Слике страница



In the note introducing Fitz Adam's Story, infra p. 411, will be found a brief account of the unfinished poem of which this is a fragment.

I am a man of forty, sirs, a nati of East

Haddam, And have some reason to surmise that I

descend from Adam; But what's my pedigree to you? That I

will soon unravel; I've sucked my Haddam-Eden dry, there

fore desire to travel, And, as a natural consequence, presume

I need n't say, I wish to write some letters home and have

those letters P[I spare the word suggestive of those grim

Next Morns that mount Clump, Clump, the stairways of the brain

with — “Sir, my small account," And, after every good we gain Love,

Fame, Wealth, Wisdom — still, As punctual as a cuckoo clock, hold up their

little bill, The garçons in our Café of Life, by dream

ing us forgotSitting, like Homer's heroes, full and mus

ing God knows what, Till they say, bowing, S'il vous plait, voila,

Messieurs, la note !] I would not hint at this so soon, but in our

callous day, The tollman Debt, who drops his bar across

the world's highway, Great Cæsar in mid-march would stop, if

Cæsar could not pay; Pilgriming's dearer than it was: men

cannot travel now Scot-free from Dan to Beersheba upon a

simple vow; Nay, as long back as Bess's time, when

Walsingham went over Ambassador to Cousin France, at Canter

bury and Dover He was so fleeced by innkeepers that, ere

he quitted land, He wrote to the Prime Minister to take the

knaves in hand. If I with staff and scallop-shell should try

my way to win, Would Bonifaces quarrel as to who should

take me in?

Or would my pilgrim's progress end where

Bunyan started his on, And my grand tour be round and round the

backyard of a prison ? I give you here a saying deep and therefore,

haply true; 'T is out of Merlin's prophecies, but quite

as good as new: The question boath for men and meates longe

voyages ut beginne Lhes in a notóhell, rather daye lhes in a case

of tinne. But, though men may not travel now, as in

the Middle Ages, With self-sustaining retinues of little gilt

edged pages, Yet one may manage pleasantly, where'er

he likes to roam, By sending his small pages (at so much per

small page) home; And if a staff and scallop-shell won't serve

so well as then, Our outlay is about as small — just paper,

ink, and pen. Be thankful ! Humbugs never die, more

than the wandering Jew; Bankrupt, they publish their own deaths,

slink for a while from view, Then take an alias, change the sign, and the

old trade renew; Indeed, 't is wondrous how_each Age,

though laughing at the Past, Insists on having its tight shoe made on the

same old last; How it is sure its system would break up

at once without The bunion which it will believe hereditary

gout; How it takes all its swans for geese, nay,

stranger yet and sadder, Sees in its treadmill's fruitless jog a heaven

ward Jacob's-ladder, Shouts, Lo, the Shining Heights are reached !

One moment more aspire ! Trots into cramps its poor, dear legs, gets

never an inch the higher, And like the others, ends with pipe and

mug beside the fire.


[ocr errors]


There, 'tween each doze, it whiffs and sips Pure Mephistopheles all this ? the vulgar and watches with a sneer

nature jeers ? The green recruits that trudge and sweat Good friend, while I was writing it, my where it had swinked whilere,

eyes were dim with tears; And sighs to think this soon spent zeal Thrice happy he who cannot see, or who should be in simple truth

his eyes can shut, The only interval between old Fogyhood Life's deepest sorrow is contained in that and Youth:

small word there — But ! “Well,” thus it muses, “ well, what odds ? 'T is not for us to warn;

We're pretty nearly crazy here with 'T will be the same when we are dead, and change and go ahead, was ere we were born;

With flinging our caught bird away for Without the Treadmill, too, how grind our two i'th' bush instead, store of winter's corn ?

With butting 'gainst the wall which we Had we no stock, nor twelve per cent. re- declare shall be a portal,

ceived from Treadmill shares, And questioning Deeps that never yet have We might . . . but these poor devils at oped their lips to mortal; last will get our easy-chairs.

We're growing pale and hollow-eyed, and High aims and ho have great rewards, out of all condition, they, too, serene and snug,

With mediums and prophetic chairs, and Shall one day have their soothing pipe and crickets with a mission, their enlivening mug;

(The most astounding oracles since BaFrom Adam, empty-handed Youth bath laam's donkey spoke, always heard the hum

'T would seem our furniture was all of Of Good Times Coming, and will hear un

Dodonean oak.) til the last day come;

Make but the public laugh, be sure 't will Young ears hear forward, old ones back, take you to be somebody; and, while the earth rolls on,

'T will wrench its button from your clutch, Full-handed Eld shall hear recede the steps

my densely earnest glum body; of Good Times Gone;

'T is good, this noble earnestness, good in Ah what a cackle we set up whene'er an its place, but why

Make great Achilles' shield the pan to Cack-cack-cack-cackle! rang around, the bake a penny pie ?

scratch for worms was stayed, Why, when we have a kitchen-range, insist Cut-cut-ca-dah-cut! from this egg the com

that we shall stop, ing cock shall stalk !

And bore clear down to central fires to The great New Era dawns, the age of broil our daily chop ? Deeds and not of Talk !

