Quæque ipse miserrima vidi.-- VIRGIL.
Catherine of Cleves was a Lady of rank,
She had lands and fine houses, and cash in the Bank;
She had jewels and rings,
And a thousand smart things;
Was lovely and young,
With a rather sharp tongue,
And she wedded a Noble of high degree
With the star of the order of St. Esprit;
But the Duke de Guise
Was, by many degrees,
Her senior, and not very easy to please;
He'd a sneer on his lip, and a scowl with his eye,
And a frown on his brow,-- and he look'd like a Guy,--
So she took to intriguing
With Monsieur St. Megrin,
A young man of fashion, and figure, and worth,
But with no great pretensions to fortune or birth;
He would sing, fence, and dance
With the best man in France,
And took his rappee with genteel nonchalance;
He smiled, and he flatter'd, and flirted with ease,
And was very superior to Monseigneur de Guise.
Now Monsieur St. Megrin was curious to know
If the Lady approved of his passion or no;
So without more ado,
He put on his surtout,
And went to a man with a beard like a Jew.
One Signor Ruggieri,
A Cunning-man near, he
Could conjure, tell fortunes, and calculate tides,
Perform tricks on the cards, and Heaven knows what besides,
Bring back a stray'd cow, silver ladle, or spoon,
And was thought to be thick with the Man in the Moon.
The Sage took his stand
With his wand in his hand,
Drew a circle, then gave the dread word of command,
Saying solemnly --' Presto!-- Hey, quick!-- Cock-alorum!!'
When the Duchess immediately popped up before 'em.
Just then a Conjunction of Venus and Mars,
Or something peculiar above in the stars,
Attracted the notice of Signor Ruggieri,
Who 'bolted,' and left him alone with his deary.--
Monsieur St. Megrin went down on his knees,
And the Duchess shed tears large as marrow-fat peas,
When,-- fancy the shock,--
A loud double-knock,
Made the Lady cry 'Get up, you fool!-- there's De Guise!'--
'Twas his Grace, sure enough;
So Monsieur, looking bluff,
Strutted by, with his hat on, and fingering his ruff,
While, unseen by either, away flew the Dame
Through the opposite key-hole, the same way she came;
But, alack! and alas!
A mishap came to pass,
In her hurry she, somehow or other, let fall
A new silk Bandana she'd worn as a shawl;
She had used it for drying
Her bright eyes while crying,
And blowing her nose, as her Beau talk'd of 'dying!'
Now the Duke, who had seen it so lately adorn her,
And knew the great C with the Crown in the corner;
The instant he spied it smoked something amiss,
And said with some energy, 'D-- it! what's this?'
He went home in a fume,
And bounced into her room,
Crying, 'So, Ma'am, I find I've some cause to be jealous;
Look here!-- here's a proof you run after the fellows!
-- Now take up that pen,-- if it's bad choose a better,--
And write, as I dictate, this moment a letter
To Monsieur -- you know who!'
The Lady look'd blue;
But replied with much firmness --' Hang me if I do!'
De Guise grasped her wrist
With his great bony fist,
And pinch'd it, and gave it so painful a twist,
That his hard, iron gauntlet the flesh went an inch in,--
She did not mind death, but she could not stand pinching;
So she sat down and wrote
This polite little note:--
'Dear Mister St. Megrin,
The Chiefs of the League in
Our house mean to dine
This evening at nine;
I shall, soon after ten,
Slip away from the men,
And you'll find me up stairs in the drawing-room then;
Come up the back way, or those impudent thieves
Of Servants will see you; Yours,
Catherine of Cleves.'
She directed and sealed it, all pale as a ghost,
And De Guise put it into the Twopenny Post.
St. Megrin had almost jumped out of his skin
For joy that day when the post came in;
He read the note through,
Then began it anew,
And thought it almost too good news to be true.--
He clapped on his hat,
And a hood over that,
With a cloak to disguise him, and make him look fat;
So great his impatience, from half after four
He was waiting till Ten at De Guise's back-door.
When he heard the great clock of St. Genevieve chime
He ran up the back staircase six steps at a time;
He had scare made his bow,
He hardly knew how,
When alas! and alack!
There was no getting back,
For the drawing-room door was bang'd to with a whack;--
In vain he applied
To the handle and tried,
Somebody or other had locked it outside!
And the Duchess in agony mourn'd her mishap,
'We are caught like a couple of rats in a trap.'
Now the Duchess's Page,
About twelve years of age,
For so little a boy was remarkably sage;
And, just in the nick, to their joy and amazement,
Popp'd the Gas-lighter's ladder close under the casement.
But all would not do,--
Though St. Megrin got through
The window,-- below stood De Guise and his crew,
And though never man was more brave than St. Megrin,
Yet fighting a score is extremely fatiguing;
He thrust carte and tierce
But not Beelzebub's self could their cuirasses pierce,
While his doublet and hose,
Being holiday clothes,
Were soon cut through and through from his knees to his nose.
Still an old crooked sixpence the Conjuror gave him
From pistol and sword was sufficient to save him,
But, when beat on his knees,
That confounded De Guise
Came behind with the 'fogle' that caused all this breeze,
Whipp'd it tight round his neck, and, when backward he'd jerk'd him,
The rest of the rascals jump'd on him and Burk'd him.
The poor little Page too himself got no quarter, but
Was served the same way,
And was found the next day
With his heels in the air and his head in the water-butt.
Catherine of Cleves
Roar'd 'Murder!' and 'Thieves!'
From the window above
While they murder'd her love;
Till, finding the rogues had accomplish'd his slaughter,
She drank Prussic acid without any water,
And died like a Duke and a Duchess's daughter!
Take warning, ye Fair, from this tale of the Bard's,
And don't go where fortunes are told on the cards!
But steer clear of Conjurors,-- never put query
To 'Wise Mrs. Williams,' or folks like Ruggieri.
When alone in your room shut the door close, and lock it;
Above all,-- keep your handkerchief safe in your pocket!
Lest you too should stumble, and Lord Leveson Gower, he
Be call'd on,-- sad poet!-- to tell your sad story
'Look At The Clock!' : Patty Morgan The Milkmaid's Story
'Look at the Clock!' quoth Winifred Pryce,
As she open'd the door to her husband's knock,
Then paus'd to give him a piece of advice,
'You nasty Warmint, look at the Clock!
Is this the way, you
Wretch, every day you
Treat her who vow'd to love and obey you?
Out all night!
Me in a fright;
Staggering home as it's just getting light!
You intoxified brute! you insensible block!
Look at the Clock!-- Do!-- Look at the Clock!'
Winifred Pryce was tidy and clean,
Her gown was a flower'd one, her petticoat green,
Her buckles were bright as her milking cans,
And her hat was a beaver, and made like a man's;
Her little red eyes were deep set in their socket-holes,
Her gown-tail was turn'd up, and tuck'd through the pocket-holes:
A face like a ferret
Betoken'd her spirit:
To conclude, Mrs. Pryce was not over young,
Had very short legs, and a very long tongue.
Now David Pryce
Had one darling vice;
Remarkably partial to anything nice,
Nought that was good to him came amiss,
Whether to eat, or to drink, or to kiss!
Especially ale --
If it was not too stale
I really believe he'd have emptied a pail;
Not that in Wales
They talk of their Ales;
To pronounce the word they make use of might trouble you,
Being spelt with a C, two Rs, and a W.
That particular day,
As I've heard people say,
Mr. David Pryce had been soaking his clay,
And amusing himself with his pipe and cheroots,
The whole afternoon at the Goat in Boots,
With a couple more soakers,
Both, like himself, prime singers and jokers;
And, long after day had drawn to a close,
And the rest of the world was wrapp'd in repose,
They were roaring out 'Shenkin!' and 'Ar hydd y nos;'
While David himself, to a Sassenach tune,
Sang, 'We've drunk down the Sun, boys! let's drink down the Moon!'
What have we with day to do?
Mrs. Winifred Pryce, 'twas made for you!'--
At length, when they couldn't well drink any more,
Old 'Goat-in-Boots' show'd them the door;
And then came that knock,
And the sensible shock
David felt when his wife cried, 'Look at the Clock!'
For the hands stood as crooked as crooked might be,
The long at the Twelve, and the short at the Three!
This self-same Clock had long been a bone
Of contention between this Darby and Joan;
And often among their pother and rout,
When this otherwise amiable couple fell out,
Pryce would drop a cool hint,
With an ominous squint
At its case, of an 'Uncle' of his, who'd a 'Spout.'
That horrid word 'Spout'
No sooner came out,
Than Winifred Pryce would turn her about,
And with scorn on her lip,
And a hand on each hip,
'Spout' herself till her nose grew red at the tip.
'You thundering willain,
I know you'd be killing
Your wife,-- ay, a dozen of wives,-- for a shilling!
You may do what you please,
You may sell my chemise,
(Mrs. P. was too well-bred to mention her stock,)
But I never will part with my Grandmother's Clock!'
Mrs. Pryce's tongue ran long and ran fast;
But patience is apt to wear out at last,
And David Pryce in temper was quick,
So he stretch'd out his hand, and caught hold of a stick;
Perhaps in its use he might mean to be lenient,
But walking just then wasn't very convenient,
So he threw it, instead,
Direct at her head.
It knock'd off her hat;
Down she fell flat;
Her case, perhaps, was not much mended by that:
But, whatever it was,-- whether rage and pain
Produced apoplexy, or burst a vein,
Or her tumble induced a concussion of brain,
I can't say for certain,-- but this I can,
When, sober'd by fright, to assist her he ran,
Mrs. Winifred Pryce was as dead as Queen Anne!
The fearful catastrophe
Named in my last strophe
As adding to grim Death's exploits such a vast trophy,
Soon made a great noise; and the shocking fatality
Ran over, like wild-fire, the whole Principality.
And then came Mr. Ap Thomas, the Coroner,
With his jury to sit, some dozen or more, on her.
Mr. Pryce to commence
His 'ingenious defence,'
Made a 'powerful appeal' to the jury's 'good sense,'
'The world he must defy
Ever to justify
Any presumption of 'Malice Prepense;'
The unlucky lick
From the end of his stick
He 'deplored,' he was 'apt to be rather too quick;'
But, really, her prating
Was so aggravating:
Some trifling correction was just what he meant; all
The rest, he assured them, was 'quite accidental!'
Then he called Mr. Jones,
Who deposed to her tones,
And her gestures, and hints about 'breaking his bones.'
While Mr. Ap Morgan, and Mr. Ap Rhys
Declared the Deceased
Had styled him 'a Beast,'
And swore they had witness'd, with grief and surprise,
The allusions she made to his limbs and his eyes.
The jury, in fine, having sat on the body
The whole day, discussing the case, and gin-toddy,
Return'd about half-past eleven at night
The following verdict, 'We find, Sarve her right!'
Mr. Pryce, Mrs. Winifred Pryce being dead,
Felt lonely, and moped; and one evening he said
He would marry Miss Davis at once in her stead.
Not far from his dwelling,
From the vale proudly swelling,
Rose a mountain; it's name you'll excuse me from telling,
For the vowels made use of in Welsh are so few
That the A and the E, the I, O, and the U,
Have really but little or nothing to do;
And the duty, of course, falls the heavier by far
On the L, and the H, and the N, and the R.
Its first syllable, 'Pen,'
Is pronounceable;-- then
Come two L Ls, and two H Hs, two F Fs, and an N;
About half a score Rs, and some Ws follow,
Beating all my best efforts at euphony hollow:
But we shan't have to mention it often, so when
We do, with your leave, we'll curtail it to 'Pen.'
Well,-- the moon shone bright
Upon 'Pen' that night,
When Pryce, being quit of his fuss and his fright,
Was scaling its side
With that sort of stride
A man puts out when walking in search of a bride,
Mounting higher and higher,
He began to perspire,
Till, finding his legs were beginning to tire,
And feeling opprest
By a pain in his chest,
He paused, and turn'd round to take breath, and to rest;
A walk all up hill is apt, we know,
To make one, however robust, puff and blow,
So he stopp'd, and look'd down on the valley below.
O'er fell, and o'er fen,
Over mountain and glen,
All bright in the moonshine, his eye roved, and then
All the Patriot rose in his soul, and he thought
Of Wales, and her glories, and all he'd been taught
Of her Heroes of old,
So brave and so bold,--
Of her Bards with long beards, and harps mounted in gold;
Of King Edward the First,
Of memory accurst;
And the scandalous manner in which he behaved,
Killing Poets by dozens,
With their uncles and cousins,
Of whom not one in fifty had ever been shaved.
Of the Court Ball, at which by a lucky mishap,
Owen Tudor fell into Queen Katherine's lap;
And how Mr. Tudor
Successfully woo'd her
Till the Dowager put on a new wedding ring,
And so made him Father-in-law to the King.
He thought upon Arthur, and Merlin of yore,
On Gryffth ap Conan, and Owen Glendour;
On Pendragon, and Heaven knows how many more.
He thought of all this, as he gazed, in a trice,
And on all things, in short, but the late Mrs. Pryce;
When a lumbering noise from behind made him start,
And sent the blood back in full tide to his heart,
Which went pit-a-pat
As he cried out, 'What's that?'--
That very queer sound?
Does it come from the ground?
Or the air,-- from above or below, or around?
It is not like Talking,
It is not like Walking,
It's not like the clattering of pot or of pan,
Or the tramp of a horse,-- or the tread of a man,--
Or the hum of a crowd,-- or the shouting of boys,--
It's really a deuced odd sort of a noise!
Not unlike a Cart's,-- but that can't be; for when
Could 'all the King's horses and all the King's men,'
With Old Nick for a waggoner, drive one up 'Pen?'
Pryce, usually brimful of valour when drunk,
Now experienced what schoolboys denominate 'funk.'
In vain he look'd back
On the whole of the track
He had traversed; a thick cloud, uncommonly black,
At this moment obscured the broad disc of the moon,
And did not seem likely to pass away soon;
While clearer and clearer,
'Twas plain to the hearer,
Be the noise what it might, it drew nearer and nearer,
And sounded, as Pryce to this moment declares,
Very much 'like a Coffin a-walking up stairs.'
Mr. Pryce had begun
To 'make up' for a run,
As in such a companion he saw no great fun,
When a single bright ray
Shone out on the way
He had pass'd, and he saw, with no little dismay,
Coming after him, bounding o'er crag and o'er rock,
The deceased Mrs. Winifred's 'Grandmother's Clock!!'
