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Title: Fly Leaves
Author: Calverley, Charles Stuart
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fly Leaves" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcribed from the 1884 Deighton, Bell, and Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                                FLY LEAVES


                             C. S. CALVERLEY,

                                * * * * *

                            _TENTH THOUSAND_.

                                * * * * *

                         DEIGHTON, BELL, AND CO.
                      LONDON: GEORGE BELL AND SONS.

                                * * * * *

                              CHANCERY LANE.


MORNING                                    1
EVENING                                    4
SHELTER                                    6
IN THE GLOAMING                            8
THE PALACE                                13
PEACE                                     17
THE ARAB                                  19
LINES ON HEARING THE ORGAN                22
CHANGED                                   29
FIRST LOVE                                32
WANDERERS                                 36
SAD MEMORIES                              39
COMPANIONS                                45
BALLAD                                    48
PRECIOUS STONES                           51
DISASTER                                  56
CONTENTMENT                               59
THE SCHOOLMASTER                          63
ARCADES AMBO                              66
WAITING                                   69
PLAY                                      71
LOVE                                      74
ON THE BRINK                              81
“FOREVER”                                 86
UNDER THE TREES                           89
MOTHERHOOD                                92
MYSTERY                                   95
FLIGHT                                    99
ON THE BEACH                             104
LOVERS, AND A REFLECTION                 108
THE COCK AND THE BULL                    113
AN EXAMINATION PAPER                     121


   ’TIS the hour when white-horsed Day
   Chases Night her mares away;
   When the Gates of Dawn (they say)
      Phœbus opes:
   And I gather that the Queen
   May be uniformly seen,
   Should the weather be serene,
      On the slopes.

   When the ploughman, as he goes
   Leathern-gaitered o’er the snows,
   From his hat and from his nose
      Knocks the ice;
   And the panes are frosted o’er,
   And the lawn is crisp and hoar,
   As has been observed before
      Once or twice.

   When arrayed in breastplate red
   Sings the robin, for his bread,
   On the elmtree that hath shed
      Every leaf;
   While, within, the frost benumbs
   The still sleepy schoolboy’s thumbs,
   And in consequence his sums
      Come to grief.

   But when breakfast-time hath come,
   And he’s crunching crust and crumb,
   He’ll no longer look a glum
      Little dunce;
   But be brisk as bees that settle
   On a summer rose’s petal:
   Wherefore, Polly, put the kettle
      On at once.


   KATE! if e’er thy light foot lingers
      On the lawn, when up the fells
   Steals the Dark, and fairy fingers
      Close unseen the pimpernels:
   When, his thighs with sweetness laden,
      From the meadow comes the bee,
   And the lover and the maiden
      Stand beneath the trysting tree:—

   Lingers on, till stars unnumber’d
      Tremble in the breeze-swept tarn,
   And the bat that all day slumber’d
      Flits about the lonely barn;
   And the shapes that shrink from garish
      Noon are peopling cairn and lea;
   And thy sire is almost bearish
      If kept waiting for his tea:—

   And the screech-owl scares the peasant
      As he skirts some churchyard drear;
   And the goblins whisper pleasant
      Tales in Miss Rossetti’s ear;
   Importuning her in strangest,
      Sweetest tones to buy their fruits:—
   O be careful that thou changest,
      On returning home, thy boots.


   BY the wide lake’s margin I mark’d her lie—
      The wide, weird lake where the alders sigh—
   A young fair thing, with a shy, soft eye;
      And I deem’d that her thoughts had flown
   To her home, and her brethren, and sisters dear,
   As she lay there watching the dark, deep mere,
      All motionless, all alone.

   Then I heard a noise, as of men and boys,
      And a boisterous troop drew nigh.
   Whither now will retreat those fairy feet?
      Where hide till the storm pass by?
   One glance—the wild glance of a hunted thing—
   She cast behind her; she gave one spring;
   And there follow’d a splash and a broadening ring
      On the lake where the alders sigh.

   She had gone from the ken of ungentle men!
      Yet scarce did I mourn for that;
   For I knew she was safe in her own home then,
   And, the danger past, would appear again,
      For she was a water-rat.


   IN the Gloaming to be roaming, where the crested waves are foaming,
      And the shy mermaidens combing locks that ripple to their feet;
   When the Gloaming is, I never made the ghost of an endeavour
      To discover—but whatever were the hour, it would be sweet.

   “To their feet,” I say, for Leech’s sketch indisputably teaches
      That the mermaids of our beaches do not end in ugly tails,
   Nor have homes among the corals; but are shod with neat balmorals,
      An arrangement no one quarrels with, as many might with scales.

   Sweet to roam beneath a shady cliff, of course with some young lady,
      Lalage, Neæra, Haidee, or Elaine, or Mary Ann:
   Love, you dear delusive dream, you!  Very sweet your victims deem you,
      When, heard only by the seamew, they talk all the stuff one can.

   Sweet to haste, a licensed lover, to Miss Pinkerton the glover,
      Having managed to discover what is dear Neæra’s “size”:
   P’raps to touch that wrist so slender, as your tiny gift you tender,
      And to read you’re no offender, in those laughing hazel eyes.

   Then to hear her call you “Harry,” when she makes you fetch and carry—
      O young men about to marry, what a blessed thing it is!
   To be photograph’d—together—cased in pretty Russia leather—
      Hear her gravely doubting whether they have spoilt your honest

   Then to bring your plighted fair one first a ring—a rich and rare one—
      Next a bracelet, if she’ll wear one, and a heap of things beside;
   And serenely bending o’er her, to inquire if it would bore her
      To say when her own adorer may aspire to call her bride!

   Then, the days of courtship over, with your WIFE to start for Dover
      Or Dieppe—and live in clover evermore, whate’er befalls:
   For I’ve read in many a novel that, unless they’ve souls that grovel,
      Folks _prefer_ in fact a hovel to your dreary marble halls:

   To sit, happy married lovers; Phillis trifling with a plover’s
      Egg, while Corydon uncovers with a grace the Sally Lunn,
   Or dissects the lucky pheasant—that, I think, were passing pleasant;
      As I sit alone at present, dreaming darkly of a Dun.


   THEY come, they come, with fife and drum,
      And gleaming pikes and glancing banners:
   Though the eyes flash, the lips are dumb;
      To talk in rank would not be manners.
   Onward they stride, as Britons can;
   The ladies following in the Van.

   Who, who be these that tramp in threes
      Through sumptuous Piccadilly, through
   The roaring Strand, and stand at ease
      At last ’neath shadowy Waterloo?
   Some gallant Guild, I ween, are they;
   Taking their annual holiday.

   To catch the destin’d train—to pay
      Their willing fares, and plunge within it—
   Is, as in old Romaunt they say,
      With them the work of half-a-minute.
   Then off they’re whirl’d, with songs and shouting,
   To cedared Sydenham for their outing.

   I mark’d them light, with faces bright
      As pansies or a new coin’d florin,
   And up the sunless stair take flight,
      Close-pack’d as rabbits in a warren.
   Honour the Brave, who in that stress
   Still trod not upon Beauty’s dress!

   Kerchief in hand I saw them stand;
      In every kerchief lurk’d a lunch;
   When they unfurl’d them, it was grand
      To watch bronzed men and maidens crunch
   The sounding celery-stick, or ram
   The knife into the blushing ham.

   Dash’d the bold fork through pies of pork;
      O’er hard-boil’d eggs the saltspoon shook;
   Leapt from its lair the playful cork:
      Yet some there were, to whom the brook
   Seem’d sweetest beverage, and for meat
   They chose the red root of the beet.

   Then many a song, some rather long,
      Came quivering up from girlish throats;
   And one young man he came out strong,
      And gave “The Wolf” without his notes.
   While they who knew not song or ballad
   Still munch’d, approvingly, their salad.

   But ah! what bard could sing how hard,
      The artless banquet o’er, they ran
   Down the soft slope with daisies starr’d
      And kingcups! onward, maid with man,
   They flew, to scale the breezy swing,
   Or court frank kisses in the ring.

   Such are the sylvan scenes that thrill
      This heart!  The lawns, the happy shade,
   Where matrons, whom the sunbeams grill,
      Stir with slow spoon their lemonade;
   And maidens flirt (no extra charge)
   In comfort at the fountain’s marge!

   Others may praise the “grand displays”
      Where “fiery arch,” “cascade,” and “comet,”
   Set the whole garden in a “blaze”!
      Far, at such times, may I be from it;
   Though then the public may be “lost
   In wonder” at a trifling cost.

   Fann’d by the breeze, to puff at ease
      My faithful pipe is all I crave:
   And if folks rave about the “trees
      Lit up by fireworks,” let them rave.
   Your monster fêtes, I like not these;
   Though they bring grist to the lessees.


   HE stood, a worn-out City clerk—
      Who’d toil’d, and seen no holiday,
   For forty years from dawn to dark—
      Alone beside Caermarthen Bay.

   He felt the salt spray on his lips;
      Heard children’s voices on the sands;
   Up the sun’s path he saw the ships
      Sail on and on to other lands;

   And laugh’d aloud.  Each sight and sound
      To him was joy too deep for tears;
   He sat him on the beach, and bound
      A blue bandana round his ears:

   And thought how, posted near his door,
      His own green door on Camden Hill,
   Two bands at least, most likely more,
      Were mingling at their own sweet will

   Verdi with Vance.  And at the thought
      He laugh’d again, and softly drew
   That Morning Herald that he’d bought
      Forth from his breast, and read it through.


      ON, on, my brown Arab, away, away!
   Thou hast trotted o’er many a mile to-day,
   And I trow right meagre hath been thy fare
   Since they roused thee at dawn from thy straw-piled lair,
   To tread with those echoless unshod feet
   Yon weltering flats in the noontide heat,
   Where no palmtree proffers a kindly shade
   And the eye never rests on a cool grass blade;
   And lank is thy flank, and thy frequent cough
   Oh! it goes to my heart—but away, friend, off!

      And yet, ah! what sculptor who saw thee stand,
   As thou standest now, on thy Native Strand,
   With the wild wind ruffling thine uncomb’d hair,
   And thy nostril upturn’d to the od’rous air,
   Would not woo thee to pause till his skill might trace
   At leisure the lines of that eager face;
   The collarless neck and the coal-black paws
   And the bit grasp’d tight in the massive jaws;
   The delicate curve of the legs, that seem
   Too slight for their burden—and, O, the gleam
   Of that eye, so sombre and yet so gay!
   Still away, my lithe Arab, once more away!

      Nay, tempt me not, Arab, again to stay;
   Since I crave neither Echo nor Fun to-day.
   For thy _hand_ is not Echoless—there they are
   Fun, Glowworm, and Echo, and Evening Star:
   And thou hintest withal that thou fain would’st shine,
   As I con them, these bulgy old boots of mine.
   But I shrink from thee, Arab!  Thou eat’st eel-pie,
   Thou evermore hast at least one black eye;
   There is brass on thy brow, and thy swarthy hues
   Are due not to nature but handling shoes;
   And the hit in thy mouth, I regret to see,
   Is a bit of tobacco-pipe—Flee, child, flee!


   GRINDER, who serenely grindest
      At my door the Hundredth Psalm,
   Till thou ultimately findest
      Pence in thy unwashen palm:

   Grinder, jocund-hearted Grinder,
      Near whom Barbary’s nimble son,
   Poised with skill upon his hinder
      Paws, accepts the proffered bun:

   Dearly do I love thy grinding;
      Joy to meet thee on thy road
   Where thou prowlest through the blinding
      Dust with that stupendous load,

   ’Neath the baleful star of Sirius,
      When the postmen slowlier jog,
   And the ox becomes delirious,
      And the muzzle decks the dog.

   Tell me by what art thou bindest
      On thy feet those ancient shoon:
   Tell me, Grinder, if thou grindest
      Always, always out of tune.

   Tell me if, as thou art buckling
      On thy straps with eager claws,
   Thou forecastest, inly chuckling,
      All the rage that thou wilt cause.

   Tell me if at all thou mindest
      When folks flee, as if on wings,
   From thee as at ease thou grindest:
      Tell me fifty thousand things.

