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
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!