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I need not ask thee if that hand, when armed,
Roman soldier mauled or knuckled,
Ere Romulus and Remus had been suckled !
Might tell us what those sightless orbs have seen,
And the great deluge still had left it green ;
Art sworn to secrecy ? then keep thy vows;
Reveal the secrets of thy prison-house ! Since in the world of spirits thou hast slumbered, What thou hast seen, what strange adventures numbered. Since first thy form was in this box extended,
We have, above-ground, seen some strange mutations ; The Roman empire has begun and ended,
New worlds have risen we have lost old nations And countless kings have into dust been humbled, While not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled. Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy head,
When the great Persian conqueror, Camby'ses,
O’erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis,
The nature of thy private life unfold :
And tears adown thy dusty cheek have rolled.
Imperishable type of evanescence ! Posthumous man, who quitt'st thy narrow bed,
And standest undecayed within our presence,
THE DOCTOR AND HIS APPRENTICE.
Thou wilt hear nothing till the judgment morning,
If its undying guest be lost for ever?
In living virtue; that, when both must sever,
XXI. — THE DOCTOR AND HIS APPRENTICE. A PUPIL of the Æsculapian school, ambitious to get on a little faster in physic, asked (if not against the rule) that he might pay a visit with his master to his next patient. The master gave consent, so off they went; and now, before the day had fled, behold them at a sick man's bed.
The master-doctor solemnly perused the patient's face, and o'er his symptoms mused ; looked wise, said nothing - an unerring way, when people nothing have to say ; - then felt his pulse and smelt his cane — and paused, and blinked, and smelt again, and went through all the customary motions, maneuvers that for Death's platoon are meant; a kind of a “ Make ready and present,” before the fell discharge of pills and potions.
At length the patient's wife he thus addressed: “Madam, your husband's danger 's great, and (what will never his complaint, abate) the man's been eating oysters, I perceive.” - Dear! you 're a witch, I verily believe!” madam replied, and to the truth confessed.
Skill so prodigious Bobby, too, admired, and home returning of the sage inquired how these same oysters came into his head. “Psha ! my dear Bob, the thing was plain ; sure that can ne'er distress thy brain ; I saw the shells lie underneath the bed.”
So, wise by such a lesson grown, next day Bob ventured forth alone, and to the self-same sufferer paid his court. But soon, with haste and wonder out of breath, returned the stripling minister of death, and to his master made this dread report :
Why, sir, we ne'er can keep that patient under! Zounds ! such a maw I never came across ! The fellow must be dying, and no wonder, for hang me if he has n't eat a horse !”
A horse !” the elder man of physic cried, as if he meant his pupil to deride.
“ How came so wild a notion in your head ?” “How! think not in my duty I was idle ; like you, I took a peep beneath the bed, and there I saw a saddle and a bridle!”
XXII. — THE MODERN PUFFING SYSTEM.
FROM AN EPISTLE TO SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ. UNLIKE those feeble gales of praise Which critics blew in former days, Our modern puffs are of a kind That truly, really, "raise the wind;' And since they've fairly set in blowing, We find them the best trade-winds ” going. What steam is on the deep — and more — Is the vast power of Puff on shore; Which jumps to glory's future tenses Before the present even commences, And makes“ immortal ” and “divine” of us Before the world has read one line of us. In old times, when the god of song Drove his own two-horse team along, Carrying inside a bard or two Booked for posterity “ all through," Their luggage, a few closed-packed rhymes (Like yours, my friend, for after-times), So slow the pull to Fame's abode, That folks oft slumbered on the road; And Homer's self, sometimes, they say, Took to his night-cap on the way. But, now, how different is the story With our new galloping sons of glory, Who, scorning all such slack and slow time, Dash to posterity in no time! Raise but one general blast of Puff To start your author — that 's enough! In vain the critics, set to watch him, Try at the starting-post to cătch him : He's off the puffers carry it hollow The critics, if they please, may follow. Ere they 've laid down their first positions, He's fairly blown through six editions ! In vain doth Edinburgh* dispense Her blue-and-yellow pestilence
* An allusion to the Edinburgh Review, the Edinburgh edition of which has blue covers, backed with yellow.
PREACHING VERSUS PRACTICE.
(That plague so awful, in my time,
XXIII. MY LITTLE COUSINS. LAUGH on, fair cousins, for to you all life is joyous yet ; Your hearts have all things to pursue, and nothing to regret; And every flower to you is fair, and every month is May; You've not been introduced to Care, - laugh on, laugh on, to-day! Old Time will fling his clouds ere long upon those sunny eyes ; The voice, whose every word is song, will set itself to sighs ; Your quiet slumbers, — hopes and fears will chase their rest away; To-morrow you'll be shedding tears, – laugh on, laugh on, to-day! O, yes; if any truth is found in the dull schoolman's theme, If Friendship is an empty sound, and Love an idle dream, If Mirth, youth's playmate, feels fatigue too soon on life's long way, At least he'll run with you a league, — laugh on, laugh on, to-day! Perhaps your eyes may grow more bright as childhood's hues depart; You
may be lovelier to the sight, and dearer to the heart; You may be sinless still, and see this earth still green and gay ; But what you are you will not be, - laugh on, laugh on, to-day! O'er me have many winters crept, with less of grief than joy ; But I have learned, and toiled, and wept, I am no more a boy! I've never had the gout, 't is true; my hair is hardly gray ; But now I can not laugh like you, - laugh on, laugh on, to-day! I used to have as glad a face, as shadowless a brow; I once could run as blithe a race as you are running now; But never mind how I behave, don't interrupt your play, And, though I look so very grave, laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
XXIV. - PREACHING VERSUS PRACTICE.
swered, no !
* Murray, the publisher of the London Quarterly Review.
“You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
with us, why, you 'll have a share ;
XXV.- THE OLD COTTAGE CLOCK.
Was the brightest thing and neatest;
And its chime rang still the sweetest.
Yet they lived, though nations altered ;
When the voice of friendship faltered !
For ten I've given warning; Up, up,
and go, or else
As it stood in the corner smiling,
The wintry hours beguiling;
As it called at daybreak boldly,
And the early air blew coldly.
For five I've given warning;
Unless 're up soon in the morning."