Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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 ravell’d stocking, might have One less indulgent.

[sour'd At intervals my mother's voice was heard,

VOL, V.

[ocr errors]

Urging dispatch; briskly the work went on,
All hands employ'd to wash, to rince, to wring,
To fold, and starch, and clap, and iron, and plait.
Then would I sit me down, and ponder much
Why washings were. Sometimes through hollow

bole
Of pipe, amused, we blew, and sent aloft
The floating bubbles, little dreaming then
To see, Montgolfier, thy silken ball [proach
Ride buoyant through the clouds—so near ap-
The sports of children and the toils of men.
Earth, air, and sky, and ocean hath its bubbles,
And verse is one of them—this most of all.

ANONYMOUS.

THE GROANS OF THE TANKARD.

Of strange events I sing, and portents dire;
The wondrous themes a reverent ear require :
Though strange the tale, the faithful Muse believe,
And what she says with pious awe receive.

'Twas at the solemn, silent, noontide hour,
When hunger rages with despotic power,
When the lean student quits his Hebrew roots
For the gross nourishment of English fruits,
And throws unfinish'd airy systems by
For solid pudding and substantial pie,
When hungry poets the glad summons own,
And leave spare Fast to dine with gods alone;
Our sober meal dispatch'd with silent haste,
The decent grace concludes the short repast :
Then, urged by thirst, we cast impatient eyes
Where deep, capacious, vast, of ample size,

The Tankard stood, replenish'd to the brink
With the cold beverage blue-eyed Naiads drink.
But lo! a sudden prodigy appears,
And our chill'd hearts recoil with startling fears;
Its yawning mouth disclosed the deep profound,
And in low murmurs breathed a sullen sound;
Cold drops of dew did on the sides appear;
No finger touch'd it, and no hand was near :
At length the' indignant vase its silence broke,
First heaved deep hollow groans, and then dis-
tinctly spoke.

(crimes
How changed the scene! for what unpardon'd
Have I survived to these degenerate times?
I, who was wont the festal board to grace,
And ’midst the circle lift my honest face,
White o'er with frost, like Etna crown'd with snow,
Which mantled o'er the brown abyss below,
Where Ceres mingled with her golden store
The richer spoils of either India's shore,
The dulcet reed the western islands boast,
And spicy fruit from Banda's fragrant coast.
At solemn feasts the nectar'd draught I pour'd,
And often journey'd round the ample board :
The portly alderman, the stately mayor,
And all the furry tribe my worth declare;
And the keen sportsman oft, his labours done,
To me retreating with the setting sun, (sea,
Deep draughts imbibed, and conquer'd land and
And overthrew the pride of France-by me.

• 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,
Or Mocha's sun-burnt berry glad receive;
The nobler metal claims more generous use,
And mine should flow with more exalted juice.
Did I for this my native bed resign,
In the dark bowels of Potosi's mine?
Was I for this with violence torn away,
And dragg’d to regions of the upper day?
For this the rage of torturing furnace bore,
From foreign dross to purge the brightening ore?
For this have I endured the fiery test, [crest ?
And was I stamp'd for this with Britain's lofty

• Unbless'd the day, and luckless was the hour
Which doom'd me to a Presbyterian's power :
Fated to serve the Puritanic race,
Whose slender meal is shorter than their grace;
Whose moping sons no jovial orgies keep;
Where evening brings no summons—but to sleep ;
No carnival is even Christmas here,
And one long Lent involves the meagre year.
Bear me, ye powers to some more genial scene,
Where on soft cushions lolls the gouty dean
Or rosy prebend, with cherubic face,
With double chin, and paunch of portly grace,
Who, lull'd in downy slumbers, shall agree
To owe no inspiration but to me.
Or to some spacious mansion, Gothic, old,
Where Comus' sprightly train their vigils hold;
There, oft exhausted and replenish’d oft,
Oh! let me still supply the eternal draught;
Till care within the deep abyss be drown'd,
And thought grows giddy at the vast profound.'

More had the goblet spoke, but lo! appears An ancient Sibyl, furrow'd o'er with years,

« ПредишнаНапред »