   Grinder, gentle-hearted Grinder!
      Ruffians who led evil lives,
   Soothed by thy sweet strains, are kinder
      To their bullocks and their wives:

   Children, when they see thy supple
      Form approach, are out like shots;
   Half-a-bar sets several couple
      Waltzing in convenient spots;

   Not with clumsy Jacks or Georges:
      Unprofaned by grasp of man
   Maidens speed those simple orgies,
      Betsey Jane with Betsey Ann.

   As they love thee in St. Giles’s
      Thou art loved in Grosvenor Square:
   None of those engaging smiles is
      Unreciprocated there.

   Often, ere yet thou hast hammer’d
      Through thy four delicious airs,
   Coins are flung thee by enamour’d
      Housemaids upon area stairs:

   E’en the ambrosial-whisker’d flunkey
      Eyes thy boots and thine unkempt
   Beard and melancholy monkey
      More in pity than contempt.

   Far from England, in the sunny
      South, where Anio leaps in foam,
   Thou wast rear’d, till lack of money
      Drew thee from thy vineclad home:

   And thy mate, the sinewy Jocko,
      From Brazil or Afric came,
   Land of simoom and sirocco—
      And he seems extremely tame.

   There he quaff’d the undefilèd
      Spring, or hung with apelike glee,
   By his teeth or tail or eyelid,
      To the slippery mango-tree:

   There he woo’d and won a dusky
      Bride, of instincts like his own;
   Talk’d of love till he was husky
      In a tongue to us unknown:

   Side by side ’twas theirs to ravage
      The potato ground, or cut
   Down the unsuspecting savage
      With the well-aim’d cocoa-nut:—

   Till the miscreant Stranger tore him
      Screaming from his blue-faced fair;
   And they flung strange raiment o’er him,
      Raiment which he could not bear:

   Sever’d from the pure embraces
      Of his children and his spouse,
   He must ride fantastic races
      Mounted on reluctant sows:

   But the heart of wistful Jocko
      Still was with his ancient flame
   In the nutgroves of Morocco;
      Or if not it’s all the same.

   Grinder, winsome grinsome Grinder!
      They who see thee and whose soul
   Melts not at thy charms, are blinder
      Than a trebly-bandaged mole:

   They to whom thy curt (yet clever)
      Talk, thy music and thine ape,
   Seem not to be joys for ever,
      Are but brutes in human shape.

   ’Tis not that thy mien is stately,
      ’Tis not that thy tones are soft;
   ’Tis not that I care so greatly
      For the same thing play’d so oft:

   But I’ve heard mankind abuse thee;
      And perhaps it’s rather strange,
   But I thought that I would choose thee
      For encomium, as a change.


   I KNOW not why my soul is rack’d
      Why I ne’er smile as was my wont:
   I only know that, as a fact,
         I don’t.
   I used to roam o’er glen and glade
      Buoyant and blithe as other folk:
   And not unfrequently I made
         A joke.

   A minstrel’s fire within me burn’d,
      I’d sing, as one whose heart must break,
   Lay upon lay: I nearly learn’d
         To shake.
   All day I sang; of love, of fame,
      Of fights our fathers fought of yore,
   Until the thing almost became
         A bore.

   I cannot sing the old songs now!
      It is not that I deem them low;
   ’Tis that I can’t remember how
         They go.
   I could not range the hills till high
      Above me stood the summer moon:
   And as to dancing, I could fly
         As soon.

   The sports, to which with boyish glee
      I sprang erewhile, attract no more;
   Although I am but sixty-three
         Or four.
   Nay, worse than that, I’ve seem’d of late
      To shrink from happy boyhood—boys
   Have grown so noisy, and I hate
         A noise.

   They fright me, when the beech is green,
      By swarming up its stem for eggs:
   They drive their horrid hoops between
         My legs:—
   It’s idle to repine, I know;
      I’ll tell you what I’ll do instead:
   I’ll drink my arrowroot, and go
         To bed.


   O MY earliest love, who, ere I number’d
      Ten sweet summers, made my bosom thrill!
   Will a swallow—or a swift, or some bird—
      Fly to her and say, I love her still?

   Say my life’s a desert drear and arid,
      To its one green spot I aye recur:
   Never, never—although three times married—
      Have I cared a jot for aught but her.

   No, mine own! though early forced to leave you,
      Still my heart was there where first we met;
   In those “Lodgings with an ample sea-view,”
      Which were, forty years ago, “To Let.”

