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Ye who beneath the yoke of wedlock bend With bowed soul, full well ye ken the day Which week, smooth sliding after week, brings on Too soon; for to that day nor peace belongs Nor comfort; ere the first gray streak of dawn, The red-arm'd washers come and chase repose. Nor pleasant smile nor quaint device of mirth E'er visited that day; the very cat, From the wet kitchen scared, and reeking hearth, Visits the parlour, an unwonted guest. The silent breakfast meal is soon dispatch'd Uninterrupted, save by anxious looks Cast at the louring sky, if sky should lour. From that last evil, oh! preserve us, heavens ! For should the sky pour down, adieu to all Remains of quiet; then expect to hear Of sad disasters—dirt and gravel stains Hard to efface, and loaded lines at once Snapp'd short-and linen horse by dog thrown And all the petty miseries of life. [down, Saints have been calm while stretch'd upon the rack, And Montezuma smiled on burning coals ; But never yet did housewife notable Greet with a smile a rainy washing day.
But grant the welkin fair, require not thou, Who call'st thyself perchance the master here, Or study swept, or nicely dusted coat, Or usual 'tendance; ask not, indiscreet, Thy stockings mended, though the yawning rents Gape wide as Erebus; nor hope to find Some snug recess impervious; shouldst thou try The custom'd garden walks, thine eye shall rue The budding fragrance of thy tender shrubs, Myrtle or rose, all crush'd beneath the weight
Of coarse check'd apron, with impatient hand Twitch'd off when showers impend: or crossing
lines Shall mar thy musings, as the wet cold sheet Flaps in thy face abrupt. Woe to the friend Whose evil stars have urged him forth to claim On such a day the hospitable rites. Looks, blank at best, and stinted courtesy Shall he receive; vainly he feeds his hopes With dinner of roast chicken, savoury pie, Or tart or pudding :-pudding he nor tart That day shall eat; nor, though the husband try, Mending what can't be help’d, to kindle mirth From cheer deficient, shall his consort's brow Clear up propitious; the unlucky guest In silence dines, and early slinks away.
I well remember, when a child, the awe This day struck into me; for then the maids, I scarce knew why, look'd cross, and drove me
from them; Nor soft caress could I obtain, nor hope Usual indulgences-jellies or creams, Relique of costly suppers, and set by For me their petted one ; or butter'd toast, When butter was forbid; or thrilling tale Of ghost or witch or murder-so I went And shelter'd me beside the parlour fire; There my dear grandmother, eldest of forms, Tended the little ones, and watch'd from harm, Anxiously fond, though oft her spectacles With elfin cunning hid, and oft the pins Drawn from her ravellid stocking, might have One less indulgent.
[sour'd At intervals my mother's voice was heard,
Urging dispatch; briskly the work went on,
THE GROANS OF THE TANKARD.
Of strange events I sing, and portents dire;
'Twas at the solemn, silent, noontide hour,
The Tankard stood, replenish'd to the brink
• Let meaner clay contain the limpid wave, The clay for such an office nature gave ; Let China's earth, enrich'd with colour'd stains, Pencil'd with gold, and streak’d with azure veins,
The grateful flavour of the Indian leaf,
• Unbless'd the day, and luckless was the hour
More had the goblet spoke, but lo! appears An ancient Sibyl, furrow'd o'er with years,