'Twas so!-- it had certainly moved from its place,
And come, lumbering on thus, to hold him in chase;
'Twas the very same Head, and the very same Case,
And nothing was alter'd at all -- but the Face!
In that he perceived, with no little surprise,
The two little winder-holes turn'd into eyes
Blazing with ire,
Like two coals of fire;
And the 'Name of the Maker' was changed to a Lip,
And the Hands to a Nose with a very red tip.
No!-- he could not mistake it,--' twas She to the life!
The identical Face of his poor defunct Wife!
One glance was enough,
Completely 'Quant. suff.'
As the doctors write down when they send you their 'stuff,'--
Like a Weather-cock whirl'd by a vehement puff,
David turn'd himself round;
Ten feet of ground
He clear'd, in his start, at the very first bound!
I've seen people run at West-End Fair for cheeses,
I've seen Ladies run at Bow Fair for chemises,
At Greenwich Fair twenty men run for a hat,
And one from a Bailiff much faster than that;
At foot-ball I've seen lads run after the bladder,
I've seen Irish Bricklayers run up a ladder,
I've seen little boys run away from a cane,
And I've seen (that is, read of) good running in Spain;
But I never did read
Of, or witness, such speed
As David exerted that evening.-- Indeed
All I ever have heard of boys, women, or men,
Falls far short of Pryce, as he ran over 'Pen!'
He reaches its brow,--
He has past it, and now
Having once gain'd the summit, and managed to cross it, he
Rolls down the side with uncommon velocity;
But, run as he will,
Or roll down the hill,
That bugbear behind him is after him still!
And close at his heels, not at all to his liking,
The terrible Clock keeps on ticking and striking,
Till, exhausted and sore,
He can't run any more,
But falls as he reaches Miss Davis's door,
And screams when they rush out, alarm'd at his knock,
'Oh! Look at the Clock!-- Do!-- Look at the Clock!!'
Miss Davis look'd up, Miss Davis look'd down,
She saw nothing there to alarm her;-- a frown
Came o'er her white forehead,
She said, 'It was horrid
A man should come knocking at that time of night,
And give her Mamma and herself such a fright;
To squall and to bawl
About nothing at all,
She begg'd 'he'd not think of repeating his call,
His late wife's disaster
By no means had past her,'
She'd 'have him to know she was meat for his Master!'
Then, regardless alike of his love and his woes,
She turn'd on her heel and she turned up her nose.
Poor David in vain
Implored to remain,
He 'dared not,' he said, 'cross the mountain again.'
Why the fair was obdurate
None knows,-- to be sure, it
Was said she was setting her cap at the Curate;--
Be that as it may, it is certain the sole hole
Pryce could find to creep into that night was the Coal-hole!
In that shady retreat,
With nothing to eat,
And with very bruised limbs, and with very sore feet,
All night close he kept;
I can't say he slept;
But he sigh'd, and he sobb'd, and he groan'd, and he wept,
Lamenting his sins
And his two broken shins,
Bewailing his fate with contortions and grins,
And her he once thought a complete Rara Avis,
Consigning to Satan,-- viz. cruel Miss Davis!
Mr. David has since had a 'serious call,'
He never drinks ale, wine, or spirits, at all,
And they say he is going to Exeter Hall
To make a grand speech,
And to preach, and to teach
People that 'they can't brew their malt-liquor too small!'
That an ancient Welsh Poet, one Pyndar ap Tudor,
Was right in proclaiming 'Ariston men Udor!'
Which means 'The pure Element
Is for the belly meant!'
And that Gin's but a Snare of Old Nick the deluder!
And 'still on each evening when pleasure fills up,'
At the old Goat-in-Boots, with Metheglin, each cup,
Mr Pryce, if he's there,
Will get into 'the Chair,'
And make all his quondam associates stare
By calling aloud to the landlady's daughter,
'Patty! bring a cigar, and a glass of Spring Water!'
The dial he constantly watches; and when
The long hand's at the 'XII,' and the short at the 'X,'
He gets on his legs,
Drains his glass to the dregs,
Takes his hat and great-coat off their several pegs,
With his President's hammer bestows his last knock,
And says solemnly,--'Gentlemen!
'Look at the Clock!!!
There stands a City,-- neither large nor small,
Its air and situation sweet and pretty;
It matters very little -- if at all --
Whether its denizens are dull or witty,
Whether the ladies there are short or tall,
Brunettes or blondes, only, there stands a city!--
Perhaps 'tis also requisite to minute
That there's a Castle and a Cobbler in it.
A fair Cathedral, too, the story goes,
And kings and heroes lie entomb'd within her;
There pious Saints, in marble pomp repose,
Whose shrines are worn by knees of many a Sinner;
There, too, full many an Aldermanic nose
Roll'd its loud diapason after dinner;
And there stood high the holy sconce of Becket,
-- Till four assassins came from France to crack it.
The Castle was a huge and antique mound,
Proof against all th' artillery of the quiver,
Ere those abominable guns were found
To send cold lead through gallant warrior's liver.
It stands upon a gently rising ground,
Sloping down gradually to the river,
Resembling (to compare great things with smaller),
A well-scooped, mouldy Stilton cheese,-- but taller.
The Keep, I find, 's been sadly alter'd lately,
And, 'stead of mail-clad knights, of honour jealous,
In martial panoply so grand and stately,
Its walls are fill'd with money-making fellows,
And stuff'd, unless I'm misinformed greatly,
With leaden pipes, and coke, and coals, and bellows;
In short, so great a change has come to pass,
'Tis now a manufactory of Gas.
But to my tale.-- Before this profanation,
And ere its ancient glories were cut short all,
A poor hard-working Cobbler took his station
In a small house, just opposite the portal;
His birth, his parentage, and education,
I know but little of -- a strange, odd mortal;
His aspect, air, and gait, were all ridiculous;
His name was Mason -- he'd been christen'd Nicholas.
Nick had a wife possessed of many a charm,
And of the Lady Huntingdon persuasion;
But, spite of all her piety, her arm
She'd sometimes exercise when in a passion;
And, being of a temper somewhat warm,
Would now and then seize, upon small occasion,
A stick, or stool, or anything that round did lie,
And baste her lord and master most confoundedly.
No matter!--'tis a thing that's not uncommon,
'Tis what we have all heard, and most have read of,--
I mean, a bruizing, pugilistic woman,
Such as I own I entertain a dread of,
-- And so did Nick, whom sometimes there would come on
A sort of fear his spouse might knock his head off,
Demolish half his teeth, or drive a rib in,
She shone so much in 'facers' and in 'fibbing.'
'There's time and place for all things,' said a sage,
(King Solomon, I think,) and this I can say,
Within a well-roped ring, or on a stage,
Boxing may be a very pretty Fancy,
When Messrs. Burke or Bendigo engage;
--' Tis not so well in Susan, Jane, or Nancy;--
To get well mill'd by any one's an evil,
But by a lady --' tis the very Devil.
And so thought Nicholas, whose only trouble
(At least his worst) was this his rib's propensity,
For sometimes from the alehouse he would hobble,
His senses lost in a sublime immensity
Of cogitation -- then he couldn't cobble --
And then his wife would often try the density
Of his poor skull, and strike with all her might,
As fast as kitchen wenches strike a light.
Mason, meek soul, who ever hated strife,
Of this same striking had the utmost dread,
He hated it like poison -- or his wife --
A vast antipathy!-- but so he said --
And very often for a quiet life
On these occasions he'd sneak up to bed,
Grope darkling in, and, soon as at the door
He heard his lady -- he'd pretend to snore.
One night, then, ever partial to society,
Nick, with a friend (another jovial fellow),
Went to a Club -- I should have said Society --
At the 'City Arms,' once called the Porto Bello;
A Spouting party, which, though some decry it, I
Consider no bad lounge when one is mellow;
There they discuss the tax on salt, and leather,
And change of ministers, and change of weather.
In short, it was a kind of British Forum,
Like John Gale Jones's, erst in Piccadilly,
Only they managed things with more decorum,
And the Orations were not quite so silly;
Far different questions, too, would come before 'em,
Not always Politics, which, will ye nill ye,
Their London prototypes were always willing,
To give one quantum suff. of -- for a shilling.
It more resembled one of later date,
And tenfold talent, as I'm told, in Bow Street,
Where kindlier natured souls do congregate,
And, though there are who deem that same a low street,
Yet, I'm assured, for frolicsome debate
And genuine humour it's surpaass'd by no street,
When the 'Chief Baron' enters, and assumes
To 'rule' o'er mimic 'Thesigers' and 'Broughams.'
Here they would oft forget their Rulers' faults,
And waste in ancient lore the midnight taper,
Inquire if Orpheus first produced the Waltz,
How Gas-lights differ from the Delphic Vapour,
Whether Hippocrates gave Glauber's Salts,
And what the Romans wrote on ere they'd paper;
This night the subject of their disquisitions
Was Ghosts, Hobgoblins, Sprites, and Apparitions.
One learned gentleman, 'a sage grave man,'
Talk'd of the Ghost in Hamlet, 'sheath'd in steel;'--
His well-read friend, who next to speak began,
Said, 'That was Poetry, and nothing real;'
A third, of more extensive learning, ran
To Sir George Villiers' Ghost, and Mrs. Veal;
Of sheeted Spectres spoke with shorten'd breath,
And thrice he quoted 'Drelincourt on Death.'
Nick smoked, and smoked, and trembled as he heard
The point discuss'd, and all they said upon it,
How, frequently, some murder'd man appear'd,
To tell his wife and children who had done it;
Or how a Miser's ghost, with grisly beard,
And pale lean visage, in an old Scotch bonnet,
Wander'd about, to watch his buried money!
When all at once Nick heard the clock strike one,-- he
Sprang from his seat, not doubting but a lecture
Impended from his fond and faithful she;
Nor could he well to pardon him expect her,
For he had promised to 'be home to tea;'
But having luckily the key o' the back door,
He fondly hoped that, unperceived, he
Might creep up stairs again, pretend to doze,
And hoax his spouse with music from his nose.
Vain, fruitless hope!-- The weary sentinel
At eve may overlook the crouching foe,
Till, ere his hand can sound the alarum-bell,
He sinks beneath the unexpected blow;
Before the whiskers of Grimalkin fell,
When slumb'ring on her post, the mouse may go;--
But woman, wakeful woman, 's never weary,
-- Above all, when she waits to thump her deary.
Soon Mrs. Mason heard the well known tread,
She heard the key slow creaking in the door,
Spied, through the gloom obscure, towards the bed
Nick creeping soft, as oft he had crept before;
When bang, she threw a something at his head,
And Nick at once lay prostrate on the floor;
While she exclaim'd, with her indignant face on,--
'How dare you use your wife so, Mr. Mason?'
Spare we to tell how fiercely she debated,
Especially the length of her oration,--
Spare we to tell how Nick expostulated,
Roused by the bump into a good set passion,
So great, that more than once he execrated,
Ere he crawl'd into bed in his usual fashion;
The Muses hate brawls; suffice it then to say,
He duck'd below the clothes -- and there he lay!
'Twas now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards groan, and graves give up their dead,
And many a mischievous enfranchised Sprite
Had long since burst his bonds of stone or lead,
And hurried off, with schoolboy-like delight,
To play his pranks near some poor wretch's bed,
Sleeping perhaps serenely as a porpoise,
Nor dreaming of this fiendish Habeas Corpus.
Not so our Nicholas, his meditations
Still to the same tremendous theme recurr'd,
The same dread subject of the dark narrations,
Which, back'd with such authority, he'd heard;
Lost in his own horrific contemplations,
He ponder'd o'er each well-remember'd word;
When at the bed's foot, close beside the post,
He verily believed he saw -- a Ghost!
Plain, and more plain, the unsubstantial Sprite
To his astonish'd gaze each moment grew;
Ghastly and gaunt, it rear'd its shadowy height,
Of more than mortal seeming to the view,
And round its long, thin, bony fingers drew
A tatter'd winding-sheet, of course all white;
The moon that moment peeping through a cloud,
Nick very plainly saw it through the shroud!
And now those matted locks, which never yet
Had yielded to the comb's unkind divorce,
Their long-contracted amity forget,
And spring asunder with elastic force;
Nay, e'en the very cap, of texture coarse,
Whose ruby cincture crown'd that brow of jet,
Uprose in agony -- the Gorgon's head
Was but a type of Nick's up-squatting in the bed.
From every pore distill'd a clammy dew,
Quaked every limb,-- the candle, too, no doubt,
En règle, would have burnt extremely blue,
But Nick unluckily had put it out;
And he, though naturally bold and stout,
In short, was in a most tremendous stew;--
The room was filled with a sulphureous smell,
But where that came from Mason could not tell.
All motionless the Spectre stood, and now
Its rev'rend form more clearly shone confest;
From the pale cheek a beard of purest snow
Descended o'er its venerable breast;
The thin grey hairs, that crown'd its furrow'd brow,
Told of years long gone by.-- An awful guest
It stood, and with an action of command,
Beckon'd the Cobbler with its wan right hand.
'Whence, and what art thou, Execrable Shape?'
Nick might have cried, could he have found a tongue,
But his distended jaws could only gape,
And not a sound upon the welkin rung;
His gooseberry orbs seem'd as they would have sprung
Forth from their sockets,-- like a frighten'd Ape,
He sat upon his haunches, bolt upright,
And shook, and grinn'd, and chatter'd with affright.
And still the shadowy finger, long and lean,
Now beckon'd Nick, now pointed to the door;
And many an ireful glance, and frown, between,
The angry visage of the Phantom wore,
As if quite vex'd that Nick would do no more
Than stare, without e'en asking, 'What d'ye mean?'
Because, as we are told,-- a sad old joke too,--
Ghosts, like the ladies, never speak till spoke to.
Cowards, 'tis said, in certain situations,
Derive a sort of courage from despair,
And then perform, from downright desperation,
Much more than many a bolder man would dare.
Nick saw the Ghost was getting in a passion,
And therefore, groping till he found the chair,
Seized on his awl, crept softly out of bed,
And follow'd quaking where the Spectre led.
And down the winding-stair, with noiseless tread,
The tenant of the tomb pass'd slowly on,
Each mazy turning of the humble shed
Seem'd to his step at once familiar grown,
So safe and sure the labyrinth did he tread
As though the domicile had been his own,
Though Nick himself, in passing through the shop,
Had almost broke his nose against the mop.
Despite its wooden bolt, with jarring sound,
The door upon its hinges open flew;
And forth the Spirit issued,-- yet around
It turn'd as if its follower's fears it knew,
And, once more beckoning, pointed to the mound,
The antique Keep, on which the bright moon threw
With such effulgence her mild silvery gleam,
The visionary form seem'd melting in her beam.
Beneath a pond'rous archway's sombre shade,
Where once the huge portcullis swung sublime,
Mid ivied battlements in ruin laid,
Sole, sad memorials of the olden time,
The Phantom held its way,-- and though afraid
Even of the owls that sung their vesper chime,
Pale Nicholas pursued, its steps attending,
And wondering what on earth it all would end in.
Within the mouldering fabric's deep recess
At length they reach a court obscure and lone;--
It seem'd a drear and desolate wilderness,
The blacken'd walls with ivy all o'ergrown;
The night-bird shriek'd her note of wild distress,
Disturb'd upon her solitary throne,
As though indignant mortal step should dare,
So led, at such an hour, to venture there!
-- The Apparition paused, and would have spoke,
Pointing to what Nick thought an iron ring,
But then a neighbouring chaunticleer awoke,
And loudly 'gan his early matins sing;
And then 'it started like a guilty thing,'
As his shrill clarion the silence broke.
-- We know how much dead gentlefolks eschew
The appalling sound of 'Cock-a-doodle-do!'
The Vision was no more -- and Nick alone --
'His streamers waving' in the midnight wind,
Which through the ruins ceased not to groan;
-- His garment, too, was somewhat short behind,--
And, worst of all, he knew not where to find
The ring, which made him most his fate bemoan.--
The iron ring,-- no doubt of some trap door,
'Neath which the old dead Miser kept his store.
'What's to be done?' he cried; ''Twere vain to stay
Here in the dark without a single clue --
Oh for a candle now, or moonlight ray!
'Fore George, I'm vastly puzzled what to do.'
(Then clapp'd his hand behind) --' 'Tis chilly too --
I'll mark the spot, and come again by day.
What can I mark it by?-- Oh, here's the wall --
The mortar's yielding -- here I'll stick my awl!'
Then rose from earth to sky a withering shriek,
A loud, a long-protracted note of woe,
Such as when tempests roar, and timbers creak,
And o'er the side the masts in thunder go;
While on the deck resistless billows break,
And drag their victims to the gulfs below;--
Such was the scream when, for the want of candle,
Nick Mason drove his awl in up to the handle.
Scared by his Lady's heart-appalling cry,
Vanish'd at once poor Mason's golden dream --
For dream it was;-- and all his visions high,
Of wealth and grandeur, fled before that scream --
And still he listens with averted eye,
When gibing neighbours make 'the Ghost' their theme;
While ever from that hour they all declare
That Mrs. Mason used a cushion in her chair
A Lay Of St. Gengulphus
'Non multo post, Gengulphus, in domo sua dormiens, occisus est a quodam clerico qui cum uxore sua adulterare solebat. Cujus corpus dum in fereto in sepulturam portaretur, multi infirmi de tactu sanati sunt.'
'Cum hoc illius uxori referretur ab ancilla sua, scilicet dominum suum quam martyrem sanctum miracula facere, irridens illa, et subsurrans, ait, 'Ita Gengulphus miracula facitat ut pulvinarium meum cantat,' &c. &c.-- Wolfii Memorab.
Gengulphus comes from the Holy Land,
With his scrip, and his bottle, and sandal shoon;
Full many a day has he been away,
Yet his Lady deems him return'd full soon.
Full many a day has he been away,
Yet scarce had he crossed ayont the sea,
Ere a spruce young spark of a Learned Clerk
Had called on his Lady and stopp'd to tea.
This spruce young guest, so trimly drest,
Stay'd with that Lady, her revels to crown;
They laugh'd; and they ate, and they drank of the best,
And they turn'd the old Castle quite upside down.
They would walk in the park, that spruce young Clerk,
With that frolicsome Lady so frank and free,
Trying balls and plays, and all manner of ways,
To get rid of what French people call Ennui.
Now the festive board, with viands is stored,
Savoury dishes be there, I ween,
Rich puddings and big, and a barbecued pig,
And oxtail soup in a China tureen.
There's a flagon of ale as large as a pail --
When, cockle on hat, and staff in hand,
While on nought they are thinking save eating and drinking,
Gengulphus walks in from the Holy Land!
'You must be pretty deep to catch weazels asleep,'
Says the proverb: that is, 'take the Fair unawares;'
A maid, o'er the banisters chancing to peep,
Whispers, 'Ma'am, here's Gengulphus a-coming upstairs.'
Pig, pudding, and soup, the electrified group,
With the flagon, pop under the sofa in haste,
And contrive to deposit the Clerk in the closet,
As the dish least of all to Gengulphus's taste.
Then oh! what rapture, what joy was exprest,
When 'poor dear Gengulphus' at last appear'd!
She kiss'd, and she press'd 'the dear man' to her breast,
In spite of his great, long, frizzly beard.
Such hugging and squeezing! 'twas almost unpleasing,
A smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye;
She was so very glad, that she seem'd half mad,
And did not know whether to laugh or to cry.
Then she calls up the maid, and the table cloth's laid,
And she sends for a pint of the best Brown Stout;
On the fire, too, she pops some nice mutton chops,
And she mixes a stiff glass of 'Cold Without.'
Then again she began at the 'poor dear' man;
She press'd him to drink, and she press'd him to eat,
And she brought a foot-pan with hot water and bran,
To comfort his 'poor dear' travel-worn feet.
'Nor night nor day since he'd been away,
Had she had any rest' she 'vow'd and declared.'
She 'never could eat one morsel of meat,
For thinking how 'poor dear' Gengulphus fared.'
She 'really did think she had not slept a wink
Since he left her, although he'd been absent so long.'
He here shook his head,-- right little he said;
But he thought she was 'coming it rather too strong.'
Now his palate she tickles with the chops and the pickles,
Till, so great the effect of that stiff gin grog,
His weaken'd body, subdued by the toddy,
Falls out of the chair, and he lies like a log.
Then out comes the Clerk from his secret lair;
He lifts up the legs, and she raises the head,
And, between them, this most reprehensible pair
Undress poor Gengulphus, and put him to bed.
Then the bolster they place athwart his face,
And his night-cap into his mouth they cram;
And she pinches his nose underneath the clothes,
Till the 'poor dear soul' went off like a lamb.
And now they try'd the deed to hide;
For a little bird whisper'd, 'Perchance you may swing;
Here's a corpse in the case with a sad swell'd face,
And a 'Crowner's Quest' is a queer sort of thing!'
So the Clerk and the Wife, they each took a knife,
And the nippers that nipp'd the loaf-sugar for tea;
With the edges and points they sever'd the joints
At the clavicle, elbow, hip, ankle, and knee.
Thus, limb from limb, they dismember'd him
So entirely, that e'en when they came to his wrists,
With those great sugar nippers they nipp'd off his 'flippers,'
As the Clerk, very flippantly, term'd his fists.
When they'd cut off his head, entertaining a dread
Lest folks should remember Gengulphus's face,
They determined to throw it, where no one could know it,
Down the well, and the limbs in some different place.
But first the long beard from the chin they shear'd,
And managed to stuff that sanctified hair,
With a good deal of pushing, all into the cushion,
That filled up the seat of a large arm-chair.
They contrived to pack up the trunk in a sack,
Which they hid in an osier-bed outside the town,
The Clerk bearing arms, legs, and all on his back,
As the late Mr. Greenacre served Mrs. Brown.
But to see now how strangely things sometimes turn out,
And that in a manner the least expected!
Who could surmise a man ever could rise
Who'd been thus carbonado'd, cut up, and dissected?
No doubt 'twould surprise the pupils at Guy's;
I am no unbeliever -- no man can say that o' me --
But St. Thomas himself would scarce trust his own eyes,
If he saw such a thing in his School of Anatomy.
You may deal as you please with Hindoos or Chinese,
Or a Mussulman making his heathen salaam, or
A Jew or a Turk, but it's other guess work
When a man has to do with a Pilgrim or Palmer.
By chance the Prince Bishop, a Royal Divine,
Sends his cards round the neighbourhood next day, and urges his
Wish to receive a snug party to dine
Of the resident clergy, the gentry, and burgesses.
At a quarter past five they are all alive
At the palace, for coaches are fast rolling in;
And to every guest his card had expressed
'Half past' as the hour for 'a greasy chin.'
Some thirty are seated, and handsomely treated
With the choicest Rhine wines in his Highness's stock;
When a Count of the Empire, who felt himself heated,
Requested some water to mix with his Hock.
The Butler, who saw it, sent a maid out to draw it,
But scarce had she given the windlass a twirl,
Ere Gengulphus's head from the well's bottom said
In mild accents, 'Do help us out, that's a good girl!'
Only fancy her dread when she saw a great head
In her bucket;-- with fright she was ready to drop:--
Conceive, if you can, how she roar'd and she ran,
With the head rolling after her bawling out 'Stop!'
She ran and she roar'd till she came to the board
Where the Prince Bishop sat with his party around,
When Gengulphus's poll, which continued to roll
At her heels, on the table bounced up with a bound.
Never touching the cates, or the dishes or plates,
The decanters or glasses, the sweetmeats or fruits,
The head smiles, and begs them to bring him his legs,
As a well-spoken gentleman asks for his boots.
Kicking open the casement, to each one's amazement,
Straight a right leg steps in, all impediment scorns,
And near the head stopping, a left follows hopping
Behind,-- for the left Leg was troubled with corns.
Next, before the beholders, two great brawny shoulders,
And arms on their bent elbows dance through the throng,
While two hands assist, though nipped off at the wrist,
The said shoulders in bearing a body along.
They march up to the head, not one syllable said,
For the thirty guests all stare in wonder and doubt,
As the limbs in their sight arrange and unite,
Till Gengulphus, though dead, looks as sound as a trout.
I will venture to say, from that hour to this day,
Ne'er did such an assembly behold such a scene;
Or a table divide fifteen guests of a side
With a dead body placed in the centre between.
Yes, they stared -- well they might at so novel a sight:
No one uttered a whisper, a sneeze, or a hem,
But sat all bolt upright, and pale with affright;
And they gazed at the dead man, the dead man at them.
The Prince Bishop's Jester, on punning intent,
As he view'd the whole thirty, in jocular terms
Said, 'They put him in mind of a Council of Trente
Engaged in reviewing the Diet of Worms.'
But what should they do?-- Oh! nobody knew
What was best to be done, either stranger or resident.
The Chancellor's self read his Puffendorf through
In vain, for his books could not furnish a precedent.
The Prince Bishop muttered a curse and a prayer,
Which his double capacity hit to a nicety;
His Princely, or Lay half induced him to swear,
His Episcopal moiety said 'Benedicite!'
The Coroner sat on the body that night,
And the jury agreed,-- not a doubt could they harbour,--
'That the chin of the corpse -- the sole thing brought to light --
Had been recently shaved by a very bad barber.'
They sent out Von Taünsend, Von Bürnie, Von Roe,
Von Maine, and Von Rowantz -- through châlets and châteaux,
Towns, villages, hamlets, they told them to go,
And they stuck up placards on the walls of the Stadthaus.
Whereas, a dead Gentleman, surname unknown,
Has been recently found at his Highness's banquet,
Rather shabbily drest in an Amice, or gown
In appearance resembling a second-hand blanket;
'And Whereas, there's great reason indeed to suspect
That some ill-disposed person or persons, with malice
Aforethought, have kill'd and begun to dissect
The said Gentleman, not very far from the palace;
'This is to give notice!-- Whoever shall seize,
And such person or persons to justice surrender,
Shall receive -- such Reward -- as his Highness shall please
On conviction of him, the aforesaid offender.
'And, in order the matter more clearly to trace
To the bottom, his Highness, the Prince Bishop, further,
Of his clemency, offers free Pardon and Grace
To all such as have not been concern'd in the murther.
'Done this day, at our palace,-- July twenty-five,--
(Signed) Johann Von Rüssell. N.B.
Deceased rather in years -- had a squint when alive;
And smells slightly of gin -- linen mark'd with a G.'
The Newspapers, too, made no little ado,
Though a different version each managed to dish up;
Some said 'the Prince Bishop had run a man through,'
Others said 'an assassin had kill'd the Prince Bishop.'
The 'Ghent Herald' fell foul of the 'Bruxelles Gazette,'
The 'Bruxelles Gazette,' with much sneering ironical,
Scorn'd to remain in the 'Ghent Herald's' debt,
And the 'Amsterdam Times' quizzed the 'Nuremberg Chronicle.'
In one thing, indeed, all the journals agreed,
Spite of 'politics,' 'bias,' or 'party collision;'
Viz: to 'give,' when they'd 'further accounts' of the deed,
'Full particulars' soon, in 'a later Edition.'
But now, while on all sides they rode and they ran,
Trying all sorts of means to discover the caitiffs,
Losing patience, the holy Gengulphus began
To think it high time to 'astonish the natives.'
First, a Rittmeister's Frau, who was weak in both eyes,
And supposed the most short-sighted woman in Holland,
Found greater relief, to her joy and surprize,
From one glimpse of his 'squint' than from glasses by Dollond.
By the slightest approach to the tip of his Nose,
Megrims, headache, and vapours were put to the rout;
And one single touch of his precious Great Toes
Was a certain specific for chilblains and gout.
Rheumatics,-- sciatica,-- tic-douloureux!
Apply to his shin-bones -- not one of them lingers;--
All bilious complaints in an instant withdrew,
If the patient was tickled with one of his fingers.
Much virtue was found to reside in his thumbs;
When applied to the chest, they cured scantness of breathing,
Sea-sickness, and colick; or, rubbed on the gums,
Were remarkably soothing to infants in teething.
Whoever saluted the nape of his neck,
Where the mark remained visible still of the knife,
Notwithstanding east winds perspiration might check,
Was safe from sore-throat for the rest of his life.
Thus, while each acute, and each chronic complaint,
Giving way, proved an influence clearly divine,
They perceived the dead Gentleman must be a Saint,
So they lock'd him up, body and bones, in a shrine.
Through country and town his new Saintship's renown,
As a first-rate physician, kept daily increasing,
Till, as Alderman Curtis told Alderman Brown,
It seemed as if 'wonders had never done ceasing.'
The Three Kings of Cologne began, it was known,
A sad falling off in their off' rings to find;
His feats were so many -- still the greatest of any,--
In every sense of the word, was -- behind;
For the German Police were beginning to cease
From exertions which each day more fruitless appear'd,
When Gengulphus himself, his fame still to increase,
Unravell'd the whole by the help of -- his beard!
If you look back you'll see the aforesaid barbe gris,
When divorced from the chin of its murder'd proprietor,
Had been stuffed in the seat of a kind of settee,
Or double-arm'd chair, to keep the thing quieter.
It may seem rather strange, that it did not arrange
Itself in its place when the limbs join'd together;
P'rhaps it could not get out, for the cushion was stout,
And constructed of good, strong, maroon-colour'd leather.
Or, what is more likely, Gengulphus might choose,
For Saints, e'en when dead, still retain their volition,
It should rest there, to aid some particular views
Produced by his very peculiar position.
Be that as it may, the very first day
That the widow Gengulphus sat down on that settee,
What occurr'd almost frighten'd her senses away,
Beside scaring her hand-maidens, Gertrude and Betty.
They were telling their mistress the wonderful deeds
Of the new Saint, to whom all the Town said their orisons;
And especially how, as regards invalids,
His miraculous cures far outrivall'd Von Morison's.
'The cripples,' said they, 'fling their crutches away,
And people born blind now can easily see us!'--
But she, (we presume, a disciple of Hume,)
Shook her head, and said angrily, 'Credat Judæus!'
'Those rascally liars, the Monks and the Friars,
To bring grist to their mill, these devices have hit on.--
He works miracles!-- pooh!-- I'd believe it of you
Just as soon, you great Geese, or the chair that I sit on!'
The Chair!-- at that word -- it seems really absurd,
But the truth must be told,-- what contortions and grins
Distorted her face!-- She sprang up from the place
Just as though she'd been sitting on needles and pins!
For, as if the Saint's beard the rash challenge had heard
Which she utter'd, of what was beneath her forgetful,
Each particular hair stood on end in the chair,
Like a porcupine's quills when the animal's fretful.
That stout maroon leather, they pierced altogether,
Like tenter-hooks holding when clenched from within,
And the maids cried 'Good gracious! how very tenacious!'
-- They as well might endeavour to pull off her skin!
She shriek'd with the pain, but all efforts were vain;
In vain did they strain every sinew and muscle,--
The cushion stuck fast!-- From that hour to her last
She could never get rid of that comfortless 'Bustle!'
And e'en as Macbeth, when devising the death
Of his King, heard 'the very stones prate of his whereabouts;'
So this shocking bad wife heard a voice all her life
Crying 'Murder!' resound from the cushion,-- or thereabouts.
With regard to the Clerk, we are left in the dark,
As to what his fate was; but I cannot imagine he
Got off scot-free, though unnoticed it be
Both by Ribadaneira and Jacques de Voragine:
For cut-throats, we're sure, can be never secure,
And 'History's Muse' still to prove it her pen holds,
As you'll see, if you look in a rather scarce book,
'God's Revenge against Murder,' by one Mr. Reynolds.
Now, you grave married Pilgrims, who wander away,
Like Ulysses of old, (vide Homer and Naso,)
Don't lengthen your stay to three years and a day!
And when you are coming home, just write and say so!
And you, learned Clerks, who're not given to roam,
Stick close to your books, nor lose sight of decorum;
Don't visit a house when the master's from home!
Shun drinking,-- and study the 'Vitæ Sanctorum!'
Above all, you gay Ladies, who fancy neglect
In your spouses, allow not your patience to fail;
But remember Gengulphus's wife!-- and reflect
On the moral enforced by her terrible tale
The Merchant Of Venice,: A Legend Of Italy
I believe there are few
But have heard of a Jew,
Named Shylock, of Venice, as arrant a 'screw'
In money transactions as ever you knew;
An exorbitant miser, who never yet lent
A ducat at less than three hundred per cent.,
Insomuch that the veriest spendthrift in Venice,
Who'd take no more care of his pounds than his pennies,
When press'd for a loan, at the very first sight
Of his terms, would back out, and take refuge in Flight.
It is not my purpose to pause and inquire
If he might not, in managing thus to retire,
Jump out of the frying-pan into the fire;
Suffice it, that folks would have nothing to do,
Who could possibly help it, with Shylock the Jew.
But, however discreetly one cuts and contrives,
We've been most of us taught in the course of our lives,
That 'Needs must when the Elderly Gentleman drives!'
In proof of this rule,
A thoughtless young fool,
Bassanio, a Lord of the Tomnoddy school,
Who, by showing at Operas, Balls, Plays, and Court,
A 'swelling' (Payne Collier would read 'swilling') 'port,'
And inviting his friends to dine, breakfast, and sup,
Had shrunk his 'weak means,' and was 'stump'd,' and 'hard up,'
Took occasion to send
To his very good friend
Antonio, a merchant whose wealth had no end,
And who'd often before had the kindness to lend
Him large sums, on his note, which he'd managed to spend.
'Antonio,' said he, 'Now listen to me;
I've just hit on a scheme which, I think you'll agree,
All matters consider'd, is no bad design,
And which, if it succeeds, will suit your book and mine.
'In the first place, you know all the money I've got,
Time and often, from you has been long gone to pot,
And in making those loans you have made a bad shot;
Now do as the boys do when, shooting at sparrows
And tom-tits, they chance to lose one of their arrows,
-- Shoot another the same way -- I'll watch well its track,
And, turtle to tripe, I'll bring both of them back!
So list to my plan,
And do what you can,
To attend to and second it, that's a good man!
'There's a Lady, young, handsome, beyond all compare, at
A place they call Belmont, whom, when I was there, at
The suppers and parties my friend Lord Mountferrat
Was giving last season, we all used to stare at,
Then, as to her wealth, her solicitor told mine,
Besides vast estates, a pearl fishery, and gold mine,
Her iron strong box
Seems bursting its locks,
It's stuffed so with shares in 'Grand Junctions,' and 'Docks,'
Not to speak of the money's she's got in the stocks,
French, Dutch, and Brazilian, Columbian, and Chilian,
In English Exchequer-bills full half a million,
Not 'kites,' manufactured to cheat and inveigle,
But the right sort of 'flimsy,' all signed by Monteagle.
Then I know not how much in Canal-shares and Railways
And more speculations I need not detail, ways
Of vesting which, if not so safe as some think'em,
Contribute a deal to improving one's income;
In short, she's a Mint!
-- Now I say, deuce is in't
If with all my experience, I can't take a hint,
And her 'eye's speechless messages,' plainer than print
At the time that I told you of, know from a squint,
In short, my dear Tony,
My trusty old crony,
Do stump up three thousand once more as a loan -- I
Am sure of my game -- though, of course there are brutes,
Of all sorts and sizes, preferring their suits
To her you may call the Italian Miss Coutts,
Yet Portia -- she's named from that daughter of Cato's--
Is not to be snapp'd up like little potatoes,
And I have not a doubt I shall rout every lout
Ere you'll whisper Jack Robinson -- cut them all out --
Surmount every barrier, Carry her, marry her!
-- Then hey! my old Tony, when once fairly noosed,
For her Three-and-a-half per cents -- New and Reduced!'
With a wink of his eye His friend made reply
In his jocular manner, sly, caustic, and dry.
'Still the same boy, Bassanio -- never say 'die'!
-- Well -- I hardly know how I shall do't, but I'll try.--
Don't suppose my affairs are at all in a hash,
But the fact is, at present I'm quite out of cash;
The bulk of my property, merged in rich cargoes, is
Tossing about, as you know, in my Argosies,
Tending, of course, my resources to cripple,-- I
've one bound to England,-- another to Tripoli--
Cyprus -- Masulipatam -- and Bombay;--
A sixth, by the way, I consigned t'other day
To Sir Gregor M'Gregor, Cacique of Poyais,
A country where silver's as common as clay.
Meantime, till they tack, And come, some of them, back,
What with Custom-house duties, and bills falling due,
My account with Jones Loyd and Co. looks rather blue;
While, as for the 'ready,' I'm like a Church-mouse,--
I really don't think there's five pounds in the house.
But, no matter for that,
Let me just get my hat,
And my new silk umbrella that stands on the mat,
And we'll go forth at once to the market -- we two,--
And try what my credit in Venice can do;
I stand well on 'Change, and, when all's said and done, I
Don't doubt I shall get it for love or for money.'
They were going to go,
When, lo! down below,
In the street, they heard somebody crying, 'Old Clo'!'
--'By the Pope, there's the man for our purpose!-- I knew
We should not have to search long. Salanio, run you,
-- Salarino,-- quick!-- haste! ere he get out of view,
And call in that scoundrel, old Shylock the Jew!'
With a pack,
Like a sack
Of old clothes at his back,
And three hats on his head, Shylock came in a crack,
Saying, 'Rest you fair, Signior Antonio!-- vat, pray,
Might your vorship be pleashed for to vant in ma vay!'
--'Why, Shylock, although, As you very well know,
I am what they call 'warm,'-- pay my way as I go,
And, as to myself, neither borrow nor lend,
I can break through a rule to oblige an old friend;
And that's the case now -- Lord Bassanio would raise
Some three thousand ducats -- well,-- knowing your ways,
And that nought's to be got from you, say what one will,
Unless you've a couple of names to the bill,
Why, for once, I'll put mine to it,
Yea, seal and sign to it --
Now, then, old Sinner, let's hear what you'll say
As to 'doing' a bill at three months from to-day?
Three thousand gold ducats, mind -- all in good bags
Of hard money -- no sealing-wax, slippers, or rags?'
'-- Vell, ma tear,' says the Jew, 'I'll see vat I can do!
But Mishter Antonio, hark you, 'tish funny
You say to me, 'Shylock, ma tear, ve'd have money!'
Ven you very vell knows, How you shpit on ma clothes,
And use naughty vords -- call me Dog -- and avouch
Dat I put too much int'resht py half in ma pouch,
And vhile I, like de resht of ma tribe, shrug and crouch,
You find fault mit ma pargains, and say I'm a Smouch.
-- Vell!--n o matters, ma tear,-- Von vord in your ear!
I'd be friends mit you bote -- and to make dat appear,
Vy, I'll find you de monies as soon as you vill,
Only von littel joke musht be put in de pill;
Ma tear, you musht say,
If on such and such day
Such sum or such sums, you shall fail to repay,
I shall cut vere I like, as de pargain is proke,
A fair pound of your flesh -- chest by vay of a joke.'
So novel a clause Caused Bassanio to pause;
But Antonio, like most of those sage 'Johnny Raws'
Who care not three straws
About Lawyers or Laws,
And think cheaply of 'Old Father Antic,' because
They have never experienced a gripe from his claws,
'Pooh pooh'd' the whole thing.--'Let the Smouch have his way,
Why, what care I, pray,
For his penalty?-- Nay,
It's a forfeit he'd never expect me to pay:
And, come what come may, I hardly need say
My ships will be back a full month ere the day.'
So, anxious to see his friend off on his journey,
And thinking the whole but a paltry concern, he
Affixed with all speed
His name to a deed,
Duly stamp'd and drawn up by a sharp Jew attorney.
Thus again furnish'd forth, Lord Bassanio, instead
Of squandering the cash, after giving one spread,
With fiddling and masques, at the Saracen's Head,
In the morning 'made play,' And without more delay,
Started off in the steam-boat for Belmont next day.
But scarcely had he
From the harbour got free,
And left the Lagunes for the broad open sea,
Ere the 'Change and Rialto both rung with the news
That he'd carried off more than mere cash from the Jew's.
Though Shylock was old,
And, if rolling in gold,
Was as ugly a dog as you' wish to behold,
For few in his tribe 'mongst their Levis and Moseses,
Sported so Jewish an eye, beard, and nose as his,
Still, whate'er the opinion of Horace and some be,
Your aquilæ generate sometimes Columbæ,
Like Jephthah, as Hamlet says, he'd 'one fair daughter,'
And every gallant, who caught sight of her, thought her,
A jewel -- a gem of the very first water;
A great many sought her,
Till one at last caught her,
And, upsetting all that the Rabbis had taught her,
To feelings so truly reciprocal brought her,
That the very same night Bassanio thought right
To give all his old friends that farewell 'invite,'
And while Shylock was gone there to feed out of spite,
On 'wings made by a tailor' the damsel took flight.
By these 'wings' I'd express
A grey duffle dress,
With brass badge and muffin cap, made, as by rule,
For an upper-class boy in the National School.
Jessy ransack'd the house, popp'd her breeks on, and when so
Disguised, bolted off with her beau -- one Lorenzo,
An 'Unthrift,' who lost not a moment in whisking
Her into the boat,
And was fairly afloat
Ere her Pa had got rid of the smell of the griskin.
Next day, while old Shylock was making a racket,
And threatening how well he'd dust every man's jacket
Who'd help'd her in getting aboard of the packet,
Bassanio at Belmont was capering and prancing,
And bowing, and scraping, and singing, and dancing,
Making eyes at Miss Portia, and doing his best
To perform the polite, and to cut out the rest;
And, if left to herself, he, no doubt, had succeeded,
For none of them waltz'd so genteelly as he did;
But an obstacle lay, Of some weight, in his way,
The defunct Mr. P. who was now turned to clay,
Had been an odd man, and, though all for the best he meant,
Left but a queer sort of 'Last will and testament,'--
Bequeathing her hand,
With her houses and land,
&c., from motives one don't understand,
As she rev'renced his memory, and valued his blessing,
To him who should turn out the best hand at guessing!
Like a good girl, she did
Just what she was bid,
In one of three caskets her picture she hid,
And clapp'd a conundrum a-top of each lid.
A couple of Princes, a black and a white one,
Tried first, but they both fail'd in choosing the right one.
Another from Naples, who shoe'd his own horses;
A French Lord, whose graces might vie with Count D'Orsay's;--
A young English Baron;-- a Scotch Peer his neighbour;--
A dull drunken Saxon, all moustache and sabre;
All follow'd, and all had their pains for their labour.
Bassanio came last -- happy man be his dole!
Put his conjuring cap on,-- considered the whole,--
The gold put aside as
Mere 'hard food for Midas,'
The silver bade trudge
As a 'pale common drudge;'
Then choosing the little lead box in the middle,
Came plump on the picture, and found out the riddle.
Now, you're not such a goose as to think, I dare say,
Gentle Reader, that all this was done in a day,
Any more than the dome Of St. Peter's at Rome
Was built in the same space of time; and, in fact,
Whilst Bassanio was doing
His billing and cooing,
Three months had gone by ere he reach'd the fifth act;
Meanwhile that unfortunate bill became due,
Which his Lordship had almost forgot, to the Jew,
And Antonio grew In a deuce of a stew,
For he could not cash up, spite of all he could do;
(The bitter old Israelite would not renew,)
What with contrary winds, storms, wrecks, and embargoes, his
Funds were all stopp'd, or gone down in his argosies,
None of the set having come into port,
And Shylock's attorney was moving the Court
For the forfeit supposed to be set down in sport.
The serious news
Of this step of the Jew's,
And his fix'd resolution all terms to refuse,
Gave the newly-made Bridegroom a fit of 'the Blues,'
Especially, too, as it came from the pen
Of his poor friend himself on the wedding-day,-- then,
When the Parson had scarce shut his book up, and when
The Clerk was yet uttering the final Amen.
'Dear Friend,' it continued, 'all's up with me -- I
Have nothing on earth now to do but to die!
And, as death clears all scores, you're no longer my debtor;
I should take it as kind
Could you come -- never mind --
If your love don't persaude you, why,-- don't let this letter!'
I hardly need say this was scarcely read o'er
Ere a post-chaise and four
Was brought round to the door
And Bassanio, though, doubtless, he thought it a bore,
Gave his Lady one kiss, and then started at score.
But scarce in his flight
Had he got out of sight
Ere Portia, addressing a groom, said, 'My lad, you a
Journey must take on the instant to Padua;
Find out there Bellario,a Doctor of Laws,
Who, like Follett, is never left out of a cause,
And give him this note,
Which I've hastily wrote,
Take the papers he'll give you -- then push for the ferry
Below, where I'll meet you, you'll do't in a wherry,
If you can't find a boat on the Brenta with sails to it
-- Stay, bring his gown too, and wig with three tails to it.'
Giovanni (that's Jack)
Brought out his hack,
Made a bow to his mistress, then jump'd on its back,
Put his hand to his hat, and was off in a crack.
The Signora soon follow'd herself, taking as her
Own escort Nerissa her maid, and Balthasar.
'The Court is prepared, the Lawyers are met,
The Judges all ranged, a terrible show!'
As Captain Macheath says,-- and when one's in debt,
The sight's as unpleasant a one as I know,
Yet still not so bad after all, I suppose,
As if, when one cannot discharge what one owes,
They should bid people cut off one's toes or one's nose;
Yet here, a worse fate,
Stands Antonio, of late
A Merchant, might vie e'en with Princes in state,
With his waistcoat unbutton'd, prepared for the knife,
Which, in taking a pound of flesh, must take his life;
-- On the other side Shylock, his bag on the floor,
And three shocking bad hats on his head, as before,
As he waits their commands
With his scales and his great snicker-snee in his hands:
-- Between them, equipt in a wig, gown and bands,
With a very smooth face, a young dandified Lawyer,
Whose air, ne'ertheless, speaks him quite a top-sawyer,
Though his hopes are but feeble,
Does his possible
To make the hard Hebrew to mercy incline,
And in lieu of his three thousand ducats take nine,
Which Bassanio, for reasons we well may divine,
Shows in so many bags all drawn up in a line.
But vain are all efforts to soften him -- still
He points to the bond He so often has conn'd,
And says in plain terms he'll be shot if he will.
So the dandified Lawyer, with talking grown hoarse,
Says, 'I can say no more -- let the law take its course.'
Just fancy the gleam of the eye of the Jew,
As he sharpen'd his knife on the sole of his shoe
From the toe to the heel, And grasping the steel,
With a business-like air was beginning to feel
Whereabouts he should cut, as a butcher would veal,
When the dandified Judge puts a spoke in his wheel.
'Stay, Shylock,' says he, Here's one thing -- you see
This bond of yours gives you here no jot of blood!
-- The words are 'A pound of flesh,'-- that's clear as mud --
Slice away, then, old fellow -- but mind!-- if you spill
One drop of his claret that's not in your bill,
I'll hang you, like Haman?-- By Jingo I will!'
When apprised of this flaw, You never yet saw
Such an awfully mark'd elongation of jaw
As in Shylock, who cried, 'Plesh ma heart! ish dat law?'--
Off went his three hats,
And he look'd as the cats
Do, whenever a mouse has escaped from their claw.
'-- Ish't the law?'-- why the thing won't admit of a query --
'No doubt of the fact,
Only look at the act;
Acto quinto, cap. tertio, Dogi Falieri --
Nay, if, rather than cut, you'd relinquish the debt,
The Law, Master Shy, has a hold on you yet.
See Foscari's 'Statutes at large'--'If a Stranger
A Citizen's life shall, with malice, endanger,
The whole of his property, little or great,
Shall go, on conviction, one half to the State,
And one to the person pursued by his hate;
And, not to create
Any farther debate,
The Doge, if he pleases, may cut off his pate.'
So down on your marrowbones, Jew, and ask mercy!
Defendant and Plaintiff are now wisy wersy.'
What need to declare
How pleased they all were
At so joyful an end to so sad an affair?
Or Bassanio's delight at the turn things had taken,
His friend having saved, to the letter, his bacon?--
How Shylock got shaved, and turn'd Christian, though late,
To save a life-int'rest in half his estate?
How the dandified Lawyer, who'd managed the thing,
Would not take any fee for his pains but a ring
Which Mrs. Bassanio had given to her spouse,
With injunctions to keep it on leaving the house?--
How when he, and the spark
Who appeared as his clerk,
Had thrown off their wigs, and their gowns, and their jetty coats,
There stood Nerissa and Portia in petticoats?--
How they pouted, and flouted, and acted the cruel,
Because Lord Bassanio had not kept his jewel?--
How they scolded and broke out,
Till having their joke out,
They kissed, and were friends, and, all blessing and blessed,
Drove home by the light
Of a moonshiny night,
Like the one in which Troilus, the brave Trojan knight,
Sat astride on a wall, and sigh'd after his Cressid?--
All this, if 'twere meet,
I'd go on to repeat,
But a story spun out so's by no means a treat,
So, I'll merely relate what, in spite of the pains
I have taken to rummage among his remains,
No edition of Shakspeare, I've met with, contains;
But, if the account which I've heard be the true one,
We shall have it, no doubt, before long, in a new one.
In an MS., then sold
For its full weight in gold,
And knock'd down to my friend, Lord Tomnoddy, I'm told
It's recorded that Jessy, coquettish and vain,
Gave her husband, Lorenzo, a good deal of pain;
Being mildly rebuked, she levanted again,
Ran away with a Scotchman, and, crossing the main,
Became known by the name of the 'Flower of Dumblane.'
That Antonio, whose piety caused, as we've seen,
Him to spit upon every old Jew's gaberdine,
And whose goodness to paint
All colours were faint,
Acquired the well-merited prefix of 'Saint,'
And the Doge, his admirer, of honour the fount,
Having given him a patent, and made him a Count,
He went over to England, got nat'ralis'd there,
And espous'd a rich heiress in Hanover Square.
That Shylock came with him; no longer a Jew,
But converted, I think may be possibly true,
But that Walpole, as these self-same papers aver,
By changing the y in his name into er,
Should allow him a fictitious surname to dish up,
And in Seventeen-twenty-eight make him a Bishop,
I cannot believe--but shall still think them two men
Till some Sage proves the fact 'with his usual acumen.'
From this tale of the Bard
It's uncommonly hard
If an editor can't draw a moral.--'Tis clear,
Then,-- In ev'ry young wife-seeking Bachelor's ear
A maxim, 'bove all other stories, this one drums,
'PITCH GREEK TO OLD HARRY, AND STICK TO CONUNDRUMS!!'
To new-married ladies this lesson it teaches,
'You're "no that far wrong" in assuming the breeches!'
Monied men upon 'Change, and rich Merchants it schools
To look well to assets -- nor play with edge tools!
Last of all, this remarkable History shows men,
What caution they need when they deal with old-clothesmen!
So bid John and Mary
To mind and be wary,
And never let one of them come down the are'
The Witch's Frolic
[Scene, the 'Snuggery' at Tappington.-- Grandpapa in a high-backed cane-bottomed elbow-chair of carved walnut-tree, dozing; his nose at an angle of forty-five degrees,--his thumbs slowly perform the rotatory motion described by lexicographers as 'twiddling.'--The 'Hope of the family' astride on a walking-stick, with burnt-cork mustachios, and a pheasant's tail pinned in his cap, solaceth himself with martial music.-- Roused by a strain of surpassing dissonance, Grandpapa Loquitur. ]
Come hither, come hither, my little boy Ned!
Come hither unto my knee--
I cannot away with that horrible din,
That sixpenny drum, and that trumpet of tin.
Oh, better to wander frank and free
Through the Fair of good Saint Bartlemy,
Than list to such awful minstrelsie.
Now lay, little Ned, those nuisances by,
And I'll rede ye a lay of Grammarye.
[Grandpapa riseth, yawneth like the crater of an extinct volcano, proceedeth slowly to the window, and apostrophizeth the Abbey in the distance.]
I love thy tower, Grey Ruin,
I joy thy form to see,
Though reft of all,
Cell, cloister, and hall,
Nothing is left save a tottering wall,
That, awfully grand and darkly dull,
Threaten'd to fall and demolish my skull,
As, ages ago, I wander'd along
Careless thy grass-grown courts among,
In sky-blue jacket and trowsers laced,
The latter uncommonly short in the waist.
Thou art dearer to me, thou Ruin grey,
Than the Squire's verandah over the way;
And fairer, I ween,
The ivy sheen
That thy mouldering turret binds,
Than the Alderman's house about half a mile off,
With the green Venetian blinds.
Full many a tale would my Grandam tell,
In many a bygone day,
Of darksome deeds, which of old befell
In thee, thou Ruin grey!
And I the readiest ear would lend,
And stare like frighten'd pig;
While my Grandfather's hair would have stood up an end,
Had he not worn a wig.
One tale I remember of mickle dread--
Now lithe and listen, my little boy Ned!
Thou mayest have read, my little boy Ned,
Though thy mother thine idlesse blames,
In Doctor Goldsmith's history book,
Of a gentleman called King James,
In quilted doublet, and great trunk breeches,
Who held in abhorrence tobacco and witches.
Well,-- in King James's golden days,--
For the days were golden then,--
They could not be less, for good Queen Bess
Had died aged threescore and ten,
And her days, we know,
Were all of them so;
While the Court poets sung, and the Court gallants swore
That the days were as golden still as before.
Some people, 'tis true, a troublesome few,
Who historical points would unsettle,
Have lately thrown out a sort of a doubt
Of the genuine ring of the metal;
But who can believe to a monarch so wise
People would dare tell a parcel of lies?
-- Well, then, in good King James's days,--
Golden or not does not matter a jot,--
Yon ruin a sort of a roof had got;
For though, repairs lacking, its walls had been cracking
Since Harry the Eighth sent its friars a-packing,
Though joists, and floors,
And windows, and doors
Had all disappear'd, yet pillars by scores
Remain'd, and still propp'd up a ceiling or two,
While the belfry was almost as good as new;
You are not to suppose matters look'd just so
In the Ruin some two hundred years ago.
Just in that farthermost angle, where
You see the remains of a winding-stair,
One turret especially high in air
Uprear'd its tall gaunt form;
As if defying the power of Fate, or
The hand of 'Time the Innovator;'
And though to the pitiless storm
Its weaker brethren all around
Bowing, in ruin had strew'd the ground,
Alone it stood, while its fellows lay strew'd,
Like a four-bottle man in a company 'screw'd,'
Not firm on his legs, but by no means subdued.
One night --' twas in Sixteen hundred and six --
I like when I can, Ned, the date to fix,--
The month was May,
Though I can't well say
At this distance of time the particular day --
But oh! that night, that horrible night!
Folks ever afterwards said with affright
That they never had seen such a terrible sight.
The Sun had gone down fiery red;
And if that evening he laid his head
In Thetis's lap beneath the seas,
He must have scalded the goddess's knees.
He left behind him a lurid track
Of blood-red light upon clouds so black,
That Warren and Hunt, with the whole of their crew,
Could scarcely have given them a darker hue.
There came a shrill and a whistling sound,
Above, beneath, beside, and around,
Yet leaf ne'er moved on tree!
So that some people thought old Beelzebub must
Have been lock'd out of doors, and was blowing the dust
From the pipe of his street-door key.
And then a hollow moaning blast
Came, sounding more dismally still than the last,
And the lightning flash'd, and the thunder growl'd,
And louder and louder the tempest howl'd,
And the rain came down in such sheets as would stagger a
Bard for a simile short of Niagara.
Rob Gilpin 'was a citizen;'
But, though of some 'renown,'
Of no great 'credit' in his own,
Or any other town.
He was a wild and roving lad,
For ever in the alehouse boozing;
Or romping,-- which is quite as bad,--
With female friends of his own choosing.
And Rob this very day had made,
Not dreaming such a storm was brewing,
An assignation with Miss Slade,--
Their trysting-place this same grey Ruin.
But Gertrude Slade became afraid,
And to keep her appointment unwilling,
When she spied the rain on her window-pane
In drops as big as a shilling;
She put off her hat and her mantle again,--
'He'll never expect me in all this rain!'
But little he recks of the fears of the sex,
Or that maiden false to her tryst could be,
He had stood there a good half hour
Ere yet commenced that perilous shower,
Alone by the trysting-tree!
Robin looks east, Robin looks west,
But he sees not her whom he loves the best;
Robin looks up, and Robin looks down,
But no one comes from the neighbouring town.
The storm came at last, loud roar'd the blast,
And the shades of evening fell thick and fast;
The tempest grew; and the straggling yew,
His leafy umbrella, was wet through and through;
Rob was half dead with cold and with fright,
When he spies in the ruins a twinkling light --
A hop, two skips, and a jump, and straight
Rob stands within that postern gate.
And there were gossips sitting there,
By one, by two, by three:
Two were an old ill-favour'd pair;
But the third was young, and passing fair,
With laughing eyes and with coal-black hair;
A daintie quean was she!
Rob would have given his ears to sip
But a single salute from her cherry lip.
As they sat in that old and haunted room,
In each one's hand was a huge birch broom,
On each one's head was a steeple-crown'd hat,
On each one's knee was a coal-black cat;
Each had a kirtle of Lincoln green --
It was, I trow, a fearsome scene.
'Now riddle me, riddle me right, Madge Gray,
What foot unhallow'd wends this way?
Goody Price, Goody Price, now areed me aright,
Who roams the old ruins this drearysome night?'
Then up and spake that sonsie quean,
And she spake both loud and clear:
'Oh, be it for weal, or be it for woe,
Enter friend, or enter foe,
Rob Gilpin is welcome here!--
'Now tread we a measure! a hall! a hall!
Now tread we a measure,' quoth she --
The heart of Robin
Beat thick and throbbing --
'Roving Rob, tread a measure with me!'--
'Ay, lassie!' quoth Rob, as her hand he gripes,
'Though Satan himself were blowing the pipes!'
Now around they go, and around, and around,
With hop-skip-and-jump, and frolicsome bound,
Such sailing and gilding,
Such sinking and sliding,
Such lofty curvetting,
And grand pirouetting;
Ned, you would swear that Monsieur Gilbert
And Miss Taglioni were capering there!
And oh! such awful music!-- ne'er
Fell sounds so uncanny on mortal ear,
There were the tones of a dying man's groans
Mix'd with the rattling of dead men's bones:
Had you heard the shrieks, and the squeals, and the squeaks,
You'd not have forgotten the sound for weeks.
And around, and around, and around they go,
Heel to heel, and toe to toe,
Prance and caper, curvet and wheel,
Toe to toe, and heel to heel.
''Tis merry, 'tis merry, Cummers, I trow,
To dance thus beneath the nightshade bough!'--
'Goody Price, Goody Price, now riddle me right,
Where may we sup this frolicsome night?'--
'Mine Host of the Dragon hath mutton and veal!
The Squire hath partridge, and widgeon, and teal;
But old Sir Thopas hath daintier cheer,
A pasty made of the good red deer,
A huge grouse pie, and a fine Florentine,
A fat roast goose, and a turkey and chine.'--
--'Madge Gray, Madge Gray,
Now tell me, I pray,
Where's the best wassail bowl to our roundelay?'
'-- There is ale in the cellars of Tappington Hall,
But the Squire is a churl, and his drink is small;
Mine host of the Dragon
Hath many a flaggon
Of double ale, lamb's-wool, and eau de vie,
But Sir Thopas, the Vicar,
Hath costlier liquor,--
A butt of the choicest Malvoisie.
He doth not lack
Canary or Sack;
And a good pint stoup of Clary wine
Smacks merrily off with a Turkey and Chine!'
'Now away! and away! without delay,
Hey Cockalorum! my Broomstick gay,
We must be back ere the dawn of the day:
Hey up the chimney! away! away!'--
Old Goody Price
Mounts in a trice,
In showing her legs she is not over nice;
Old Goody Jones,
All skin and bones,
Follows 'like winking.' Away go the crones,
Knees and nose in a line with the toes,
Sitting their brooms like so many Ducrows;
Latest and last
The damsel pass'd,
One glance of her coal-black eye she cast;
She laugh'd with glee loud laughters three,
'Dost fear, Rob Gilpin, to ride with me!'--
Oh, never might man unscath'd espy
One single glance from that coal-black eye.
-- Away she flew!--
Without more ado
Rob seizes and mounts on a broomstick too,
'Hey! up the chimney, lass! Hey after you!'
It's a very fine thing on a fine day in June
To ride through the air in a Nassau Balloon;
But you'll find very soon, if you aim at the Moon
In a carriage like that you're a bit of a 'Spoon,'
For the largest can't fly
Above twenty miles high,
And you're not half way then on your journey, nor nigh;
While no man alive
Could ever contrive,
Mr. Green has declared, to get higher than five.
And the soundest Philosophers hold that, perhaps,
If you reach'd twenty miles your balloon would collapse,
Or pass by such action
The sphere of attraction,
Getting into the track of some comet -- Good-lack!
'Tis a thousand to one that you'd never come back;
And the boldest of mortals a danger like that must fear,
And be cautious of getting beyond our own atmosphere.
No, no; when I try
A trip to the sky,
I shan't go in that thing of yours, Mr. Gye,
Though Messieurs Monk Mason, and Spencer, and Beazly,
All join in saying it travels so easily.
No; there's nothing so good
As a pony of wood --
Not like that which, of late, they stuck up on the gate
At the end of the Park, which caused so much debate,
And gave so much trouble to make it stand straight,--
But a regular Broomstick -- you'll find that the favourite,--
Above all, when, like Robin, you haven't to pay for it.
-- Stay -- really I dread
I am losing the thread
Of my tale; and it's time you should be in your bed,
So lithe now, and listen, my little boy Ned!
The Vicarage walls are lofty and thick,
And the copings are stone, and the sides are brick,
The casements are narrow, and bolted and barr'd,
And the stout oak door is heavy and hard;
Moreover, by way of additional guard,
A great big dog runs loose in the yard,
And a horse-shoe is nail'd on the threshold sill,--
To keep out aught that savours of ill,--
But, alack! the chimney-pot's open still!
-- That great big dog begins to quail,
Between his hind-legs he drops his tail,
Crouch'd on the ground, the terrified hound
Gives vent to a very odd sort of a sound;
It is not a bark, loud, open, and free,
As an honest old watch-dog's bark should be;
It is not a yelp, it is not a growl,
But a something between a whine and a howl;
And, hark!--a sound from the window high
Responds to the watch-dog's pitiful cry:
It is not a moan,
It is not a groan;
It comes from a nose,-- but is not what a nose
Produces in healthy and sound repose.
Yet Sir Thopas the Vicar is fast asleep,
And his respirations are heavy and deep!
He snores, 'tis true, but he snores no more
As he's aye been accustom'd to snore before,
And as men of his kidney are wont to snore;--
(Sir Thopas's weight is sixteen stone four
He draws his breath like a man distress'd
By pain or grief, or like one oppress'd
By some ugly old Incubus perch'd on his breast.
A something seems
To disturb his dreams,
And thrice on his ear, distinct and clear,
Falls a voice as of somebody whispering near
In still small accents, faint and few,
'Hey down the chimney-pot!--Hey after you!'
Throughout the Vicarage, near and far,
There is no lack of bolt or of bar,
Plenty of locks
To closet and box,
Yet the pantry wicket is standing ajar!
And the little low door, through which you must go,
Down some half-dozen steps, to the cellar below,
Is also unfasten'd, though no one may know,
By so much as a guess, how it comes to be so;
For wicket and door,
The evening before,
Were both of them lock'd, and the key safely placed
On the bunch that hangs down from the Housekeeper's waist.
Oh! 'twas a jovial sight to view
In that snug little cellar that frolicsome crew!--
Old Goody Price
Had got something nice,
A turkey-poult larded with bacon and spice;--
Old Goody Jones
Would touch nought that had bones,--
She might just as well mumble a parcel of stones.
Goody Jones, in sooth, had got never a tooth,
And a New-College pudding of marrow and plums
Is the dish of all others that suiteth her gums.
Madge Gray was picking
The breast of a chicken,
Her coal-black eye, with its glance so sly,
Was fixed on Rob Gilpin himself, sitting by
With his heart full of love, and his mouth full of pie;
Grouse pie, with hare
In the middle, is fare
Which, duly concocted with science and care,
Doctor Kitchener says, is beyond all compare;
And a tenderer leveret
Robin had never ate;
So, in after times, oft he was wont to asseverate.
'Now pledge we the wine-cup!--a health! a health!
Sweet are the pleasures obtain'd by stealth!
Fill up! fill up!-- the brim of the cup
Is the part that aye holdeth the toothsomest sup!
Here's to thee, Goody Price! Goody Jones, to thee!
To thee, Roving Rob! and again to me!
Many a sip, never a slip
Come to us four 'twixt the cup and the lip!'
The cups pass quick,
The toasts fly thick,
Rob tries in vain out their meaning to pick,
But hears the words 'Scratch,' and 'Old Bogey,' and 'Nick.'
More familiar grown,
Now he stands up alone,
Volunteering to give them a toast of his own.
'A bumper of wine!
Fill thine! Fill mine!
Here's a health to old Noah who planted the Vine!'
Oh then what sneezing,
What coughing and wheezing,
Ensued in a way that was not over pleasing!
Goody Price, Goody Jones, and the pretty Madge Gray,
All seem'd as their liquor had gone the wrong way.
But the best of the joke was, the moment he spoke
Those words which the party seem'd almost to choke,
As by mentioning Noah some spell had been broke,
Every soul in the house at that instant awoke!
And, hearing the din from barrel and bin,
Drew at once the conclusion that thieves had got in.
Up jump'd the Cook and caught hold of her spit;
Up jump'd the Groom and took bridle and bit;
Up jump'd the Gardener and shoulder'd his spade;
Up jump'd the Scullion,-- the Footman,-- the Maid;
(The two last, by the way, occasion'd some scandal,
By appearing together with only one candle,
Which gave for unpleasant surmises some handle
Up jump'd the Swineherd,-- and up jump'd the big boy,
A nondescript under him, acting as pig boy;
Butler, Housekeeper, Coachman -- from bottom to top
Everybody jump'd up without parley or stop,
With the weapon which first in their way chanced to drop,--
Whip, warming-pan, wig-block, mug, musket and mop.
Last of all doth appear,
With some symptoms of fear,
Sir Thopas in person to bring up the rear,
In a mix'd kind of costume, half Pontificalibus,
Half what scholars denominate Pure Naturalibus;
Nay, the truth to express,
As you'll easily guess,
They have none of them time to attend much to dress;
But He or She,
As the case may be,
He or She seizes what He or She pleases,
Trunk-hosen or kirtles, and shirts or chemises.
And thus one and all, great and small, short and tall,
Muster at once in the Vicarage-hall,
With upstanding locks, starting eyes, shorten'd breath,
Like the folks in the Gallery Scene in Macbeth,
When Macduff is announcing their Sovereign's death.
And hark! what accents clear and strong,
To the listening throng come floating along!
'Tis Robin encoring himself in a song--
'Very good song! very well sung!
Jolly companions every one!'--
On, on to the cellar! away! away!
On, on, to the cellar without more delay!
The whole posse rush onwards in battle array.
Conceive the dismay of the party so gay,
Old Goody Jones, Goody Price, and Madge Gray,
When the door bursting wide, they descried the allied
Troops, prepared for the onslaught, roll in like a tide,
And the spits, and the tongs, and the pokers beside!--
'Boot and saddle's the word! mount, Cummers, and ride!'--
Alarm was ne'er caused more strong and indigenous
By cats among rats, or a hawk in a pigeon-house;
Quick from the view
Away they all flew,
With a yell, and a screech, and a halliballoo,
'Hey up the chimney! Hey after you!'
The Volscians themselves made an exit less speedy
From Corioli, 'flutter'd like doves' by Macready.
They are gone, save one,
Robin, whose high state of civilization
Precludes all idea of aërostation,
And who now has no notion
Of more locomotion
Than suffices to kick, with much zeal and devotion,
Right and left at the party, who pounced on their victim,
And maul'd him, and kick'd him, and lick'd him, and prick'd him,
As they bore him away scarce aware what was done,
And believing it all but a part of the fun,
Hic -- hiccoughing out the same strain he'd begun,
'Jol -- jolly companions every one!'
Scarce bursts into day
Ere at Tappington Hall there's the deuce to pay;
The tables and chairs are all placed in array
In the old oak-parlour, and in and out
Domestics and neighbours, a motley rout,
Are walking, and whispering, and standing about;
And the Squire is there
In his large arm-chair,
Leaning back with a grave magisterial air;
In the front of his seat a
Huge volume, called Fleta,
And Bracton, both tomes of an old-fashion'd look,
And Coke upon Lyttleton, then a new book;
And he moistens his lips
With occasional sips
From a luscious sack-posset that smiles in a tankard
Close by on a side-table -- not that he drank hard,
But because at that day,
I hardly need say,
The Hong Merchants had not yet invented How Qua,
Nor as yet would you see Souchong or Bohea
At the tables of persons of any degree:
How our ancestors managed to do without tea
I must fairly confess is a mystery to me;
Yet your Lydgates and Chaucers
Had no cups and saucers;
Their breakfast, in fact, and the best they could get,
Was a sort of a déjeûner à la fourchette;
Instead of our slops
They had cutlets and chops,
And sack-possets, and ale in stoups, tankards, and pots;
And they wound up the meal with rumpsteaks and 'schalots.
Now the Squire lifts his hand
With an air of command,
And gives them a sign, which they all understand,
To bring in the culprit; and straightway the carter
And huntsman drag in that unfortunate martyr,
Still kicking, and crying, 'Come,-- what are you arter?'
The charge is prepared, and the evidence clear,
'He was caught in the cellar a-drinking the beer!
And came there, there's very great reason to fear,
With companions,-- to say but the least of them,-- queer;
Such as Witches, and creatures
With horrible features,
And horrible grins,
And hook'd noses and chins,
Who'd been playing the deuce with his Reverence's binns.'
The face of his worship grows graver and graver,
As the parties detail Robin's shameful behaviour;
Mister Buzzard, the clerk, while the tale is reciting,
Sits down to reduce the affair into writing,
With all proper diction,
And due 'legal fiction;'
Viz: 'That he, the said prisoner, as clearly was shown,
Conspiring with folks to deponents unknown,
With divers, that is to say, two thousand, people,
In two thousand hats, each hat peak'd like a steeple,
With force and with arms,
And with sorcery and charms,
Upon two thousand brooms
Enter'd four thousand rooms;
To wit, two thousand pantries, and two thousand cellars,
Put in bodily fear twenty-thousand in-dwellers,
And with sundry,-- that is to say, two thousand,-- forks,
Drew divers,-- that is to say, ten thousand,-- corks,
And, with malice prepense, down their two thousand throttles,
Emptied various,--that is to say, ten thousand,-- bottles;
All in breach of the peace, moved by Satan's malignity,
And in spite of King James, and his Crown, and his Dignity.'
At words so profound
Rob gazes around,
But no glance sympathetic to cheer him is found.
-- No glance, did I say?
Yes, one!-- Madge Gray!--
She is there in the midst of the crowd standing by,
And she gives him one glance from her coal-black eye,
One touch to his hand, and one word to his ear,--
(That's a line which I've stolen from Sir Walter, I fear,)--
While nobody near
Seems to see her or hear;
As his worship takes up, and surveys with a strict eye
The broom now produced as the corpus delicti,
Ere his fingers can clasp,
It is snatch'd from his grasp,
The end poked in his chest with a force makes him gasp,
And, despite the decorum so due to the Quorum,
His worship's upset, and so too is his jorum;
And Madge is astride on the broomstick before'em.
'Hocus Pocus! Quick, Presto! and Hey Cockalorum!
Mount, mount for your life, Rob!-- Sir Justice, adieu!--
-- Hey up the chimney-pot! hey after you!'
Through the mystified group,
With a halloo and whoop,
Madge on the pommel, and Robin en croupe,
The pair through the air ride as if in a chair,
While the party below stand mouth open and stare!
'Clean bumbaized' and amazed, and fix'd, all the room stick,
'Oh! what's gone with Robin,-- and Madge,-- and the broomstick?'
Ay, 'what's gone' indeed, Ned?-- of what befell
Madge Gray, and the broomstick I never heard tell;
But Robin was found, that morn, on the ground,
In yon old grey Ruin again, safe and sound,
Except that at first he complain'd much of thirst,
And a shocking bad headach, of all ills the worst,
And close by his knee
A flask you might see,
But an empty one, smelling of eau de vie.
Rob from this hour is an alter'd man;
He runs home to his lodgings as fast as he can,
Sticks to his trade,
Marries Miss Slade,
Becomes a Te-totaller -- that is the same
As Te-totallers now, one in all but the name;
Grows fond of Small-beer, which is always a steady sign,
Never drinks spirits except as a medicine;
Learns to despise
Minds pretty girls no more than so many Guys;
Has a family, lives to be sixty, and dies!
Now my little boy Ned,
Brush off to your bed,
Tie your night-cap on safe, or a napkin instead,
Or these terrible nights you'll catch cold in your head;
And remember my tale, and the moral it teaches,
Which you'll find much the same as what Solomon preaches.
Don't flirt with young ladies! don't practise soft speeches;
Avoid waltzes, quadrilles, pumps, silk hose, and kneebreeches;--
Frequent not grey ruins,--shun riot and revelry,
Hocus Pocus, and Conjuring, and all sorts of devilry;--
Don't meddle with broomsticks,--they're Beelzebub's switches;
Of cellars keep clear,--they're the devil's own ditches;
And beware of balls, banquettings, brandy, and -- witches!
Above all! don't run after black eyes,-- if you do,--
Depend on't you'll find what I say will come true,--
Old Nick, some fine morning, will 'hey after you!
The Bagman's Dog, : Mr. Peters's Story
Stant littore Puppies!-- Virgil.
It was a litter, a litter of five,
Four are drown'd and one left alive,
He was thought worthy alone to survive;
And the Bagman resolved upon bringing him up,
To eat of his bread, and to drink of his cup,
He was such a dear little cock-tail'd pup.
The Bagman taught him many a trick;
He would carry and fetch, and run after a stick,
Could well understand
The word of command,
And appear to doze
With a crust on his nose,
Till the Bagman permissively waved his hand:
Then to throw up and catch it he never would fail,
As he sat up on end, on his little cock-tail.
Never was puppy so bien instruit,
Or possess'd of such natural talent as he;
And as he grew older,
Agreed he grew handsomer, sleeker, and bolder.--
Time, however, his wheels we may clog,
Wends steadily still with onward jog,
And the cock-tail'd puppy's a curly-tail'd dog!
When just at the time,
He was reaching his prime,
And all thought he'd be turning out something sublime,
One unlucky day,
How, no one could say,
Whether some soft liaison induced him to stray,
Or some kidnapping vagabond coax'd him away,
He was lost to the view
Like the morning dew;
He had been, and was not -- that's all that they knew;
And the Bagman storm'd, and the Bagman swore,
As never a Bagman had sworn before;
But storming or swearing but little avails,
To recover lost dogs with great curly tails.--
In a large paved court, close by Billiter Square,
Stands a mansion old, but in thorough repair,
The only strange thing, from the general air
Of its size and appearance, is, how it got there;
In front is a short semicircular stair
Of stone steps,-- some half score,--
Then you reach the ground floor,
With a shell-pattern'd architrave over the door.
It is spacious, and seems to be built on the plan
Of a Gentleman's house in the reign of Queen Anne;
Which is odd, for although,
As we very well know,
Under Tudors and Stuarts the City could show
Many Noblemen's seats above Bridge and below,
Yet that fashion soon after induced them to go
From St. Michael Cornhill, and St. Mary le Bow,
To St. James, and St. George, and St. Anne in Soho.--
Be this as it may,-- at the date I assign
To my tale,-- that's about Seventeen Sixty Nine,--
This mansion, now rather upon the decline,
Had less dignified owners, belonging in fine,
To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne,--
A respectable House in the Manchester line.
There were a score
Of Bagmen and more,
Who had travell'd full oft for the firm before;
But just at this period they wanted to send
Some person on whom they could safely depend,
A trustworthy body, half agent, half friend,
On some mercantile matter as far as Ostend;
And the person they pitch'd on, was Anthony Blogg,
A grave steady man not addicted to grog,--
The Bagman, in short, who had lost this great dog.
'The Sea! the Sea! the open Sea!--
That is the place where we all wish to be,
Rolling about on it merrily!'--
So all sing and say,
By night and by day,
In the boudoir, the street, at the concert, and play,
In a sort of coxcombical roundelay;
You may roam through the City, transversely or straight,
From Whitechapel turnpike to Cumberland gate,
And every young Lady who thrums a guitar,
Ev'ry mustachio'd Shopman who smokes a cigar,
With affected devotion,
Promulgates his notion,
Of being a 'Rover' and 'child of the Ocean'--
Whate'er their age, sex, or condition may be,
They all of them long for the 'Wide, Wide Sea!'
But, however they dote,
Only set them afloat
In any craft bigger at all than a boat,
Take them down to the Nore
And you'll see that before
The 'Wessel' they 'Woyage' in has half made her way
Between Shell-Ness Point and the pier at Herne Bay,
Let the wind meet the tide in the slightest degree,
They'll be all of them heartily sick of 'the Sea'!
I've stood in Margate, on a bridge of size
Inferior far to that described by Byron,
Where 'palaces and pris'ns on each hand rise, '
-- That too's a stone one, this is made of iron --
And little donkey-boys your steps environ,
Each proffering for your choice his tiny hack,
Vaunting its excellence; and should you hire one,
For sixpence, will he urge, with frequent thwack,
The much-enduring beast to Buenos Ayres -- and back.
And there, on many a raw and gusty day,
I've stood and turn'd my gaze upon the pier,
And seen the crews, that did embark so gay
That self-same morn, now disembark so queer;
Then to myself I've sigh'd and said, 'Oh dear!
Who would believe yon sickly looking man's a
London Jack Tar,-- a Cheapside Buccaneer!--'
But hold my Muse!-- for this terrific stanza,
Is all too stiffly grand for our Extravaganza.
'So now we'll go up, up, up,
And now we'll go down, down, down,
And now we'll go backwards and forwards,
And now we'll go roun' roun' roun'.'--
-- I hope you've sufficient discernment to see,
Gentle Reader, that here the discarding the d,
Is a fault which you must not attribute to me;
Thus my Nurse cut it off when, 'with counterfeit glee,'
She sung, as she danced me about on her knee,
In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and three:--
All I mean to say is that the Muse is now free
From the self-imposed trammels put on by her betters,
And no longer like Filch, midst the felons and debtors
At Drury Lane, dances her hornpipe in fetters.
Resuming her track,
At once she goes back,
To our hero the Bagman -- Alas! and Alack!
Poor Anthony Blogg
Is as sick as a dog,
Spite of sundry unwonted potations of grog,
By the time the Dutch packet is fairly at sea,
With the sands called the Goodwin's a league on her lee.
And now, my good friends, I've a fine opportunity
To obfuscate you all by sea terms with impunity,
And talking of 'caulking'
And 'quarter deck walking,'
'Fore and aft,'
'Hookers,' 'barkeys,' and 'craft,'
(At which Mr. Poole has so wickedly laught,)
Of binnacles,-- bilboes,-- the boom called the spanker,
The best bower cable,-- the jib,-- and sheet anchor;
Of lower-deck guns,-- and of broadsides and chases,
Of taffrails and topsails, and splicing main-braces,
And 'Shiver my timbers!' and other odd phrases
Employ'd by old pilots with hard-featured faces;
Of the expletives seafaring Gentlemen use,
The allusions they make to the eyes of their crews,
How the Sailors too swear,
How they cherish their hair,
And what very long pigtails a great many wear.--
But, Reader, I scorn it -- the fact is, I fear,
To be candid, I can't make these matters so clear
As Marryat, or Cooper, or Captain Chamier,
Or Sir E. Lytton Bulwer, who brought up the rear
Of the 'Nauticals,' just at the end of last year,
With a well written preface, to make it appear
That his play, the 'Sea-Captain,' 's by no means small beer;--
There!--' brought up the rear'-- you see there's a mistake
Which not one of the authors I've mentioned would make,
I ought to have said, that he 'sail'd in their wake.'--
So I'll merely observe, as the water grew rougher
The more my poor hero continued to suffer,
Till the Sailors themselves cried in pity, 'Poor Buffer!'
Still rougher it grew,
And still harder it blew,
And the thunder kick'd up such a halliballoo,
That even the Skipper began to look blue;
While the crew, who were few,
Look'd very queer too,
And seem'd not to know what exactly to do,
And they who'd the charge of them wrote in the logs,
'Wind N.E.-- blows a hurricane,-- rains cats and dogs.'
In short it soon grew to a tempest as rude as
That Shakspeare describes near the 'still vext Bermudas,' [see appendix]
When the winds, in their sport,
Drove aside from its port
The King's ship, with the whole Neapolitan Court,
And swamp'd it to give 'the King's Son, Ferdinand,' a
Soft moment or two with the Lady Miranda,
While her Pa met the rest, and severely rebuked 'em
For unhandsomely doing him out of his Dukedom.
You don't want me however to paint you a Storm,
As so many have done and in colours so warm;
Lord Byron, for instance, in manner facetious,
Mr. Ainsworth more gravely,-- see also Lucretius,
-- A writer who gave me no trifling vexation
When a youngster at school on Dean Colet's foundation.--
Suffice it to say
That the whole of that day,
And the next, and the next, they were scudding away
Quite out of their course,
Propelled by the force
Of those flatulent folks known in Classical story as
Aquilo, Libs, Notus, Auster, and Boreas;
Driven quite at their mercy
Twixt Guernsey and Jersey,
Till at length they came bump on the rocks and the shallows,
In West longitude, one, fifty seven, near St. Maloes;
There you'll not be surprized
That the vessel capsized,
Or that Blogg, who had made, from intestine commotions,
His specifical gravity less than the Ocean's,
Should go floating away,
Midst the surges and spray,
Like a cork in a gutter, which, swoln by a shower,
Runs down Holborn hill about nine knots an hour.
You've seen, I've no doubt, at Bartholomew fair,
Gentle Reader,-- that is if you've ever been there,--
With their hands tied behind them, some two or three pair
Of boys round a bucket set up on a chair,
Skipping, and dipping
Eyes, nose, chin, and lip in,
Their faces and hair with the water all dripping,
In an anxious attempt to catch hold of a pippin,
That bobs up and down in the water whenever
They touch it, as mocking the fruitless endeavour;
Exactly as Poets say,-- how though they can't tell us,--
Old Nick's Nonpareils play at bob with poor Tantalus.
-- Stay -- I'm not clear,
But I'm rather out here;
'Twas the water itself that slipp'd from him, I fear;
Faith, I can't recollect -- and I haven't Lempriere.--
No matter,-- poor Blogg went on ducking and bobbing,
Sneezing out the salt water, and gulping and sobbing,
Just as Clarence, in Shakspeare, describes all the qualms he
Experienced while dreaming they'd drown'd him in Malmsey.
'O Lord, he thought, what pain it was to drown!'
And saw great fishes, with great goggling eyes
Glaring, as he was bobbing up and down,
And looking as they thought him quite a prize,
When, as he sank, and all was growing dark,
A something seized him with its jaws!-- A Shark?--
No such thing, Reader:-- most opportunely for Blogg,
T'was a very large web-footed curly-tail'd Dog!
I'm not much of a trav'ler, and really can't boast
That I know a great deal of the Brittany coast,
But I've often heard say
That, e'en to this day,
The people of Granville, St. Maloes, and thereabout
Are a class that Society doesn't much care about,
Men who gain their subsistence by contraband dealing,
And a mode of abstraction strict people call 'stealing;'
Notwithstanding all which, they are civil of speech,
Above all to a Stranger who comes within reach;
And they were so to Blogg,
When the curly-tail'd Dog
At last dragg'd him out, high and dry on the beach.
But we all have been told
By the proverb of old,
By no means to think 'all that glitters is gold;'
And, in fact, some advance
That most people in France
Join the manners and air of a Maître de Danse,
To the morals --(as Johnson of Chesterfield said)--
Of an elderly Lady, in Babylon bred,
Much addicted to flirting and dressing in red.--
Be this as it might,
It embarrass'd Blogg quite
To find those about him so very polite.
A suspicious observer perhaps might have traced
The petites soins, tender'd with so much good taste,
To the sight of an old fashion'd pocket-book, placed
In a black leather belt well secured round his waist,
And a ring set with diamonds, his finger that graced,
So brilliant, no one could have guess'd they were paste.
The group on the shore
Consisted of four;
You will wonder perhaps, there were not a few more;
But the fact is they've not, in that part of the nation,
What Malthus would term, a 'too dense population,'
Indeed the sole sign there of man's habitation
Was merely a single
Rude hut, in a dingle
That led away inland direct from the shingle,
Its sides clothed with underwood, gloomy and dark,
Some two hundred yards above high-water mark;
And thither the party,
So cordial and hearty,
Viz. an old man, his wife, and two lads make a start, he,
The Bagman, proceeding,
With equal good breeding,
To express, in indifferent French, all he feels,
The great curly-tail'd Dog keeping close to his heels.--
They soon reach'd the hut, which seem'd partly in ruin,
All the way bowing, chattering, shrugging, Mon-Dieuing,
Grimacing, and what Sailors call parley-vooing.
Is it Paris or Kitchener, Reader, exhorts
You, whenever your stomach's at all out of sorts,
To try, if you find richer viands wont stop in it,
A basin of good mutton broth with a chop in it?