Excalibur and Durandart are swords of And every stupid hen of us hugged close price, but then his egg of chalk,

Why draw them sternly when you wish to Thought, - sure, I feel life stir within,

trim your nails or pen ? each day with greater strength, Small gulf between the ape and man; you When lo, the chick ! from former chicks bridge it with your staff; he differed not a jot,

But it will be impassable until the ape can But grew and crew and scratched and laugh;

went, like those before, to pot !” No, no, be common now and then, be senSo muse the dim Emeriti, and, mournful

sible, be funny, though it be,

And, as Siberians bait their traps for bears I must confess a kindred thought hath with pots of honey, sometimes come to me,

From which ere they 'll withdraw their Who, though but just of forty turned, have snouts, they'll suffer many a clubheard the rumorous fame

lick, Of nine and ninety Coming Men, all So bait your moral figure-of-fours to catch coming till they came.

the Orson public.

egg was laid !

nistic now;



Look how the dead leaves melt their way 'T is not a statue, grumbles John; nay, if down through deep-drifted snow;

you come to that, They take the sun-warmth down with them We think of Hyde Park Corner, and con- pearls could not conquer so;

cede you beat us flat There is a moral here, you see; if you With your equestrian statue to a Nose and would preach, you must

a Cocked hat; Steep all your truths in sunshine would But 't is not a cathedral; well, e'en that we you have them pierce the crust;

will allow, Brave Jeremiah, you are grand and ter- Both statues and cathedrals are anachro

rible, a sign And wonder, but were never quite a popu- Your minsters, coz, the monuments of men lar divine;

who conquered you, Fancy the figure you would cut among the You'd sell a bargain, if we'd take the deans nuts and wine !

and chapters too; I, on occasion, too, could preach, but hold No; mortal men build nowadays, as always it wiser far

heretofore, To give the public sermons it will take with Good temples to the gods which they in its cigar,

very truth adore; And morals fugitive, and vague as The shepherds of this Broker Age, with all these smoke-wreaths light

their willing flocks, In which ... I trace . a ... let me Although they bow to stones no more, do bless me! 't is out of sight.

bend the knee to stocks,

And churches can't be beautiful though There are some goodish things at sea; for crowded, floor and gallery, instance, one can feel

If people worship preacher, and if preacher A grandeur in the silent man forever at the worship salary; wheel,

'T is well to look things in the face, the god That bit of two-legged intellect, that par

o' the modern universe, ticle of drill,

Hermes, cares naught for halls of art and Who the huge floundering hulk inspires with

libraries of puny verse, reason, brain, and will,

If they don't sell, lie notes them thus upon And makes the ship, though skies are black his ledger — say, per and headwinds whistle loud,

Contra to a loss of so much stone, best Obey her conscience there which feels the

Russia duck and paper; loadstar through the cloud;

And, after all, about this Art men talk a And when by lusty western gales the full- deal of fudge, sailed barque is hurled,

Each nation has its path marked out, from Towards the great moon which, setting on which it must not budge; the silent underworld,

The Romans had as little art as Noah in his Rounds luridly up to look on ours, and

ark, shoots a broadening line,

Yet somehow on this globe contrived to Of palpitant light from crest to crest across make an epic mark; the ridgy brine,

Religion, painting, sculpture, song - for Then from the bows look back and feel a

these they ran up jolly ticks thrill that never stales,

With Greece and Egypt, but they were great In that full-bosomed, swan-white pomp


artists in their politics, onward-yearning sails;

And if we make no minsters, John, nor Ah, when dear cousin Bull laments that epics, yet the Fates you can't make a poem,

Are not entirely deaf to men who can build Take him aboard a clipper-ship, young ships and states; Jonathan, and show him

The arts are never pioneers, but men bave A work of art that in its grace and grandeur

strength and health may compare

Who, called on suddenly, can improvise a With any thing that any race has fashioned commonwealth,

any where;

Nay, can more easily go on and frame them

by the dozen, Than you can make a dinner-speech, dear

sympathizing cousin: And, though our restless Jonathan have not

your graver bent, sure be Does represent this hand-to-mouth, pert,

rapid, nineteenth century; This is the Age of Scramble; men move

faster than they did When they pried up the imperial Past's

deep-dusted coffin-lid, Searching for scrolls of precedent; the wire

leashed lightning now Replaces Delphos - men don't leave the

steamer for the scow; What public, were they new to-day, would

ever stop to read The Iliad, the Shandmeh, or the Nibelun

genlied ?

Their public 's gone, the artist Greek, the

s lettered Shah, the hairy Graf Folio and plesiosaur sleep well; we weary

o'er a paragraph; The mind moves planet-like no more, it

fizzes, cracks, and bustles; From end to end with journals dry the land

o'ershadowed rustles, As with dead leaves a winter-beech, and,

with their breath-roased jars Amused, we care not if they hide the eternal

skies and stars; Down to the general level of the Board of

Brokers sinking, The Age takes in the newspapers, or, to say

sooth unshrinking, The newspapers take in the Age, and

stocks do all the thinking.


SOMEWHERE in India, upon a time, (Read it not Injah, or you spoil the verse,) There dwelt two saints whose privilege

sublime It was to sit and watch the world grow

worse, Their only care (in that delicious clime) At proper intervals to pray and

curse; Pracrit the dialect each prudent brother Used for himself, Damnonian for the


Nor other labor did this holy pair,
Clothed and supported from the lavish

store Which crowds lanigerous brought with

daily care; They toiled not, neither did they spin;

their bias Was tow'rd the harder task of being


One half the time of each was spent in

praying For blessings on his own unworthy head,

The other half in fearfully portraying Where certain folks would go when they

were dead; This system of exchanges — there's no

saying To what inore solid barter 't would have led, But that a river, vext with boils and

swellings At rainy times, kept peace between their

dwellings. So they two played at wordy battledore And kept a curse forever in the air, Flying this way or that from shore to


Each from his hut rushed six score times

a day, Like a great canon of the Church full

rammed With cartridge theologic, (so to say,) Touched himself off, and then, recoiling,

slammed His hovel's door behind him in a way That to his foe said plainly, — you'll be

damned; And so like Potts and Wainwright, shrill

and strong The two D-D'd each other all day

long. One was a dancing Dervise, a Moham

medan, The other was a Hindoo, a gymnosophist; One kept his whatd'yecallit and his Ram


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ПретходнаНастави »