

And laid her in a heap with all

The ashes of her house.

But like a wicked murderer,

He lived in constant fear

From day to day, and so he cut

His throat from ear to ear.

The neighbors fetch’d a doctor in:

Said he, this wound I dread

Can hardly be sew’d up — his life

Is hanging on a thread.

But when another week was gone,

He gave him stronger hope —

Instead of hanging on a thread,

Of hanging on a rope.

Ah! when he hid his bloody work

In ashes round about,

How little he supposed the truth

Would soon be sifted out.

But when the parish dustman came,

His rubbish to withdraw,

He found more dust within the heap

Than he contracted for!

A dozen men to try the fact,

Were sworn that very day;

But tho’ they all were jurors, yet

No conjurors were they.

Said Tim unto those jurymen,

You need not waste your breath,

For I confess myself at once

The author of her death.

And, oh! when I reflect upon

The blood that I have spilt,

Just like a button is my soul,

Inscrib’d with double guilt!

Then turning round his head again,

He saw before his eyes

A great judge, and a little judge,

The judges of a-size!

The great judge took his judgment cap,

And put it on his head,

And sentenc’d Tim by law to hang,

‘Till he was three times dead.

So he was tried, and he was hung

(Fit punishment for such)

On Horsham-drop, and none can say

It was a drop too much.

Death’s Ramble.

One day the dreary old King of Death

Inclined for some sport with the carnal,

So he tied a pack of darts on his back,

And quietly stole from his charnel.

His head was bald of flesh and of hair,

His body was lean and lank,

His joints at each stir made a crack, and the cur

Took a gnaw, by the way, at his shank.

And what did he do with his deadly darts,

This goblin of grisly bone?

He dabbled and spill’d man’s blood, and he kill’d

Like a butcher that kills his own.

The first he slaughter’d, it made him laugh,

(For the man was a coffin-maker,)

To think how the mutes, and men in black suits,

Would mourn for an undertaker.

Death saw two Quakers sitting at church,

Quoth he, “We shall not differ.”

And he let them alone, like figures of stone,

For he could not make them stiffer.

He saw two duellists going to fight,

In fear they could not smother;

And he shot one through at once — for he knew

They never would shoot each other.

He saw a watchman fast in his box,

And he gave a snore infernal;

Said Death, “He may keep his breath, for his sleep

Can never be more eternal.”

He met a coachman driving his coach

So slow, that his fare grew sick;

But he let him stray on his tedious way,

For Death only wars on the quick.

Death saw a toll-man taking a toll,

In the spirit of his fraternity;

But he knew that sort of man would extort,

Though summon’d to all eternity.

He found an author writing his life,

But he let him write no further;

For Death, who strikes whenever he likes,

Is jealous of all self-murther!

Death saw a patient that pull’d out his purse,

And a doctor that took the sum;

But he let them be — for he knew that the “fee”

Was a prelude to “faw” and “fum.”

He met a dustman ringing a bell,

And he gave him a mortal thrust;

For himself, by law, since Adam’s flaw,

Is contractor for all our dust.

He saw a sailor mixing his grog,

And he marked him out for slaughter;

For on water he scarcely had cared for Death,

And never on rum-and-water.

Death saw two players playing at cards,

But the game wasn’t worth a dump,

For he quickly laid them flat with a spade,

To wait for the final trump!

Of course suggested by Coleridge and Southey’s Devil’s Walk. It is ablaze with wit and real imagination. Old nursery tales are not so well remembered in these days that it is superfluous to point out that the “fee” being a prelude to “faw” and “fum,” is taken from the formula of the Ogre in Jack and the Bean-Stalk, whose usual preliminary to the slaughter of his victims was —

“Fee, Faw, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!”

A Sailor’s Apology for Bow-legs.

There’s some is born with their straight legs by natur —

And some is born with bow-legs from the first —

And some that should have grow’d a good deal straighter,

But they were badly nurs’d,

And set, you see, like Bacchus, with their pegs

Astride of casks and kegs:

I’ve got myself a sort of bow to larboard,

And starboard,

And this is what it was that warp’d my legs. —

’Twas all along of Poll, as I may say,

That foul’d my cable when I ought to slip;

But on the tenth of May,

When I gets under weigh,

Down there in Hertfordshire, to join my ship,

I sees the mail

Get under sail,

The only one there was to make the trip.

Well — I gives chase,

But as she run

Two knots, to one,

There warn’t no use in keeping on the race!

Well — casting round about, what next to try on,

And how to spin,

I spies an ensign with a Bloody Lion,

And bears away to leeward for the inn,

Beats round the gable,

And fetches up before the coach-horse stable:

Well — there they stand, four kickers in a row.

And so

I just makes free to cut a brown ’un’s cable.

But riding isn’t in a seaman’s natur —

So I whips out a toughish end of yarn,

And gets a kind of sort of a land-waiter

To splice me, heel to heel,

Under the she-mare’s keel,

And off I goes, and leaves the inn a-starn!

My eyes! how she did pitch!

And wouldn’t keep her own to go in no line,

Tho’ I kept bowsing, bowsing at her bow-line,

But always making lee-way to the ditch,

And yaw’d her head about all sorts of ways.

The devil sink the craft!

And wasn’t she trimendus slack in stays!

We couldn’t, no how, keep the inn abaft!

Well — I suppose

We hadn’t run a knot — or much beyond —

(What will you have on it?)— but off she goes,

Up to her bends in a fresh-water pond!

There I am! — all a-back!

So I looks forward for her bridle-gears,

To heave her head round on the t’other tack;

But when I starts,

The leather parts,

And goes away right over by the ears!

What could a fellow do,

Whose legs, like mine, you know, we’re in the bilboes,

But trim myself upright for bringing-to,

And square his yard-arms, and brace up his elbows,

In rig all snug and clever,

Just while his craft was taking in her water?

I didn’t like my berth tho’, howsomdever,

Because the yarn, you see, kept getting tauter —

Says I— I wish this job was rayther shorter!

The chase had gain’d a mile

A-head, and still the she-mare stood a-drinking;

Now, all the while

Her body didn’t take of course to shrinking.

Says I, she’s letting out her reefs, I’m thinking —

And so she swell’d, and swell’d,

And yet the tackle held,

‘Till both my legs began to bend like winkin.

My eyes! but she took in enough to founder!

And there’s my timbers straining every bit,

Ready to split,

And her tarnation hull a-growing rounder!

Well, there — off Hertford Ness,

We lay both lash’d and water-logg’d together,

And can’t contrive a signal of distress;

Thinks I, we must ride out this here foul weather,

Tho’ sick of riding out — and nothing less;

When, looking round, I sees a man a-starn:—

Hollo! says I, come underneath her quarter! —

And hands him out my knife to cut the yarn.

So I gets off, and lands upon the road,

And leaves the she-mare to her own consarn,

A-standing by the water.

If I get on another, I’ll be blow’d! —

And that’s the way, you see, my legs got bow’d!

The Volunteer.

“The clashing of my armor in my ears

Sounds like a passing bell; my buckler puts me

In mind of a bier; this, my broadsword, a pickaxe

To dig my grave.”

The Lover’s Progress.

1.

’Twas in that memorable year

France threaten’d to put off in

Flat-bottom’d boats, intending each

To be a British coffin,

To make sad widows of our wives,

And every babe an orphan:—

2.

When coats were made of scarlet cloaks,

And heads were dredg’d with flour,

I listed in the Lawyer’s Corps,

Against the battle hour;

A perfect Volunteer — for why?

I brought my “will and pow’r.”

3.

One dreary day — a day of dread,

Like Cato’s, over-cast —

About the hour of six, (the morn

And I were breaking fast,)

There came a loud and sudden sound,

That struck me all aghast!

4.

A dismal sort of morning roll,

That was not to be eaten;

Although it was no skin of mine,

But parchment that was beaten,

I felt tattooed through all my flesh,

Like any Otaheitan.

5.

My jaws with utter dread enclos’d

The morsel I was munching,

And terror lock’d them up so tight,

My very teeth went crunching

All through my bread and tongue at once,

Like sandwich made at lunching.

6.

My hand that held the tea-pot fast,

Stiffen’d, but yet unsteady,

Kept pouring, pouring, pouring o’er

The cup in one long eddy,

Till both my hose were marked with tea,

As they were mark’d already.

7.

I felt my visage turn from red

To white — from cold to hot;

But it was nothing wonderful

My color changed, I wot,

For, like some variable silks,

I felt that I was shot.

8.

And looking forth with anxious eye,

From my snug upper story,

I saw our melancholy corps,

Going to beds all gory;

The pioneers seem’d very loth

To axe their way to glory.

9.

The captain march’d as mourners march,

The ensign too seem’d lagging,

And many more, although they were

No ensigns, took to flagging —

Like corpses in the Serpentine,

Methought they wanted dragging.

10.

But while I watch’d, the thought of death

Came like a chilly gust,

And lo! I shut the window down,

With very little lust

To join so many marching men,

That soon might be March dust.

11.

Quoth I, “Since Fate ordains it so,

Our foe the coast must land on”; —

I felt so warm beside the fire

I cared not to abandon;

Our hearths and homes are always things

That patriots make a stand on.

12.

“The fools that fight abroad for home,”

Thought I, “may get a wrong one;

Let those who have no homes at all

Go battle for a long one.”

The mirror here confirm’d me this

Reflection, by a strong one.

13.

For there, where I was wont to shave,

And deck me like Adonis,

There stood the leader of our foes,

With vultures for his armies —

No Corsican, but Death himself,

The Bony of all Bonies.

14.

A horrid sight it was, and sad,

To see the grisly chap

Put on my crimson livery,

And then begin to clap

My helmet on — ah me! it felt

Like any felon’s cap.

15.

My plume seem’d borrow’d from a hearse,

An undertaker’s crest;

My epaulette’s like coffin-plates;

My belt so heavy press’d,

Four pipeclay cross-roads seem’d to lie

At once upon my breast.

16.

My brazen breast-plate only lack’d

A little heap of salt,

To make me like a corpse full dress’d,

Preparing for the vault —

To set up what the Poet calls

My everlasting halt.

17.

This funeral show inclined me quite

To peace:— and here I am!

Whilst better lions go to war,

Enjoying with the lamb

A lengthen’d life, that might have been

A Martial Epigram.

The Epping Hunt.

Advertisement.

Striding in the Steps of Strutt — The historian of the old English ports — the author of the following pages has endeavored to record a yearly revel, already fast hastening to decay. The Easter phase will soon be numbered with the pastimes of past times: its dogs will have had their day, and its Deer will be Fallow. A few more seasons, and this City Common Hunt will become uncommon.

In proof of this melancholy decadance, the ensuing epistle is inserted. It was penned by an underling at the Kells, a person more accustomed to riding than writing:—

“Sir — About the Hunt. In anser to your Innqueries, their as been a great falling off laterally, so muches this year that there was nobody allmost. We did smear nothing provisionally, hardly a Bottle extra, wich is a proof in Pint. In short our Hunt may be said to be in the last Stag of a decline.”

“I am, Sir,”

“With respects from your humble Servant,”

“BARTHOLOMEW RUTT.”

“On Monday they began to hunt.”—Chevy Chase.

John Huggins was as bold a man

As trade did ever know,

A warehouse good he had, that stood

Hard by the church of Bow.

There people bought Dutch cheeses round,

And single Glo’ster flat —

And English butter in a lump,

And Irish — in a pat.

Six days a week beheld him stand,

His business next his heart,

At counter, with his apron tied

About his counter-part.

The seventh, in a sluice-house box

He took his pipe and pot;

On Sundays, for eel-piety,

A very noted spot.

Ah, blest if he had never gone

Beyond its rural shed!

One Easter-tide, some evil guide

Put Epping in his head;

Epping, for butter justly famed,

And pork in sausage pop’t;

Where, winter time or summer time,

Pig’s flesh is always chop’t.

But famous more, as annals tell,

Because of Easter Chase:

There ev’ry year, ’twixt dog and deer,

There is a gallant race.

With Monday’s sun John Huggins rose,

And slapt his leather thigh,

And sang the burthen of the song,

“This day a stag must die.”

For all the livelong day before,

And all the night in bed,

Like Beckford, he had nourished “Thoughts

On Hunting” in his head.

Of horn and morn, and hark and bark,

And echo’s answering sounds,

All poets’ wit hath ever writ

In dog-rel verse of hounds.

Alas! there was no warning voice

To whisper in his ear,

Thou art a fool in leaping Cheap

To go and hunt the deer!

No thought he had of twisted spine,

Or broken arms or legs;

Not chicken-hearted he, altho’

T’was whispered of his egg!

Ride out he would, and hunt he would,

Nor dreamt of ending ill;

Mayhap with Dr. Ridout’s fee,

And Surgeon Hunter’s bill.

So he drew on his Sunday boots,

Of lustre superfine;

The liquid black they wore that day

Was Warren-ted to shine.

His yellow buckskins fitted close,

As once upon a stag;

Thus well equipt he gaily skipt,

At once, upon his nag.

But first to him that held the rein

A crown he nimbly flung:

For holding of the horse? — why, no —

For holding of his tongue.

To say the horse was Huggins’ own,

Would only be a brag;

His neighbor Fig and he went halves,

Like Centaurs, in a nag.

And he that day had got the gray,

Unknown to brother cit;

The horse he knew would never tell,

Altho’ it was a tit.

A well-bred horse he was, I wis,

As he began to show,

By quickly “rearing up within

The way he ought to go.”

But Huggins, like a wary man,

Was ne’er from saddle cast;

Resolved, by going very slow,

On sitting very fast.

And so he jogged to Tot’n’am Cross,

An ancient town well known,

Where Edward wept for Eleanor

In mortar and in stone.

A royal game of fox and goose,

To play on such a loss;

Wherever she set down her orts,

Thereby he put a cross.

Now Huggins had a crony here,

That lived beside the way;

One that had promised sure to be

His comrade for the day.

Whereas the man had changed his mind,

Meanwhile upon the case!

And meaning not to hunt at all,

Had gone to Enfield Chase.

For why, his spouse had made him vow

To let a game alone,

Where folks that ride a bit of blood

May break a bit of bone.

“Now, be his wife a plague for life!

A coward sure is he”:

Then Huggins turned his horse’s head,

And crossed the bridge of Lea.

Thence slowly on thro’ Laytonstone,

Past many a Quaker’s box —

No friends to hunters after deer,

Tho’ followers of a Fox.

And many a score behind — before —

The self-same route inclined,

And, minded all to march one way,

Made one great march of mind.

Gentle and simple, he and she,

And swell, and blood, and prig;

And some had carts, and some a chaise,

According to their gig.

Some long-eared jacks, some knacker’s hacks,

(However odd it sounds),

Let out that day to hunt, instead

Of going to the hounds!

And some had horses of their own,

And some were forced to job it:

And some, while they inclined to Hunt,

Betook themselves to Cob-it.

All sorts of vehicles and vans,

Bad, middling, and the smart;

Here rolled along the gay barouche,

And there a dirty cart!

And lo! a cart that held a squad

Of costermonger line;

With one poor hack, like Pegasus,

That slaved for all the Nine!

Yet marvel not at any load,

That any horse might drag,

When all, that morn, at once were drawn

Together by a stag!

Now when they saw John Huggins go

At such a sober pace;

“Hallo!” cried they; “come, trot away,

You’ll never see the chase!”

But John, as grave as any judge,

Made answer quite as blunt;

“It will be time enough to trot,

When I begin to hunt!”

And so he paced to Woodford Wells,

Where many a horseman met,

And letting go the reins, of course,

Prepared for heavy wet.

And lo! within the crowded door,

Stood Rounding, jovial elf;

Here shall the Muse frame no excuse,

But frame the man himself.

A snow-white head, a merry eye,

A cheek of jolly blush;

A claret tint laid on by health,

With Master Reynard’s brush;

A hearty frame, a courteous bow,

The prince he learned it from;

His age about threescore and ten,

And there you have Old Tom.

In merriest key I trow was he,

So many guests to boast;

So certain congregations meet,

And elevate the host.

“Now welcome lads,” quoth he, “and prads,

You’re all in glorious luck:

Old Robin has a run to-day,

A noted forest buck.

“Fair Mead’s the place, where Bob and Tom

In red already ride;

’Tis but a step, and on a horse

You soon may go a-stride.”

So off they scampered, man and horse,

As time and temper pressed —

But Huggins, hitching on a tree,

Branched off from all the rest.

Howbeit he tumbled down in time

To join with Tom and Bob,

All in Fair Mead, which held that day

Its own fair mead of mob.

Idlers to wit — no Guardians some,

Of Tattlers in a squeeze;

Ramblers in heavy carts and vans,

Spectators up in trees.

Butchers on backs of butchers’ hacks,

That shambled to and fro!

Bakers intent upon a buck,

Neglectful of the dough!

Change Alley Bears to speculate,

As usual, for a fall;

And green and scarlet runners, such

As never climbed a wall!

’Twas strange to think what difference

A single creature made;

A single stag had caused a whole

Stagnation in their trade.

Now Huggins from his saddle rose,

And in the stirrups stood:

And lo! a little cart that came

Hard by a little wood.

In shape like half a hearse — tho’ not

For corpses in the least;

For this contained the deer alive,

And not the dear deceased!

And now began a sudden stir,

And then a sudden shout,

The prison-doors were opened wide,

And Robin bounded out!

His antlered head shone blue and red,

Bedecked with ribbons fine;

Like other bucks that come to ‘list

The hawbucks in the line.

One curious gaze of mild amaze,

He turned and shortly took;

Then gently ran adown the mead,

And bounded o’er the brook.

Now Huggins, standing far aloof,

Had never seen the deer,

Till all at once he saw the beast

Come charging in his rear.

Away he went, and many a score

Of riders did the same,

On horse and ass — like high and low

And Jack pursuing game!

Good Lord! to see the riders now,

Thrown off with sudden whirl,

A score within the purling brook,

Enjoyed their “early purl.”

A score were sprawling on the grass,

And beavers fell in showers;

There was another Floorer there

Beside the Queen of Flowers!

Some lost their stirrups, some their whips,

Some had no caps to show;

But few, like Charles at Charing Cross,

Rode on in Statue quo.

“O dear! O dear!” now might you hear,

“I’ve surely broke a bone”;

“My head is sore,”— with many more

Such speeches from the thrown.

Howbeit their wailings never moved

The wide Satanic clan,

Who grinned, as once the Devil grinned,

To see the fall of Man.

And hunters good, that understood,

Their laughter knew no bounds,

To see the horses “throwing off,”

So long before the hounds.

For deer must have due course of law,

Like men the Courts among;

Before those Barristers the dogs

Proceed to “giving tongue.”

And now Old Robin’s foes were set

That fatal taint to find,

That always is scent after him,

Yet always left behind.

And here observe how dog and man,

A different temper shows,

What hound resents that he is sent

To follow his own nose?

Towler and Jowler — howlers all,

No single tongue was mute;

The stag had led a hart, and lo!

The whole pack followed suit.

No spur he lacked, fear stuck a knife

And fork in either haunch;

And every dog he knew had got

An eye-tooth to his paunch!

Away, away! he scudded like

A ship before the gale;

Now flew to ”hills we know not of,”

Now, nun-like, took the vale.

Another squadron charging now,

Went off at furious pitch; —

A perfect Tam o’ Shanter mob,

Without a single witch.

But who was he with flying skirts,

A hunter did endorse,

And like a poet seemed to ride

Upon a wingèd horse —

A whipper-in? — no whipper-in:

A huntsman? no such soul.

A connoisseur, or amateur?

Why yes — a Horse Patrol.

A member of police, for whom

The county found a nag,

And, like Acteon in the tale,

He found himself in stag!

Away they went then, dog and deer,

And hunters all away —

The maddest horses never knew

Mad staggers such as they!

Some gave a shout, some rolled about,

And anticked as they rode,

And butchers whistled on their curs,

And milkmen tally-hoed.

About two score there were, not more,

That galloped in the race;

The rest, alas! lay on the grass,

As once in Chevy Chase!

But even those that galloped on

Were fewer every minute —

The field kept getting more select,

Each thicket served to thin it.

For some pulled up, and left the hunt,

Some fell in miry bogs,

And vainly rose and “ran a muck,”

To overtake the dogs.

And some, in charging hurdle stakes,

Were left bereft of sense —

What else could be premised of blades

That never learned to fence?

But Roundings, Tom and Bob, no gate,

Nor hedge, nor ditch, could stay;

O’er all they went, and did the work

Of leap years in a day.

And by their side see Huggins ride,

As fast as he could speed;

For, like Mazeppa, he was quite

At mercy of his steed.

No means he had, by timely check,

The gallop to remit,

For firm and fast, between his teeth,

The biter held the bit.

Trees raced along, all Essex fled

Beneath him as he sate —

He never saw a county go

At such a county rate!

“Hold hard! hold hard! you’ll lame the dogs,”

Quoth Huggins, “So I do —

I’ve got the saddle well in hand,

And hold as hard as you!”

Good Lord! to see him ride along,

And throw his arms about,

As if with stitches in the side,

That he was drawing out!

And now he bounded up and down,

Now like a jelly shook:

Till bumped and galled — yet not where Gall

For bumps did ever look!

And rowing with his legs the while,

As tars are apt to ride,

With every kick he gave a prick,

Deep in the horse’s side!

But soon the horse was well avenged

For cruel smart of spurs,

For, riding through a moor, he pitched

His master in a furze!

Where sharper set than hunger is

He squatted all forlorn;

And like a bird was singing out

While sitting on a thorn!

Right glad was he, as well might be,

Such cushion to resign:

“Possession is nine points,” but his

Seemed more than ninety-nine.

Yet worse than all the prickly points

That entered in his skin,

His nag was running off the while

The thorns were running in!

Now had a Papist seen his sport,

Thus laid upon the shelf,

Altho’ no horse he had to cross,

He might have crossed himself.

Yet surely still the wind is ill

That none can say is fair;

A jolly wight there was, that rode

Upon a sorry mare!

A sorry mare, that surely came

Of pagan blood and bone;

For down upon her knees she went

To many a stock and stone!

Now seeing Huggins’ nag adrift,

This farmer, shrewd and sage,

Resolved, by changing horses here,

To hunt another stage!

Tho’ felony, yet who would let

Another’s horse alone,

Whose neck is placed in jeopardy

By riding on his own?

And yet the conduct of the man

Seemed honest-like and fair;

For he seemed willing, horse and all,

To go before the mare!

So up on Huggins’ horse he got,

And swiftly rode away,

While Hugging mounted on the mare,

Done brown upon a bay!

And off they set, in double chase,

For such was fortune’s whim,

The farmer rode to hunt the stag,

And Huggins hunted him!

Alas! with one that rode so well

In vain it was to strive;

A dab was he, as dabs should be —

All leaping and alive!

And here of Nature’s kindly care

Behold a curious proof,

As nags are meant to leap, she puts

A frog in every hoof!

Whereas the mare, altho’ her share

She had of hoof and frog,

On coming to a gate stopped short

As stiff as any log;

Whilst Huggins in the stirrup stood

With neck like neck of crane,

As sings the Scottish song —“to see

The gate his hart had gane.”

And lo! the dim and distant hunt

Diminished in a trice:

The steeds, like Cinderella’s team,

Seemed dwindling into mice;

And, far remote, each scarlet coat

Soon flitted like a spark —

Tho’ still the forest murmured back

An echo of the bark!

But sad at soul John Huggins turned:

No comfort could he find;

While thus the “Hunting Chorus” sped,

To stay five bars behind.

For tho’ by dint of spur he got

A leap in spite of fate —

Howbeit there was no toll at all,

They could not clear the gate.

And, like Fitzjames, he cursed the hunt,

And sorely cursed the day,

And mused a new Gray’s elegy

On his departed gray!

Now many a sign at Woodford town

Its Inn-vitation tells:

But Huggins, full of ills, of course,

Betook him to the Wells,

Where Rounding tried to cheer him up

With many a merry laugh,

But Huggins thought of neighbor Fig,

And called for half-and-half.

Yet, ‘spite of drink, he could not blink

Remembrance of his loss;

To drown a care like his, required

Enough to drown a horse.

When thus forlorn, a merry horn

Struck up without the door —

The mounted mob were all returned;

The Epping Hunt was o’er!

And many a horse was taken out

Of saddle, and of shaft;

And men, by dint of drink, became

The only ”beasts of draught.”

For now begun a harder run

On wine, and gin, and beer;

And overtaken man discussed

The overtaken deer.

How far he ran, and eke how fast,

And how at bay he stood,

Deer-like, resolved to sell his life

As dearly as he could;

And how the hunters stood aloof,

Regardful of their lives,

And shunned a beast, whose very horns

They knew could handle knives!

How Huggins stood when he was rubbed

By help and ostler kind,

And when they cleaned the clay before,

How worse “remained behind.”

And one, how he had found a horse

Adrift — a goodly gray!

And kindly rode the nag, for fear

The nag should go astray.

Now Huggins, when he heard the tale,

Jumped up with sudden glee;

“A goodly gray! why, then, I say

That gray belongs to me!

“Let me endorse again my horse,

Delivered safe and sound;

And, gladly, I will give the man

A bottle and a pound!”

The wine was drunk — the money paid,

Tho’ not without remorse,

To pay another man so much,

For riding on his horse.

And let the chase again take place,

For many a long, long year,

John Huggins will not ride again

To hunt the Epping Deer!

Moral.

Thus pleasure oft eludes our grasp,

Just when we think to grip her;

And hunting after happiness,

We only hunt a slipper.

Originally published in 1830 in a thin duodecimo, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. It was while Hood was living at Winchmore Hill that he had the opportunity of noting the chief features of this once famous Civic Revel — the Easter Monday Hunt — even then in its decadence.

The Drowning Ducks.

Amongst the sights that Mrs. Bond

Enjoyed yet grieved at more than others,

Were little ducklings in a pond,

Swimming about beside their mothers —

Small things like living water-lilies,

But yellow as the daffo-dillies.

“It’s very hard,” she used to moan,

“That other people have their ducklings

To grace their waters — mine alone

Have never any pretty chucklings.”

For why! — each little yellow navy

Went down — all downy — to old Davy!

She had a lake — a pond, I mean —

Its wave was rather thick than pearly —

She had two ducks, their napes were green —

She had a drake, his tail was curly —

Yet ‘spite of drake, and ducks, and pond,

No little ducks had Mrs. Bond!

The birds were both the best of mothers —

The nests had eggs — the eggs had luck —

The infant D’s came forth like others —

But there, alas! the matter stuck!

They might as well have all died addle

As die when they began to paddle!

For when, as native instinct taught her,

The mother set her brood afloat,

They sank ere long right under water,

Like any overloaded boat;

They were web-footed too to see,

As ducks and spiders ought to be!

No peccant humor in a gander

Brought havoc on her little folks —

No poaching cook — a frying pander

To appetite — destroyed their yolks —

Beneath her very eyes, Od rot ’em!

They went, like plummets, to the bottom.

The thing was strange — a contradiction

It seemed of nature and her works!

For little ducks, beyond conviction,

Should float without the help of corks:

Great Johnson, it bewildered him!

To hear of ducks that could not swim.

Poor Mrs. Bond! what could she do

But change the breed — and she tried divers

Which dived as all seemed born to do;

No little ones were e’er survivors —

Like those that copy gems, I’m thinking,

They all were given to die-sinking!

In vain their downy coats were shorn;

They floundered still! — Batch after batch went!

The little fools seemed only born

And hatched for nothing but a hatchment!

Whene’er they launched — oh, sight of wonder!

Like fires the water “got them under.”

No woman ever gave their lucks

A better chance than Mrs. Bond did;

At last quite out of heart and ducks,

She gave her pond up, and desponded;

For Death among the water-lilies,

Cried ”Duc ad me” to all her dillies!

But though resolved to breed no more,

She brooded often on this riddle —

Alas! ’twas darker than before!

At last about the summer’s middle,

What Johnson, Mrs. Bond, or none did,

To clear the matter up the Sun did!

The thirsty Sirius dog-like drank

So deep, his furious tongue to cool,

The shallow waters sank and sank,

And lo, from out the wasted pool,

Too hot to hold them any longer,

There crawled some eels as big as conger!

I wish all folks would look a bit,

In such a case below the surface;

And when the eels were caught and split

By Mrs. Bond, just think of her face,

In each inside at once to spy

A duckling turned to giblet-pie!

The sight at once explained the case,

Making the Dame look rather silly:

The tenants of that Eely Place

Had found the way to Pick a dilly,

And so, by under-water suction,

Had wrought the little ducks’ abduction.

A Storm at Hastings,

And the Little Unknown.

’Twas August — Hastings every day was filling —

Hastings, that “greenest spot on memory’s waste”!

With crowds of idlers willing and unwilling

To be bedipped — be noticed — or be braced,

And all things rose a penny in a shilling.

Meanwhile, from window, and from door, in haste

“Accommodation bills” kept coming down,

Gladding “the world of-letters” in that town.

Each day poured in new coachfuls of new cits,

Flying from London smoke and dust annoying,

Unmarried Misses hoping to make hits,

And new-wed couples fresh from Tunbridge toying,

Lacemen and placemen, ministers and wits,

And Quakers of both sexes, much enjoying

A morning’s reading by the ocean’s rim,

That sect delighting in the sea’s broad brim.

And lo! amongst all these appeared a creature,

So small, he almost might a twin have been

With Miss Crachami — dwarfish quite in stature,

Yet well proportioned — neither fat nor lean,

His face of marvellously pleasant feature,

So short and sweet a man was never seen —

All thought him charming at the first beginning —

Alas, ere long they found him far too winning!

He seemed in love with chance — and chance repaid

His ardent passion with her fondest smile,

The sunshine of good luck, without a shade,

He staked and won — and won and staked — the bile

It stirred of many a man and many a maid,

To see at every venture how that vile

Small gambler snatched — and how he won them too —

A living Pam, omnipotent at loo!

Miss Wiggins set her heart upon a box,

’Twas handsome rosewood, and inlaid with brass,

And dreamt three times she garnished it with stocks

Of needles, silks, and cottons — but, alas!

She lost it wide awake. We thought Miss Cox

Was lucky — but she saw three caddies pass

To that small imp; — no living luck could loo him!

Sir Stamford would have lost his Raffles to him!

And so he climbed — and rode — and won — and walked,

The wondrous topic of the curious swarm

That haunted the Parade. Many were balked

Of notoriety by that small form

Pacing it up and down: some even talked

Of ducking him — when lo! a dismal storm

Stopped in — one Friday, at the close of day —

And every head was turned another way —

Watching the grander guest. It seemed to rise

Bulky and slow upon the southern brink

Of the horizon — fanned by sultry sighs —

So black and threatening, I cannot think

Of any simile, except the skies

Miss Wiggins sometimes shades in Indian ink —

Mis-shapen blotches of such heavy vapor,

They seem a deal more solid than her paper.

As for the sea, it did not fret, and rave,

And tear its waves to tatters, and so dash on

The stony-hearted beach; — some bards would have

It always rampant, in that idle fashion —

Whereas the waves rolled in, subdued and grave,

Like schoolboys, when the master’s in a passion,

Who meekly settle in and take their places,

With a very quiet awe on all their faces.

Some love to draw the ocean with a head,

Like troubled table-beer — and make it bounce,

And froth, and roar, and fling — but this, I’ve said,

Surged in scarce rougher than a lady’s flounce:

But then, a grander contrast thus it bred

With the wild welkin, seeming to pronounce

Something more awful in the serious ear,

As one would whisper that a lion’s near —

Who just begins to roar: so the hoarse thunder

Growled long — but low — a prelude note of death,

As if the stifling clouds yet kept it under,

But still it muttered to the sea beneath

Such a continued peal, as made us wonder

It did not pause more oft to take its breath,

Whilst we were panting with the sultry weather,

And hardly cared to wed two words together,

But watched the surly advent of the storm,

Much as the brown-cheeked planters of Barbadoes

Must watch a rising of the Negro swarm:

Meantime it steered, like Odin’s old Armadas,

Right on our coast; — a dismal, coal-black form;

Many proud gaits were quelled — and all bravadoes

Of folly ceased — and sundry idle jokers

Went home to cover up their tongs and pokers.

So fierce the lightning flashed. In all their days

The oldest smugglers had not seen such flashing,

And they are used to many a pretty blaze,

To keep their Hollands from an awkward clashing

With hostile cutters in our creeks and bays:

And truly one could think, without much lashing

The fancy, that those coasting clouds, so awful

And black, were fraught with spirits as unlawful.

The gay Parade grew thin — all the fair crowd

Vanished — as if they knew their own attractions —

For now the lightning through a near-hand cloud

Began to make some very crooked fractions —

Only some few remained that were not cowed,

A few rough sailors, who had been in actions,

And sundry boatmen, that with quick yeo’s,

Lest it should blow — were pulling up the Rose:

(No flower, but a boat)— some more were hauling

The Regent by the head:— another crew

With that same cry peculiar to their calling

Were heaving up the Hope:— and as they knew

The very gods themselves oft get a mauling

In their own realms, the seamen wisely drew

The Neptune rather higher on the beach,

That he might lie beyond his billows’ reach.

And now the storm, with its despotic power,

Had all usurped the azure of the skies,

Making our daylight darker by an hour,

And some few drops — of an unusual size —

Few and distinct — scarce twenty to the shower,

Fell like huge teardrops from a giant’s eyes —

But then this sprinkle thickened in a trice

And rained much harder— in good solid ice.

Oh for a very storm of words to show

How this fierce crash of hail came rushing o’er us!

Handel would make the gusty organs blow

Grandly, and a rich storm in music score us:—

But ev’n his music seemed composed and low,

When we were handled by this Hailstone Chorus;

Whilst thunder rumbled, with its awful sound,

And frozen comfits rolled along the ground —

As big as bullets:— Lord! how they did batter

Our crazy tiles:— and now the lightning flashed

Alternate with the dark, until the latter

Was rarest of the two! — the gust too dashed

So terribly, I thought the hail must shatter

Some panes — and so it did — and first it smashed

The very square where I had chose my station

To watch the general illumination.

Another, and another, still came in,

And fell in jingling ruin at my feet,

Making transparent holes that let me win

Some samples of the storm:— Oh! it was sweet

To think I had a shelter for my skin,

Culling them through these “loopholes of retreat”—

Which in a little we began to glaze —

Chiefly with a jacktowel and some baize!

But which, the cloud had passed o’erhead, but played

Its crooked fires in constant flashes still,

Just in our rear, as though it had arrayed

Its heavy batteries at Fairlight Mill,

So that it lit the town, and grandly made

The rugged features of the Castle Hill

Leap, like a birth, from chaos into light,

And then relapse into the gloomy night —

As parcel of the cloud; — the clouds themselves,

Like monstrous crags and summits everlasting,

Piled each on each in most gigantic shelves,

That Milton’s devils were engaged in blasting.

We could e’en fancy Satan and his elves

Busy upon those crags, and ever casting

Huge fragments loose — and that we felt the sound

They made in falling to the startled ground.

And so the tempest scowled away — and soon

Timidly shining through its skirts of jet,

We saw the rim of the pacific moon,

Like a bright fish entangled in a net,

Flashing its silver sides — how sweet a boon

Seemed her sweet light, as though it would beget,

With that fair smile, a calm upon the seas —

Peace in the sky — and coolness in the breeze!

Meantime the hail had ceased:— and all the brood

Of glaziers stole abroad to count their gains;

At every window there were maids who stood

Lamenting o’er the glass’s small remains —

Or with coarse linens made the fractions good,

Stanching the wind in all the wounded panes —

Or, holding candles to the panes, in doubt

The wind resolved — blowing the candles out.

No house was whole that had a southern front —

No greenhouse but the same mishap befell;

Bow-windows and bell-glasses bore the brunt —

No sex in glass was spared! — For those who dwell

On each hill-side, you might have swum a punt

In any of their parlors; — Mrs. Snell

Was slopped out of her seat — and Mr. Hitchin

Had a flower-garden washed into a Kitchen.

But still the sea was mild, and quite disclaimed

The recent violence. — Each after each

The gentle waves a gentle murmur framed,

Tapping, like woodpeckers, the hollow beach.

Howbeit his weather eye the seaman aimed

Across the calm, and hinted by his speech

A gale next morning — and when morning broke,

There was a gale —“quite equal to bespoke.”

Before high water —(it were better far

To christen it not water then, but waiter,

For then the tide is serving at the bar)

Rose such a swell — I never saw one greater!

Black, jagged billows rearing up in war

Like ragged roaring bears against the baiter,

With lots of froth upon the shingle shed,

Like stout poured out with a fine beachy head.

No open boat was open to a fare,

Or launched that morn on seven-shilling trips;

No bathing woman waded — none would dare

A dipping in the wave — but waived their dips;

No seagull ventured on the stormy air,

And all the dreary coast was clear of ships;

For two lea shores upon the River Lea

Are not so perilous as one at sea.

Awe-struck we sat, and gazed upon the scene

Before us in such horrid hurly-burly —

A boiling ocean of mixed black and green,

A sky of copper color, grim and surly —

When lo, in that vast hollow scooped between

Two rolling Alps of water — white and curly!

We saw a pair of little arms a-skimming,

Much like a first or last attempt at swimming!

Sometimes a hand — sometimes a little shoe —

Sometime a skirt — sometimes a hank of hair

Just like a dabbled seaweed rose to view,

Sometimes a knee — sometimes a back was bare —

At last a frightful summerset he threw

Right on the shingles. Any one could swear

The lad was dead — without a chance of perjury,

And battered by the surge beyond all surgery!

However, we snatched up the corse thus thrown,

Intending, Christian-like, to sod and turf it,

And after venting Pity’s sigh and groan,

Then curiosity began with her fit;

And lo! the features of the Small Unknown!

’Twas he that of the surf had had this surfeit!

And in his fob, the cause of late monopolies,

We found a contract signed with Mephistopheles!

A bond of blood, whereby the sinner gave

His forfeit soul to Satan in reversion,

Providing in this world he was to have

A lordship over luck, by whose exertion

He might control the course of cards and brave

All throws of dice — but on a sea excursion

The juggling demon, in his usual vein,

Seized the last cast — and Nicked him in the main!

Lines to a Lady.

On Her Departure for India.

Go where the waves run rather Holborn-hilly,

And tempest make a soda-water sea,

Almost as rough as our rough Piccadilly,

And think of me!

Go where the mild Madeira ripens her juice —

A wine more praised than it deserves to be!

Go pass the Cape, just capable of ver-juice,

And think of me!

Go where the tiger in the darkness prowleth,

Making a midnight meal of he and she;

Go where the lion in his hunger howleth,

And think of me!

Go where the serpent dangerously coileth,

Or lies along at full length like a tree,

Go where the Suttee in her own soot broileth,

And think of me!

Go where with human notes the parrot dealeth

In mono-polly-logue with tongue as free,

And, like a woman, all she can revealeth,

And think of me!

Go to the land of muslin and nankeening,

And parasols of straw where hats should be,

Go to the land of slaves and palankeening,

And think of me!

Go to the land of jungles and of vast hills,

And tall bamboos — may none bamboozle thee!

Go gaze upon their elephants and castles,

And think of me!

Go where a cook must always be a currier,

And parch the peppered palate like a pea,

Go where the fierce mosquito is a worrier,

And think of me!

Go where the maiden on a marriage plan goes,

Consigned for wedlock to Calcutta’s quay,

Where woman goes for mart, the same as mangoes,

And think of me!

Go where the sun is very hot and fervent,

Go to the land of pagod and rupee,

Where every black will be your slave and servant,

And think of me!

A parody of John Hamilton Reynolds’s once popular lines, beginning —

“Go, where the water glideth gently ever,”

The Angler’s Farewell.

“Resigned, I kissed the rod.”

Well! I think it is time to put up!

For it does not accord with my notions,

Wrist, elbow, and chine,

Stiff from throwing the line,

To take nothing at last by my motions!

I ground-bait my way as I go,

And dip in at each watery dimple;

But however I wish

To inveigle the fish,

To my gentle they will not play simple!

Though my float goes so swimmingly on,

My bad luck never seems to diminish;

It would seem that the Bream

Must be scarce in the stream,

And the Chub, tho’ it’s chubby, be thinnish!

Not a Trout there can be in the place,

Not a Grayling or Rud worth the mention,

And although at my hook

With attention I look,

I can ne’er see my hook with a Tench on!

At a brandling once Gudgeon would gape,

But they seem upon different terms now;

Have they taken advice

Of the ”Council of Nice,”

And rejected their ”Diet of Worms,” now?

In vain my live minnow I spin,

Not a Pike seems to think it worth snatching;

For the gut I have brought,

I had better have bought

A good rope that was used to Jack-ketching!

Not a nibble has ruffled my cork,

It is vain in this river to search then;

I may wait till it’s night,

Without any bite

And at roost-time have never a Perch then!

No Roach can I meet with — no Bleak,

Save what in the air is so sharp now;

Not a Dace have I got,

And I fear it is not

“Carpe diem,” a day for the Carp now!

Oh! there is not a one-pound prize

To be got in this fresh-water-lottery!

What then can I deem

Of so fishless a stream

But that ’tis — like St. Mary’s —Ottery!

For an Eel I have learned how to try,

By a method of Walton’s own showing —

But a fisherman feels

Little prospect of Eels,

In a path that’s devoted to towing!

I have tried all the water for miles,

Till I’m weary of dipping and casting,

And hungry and faint —

Let the Fancy just paint

What it is, without Fish, to be Fasting!

And the rain drizzles down very fast,

While my dinner-time sounds from a far bell —

So, wet to the skin,

I’ll e’en back to my inn,

Where at least I am sure of a Bar-bell!

Ode

To the Advocates for the Removal of Smith-field Market.

“Sweeping our flocks and herds.”— DOUGLAS.

O Philanthropic men! —

For this address I need not make apology —

Who aim at clearing out the Smithfield pen,

And planting further off its vile Zoology —

Permit me thus to tell,

I like your efforts well,

For routing that great nest of Hornithology!

Be not dismay’d, although repulsed at first,

And driven from their Horse, and Pig, and Lamb parts,

Charge on! — you shall upon their hornworks burst,

And carry all their Bull-warks and their Ram-parts.

Go on, ye wholesale drovers!

And drive away the Smithfield flocks and herds!

As wild as Tartar-Curds,

That come so fat, and kicking, from their clovers;

Off with them all! — those restive brutes, that vex

Our streets, and plunge, and lunge, and butt, and battle;

And save the female sex

From being cow’d — like Iö— by the cattle!

Fancy — when droves appear on

The hill of Holborn, roaring from its top —

Your ladies — ready, as they own, to drop,

Taking themselves to Thomson’s with a Fear-on!

Or, in St. Martin’s Lane,

Scared by a Bullock, in a frisky vein —

Fancy the terror of your timid daughters,

While rushing souse

Into a coffee-house,

To find it — Slaughter’s!

Or fancy this:—

Walking along the street, some stranger Miss,

Her head with no such thought of danger laden,

When suddenly ’tis “Aries Taurus Virgo!”—

You don’t know Latin, I translate it ergo,

Into your Areas a Bull throws the Maiden!

Think of some poor old crone

Treated, just like a penny, with a toss!

At that vile spot now grown

So generally known

For making a Cow Cross!

Nay, fancy your own selves far off from stall,

Or shed, or shop — and that an Ox infuriate

Just pins you to the wall,

Giving you a strong dose of Oxy-Muriate!

Methinks I hear the neighbors that live round

The Market-ground

Thus make appeal unto their civic fellows —

“’Tis well for you that live apart — unable

To hear this brutal Babel,

But our firesides are troubled with their bellows.”

“Folks that too freely sup

Must e’en put up

With their own troubles if they can’t digest;

But we must needs regard

The case as hard

That others’ victuals should disturb our rest,

That from our sleep your food should start and jump us!

We like, ourselves, a steak,

But, Sirs, for pity’s sake!

We don’t want oxen at our doors to rump-us!

“If we do doze — it really is too bad!

We constantly are roar’d awake or rung,

Through bullocks mad

That run in all the ‘Night Thoughts’ of our Young!”

Such are the woes of sleepers — now let’s take

The woes of those that wish to keep a Wake!

O think! when Wombwell gives his annual feasts,

Think of these “Bulls of Basan,” far from mild ones;

Such fierce tame beasts,

That nobody much cares to see the Wild ones!

Think of the Show woman, “what shows a Dwarf,”

Seeing a red Cow come

To swallow her Tom Thumb,

And forc’d with broom of birch to keep her off!

Think, too, of Messrs. Richardson and Co.,

When looking at their public private boxes,

To see in the back row

Three live sheep’s heads, a porker’s, and an Ox’s!

Think of their Orchestra, when two horns come

Through, to accompany the double drum!

Or, in the midst of murder and remorses,

Just when the Ghost is certain,

A great rent in the curtain,

And enter two tall skeletons — of Horses!

Great Philanthropics! pray urge these topics

Upon the Solemn Councils of the Nation,

Get a Bill soon, and give, some noon,

The Bulls, a Bull of Excommunication!

Let the old Fair have fair play, as its right,

And to each Show and sight

Ye shall be treated with a Free List latitude;

To Richardson’s Stage Dramas,

Dio — and Cosmo — ramas,

Giants and Indians wild,

Dwarf, Sea Bear, and Fat Child,

And that most rare of Shows — a Show of Gratitude!

A Report from Below!

“Blow high, blow low.”— SEA SONG.

As Mister B. and Mistress B.

One night were sitting down to tea,

With toast and muffins hot —

They heard a loud and sudden bounce,

That made the very china flounce,

They could not for a time pronounce

If they were safe or shot —

For Memory brought a deed to match

At Deptford done by night —

Before one eye appeared a Patch,

In t’other eye a Blight!

