The Lay Of St. Odille
Odille was a maid of a dignified race;
Her father, Count Otto, was lord of Alsace;
Such an air, such a grace,
Such a form, such a face,
All agreed 'twere a fruitless endeavour to trace
In the Court, or within fifty miles of the place.
Many ladies in Strasburg were beautiful, still
They were beat all to sticks by the lovely Odille.
But Odille was devout, and, before she was nine,
Had 'experienced a call' she consider'd divine,
To put on the veil at St. Ermengarde's shrine.--
Lords, Dukes, and Electors, and Counts Palatine
Came to seek her in marriage from both sides the Rhine;
But vain their design,
They are all left to pine,
Their oglings and smiles are all useless; in fine,
Not one of these gentlefolks, try as they will,
Can draw 'Ask my papa' from the cruel Odille.
At length one of her suitors, a certain Count Herman,
A highly respectable man as a German,
Who smoked like a chimney, and drank like a merman,
Paid his court to her father, conceiving his firman
Would soon make her bend,
And induce her to lend
An ear to a love-tale in lieu of a sermon.
He gained the old Count, who said, 'Come, Mynheer, fill!--
Here's luck to yourself and my daughter Odille!'
The lady Odille was quite nervous with fear
When a little bird whisper'd that toast in her ear;
She murmur'd 'Oh, dear!
My papa has got queer,
I am sadly afraid, with that nasty strong beer!
He's so very austere, and severe, that it's clear
If he gets in his 'tantrums,' I can't remain here;
But St. Ermengarde's convent is luckily near;
It were folly to stay,
Pour prendre congé,
I shall put on my bonnet, and e'en run away!'
-- She unlock'd the back door, and descended the hill,
On whose crest stood the towers of the sire of Odille.
When he found she'd levanted, the Count of Alsace
At first turn'd remarkably red in the face;
He anathematized, with much unction and grace,
Every soul who came near, and consign'd the whole race
Of runaway girls to a very warm place.
With a frightful grimace
He gave orders for chase.
His vassals set off at a deuce of a pace,
And of all whom they met, high or low, Jack or Jill,
Ask'd, 'Pray, have you seen anything of Odille?'--
Now I think I've been told,-- for I'm no sporting man,--
That the 'knowing-ones' call this by far the best plan,
'Take the lead and then keep it!'-- that is if you can.--
Odille thought so too, so she set off and ran;
Put her best leg before,
Starting at score,
As I said some lines since, from that little back door,
And not being missed until half after four,
Had what hunters call 'law' for a good hour and more;
Doing her best,
Without stopping to rest,
Like 'young Lochinvar who came out of the West,'
''Tis done! I am gone!-- over briar, brook, and rill!
They'll be sharp lads who catch me!' said young Miss Odille.
But you've all read in Æsop, or Phædrus, or Gay,
How a tortoise and hare ran together one day,
How the hare, 'making play,
Progress'd right slick away,'
As 'them tarnation chaps' the Americans say;
While the tortoise, whose figure is rather outré
For racing, crawled straight on, without let or stay,
Having no post-horse duty or turnpikes to pay,
Till ere noon's ruddy ray
Changed to eve's sober grey,
Though her form and obesity caused some delay,
Perseverance and patience brought up her lee-way,
And she chased her fleet-footed 'praycursor,' until
She o'ertook her at last;-- so it fared with Odille.
For although, as I said, she ran gaily at first,
And show'd no inclination to pause, if she durst;
She at length felt opprest with the heat, and with thirst
Its usual attendant; nor was that the worst,
Her shoes went down at heel;-- at last one of them burst.
Now a gentleman smiles
At a trot of ten miles;
But not so the Fair; then consider the stiles,
And as then ladies seldom wore things with a frill
Round the ancle, these stiles sadly bother'd Odille.
Still, despite all the obstacles placed in her track,
She kept steadily on, though the terrible crack
In her shoe made of course her progression more slack,
Till she reached the Swartz Forest (in English The Black);
I cannot divine
How the boundary line
Was passed which is somewhere there formed by the Rhine.
Perhaps she'd the knack
To float o'er on her back.
Or perhaps crossed the old bridge of boats at Brisach,
(Which Vauban some years after secured from attack,
By a bastion of stone which the Germans call 'Wacke,')
All I know is she took not so much as a snack,
Till hungry and worn, feeling wretchedly ill,
On a mountain's brow sank down the weary Odille.
I said on its 'brow,' but I should have said 'crown,'
For 'twas quite on the summit, bleak, barren, and brown,
And so high that 'twas frightful indeed to look down
Upon Friburg, a place of some little renown,
That lay at its foot; but imagine the frown
That contracted her brow, when full many a clown
She perceived coming up from that horrid post-town.
They had followed her trail,
And now thought without fail,
As little boys say, to 'lay salt on her tail;'
While the Count, who knew no other law but his will,
Swore that Herman that evening should marry Odille.
Alas, for Odille; poor dear! what could she do?
Her father's retainers now had her in view,
As she found from their raising a joyous halloo;
While the Count, riding on at the head of his crew,
In their snuff-coloured doublets and breeches of blue,
Was huzzaing and urging them on to pursue.--
What, indeed, could she do?
She very well knew
If they caught her how much she should have to go through;
But then -- she'd so shocking a hole in her shoe!
And to go further on was impossible;-- true
She might jump o'er the precipice; still there are few
In her place who could manage their courage to screw
Up to bidding the world such a sudden adieu:
Alack! how she envied the birds as they flew;
No Nassau balloon with its wicker canoe
Came to bear her from him she loathed worse than a Jew;
So she fell on her knees in a terrible stew,
Crying 'Holy St. Ermengarde!
Oh, from these vermin guard
Her whose last hope rests entirely on you!
Don't let papa catch me, dear Saint!-- rather kill
At once, sur le champ, your devoted Odille!'
Its delightful to see those who strive to oppress
Get baulk'd when they think themselves sure of success.
The Saint came to the rescue! I fairly confess
I don't see, as a Saint, how she well could do less
Than to get such a votary out of her mess.
Odille had scarce closed her pathetic address
When the rock, gaping wide as the Thames at Sheerness,
Closed again, and secured her within its recess,
In a natural grotto,
Which puzzled Count Otto,
Who could not conceive where the deuce she had got to.
'Twas her voice!-- but 'twas Vox et præterea Nil!
Nor could any one guess what was gone with Odille.
Then burst from the mountain a splendour that quite
Eclipsed in its brilliance the finest Bude light,
And there stood St. Ermengarde drest all in white,
A palm-branch in her left hand, her beads in her right;
While with faces fresh gilt, and with wings burnish'd bright,
A great many little boys' heads took their flight
Above and around to a very great height,
And seem'd pretty lively considering their plight,
Since every one saw,
With amazement and awe,
They could never sit down, for they hadn't de quoi.
All at the sight,
From the knave to the knight,
Felt a very unpleasant sensation called fright;
While the Saint, looking down,
With a terrible frown,
Said, 'My Lords you are done most remarkably brown!--
I am really ashamed of you both; my nerves thrill
At your scandalous conduct to poor dear Odille!
Come, make yourselves scarce! it is useless to stay,
You will gain nothing here by a longer delay.
'Quick! Presto! Begone!' as the conjurors say;
For as to the lady, I've stow'd her away
In this hill, in a stratum of London blue clay;
And I shan't, I assure you, restore her to day
Till you faithfully promise no more to say Nay,
But declare, 'If she will be a nun, why she may.'
For this you've my word, and I never yet broke it,
So put that in your pipe, my Lord Otto, and smoke it!--
One hint to your vassals,-- a month at 'the Mill'
Shall be nuts to what they'll get who worry Odille!'
The Saint disappear'd as she ended, and so
Did the little boys' heads, which, above and below,
As I told you a very few stanzas ago,
Had been flying about her, and jumping Jem Crow;
Though, without any body, or leg, foot, or toe,
How they managed such antics, I really don't know;
Be that as it may, they all 'melted like snow
Off a dyke,' as the Scotch say in sweet Edinbro'.
And there stood the Count,
With his men on the mount,
Just like 'twenty-four jackasses all on a row.'
What was best to be done?--' twas a sad bitter pill;
But gulp it he must, or else lose his Odille.
The lord of Alsace therefore alter'd his plan,
And said to himself, like a sensible man,
'I can't do as I would,-- I must do as I can;'
It will not do to lie under any Saint's ban,
For your hide, when you do, they all manage to tan;
So Count Herman must pick up some Betsey or Nan,
Instead of my girl,-- some Sue, Polly, or Fan;--
If he can't get the corn he must do with the bran,
And make shift with the pot if he can't have the pan.
After words such as these
He went down on his knees,
And said, 'Blessed St. Ermengarde, just as you please--
They shall build a new convent,-- I'll pay the whole bill,
(Taking discount,)-- its Abbess shall be my Odille!'
There are some of my readers, I'll venture to say,
Who have never seen Friburg, though some of them may,
And others 'tis likely may go there some day.
Now if ever you happen to travel that way
I do beg and pray,--' twill your pains well repay,--
That you'll take what the Cockney folks call a 'po-shay,'
(Though in Germany these things are more like a dray);
You may reach this same hill with a single relay,--
And do look how the rock,
Through the whole of its block,
Is split open as though by some violent shock
From an earthquake, or lightning, or horrid hard knock
From the club-bearing fist of some jolly old cock
Of a Germanized giant, Thor, Woden, or Lok;
And see how it rears
Its two monstrous great ears,
For when once you're between them such each side appears;
And list to the sound of the water one hears
Drip, drip from the fissures, like rain-drops or tears:
-- Odille's, I believe,-- which have flow'd all these years;
-- I think they account for them so;-- but the rill
I'm sure is connected some way with Odille.
Now then for a moral, which always arrives
At the end, like the honey bees take to their hives,
And the more one observes it the better one thrives.--
We have all heard it said in the course of our lives
'Needs must when a certain old gentleman drives,'
'Tis the same with a lady,-- if once she contrives
To get hold of the ribands, how vainly one strives
To escape from her lash, or to shake off her gyves.
Then let's act like Count Otto, and while one survives
Succumb to our She-Saints -- videlicet wives.
That is if one has not a 'good bunch of fives.'--
(I can't think how that last line escaped from my quill,
For I am sure it has nothing to do with Odille.)
Now young ladies to you!--
Don't put on the shrew!
And don't be surprised if your father looks blue
When you're pert, and won't act as he wants you to do!
Be sure that you never elope;-- there are few,--
Believe me you'll find what I say to be true,--
Who run restive, but find as they bake they must brew,
And come off at the last with 'a hole in their shoe;'
Since not even Clapham, that sanctified ville,
Can produce enough Saints to save every Odille
'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!!!
Some Account Of A New Play
'The play's the thing!'-- Hamlet.
Tavistock Hotel, Nov. 1839.
-- In reply to your letter, and Fanny's,
Lord Brougham, it appears, isn't dead,-- though Queen Anne is;
'Twas a 'plot' and a 'farce'-- you hate farces, you say --
Take another 'plot,' then, viz. the plot of a Play.
The Countess of Arundel, high in degree,
As a lady possess'd of an earldom in fee,
Was imprudent enough at fifteen years of age,
A period of life when we're not over sage,
To form a liaison -- in fact, to engage
Her hand to a Hop-o'-my-thumb of a Page.
This put her Papa --
She had no Mamma --
As may well be supposed, in a deuce of a rage.
Mr. Benjamin Franklin was wont to repeat,
In his budget of proverbs, 'Stolen Kisses are sweet;'
But they have their alloy --
Fate assumed, to annoy
Miss Arundel's peace, and embitter her joy,
The equivocal shape of a fine little Boy.
When, through 'the young Stranger,' her secret took wind,
The Old Lord was neither 'to haud nor to bind.'
He bounced up and down,
And so fearful a frown
Contracted his brow, you'd have thought he'd been blind.
The young lady, they say,
Having fainted away,
Was confined to her room for the whole of that day;
While her beau -- no rare thing in the old feudal system --
Disappear'd the next morning, and nobody miss'd him.
The fact is, his Lordship, who hadn't, it seems,
Form'd the slightest idea, not ev'n in his dreams,
That the pair had been wedded according to law,
Conceived that his daughter had made a faux pas;
So he bribed at a high rate
A sort of a Pirate
To knock out the poor dear young Gentleman's brains,
And gave him a handsome douceur for his pains.
The Page thus disposed of, his Lordship now turns
His attention at once to the Lday's concerns;
And, alarm'd for the future,
Looks out for a suitor,
One not fond of raking, nor giv'n to 'the pewter,'
But adapted to act both the husband and tutor --
Finds a highly respectable, middle-aged, widower,
Marries her off, and thanks Heaven that he's rid o' her.
Relieved from his cares,
The old Peer now prepares
To arrange in good earnest his worldly affairs;
Has his will made new by a Special Attorney,
Sickens, takes to his bed, and sets out on his journey.
Which way he travell'd
Has not been unravell'd;
To speculate much on the point were too curious,
If the climate he reach'd were serene or sulphureous.
To be sure in his balance-sheet all must declare
One item -- The Page -- was an awkward affair;
But, per contra, he'd lately endow'd a new Chantry
For Priests, with ten marks and the run of the pantry.
Be that as it may,
It's sufficient to say
That his tomb in the chancel stands there to this day,
Built of Bethersden marble -- a dark bluish grey.
The figure, a fine one of pure alabaster,
A cleanly churchwarden has cover'd with plaster;
While some Vandal or Jew,
With a taste for virtu,
Has knock'd off his toes, to place, I suppose,
In some Pickwick Museum, with part of his nose;
From his belt and his sword
And his misericorde
The enamel's been chipp'd out, and never restored;
His ci-gît in old French is inscribed all around,
And his head's in his helm, and his heel's on his hound,
The palms of his hands, as if going to pray,
Are join'd and upraised o'er his bosom -- But stay!
I forgot that his tomb's not described in the Play!
Lady Arundel, now in her own right a Peeress,
Perplexes her noddle with no such nice queries,
But produces in time, to her husband's great joy,
Another remarkably 'fine little boy.'
As novel connections
Oft change the affections,
And turn all one's love into different directions,
Now to young 'Johnny Newcome' she seems to confine hers,
Neglecting the poor little dear out at dry-nurse;
Nay, far worse than that,
She considers 'the brat'
As a bore -- fears her husband may smell out a rat.
As her legal adviser
She takes an old Miser,
A sort of 'poor cousin.' She might have been wiser;
For this arrant deceiver,
By name Maurice Beevor,
A shocking old scamp, should her own issue fail,
By the law of the land stands the next in entail.
So, as soon as she ask'd him to hit on some plan
To provide for her eldest, away the rogue ran
To that self-same unprincipled sea-faring man;
In his ear whisper'd low ...--'Bully Gaussen' said 'done!--
I Burked the papa, now I'll Bishop the son!'
'Twas agreed; and, with speed
To accomplish the deed,
He adopted a scheme he was sure would succeed.
By long cock-and-bull stories
Of Candish and Noreys,
Of Drake and bold Raleigh, then fresh in his glories,
Acquired 'mongst the Indians and Rapparee Tories,
He so work'd on the lad,
That he left, which was bad,
The only true friend in the world that he had,
Father Onslow, a priest, though to quit him most loth,
Who in childhood had furnish'd his pap and his broth.
At no small risk of scandal, indeed, to his cloth.
The kidnapping crimp
Took the foolish young imp
On board of his cutter so trim and so jimp,
Then, seizing him just as you'd handle a shrimp,
Twirl'd him thrice in the air with a whirligig motion,
And soused him at once neck and heels in the ocean.
This was off Plymouth Sound,
And he must have been drown'd,
For 'twas nonsense to think he could swim to dry ground,
If 'A very great Warman,
Call'd Billy the Norman,'
Had not just at that moment sail'd by, outward bound.
A shark of great size,
With his great glassy eyes,
Sheer'd off as he came, and relinquish'd the prize;
So he pick'd up the lad, swabb'd, and dry-rubb'd, and mopp'd him,
And, having no children, resolved to adopt him.
Full many a year
Did he hand, reef, and steer,
And by no means consider'd himself as small beer,
When old Norman at length died and left him his frigate,
With lots of pistoles in his coffers to rig it.
