Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Like a man with eight trumps in his hand at a whist-table,

(I feared me at first that the rhyme was untwistable,

Though I might have lugged in an allusion to
Cristabel,)-

He would take up a lily, and gloomily look in it,
As I shall at the when they cut up my book

7

in it.

Well, here, after all the bad rhyme I've been spinning;

I've got back at last to my story's beginning:
Sitting there, as I say, in the shade of his mistress,
As dull as a volume of old Chester mysteries,
Or as those puzzling specimens, which, in old
histories,

We read of his verses-the Oracles, namely,

(I wonder the Greeks should have swallowed them tamely,

For one might bet safely whatever he has to risk, They were laid at his door by some ancient Miss

Asterisk,

And so dull that the men who retailed them outdoors

Got the ill name of augurs, because they were bores,)—

First, he mused what the animal substance or herb is

Would induce a moustache, for you know he's imberbis ;

Then he shuddered to think how his youthful posi

tion

Was assailed by the age of his son the physician; At some poems he glanced, had been sent to him lately,

And the metre and sentiment puzzled him greatly;

"Mehercle! I'd make such proceedings felonious,

Have they all of them slept in the cave of Trophonius ?

Look well to your seat, 'tis like taking an airing
On a corduroy road, and that out of repairing;
It leads one, 'tis true, through the primitive forest,
Grand natural features-but, then, one has no
rest;

You just catch a glimpse of some ravishing distance,

When a jolt puts the whole of it out of existence,—— Why not use their ears, if they happen to have any?"

-Here the laurel-leaves murmured the name of poor Daphne.

"O, weep with me, Daphne," he sighed, "for you know it's

A terrible thing to be pestered with poets!
But, alas, she is dumb, and the proverb holds good,
She never will cry till she's out of the wood!
What wouldn't I give if I never had known of
her?

"Twere a kind of relief had I something to groan

over;

If I had but some letters of hers, now, to toss over, I might turn for the nonce a Byronic philosopher, And bewitch all the flats by bemoaning the loss of

her.

One needs something tangible, though to begin

on

A loom, as it were, for the fancy to spin on ;
What boots all your grist? it can never be ground
Till a breeze makes the arms of the windmill go

round,

(Or, if 'tis a water-mill, alter the metaphor,

And say it won't stir, save the wheel be well wet

afore,

{"

Or lug in some stuff about water so dreamily,"-
It is not a metaphor, though, 'tis a simile ;)
A lily, perhaps, would set my mill agoing,
For just at this season, I think, they are blowing,
Here, somebody, fetch one, not very far hence.
They're in bloom by the score, 'tis but climbing a

fence;

There's a poet hard by, who does nothing but fill his

Whole garden, from one end to t'other, with lilies;
A very good plan, were it not for satiety,
One longs for a weed here and there, for variety ;
Though a weed is no more than a flower in dis-

guise,

Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes."

Now there happened to be among Phoebus's followers,

A gentleman, one of the omnivorous swallowers,
Who bolt every book that comes out of the press,
Without the least question of larger or less,
Whose stomachs are strong at the expense of their

head,—

For reading new books is like eating new bread,
One can bear it at first, but by gradual steps he
Is brought to death's door of a mental dyspepsy.
On a previous stage of existence, our Hero
Had ridden outside, with the glass below zero;
He had been, 'tis a fact you may safely rely on,
Of a very old stock a most eminent scion,
A stock all fresh quacks their fierce boluses

[ocr errors]

ply on,

Who stretch the new boots Earth's unwilling to

try on,

Whom humbugs of all shapes and sorts keep their

eye on,

Whose hair's in the mortar of every new Zion, Who, when whistles are dear, go directly and buy

one,

Who think slavery a crime that we must not say fie on,

Who hunt, if they e'er hunt at all, with the lion, (Though they hunt lions also, whenever they spy one,)

Who contrive to make every good fortune a wry

one,

And at last choose the hard bed of honor to die on,
Whose pedigree traced to earth's earliest years,
Is longer than any thing else but their ears ;—
In short, he was sent into life with the wrong key,
He unlocked the door, and stept forth a poor

donkey.

Though kicked and abused by his bipedal betters, Yet he filled no mean place in the kingdom of letters;

Far happier than many a literary hack,
He bore only paper-mill rags on his back;
(For it makes a vast difference which side the mill
One expends on the paper his labor and skill ;)
So, when his soul waited a new transmigration,
And Destiny balanced 'twixt this and that station,
Not having much time to expend upon bothers,
Remembering he'd had some connexion with
authors,

And considering his four legs had grown paralytic,

She set him on two, and he came forth a critic.

Through his babyhood no kind of pleasure he took

In any amusement but tearing a book;

For him there was no intermediate stage,
From babyhood up to straight-laced middle age;
There were years when he didn't wear coat-tails
behind,

But a boy he could never be rightly defined;
Like the Irish Good Folk, though in length scarce
a span,

From the womb he came gravely, a little old man ;
While other boys' trowsers demanded the toil
Of the motherly fingers on all kinds of soil,
Red, yellow, brown, black, clayey, gravelly, loamy,
He sat in the corner and read Viri Romæ.

He never was known to unbend or to revel once
In base, marbles, hockey, or kick up the devil

once;

He was just one of those who excite the benevolence

Of your old prigs who sound the soul's depths with a ledger,

And are on the look out for some young men to edger

(6

-cate," as they call it, who won't be too costly,
And who'll afterward take to the ministry mostly;
Who always wear spectacles, always look bilious,
Always keep on good terms with each mater-

familias

Throughout the whole parish, and manage to rear Ten boys like themselves, on four hundred a year; Who, fulfilling in turn the same fearful conditions, Either preach through their noses, or go upon

missions.

In this way our hero got safely to college, Where he bolted alike both his commons and knowledge;

A reading-machine, always wound up and going, He mastered whatever was not worth the knowing,

« ПретходнаНастави »