To be belabor’d at of life,

Without some small attempt at strife,

Our nature will not grovel;

One impulse hadd both man and dame,

He seized the tongs — she did the same,

Leaving the ruffian, if he came,

The poker and the shovel.

Suppose the couple standing so,

When rushing footsteps from below

Made pulses fast and fervent;

And first burst in the frantic cat,

All steaming like a brewer’s rat,

And then — as white as my cravat —

Poor Mary May, the servant!

Lord, how the couple’s teeth did chatter,

Master and Mistress both flew at her,

“Speak! Fire? or Murder? What’s the matter?”

Till Mary, getting breath,

Upon her tale began to touch

With rapid tongue, full trotting, such

As if she thought she had too much

To tell before her death:—

“We was both, Ma’am, in the wash-house. Ma’am, a-standing at our tubs,

And Mrs. Round was seconding what little things I rubs;

‘Mary,’ says she to me, ‘I say’— and there she stops for coughin,

‘That dratted copper flue has took to smokin very often,

But please the pigs,’— for that’s her way of swearing in a passion,

I’ll blow it up, and not be set a coughin in this fashion!

Well down she takes my master’s horn — I mean his horn for loading,

And empties every grain alive for to set the flue exploding.

Lawk, Mrs. Round! says I, and stares, that quantum is unproper,

I’m sartin sure it can’t not take a pound to sky a copper;

You’ll powder both our heads off, so I tells you, with its puff,

But she only dried her fingers, and she takes a pinch of snuff.

Well, when the pinch is over —‘Teach your Grandmother to suck

A powder horn,’ says she — Well, says I, I wish you luck.

Them words sets up her back, so with her hands upon her hips,

‘Come,’ says she, quite in a huff, ‘come, keep your tongue inside your lips;

Afore ever you was born, I was well used to things like these;

I shall put it in the grate, and let it burn up by degrees.

So in it goes, and Bounce — O Lord! it gives us such a rattle,

I thought we both were cannonized, like Sogers in a battle!

Up goes the copper like a squib, and us on both our backs,

And bless the tubs, they bundled off, and split all into cracks.

Well, there I fainted dead away, and might have been cut shorter,

But Providence was kind, and brought me to with scalding water.

I first looks round for Mrs. Round, and sees her at a distance,

As stiff as starch, and looked as dead as any thing in existence;

All scorched and grimed, and more than that, I sees the copper slap

Right on her head, for all the world like a percussion copper cap.

Well, I crooks her little fingers, and crumps them well up together,

As humanity pints out, and burnt her nostrums with a feather;

But for all as I can do, to restore her to her mortality,

She never gives a sign of a return to sensuality.

Thinks I, well there she lies, as dead as my own late departed mother,

Well, she’ll wash no more in this world, whatever she does in t’other.

So I gives myself to scramble up the linens for a minute,

Lawk, sich a shirt! thinks I, it’s well my master wasn’t in it;

Oh! I never, never, never, never, never, see a sight so shockin;

Here lays a leg, and there a leg — I mean, you know, a stocking —

Bodies all slit and torn to rags, and many a tattered skirt,

And arms burnt off, and sides and backs all scotched and black with dirt;

But as nobody was in ’em — none but — nobody was hurt!

Well, there I am, a-scrambling up the things, all in a lump,

When, mercy on us! such a groan as makes my heart to jump.

And there she is, a-lying with a crazy sort of eye,

A-staring at the wash-house roof, laid open to the sky:

Then she beckons with a finger, and so down to her I reaches,

And puts my ear agin her mouth to hear her dying speeches,

For, poor soul! she has a husband and young orphans, as I knew;

Well, Ma’am, you won’t believe it, but it’s Gospel fact and true,

But these words is all she whispered —‘Why, where is the powder blew?’”

“I’m not a single man.”

Lines Written in a Young Lady’s Album.

A pretty task, Miss S— — to ask

A Benedictine pen,

That cannot quite at freedom write

Like those of other men.

No lover’s plaint my muse must paint

To fill this page’s span,

But be correct and recollect

I’m not a single man.

Pray only think, for pen and ink

How hard to get along,

That may not turn on words that burn

Or Love, the life of song!

Nine Muses, if I chooses, I

May woo all in a clan,

But one Miss S—— I daren’t address —

I’m not a single man.

Scribblers unwed, with little head

May eke it out with heart,

And in their lays it often plays

A rare first-fiddle part.

They make a kiss to rhyme with bliss,

But if I so began,

I have my fears about my ears —

I’m not a single man.

Upon your cheek I may not speak,

Nor on your lip be warm,

I must be wise about your eyes,

And formal with your form;

Of all that sort of thing, in short,

On T.H. Bayly’s plan,

I must not twine a single line —

I’m not a single man.

A watchman’s part compels my heart

To keep you off its beat,

And I might dare as soon to swear

At you, as at your feet.

I can’t expire in passion’s fire

As other poets can —

My life (she’s by) won’t let me die —

I’m not a single man.

Shut out from love, denied a dove,

Forbidden bow and dart,

Without a groan to call my own,

With neither hand nor heart;

To Hymen vow’d, and not allow’d

To flirt e’en with your fan,

Here end, as just a friend, I must —

I’m not a single man.

Written in the album of Miss Smith, daughter of Mr. Horace Smith, of the Rejected Addresses. Miss Smith happily still survives to show her friends with pride these admirable verses, inscribed in Hood’s neat and clear handwriting.

The Supper Superstition.

A Pathetic Ballad.

“Oh flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!”— MERCUTIO

1.

’Twas twelve o’clock by Chelsea chimes,

When all in hungry trim,

Good Mister Jupp sat down to sup

With wife, and Kate, and Jim.

2.

Said he, “Upon this dainty cod

How bravely I shall sup”—

When, whiter than the tablecloth,

A GHOST came rising up!

3.

“O father dear, O mother dear,

Dear Kate, and brother Jim —

You know when some one went to sea —

Don’t cry — but I am him!”

4.

“You hope some day with fond embrace

To greet your absent Jack,

But oh, I am come here to say

I’m never coming back!”

5.

“From Alexandria we set sail,

With corn, and oil, and figs,

But steering ‘too much Sow,’ we struck

Upon the Sow and Pigs!”

6.

“The ship we pumped till we could see

Old England from the tops;

When down she went with all our hands,

Right in the Channel’s Chops.”

7.

“Just give a look in Norey’s chart,

The very place it tells;

I think it says twelve fathom deep,

Clay bottom, mixed with shells.”

8.

“Well, there we are till ‘hands aloft,’

We have at last a call;

The pug I had for brother Jim,

Kate’s parrot too, and all.”

9.

“But oh, my spirit cannot rest

In Davy Joneses sod,

Till I’ve appeared to you and said —

Don’t sup on that ’ere Cod!”

10.

“You live on land, and little think

What passes in the sea;

Last Sunday week, at 2 P.M.,

That Cod was picking me!”

11.

“Those oysters, too, that look so plump,

And seem so nicely done,

They put my corpse in many shells,

Instead of only one.”

12.

“Oh, do not eat those oysters then,

And do not touch the shrimps;

When I was in my briny grave,

They sucked my blood like imps!”

13.

“Don’t eat what brutes would never eat,

The brutes I used to pat,

They’ll know the smell they used to smell,

Just try the dog and cat!”

14.

The spirit fled — they wept his fate,

And cried, Alack, alack!

At last up started brother Jim,

“Let’s try if Jack, was Jack!”

15.

They called the Dog, they called the Cat,

And little Kitten too,

And down they put the Cod and sauce,

To see what brutes would do.

16.

Old Tray licked all the oysters up,

Puss never stood at crimps,

But munched the Cod — and little Kit

Quite feasted on the shrimps!

17.

The thing was odd, and minus Cod

And sauce, they stood like posts;

Oh, prudent folks, for fear of hoax,

Put no belief in Ghosts!

The Duel.

A Serious Ballad.

“Like the two Kings of Brentford smelling at one nosegay.”

In Brentford town, of old renown,

There lived a Mister Bray,

Who fell in love with Lucy Bell,

And so did Mr. Clay.

To see her ride from Hammersmith,

By all it was allowed,

Such fair outsides are seldom seen,

Such Angels on a Cloud.

Said Mr. Bray to Mr. Clay,

You choose to rival me,

And court Miss Bell, but there your court

No thoroughfare shall be.

Unless you now give up your suit,

You may repent your love;

I who have shot a pigeon match,

Can shoot a turtle dove.

So pray before you woo her more,

Consider what you do;

If you pop aught to Lucy Bell —

I’ll pop it into you.

Said Mr. Clay to Mr. Bray,

Your threats I quite explode;

One who has been a volunteer

Knows how to prime and load.

And so I say to you unless

Your passion quiet keeps,

I who have shot and hit bulls’ eyes,

May chance to hit a sheep’s.

Now gold is oft for silver changed,

And that for copper red;

But these two went away to give

Each other change for lead.

But first they sought a friend apiece,

This pleasant thought to give —

When they were dead, they thus should have

Two seconds still to live.

To measure out the ground not long

The seconds then forbore,

And having taken one rash step,

They took a dozen more.

They next prepared each pistol-pan

Against the deadly strife,

By putting in the prime of death

Against the prime of life.

Now all was ready for the foes,

But when they took their stands,

Fear made them tremble so, they found

They both were shaking hands.

Said Mr. C. to Mr. B.,

Here one of us may fall,

And like St. Paul’s Cathedral now

Be doomed to have a ball.

I do confess I did attach

Misconduct to your name;

If I withdraw the charge, will then

Your ramrod do the same?

Said Mr, B., I do agree —

But think of Honor’s Courts!

If we go off without a shot,

There will be strange reports.

But look, the morning now is bright,

Though cloudy it begun:

Why can’t we aim above, as if

We had called out the sun?

Soup into the harmless air

Their bullets they did send;

And may all other duels have

That upshot in the end!

A Singular Exhibition at Somerset House.

“Our Crummie is a dainty cow.”—Scotch Song.

On that first Saturday in May,

When Lords and Ladies, great and grand,

Repair to see what each R.A.

Has done since last they sought the Strand,

In red, brown, yellow, green, or blue,

In short, what’s called the private view —

Amongst the guests — the deuce knows how

She got in there without a row —

There came a large and vulgar dame,

With arms deep red, and face the same,

Showing in temper not a Saint;

No one could guess for why she came,

Unless perchance to “scour the Paint.”

From wall to wall she forced her way,

Elbowed Lord Durham — poked Lord Grey —

Stamped Stafford’s toes to make him move,

And Devonshire’s Duke received a shove;

The great Lord Chancellor felt her nudge,

She made the Vice, his Honor, budge,

And gave a pinch to Park, the judge.

As for the ladies in this stir,

The highest rank gave way to her.

From number one and number two,

She searched the pictures through and through,

On benches stood, to inspect the high ones,

And squatted down to see the shy ones.

And as she went from part to part,

A deeper red each cheek became,

Her very eyes lit up in flame,

That made each looker-on exclaim,

“Really an ardent love of art!”

Alas! amidst her inquisition,

Fate brought her to a sad condition;

She might have run against Lord Milton,

And still have stared at deeds in oil.

But ah! her picture-joy to spoil,

She came full butt on Mr. Hilton.

The Keeper mute, with staring eyes,

Like a lay-figure for surprise,

At last this stammered out, “How now?

Woman — where, woman, is your ticket,

That ought to have let you through our wicket?”

Says woman, “Where is David’s Cow?”

Said Mr. H—— with expedition,

“There’s no Cow in the Exhibition.”

“No Cow!”— but here her tongue in verity,

Set off with steam and rail celerity —

“No Cow! there ain’t no Cow, then the more’s the shame and pity,

Hang you, and the R.A.‘s, and all the Hanging Committee!

No Cow — but hold your tongue — for you needn’t talk to me —

You can’t talk up the Cow, you can’t, to where it ought to be —

I haven’t seen a picture high or low, or anyhow,

Or in any of the rooms, to be compared with David’s Cow!

You may talk of your Landseers, and of your Coopers and your Wards,

Why, hanging is too good for them, and yet here they are on cords!

They’re only fit for window frames, and shutters and street doors,

David will paint ’em any day at Red Lions or Blue Boars —

Why, Morland was a fool to him — at a little pig or sow —

It’s really hard it ain’t hung up — I could cry about the Cow!

But I know well what it is, and why — they’re jealous of David’s fame,

But to vent it on the Cow, poor thing, is a cruelty and a shame —

Do you think it might hang by and by, if you cannot hang it now?

David has made a party up, to come and see his Cow

If it only hung three days a week, for an example to the learners —

Why can’t it hang up, turn about, with that picture of Mr. Turner’s?

Or do you think from Mr. Etty you need apprehend a row,

If now and then you cut him down to hang up David’s Cow!

I can’t think where their tastes have been, to not have such a creature,

Although I say, that should not say, it was prettier than nature!

It must be hung — and shall be hung — for, Mr. H— — I vow

I daren’t take home the catalogue, unless it’s got the Cow!

As we only want it to be seen, I should not so much care,

If it was only round the stone man’s neck, a coming up the stair.

Or down there in the marble room where all the figures stand,

Where one of them three Graces might just hold it in her hand —

Or maybe Baily’s Charity the favor would allow,

It would really be a charity to hang up David’s Cow.

We haven’t nowhere else to go if you don’t hang it here,

The Water Color place allows no oilman to appear —

And the British Gallery sticks to Dutch, Teniers and Gerard Douw,

And the Suffolk Gallery will not do — it’s not a Suffolk Cow:

I wish you’d seen him painting her, he hardly took his meals

Till she was painted on the board, correct from head to heels:

His heart and soul was in his Cow, and almost made him shabby,

He hardly whipped the boys at all — or helped to nurse the babby,

And when he had her all complete and painted over red,

He got so grand, I really thought him going off his head.

Now hang it, Mr. Hilton, do just hang it anyhow,

Poor David, he will hang himself, unless you hang his Cow.

And if it’s inconvenient and drawn too big by half —

David shan’t send next year except a very little calf!”

Lines to Mary.

Old Bailey Ballads.

(At No. 1, Newgate. Favored by Mr. Wontner.)

O Mary, I believed you true,

And I was blest in so believing;

But till this hour I never knew —

That you were taken up for thieving!

Oh! when I snatch’d a tender kiss,

Or some such trifle when I courted,

You said, indeed, that love was bliss,

But never owned you were transported!

But then to gaze on that fair face —

It would have been an unfair feeling

To dream that you had pilfered lace —

And Flint’s had suffered from your stealing!

Or when my suit I first preferred,

To bring your coldness to repentance,

Before I hammer’d out a word,

How could I dream you heard a sentence!

Or when with all the warmth of youth

I strove to prove my love no fiction,

How could I guess I urged a truth

On one already past conviction!

How could I dream that ivory part,

Your hand — where I have look’d and linger’d,

Altho’ it stole away my heart,

Had been held up as one light-fingered!

In melting verse your charms I drew,

The charms in which my muse delighted —

Alas! the lay I thought was new.

Spoke only what had been indicted!

Oh! when that form, a lovely one,

Hung on the neck its arms had flown to,

I little thought that you had run

A chance of hanging on your own too.

You said you pick’d me from the world,

My vanity it now must shock it —

And down at once my pride is hurled,

You’ve pick’d me — and you’ve pick’d a pocket!

Oh! when our love had got so far,

The banns were read by Doctor Daly,

Who asked if there was any bar —

Why did not some one shout “Old Bailey”?

But when you robed your flesh and bones

In that pure white that angel garb is,

Who could have thought you, Mary Jones,

Among the Joans that link with Darbies?

And when the parson came to say,

My goods were yours, if I had got any,

And you should honor and obey,

Who could have thought —“O Bay of Botany!”

But oh! — the worst of all your slips

I did not till this day discover —

That down in Deptford’s prison ships,

O Mary! you’ve a hulking lover!

The Compass, with Variations.

“The Needles have sometimes been fatal to Mariners.”

Picture of Isle of Wight.

1.

One close of day —’twas in the Bay

Of Naples, bay of glory!

While light was hanging crowns of gold

On mountains high and hoary,

A gallant bark got under weigh,

And with her sails my story.

2.

For Leghorn she was bound direct,

With wine and oil for cargo,

Her crew of men some nine or ten,

The captain’s name was Jago;

A good and gallant bark she was,

La Donna (call’d) del Lago.

3.

Bronzed mariners were hers to view,

With brown cheeks, clear or muddy,

Dark shining eyes, and coal-black hair,

Meet heads for painter’s study;

But midst their tan there stood one man,

Whose cheek was fair and ruddy;

4.

His brow was high, a loftier brow

Ne’er shone in song or sonnet,

His hair, a little scant, and when

He doff’d his cap or bonnet,

One saw that Grey had gone beyond

A premiership upon it!

5.

His eye — a passenger was he,

The cabin he had hired it —

His eye was gray, and when he look’d

Around, the prospect fired it —

A fine poetic light, as if

The Appe-Nine inspir’d it.

6.

His frame was stout, in height about

Six feet — well made and portly;

Of dress and manner just to give

A sketch, but very shortly,

His order seem’d a composite

Of rustic with the courtly.

7.

He ate and quaff’d, and joked and laughed,

And chatted with the seamen,

And often task’d their skill and ask’d,

“What weather is’t to be, man?”

No demonstration there appeared,

That he was any demon.

8.

No sort of sign there was that he

Could raise a stormy rumpus,

Like Prospero make breezes blow,

And rocks and billows thump us —

But little we supposed what he

Could with the needle compass!

9.

Soon came a storm — the sea at first

Seem’d lying almost fallow —

When lo! full crash, with billowy dash,

From clouds of black and yellow,

Came such a gale as blows but once

A cent’ry, like the aloe!

10.

Our stomachs we had just prepared

To vest a small amount in;

When, gush! a flood of brine came down

The skylight — quite a fountain,

And right on end the table rear’d

Just like the Table Mountain.

11.

Down rush’d the soup, down gush’d the wine,

Each roll, its rôle repeating,

Roll’d down — the round of beef declar’d

For parting — not for meating!

Off flew the fowls, and all the game

Was “too far gone for eating!”

12.

Down knife and fork — down went the pork,

The lamb too broke its tether;

Down mustard went — each condiment —

Salt — pepper — all together!

Down everything, like craft that seek

The Downs in stormy weather.

13.

Down plunged the Lady of the Lake,

Her timbers seem’d to sever;

Down, down, a dreary derry down,

Such lurch she had gone never;

She almost seem’d about to take

A bed of down forever!

14.

Down dropt the captain’s nether jaw,

Thus robbed of all its uses,

He thought he saw the Evil One

Beside Vesuvian sluices,

Playing at dice for soul and ship,

And throwing Sink and Deuces.

15.

Down fell the steward on his face,

To all the Saints commending;

And candles to the Virgin vow’d,

As save-alls ‘gain’st his ending.

Down fell the mate, he thought his fate,

Checkmate, was close impending!

16.

Down fell the cook — the cabin boy,

Their beads with fervor telling,

While Alps of surge, with snowy verge,

Above the yards came yelling.

Down fell the crew, and on their knees

Shudder’d at each white swelling!

17.

Down sunk the sun of bloody hue,

His crimson light a cleaver

To each red rover of a wave:

To eye of fancy-weaver,

Neptune, the god, seemed tossing in

A raging scarlet fever!

18.

Sore, sore afraid, each Papist pray’d

To Saint aid Virgin Mary;

But one there was that stood composed

Amid the waves’ vagary;

As staunch as rock, a true game-cock

‘Mid chicks of Mother Carey!

19.

His ruddy cheek retained its streak,

No danger seem’d to shrink him:

His step still bold — of mortal mould

The crew could hardly think him:

The Lady of the Lake, he seem’d

To know; could never sink him.

20.

Relaxed at last the furious gale

Quite out of breath with racing;

The boiling flood in milder mood,

With gentler billows chasing;

From stem to stern, with frequent turn,

The Stranger took to pacing.

21.

And as he walked to self he talked,

Some ancient ditty thrumming,

In undertone, as not alone —

Now whistling, and now humming —

“You’re welcome, Charlie,” “Cowdenknowes,”

“Kenmure,” or “Campbells’ Coming.”

22.

Down went the wind, down went the wave,

Fear quitted the most finical;

The Saints, I wot, were soon forgot,

And Hope was at the pinnacle:

When rose on high a frightful cry —

“The Devil’s in the binnacle!”

23.

“The Saints be near,” the helmsman cried,

His voice with quite a falter —

“Steady’s my helm, but every look

The needle seems to alter;

God only knows where China lies,

Jamaica, or Gibraltar!”

24.

The captain stared aghast at mate,

The pilot at th’ apprentice;

No fancy of the German Sea

Of Fiction the event is:

But when they at the compass look’d,

It seem’d non compass mentis.

25.

Now north, now south, now east, now west,

The wavering point was shaken,

’Twas past the whole philosophy

Of Newton, or of Bacon;

Never by compass, till that hour,

Such latitudes were taken!

26.

With fearful speech, each after each

Took turns in the inspection;

They found no gun — no iron — none —

To vary its direction;

It seem’d a new magnetic case

Of Poles in Insurrection!

27.

Farewell to wives, farewell their lives,

And all their household riches;

Oh! while they thought of girl or boy,

And dear domestic niches,

All down the side which holds the heart,

That needle gave them stitches.

28.

With deep amaze, the Stranger gazed

To see them so white-livered:

And walked abaft the binnacle,

To know at what they shivered;

But when he stood beside the card,

St. Josef! how it quivered!

29.

No fancy-motion, brain-begot,

In eye of timid dreamer —

The nervous finger of a sot

Ne’er showed a plainer tremor;

To every brain it seemed too plain,

There stood th’ Infernal Schemer!

30.

Mix’d brown and blue each visage grew,

Just like a pullet’s gizzard;

Meanwhile the captain’s wandering wit,

From tacking like an izzard,

Bore down in this plain course at last,

“It’s Michael Scott — the Wizard!”

31.

A smile passed o’er the ruddy face:

“To see the poles so falter

I’m puzzled, friends, as much as you,

For with no fiends I palter!

Michael I’m not — although a Scott —

My Christian name is Walter.”

32.

Like oil it fell, that name, a spell

On all the fearful faction;

The captain’s head (for he had read)

Confess’d the needle’s action,

And bow’d to Him in whom the North

Has lodged its main attraction!

Written when Walter Scott was familiarly known as the “Wizard of the North,” the title which is the key to the present poem. Scott died in September, 1832, in the interval between the writing and the publishing of the verses, for which Hood makes regretful apology in the Preface to the Comic Annual for 1833, in which they appeared.

The Ghost.

A Very Serious Ballad.

“I’ll be your second.”— LISTON.

In Middle Row, some years ago,

There lived one Mr. Brown;

And many folks considered him

The stoutest man in town.

But Brown and stout will both wear out —

One Friday he died hard,

And left a widow’d wife to mourn,

At twenty pence a yard.

Now widow B. in two short months

Thought mourning quite a tax;

And wished, like Mr. Wilberforce,

To manumit her blacks.

With Mr. Street she soon was sweet;

The thing came thus about:

She asked him in at home, and then

At church, he asked her out!

Assurance such as this the man

In ashes could not stand;

So like a Phoenix he rose up

Against the Hand in Hand!

One dreary night the angry sprite

Appeared before her view;

It came a little after one,

But she was after two!

“O Mrs. B., O Mrs. B.!

Are these your sorrow’s deeds,

Already getting up a flame,

To burn your widows’ weeds?

“It’s not so long since I have left

For aye the mortal scene;

My memory — like Rogers’s —

Should still be bound in green!

“Yet if my face you still retrace,

I almost have a doubt —

I’m like an old Forget-me-not,

With all the leaves torn out!

“To think that on that finger joint

Another pledge should cling;

O Bess! upon my very soul

It struck like ‘Knock and Ring,’”

“A ton of marble on my breast

Can’t hinder my return;

Your conduct, ma’am, has set my blood

A-boiling in my urn!”

“Remember, oh! remember, how

The marriage rite did run —

If ever we one flesh should be

’Tis now — when I have none!

“And you, Sir — once a bosom friend —

Of perjured faith convict,

As ghostly toe can give no blow,

Consider you are kick’d.

“A hollow voice is all I have,

But this I tell you plain,

Marry come up! — you marry, ma’am,

And I’ll come up again.”

More he had said, but chanticleer

The spritely shade did shock

With sudden crow — and off he went,

Like fowling-piece at cock!

The Fall.

“Down, down, down, ten thousand fathoms deep.”

Count Fathom.

Who does not know that dreadful gulf, where Niagara falls,

Where eagle unto eagle screams, to vulture vulture calls;

Where down beneath, Despair and Death in liquid darkness grope,

And upward, on the foam there shines a rainbow without Hope;

While, hung with clouds of Fear and Doubt, the unreturning wave

Suddenly gives an awful plunge, like life into the grave;

And many a hapless mortal there hath dived to bale or bliss;

One — only one — hath ever lived to rise from that abyss!

Oh, Heav’n! it turns me now to ice with chill of fear extreme,

To think of my frail bark adrift on that tumultuous stream!

In vain with desperate sinews, strung by love of life and light,

I urged that coffin, my canoe, against the current’s might:

On — on — still on — direct for doom, the river rush’d in force,

And fearfully the stream of Time raced with it in its course.

My eyes I closed — I dared not look the way towards the goal;

But still I viewed the horrid close, and dreamt it in my soul.

Plainly, as through transparent lids, I saw the fleeting shore!

And lofty trees, like wingèd things, flit by for evermore;

Plainly — but with no prophet sense — I heard the sullen sound,

The torrent’s voice — and felt the mist, like death-sweat gathering round.

Oh agony! Oh life! My home! and those that made it sweet:

Ere I could pray, the torrent lay beneath my very feet.

With frightful whirl, more swift than thought, I passed the dizzy edge,

Bound after bound, with hideous bruise, I dashed from ledge to ledge,

From crag to crag — in speechless pain — from midnight deep to deep;

I did not die, but anguish stunn’d my senses into sleep.

How long entranced, or whither dived, no clue I have to find:

At last the gradual light of life came dawning o’er my mind;

And through my brain there thrill’d a cry — a cry as shrill as birds

Of vulture or of eagle kind, but this was set to words:

“It’s Edgar Huntley in his cap and nightgown, I declares!

He’s been a-walking in his sleep, and pitch’d all down the stairs!”

“Edgar Huntley, the Somnambulist,” was the title of a popular novel of the time.

Our Village.

By a Villager.

Our village, that’s to say, not Miss Mitford’s village, but our village of Bullock Smithy,

Is come into by an avenue of trees, three oak pollards, two elders, and a withy;

And in the middle there’s a green, of about not exceeding an acre and a half;

It’s common to all and fed off by nineteen cows, six ponies, three horses, five asses, two foals, seven pigs, and a calf!

Besides a pond in the middle, as is held by a similar sort of common law lease,

And contains twenty ducks, six drakes, three ganders, two dead dogs, four drowned kittens, and twelve geese.

Of course the green’s cropt very close, and does famous for bowling when the little village boys play at cricket;

Only some horse, or pig, or cow, or great jackass, is sure to come and stand right before the wicket.

There’s fifty-five private houses, let alone barns and workshops, and pigsties, and poultry huts, and such-like sheds,

With plenty of public-houses — two Foxes, one Green Man, three Bunch of Grapes, one Crown, and six King’s Heads.

The Green Man is reckoned the best, as the only one that for love or money can raise

A postillion, a blue jacket, two deplorable lame white horses, and a ramshackle “neat post-chaise!”

There’s one parish church for all the people, whatsoever may be their ranks in life or their degrees,

Except one very damp, small, dark, freezing cold, a little Methodist Chapel of Ease;

And close by the churchyard, there’s a stone-mason’s yard, that when the time is seasonable

Will furnish with afflictions sore and marble urns and cherubims, very low and reasonable.

There’s a cage, comfortable enough; I’ve been in it with Old Jack Jeffery and Tom Pike;

For the Green Man next door will send you in ale, gin, or anything else you like.

I can’t speak of the stocks, as nothing remains of them but the upright post;

But the pound is kept in repair for the sake of Cob’s horse as is always there almost.

There’s a smithy of course, where that queer sort of a chap in his way, Old Joe Bradley,

Perpetually hammers and stammers, for he stutters and shoes horses very badly.

There’s a shop of all sorts that sells everything, kept by the widow of Mr. Task;

But when you go there it’s ten to one she’s out of everything you ask.

You’ll know her house by the swarm of boys, like flies, about the old sugary cask:

There are six empty houses, and not so well papered inside as out,

For bill-stickers won’t beware, but stick notices of sales and election placards all about.

That’s the Doctor’s with a green door, where the garden pots in the window is seen;

A weakly monthly rose that don’t blow, and a red geranium, and a teaplant with five black leaves, and one green.

As for hollyhocks at the cottage doors, and honeysuckles and jasmines, you may go and whistle;

But the Tailor’s front garden grows two cabbages, a dock, a ha’porth of pennyroyal, two dandelions, and a thistle!

There are three small orchards — Mr. Busby’s the school-master’s is the chief —

With two pear trees that don’t bear; one plum, and an apple that every year is stripped by a thief.

There’s another small day-school too, kept by the respectable Mrs. Gaby,

A select establishment for six little boys, and one big, and four little girls and a baby;

There’s a rectory with pointed gables and strange odd chimneys that never smokes,

For the Rector don’t live on his living like other Christian sort of folks;

There’s a barber’s once a week well filled with rough black-bearded, shock-headed churls,

And a window with two feminine men’s heads, and two masculine ladies in false curls;

There’s a butcher’s, and a carpenter’s, and a plumber’s, and a small greengrocer’s, and a baker,

But he won’t bake on a Sunday; and there’s a sexton that’s a coal merchant besides, and an undertaker;

And a toyshop, but not a whole one, for a village can’t compare with the London shops;

One window sells drums, dolls, kites, carts, bats, Clout’s balls, and the other sells malt and hops,

And Mrs. Brown in domestic economy not to be a bit behind her betters,

Lets her house to a milliner, a watchmaker, a rat-catcher, a cobbler, lives in it herself, and it’s the post-office for letters.

Now I’ve gone through all the village — ay, from end to end, save and except one more house,

But I haven’t come to that — and I hope I never shall — and that’s the Village Poor House!

A Public Dinner.

“Sit down and fall to, said the Barmecide.”

Arabian Nights.

At seven you just nick it,

Give card — get wine ticket;

Walk round through the Babel,

From table to table,

To find — a hard matter —

Your name in a platter;

Your wish was to sit by

Your friend Mr. Whitby,

But stewards’ assistance

Has placed you at distance,

And, thanks to arrangers,

You sit amongst strangers,

But too late for mending;

Twelve sticks come attending

A stick of a Chairman,

A little dark spare man,

With bald, shining nob,

‘Mid committee swell-mob;

In short, a short figure —

You thought the Duke bigger.

Then silence is wanted,

Non Nobis is chanted;

Then Chairman reads letter,

The Duke’s a regretter,

A promise to break it,

But chair, he can’t take it;

Is grieved to be from us,

But sends friend Sir Thomas,

And what is far better,

A cheque in the letter.

Hear! hear! and a clatter,

And there ends the matter.

Now soups come and fish in,

And C—— brings a dish in;

Then rages the battle,

Knives clatter, forks rattle,

Steel forks with black handles,

Under fifty wax candles;

Your soup-plate is soon full,

You sip just a spoonful.

Mr. Roe will be grateful

To send him a plateful;

And then comes the waiter,

“Must trouble for tater”;

And then you drink wine off

With somebody — nine off;

Bucellas made handy,

With Cape and bad Brandy,

Of East India Sherry,

That’s very hot — very!

You help Mr. Myrtle,

Then find your mock-turtle

Went off while you lingered,

With waiter light-fingered.

To make up for gammon,

You order some salmon,

Which comes to your fauces,

With boats without sauces.

You then make a cut on

Some lamb big as mutton;

And ask for some grass too,

But that you must pass too;

It served the first twenty,

But toast there is plenty.

Then, while lamb gets coldish,

A goose that is oldish —

At carving not clever —

You’re begged to dissever,

And when you thus treat it,

Find no one will eat it.

So, hungry as glutton,

You turn to your mutton,

But — no sight for laughter —

The soup it’s gone after.

Mr. Green then is very

Disposed to take Sherry;

And then Mr. Nappy

Will feel very happy;

And then Mr. Conner

Requests the same honor;

Mr. Clark, when at leisure,

Will really feel pleasure;

Then waiter leans over

To take off a cover

From fowls, which all beg of,

A wing or a leg of;

And while they all peck bone,

You take to a neck-bone,

But even your hunger

Declares for a younger.

A fresh plate you call for,

But vainly you bawl for;

Now taste disapproves it,

No waiter removes it.

Still hope, newly budding,

Relies on a pudding;

But critics each minute

Set fancy agin it —

“That’s queer Vermicelli.”

“I say, Vizetelly,

There’s glue in that jelly.”

“Tarts bad altogether;

That crust’s made of leather.”

“Some custard, friend Vesey?”

“No — batter made easy.”

“Some cheese, Mr. Foster?”

“— Don’t like single Glo’ster.”

Meanwhile, to top table,

Like fox in the fable,

You see silver dishes,

With those little fishes,

The whitebait delicious,

Borne past you officious;

And hear rather plainish

A sound that’s champagnish,

And glimpse certain bottles

Made long in the throttles;

And sniff — very pleasant!

Grouse, partridge, and pheasant.

And see mounds of ices

For patrons and vices,

Pine-apple, and bunches

Of grapes for sweet munches,

And fruits of all virtue

That really desert you;

You’ve nuts, but not crack ones,

Half empty and black ones;

With oranges, sallow —

They can’t be called yellow —

Some pippins well-wrinkled,

And plums almond-sprinkled;

Some rout cakes, and so on,

Then with business to go on:

Long speeches are stutter’d,

And toasts are well butter’d,

While dames in the gallery,

All dressed in fallallery,

Look on at the mummery,

And listen to flummery.

Hip, hip! and huzzaing,

And singing and saying,

Glees, catches, orations,

And lists of donations,

Hush! a song, Mr. Tinney —

“Mr. Benbow, one guinea;

Mr. Frederick Manual,

One guinea — and annual.”

Song — Jocky and Jenny,

“Mr. Markham, one guinea.”

“Have you all filled your glasses?”

Here’s a health to good lasses.

The subscription still skinny —

“Mr. Franklin — one guinea.”

Franklin looks like a ninny;

“Mr, Boreham, one guinea —

Mr. Blogg, Mr. Finney,

Mr. Tempest — one guinea,

Mr. Merrington — twenty,”

Rough music, in plenty.

Away toddles Chairman,

The little dark spare man,

Not sorry at ending,

With white sticks attending,

And some vain Tomnoddy

Votes in his own body

To fill the void seat up,

And get on his feet up,

To say, with voice squeaking,

“Unaccustomed to speaking.”

Which sends you off seeking

Your hat, number thirty —

No coach — very dirty.

So hungry and fever’d

Wet-footed, spoilt-beaver’d,

Eyes aching in socket,

Ten pounds out of pocket,

To Brook Street the Upper

You haste home to supper.

Sally Simpkin’s Lament;

Or, John Jones’s Kit-cat-astrophe.

“He left his body to the sea,

And made a shark his legatee.”

BRYAN AND PERENNE.

“Oh! what is that comes gliding in,

And quite in middling haste?

It is the picture of my Jones,

And painted to the waist.

“It is not painted to the life,

For where’s the trowsers blue?

Oh Jones, my dear! — Oh dear! my Jones,

What is become of you?”

“Oh! Sally dear, it is too true —

The half that you remark

Is come to say my other half

Is bit off by a shark!

“Oh! Sally, sharks do things by halves,

Yet most completely do!

A bite in one place soems enough,

But I’ve been bit in two.

“You know I once was all your own,

But now a shark must share!

But let that pass — for now, to you

I’m neither here nor there.”

“Alas! death has a strange divorce

Effected in the sea,

It has divided me from you,

And even me from me!

“Don’t fear my ghost will walk o’ nights

To haunt, as people say;

My ghost can’t walk, for, oh! my legs

Are many leagues away!

“Lord! think when I am swimming round,

And looking where the boat is,

A shark just snaps away a half,

Without a ’quarter’s notice.’

“One half is here, the other half

Is near Columbia placed;

Oh! Sally, I have got the whole

Atlantic for my waist.

“But now, adieu — a long adieu!

I’ve solved death’s awful riddle,

And would say more, but I am doomed

To break off in the middle!”

Ode to Sir Andrew Agnew, Bart.

“At certain seasons he makes a prodigious clattering with his bill.”— SELBY.

“The bill is rather long, flat, and tinged with green.”— BEWICK.

O Andrew Fairservice — but I beg pardon,

You never labor’d in Di Vernon’s garden,

On curly kale and cabbages intent —

Andrew Churchservice was the thing I meant —

You are a Christian — I would be the same,

Although we differ, and I’ll tell you why,

Not meaning to make game,

I do not like my Church so very High!

When people talk, as talk they will,

About your bill,

They say, among their other jibes and small jeers,

That, if you had your way,

You’d make the seventh day

As overbearing as the Dey of Algiers.

Talk of converting Blacks —

By your attacks,

You make a thing so horrible of one day,

Each nigger, they will bet a something tidy,

Would rather be a heathenish Man Friday,

Than your Man Sunday!

So poor men speak,

Who, once a week,

P’rhaps, after weaving artificial flowers,

Can snatch a glance of Nature’s kinder bowers,

And revel in a bloom

That is not of the loom,

Making the earth, the streams, the skies, the trees,

A Chapel of Ease.

Whereas, as you would plan it,

Wall’d in with hard Scotch granite,

People all day should look to their behaviors; —

But though there be, as Shakspeare owns,

“Sermons in stones,”

Zounds! Would you have us work at them like paviors?

Spontaneous is pure devotion’s fire;

And in a green wood many a soul has built

A new Church, with a fir-tree for its spire,

Where Sin has prayed for peace, and wept for guilt,

Better than if an architect the plan drew;

We know of old how medicines were back’d,

But true Religion needs not to be quack’d

By an Un-merry Andrew!

Suppose a poor town-weary sallow elf

At Primrose-hill would renovate himself,

Or drink (and no great harm)

Milk genuine at Chalk Farm —

The innocent intention who would balk,

And drive him back into St. Bennet Fink?

For my part, for my life, I cannot think

A walk on Sunday is “the Devil’s Walk.”

But there’s a sect of Deists, and their creed

Is D—— ing other people to be d —— d —

Yeas, all that are not of their saintly level,

They make a pious point

To send, with an “aroint,”

Down to that great Fillhellenist, the Devil.

To such, a ramble by the River Lea

Is really treading on the “Banks of D——.”

Go down to Margate, wisest of law-makers,

And say unto the sea, as Canute did,

(Of course the sea will do as it is bid,)

“This is the Sabbath — but there be no Breakers!”

Seek London’s Bishop, on some Sunday morn,

And try him with your tenets to inoculate —

Abuse his fine souchong, and say in scorn,

“This is not Churchman’s Chocolate!”

Or, seek Dissenters at their mid-day meal,

And read them from your Sabbath Bill some passages,

And while they eat their mutton, beef, and veal,

Shout out with holy zeal —

“These are not Chappet’s sassages!”

Suppose your Act should act up to your will,

Yet how will it appear to Mrs. Grundy,

To hear you saying of this pious bill,

“It works well — on a Sunday!”

To knock down apple-stalls is now too late,

Except to starve some poor old harmless madam; —

You might have done some good, and chang’d our fate,

Could you have upset that, which ruined Adam!

’Tis useless to prescribe salt-cod and eggs,

Or lay post-horses under legal fetters,

While Tattersall’s on Sunday stirs its Legs,

Folks look for good examples from their Betters!

Consider — Acts of Parliament may bind

A man to go where Irvings are discoursing —

But as for forcing “proper frames of mind,”

Minds are not framed, like melons, for such forcing!

Remember, as a Scottish legislator,

The Scotch Kirk always has a Moderator;

Meaning one need not ever be sojourning

In a long Sermon Lane without a turning.

Such grave old maids as Portia and Zenobia

May like discourses with a skein of threads,

And love a lecture for its many heads,

But as for me, I have the Hydra-phobia.

Religion one should never overdo:

Right know I am no minister you be,

For you would say your service, sir, to me,

Till I should say, “My service, sir, to you.”

Six days made all that is, you know, and then

Came that of rest — by holy ordination,

As if to hint unto the sons of men,

After creation should come re-creation.

Read right this text, and do not further search

To make a Sunday Workhouse of the Church.

A Scotch baronet, and the once well-known promoter of Sabbatarian legislation. Sir Andrew identified himself in the House of Commons with the efforts of an English Association, the “Lord’s Day Society,” and introduced a Bill to prohibit all open labour on Sunday, excepting “works of necessity and mercy,”— a measure bound, under any scheme of working, to inflict the direst hardship and injustice. After three defeats, the Bill was actually carried in 1837, but was afterwards allowed to drop.

The Lost Heir.

“Oh where, and oh where

Is my bonny laddie gone?”

Old Song.

One day, as I was going by

That part of Holborn christened High,

I heard a loud and sodden cry,

That chill’d my very blood;

And lo! from out a dirty alley,

Where pigs and Irish wont to rally,

I saw a crazy woman sally,

Bedaub’d with grease and mud.

She turn’d her East, she turn’d her West,

Staring like Pythoness possest,

With streaming hair and heaving breast,

As one stark mad with grief.

This way and that she wildly ran,

Jostling with woman and with man —

Her right hand held a frying pan,

The left a lump of beef.

At last her frenzy seemed to reach

A point just capable of speech,

And with a tone almost a screech,

As wild as ocean bird’s,

Or female Banter mov’d to preach,

She gave her “sorrow-words.”

“O Lord! O dear, my heart will break, I shall

go stick stark staring wild!

Has ever a one seen anything about the streets

like a crying lost-looking child?

Lawk help me, I don’t know where to look, or to

run, if I only knew which way —

A Child as is lost about London Streets, and especially

Seven Dials, is a needle in a bottle of hay.

I am all in a quiver — get out of my sight, do, you

wretch, you little Kitty M’Nab!

You promised to have half an eye to him, you

know you did, you dirty deceitful young drab.

The last time as ever I see him, poor thing;

was with my own blessed Motherly eyes,

Sitting as good as gold in the gutter,

a-playing at making little dirt pies.

I wonder he left the court where he was better off

than all the other young boys,

With two bricks, an old shoe, nine oyster-shells,

and a dead kitten by way of toys.

When his father comes home, and he always comes home

as sure as ever the clock strikes one,

He’ll be rampant, he will, at his child being lost;

and the beef and the inguns not done!

La bless you, good folks, mind your own consarns,

and don’t be making a mob in the street;

O Sergeant M’Farlane! you have not come across

my poor little boy, have you, in your beat?

Do, good people, move on! don’t stand staring at me

like a parcel of stupid stuck pigs;

Saints forbid! but he’s p’r’aps been inviggled

away up a court for the sake of his clothes

He’d a very good jacket, for certain,

for I bought it myself for a shilling one day in Rag Fair;

And his trowsers considering not very much patch’d,

and red plush, they was once his Father’

His shirt, it’s very lucky I’d got washing in the tub,

or that might have gone with the rest

But he’d got on a very good pinafore

with only two slits and a burn on the breast.

He’d a goodish sort of hat, If the crown was sew’d in,

and not quite so much jagg’d at the brim,

With one shoe on, and the other shoe is a boot,

and not a fit, and, you’ll know by that if it’s him.

Except being so well dress’d, my mind would misgive,

some old beggar woman in want of an orphan,

Had borrow’d the child to go a begging with,

but I’d rather see him laid out in his coffin!

Do, good people, move on, such a rabble of boys!

I’ll break every bone of ’em I come near,

Go home — you’re spilling the porter — go home —

Tommy Jones, go along home with your beer.

This day is the sorrowfullest day of my life,

ever since my name was Betty Morgan,

Them vile Savoyards! they lost him once before

all along of following a Monkey and an Organ:

O my Billy — my head will turn right round — if

he’s got kiddynapp’d with them Italians,

They’ll make him a plaster parish image boy,

they will, the outlandish tatterdemallions.

Billy — where are you, Billy? — I’m as hoarse as a crow,

with screaming for ye, you young sorrow!

And shan’t have half a voice, no more I shan’t,

for crying fresh herrings to-morrow.

O Billy, you’re bursting my heart in two, and my

life won’t be of no more vally,

If I’m to see other folk’s darlins, and none of

mine, playing like angels in our alley,

And what shall I do but cry out my eyes, when I

looks at the old three-legged chair,

As Billy used to make coaches and horses of, and

there ain’t no Billy there!

I would run all the wide world over to find him,

if I only know’d where to run,

Little Murphy, now I remember, was once lost

for a month through stealing a penny bun —

The Lord forbid of any child of mine!

I think it would kill me raily,

To find my Bill holdin up his little

innocent hand at the Old Bailey.

For though I say it as oughtn’t, yet I will say,

you may search for miles and mileses

And not find one better brought up,

and more pretty behaved, from one end to t’other

of St. Giles’s.

And if I called him a beauty, it’s no lie, but only as a

Mother ought to speak;

You never set eyes on a more handsomer face,

only it hasn’t been washed for a week;

As for hair, tho’ it’s red, it’s the most nicest hair

when I’ve time to just show it the comb;

I’ll owe ’em five pounds, and a blessing besides,

as will only bring him safe and sound home.

He’s blue eyes, and not to be call’d a squint,

though a little cast he’s certainly got;

And his nose is still a good un, tho’ the bridge is

broke, by his falling on a pewter pint pot;

He’s got the most elegant wide mouth in the

world, and very large teeth for his age;

And quite as fit as Mrs. Murdockson’s child to

play Cupid on the Drury Lane Stage.

And then he has got such dear winning ways —

but O, I never never shall see him no more!

O dear! to think of losing him just after nussing

him back from death’s door!

Only the very last month when the windfalls,

hang ’em, was at twenty a penny!

And the threepence he’d got by grottoing was

spent in plums, and sixty for a child is too many.

And the Cholera man came and whitewash’d us

all and, drat him, made a seize of our hog —

It’s no use to send the Crier to cry him about,

he’s such a blunderin drunken old dog;

The last time he was fetched to find a lost child,

he was guzzling with his bell at the Crown,

And went and cried a boy instead of a girl, for a

distracted Mother and Father about Town.

Billy — where are you, Billy, I say? come, Billy,

come home, to your best of Mothers!

I’m scared when I think of them Cabroleys, they

drive so, they’d run over their own Sisters and Brothers.

Or may be he’s stole by some chimbly sweeping

wretch, to stick fast in narrow flues and what not,

And be poked up behind with a picked pointed

pole, when the soot has ketch’d, and the chimbly’s red hot.

Oh I’d give the whole wide world, if the world

was mine, to clap my two longin eyes on his face,

For he’s my darlin of darlins, and if he don’t soon

come back, you’ll see me drop stone dead on the place.

I only wish I’d got him safe in these two Motherly

arms, and wouldn’t I hug him and kiss him!

Lauk! I never knew what a precious he was —

but a child don’t not feel like a child till you miss him.

Why, there he is! Punch and Judy hunting, the

young wretch, it’s that Billy as sartin as sin!

But let me get him home, with a good grip of his hair,

and I’m blest if he shall have a whole bone in his skin!

The Fox and the Hen.

A Fable.

Speaking within compass, as to fabulousness I prefer

Southcote to Northcote.

PIGROGROMITUS.

One day, or night, no matter where or when,

Sly Reynard, like a foot-pad, laid his pad

Right on the body of a speckled Hen,

Determined upon taking all she had;

And like a very bibber at his bottle,

Began to draw the claret from her throttle;

Of course it put her in a pretty pucker,

And with a scream as high

As she could cry,

She call’d for help — she had enough of sucker.

Dame Partlet’s scream

Waked, luckily, the house-dog from his dream,

And, with a savage growl

In answer to the fowl,

He bounded forth against the prowling sinner,

And, uninvited, came to the Fox Dinner.

Sly Reynard, heedful of the coming doom,

Thought, self-deceived,

He should not be perceived,

Hiding his brush within a neighboring broom!

But quite unconscious of a Poacher’s snare,

And caught in copper noose,

And looking like a goose,

Found that his fate had “hung upon a hare“;

His tricks and turns were rendered of no use to him,

And worst of all he saw old surly Tray

Coming to play

Tray-Deuce with him.

Tray, an old Mastiff bred at Dunstable,

Under his Master, a most special constable,

Instead of killing Reynard in a fury,

Seized him for legal trial by a Jury;

But Juries —Æsop was a sheriff then —

Consisted of twelve Brutes and not of Men.

But first the Elephant sat on the body —

I mean the Hen — and proved that she was dead,

To the veriest fool’s head

Of the Booby and the Noddy.

Accordingly, the Stork brought in a bill

Quite true enough to kill,

And then the Owl was call’d — for, mark,

The Owl can witness in the dark.

To make the evidence more plain,

The Lynx connected all the chain.

In short there was no quirk or quibble

At which a legal Rat could nibble;

The Culprit was as far beyond hope’s bounds.

As if the Jury had been packed— of hounds.

Reynard, however, at the utmost nick,

Is seldom quite devoid of shift and trick;

Accordingly our cunning Fox,

Through certain influence, obscurely channel’d

A friendly Camel got into the box,

When ‘gainst his life the Jury was impanel’d.

Now, in the Silly Isles such is the law,

If Jurors should withdraw,

They are to have no eating and no drinking,

Till all are starved into one way of thinking.

Thus Reynard’s Jurors, who could not agree,

Were lock’d up strictly, without bit or mummock,

Till every Beast that only had one stomach,

Bent to the Camel, who was blest with three.

To do them justice, they debated

From four till ten, while dinner waited,

When thirst and hunger got the upper,

And each inclin’d to mercy, and hot supper:

“Not Guilty” was the word, and Master Fox

Was freed to murder other hens and cocks.

Moral.

What moral greets us by this tale’s assistance

But that the Solon is a sorry Solon,

Who makes the full stop of a Man’s existence

Depend upon a Colon?

The Poacher.

A Serious Ballad.

But a bold pheasantry, their country’s pride

When once destroyed can never be supplied.

GOLDSMITH.

Bill Blossom was a nice young man,

And drove the Bury coach;

But bad companions were his bane,

And egg’d him on to poach.

They taught him how to net the birds,

And how to noose the hare;

And with a wiry terrier,

He often set a snare.

Each “shiny night” the moon was bright,

To park, preserve, and wood

He went, and kept the game alive,

By killing all he could.

Land-owners, who had rabbits, swore

That he had this demerit —

Give him an inch of warren, he

Would take a yard of ferret.

At partridges he was not nice;

And many, large and small,

Without Hall’s powder, without lead,

Were sent to Leaden Hall.

He did not fear to take a deer

From forest, park, or lawn;

And without courting lord or duke,

Used frequently to fawn.

Folks who had hares discovered snares —

His course they could not stop:

No barber he, and yet he made

Their hares a perfect crop.

To pheasant he was such a foe,

He tried the keepers’ nerves;

They swore he never seem’d to have

Jam satis of preserves.

The Shooter went to beat, and found

No sporting worth a pin,

Unless he tried the covers made

Of silver, plate, or tin.

In Kent the game was little worth,

In Surrey not a button;

The Speaker said he often tried

The Manors about Button.

No county from his tricks was safe;

In each he tried his lucks,

And when the keepers were in Beds,

He often was at Bucks.

And when he went to Bucks, alas!

They always came to Herts;

And even Oxon used to wish

That he had his deserts.

But going to his usual Hants,

Old Cheshire laid his plots:

He got entrapp’d by legal Berks,

And lost his life in Notts.

A Waterloo Ballad.

To Waterloo, with sad ado,

And many a sigh and groan,

Amongst the dead, came Patty Head,

To look for Peter Stone.

“O prithee tell, good sentinel,

If I shall find him here?

I’m come to weep upon his corse,

My Ninety-Second dear!

“Into our town a sergeant came,

With ribands all so fine,

A-flaunting in his cap — alas!

His bow enlisted mine!

“They taught him how to turn his toes,

And stand as stiff as starch;

I thought that it was love and May,

But it was love and March!

“A sorry March indeed to leave

The friends he might have kep’ —

No March of Intellect it was,

But quite a foolish step.

“O prithee tell, good sentinel,

If hereabout he lies?

I want a corpse with reddish hair,

And very sweet blue eyes.”

Her sorrow on the sentinel

Appear’d to deeply strike:—

“Walk in,” he said, “among the dead,

And pick out which you like.”

And soon she picked out Peter Stone,

Half turned into a corse;

A cannon was his bolster, and

His mattrass was a horse.

“O Peter Stone, O Peter Stone,

Lord, here has been a skrimmage!

What have they done to your poor breast

That used to hold my image?”

“O Patty Head, O Patty Head,

You’re come to my last kissing;

Before I’m set in the Gazette

As wounded, dead, and missing!

“Alas! a splinter of a shell

Right in my stomach sticks;

French mortars don’t agree so well

With stomachs as French bricks.

“This very night a merry dance

At Brussels was to be; —

Instead of opening a ball,

A ball has open’d me.

“Its billet every bullet has,

And well it does fulfil it; —

I wish mine hadn’t come so straight.

But been a ‘crooked billet.’

“And then there came a cuirassier

And cut me on the chest; —

He had no pity in his heart,

For he had steel’d his breast.

“Next thing a lancer, with his lance,

Began to thrust away;

I call’d for quarter, but, alas!

It was not Quarter-day.

“He ran his spear right through my arm,

Just here above the joint; —

O Patty dear, it was no joke,

Although it had a point.

“With loss of blood I fainted off,

As dead as women do —

But soon by charging over me,

The Coldstream brought me to.

“With kicks and cuts, and balls and blows,

I throb and ache all over;

I’m quite convinc’d the field of Mars

Is not a field of clover!

“O why did I a soldier turn

For any royal Guelph?

I might have been a Butcher, and

In business for myself!

“O why did I the bounty take?

(And here he gasp’d for breath)

My shillingsworth of ‘list is nail’d

Upon the door of death!

“Without a coffin I shall lie

And sleep my sleep eternal:

Not ev’n a shell— my only chance

Of being made a Kernel!

“O Patty dear, our wedding bells

Will never ring at Chester!

Here I must lie in Honor’s bed,

That isn’t worth a tester!

“Farewell, my regimental mates,

With whom I used to dress!

My corps is changed, and I am now

In quite another mess.

“Farewell, my Patty dear, I have

No dying consolations,

Except, when I am dead, you’ll go

And see th’ Illuminations.”

A Lay of Real Life

“Some are born with a wooden spoon in their mouths, and some with a golden ladle.” GOLDSMITH.

“Some are born with tin rings in their noses, and with silver ones.” SILVERSMITH.

Who ruined me ere I was born,

Sold every acre, grass or corn,

And left the next heir all forlorn?

My Grandfather.

Who said my mother was no nurse.

And physicked me and made me worse,

Till infancy became a curse?

My Grandmother.

Who left me in my seventh year,

A comfort to my mother dear,

And Mr. Pope, the overseer?

My Father.

Who let me starve, to buy her gin,

Till all my bones came through my skin,

Then called me “ugly little sin?”

My Mother.

Who said my mother was a Turk,

And took me home — and made me work,

But managed half my meals to shirk?

My Aunt.

Who “of all earthly things” would boast,

“He hated others’ brats the most,”

And therefore made me feel my post?

My Uncle.

Who got in scrapes, an endless score,

And always laid them at my door,

Till many a bitter bang I bore?

My Cousin.

Who took me home when mother died,

Again with father to reside,

Black shoes, clean knives, run far and wide?

My Stepmother.

Who marred my stealthy urchin joys

And when I played cried “What a noise?”—

Girls always hector over boys —

My Sister.

Who used to share in what was mine,

Or took it all, did he incline,

‘Cause I was eight, and he was nine?

My Brother.

Who stroked my head, and said “Good lad,”

And gave me sixpence, “all he had”;

But at the stall the coin was bad?

My Godfather.

Who, gratis, shared, my social glass,

But when misfortune came to pass,

Referr’d me to the pump? Alas!

My Friend.

Through all this weary world, in brief,

Who ever sympathized with grief,

Or shared my joy — my sole relief?

Myself.

The Sweeps Complaint.

“I like to meet a sweep — such as come forth with the dawn, or somewhat earlier, with their little professional notes, sounding like the peep, peep, of a young sparrow.”

ESSAYS OF ELIA.

——“A voice cried Sweep no more!

Macbeth hath murdered sweep.”

SHAKSPEARE.

One morning, ere my usual time

I rose, about the seventh chime,

When little stunted boys that climb

Still linger in the street;

And as I walked, I saw indeed

A sample of the sooty breed,

Though he was rather run to seed,

In height above five feet.

A mongrel tint he seemed to take,

Poetic simile to make,

DAY through his MARTIN ‘gan to break,

White overcoming jet.

From side to side he crossed oblique,

Like Frenchman who has friends to seek,

And yet no English word can speak,

He walked upon the fret:

And while he sought the dingy job

His lab’ring breast appeared to throb,

And half a hiccup half a sob

Betray’d internal woe.

To cry amain he had by rote

He yearn’d, but law forbade the note,

Like Chanticleer with roupy throat,

He gaped — but not a crow!

I watched him and the glimpse I snatched

Disclosed his sorry eyelids patch’d

With red, as if the soot had catch’d

That hung about the lid;

And soon I saw the tear-drop stray,

He did not care to brush away;

Thought I, the cause he will betray —

And thus at last he did.

Well, here’s a pretty go! here’s a Gagging Act, if ever there was a gagging!

But I’m bound the members as silenced us, in doing it had plenty of magging.

They had better send us all off, they had, to the School for the Deaf and Dumb,

To unlarn us our mother tongues, and to make signs and be regularly mum.

But they can’t undo natur — as sure as ever the morning begins to peep,

Directly I open my eyes, I can’t help calling out Sweep

As natural as the sparrows among the chimbley-pots, that say Cheep!

For my own part I find my suppressed voice very uneasy,

And comparable to nothing but having your tissue stopt when you are sneezy.

Well, it’s all up with us! tho’ I suppose we mustn’t cry all up.

Here’s a precious merry Christmas, I’m blest if I can earn either bit or sup!

If crying Sweep, of mornings, is going beyond quietness’s border,

Them as pretends to be fond of silence oughtn’t to cry hear, hear, and order, order.

I wonder Mr. Sutton, as we’ve sut-on too, don’t sympathize with us

As a Speaker what don’t speak, and that’s exactly our own cus.

God help us if we don’t not cry, how are we to pursue our callings?

I’m sure we’re not half so bad as other businesses with their bawlings.

For instance, the general postmen, that at six o’clock go about ringing,

And wake up all the babbies that their mothers have just got to sleep with singing.

Greens oughtn’t to be cried no more than blacks — to do the unpartial job,

If they bring in a Sooty Bill, they ought to have brought in a Dusty Bob.

Is a dustman’s voice more sweet than ourn, when he comes a seeking arter the cinders,

Instead of a little boy like a blackbird in spring, singing merrily under your windows?

There’s the omnibus cads as plies in Cheapside, and keeps calling out Bank and City;

Let his Worship, the Mayor, decide if our call of Sweep is not just as pretty.

I can’t see why the Jews should be let go about crying Old Close thro’ their hooky noses,

And Christian laws should be ten times more hard than the old stone laws of Moses.

Why isn’t the mouths of the muffin-men compell’d to be equally shut?

Why, because Parliament members eat muffins, but they never eat no sut.

Next year there won’t be any May-day at all, we shan’t have no heart to dance,

And Jack in the Green will go in black like mourning for our mischance;

If we live as long as May, that’s to say, through the hard winter and pinching weather,

For I don’t see how we’re to earn enough to keep body and soul together.

I only wish Mr. Wilberforce, or some of them that pities the niggers,

Would take a peep down in our cellars, and look at our miserable starving figures,

A-sitting idle on our empty sacks, and all ready to eat each other,

And a brood of little ones crying for bread to a heartbreaking Father and Mother.

They havn’t a rag of clothes to mend, if their mothers had thread and needles,

But crawl naked about the cellars, poor things, like a swarm of common black beadles.

If they’d only inquired before passing the Act, and taken a few such peeps,

I don’t think that any real gentleman would have set his face against sweeps.

Climbing’s an ancient respectable art, and if History’s of any vally,

Was recommended by Queen Elizabeth to the great Sir Walter Raleigh,

When he wrote on a pane of glass how I’d climb, if the way I only knew,

And she writ beneath, if your heart’s afeard, don’t venture up the flue.

As for me I was always loyal, and respected all powers that are higher,

But how can I now say God save the King, if I ain’t to be a Cryer?

There’s London milk, that’s one of the cries, even on Sunday the law allows,

But ought black sweeps, that are human beasts, to be worser off than black cows?

Do we go calling about, when it’s church time, like the noisy Billingsgate vermin,

And disturb the parson with “All alive O!” in the middle of a funeral sermon?

But the fish won’t keep, not the mackerel won’t, is the cry of the Parliament elves,

Everything, except the sweeps I think, is to be allowed to keep themselves!

Lord help us! what’s to become of us if we mustn’t cry no more?

We shan’t do for black mutes to go a standing at a death’s door.

And we shan’t do to emigrate, no not even to the Hottentot nations,

For as time wears on, our black will wear off, and then think of our situations!

And we should not do, in lieu of black-a-moor footmen, to serve ladies of quality nimbly,

For when we were drest in our sky-blue and silver, and large frills, all clean and neat, and white silk stockings, if they pleased to desire us to sweep the hearth, we couldn’t resist the chimbley.

The Desert-born

“Fly to the desert, fly with me.”— LADY HESTER STANHOPE.

’Twas in the wilds of Lebanon, amongst its barren hills —

To think upon it, even now, my very blood it chills! —

My sketch-book spread before me, and my pencil in my hand,

I gazed upon the mountain range, the red tumultuous sand,

The plumy palms, the sombre firs, the cedars tall and proud —

When lo! a shadow pass’d across the paper like a cloud,

And looking up I saw a form, apt figure for the scene,

Methought I stood in presence of some oriental queen!

The turban on her head was white as any driven snow;

A purple bandalette past o’er the lofty brow below,

And thence upon her shoulders fell, by either jewell’d ear;

In yellow folds voluminous she wore her long cachemere;

Whilst underneath, with ample sleeves, a turkish robe of silk

Enveloped her in drapery the color of new milk;

Yet oft it floated wide in front, disclosing underneath

A gorgeous Persian tunic, rich with many a broider’d wreath,

Compelled by clasps of costly pearls around her neck to meet —

And yellow as the amber were the buskins on her feet!

Of course I bowed my lowest bow — of all the things on earth,

The reverence due to loveliness, to rank, or ancient birth,

To pow’r, to wealth, to genius, or to anything uncommon,

A man should bend the lowest in a Desert to a Woman!

Yet some strange influence stronger still, though vague and undefin’d,

Compell’d me, and with magic might subdued my soul and mind;

There was a something in her air that drew the spirit nigh,

Beyond the common witchery that dwells in woman’s eye!

With reverence deep, like any slave of that peculiar land,

I bowed my forehead to the earth, and kissed the arid sand;

And then I touched her garment’s hem, devoutly as a Dervise,

Predestinated (so I felt) forever to her service.

Nor was I wrong in auguring thus my fortune from her face,

She knew me, seemingly, as well as any of her race;

“Welcome!” she cried, as I uprose submissive to my feet;

“It was ordained that you and I should in this desert meet!

Aye, ages since, before thy soul had burst its prison bars,

This interview was promis’d in the language of the stars!”

Then clapping, as the Easterns wont, her all-commanding hands,

A score of mounted Arabs came fast spurring o’er the sands,

Nor rein’d they up their foaming steeds till in my very face

They blew the breath impetuous, and panting from the race.

“Fear nought,” exclaimed the radiant one, as I sprang off aloof,

“Thy precious frame need never fear a blow from horse’s hoof!

Thy natal star was fortunate as any orb of birth,

And fate hath held in store for thee the rarest gift of earth.”

Then turning to the dusky men, that humbly waited near,

She cried, “Go bring the BEAUTIFUL— for lo! the MAN is here!”

Off went th’ obsequious train as swift as Arab hoofs could flee,

But Fancy fond outraced them all, with bridle loose and free,

And brought me back, for love’s attack, some fair Circassian bride,

Or Georgian girl, the Harem’s boast, and fit for sultan’s side;

Methought I lifted up her veil, and saw dark eyes beneath,

Mild as gazelle’s, a snowy brow, ripe lips, and pearly teeth,

A swanlike neck, a shoulder round, full bosom, and a waist

Not too compact, and rounded limbs, to oriental taste.

Methought — but here, alas! alas! the airy dream to blight,

Behold the Arabs leading up a mare of milky white!

To tell the truth, without reserve, evasion, or remorse,

The last of creatures in my love or liking is a horse:

Whether in early youth some kick untimely laid me flat,

Whether from born antipathy, as some dislike a cat,

I never yet could bear the kind, from Meux’s giant steeds

Down to those little bearish cubs of Shetland’s shaggy breeds; —

As for a warhorse, he that can bestride one is a hero,

Merely to look at such a sight my courage sinks to zero.

With lightning eyes, and thunder mane, and hurricanes of legs,

Tempestuous tail — to picture him description vainly begs!

His fiery nostrils send forth clouds of smoke instead of breath —

Nay, was it not a Horse that bore the grisly Shape of Death?

Judge then how cold an ague-fit of agony was mine

To see the mistress of my fate, imperious, make a sign

To which my own foreboding soul the cruel sense supplied:

“Mount, happy man, and run away with your Arabian bride!”

Grim was the smile, and tremulous the voice with which I spoke,

Like any one’s when jesting with a subject not a joke,

So men have trifled with the axe before the fatal stroke.

“Lady, if mine had been the luck in Yorkshire to be born,

Or any of its ridings, this would be a blessed morn;

But, hapless one! I cannot ride — there’s something in a horse

That I can always honor, but I never could endorse —

To speak still more commercially, in riding I am quite

Averse to running long, and apt to be paid off at sight:

In legal phrase, for every class to understand me still,

I never was in stirrups yet a tenant but at will;

Or, if you please, in artist terms, I never went a-straddle

On any horse without ‘a want of keeping’ in the saddle.

In short,” and here I blush’d, abash’d and held my head full low,

“I’m one of those whose infant ears have heard the chimes of Bow!”

The lady smiled, as houris smile, adown from Turkish skies,

And beams of cruel kindness shone within her hazel eyes;

“Stranger,” she said, “or rather say, my nearest, dearest friend,

There’s something in your eyes, your air, and that high instep’s bend,

That tells me you’re of Arab race — whatever spot of earth,

Cheapside, or Bow, or Stepney, had the honor of your birth,

The East it is your country! Like an infant changed to nurse

By fairies, you have undergone a nurtureship perverse;

But this — these desert sands — these palms, and cedars waving wild,

All, all, adopt thee as their own — an oriental child —

The cloud may hide the sun awhile — but soon or late, no doubt,

The spirit of your ancestry will burst and sparkle out!

I read the starry characters — and lo! ’tis written there,

Thou wert foredoom’d of sons of men to ride upon this Mare,

A Mare till now was never back’d by one of mortal mould,

Hark, how she neighs, as if for thee she knew that she was foal’d!”

And truly — I devoutly wish’d a blast of the simoom

Had stifled her! — the Mare herself appeared to mock my doom;

With many a bound she caper’d round and round me like a dance,

I feared indeed some wild caress would end the fearful prance,

And felt myself, and saw myself — the phantasy was horrid! —

Like old Redgauntlet, with a shoe imprinted on my forehead!

On bended knees, with bowing head, and hands uprais’d in pray’r,

I begg’d the turban’d Sultaness the issue to forbear;

I painted weeping orphan babes, around a widow’d wife,

And drew my death as vividly as others draw from life;

“Behold,” I said, “a simple man, for such high feats unfit,

Who never yet has learn’d to know the crupper from the bit,

Whereas the boldest horsemanship, and first equestrian skill,

Would well be task’d to bend so wild a creature to the will.”

Alas! alas! ’twas all in vain, to supplicate and kneel,

The quadruped could not have been more cold to my appeal!

“Fear nothing,” said the smiling Fate, “when human help is vain,

Spirits shall by thy stirrups fly, and fairies guide the rein;

Just glance at yonder animal, her perfect shape remark,

And in thy breast at once shall glow the oriental spark!

As for thy spouse and tender babes, no Arab roams the wild

But for a mare of such descent, would barter wife and child.”

“Nay then,” cried I—(heav’n shrive the lie!) “to tell the secret truth,

’Twas my unhappy fortune once to over-ride a youth!

A playful child — so full of life! — a little fair-haired boy,

His sister’s pet, his father’s hope, his mother’s darling joy!

Ah me! the frantic shriek she gave! I hear it ringing now!

That hour, upon the bloody spot, I made a holy vow;

A solemn compact, deeply sworn, to witness my remorse,

That never more these limbs of mine should mount on living horse!”

Good Heav’n! to see the angry glance that flashed upon me now!

A chill ran all my marrow through — the drops were on my brow!

I knew my doom, and stole a glance at that accursed Mare,

And there she stood, with nostrils wide, that snuff’d the sultry air.

How lion-like she lash’d her flanks with her abundant tail;

While on her neck the stormy mane kept tossing to the gale!

How fearfully she roll’d her eyes between the earth and sky,

As if in wild uncertainty to gallop or to fly!

While with her hoof she scoop’d the sand as if before she gave

My plunge into eternity she meant to dig my grave!

And I, that ne’er could calmly hear a horse’s ears at play —

Or hear without a yard of jump his shrill and sudden neigh —

Whose foot within a stable-door had never stood an inch —

Whose hand to pat a living steed would feel an awful flinch —

I that had never thrown a leg across a pony small,

To scour the pathless desert on the tallest of the tall!

For oh! it is no fable, but at ev’ry look I cast,

Her restless legs seem’d twice as long as when I saw them last!

In agony I shook — and yet, although congealed by fears,

My blood was boiling fast, to judge from noises in my ears;

I gasp’d as if in vacuo, and thrilling with despair,

Some secret Demon seem’d to pass his fingers through my hair.

I could not stir — I could not speak — I could not even see —

A sudden mist rose up between that awful Mare and me,

I tried to pray, but found no words — tho’ ready ripe to weep,

No tear would flow — o’er ev’ry sense a swoon began to creep —

When lo! to bring my horrid fate at once unto the brunt,

Two Arabs seized me from behind, two others in the front,

And ere a muscle could be strung to try the strife forlorn,

I found myself, Mazeppa-like, upon the Desert-Born!

Terrific was the neigh she gave, the moment that my weight

Was felt upon my back, as if exulting in her freight;

Whilst dolefully I heard a voice that set each nerve ajar —

“Off with the bridle — quick! — and leave his guidance to his star!”

“Allah! il Allah!” rose the shout — and starting with a bound,

The dreadful Creature cleared at once a dozen yards of ground;

And grasping at her mane with both my cold convulsive hands,

Away we flew — away! away! across the shifting sands!

My eyes were closed in utter dread of such a fearful race,

But yet by certain signs I knew we went no earthly pace,

For turn whichever way we might, the wind with equal force

Rush’d like a horrid hurricane still adverse to our course —

One moment close at hand I heard the roaring Syrian Sea,

The next is only murmur’d like the humming of a bee!

And when I dared at last to glance across the wild immense,

Oh ne’er shall I forget the whirl that met the dizzy sense!

What seem’d a little sprig of fern, ere lips could reckon twain,

A palm of forty cubits high, we passed it on the plain!

What tongue could tell — what pencil paint — what pen describe the ride?

Now off — now on — now up — now down — and flung from side to side!

I tried to speak, but had no voice, to soothe her with its tone —

My scanty breath was jolted out with many a sudden groan —

My joints were racked — my back was strained, so firmly I had clung —

My nostrils gush’d, and thrice my teeth had bitten through my tongue —

When lo! — farewell all hope of life! — she turn’d and faced the rocks,

None but a flying horse could clear those monstrous granite blocks!

So thought I — but I little knew the desert pride and fire,

Deriv’d from a most deer-like dam, and lion-hearted sire;

Little I guess’d the energy of muscle, blood, and bone,

Bound after bound, with eager springs, she clear’d each massive stone; —

Nine mortal leaps were pass’d before a huge gray rock at length

Stood planted there as if to dare her utmost pitch of strength —

My time was come! that granite heap my monument of death!

She paused, she snorted loud and long, and drew a fuller breath;

Nine strides and then a louder beat that warn’d me of her spring,

I felt her rising in the air like eagle on the wing —

But oh! the crash! — the hideous shock! — the million sparks around!

Her hindmost hoofs had struck the crest of that prodigious mound!

Wild shriek’d the headlong Desert-Born — or else ’twas demon’s mirth,

One second more, and Man and Mare roll’d breathless on the earth!

How long it was I cannot tell ere I revived to sense,

And then but to endure the pangs of agony intense;

For over me lay powerless, and still as any stone,

The Corse that erst had so much fire, strength, spirit, of its own.

My heart was still — my pulses stopp’d — midway ’twixt life and death,

With pain unspeakable I fetch’d the fragment of a breath,

Not vital air enough to frame one short and feeble sigh,

Yet even that I loath’d because it would not let me die.

Oh! slowly, slowly, slowly on, from starry night till morn,

Time flapp’d along, with leaden wings, across that waste forlorn!

I cursed the hour that brought me first within this world of strife —

A sore and heavy sin it is to scorn the gift of life —

But who hath felt a horse’s weight oppress his laboring breast?

Why, any who has had, like me, the NIGHT MARE on his chest.

For the purposes of his pun on “night-mare,” Hood adroitly utilizes the story of the famous Lady Hester Stanhope, whom Kinglake, in his Eothen, first made familiar to so many of us. He there speaks of the “quiet women in Somersetshire,” and their surprise when they learned that “the intrepid girl who used to break their vicious horses for them” was reigning over the wandering tribes of Western Asia!

Agricultural Distress.

A Pastoral Report.

One Sunday morning — service done —

‘Mongst tombstones shining in the sun,

A knot of bumpkins stood to chat

Of that and this, and this and that;

What people said of Polly Hatch —

Which side had won the-cricket match;

And who was cotch’d, and who was bowl’d; —

How barley, beans, and ‘taters sold —

What men could swallow at a meal —

When Bumpstead Youths would ring a peal —

And who was taken off to jail —

And where they brew’d the strongest ale —

At last this question they address,

“What’s Agricultural Distress?”

Hodge.

“For my peart, it’s a thought o’ mine,

It be the fancy farming line,

Like yonder gemman — him I mean,

As took the Willa nigh the Green —

And turn’d his cattle in the wheat;

And gave his porkers hay to eat;

And sent his footman up to town,

To ax the Lonnon gentry down,

To be so kind as make his hay,

Exactly on St. Swithin’s day; —

With consequences you may guess —

That’s Hagricultural Distress.”

Dickon.

“Last Monday morning, Master Blogg

Com’d for to stick our bacon-hog;

But th’ hog he cock’d a knowing eye,

As if he twigg’d the reason why,

And dodg’d and dodg’d ’un such a dance,

He didn’t give the noose a chance;

So Master Blogg at last lays off,

And shams a rattle at the trough,

When swish! in bolts our bacon-hog

Atwixt the legs o’ Master Blogg,

And flops him down in all the muck,

As hadn’t been swept up by luck —

Now that, accordin’ to my guess,

Be Hagricultural Distress.”

Giles.

“No, that arn’t it, I tell ‘ee flat;

I’ze bring a worser case nor that!”

“Last Friday week, I takes a start

To Reading, with our horse and cart;

Well, when I’ze set the ‘taters down,

I meets a crony at the Crown;

And what betwixt the ale and Tom,

It’s dark afore I starts for home;

So whipping hard, by long and late,

At last we reaches nigh the gate,

And, sure enough, there Master stand,

A lantern flaring in his hand —

‘Why, Giles,’ says he, ‘what’s that ’un thear?

Yond’ chestnut horse bean’t my bay mear!

He bean’t not worth a leg o’ Bess!’

There’s Hagricultural Distress!”

Hob.

“That’s nothin yet, to Tom’s mishap!

A-gooing through the yard, poor chap,

Only to fetch his milking-pails,

When up he shies like head or tails;

Nor would the Bull let Tom a-be,

Till he had toss’d the best o’ three; —

And there lies Tom with broken bones,

A surgeon’s job for Doctor Jones;

Well, Doctor Jones lays down the law,

‘There’s two crackt ribs, besides a jaw —

Eat well,’ says he, ‘stuff out your case,

For that will keep the ribs in place;’

But how was Tom, poor chap, to chaw,

Seeing as how he’d broke his jaw?

That’s summut to the pint — yes, yes,

That’s Hagricultural Distress!”

Simon.

“Well, turn and turn about is fair:

Tom’s bad enough, and so’s the mare;

But nothing to my load of hay —

You see, ’twas hard on quarter-day,

And cash was wanted for the rent;

So up to Lonnon I was sent,

To sell as prime a load of hay,

As ever dried on summer’s day.

“Well, standing in Whitechapel Road,

A chap comes up to buy my load,

And looks, and looks about the cart,

Pretending to be ‘cute and smart;

But no great judge, as people say,

‘Cause why? he never smelt the hay.

Thinks I, as he’s a simple chap,

He’ll give a simple price mayhap,

Such buyers comes but now and then,

So slap I axes nine pun’ ten.

‘That’s dear,’ says he, and pretty quick

He taps his leathers with his stick.

‘Suppose,’ says he, ‘we wet our clay,

Just while we bargin ‘bout the hay.

So in we goes, my chap and me;

He drinks to I, and I to he;

At last, says I, a little gay,

‘It’s time to talk about that hay,’

‘Nine pund,’ says he, ‘and I’m your man,

Live, and let live — for that’s my plan.’

‘That’s true,’ says I, ‘but still I say,

It’s nine pun’ ten for that ’ere hay,’

And so we chaffers for a bit,

At long and last the odds we split;

And off he sets to show the way,

Where up a yard I leaves the hay.

Then, from the pocket of his coat,

He pulls a book, and picks a note.

‘That’s Ten,’ says he —‘I hope to pay

Tens upon tens for loads of hay.’

‘With all my heart, and soon,’ says I,

And feeling for the change thereby;

But all my shillings com’d to five —

Says he, ‘No matter, man alive!

There’s something in your honest phiz

I’d trust, if twice the sum it is; —

You’ll pay next time you come to town.’

‘As sure,’ says I, ‘as corn is brown.’

‘All right,’ says he. — Thinks I ‘huzza!

He’s got no bargain of the hay!’

“Well, home I goes, with empty cart,

Whipping the horses pretty smart,

And whistling ev’ry yard o’ way,

To think how well I’d sold the hay —

And just cotch’d Master at his greens

And bacon, or it might be beans,

Which didn’t taste the worse surely,

To hear his hay had gone so high.

But lord! when I laid down the note,

It stuck the victuals in his throat,

And chok’d him till his face all grew

Like pickling-cabbage, red and blue;

With such big goggle eyes, Ods nails!

They seem’d a-coming out like snails!

‘A note,’ says he, half mad with passion,

‘Why, thou dom’d fool! thou’st took a flash ’un!’

Now, wasn’t that a pretty mess?

That’s Hagricultural Distress.”

Colin.

“Phoo! phoo! You’re nothing near the thing!

You only argy in a ring;

‘Cause why? You never cares to look,

Like me, in any larned book;

But schollards know the wrong and right

Of every thing in black and white.

“Well, Farming, that’s its common name,

And Agriculture be the same:

So put your Farming first, and next

Distress, and there you have your text.

But here the question comes to press,

What farming be, and what’s distress?

Why, farming is to plough and sow,

Weed, harrow, harvest, reap, and mow,

Thrash, winnow, sell — and buy and breed

The proper stock to fat and feed.

Distress is want, and pain, and grief,

And sickness — things as wants relief;

Thirst, hunger, age, and cold severe;

In short, ax any overseer —

Well, now, the logic for to chop,

Where’s the distress about a crop?”

“There’s no distress in keeping sheep,

I likes to see ’em frisk and leap;

There’s no distress in seeing swine

Grow up to pork and bacon fine;

There’s no distress in growing wheat

And grass for men or beasts to eat;

And making of lean cattle fat,

There’s no distress, of course, in that.

Then what remains? — But one thing more,

And that’s the Farming of the Poor!”

Hodge, Dickon, Giles, Hob, and Simon.

“Yea! — aye! — surely! — for sartin! — yes! —

That’s Hagricultural Distress!”

Domestic Poems.

“It’s hame, hame, hame.”— A. CUNNINGHAM.

“There’s no place like home.”— CLARI.

1. Hymeneal Retrospections.

O KATE! my dear Partner, through joy and through strife!

When I look back at Hymen’s dear day,

Not a lovelier bride ever chang’d to a wife,

Though you’re now so old, wizen’d, and gray!

Those eyes, then, were stars, shining rulers of fate!

But as liquid as stars in a pool;

Though now they’re so dim, they appear, my dear Kate,

Just like gooseberries boil’d for a fool!

That brow was like marble, so smooth and so fair;

Though it’s wrinkled so crookedly now,

As if time, when those furrows were made by the share,

Had been tipsy whilst driving his plough!

Your nose, it was such as the sculptors all chose,

When a Venus demanded their skill;

Though now it can hardly be reckon’d a nose,

But a sort of Poll-Parroty bill!

Your mouth, it was then quite a bait for the bees,

Such a nectar there hung on each lip;

Though now it has taken that lemon-like squeeze,

Not a blue-bottle comes for a sip!

Your chin, it was one of Love’s favorite haunts,

From its dimple he could not get loose;

Though now the neat hand of a barber it wants,

Or a singe, like the breast of a goose!

How rich were those locks, so abundant and full,

With their ringlets of auburn so deep!

Though now they look only like frizzles of wool,

By a bramble torn off from a sheep!

That neck, not a swan could excel it in grace,

While in whiteness it vied with your arms;

Though now a grave ‘kerchief you properly place,

To conceal that scrag-end of your charms!

Your figure was tall, then, and perfectly straight,

Though it now has two twists from upright —

But bless you! still bless you! my Partner! my Kate!

Though you be such a perfect old fright!

2.

The sun was slumbering in the West.

My daily labors past;

On Anna’s soft and gentle breast

My head reclined at last; —

The darkness clos’d around, so dear

To fond congenial souls,

And thus she murmur’d at my ear,

“My love, we’re out of coals!”

“That Mister Bond has call’d again,

Insisting on his rent;

And all the Todds are coming up

To see us, out of Kent; —

I quite forgot to tell you John

Has had a tipsy fall; —

I’m sure there’s something going on

With that vile Mary Hall! —”

“Miss Bell has bought the sweetest silk,

And I have bought the rest —

Of course, if we go out of town,

Southend will be the best. —

I really think the Jones’s house

Would be the thing for us; —

I think I told you Mrs. Pope

Had parted with her nus

“Cook, by the way, came up to-day,

To bid me suit myself —

And what d’ye think? the rats have gnawed

The victuals on the shelf. —

And, lord! there’s such a letter come,

Inviting you to fight!

Of course you don’t intend to go —

God bless you, dear, good night!”

3. A Parental Ode to My Son, Aged Three Years and Five Months.

Thou happy, happy elf!

(But stop — first let me kiss away that tear)—

Thou tiny image of myself!

(My love, he’s poking peas into his ear!)

Thou merry, laughing sprite!

With spirits feather-light,

Untouch’d by sorrow, and unsoil’d by sin —

(Good heav’ns! the child is swallowing a pin!)

Thou little tricksy Puck!

With antic toys so funnily bestuck,

Light as the singing bird that wings the air —

(The door! the door! he’ll tumble down the stair!)

Thou darling of thy sire!

(Why, Jane, he’ll set his pinafore a-fire!)

Thou imp of mirth and joy!

In Love’s dear chain so strong and bright a link,

Thou idol of thy parents —(Drat the boy!

There goes my ink!)

Thou cherub — but of earth;

Fit playfellow for Fays, by moonlight pale,

In harmless sport and mirth,

(That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail!)

Thou human humming-bee, extracting honey

From ev’ry blossom in the world that blows,

Singing in Youth’s Elysium ever sunny,

(Another tumble! — that’s his precious nose!)

Thy father’s pride and hope!

(He’ll break the mirror with that skipping-rope!)

With pure heart newly stamp’d from Nature’s mint —

(Where did he learn that squint?)

Thou young domestic dove!

(He’ll have that jug off, with another shove!)

Dear nurseling of the hymeneal nest!

(Are those torn clothes his best?)

Little epitome of man!

(He’ll climb upon the table, that’s his plan!)

Touch’d with the beauteous tints of dawning life —

(He’s got a knife!)

Thou enviable being!

No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,

Play on, play on,

My elfin John!

Toss the light ball — bestride the stick —

(I knew so many cakes would make him sick!)

With fancies, buoyant as the thistle-down,

Prompting the face grotesque, and antic brisk,

With many a lamb-like frisk,

(He’s got the scissors, snipping at your gown!)

Thou pretty opening rose!

(Go to your mother, child, and wipe your nose!)

Balmy and breathing music like the South,

(He really brings my heart into my mouth!)

Fresh as the morn, and brilliant as its star —

(I wish that window had an iron bar!)

Bold as the hawk, yet gentle as the dove —

(I’ll tell you what, my love,

I cannot write, unless he’s sent above!)

4. A Serenade.

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!”

Thus I heard a father cry,

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!”

The brat will never shut an eye;

Hither come, some power divine!

Close his lids, or open mine!

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

What the devil makes him cry?

Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Still he stares — I wonder why,

Why are not the sons of earth

Blind, like puppies, from the birth?”

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!”

Thus I heard the father cry;

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Mary, you must come and try! —

Hush, oh, hush, for mercy’s sake —

The more I sing, the more you wake!”

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Fie, you little creature, fie!

Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Is no poppy-syrup nigh?

Give him some, or give him all,

I am nodding to his fall!”

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Two such nights, and I shall die!

Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

He’ll be bruised, and so shall I — ”

“How can I from bedposts keep,

When I’m walking in my sleep?”

“Lullaby, oh, lullaby!

Sleep his very looks deny —

Lullaby, oh, lullaby;

Nature soon will stupefy —

My nerves relax — my eyes grow dim —

Who’s that fallen — me or him?”

The Green Man.

Tom Simpson was as nice a kind of man

As ever lived — at least at number Four,

In Austin Friars, in Mrs. Brown’s first floor,

At fifty pounds — or thereabouts — per ann.

The Lady reckon’d him her best of lodgers,

His rent so punctually paid each quarter —

He did not smoke like nasty foreign codgers —

Or play French horns like Mr. Rogers —

Or talk his flirting nonsense to her daughter. —

Not that the girl was light behaved or courtable —

Still on one failing tenderly to touch,

The Gentleman did like a drop too much,

(Tho’ there are many such)

And took more Port than was exactly portable.

In fact — to put the cap upon the nipple,

And try the charge — Tom certainly did tipple.

He thought the motto was but sorry stuff

On Cribb’s Prize Cup — Yes, wrong in ev’ry letter —

That “D——d be he who first cries Hold Enough!

The more cups hold, and if enough, the better.

And so to set example in the eyes

Of Fancy’s lads, and give a broadish hint to them,

All his cups were of such ample size

That he got into them.

Once in the company of merry mates,

In spite of Temperance’s if’s and buts,

So sure as Eating is set off with plates,

His Drinking always was bound up with cuts!

Howbeit, such Bacchanalian revels

Bring very sad catastrophes about;

Palsy, Dyspepsy, Dropsy, and Blue Devils,

Not to forget the Gout.

Sometimes the liver takes a spleenful whim

To grow to Strasburg’s regulation size,

As if for those hepatical goose pies —

Or out of depth the head begins to swim —

Poor Simpson! what a thing occurred to him!

’Twas Christmas — he had drunk the night before —

Like Baxter, who so “went beyond his last”—

One bottle more, and then one bottle more,

Till oh! the red-wine Ruby-con was pass’d!

And homeward, by the short small chimes of day,

With many a circumbendibus to spare,

For instance, twice round Finsbury Square,

To use a fitting phrase, he wound his way.

Then comes the rising, with repentance bitter,

And all the nerves —(and sparrows)— in a twitter,

Till settled by the sober Chinese cup:

The hands, o’er all, are members that make motions,

A sort of wavering, just like the ocean’s,

Which has its swell, too, when it’s getting up —

An awkward circumstance enough for elves

Who shave themselves;

And Simpson just was ready to go thro’ it,

When lo! the first short glimpse within the glass —

He jump’d — and who alive would fail to do it? —

To see however it had come to pass,

One section of his face as green as grass!

In vain each eager wipe,

With soap — without — wet — hot or cold — or dry,

Still, still, and still, to his astonished eye

One cheek was green, the other cherry ripe!

Plump in the nearest chair he sat him down,

Quaking, and quite absorb’d in a deep study —

But verdant and not brown —

What could have happened to a tint so ruddy?

Indeed it was a very novel case,

By way of penalty for being jolly,

To have that evergreen stuck in his face,

Just like the windows with their Christmas holly.

“All claret marks,”— thought he — Tom knew his forte —

“Are red — this color CANNOT come from Port!”

One thing was plain; with such a face as his,

’Twas quite impossible to ever greet

Good Mrs. Brown; nay, any party meet,

Altho’ ’twas such a parti-colored phiz!

As for the public, fancy Sarcy Ned,

The coachman, flying, dog-like, at his head,

With “Ax your pardon, Sir, but if you please —

Unless it comes too high —

Vere ought a feller, now, to go to buy

The t’other half, Sir, of that ’ere green cheese?”

His mind recoil’d — so he tied up his head,

As with a raging tooth, and took to bed;

Of course with feelings far from the serene,

For all his future prospects seemed to be,

To match his customary tea,

Black, mixt with green.

Meanwhile, good Mrs. Brown

Wondered at Mr. S. not coming down,

And sent the maid up-stairs to learn the why;

To whom poor Simpson, half delirious,

Returned an answer so mysterious

That curiosity began to fry;

The more, as Betty, who had caught a snatch

By peeping in upon the patient’s bed,

Reported a most bloody, tied-up head,

Got over-night of course —“Harm watch, harm catch,”

From Watchmen in a boxing-match.

So, liberty or not —

Good lodgers are too scarce to let them off in

A suicidal coffin —

The dame ran up as fast as she could trot;

Appearance — “fiddle-sticks!” should not deter

From going to the bed,

And looking at the head:

“La! Mister S— — he need not care for her!

A married woman that had had

Nine boys and gals, and none had turned out bad —

Her own dear late would come home late at night,

And liquor always got him in a fight.

She’d been in hospitals — she wouldn’t faint

At gores and gashes fingers wide and deep;

She knew what’s good for bruises and what ain’t —

Turlington’s Drops she made a pint to keep.

Cases she’d seen beneath the surgent’s hand —

Such skulls japann’d — she meant to say trepann’d!

Poor wretches! you would think they’d been in battle,

And hadn’t hours to live,

From tearing horses’ kicks or Smithfield cattle,

Shamefully over-driv! —

Heads forced to have a silver plate atop,

To get the brains to stop.

At imputations of the legs she’d been,

And neither screech’d nor cried —”

Hereat she pluck’d the white cravat aside,

And lo! the whole phenomenon was seen —

“Preserve us all! He’s going to gangrene!”

Alas! through Simpson’s brain

Shot the remark, like ball, with mortal pain;

It tallied truly with his own misgiving,

And brought a groan,

To move a heart of stone —

A sort of farewell to the land of living!

And as the case was imminent and urgent,

He did not make a shadow of objection

To Mrs. B.‘s proposal for a “surgent,”

But merely gave a sigh of deep dejection,

While down the verdant cheek a tear of grief

Stole, like a dew-drop on a cabbage-leaf.

Swift flew the summons — it was life or death!

And in as short a time as he could race it,

Came Doctor Puddicome, as short of breath,

To try his Latin charms against Hic Jacet.

He took a seat beside the patient’s bed,

Saw tongue — felt pulse — examined the bad cheek —

Poked, strok’d, pinch’d, kneaded it — hemm’d — shook his head —

Took a long solemn pause the cause to seek,

(Thinking, it seem’d in Greek,)

Then ask’d —’twas Christmas —“Had he eaten grass,

Or greens — and if the cook was so improper

To boil them up with copper,

Or farthings made of brass;

Or if he drank his Hock from dark green glass,

Or dined at City Festivals, whereat

There’s turtle, and green fat?”

To all of which, with serious tone of woe,

Poor Simpson answered “No,”

Indeed he might have said in form auricular,

Supposing Puddicome had been a monk —

He had not eaten (he had only drunk)

Of anything “Particular.”

The Doctor was at fault;

A thing so new quite brought him to a halt.

Cases of other colors came in crowds,

He could have found their remedy, and soon;

But green — it sent him up among the clouds,

As if he had gone up with Green’s balloon!

Black with Black Jaundice he had seen the skin;

From Yellow Jaundice yellow,

From saffron tints to sallow; —

Then retrospective memory lugg’d in

Old Purple Face, the Host at Kentish Town —

East Indians, without number,

He knew familiarly, by heat done Brown,

From tan to a burnt umber,

Ev’n those eruptions he had never seen

Of which the Caledonian Poet spoke,

As ”rashes growing green”—

“Phoo! phoo! a rash grow green!

Nothing of course, but a broad Scottish joke!”

Then as to flaming visages, for those

The Scarlet Fever answer’d, or the Rose —

But verdant! that was quite a novel stroke!

Men turn’d to blue, by Cholera’s last stage,

In common practice he had really seen;

But Green — he was too old, and grave, and sage,

To think of the last stage to Turnham Green!

So matters stood in-doors — meanwhile without,

Growing in going like all other rumors,

The modern miracle was buzz’d about,

By people of all humors,

Native or foreign in their dialecticals;

Till all the neighborhood, as if their noses

Had taken the odd gross from little Moses,

Seemed looking thro’ green spectacles.

“Green faces!” so they all began to comment —

“Yes — opposite to Druggists’ lighted shops,

But that’s a flying color — never stops —

A bottle-green that’s vanish’d in a moment.

Green! nothing of the sort occurs to mind,

Nothing at all to match the present piece;

Jack in the Green has nothing of the kind —

Green-grocers are not green — nor yet green geese!”

The oldest Supercargoes or Old Sailors

Of such a case had never heard,

From Emerald Isle to Cape de Verd;

“Or Greenland!” cried the whalers.

All tongues were full of the Green Man, and still

They could not make him out with all their skill;

No soul could shape the matter, head or tail —

But Truth steps in where all conjectures fail.

A long half hour, in needless puzzle,

Our Galen’s cane had rubbed against his muzzle;

He thought, and thought, and thought and thought, and thought —

And still it came to nought,

When up rush’d Betty, loudest of Town Criers,

“Lord, Ma’am, the new Police is at the door!

It’s B, ma’am, Twenty-four —

As brought home Mister S. to Austin Friars,

And says there’s nothing but a simple case —

He got that ’ere green face

By sleeping in the kennel near the Dyer’s!”

Hit or Miss.

“Twa dogs, that were na thrang at hame,

Forgather’d ance upon a time.”— BURNS.

One morn — it was the very morn

September’s sportive month was born —

The hour, about the sunrise, early;

The sky gray, sober, still, and pearly,

With sundry orange streaks and tinges

Through daylight’s door, at cracks and hinges:

The air, calm, bracing, freshly cool,

As if just skimm’d from off a pool;

The scene, red, russet, yellow, laden,

From stubble, fern, and leaves that deaden,

Save here and there a turnip patch,

Too verdant with the rest to match;

And far a-field a hazy figure,

Some roaming lover of the trigger.

Meanwhile the level light perchance

Pick’d out his barrel with a glance;

For all around a distant popping

Told birds were flying off or dropping.

Such was the morn — a morn right fair

To seek for covey or for hare —

When, lo! too far from human feet

For even Ranger’s boldest beat,

A Dog, as in some doggish trouble,

Came cant’ring through the crispy stubble,

With dappled head in lowly droop,

But not the scientific stoop;

And flagging, dull, desponding ears,

As if they had been soak’d in tears,

And not the beaded dew that hung

The filmy stalks and weeds among.

His pace, indeed, seem’d not to know

An errand, why, or where to go,

To trot, to walk, or scamper swift —

In short, he seem’d a dog adrift;

His very tail, a listless thing,

With just an accidental swing,

Like rudder to the ripple veering,

When nobody on board is steering.

So, dull and moody, canter’d on

Our vagrant pointer, christen’d Don;

When, rising o’er a gentle slope,

That gave his view a better scope,

He spied, some dozen furrows distant,

But in a spot as inconsistent,

A second dog across his track,

Without a master to his back;

As if for wages, workman-like,

The sporting breed had made a strike,

Resolv’d nor birds nor puss to seek,

Without another paunch a week!

This other was a truant curly,

But, for a spaniel, wondrous surely;

Instead of curvets gay and brisk,

He slouch’d along without a frisk,

With dogged air, as if he had

A good half mind to running mad;

Mayhap the shaking at his ear

Had been a quaver too severe;

Mayhap the whip’s “exclusive dealing”

Had too much hurt e’en spaniel feeling,

Nor if he had been cut, ’twas plain

He did not mean to come again.

Of course the pair soon spied each other;

But neither seem’d to own a brother;

The course on both sides took a curve,

As dogs when shy are apt to swerve;

But each o’er back and shoulder throwing

A look to watch the other’s going,

Till, having clear’d sufficient ground,

With one accord they turn’d them round,

And squatting down, for forms not caring,

At one another fell to staring;

As if not proof against a touch

Of what plagues humankind so much,

A prying itch to get at notions

Of all their neighbor’s looks and motions.

Sir Don at length was first to rise —

The better dog in point of size,

And, snuffing all the ground between,

Set off, with easy jaunty mien;

While Dash, the stranger, rose to greet him,

And made a dozen steps to meet him —

Their noses touch’d, and rubb’d awhile

(Some savage nations use the style),

And then their tails a wag began,

Though on a very cautious plan,

But in their signals quantum suff.

To say, “A civil dog enough.”

Thus having held out olive branches,

They sank again, though not on haunches,

But couchant, with their under jaws

Resting between the two forepaws,

The prelude, on a luckier day,

Or sequel, to a game of play:

But now they were in dumps, and thus

Began their worries to discuss,

The Pointer, coming to the point

The first, on times so out of joint.

“Well, Friend — so here’s a new September,

As fine a first as I remember;

And, thanks to such an early Spring,

Plenty of birds, and strong on wing.”

“Birds!” cried the little crusty chap,

As sharp and sudden as a snap,

“A weasel suck them in the shell!

What matter birds, or flying well,

Or fly at all, or sporting weather,

If fools with guns can’t hit a feather!”

“Ay, there’s the rub, indeed,’” said Don,

Putting his gravest visage on;

“In vain we beat our beaten way,

And bring our organs into play,

Unless the proper killing kind

Of barrel tunes are play’d behind:

But when we shoot — that’s me and Squire —

We hit as often as we fire.”

“More luck for you!” cried little Woolly,

Who felt the cruel contrast fully;

“More luck for you, and Squire to boot!

We miss as often as we shoot!”

“Indeed! — No wonder you’re unhappy!

I thought you looking rather snappy;

But fancied, when I saw you jogging,

You’d had an overdose of flogging;

Or p’rhaps the gun its range had tried

While you were ranging rather wide.”

“Me! running — running wide — and hit!

Me shot! what, pepper’d? — Deuce a bit!

I almost wish I had! That Dunce,

My master, then would hit for once!

Hit me! Lord, how you talk! why, zounds!

He couldn’t hit a pack of hounds!”

“Well, that must be a case provoking.

What, never— but, you dog, you’re joking!

I see a sort of wicked grin

About your jaw you’re keeping in.”

“A joke! an old tin kettle’s clatter

Would be as much a joking matter.

To tell the truth, that dog-disaster

Is just the type of me and master,

When fagging over hill and dale,

With his vain rattle at my tail,

Bang, bang, and bang, the whole day’s run,

But leading nothing but his gun —

The very shot I fancy hisses,

It’s sent upon such awful misses!”

“Of course it does! But p’rhaps the fact is

Your master’s hand is out of practice!”

Practice? — No doctor, where you will,

Has finer — but he cannot kill!

These three years past, thro’ furze and furrow,

All covers I have hunted thorough;

Flush’d cocks and snipes about the moors;

And put up hares by scores and scores;

Coveys of birds, and lots of pheasants; —

Yes, game enough to send in presents

To ev’ry friend he has in town,

Provided he had knock’d it down:

But no — the whole three years together,

He has not giv’n me flick or feather —

For all that I have had to do

I wish I had been missing too!”

“Well — such a hand would drive me mad;

But is he truly quite so bad?”

“Bad! — worse! — you cannot underssore him;

If I could put up, just before him,

The great Balloon that paid the visit

Across the water, he would miss it!

Bite him! I do believe, indeed,

It’s in his very blood and breed!

It marks his life, and, run all through it;

What can be miss’d, he’s sure to do it.

Last Monday he came home to Tooting,

Dog-tir’d, as if he’d been a-shooting,

And kicks at me to vent his rage —

‘Get out!’ says he —‘I’ve miss’d the stage!’

Of course, thought I— what chance of hitting?

You’d miss the Norwich wagon, sitting!”

“Why, he must be the country’s scoff!

He ought to leave, and not let, off!

As fate denies his shooting wishes,

Why don’t he take to catching fishes?

Or any other sporting game,

That don’t require a bit of aim?”

“Not he! — Some dogs of human kind

Will hunt by sight, because they’re blind.

My master angle! — no such luck!

There he might strike, who never struck!

My master shoots because he can’t,

And has an eye that aims aslant;

Nay, just by way of making trouble,

He’s changed his single gun for double;

And now, as girls a-walking do,

His misses go by two and two!

I wish he had the mange, or reason

As good, to miss the shooting season!”

“Why yes, it must be main upleasant

To point to covey, or to pheasant,

For snobs, who, when the point is mooting,

Think letting fly as good as shooting!”

“Snobs! — if he’d wear his ruffled shirts,

Or coats with water-wagtail skirts,

Or trowsers in the place of smalls,

Or those tight fits he wears at balls,

Or pumps, and boots with tops, mayhap,

Why we might pass for Snip and Snap,

And shoot like blazes! fly or sit,

And none would stare, unless we hit.

But no — to make the more combustion,

He goes in gaiters and in fustian,

Like Captain Ross, or Topping Sparks,

And deuce a miss but some one marks!

For Keepers, shy of such encroachers,

Dog us about like common poachers!

Many’s the covey I’ve gone by,

When underneath a sporting eye;

Many a puss I’ve twigg’d, and pass’d her —

I miss ’em to prevent my master!”

“And so should I, in such a case!

There’s nothing feels so like disgrace,

Or gives you such a scurvy look —

A kick and pail of slush from Cook,

Clefsticks, or Kettle, all in one,

As standing to a missing gun!

It’s whirr! and bang! and off you bound,

To catch your bird before the ground:

But no — a pump and ginger pop

As soon would get a bird to drop!

So there you stand, quite struck a-heap,

Till all your tail is gone to sleep;

A sort of stiffness in your nape,

Holding your head well up to gape;

While off go birds across the ridges,

First small as flies, and then as midges,

Cocksure, as they are living chicks,

Death’s Door is not at Number Six!”

“Yes! yes! and then you look at master,

The cause of all the late disaster,

Who gives a stamp, and raps on oath

At gun, or birds, or maybe both;

P’rhaps curses you, and all your kin,

To raise the hair upon your skin!

Then loads, rams down, and fits new caps,

To go and hunt for more miss-haps!”

“Yes! yes! but, sick and sad, you feel

But one long wish to go to heel;

You cannot scent for cutting mugs —

Your nose is turning up, like Pug’s;

You can’t hold up, but plod and mope;

Your tail like sodden end of rope,

That o’er a wind-bound vessel’s side

Has soak’d in harbor, tide and tide.

On thorns and scratches, till that moment

Unnoticed, you begin to comment;

You never felt such bitter brambles,

Such heavy soil, in all your rambles!

You never felt your fleas so vicious!

Till, sick of life so unpropitious,

You wish at last, to end the passage,

That you were dead, and in your sassage!”

“Yes! that’s a miss from end to end!

But, zounds! you draw so well, my friend,

You’ve made me shiver, skin and gristle,

As if I heard my master’s whistle!

Though how you came to learn the knack —

I thought your Squire was quite a crack!”

“And so he is! — He always hits —

And sometimes hard, and all to bits.

But ere with him our tongues we task,

I’ve still one little thing to ask;

Namely, with such a random master,

Of course you sometimes want a plaster?

Such missing hands make game of more

Than ever pass’d for game before —

A pounded pig — a widow’s cat —

A patent ventilating hat —

For shot, like mud, when thrown so thick,

Will find a coat whereon to stick!”

“What! accidentals, as they’re term’d?

No never — none — since I was worm’d —

Not e’en the Keeper’s fatted calves —

My master does not miss by halves!

His shot are like poor orphans, hurl’d

Abroad upon the whole wide world —

But whether they be blown to dust,

As often-times I think they must,

Or melted down too near the sun,

What comes of them is known to none —

I never found, since I could bark,

A Barn that bore my master’s mark!”

“Is that the case? — Why then, my brother,

Would we could swap with one another!

Or take the Squire, with all my heart,

Nay, all my liver, so we part!

He’ll hit you hares —(he uses cartridge)

He’ll hit you cocks — he’ll hit a partridge;

He’ll hit a snipe; he’ll hit a pheasant;

He’ll hit — he’ll hit whatever’s present;

He’ll always hit — as that’s your wish —

His pepper never lacks a dish!”

“Come, come, you banter — let’s be serious;

I’m sure that I am half delirious,

Your picture set me so a-sighing —

But does he shot so well — shoot flying?”

“Shoot flying? Yes — and running, walking —

I’ve seen him shoot two farmers talking —

He’ll hit the game, whene’er he can,

But failing that he’ll hit a man —

A boy — a horse’s tail or head —

Or make a pig a pig of lead —

Oh, friend! they say no dog as yet,

However hot, was known to sweat,

But sure I am that I perspire

Sometimes before my master’s fire!

Misses! no, no, he always hits,

But so as puts me into fits!

He shot my fellow dog this morning,

Which seemed to me sufficient warning!”

“Quite, quite, enough! — So that’s a hitter!

Why, my own fate I thought was bitter,

And full excuse for cut and run;

But give me still the missing gun!

Or rather, Sirius! send me this,

No gun at all, to hit or miss,

Since sporting seems to shoot thus double,

That right or left it brings us trouble!”

So ended Dash; — and Pointer Don

Prepared to urge the moral on;

But here a whistle long and shrill

Came sounding o’er the council hill,

And starting up, as if their tails

Had felt the touch of shoes and nails,

Away they scamper’d down the slope,

As fast as other pairs elope —

Resolv’d, instead of sporting rackets,

To beg, or dance in fancy jackets;

At butchers’ shops to try their luck;

To help to draw a cart or truck;

Or lead Stone Blind poor men, at most

Who would but hit or miss a post.

The Forlorn Shepherd’s Complaint.

An Unpublished Poem, from Sydney.

“Vell! Here I am — no Matter how it suits

A-keeping Company vith them dumb Brutes;

Old Park vos no bad Judge — confound his vig!

Of vot vood break the Sperrit of a Prig!

“The Like of Me, to come to New Sow Wales

To go a-tagging arter Vethers’ Tails

And valk in Herbage as delights the Flock,

But stinks of Sweet Herbs vorser nor the Dock!

“To go to set this solitary Job

To Von whose Vork vos alvay in a Mob!

It’s out of all our Lines, for sure I am

Jack Shepherd even never kep a Lamb!

“I arn’t ashamed to say I sit and veep

To think of Seven Year of keepin Sheep,

The spooniest Beast in Nater, all to Sticks,

And not a Votch to take for all their Ticks!

“If I’d fore-seed how Transports vould turn out

To only Baa! and Botanize about,

I’d quite as leaf have had the t’other Pull,

And come to Cotton, as to all this Vool!

“Von only happy moment I have had

Since here I come to be a Farmer’s Cad,

And then I cotch’d a vild Beast in a Snooze,

And pick’d her pouch of three young Kangaroos!

“Vot chance haye I to go to Race or Mill?

Or show a sneaking Kindness for a Till;

And as for Vashings, on a hedge to dry,

I’d put the Natives’ Linen in my Eye!

“If this whole Lot of Mutton I could scrag,

And find a Fence to turn it into Swag,

I’d give it all in London Streets to stand,

And if I had my pick, I’d say the Strand!

“But ven I goes, as maybe vonce I shall,

To my old Crib to meet with Jack, and Sal,

I’ve been so gallows honest in this Place,

I shan’t not like to show my sheepish Face.

“It’s wery hard for nothing but a Box

Of Irish Blackguard to be keepin’ Flocks,

‘Mong naked Blacks, sich Savages to hus,

They’ve nayther got a Pocket nor a Pus.

“But folks may tell their Troubles till they’re sick

To dumb brute Beasts — and so I’ll cut my Stick!

And vot’s the Use a Feller’s Eyes to pipe

Vere von can’t borrow any Gemman’s Vipe?”

This dates from the old days of transportation and Botany Bay. The judge indicated was Mr. Justice Alan Park, of the Common Pleas, and Mr. Cotton was Chaplain of Newgate.

Lieutenant Luff.

All you that are too fond of wine,

Or any other stuff,

Take warning by the dismal fate

Of one Lieutenant Luff.

A sober man he might have been,

Except in one regard,

He did not like soft water,

So he took to drinking hard!

Said he, “Let others fancy slops,

And talk in praise of Tea,

But I am no Bohemian,

So do not like Bohea.

If wine’s a poison, so is Tea,

Though in another shape:

What matter whether one is kill’d

By canister or grape!”

According to this kind of taste

Did he indulge his drouth,

And being fond of Port, he made

A port-hole of his mouth!

A single pint he might have sipp’d

And not been out of sorts,

In geologic phrase — the rock

He split upon was quarts!

To “hold the mirror up to vice”

With him was hard, alas!

The worse for wine he often was,

But not “before a glass.”

No kind and prudent friend had he

To bid him drink no more —

The only chequers in his course

Where at a tavern door!

Full soon the sad effects of this

His frame began to show,

For that old enemy the gout

Had taken him in toe!

And join’d with this an evil came

Of quite another sort —

For while he drank, himself, his purse

Was getting “something short.”

For want of cash he soon had pawn’d

One half that he possessed,

And drinking showed him duplicates

Beforehand of the rest!

So now his creditors resolved

To seize on his assets;

For why — they found that his half-pay

Did not half pay his debts.

But Luff contrived a novel mode

His creditors to chouse;

For his own execution he

Put into his own house!

A pistol to the muzzle charged

He took devoid of fear;

Said he, “This barrel is my last,

So now for my last bier!”

Against his lungs he aimed the slugs,

And not against his brain,

So he blew out his lights — and none

Could blow them in again!

A Jury for a Verdict met,

And gave in it these terms:—

“We find as how as certain slugs

Has sent him to the worms!”

Morning Meditations.

Let Taylor preach upon a morning breezy

How well to rise while nights and larks are flying —

For my part getting up seems not so easy

By half as lying.

What if the lark does carol in the sky,

Soaring beyond the sight to find him out —

Wherefore am I to rise at such a fly?

I’m not a trout.

Talk not to me of bees and such like hums,

The smell of sweet herbs at the morning prime —

Only lee long enough, and bed becomes

A bed of time.

To me Dan Phoebus and his car are nought,

His steeds that paw impatiently about —

Let them enjoy, say I, as horses ought,

The first turn-out!

Right beautiful the dewy meads appear

Besprinkled by the rosy-finger’d girl;

What then — if I prefer my pillow-beer

To early pearl?

My stomach is not ruled by other men’s,

And grumbling for a reason, quaintly begs

“Wherefore should master rise before the hens

Have laid their eggs?”

Why from a comfortable pillow start

To see faint flushes in the east awaken?

A fig, say I, for any streaky part,

Excepting bacon.

An early riser Mr. Gray has drawn,

Who used to haste the dewy grass among,

“To meet the sun upon the upland lawn”—

Well — he died young.

With charwomen such early hours agree,

And sweeps, that earn betimes their bit and sup;

But I’m no climbing boy, and need not be

“All up — all up!”

So here I’ll lie, my morning calls deferring,

Till something nearer to the stroke of noon; —

A man that’s fond precociously of stirring,

Must be a spoon.

A Plain Direction.

“Do you never deviate?”

John Bull.

In London once I lost my way

In faring to and fro,

And ask’d a little ragged boy

The way that I should go;

He gave a nod, and then a wink,

And told me to get there

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I box’d his little saucy ears,

And then away I strode;

But since I’ve found that weary path

Is quite a common road.

Utopia is a pleasant place,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve read about a famous town

That drove a famous trade,

Where Whittington walk’d up and found

A fortune ready made.

The very streets are paved with gold;

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve read about a Fairy Land,

In some romantic tale,

Where Dwarfs if good are sure to thrive

And wicked Giants fail.

My wish is great, my shoes are strong,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve heard about some happy Isle,

Where ev’ry man is free,

And none can lie in bonds for life

For want of L. S. D.

Oh that’s the land of Liberty!

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square,”

I’ve dreamt about some blessed spot,

Beneath the blessed sky,

Where Bread and Justice never rise

Too dear for folks to buy.

It’s cheaper than the Ward of Cheap,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

They say there is an ancient House,

As pure as it is old,

Where Members always speak their minds

And votes are never sold.