A sailor ne'er moans;
So, consigning the bones
Of his friend to the locker of one Mr. Jones,
For England he steers.--
On the voyage it appears
That he rescued a maid from the Dey of Algiers;
And at length reached the Sussex coast, where in a bay,
Not a great way from Brighton, most cosey-ly lay
His vessel at anchor, the very same day
That the Poet begins,-- thus commencing his play.
Giles Gaussen accosts old Sir Maurice de Beevor,
And puts the poor Knight in a deuce of a fever,
By saying the boy, whom he took out to please him,
Is come back a Captain on purpose to tease him.--
Sir Maurice, who gladly would see Mr. Gaussen
Breaking stones on the highway, or sweeping a crossing,
Dissembles -- observes, It's of no use to fret,--
And hints he may find some more work for him yet;
Then calls at the castle, and tells Lady A.
That the boy they had ten years ago sent away
Is return'd a grown man, and, to come to the point,
Will put her son Percy's nose clean out of joint;
But adds, that herself she no longer need vex,
If she'll buy him (Sir Maurice) a farm near the Ex.
'Oh! take it,' she cries; 'but secure every document.'--
'A bargain,' says Maurice,--' including the stock you meant?'--
The Captain, meanwhile,
With a lover-like smile,
And a fine cambric handkerchief, wipes off the tears
From Miss Violet's eyelash, and hushes her fears.
(That's the Lady he saved from the Dey of Algiers.)
Now arises a delicate point, and this is it --
The young lady herself is but down on a visit.
She's perplex'd; and, in fact,
Does not know how to act.
It's her very first visit -- and then to begin
By asking a stranger -- a gentleman, in --
One with mustaches too -- and a tuft on his chin --
She 'really don't know --
He had much better go,'
Here the Countess steps in from behind, and says 'No!--
Fair sir, you are welcome. Do, pray, stop and dine --
You will take our pot-luck -- and we've decentish wine.'
He bows,-- looks at Violet,-- and does not decline.
After dinner the Captain recounts, with much glee,
All he's heard, seen and done, since he first went to sea,
All his perils, and scrapes,
And his hair-breadth escapes,
Talks of boa-constrictors, and lions, and apes,
And fierce 'Bengal Tigers,' like that which you know,
If you've ever seen any respectable 'Show,'
'Carried off the unfortunate Mr. Munro.'
Then, diverging a while, he adverts to the mystery
Which hangs, like a cloud, o'er his own private history --
How he ran off to sea -- how they set him afloat,
(Not a word, though, of barrel or bung hole -- See Note)
How he happen'd to meet
With the Algerine fleet,
And forced them by sheer dint of arms to retreat,
Thus saving his Violet -- (One of his feet
Here just touched her toe, and she moved on her seat,)--
How his vessel was batter'd --
In short, he so chatter'd,
Now lively, now serious, so ogled and flatter'd,
That the ladies much marvell'd a person should be able,
To 'make himself,' both said, 'so very agreeable.'
Captain Norman's adventures were scarcely half done,
When Percy Lord Ashdale, her ladyship's son,
In a terrible fume,
Bounces into the room,
And talks to his guest as you'd talk to a groom,
Claps his hand on his rapier, and swears he'll be through him --
The Captain does nothing at all but 'pooh! pooh!' him.--
Unable to smother
His hate of his brother,
He rails at his cousin, and blows up his mother.
'Fie! fie!' says the first.-- Says the latter, 'In sooth,
This is sharper by far than a keen serpent's tooth!'
(A remark, by the way, which King Lear had made years ago,
When he ask'd for his Knights, and his Daughter said 'Here's a go!')--
This made Ashdale ashamed;
But he must not be blamed
Too much for his warmth, for, like many young fellows, he
Was apt to lose temper when tortured by jealousy.
Still speaking quite gruff,
He goes off in a huff;
Lady A., who is now what some call 'up to snuff,'
Straight determines to patch
Up a clandestine match
Between the Sea-Captain she dreads like Old Scratch,
And Miss, whom she does not think any great catch
For Ashdale; besides, he won't kick up such shindies
Were she once fairly married and off to the Indies.
Miss Violet takes from the Countess her tone;
She agrees to meet Norman 'by moonlight alone,'
And slip off to his bark,
'The night being dark,'
Though 'the moon,' the Sea-Captain says, rises in Heaven
'One hour before midnight,'-- i.e. at eleven.
From which speech I infer,
-- Though perhaps I may err --
That, though weatherwise, doubtless, midst surges and surf, he
When 'capering on shore,' was by no means a Murphy.
He starts off, however, at sunset to reach
An old chapel in ruins, that stands on the beach,
Where the Priest is to bring, as he's promised by letter, a
Paper to prove his name, 'birthright,' et cetera.
Being rather too late,
Gaussen, lying in wait,
Has just given Father Onslow a knock on the pate,
But bolts, seeing Norman, before he has wrested
From the hand of the Priest, as Sir Maurice requested,
The marriage certificate duly attested.--
Norman kneels by the clergyman fainting and gory,
And begs he won't die till he's told him his story;
The Father complies,
Re-opens his eyes,
And tells him all how and about it -- and dies!
Norman, now call'd Le Mesnil, instructed of all,
Goes back, though it's getting quite late for a call,
Hangs his hat and his cloak on a peg in the hall,
And tells the proud Countess it's useless to smother
The fact any longer -- he knows she's his mother!
His Pa's wedded Spouse,--
She questions his nous,
And threatens to have him turn'd out of the house.
He still perseveres,
Till, in spite of her fears,
She admits he's the son she had cast off for years,
And he gives her the papers 'all blister'd with tears,'
When Ashdale, who chances his nose in to poke,
Takes his hat and his cloak,
Just as if in a joke,
Determined to put in his wheel a new spoke,
And slips off thus disguised, when he sees by the dial it
's time for the rendezvous fix'd with Miss Violet.
-- Captain Norman, who, after all, feels rather sore
At his mother's reserve, vows to see her no more,
Rings the bell for the servant to open the door,
And leaves his Mamma in a fit on the floor.
Now comes the Catastrophe -- Ashdale, who's wrapt in
The cloak, with the hat and the plume of the Captain,
Leads Violet down through the grounds to the chapel,
Where Gaussen's concealed -- he springs forward to grapple
The man he's erroneously led to suppose
Captain Norman himself, by the cut of his clothes.
In the midst of their strife,
And just as the knife
Of the Pirate is raised to deprive him of life,
The Captain comes forward, drawn there by the squeals
Of the Lady, and, knocking Giles head over heels,
Fractures his 'nob,'
Saves the hangman a job,
And executes justice most strictly, the rather,
'Twas the spot where the rascal had murder'd his father
Then in comes the mother,
Who, finding one brother
Had the instant before saved the life of the other,
Explains the whole case.
Ashdale puts a good face
On the matter; and since he's obliged to give place,
Yields his coronet up with a pretty good grace;
Norman vows he won't have it -- the kinsmen embrace,--
And the Captain, the first in this generous race,
To remove every handle
For gossip and scandal,
Sets the whole of the papers alight with the candle;
An arrangement takes place -- on the very same night, all
Is settled and done, and the points the most vital
Are, N. takes the personals;-- A., in requital,
Keeps the whole real property, Mansion, and Title.--
V. falls to the share of the Captain, and tries a
Sea-voyage as a Bride in the 'Royal Eliza.'--
Both are pleased with the part they acquire as joint heirs,
And old Maurice Beevor is bundled down stairs!
The public, perhaps, with the drama might quarrel
If deprived of all epilogue, prologue, and moral,
This may serve for all three then:--
'Young Ladies of property,
Let Lady A.'s history serve as a stopper t' ye;
Don't wed with low people beneath your degree,
And if you've a baby, don't send it to sea!
'Young Noblemen! shun every thing like a brawl;
And be sure when you dine out, or go to ball,
Don't take the best hat that you find in the hall,
And leave one in its stead that's worth nothing at all!
'Old Knights, don't give bribes!-- above all, never urge a man
To steal people's things, or to stick an old Clergyman!
'And you, ye Sea-Captains! who've nothing to do
But to run round the world, fight, and drink till all's blue,
And tell us tough yarns, and then swear they are true,
Reflect, notwithstanding your sea-faring life,
That you can't get on well long, without you've a wife;
So get one at once, treat her kindly and gently,
Write a Nautical novel,-- and send it to Bentley!
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'