Thomas Hood: 'Poetical Works' (9)

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CRANIOLOGY.


'Tis strange how like a very dunce,
Man--with his bumps upon his sconce,
Has lived so long, and yet no knowledge he
Has had, till lately, of Phrenology--
A science that by simple dint of
Head-combing he should find a hint of,
When scratching o'er those little poll-hills,
The faculties throw up like mole-hills;--
A science that, in very spite
Of all his teeth, ne'er came to light,
For though he knew his skull had grinders,
Still there turn'd up no organ finders,
Still sages wrote, and ages fled,
And no man's head came in his head--
Not even the pate of Erra Pater,
Knew aught about its pia mater.

At last great Dr. Gall bestirs him--
I don't know but it might be Spurzheim--
Tho' native of a dull and slow land,
And makes partition of our Poll-land;
At our Acquisitiveness guesses,
And all those necessary nesses
Indicative of human habits,
All burrowing in the head like rabbits.
Thus Veneration, he made known,
Had got a lodging at the Crown;
And Music (see Deville's example)
A set of chambers in the Temple;
That Language taught the tongues close by,
And took in pupils thro' the eye,
Close by his neighbor Computation,
Who taught the eyebrows numeration.

The science thus--to speak in fit
Terms--having struggled from its nit,
Was seiz'd on by a swarm of Scotchmen
Those scientifical hotch-potch men,
Who have at least a penny dip,
And wallop in all doctorship,
Just as in making broth they smatter
By bobbing twenty things in water:
These men, I say, made quick appliance
And close, to phrenologic science;
For of all learned themes whatever,
That schools and colleges deliver,
There's none they love so near the bodles,
As analysing their own noddles;
Thus in a trice each northern blockhead
Had got his fingers in his shock head,
And of his bumps was babbling yet worse
Than poor Miss Capulet's dry wet-nurse;
Till having been sufficient rangers
Of their own heads, they took to strangers'.
And found in Presbyterians' polls
The things they hated in their souls;
For Presbyterians hear with passion
Of organs join'd with veneration.
No kind there was of human pumpkin
But at its bumps it had a bumpkin;
Down to the very lowest gullion,
And oiliest skull of oily scullion.
No great man died but this they did do,
They begg'd his cranium of his widow:
No murderer died by law disaster,
But they took off his sconce in plaster;
For thereon they could show depending,
"The head and front of his offending,"
How that his philanthropic bump
Was master'd by a baser lump;
For every bump (these wags insist)
Has its direct antagonist,
Each striving stoutly to prevail,
Like horses knotted tail to tail;
And many a stiff and sturdy battle
Occurs between these adverse cattle,
The secret cause, beyond all question,
Of aches ascribed to indigestion,--
Whereas 'tis but two knobby rivals
Tugging together like sheer devils,
Till one gets mastery, good or sinister,
And comes in like a new prime-minister.

Each bias in some master node is:--
What takes McAdam where a road is,
To hammer little pebbles less?
His organ of Destructiveness.
What makes great Joseph so encumber
Debate? a lumping lump of Number:
Or Malthas rail at babies so?
The smallness of his Philopro--
What severs man and wife? a simple
Defect of the Adhesive pimple:
Or makes weak women go astray?
Their bumps are more in fault than they.

These facts being found and set in order
By grave M. D.'s beyond the Border,
To make them for some months eternal,
Were entered monthly in a journal,
That many a northern sage still writes in,
And throws his little Northern Lights in,
And proves and proves about the phrenos,
A great deal more than I or he knows:
How Music suffers, par exemple,
By wearing tight hats round the temple;
What ills great boxers have to fear
From blisters put behind the ear;
And how a porter's Veneration
Is hurt by porter's occupation;
Whether shillelaghs in reality
May deaden Individuality;
Or tongs and poker be creative
Of alterations in th' Amative;
If falls from scaffolds make us less
Inclined to all Constructiveness:
With more such matters, all applying
To heads--and therefore head-ifying.


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A PARTHIAN GLANCE.


"Sweet Memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,
   Oft up the stream of time I turn my sail."

          ROGERS.


Come, my Crony, let's think upon far-away days,
    And lift up a little Oblivion's veil;
Let's consider the past with a lingering gaze,
    Like a peacock whose eyes are inclined to his tail.

Aye, come, let us turn our attention behind,
    Like those critics whose heads are so heavy, I fear,
That they cannot keep up with the march of the mind,
    And so turn face about for reviewing the rear.

Looking over Time's crupper and over his tail,
    Oh, what ages and pages there are to revise!
And as farther our back-searching glances prevail,
    Like the emmets, "how little we are in our eyes!"

What a sweet pretty innocent, half-a-yard long,
    On a dimity lap of true nursery make!
I can fancy I hear the old lullaby song
    That was meant to compose me, but kept me awake.

Methinks I still suffer the infantine throes,
    When my flesh was a cushion for any long pin--
Whilst they patted my body to comfort my woes,
    Oh! how little they dreamt they were driving them in!

Infant sorrows are strong--infant pleasures as weak--
    But no grief was allow'd to indulge in its note;
Did you ever attempt a small "bubble and squeak,"
    Through the Dalby's Carminative down in your throat?

Did you ever go up to the roof with a bounce?
    Did you ever come down to the floor with the same?
Oh! I can't but agree with bath ends, and pronounce
    "Heads or tails," with a child, an unpleasantish game!

Then an urchin--I see myself urchin indeed--
    With a smooth Sunday face for a mother's delight;
Why should weeks have an end?--I am sure there was
            need
    Of a Sabbath, to follow each Saturday night.

Was your face ever sent to the housemaid to scrub?
    Have you ever felt huckaback soften'd with sand?
Had you ever your nose towell'd up to a snub,
    And your eyes knuckled out with the back of the hand?

Then a school-boy--my tailor was nothing in fault,
    For an urchin will grow to a lad by degrees,--
But how well I remember that "pepper-and-salt"
    That was down to the elbows, and up to the knees!

What a figure it cut when as Norval I spoke!
    With a lanky right leg duly planted before;
Whilst I told of the chief that was kill'd by my stroke,
    And extended my arms as "the arms that he wore!"

Next a Lover--Oh! say, were you ever in love?
    With a lady too cold--and your bosom too hot?
Have you bow'd to a shoe-tie, and knelt to a glove,
    Like a beau that desired to be tied in a knot?

With the Bride all in white, and your body in blue,
    Did you walk up the aisle--the genteelest of men?
When I think of that beautiful vision anew,
    Oh! I seem but the biffin of what I was then!

I am withered and worn by a premature care,
    And wrinkles confess the decline of my days;
Old Time's busy hand has made free with my hair,
    And I'm seeking to hide it--by writing for bays!


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A SAILOR'S APOLOGY FOR BOW-LEGS.


THERE'S some is born with their straight legs by natur--
And some is born with bow-legs from the first--
And some that should have grow'd a good deal straighter,
                    But they were badly nurs'd,
And set, you see, like Bacchus, with their pegs
                    Astride of casks and kegs:
I've got myself a sort of bow to larboard,
                    And starboard,
And this is what it was that warp'd my legs.--

'Twas all along of Poll, as I may say,
That foul'd my cable when I ought to slip;
                    But on the tenth of May,
                    When I gets under weigh,
Down there in Hartfordshire, to join my ship,
                    I sees the mail
                    Get under sail,
The only one there was to make the trip.
                    Well--I gives chase,
                    But as she run
                    Two knots, to one,
There warn't no use in keeping on the race!

Well--casting round about, what next to try on,
                    And how to spin,
I spies an ensign with a Bloody Lion,
And bears away to leeward for the inn,
                    Beats round the gable,
And fetches up before the coach-horse stable:
Well--there they stand, four kickers in a row.
                    And so
I just makes free to cut a brown 'un's cable.
But riding isn't in a seaman's natur--
So I whips out a toughish end of yarn,
And gets a kind of sort of a land-waiter
                    To splice me, heel to heel,
                    Under the she-mare's keel,
And off I goes, and leaves the inn a-starn!

                    My eyes! how she did pitch!
And wouldn't keep her own to go in no line,
Tho' I kept bowsing, bowsing at her bow-line,
But always making lee-way to the ditch,
And yaw'd her head about all sorts of ways.
                    The devil sink the craft!
And wasn't she trimendus slack in stays!
We couldn't, no how, keep the inn abaft!
                    Well--I suppose
We hadn't run a knot--or much beyond--
(What will you have on it?)--but off she goes,
Up to her bends in a fresh-water pond!
                    There I am!--all a-back!
So I looks forward for her bridle-gears,
To heave her head round on the t'other tack;
                    But when I starts,
                    The leather parts,
And goes away right over by the ears!

                    What could a fellow do,
Whose legs, like mine, you know, we're in the bilboes,
But trim myself upright for bringing-to,
And square his yard-arms, and brace up his elbows,
                    In rig all snug and clever,
Just while his craft was taking in her water?
I didn't like my berth tho', howsomdever,
Because the yarn, you see, kept getting taughter,--
Says I--I wish this job was rayther shorter!
                    The chase had gain'd a mile
A-head, and still the she-mare stood a-drinking;
                    Now, all the while
Her body didn't take of course to shrinking.
Says I, she's letting out her reefs, I'm thinking--
                    And so she swell'd, and swell'd,
                    And yet the tackle held,
'Till both my legs began to bend like winkin.
My eyes! but she took in enough to founder!
And there's my timbers straining every bit,
                    Ready to split,
And her tarnation hull a-growing rounder!

                    Well, there--off Hartford Ness,
We lay both lash'd and water-logg'd together,
                    And can't contrive a signal of distress;
Thinks I, we must ride out this here foul weather,
Tho' sick of riding out--and nothing less;
When, looking round, I sees a man a-starn:--
Hollo! says I, come underneath her quarter!--
And hands him out my knife to cut the yarn.
So I gets off, and lands upon the road,
And leaves the she-mare to her own concarn,
                    A-standing by the water.
If I get on another, I'll be blow'd!--
And that's the way, you see, my legs got bow'd!


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THE STAG-EYED LADY.

A MOORISH TALE.

Scheherazade immediately began the following story.


ALI Ben Ali (did you never read
    His wond'rous acts that chronicles relate,--
How there was one in pity might exceed
    The Sack of Troy?)   Magnificent he sate
Upon the throne of greatness--great indeed!
    For those that he had under him were great--
The horse he rode on, shod with silver nails,
Was a Bashaw--Bashaws have horses' tails.

Ali was cruel--a most cruel one!
    'Tis rumoured he had strangled his own mother--
Howbeit such deeds of darkness he had done,
    'Tis thought he would have slain his elder brother
And sister too--but happily that none
    Did live within harm's length of one another,
Else he had sent the Sun in all its blaze
To endless night, and shorten'd the Moon's days.

Despotic power, that mars a weak man's wit,
    And makes a bad man--absolutely bad,
Made Ali wicked--to a fault:--'tis fit
    Monarchs should have some check-strings; but he had
No curb upon his will--no, not a bit--
    Wherefore he did not reign well--and full glad
His slaves had been to hang him--but they falter'd
And let him live unhang'd--and still unalter'd,

Until he got a sage-bush of a beard,
    Wherein an Attic owl might roost--a trail
Of bristly hair--that, honour'd and unshear'd,
    Grew downward like old women and cow's tail;
Being a sign of age--some gray appear'd,
    Mingling with duskier brown its warnings pale;
But yet, not so poetic as when Time
Comes like Jack Frost, and whitens it in rime.

Ben Ali took the hint, and much did vex
    His royal bosom that he had no son,
No living child of the more noble sex,
    To stand in his Morocco shoes--not one
To make a negro-pollard--or tread necks
    When he was gone--doom'd, when his days were done,
To leave the very city of his fame
Without an Ali to keep up his name.

Therefore he chose a lady for his love,
    Singling from out the herd one stag-eyed dear;
So call'd, because her lustrous eyes, above
    All eyes, were dark, and timorous, and clear;
Then, through his Muftis piously he strove,
    And drumm'd with proxy-prayers Mohammed's ear:
Knowing a boy for certain must come of it,
Or else he was not praying to his Profit.

Beer will grow mothery, and ladies fair
    Will grow like beer; so did that stag-eyed dame:
Ben Ali, hoping for a son and heir,
    Boy'd up his hopes, and even chose a name
Of mighty hero that his child should bear;
    He made so certain ere his chicken came:--
But oh! all worldly wit is little worth,
Nor knoweth what to-morrow will bring forth.

To-morrow came, and with to-morrow's sun
    A little daughter to this world of sins,--
Miss-fortunes never come alone--so one
    Brought on another, like a pair of twins:
Twins! female twins!--it was enough to stun
    Their little wits and scare them from their skins
To hear their father stamp, and curse, and swear,
Pulling his beard because he had no heir.

Then strove their stag-eyed mother to calm down
    This his paternal rage, and thus addrest;
"Oh!  Most Serene! why dost thou stamp and frown,
    And box the compass of the royal chest?"
"Ah! thou wilt mar that portly trunk, I own
    I love to gaze on!--Pr'ythee, thou hadst best
Pocket thy fists.   Nay, love, if you so thin
Your beard, you'll want a wig upon your chin!"

But not her words, nor e'en her tears, could slack
    The quicklime of his rage, that hotter grew:
He call'd his slave to bring an ample sack
    Wherein a woman might be poked--a few
Dark grimly men felt pity and look'd black
    At this sad order; but their slaveships knew
When any dared demur, his sword so bending
Cut off the "head and front of their offending."

For Ali had a sword, much like himself,
    A crooked blade, guilty of human gore--
The trophies it had lopp'd from many an elf
    Were struck at his head-quarters by the score--
Not yet in peace belaid it on the shelf,
    But jested with it, and his wit cut sore;
So that (as they of Public Houses speak)
He often did his dozen butts a week.

Therefore his slaves, with most obedient fears,
    Came with the sack the lady to enclose;
In vain from her stag-eyes the big round tears
    Coursed one another down her innocent nose
In vain her tongue wept sorrow in their ears;
    Though there were some felt willing to oppose,
Yet when their heads came in their heads, that minute,
Though 'twas a piteous case, they put her in it.

And when the sack was tied, some two or three
    Of these black undertakers slowly brought her
To a kind of Moorish Serpentine; for she
    Was doom'd to have a winding sheet of water.
Then farewell, earth--farewell to the green tree--
    Farewell, the sun--the moon--each little daughter!
She's shot from off the shoulders of a black,
Like bag of Wall's-End from a coalman's back.

The waters oped, and the wide sack full-fill'd
    All that the waters oped, as down it fell;
Then closed the wave, and then the surface rill'd
    A ring above her, like a water-knell;
A moment more, and all its face was still'd,
    And not a guilty heave was left to tell
That underneath its calm and blue transparence
A dame lay drowned in her sack, like Clarence.

But Heaven beheld, and awful witness bore,--
    The moon in black eclipse deceased that night,
Like Desdemona smother'd by the Moor--
    The lady's natal star with pale afright
Fainted and fell--and what were stars before,
    Turn'd comets as the tale was brought to light;
And all looked downward on the fatal wave,
And made their own reflections on her grave.

Next night, a head--a little lady head,
    Push'd through the waters a most glassy face,
With weedy tresses, thrown apart and spread,
    Comb'd by 'live ivory, to show the space
Of a pale forehead, and two eyes that shed
    A soft blue mist, breathing a bloomy grace
Over their sleepy lids--and so she rais'd
Her aqualine nose above the stream, and gazed.

She oped her lips--lips of a gentle blush,
    So pale it seem'd near drowned to a white,--
She oped her lips, and forth there sprang a gush
    Of music bubbling through the surface light;
The leaves are motionless, the breezes hush
    To listen to the air--and through the night
There come these words of a most plaintive ditty,
Sobbing as they would break all hearts with pity:


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THE WATER PERI'S SONG.


Farewell, farewell, to my mother's own daughter.
    The child that she wet-nursed is lapp'd in the wave;
The Mussul-man, coming to fish in this water,
    Adds a tear to the flood that weeps over her grave.

This sack is her coffin, this water's her bier,
    This grayish bath cloak is her funeral pall;
And, stranger, O stranger! this song that you hear
    Is her epitaph, elegy, dirges, and all!

Farewell, farewell, to the child of Al Hassan,
    My mother's own daughter--the last of her race--
She's a corpse, the poor body! and lies in this basin,
    And sleeps in the water that washes her face.


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REMONSTRATORY ODE,

FROM THE ELEPHANT AT EXETER CHANGE, TO MR. MATHEWS
 AT THE ENGLISH OPERA-HOUSE.

"--See with what courteous action,
    He beckons you to a more removed ground."--Hamlet.

[WRITTEN BY A FRIEND.]

                OH, Mr. Mathews! Sir!
(If a plain elephant may speak his mind,
And that I have a mind to speak I find
                By my inward stir)
I long have thought, and wished to say, that we
Mar our well-merited prosperity
                By being such near neighbours,
My keeper now hath lent me pen and ink,
Shov'd in my truss of lunch, and tub of drink,
                And left me to my labours.
The whole menagerie is in repose,
The Coatamundi is in his Sunday clothes,
Watching the Lynx's most unnatural doze;
The Panther is asleep, and the Macaw;
The Lion is engaged on something raw;
                The white Bear cools his chin
                'Gainst the wet tin;
And the confined old Monkey's in the straw:
All the nine little Lionets are lying
Slumbering in milk, and sighing;
                Miss Cross is sipping ox-tail soup,
                In her front coop,
So here's the happy mid-day moment; yes,
I seize it, Mr. Mathews, to address
                A word or two
                    To you
On the subject of the ruin which must come
By both being in the Strand, and both at home
On the same nights; two treats
                So very near each other,
                As, oh my brother!
To play old gooseberry with both receipts.
                When you begin
Your summer fun, three times a week, at eight,
        And carriages roll up, and cits roll in,
    I feel a change in Exeter 'Change's change.
And, dash my trunk! I hate
To ring my bell, when you ring yours, and go,
With a diminish'd glory through my show!
                It is most strange;
But crowds that meant to see me eat a stack,
And sip a water-butt or so, and crack
        A root of mangel-wurzel with my foot,
        Eat little children's fruit,
        Pick from the floor small coins,
And then turn slowly round and show my India-rubber
            loins:
    'Tis strange--most strange, but true,
    That these same crowds seek you!
    Pass my abode and pay at your next door!
                It makes me roar
    With anguish when I think of this; I go
    With sad severity my nightly rounds
                Before one poor front row,
                My fatal funny foe!
And when I stoop, as duty bids, I sigh
And feel that, while poor elephantine I,
    Pick up a sixpence, you pick up the pounds!

                Could you not go?
Could you not take the Cobourg or the Surrey?
Or Sadler's Wells,--(I am not in a hurry,
I never am!) for the next season?--oh!
                Woe! woe! woe!
To both of us, if we remain; for not
In silence will I bear my altered lot,
To have you merry, sir, at my expense;
                No man of any sense,
No true great person (and we both are great
In our own ways) would tempt another's fate.
                I would myself depart
                In Mr. Cross's cart;
But, like Othello, "am not easily moved."
There's a nice house in Tottenham Court, they say,
Fit for a single gentleman's small play:
                And more conveniently near your home;
                You'll easily go and come.
Or get a room in the City--in some street-
Coachmakers' Hall, or the Paul's Head,
                Cateaton Street;
Any large place, in short, in which to get your bread;
                But do not stay, and get
                Me into the Gazette!

                Ah! The Gazette!
I press my forehead with my trunk, and wet
My tender cheek with elephantine tears,
                Shed of a walnut size
                From my wise eyes,
To think of ruin after prosperous years.
                What a dread case would be
                For me--large me!
To meet at Basinghall Street, the first and seventh
                And the eleventh!
        To undergo (D----n!)
                My last examination!
        To cringe, and to surrender,
        Like a criminal offender,
All my effects--my bell-pull, and my bell,
My bolt, my stock of hay, my new deal cell.
                To post my ivory, Sir!
And have some curious commissioner
Very irreverently search my trunk;
                'Sdeath!   I should die
With rage, to find a tiger in possession
    Of my abode; up to his yellow knees
In my old straw; and my profound profession
    Entrusted to two beasts of assignees!

The truth is simply this,--if you will stay
                Under my very nose,
                Filling your rows
Just at my feeding time, to see your play,
                My mind's made up,
                No more at nine I sup,
Except on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays. Sundays,
                From eight to eleven,
                As I hope for heaven,
On Thursdays, and on Saturdays, and Mondays,
    I'll squeak and roar, and grunt without cessation,
    And utterly confound your recitation.
And, mark me! all my friends of the furry snout
        Shall join a chorus shout:
We will be heard--we'll spoil
Your wicked ruination toil.
                Insolvency must ensue
                To you, Sir, you;
Unless you move your opposition shop;
                And let me stop.

I have no more to say:--I do not write
    In anger, but in sorrow; I must look,
However, to my interests every night,
    And they detest your "Memorandum-book."
If we could join our forces--I should like it;
            You do the dialogue, and I the songs.
                A voice to me belongs;
(The Editors of the Globe and Traveller ring
With praises of it, when I hourly sing
                God save the King.)
If such a bargain could be schemed, I'd strike it!
    I think, too, I could do the Welch old man
    In the Youthful Days, if dress'd upon your plan;
And the attorney in your Paris trip,--
                I'm large about the hip!
Now think of this!--for we cannot go on
    As next door rivals, that my mind declares:
I must be pennyless, or you be gone!
We must live separate, or else have shares.
                I am a friend or foe
                As you take this;
    Let me your profitable hubbub miss,
Or be it "Mathews, Elephant, and Co.!"


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FAITHLESS NELLY GRAY.

A PATHETIC BALLAD.


BEN Battle was a soldier bold,
    And used to war's alarms;
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
    So he laid down his arms!

Now as they bore him off the field,
    Said he, "Let others shoot,
For here I leave my second leg,
    And the Forty-second Foot!"

The army-surgeons made him limbs:
    Said he,--"They're only pegs:
But there's as wooden members quite,
    As represent my legs!"

Now Ben he loved a pretty maid,
    Her name was Nelly Gray;
So he went to pay her his devours,
    When he'd devour'd his pay!

But when he called on Nelly Gray,
    She made him quite a scoff;
And when she saw his wooden legs,
    Began to take them off!

"O, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!
    Is this your love so warm?
The love that loves a scarlet coat
    Should be more uniform!"

Said she, "I loved a soldier once,
    For he was blithe and brave;
But I will never have a man
    With both legs in the grave!"

"Before you had those timber toes,
    Your love I did allow,
But then, you know, you stand upon
    Another footing now!"

"O, Nelly Gray!  O, Nelly Gray!
    For all your jeering speeches,
At duty's call, I left my legs
    In Badajos's breaches!"

"Why, then," said she, "you've lost the feet
    Of legs in war's alarms,
And now you cannot wear your shoes
    Upon your feats of arms!"

"O, false and fickle Nelly Gray!
    I know why you refuse:--
Though I've no feet--some other man
    Is standing in my shoes!"

"I wish I ne'er had seen your face;
    But, now, a long farewell!
For you will be my death:--alas!
    You will not be my Nell!"

Now when he went from Nelly Gray,
    His heart so heavy got--
And life was such a burthen grown,
    It made him take a knot!

So round his melancholy neck
    A rope he did entwine,
And, for his second time in life,
    Enlisted in the Line!

One end he tied around a beam,
    And then removed his pegs,
And, as his legs were off,--of course,
    He soon was off his legs!

And there he hung, till he was dead
    As any nail in town,--
For though distress had cut him up,
    It could not cut him down!

A dozen men sat on his corpse,
    To find out why he died--
And they buried Ben in four cross-roads,
    With a stake in his inside!


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THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.


'Twas in the prime of summer time,
    An evening calm and cool,
And four-and-twenty happy boys
    Came bounding out of school:
There were some that ran and some that leapt,
    Like troutlets in a pool.

Away they sped with gamesome minds,
    And souls untouch'd by sin;
To a level mead they came, and there
    They drave the wickets in:
Pleasantly shone the setting sun
    Over the town of Lynn.

Like sportive deer they coursed about,
    And shouted as they ran,--
Turning to mirth all things of earth,
    As only boyhood can;
But the Usher sat remote from all,
    A melancholy man!

His hat was off, his vest apart,
    To catch heaven's blessed breeze;
For a burning thought was in his brow,
    And his bosom ill at ease:
So he lean'd his head on his hands, and read
    The book between his knee!


-5-


Leaf after leaf he turn'd it o'er,
    Nor ever glanced aside,
For the peace of his soul he read that book
    In the golden eventide:
Much study had made him very lean,
    And pale, and leaden-eyed.

At last he shut the ponderous tome,
    With a fast and fervent grasp
He strain'd the dusky covers close,
    And fix'd the brazen hasp:
"Oh, God! could I so close my mind,
    And clasp it with a clasp!"

Then leaping on his feet upright,
    Some moody turns he took,--
Now up the mead, then down the mead,
    And past a shady nook,--
And, lo! he saw a little boy
    That pored upon a book!

"My gentle lad, what is't you read--
    Romance or fairy fable?
Of is it some historic page,
    Or kings and crowns unstable?"
The young boy gave an upward glance,--
    "It is 'The Death of Abel.'"

The Usher took six hasty strides,
    As smit with sudden pain,--
Six hasty strides beyond the place,
    Then slowly back again;
And down he sat beside the lad,
    And talk'd with him of Cain;


-10-


And, long since then, of bloody men,
    Whose deeds tradition saves;
Of lonely folk cut off unseen,
    And hid in sudden graves;
Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn,
    And murders done in caves;

And how the sprites of injured men
    Shriek upward from the sod,--
Ay, how the ghostly hand will point
    To show the burial clod;
And unknown facts of guilty acts
    Are seen in dreams from God!

He told how murderers walk the earth
    Beneath the curse of Cain,--
With crimson clouds before their eyes,
    And flames about their brain:
For blood has left upon their souls
    Its everlasting stain!

"And well," quoth he, "I know, for truth,
    Their pangs must be extreme,--
Woe, woe, unutterable woe,--
    Who spill life's sacred stream!
For why?   Methought, last night, I wrought
    A murder, in a dream!"

"One that had never done me wrong--
    A feeble man, and old;
I led him to a lonely field,--
    The moon shone clear and cold:
Now here, said I, this man shall die,
    And I will have his gold!"


-15-


"Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,
    And one with a heavy stone,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife,--
    And then the deed was done:
There was nothing lying at my foot
    But lifeless flesh and bone!"

"Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,
    That could not do me ill;
And yet I feared him all the more,
    For lying there so still:
There was a manhood in his look,
    That murder could not kill!"

"And, lo! the universal air
    Seemed lit with ghastly flame;--
Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes
    Were looking down in blame:
I took the dead man by his hand,
    And called upon his name!"

"Oh, God! it made me quake to see
    Such sense within the slain!
But when I touched the lifeless clay,
    The blood gush'd out amain!
For every clot, a burning spot
    Was scorching in my brain!"

"My head was like an ardent coal,
    My heart as solid ice:
My wretched, wretched soul, I knew,
    Was at the Devil's price:
A dozen times I groan'd the dead
    Had never groan'd but twice!"


-20-


And now, from forth the frowning sky,
    From the Heaven's topmost height,
I heard a voice--the awful voice
    Of the blood-avenging Sprite:--
"Thou guilty man! take up thy dead
    And hide it from my sight!"

"I took the dreary body up,
    And cast it in a stream,--
A sluggish water, black as ink,
    The depth was so extreme:--
My gentle Boy, remember this
    Is nothing but a dream!"

"Down went the corse with a hollow plunge,
    And vanish'd in the pool;
Anon I cleansed my bloody hands,
    And wash'd my forehead cool,
And sat among the urchins young,
    That evening in the school."

"Oh, Heaven! to think of their white souls,
    And mine so black and grim!
I could not share in childish prayer,
    Nor join in Evening Hymn:
Like a Devil of the Pit I seem'd,
    'Mid holy Cherubim!"

"And peace went with them, one and all,
    And each calm pillow spread:
But Guilt was my grim Chamberlain
    That lighted me to bed;
And drew my midnight curtains round,
    With fingers bloody red!"


-25-


"All night I lay in agony,
    In anguish dark and deep;
My fever'd eyes I dared not close,
    But stared aghast at Sleep:
For Sin had render'd unto her
    The keys of Hell to keep!"

"All night I lay in agony,
    From weary chime to chime,
With one besetting horrid hint,
    That rack'd me all the time;
A mighty yearning, like the first
    Fierce impulse unto crime!"

"One stern tyrannic thought, that made
    All other thoughts its slave;
Stronger and stronger every pulse
    Did that temptation crave,--
Still urging me to go and see
    The Dead Man in his grave!"

"Heavily I rose up, as soon
    As light was in the sky,
And sought the black accursed pool
    With a wild misgiving eye;
And I saw the Dead in the river bed,
    For the faithless stream was dry."

"Merrily rose the lark, and shook
    The dew-drop from its wing;
But I never mark'd its morning flight,
    I never heard it sing:
For I was stooping once again
    Under the horrid thing."


-30-


"With breathless speed, like a soul in chase,
    I took him up and ran;--
There was no time to dig a grave
    Before the day began:
In a lonesome wood, with heaps of leaves,
    I hid the murder'd man!"

"And all that day I read in school,
    But my thought was other wher;
As soon as the mid-day task was done,
    In secret I was ther:
And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,
    And still the corse was bare!"

"Then down I cast me on my face,
    And first began to weep,
For I knew my secret then was one
    That earth refused to keep:
Or land or sea, though he should be
    Ten thousand fathoms deep."

"So wills the fierce avenging Sprite,
    Till blood for blood atones!
Ay, though he's buried in a cave,
    And trodden down with stones,
And years have rotted off his flesh,--
    The world shall see his bones!"

"Oh, God! that horrid, horrid dream
    Besets me now awake!
Again again, with dizzy brain,
    The human life I take;
And my red right hand grows raging hot,
    Like Cranmer's at the stake."


-35-


"And still no peace for the restless clay
    Will wave or mould allow;
The horrid thing pursues my soul,--
    It stands before me now!"
The fearful Boy look'd up, and saw
    Huge drops upon his brow.

That very night, while gentle sleep
    The urchin eyelids kiss'd,
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
    Through the cold and heavy mist;
And Eugene Aram walk'd between.
    With gyves upon his wrist.


________________

[Top of page]

THE SEA SPELL.
"Cauld, cauld, he lies beneath the deep."

Old Scotch Ballad.

IT was a jolly mariner!
The tallest man of three,--
He loosed his sail against the wind,
And turned his boat to sea:
The ink-black sky told every eye,
A storm was soon to be!

But still that jolly mariner
Took in no reef at all,
For, in his pouch, confidingly,
He wore a baby's caul;
A thing, as gossip-nurses know,
That always brings a squall!

His hat was knew, or, newly glazed,
Shone brightly in the sun;
His jacket, like a mariner's,
True blue as e'er was spun;
His ample trowsers, like Saint Paul,
Bore forty stripes save one.

And now the fretting foaming tide
He steer'd away to cross;
The bounding pinnance play'd a game
Of dreary pitch and toss;
A game that, on the good dry land,
Is apt to bring a loss!

Good Heaven befriend that little boat,
And guide her on her way!
A boat, they say, has canvas wings,
But cannot fly away!
Though, like a merry singing-bird,
She sits upon the spray!

Still east by south the little boat,
With tawny sail, kept beating:
Now out of sight, between two waves,
Now o'er th' horizon fleeting:
Like greedy swine that feed on mast,--
The waves her mast seem'd eating!

The sullen sky grew black above,
The wave as black beneath;
Each roaring billow show'd full soon
A white and foamy wreath;
Like angry dogs that snarl at first,
And then display their teeth.

The boatman looked against the wind,
The mast began to creak,
The wave, per saltum, came and dried.
In salt, upon his cheek!
The pointed wave against him rear'd.
As if it own'd a pique!

Nor rushing wind, nor gushing wave,
That boatman could alarm,
But still he stood away to sea,
And trusted in his charm;
He thought by purchase he was safe.
And arm'd against all harm!

Now thick and fast and far aslant,
The stormy rain came pouring,
He heard, upon the sandy bank,
The distant breakers roaring,--
A groaning intermitting sound,
Like Gog and Magog snoring!

The sea-fowl shriek'd around the mast,
Ahead the grampus tumbled,
And far off, from a copper cloud,
The hollow thunder rumbled;
It would have quail'd another heart,
But his was never humbled.

For why? he had that infant's caul;
And wherefore should he dread?
Alas! alas! he little thought,
Before the ebb-tide sped,--
That like that infant, he should die,
And with a watery head!

The rushing brine flow'd in apace;
His boat had ne'er a deck;
Fate seem'd to call him on, and he
Attended to her beck;
And so he went, still trusting on,
Though reckless--to his wreck!

For as he left his helm, to heave
The ballast-bags a-weather,
Three monstrous seas came roaring on,
Like lions leagued together.
The two first waves the little boat
Swam over like a feather.--

The two first waves were past and gone,
And sinking in her wake;
The hugest still came leaping on,
And hissing like a snake;
Now helm a-lee! for through the midst.
The monster he must take!

Ah, me! it was a dreary mount!
Its base as black as night,
Its top of pale and livid green,
Its crest of awful white,
Like Neptune with a leprosy,--
And so it rear'd upright!

With quaking sails, the little boat
CIimb'd up the foaming heap;
With quaking sails it paused awhile,
At balance on the steep;
Then rushing down the nether slope,
Plunged with a dizzy sweep!

Look, how a horse, made mad with fear,
Disdains his careful guide;
So now the headlong headstrong boat,
Unmanaged, turns aside,
And straight presents her reeling flank
Against the swelling tide!

The gusty wind assaults the sail;
Her ballast lies a-lee!
The sheet's to windward taught and stiff!
Oh! the Lively--where is she?
Her capsiz'd keel is in the foam,
Her pennon's in the sea!

The wild gull, sailing overhead,
Three times beheld emerge
The head of that bold mariner,
And then she screamed his dirge
For he had sunk within his grave
Lapp'd in a shroud of surge!

The ensuing wave, with horrid foam
Rush'd o'er and cover'd all,--
The jolly boatman's drowning scream
Was smother'd by the squall,--
Heaven never heard his cry, nor did
The ocean heed his caul.


________________

[Top of page]

MORAL REFLECTIONS ON THE CROSS OF ST. PAUL'S.


    THE man that pays his pence, and goes
        Up to thy lofty cross, St. Paul,
    Looks over London's naked nose,
            Women and men:
            The world is all beneath his ken.
He sits above the Ball.
He seems on Mount Olympus' top,
Among the Gods, by Jupiter! and lets drop
    His eyes from the empyreal clouds
        On mortal crowds.

    Seen from these skies,
    How small those emmets in our eyes;
        Some carry little sticks--and one
    His eggs--to warm them in the sun:
            Dear! what a hustle,
                And bustle!
And there's my aunt.   I know her by her waist,
            So long and thin,
            And so pinch'd in,
    Just in the pismire taste.

Oh! what are men?--Beings so small,
            That, should I fall
Upon their little heads, I must
Crush them by hundreds into dust!

And what is life? and all its ages--
            There's seven stages!
Turnham Green! Chelsea! Putney! Fulham!
            Brentford! and Kew!
            And Tooting, too!
And oh! what very little nags to pull 'em.
    Yet each would seem a horse indeed,
If here at Paul's tip-top we'd got 'em;
    Although, like Cinderella's breed,
They're mice at bottom.
    Then let me not despise a horse,
    Though he looks small from Paul's high cross!
Since he would be,--as near the sky.
    --Fourteen hands high.

What is this world with London in its lap?
            Mogg's Map.
The Thames, that ebbs and flows in its broad channel?
            A tidy kennel.
The bridges stretching from its banks?
            Stone planks.
Oh me! hence could I read an admonition
            To mad Ambition!
But that he would not listen to my call,
Though I should stand upon the cross, and ball!


________________

[Top of page]

THE DEMON-SHIP.


'Twas off the Wash--the sun went down--the sea look'd black
            and grim,
For stormy clouds, with murky fleece, were mustering at the brim;
Titanic shades! enormous gloom!--as if the solid night
Of Erebus rose suddenly to seize upon the light!
It was a time for mariners to bear a wary eye
With such a dark conspiracy between the sea and sky!

Down went my-helm--close reef'd--the tack held freely in my
            hand--
With ballast snug--I put about, and scudded for the land.
Loud hiss'd the sea beneath her lee--my little boat flew fast,
But faster still the rushing storm came borne upon the blast.
Lord! what a roaring hurricane beset the straining sail!
What furious sleet, with level drift, and fierce assaults of hail!

What darksome caverns yawn'd before! what jagged steeps be-
            hind!
Like battle-steeds, with foamy manes, wild tossing in the wind.
Each after each sank down astern, exhausted in the chase,
But where it sank another rose and galloped in its place;
As black as night--they turned to white, and cast against the
            cloud
A snowy sheet, as if each surge upturned a sailor's shroud:--
Still flew my boat; alas! alas! her course was nearly run!
Behold yon fatal billow rise--ten billows heap'd in one!

With fearful speed the dreary mass came rolling, rolling, fast,
As if the scooping sea contain'd one only wave at last!
Still on it came, with horrid roar, a swift pursuing grave;
It seem'd as though some cloud had turned its hugeness to a
            wave!
Its briny sleet began to beat beforehand in my face--
I felt the rearward keel begin to climb its swelling base!
I saw its alpine hoary head impending over mine!
Another pulse--and down it rush'd--an avalanche of brine!
Brief pause had I, on God to cry, or think of wife and home;
The waters clos'd--and when I shriek'd, I shriek'd below the
            foam!
Beyond that rush I have no hint of any after deed--
For I was tossing on the waste, as senseless as a weed.

                 *                 *                 *                  *                  *

"Where am I? in the breathing world, or in the world of death?"
With sharp and sudden pang I drew another birth of breath;
My eyes drank in a doubtful light, my ears a doubtful sound--
And was that ship a real ship whose tackle seem'd around?
A moon, as if the earthly moon, was shining up aloft;
But were those beams the very beams that I had seen so oft?
A face, that mock'd the human face, before me watch'd alone;
But were those eyes the eyes of man that look'd against my own?

Oh! never may the moon again disclose me such a sight
As met my gaze, when first I look'd, on that accursed night!
I've seen a thousand horrid shapes begot of fierce extremes
Of fever; and most frightful things have haunted in my dreams--
Hyenas--cats--blood-loving bats--and apes with hateful stare,--
Pernicious snakes, and shaggy bulls--the lion, and she-bear--
Strong enemies, with Judas looks, of treachery and spite--
Detested features, hardly dimm'd and banish'd by the light!
Pale-sheeted ghosts, with gory locks, upstarting from their tombs--
All phantasies and images that flit in midnight glooms--
Hags, goblins, demons, lemures, have made me all aghast,--
But nothing like that GRIMLY ONE who stood beside the mast!

His cheek was black--his brow was black--his eyes and hair as
            dark;
His hand was black, and where it touch'd, it left a sable mark;
His throat was black, his vest the same, and when I look'd beneath,
His breast was black--all, all, was black, except his grinning teeth.
His sooty crew were like in hue, as black as Afric slaves!
Oh, horror! e'en the ship was black that plough'd the inky waves!

"Alas!" I cried, "for love of truth and blessed mercy's sake,
Where am I? in what dreadful ship? upon what dreadful lake?"
"What shape is that, so very grim, and black as any coal?
It is Mahound, the Evil One, and he has gain'd my soul!
Oh, mother dear! my tender nurse! dear meadows that beguil'd
My happy days, when I was yet a little sinless child,--
My mother dear--my native fields, I never more shall see:
I'm sailing in the Devil's Ship, upon the Devil's Sea!"

Loud laugh'd that SABLE MARINER, and loudly in return
His sooty crew sent forth a laugh that rang from stem to stern--
A dozen pair of grimly cheeks were crumpled on the nonce--
As many sets of grinning teeth came shining out at once:
A dozen gloomy shapes at once enjoy'd the merry fit,
With shriek and yell, and oaths as well, like Demons of the Pit.
They crow'd their fill, and then the Chief made answer for the
            whole;--
"Our skins," said he, "are black, ye see, because we carry coal;
You'll find your mother sure enough, and see your native fields--
For this here ship has pick'd you up--the Mary Ann of Shields!"


________________

[Top of page]

MARY'S GHOST.

A PATHETIC BALLAD.


'Twas in the middle of the night,
    To sleep young William tried,
When Mary's ghost came stealing in,
    And stood at his bedside.

O William dear!   O William dear!
    My rest eternal ceases;
Alas! my everlasting peace
    Is broken into pieces.

I thought the last of all my cares
    Would end with my last minute;
But though I went to my long home,
    I didn't stay long in it.

The body-snatchers they have come,
    And made a snatch at me;
It's very hard them kind of men
    Won't let a body be!

You thought that I was buried deep,
    Quite decent-like and chary,
But from her grave in Mary-bone,
    They've come and boned your Mary.

The arm that used to take your arm
    Is took to Dr. Vyse;
And both my legs are gone to walk
    The hospital at Guy's.

I vowed that you should have my hand,
    But fate gives us denial;
You'll find it there, at Dr. Bell's,
    In spirits and a phial.

As for my feet, the little feet
    You used to call so pretty,
There's one, I know, in Bedford Row,
    The t'other's in the City.

I can't tell where my head is gone,
    But Doctor Carpue can;
As for my trunk, it's all packed up
    To go by Pickford's van.

I wish you'd go to Mr. P.
    And save me such a ride;
I don't half like the outside place,
    They've took for my inside.

The cock it crows--I must be gone!
    My William, we must part!
But I'll be yours in death, altho'
    Sir Astley has my heart.

Don't go to weep upon my grave,
    And think that there I be;
They haven't left an atom there
    Of my anatomie.


________________


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