I’m fond of all antiquities,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

They say there is a Royal Court

Maintain’d in noble state,

Where ev’ry able man, and good,

Is certain to be great!

I’m very fond of seeing sights,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

They say there is a Temple too,

Where Christians come to pray;

But canting knaves and hypocrites,

And bigots keep away.

Oh that’s the parish church for me!

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

They say there is a Garden fair,

That’s haunted by the dove,

Where love of gold doth ne’er eclipse

The golden light of love —

The place must be a Paradise,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve heard there is a famous Land

For public spirit known —

Whose Patriots love its interests

Much better than their own.

The Land of Promise sure it is!

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve read about a fine Estate,

A Mansion large and strong;

A view all over Kent and back,

And going for a song.

George Robins knows the very spot,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve heard there is a Company

All formal and enroll’d,

Will take your smallest silver coin

And give it back in gold.

Of course the office door is mobb’d,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

I’ve heard about a pleasant Land,

Where omelettes grow on trees,

And roasted pigs run crying out,

“Come eat me, if you please.”

My appetite is rather keen,

But how shall I get there?

“Straight down the Crooked Lane,

And all round the Square.”

The Assistant Drapers’ Petition.

“Now’s the time and now’s the hour,”— BURNS.

“Seven’s the main.”— CROCKFORD.

Pity the sorrows of a class of men,

Who, though they bow to fashion and frivolity,

No fancied claims or woes fictitious pen,

But wrongs ell-wide, and of a lasting quality.

Oppress’d and discontented with our lot,

Amongst the clamorous we take our station;

A host of Ribbon Men — yet is there not

One piece of Irish in our agitation.

We do revere Her Majesty the Queen,

We venerate our Glorious Constitution;

We joy King William’s advent should have been,

And only want a Counter Revolution.

’Tis not Lord Russell and his final measure,

’Tis not Lord Melbourne’s counsel to the throne,

’Tis not this Bill, or that, gives us displeasure,

The measures we dislike are all our own.

The Cash Law the “Great Western” loves to name;

The tone our foreign policy pervading;

The Corn Laws — none of these we care to blame,

Our evils we refer to over-trading.

By Tax or Tithe our murmurs are not drawn;

We reverence the Church — but hang the cloth!

We love her ministers — but curse the lawn!

We have, alas! too much to do with both!

We love the sex:— to serve them is a bliss!

We trust they find us civil, never surly;

All that we hope of female friends is this,

That their last linen may be wanted early.

Ah! who can tell the miseries of men

That serve the very cheapest shops in town?

Till faint and weary, they leave off at ten,

Knock’d up by ladies beating of ’em down!

But has not Hamlet his opinion given —

O Hamlet had a heart for Drapers’ servants!

“That custom is”— say custom after seven —

“More honor’d in the breach than the observance.”

O come then, gentle ladies, come in time,

O’erwhelm our counters, and unload our shelves;

Torment us all until the seventh chime,

But let us have the remnant to ourselves!

We wish of knowledge to lay in a stock,

And not remain in ignorance incurable; —

To study Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Locke,

And other fabrics that have proved so durable.

We long for thoughts of intellectual kind,

And not to go bewilder’d to our beds;

With stuff and fustian taking up the mind,

And pins and needles running in our heads!

For oh! the brain gets very dull and dry,

Selling from morn till night for cash or credit;

Or with a vacant face and vacant eye,

Watching cheap prints that Knight did never edit.

Till sick with toil, and lassitude extreme,

We often think, when we are dull and vapoury,

The bliss of Paradise was so supreme,

Because that Adam did not deal in drapery.

The exquisite wit and fancy of these verses need not blind us to their touching earnestness. They might well be printed and circulated still in the service of the great cause of Early Closing. The “Knight” mentioned was, of course, the excellent Charles Knight, pioneer and forerunner of all subsequent movements for cheapening and popularizing good literature.

The Bachelor’s Dream.

My pipe is lit, my grog is mix’d,

My curtains drawn and all is snug;

Old Puss is in her elbow-chair,

And Tray is sitting on the rug.

Last night I had a curious dream,

Miss Susan Bates was Mistress Mogg —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

She look’d so fair, she sang so well,

I could but woo and she was won,

Myself in blue, the bride in white,

The ring was placed, the deed was done!

Away we went in chaise-and-four,

As fast as grinning boys could flog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

What loving tête-à-têtes to come!

But tête-à-têtes must still defer!

When Susan came to live with me,

Her mother came to live with her!

With sister Belle she couldn’t part,

But all my ties had leave to jog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

The mother brought a pretty Poll —

A monkey too, what work he made!

The sister introduced a Beau —

My Susan brought a favorite maid.

She had a tabby of her own,

A snappish mongrel christen’d Gog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

The Monkey bit — the Parrot scream’d

All day the sister strumm’d and sung;

The petted maid was such a scold!

My Susan learn’d to use her tongue:

Her mother had such wretched health,

She sate and croak’d like any frog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

No longer Deary, Ducky, and Love,

I soon came down to simple “M!”

The very servants cross’d my wish,

My Susan let me down to them.

The poker hardly seem’d my own,

I might as well have been a log —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

My clothes they were the queerest shape!

Such coats and hats she never met!

My ways they were the oddest ways!

My friends were such a vulgar set!

Poor Tomkinson was snubb’d and huff’d —

She could not bear that Mister Blogg —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, My Dog?

At times we had a spar, and then

Mamma must mingle in the song —

The sister took a sisters part —

The Maid declared her Master wrong —

The Parrot learn’d to call me “Fool!”

My life was like a London fog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

My Susan’s taste was superfine,

As proved by bills that had no end —

I never had a decent coat —

I never had a coin to spend!

She forced me to resign my Club,

Lay down my pipe, retrench my grog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

Each Sunday night we gave a rout

To fops and flirts, a pretty list;

And when I tried to steal away,

I found my study full of whist!

Then, first to come and last to go,

There always was a Captain Hogg —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

Now was not that an awful dream

For one who single is and snug —

With Pussy in the elbow-chair

And Tray reposing on the rug? —

If I must totter down the hill,

’Tis safest done without a clog —

What d’ye think of that, my Cat?

What d’ye think of that, my Dog?

Rural Felicity.

Well, the country’s a pleasant place, sure enough, for people that’s country born,

And useful, no doubt, in a natural way, for growing our grass and our corn.

It was kindly meant of my cousin Giles, to write and invite me down,

Tho’ as yet all I’ve seen of a pastoral life only makes one more partial to town.

At first I thought I was really come down into all sorts of rural bliss,

For Porkington Place, with its cows and its pigs, and its poultry, looks not much amiss;

There’s something about a dairy farm, with its different kinds of live stock,

That puts one in mind of Paradise, and Adam and his innocent flock;

But somehow the good old Elysium fields have not been well handed down,

And as yet I have found no fields to prefer to dear Leicester Fields up in town.

To be sure it is pleasant to walk in the meads, and so I should like for miles,

If it wasn’t for clodpoles of carpenters that put up such crooked stiles;

For the bars jut out, and you must jut out, till you’re almost broken in two,

If you clamber you’re certain sure of a fall, and you stick if you try to creep through.

Of course, in the end, one learns how to climb without constant tumbles down,

But still as to walking so stylishly, it’s pleasanter done about town.

There’s a way, I know, to avoid the stiles, and that’s by a walk in a lane,

And I did find a very nice shady one, but I never dared go again;

For who should I meet but a rampaging bull, that wouldn’t be kept in the pound,

A trying to toss the whole world at once, by sticking his horns in the ground?

And that, by the bye, is another thing, that pulls rural pleasures down,

Ev’ry day in the country is cattle-day, and there’s only two up in town.

Then I’ve rose with the sun, to go brushing away at the first early pearly dew,

And to meet Aurory, or whatever’s her name, and I always got wetted through;

My shoes are like sops, and I caught a bad cold, and a nice draggle-tail to my gown,

That’s not the way that we bathe our feet, or wear our pearls, up in town!

As for picking flow’rs, I have tried at a hedge, sweet eglantine roses to snatch,

But, mercy on us! how nettles will sting, and how the long brambles do scratch;

Besides hitching my hat on a nasty thorn that tore all the bows from the crown,

One may walk long enough without hats branching off, or losing one’s bows about town.

But worse than that, in a long rural walk, suppose that it blows up for rain,

And all at once you discover yourself in a real St. Swithin’s Lane;

And while you’re running all ducked and drown’d, and pelted with sixpenny drops,

“Fine weather,” you hear the farmers say; “a nice growing show’r for the crops!”

But who’s to crop me another new hat, or grow me another new gown?

For you can’t take a shilling fare with a plough as you do with the hackneys in town.

Then my nevys too, they must drag me off to go with them gathering nuts,

And we always set out by the longest way and return by the shortest cuts.

Short cuts, indeed! But it’s nuts to them, to get a poor lustyish aunt

To scramble through gaps or jump over a ditch, when they’re morally certain she can’t —

For whenever I get in some awkward scrape, and it’s almost daily the case,

Tho’ they don’t laugh out, the mischievous brats, I see the hooray! in their face.

There’s the other day, for my sight is short, and I saw what was green beyond,

And thought it was all terry firmer and grass till I walked in the duckweed pond:

Or perhaps when I’ve pully-hauled up a bank they see me come launching down,

As none but a stout London female can do as is come a first time out of town.

Then how sweet, some say, on a mossy bank a verdurous seat to find,

But for my part I always found it a joy that brought a repentance behind;

For the juicy grass with its nasty green has stained a whole breadth of my gown —

And when gowns are dyed, I needn’t say, it’s much better done up in town.

As for country fare, the first morning I came I heard such a shrill piece of work!

And ever since — and it’s ten days ago — we’ve lived upon nothing but pork;

One Sunday except, and then I turn’d sick, a plague take all countrified cooks!

Why didn’t they tell me, before I had dined, they made pigeon pies of the rooks?

Then the gooseberry wine, tho’ it’s pleasant when up, it doesn’t agree when it’s down,

But it served me right like a gooseberry fool to look for champagne out of town!

To be sure cousin G. meant it all for the best when he started this pastoral plan,

And his wife is a worthy domestical soul and she teaches me all that she can,

Such as making of cheese, and curing of hams, but I’m sure that I never shall learn,

And I’ve fetched more back-ache than butter as yet by chumping away at the churn;

But in making hay, tho’ it’s tanning work, I found it more easy to make,

But it tries one’s legs, and no great relief when you’re tired to sit down on the rake.

I’d a country dance too at harvest home, with a regular country clown,

But, Lord! they don’t hug one round the waist and give one such smacks in town!

Then I’ve tried to make friends with the birds and the beasts, but they take to such curious rigs,

I’m always at odds with the turkey-cock, and I can’t even please the pigs.

The very hens pick holes in my hands when I grope for the new-laid eggs,

And the gander comes hissing out of the pond on purpose to flap at my legs.

I’ve been bump’d in a ditch by the cow without horns, and the old sow trampled me down,

The beasts are as vicious as any wild beasts — but they’re kept in cages in town!

Another thing is the nasty dogs — thro’ the village I hardly can stir

Since giving a bumpkin a pint of beer just to call off a barking cur;

And now you would swear all the dogs in the place were set on to hunt me down,

But neither the brutes nor the people I think are as civilly bred as in town.

Last night about twelve I was scared broad awake, and all in a tremble of fright,

But instead of a family murder it proved an owl that flies screeching at night.

Then there’s plenty of ricks and stacks all about, and I can’t help dreaming of Swing —

In short, I think that a plastoral life is not the most happiest thing;

For besides all the troubles I’ve mentioned before as endur’d for rurality’s sake,

I’ve been stung by the bees, and I’ve set among ants, and once — ugh! I trod on a snake!

And as to moskitoes they tortured me so, for I’ve got a particular skin,

I do think it’s the gnats coming out of the ponds that drives the poor suicides in!

And after all an’t there new-laid eggs to be had upon Holborn Hill?

And dairy-fed pork in Broad St. Giles’s, and fresh butter wherever you will?

And a covered cart that brings Cottage Bread quite rustical-like and brown?

So one isn’t so very uncountrified in the very heart of the town.

Howsomever my mind’s made up, and although I’m sure cousin Giles will be vext,

I mean to book me an inside place up to town upon Saturday next,

And if nothing happens, soon after ten, I shall be at the Old Bell and Crown,

And perhaps I may come to the country again, when London is all burnt down!

A Flying Visit.

“A Calendar! a Calendar! look in the Almanac, find out moonshine — find out moonshine!”—Midsummer Night’s Dream.

1.

The by-gone September,

As folks may remember,

At least if their memory saves but an ember,

One fine afternoon,

There went up a Balloon,

Which did not return to the Earth very soon.

2.

For, nearing the sky,

At about a mile high,

The Aëronaut bold had resolved on a fly;

So cutting his string,

In a Parasol thing

Down he came in a field like a lark from the wing.

3.

Meanwhile, thus adrift,

The Balloon made a shift

To rise very fast, with no burden to lift;

It got very small,

Then to nothing at all;

And then rose the question of where it would fall?

4.

Some thought that, for lack

Of the man and his pack,

’Twould rise to the cherub that watches Poor Jack;

Some held, but in vain,

With the first heavy rain

’Twould surely come down to the Gardens again!

5.

But still not a word

For a month could be heard

Of what had become of the Wonderful Bird;

The firm Gye and Hughes,

Wore their boots out and shoes,

In running about and inquiring for news.

6.

Some thought it must be

Tumbled into the Sea;

Some thought it had gone off to High Germanie

For Germans, as shown

By their writings, ’tis known

Are always delighted with what is high-flown.

7.

Some hinted a bilk,

And that maidens who milk,

In far distant Shires would be walking in silk:

Some swore that it must,

“As they said at the fust,

Have gone again’ flashes of lightning and bust!”

8.

However, at last,

When six weeks had gone past,

Intelligence came of a plausible cast;

A wondering clown,

At a hamlet near town,

Had seen “like a moon of green cheese” coming down.

9.

Soon spread the alarm,

And from cottage and farm,

The natives buzz’d out like the bees when they swarm;

And off ran the folk —

It is such a good joke

To see the descent of a bagful of smoke.

10.

And lo! the machine,

Dappled yellow and green,

Was plainly enough in the clouds to be seen:

“Yes, yes,” was the cry,

“It’s the old one, surely,

Where can it have been such a time in the sky?”

11.

“Lord! where will it fall?

It can’t find out Vauxhall,

Without any pilot to guide it at all!”

Some wager’d that Kent

Would behold the event,

Debrett had been posed to predict its descent.

12.

Some thought it would pitch

In the old Tower Ditch,

Some swore on the Cross of St. Paul’s it would hitch;

And Farmers cried “Zounds!

If it drops on our grounds,

We’ll try if Balloons can’t be put into pounds.”

13.

But still to and fro

It continued to go,

As if looking out for soft places below;

No difficult job,

It had only to bob

Slap-dash down at once on the heads of the mob:

14.

Who, too apt to stare

At some castle in air,

Forget that the earth is their proper affair;

Till, watching the fall

Of some soap-bubble ball,

They tumble themselves with a terrible sprawl.

15.

Meanwhile, from its height

Stooping downward in flight,

The Phenomenon came more distinctly in sight:

Still bigger and bigger,

And strike me a nigger

Unfreed, if there was not a live human figure!

16.

Yes, plain to be seen,

Underneath the machine,

There dangled a mortal — some swore it was Green;

Some mason could spy;

Others named Mr. Gye;

Or Holland, compell’d by the Belgians to fly.

17.

’Twas Graham the flighty,

Whom the Duke high and mighty

Resign’d to take care of his own lignum-vitæ;

’Twas Hampton, whose whim

Was in Cloudland to swim,

Till e’en Little Hampton looked little to him!

18.

But all were at fault;

From the heavenly vault

The falling balloon came at last to a halt;

And bounce! with the jar

Of descending so far,

An outlandish Creature was thrown from the car!

19.

At first with the jolt

All his wits made a bolt,

As if he’d been flung by a mettlesome colt;

And while in his faint,

To avoid all complaint,

The muse shall endeavor his portrait to paint.

20.

The face of this elf,

Round as platter of delf,

Was pale as if only a cast of itself;

His head had a rare

Fleece of silvery hair,

Just like the Albino at Bartlemy Fair.

21.

His eyes they were odd,

Like the eyes of a cod,

And gave him the look of a watery God.

His nose was a snub;

Under which, for his grub,

Was a round open mouth like to that of a chub.

22.

His person was small,

Without figure at all,

A plump little body as round as a ball:

With two little fins,

And a couple of pins,

With what has been christened a bow in the shins.

23.

His dress it was new,

A full suit of sky-blue —

With bright silver buckles in each little shoe —

Thus painted complete,

From his head to his feet,

Conceive him laid flat in Squire Hopkins’s wheat.

24.

Fine text for the crowd!

Who disputed aloud

What sort of a creature had dropp’d from the cloud —

“He’s come from o’er seas,

He’s a Cochin Chinese —

By jingo! he’s one of the wild Cherokees!”

25.

“Don’t nobody know?”

“He’s a young Esquimaux,

Turn’d white like the hares by the Arctical snow.”

“Some angel, my dear,

Sent from some upper spear

For Plumtree or Agnew, too good for this-here!”

26.

Meanwhile with a sigh,

Having open’d one eye,

The Stranger rose up on his seat by and by;

And finding his tongue,

Thus he said, or he sung,

Mi criky bo biggamy kickery bung!”

27.

“Lord! what does he speak?”

“It’s Dog-Latin — it’s Greek!”

“It’s some sort of slang for to puzzle a Beak!”

“It’s no like the Scotch,”

Said a Scot on the watch,

“Pho! it’s nothing at all but a kind of hotch-potch!”

28.

“It’s not parly voo,”

Cried a schoolboy or two,

“Nor Hebrew at all,” said a wandering Jew.

Some held it was sprung

From the Irvingite tongue,

The same that is used by a child very young.

29.

Some guess’d it high Dutch,

Others thought it had much

In sound of the true Hoky-poky-ish touch;

But none could be poz,

What the Dickins! (not Boz)

No mortal could tell what the Dickins it was!

30.

When who should come pat,

In a moment like that,

But Bowring, to see what the people were at —

A Doctor well able,

Without any fable,

To talk and translate all the babble of Babel.

31.

So just drawing near,

With a vigilant ear,

That took ev’ry syllable in, very clear,

Before one could sip

Up a tumbler of flip,

He knew the whole tongue, from the root to the tip!

32.

Then stretching his hand,

As you see Daniel stand,

In the Feast of Belshazzar, that picture so grand!

Without more delay,

In the Hamilton way

He English’d whatever the Elf had to say.

33.

Krak kraziboo ban,

I’m the Lunatick Man,

Confined in the Moon since creation began —

Sit muggy bigog,

Whom except in a fog

You see with a Lanthorn, a Bush, and a Dog.”

34.

Lang sinery lear,

For this many a year,

I’ve long’d to drop in at your own little sphere —

Och, pad-mad aroon

Till one fine afternoon,

I found that Wind-Coach on the horns of the Moon.”

35.

Cush quackery go,

But, besides you must know,

I’d heard of a profiting Prophet below;

Big botherum blether,

Who pretended to gather

The tricks that the Moon meant to play with the weather.”

36.

So Crismus an crash

Being shortish of cash,

I thought I’d a right to partake of the hash —

Slik mizzle an smak,

So I’m come with a pack,

To sell to the trade, of My Own Almanack.”

37.

Fiz bobbery pershal

Besides aims commercial,

Much wishing to honor my friend Sir John Herschel,

Cum puddin and tame,

It’s inscribed to his name,

Which is now at the full in celestial fame.”

38.

Wept wepton wish wept,

Pray this Copy accept”—

But here on the Stranger some Kidnappers leapt:

For why a shrewd man

Had devis’d a sly plan

The Wonder to grab for a show Caravan.

39.

So plotted, so done —

With a fight as in fun,

While mock pugilistical rounds were begun,

A knave who could box,

And give right and left knocks,

Caught hold of the Prize by his silvery locks.

40.

And hard he had fared,

But the people were scared

By what the Interpreter roundly declared;

“You ignorant Turks!

You will be your own Burkes —

He holds all the keys of the lunary works!”

41.

“You’d best let him go —

If you keep him below,

The Moon will not change, and the tides will not flow;

He left her at full,

And with such a long pull,

Zounds! ev’ry man Jack will run mad like a bull!”

42.

So awful a threat

Took effect on the set;

The fright, tho’, was more than their Guest could forget;

So taking a jump,

In the car he came plump,

And threw all the ballast right out in a lump.

43.

Up soar’d the machine,

With its yellow and green;

But still the pale face of the Creature was seen,

Who cried from the car

“Dam in yooman bi gar!”

That is — “What a sad set of villains you are!”

44.

Howbeit, at some height,

He threw down quite a flight

Of Almanacks, wishing to set us all right —

And, thanks to the boon,

We shall see very soon

If Murphy knows most, or the Man in the Moon!

Queen Mab.

A little fairy comes at night,

Her eyes are blue, her hair is brown,

With silver spots upon her wings,

And from the moon she flutters down.

She has a little silver wand,

And when a good child goes to bed

She waves her wand from right to left,

And makes a circle round its head.

And then it dreams of pleasant things,

Of fountains filled with fairy fish,

And trees that bear delicious fruit,

And bow their branches at a wish;

Of arbors filled with dainty scents

From lovely flowers that never fade;

Bright flies that glitter in the sun,

And glow-worms shining in the shade.

And talking birds with gifted tongues,

For singing songs and telling tales,

And pretty dwarfs to show the way

Through fairy hills and fairy dales.

But when a bad child goes to bed,

From left to right she weaves her rings,

And then it dreams all through the night

Of only ugly horrid things!

Then lions come with glaring eyes,

And tigers growl, a dreadful noise,

And ogres draw their cruel knives,

To shed the blood of girls and boys.

Then stormy waves rush on to drown,

Or raging flames come scorching round,

Fierce dragons hover in the air,

And serpents crawl along the ground.

Then wicked children wake and weep,

And wish the long black gloom away;

But good ones love the dark, and find

The night as pleasant as the day.

To Henrietta,

On Her Departure for Calais.

When little people go abroad, wherever they may roam,

They will not just be treated as they used to be at home;

So take a few promiscuous hints, to warn you in advance,

Of how a little English girl will perhaps be served in France.

Of course you will be Frenchified; and first, it’s my belief,

They’ll dress you in their foreign style as à-la-mode as beef,

With a little row of beehives, as a border to your frock,

And a pair of frilly trousers, like a little bantam cock.

But first they’ll seize your bundle (if you have one) in a crack,

And tie it with a tape by way of bustle on your back;

And make your waist so high or low, your shape will be a riddle,

For anyhow you’ll never have your middle in the middle.

Your little English sandals for a while will hold together,

But woe betide you when the stones have worn away the leather;

For they’ll poke your little pettitoes (and there will be a hobble!