(Such a basin and chop as I once heard a witty one
Call, at the Garrick 'a d--d Committee one,'
An expression, I own, I do not think a pretty one.)
However it's clear
That, with sound table beer,
Such a mess as I speak of is very good cheer;
When a person's wet through,
And is hungry, and tired, and don't know what to do.
Now just such a mess of delicious hot pottage
Was smoking away when they enter'd the cottage,
And casting a truly delicious perfume
Through the whole of an ugly, old, ill-furnish'd room;
'Hot, smoking hot,'
On the fire was a pot
Well replenish'd, but really I can't say with what;
For, famed as the French always are for ragouts,
No creature can tell what they put in their stews,
Whether bull-frogs, old gloves, or old wigs, or old shoes;
Notwithstanding, when offer'd I rarely refuse,
Any more than poor Blogg did, when, seeing the reeky
Repast placed before him, scarce able to speak, he
In ecstacy mutter'd 'By Jove, Cocky-leeky!'
In an instant, as soon
As they gave him a spoon,
Every feeling and faculty bent on the gruel, he
No more blamed Fortune for treating him cruelly,
But fell tooth and nail on the soup and the bouilli.
Meanwhile that old man standing by,
Subducted his long coat tails on high,
With his back to the fire, as if to dry
A part of his dress which the watery sky
Had visited rather inclemently.--
Blandly he smiled, but still he look'd sly,
And a something sinister lurk'd in his eye.
Indeed had you seen him, his maritime dress in,
You'd have own'd his appearance was not prepossessing,
He'd a 'dreadnought' coat, and heavy sabots
With thick wooden soles turn'd up at the toes,
His nether man cased in a striped quelque chose,
And a hump on his back, and a great hook'd nose,
So that nine out of ten would be led to suppose
That the person before them was Punch in plain clothes.
Yet still, as I told you, he smiled on all present,
And did all that lay in his power to look pleasant.
The old woman too
Made a mighty ado,
Helping her guest to a deal of the stew;
She fish'd up the meat, and she help'd him to that,
She help'd him to lean, and she help'd him to fat,
And it look'd like Hare -- but it might have been Cat.
The little garçons too strove to express,
Their sympathy towards the 'Child of distress'
With a great deal of juvenile French politesse;
But the Bagman bluff
Continued to 'stuff'
Of the fat, and the lean, and the tender and tough,
Till they thought he would never cry 'Hold, enough!'
And the old woman's tones became far less agreeable,
Sounding like peste! and sacre! and diable!
I've seen an old saw which is well worth repeating,
Deservyth goode Drynkynge.'
You'll find it so printed by Carton or Wynkyn And a very good proverb it is to my thinking.
Blogg thought so too;--
As he finished his stew,
His ear caught the sound of the word 'Morbleu!'
Pronounced by the old woman under her breath.
Now, not knowing what she could mean by 'Blue Death!'
He concieved she referr'd to a delicate brewing
Which is almost synonymous,-- namely 'Blue Ruin.'
So he pursed up his lip to a smile, and with glee,
In his cockneyfy'd accent, responded 'Oh, Vee!'
Which made her understand he
Was asking for brandy;
So she turn'd to the cupboard, and, having some handy,
Produced, rightly deeming he would not object to it,
An orbicular bulb with a very long neck to it;
In fact you perceive her mistake, was the same as his,
Each of them 'reasoning right from wrong premises;'
And here, by the way,
Allow me to say
-- Kind Reader, you sometimes permit me to stray --
'Tis strange the French prove, when they take to aspersing,
So inferior to us in the science of cursing:
Kick a Frenchman down stairs,
How absurdly he swears!
And how odd 'tis to hear him, when beat to a jelly,
Roar out in a passion, 'Blue Death!' and 'Blue Belly!'--
'To return to our sheep' from this little digression:--
Blogg's features assumed a complacent expression
As he emptied his glass, and she gave him a fresh one;
Too little he heeded
How fast they succeeded.
Perhaps you or I might have done, though, as he did;
For when once Madam Fortune deals out her hard raps,
It's amazing to think
How one 'cottons' to drink!
At such times, of all things in nature, perhaps,
There's not one that's half so seducing as Schnaps.
Mr. Blogg, beside being uncommonly dry,
Was, like most other Bagmen, remarkably shy,
--'Did not like to deny'--
--'Felt obliged to comply'--
Every time that she ask'd him to 'wet t'other eye;'
For 'twas worthy remark that she spared not the stoup,
Though before she had seem'd so to grudge him the soup.
At length the fumes rose
To his brain; and his nose
Gave hints of a strong disposition to doze,
And a yearning to seek 'horizontal repose.'--
His queer-looking host,
Who, firm at his post,
During all the long meal had continued to toast
That garment 'twere rude to
Do more than allude to,
Perceived, from his breathing and nodding, the views
Of his guest were directed to 'taking a snooze:'
So he caught up a lamp in his huge dirty paw,
With (as Blogg used to tell it) 'Mounseer, swivvy maw!'
And 'marshalled' him so
'The way he should go,'
Upstairs to an attic, large, gloomy, and low,
Without table or chair,
Or a moveable there,
Save an old-fashion'd bedstead, much out of repair,
That stood at the end most removed from the stair.--
With a grain and a shrug
The host points to the rug,
Just as much as to say, 'There!-- I think you'll be snug!'
Puts the light on the floor,
Walks to the door,
Makes a formal Salaam, and is then seen no more;
When, just as the ear lost the sound of his tread,
To the Bagman's surprise, and, at first, to his dread,
The great curly-tail'd Dog crept from under the bed!
It's a very nice thing when a man's in a fright,
And thinks matters all wrong, to find matters all right;
As, for instance, when going home late-ish at night
Through a Churchyard, and seeing a thing all in white,
Which, of course, one is led to consider a Sprite,
To find that the Ghost
Is merely a post,
Or a miller, or chalky-faced donkey at most;
Or, when taking a walk as the evenings begin
To close, or, as some people call it, 'draw in,'
And some undefined form, 'looming large' through the haze,
Presents itself, right in your path, to your gaze,
Inducing a dread
Of a knock on the head,
Or a sever'd carotid, to find that, instead
Of one of those ruffians who murder and fleece men,
It's your Uncle, or one of the 'Rural Policemen;'
Then the blood flows again
Through artery and vein;
You're delighted with what just before gave you pain;
You laugh at your fears -- and your friend in the fog
Meets a welcome as cordial as Anthony Blogg
Now bestow'd on his friend -- the great curly-tail'd Dog.
For the Dog leap'd up, and his paws found a place
On each side his neck in a canine embrace,
And he lick'd Blogg's hands, and he lick'd his face,
And he waggled his tail as much as to say,
'Mr. Blogg, we've foregather'd before to-day!'
And the Bagman saw, as he now sprang up,
What beyond all doubt
He might have found out
Before, had he not been so eager to sup,
'Twas Sancho!-- the Dog he had rear'd from a pup!
The Dog who when sinking had seized his hair,--
The Dog who had saved, and conducted him there,--
The Dog he had lost out of Billiter Square!!
It's passing sweet,
An absolute treat,
When friends, long sever'd by distance, meet,--
With what warmth and affection each other they greet!
Especially, too, as we very well know,
If there seems any chance of a little cadeau,
A 'Present from Brighton,' or 'Token,' to show,
In the shape of a work-box, ring, bracelet, or so,
That our friends don't forget us, although they may go
To Ramsgate, or Rome, or Fernando Po.
If some little advantage seems likely to start,
From a fifty-pound note to a two-penny tart,
It's surprising to see how it softens the heart,
And you'll find those whose hopes from the other are strongest,
Use, in common, endearments the thickest and longest.
But it was not so here;
For although it is clear,
When abroad, and we have not a single friend near,
E'en a cur that will love us becomes very dear,
And the balance of interest 'twixt him and the Dog
Of course was inclining to Anthony Blogg,
Yet he, first of all, ceased
To encourage the beast,
Perhaps thinking 'Enough is as good as a feast;'
And besides, as we've said, being sleepy and mellow,
He grew tired of patting, and crying 'Poor fellow!'
So his smile by degrees harden'd into a frown,
And his 'That's a good dog!' into 'Down, Sancho! down!'
But nothing could stop his mute fav'rite's caressing,
Who, in fact, seem'd resolved to prevent his undressing,
Using paws, tail, and head,
As if he had said,
'Most beloved of masters, pray, don't go to bed;
You had much better sit up and pat me instead!'
Nay, at last, when, determined to take some repose,
Blogg threw himself down on the outside the clothes,
Spite of all he could do,
The Dog jump'd up too,
And kept him awake with his very cold nose;
Scratching and whining,
And moaning and pining,
Till Blogg really believed he must have some design in
Thus breaking his rest; above all, when at length
The Dog scratch'd him off from the bed by sheer strength.
Extremely annoy'd by the 'tarnation whop,' as it
's call'd in Kentuck, on his head and its opposite,
Blogg show'd fight;
When he saw, by the light
Of the flickering candle, that had not yet quite
Burnt down in the socket, though not over bright,
Certain dark-colour'd stains, as of blood newly spilt,
Revealed by the dog's having scratch'd off the quilt,
Which hinted a story of horror and guilt!
'Twas 'no mistake,'--
He was 'wide awake'
In an instant; for, when only decently drunk,
Nothing sobers a man so completely as 'funk.'
And hark!-- what's that?--
They have got into chat
In the kitchen below -- what the deuce are they at?--
There's the ugly old Fisherman scolding his wife --
And she!- by the Pope! she's whetting a knife!--
At each twist
Of her wrist,
And her great mutton fist,
The edge of the weapon sounds shriller and louder!--
The fierce kitchen fire
Had not made Blogg perspire
Half so much, or a dose of the best James's powder.--
It ceases -- all's silent!-- and now, I declare
There's somebody crawls up that rickety stair!
The horrid old ruffian comes, cat-like, creeping;
He opens the door just sufficient to peep in,
And sees, as he fancies, the Bagman sleeping!
For Blogg, when he'd once ascertain'd that there was some
'Precious mischief' on foot, had resolved to 'play 'Possum:'--
Down he went, legs and head,
Flat on the bed,
Apparently sleeping as sound as the dead;
While, though none who look'd at him would think such a thing,
Every nerve in his frame was braced up for a spring.
Then, just as the villain
Crept, stealthily still, in,
And you'd not have insured his guest's life for a shilling,
As the knife gleam'd on high, bright and sharp as a razor,
Blogg, starting upright, 'tipped' the fellow 'a facer:'
Down went man and weapon.-- Of all sorts of blows,
From what Mr. Jackson reports, I suppose
There are few that surpass a flush hit on the nose.
Now, had I the pen of old Ossian or Homer,
(Though each of these names some pronounce a misnomer,
And say the first person
Was called James M'Pherson,
While, as to the second, they stoutly declare
He was no one knows who, and born no one knows where,)
Or had I the quill of Pierce Egan, a writer
Acknowledged the best theoretical fighter
For the last twenty years,
By the lively young Peers,
Who, doffing their coronets, collars, and ermines, treat
Boxers to 'Max,' at the One Tun in Jermyn Street;--
-- I say, could I borrow these Gentlemen's Muses,
More skill'd than my meek one in 'fibbings' and bruises,
I'd describe now to you
As 'prime a Set-to,'
And 'regular turn-up,' as ever you knew;
Not inferior in 'bottom' to aught you have read of
Since Cribb, years ago, half knock'd Molyneux' head off.
But my dainty Urania says, 'Such things are shocking!'
Lace mittens she loves,
Detesting 'The Gloves;'
And turning, with air most disdainfully mocking,
From Melpomene's buskin, adopts the silk stocking.
So, as far as I can see,
I must leave you to 'fancy'
The thumps, and the bumps, and the ups and the downs,
And the taps, and the slaps, and the raps on the crowns,
That pass'd 'twixt the Husband, Wife, Bagman, and Dog,
As Blogg roll'd over them, and they roll'd over Blogg;
While what's called 'The Claret'
Flew over the garret:
Merely stating the fact,
As each other they whack'd,
The Dog his old master most gallantly back'd;
Making both the garcons, who came running in, sheer off,
With 'Hippolyte's' thumb, and 'Alphonse's' left ear off;
Next, making a stoop on
The buffeting group on
The floor, rent in tatters the old woman's jupon;
Then the old man turn'd up, and a fresh bite of Sancho's
Tore out the whole seat of his striped Callimancoes.
Really, which way
This desperate fray
Might have ended at last, I'm not able to say,
The dog keeping thus the assassins at bay:
But a few fresh arrivals decided the day;
For bounce went the door,
In came half a score
Of the passengers, sailors, and one or two more
Who had aided the party in gaining the shore!
It's a great many years ago -- mine then were few--
Since I spent a short time in the old Courageux;--
I think that they say
She had been, in her day,
A First-rate, but was then what they term a Rasée,--
And they took me on board in the Downs, where she lay.
(Captain Wilkinson held the command, by the way.)
In her I pick'd up, on that single occasion,
The little I know that concerns Navigation,
And obtained, inter alia, some vague information
Of a practice which often, in cases of robbing,
Was adopted on shipboard -- I think 'twas called 'Cobbing.'
How 'twas managed exactly I really can't say,
But I think that a Boot-jack was brought into play --
That is, if I'm right: -- it exceeds my ability
To tell how 't is done;
But the system is one
Of which Sancho's exploit would increase the facility.
And, from all I could learn, I'd much rather be robb'd
Of the little I have in my purse, than be 'cobb'd;'--
That's mere matter of taste:
But the Frenchman was placed --
I mean the old scoundrel whose actions we've traced--
In such a position, that on this unmasking,
His consent was the last thing the men thought of asking.
The old woman, too,
Was obliged to go through,
With her boys, the rough discipline used by the crew,
Who, before they let one of the set see the back of them,
'Cobb'd' the whole party,-- ay, 'every man Jack of them.'
And now, Gentle Reader, before that I say
Farewell for the present, and wish you good day,
Attend to the moral I draw from my lay!--
If ever you travel, like Anthony Blogg,
Be wary of strangers!-- don't take too much grog!--
And don't fall asleep, if you should, like a hog:
Above all -- carry with you a curly-tail'd Dog!
Lastly, don't act like Blogg, who, I say it with blushing,
Sold Sancho next month for two guineas at Flushing,
But still on these words of the Bard keep a fixt eye,
INGRATUM SI DIXERIS, OMNIA DIXTI!!!