   There I saw her first, our landlord’s oldest
      Little daughter.  On a thing so fair
   Thou, O Sun,—who (so they say) beholdest
      Everything,—hast gazed, I tell thee, ne’er.

   There she sat—so near me, yet remoter
      Than a star—a blue-eyed bashful imp:
   On her lap she held a happy bloater,
      ’Twixt her lips a yet more happy shrimp.

   And I loved her, and our troth we plighted
      On the morrow by the shingly shore:
   In a fortnight to be disunited
      By a bitter fate for evermore.

   O my own, my beautiful, my blue eyed!
      To be young once more, and bite my thumb
   At the world and all its cares with you, I’d
      Give no inconsiderable sum.

   Hand in hand we tramp’d the golden seaweed,
      Soon as o’er the gray cliff peep’d the dawn:
   Side by side, when came the hour for tea, we’d
      Crunch the mottled shrimp and hairy prawn:—

   Has she wedded some gigantic shrimper,
      That sweet mite with whom I loved to play?
   Is she girt with babes that whine and whimper,
      That bright being who was always gay?

   Yes—she has at least a dozen wee things!
      Yes—I see her darning corduroys,
   Scouring floors, and setting out the tea-things,
      For a howling herd of hungry boys,

   In a home that reeks of tar and sperm-oil!
      But at intervals she thinks, I know,
   Of those days which we, afar from turmoil,
      Spent together forty years ago.

   O my earliest love, still unforgotten,
      With your downcast eyes of dreamy blue!
   Never, somehow, could I seem to cotton
      To another as I did to you!


   AS o’er the hill we roam’d at will,
      My dog and I together,
   We mark’d a chaise, by two bright bays
      Slow-moved along the heather:

   Two bays arch neck’d, with tails erect
      And gold upon their blinkers;
   And by their side an ass I spied;
      It was a travelling tinker’s.

   The chaise went by, nor aught cared I;
      Such things are not in my way:
   I turn’d me to the tinker, who
      Was loafing down a by-way:

   I ask’d him where he lived—a stare
      Was all I got in answer,
   As on he trudged: I rightly judged
      The stare said, “Where I can, sir.”

   I ask’d him if he’d take a whiff
      Of ’bacco; he acceded;
   He grew communicative too,
      (A pipe was all he needed,)
   Till of the tinker’s life, I think,
      I knew as much as he did.

   “I loiter down by thorp and town;
      For any job I’m willing;
   Take here and there a dusty brown,
      And here and there a shilling.

   “I deal in every ware in turn,
      I’ve rings for buddin’ Sally
   That sparkle like those eyes of her’n;
      I’ve liquor for the valet.

   “I steal from th’ parson’s strawberry-plots,
      I hide by th’ squire’s covers;
   I teach the sweet young housemaids what’s
      The art of trapping lovers.

   “The things I’ve done ’neath moon and stars
      Have got me into messes:
   I’ve seen the sky through prison bars.
      I’ve torn up prison dresses.

   “I’ve sat, I’ve sigh’d, I’ve gloom’d, I’ve glanced
      With envy at the swallows
   That through the window slid, and danced
      (Quite happy) round the gallows;

   “But out again I come, and show
      My face nor care a stiver
   For trades are brisk and trades are slow,
      But mine goes on for ever.”

   Thus on he prattled like a babbling brook.
   Then I, “The sun hath slipt behind the hill,
   And my aunt Vivian dines at half-past six.”
   So in all love we parted; I to the Hall,
   They to the village.  It was noised next noon
   That chickens had been miss’d at Syllabub Farm.


   THEY tell me I am beautiful: they praise my silken hair,
   My little feet that silently slip on from stair to stair:
   They praise my pretty trustful face and innocent grey eye;
   Fond hands caress me oftentimes, yet would that I might die!

   Why was I born to be abhorr’d of man and bird and beast?
   The bulfinch marks me stealing by, and straight his song hath ceased;
   The shrewmouse eyes me shudderingly, then flees; and, worse than that,
   The housedog he flees after me—why was I born a cat?

   Men prize the heartless hound who quits dry-eyed his native land;
   Who wags a mercenary tail and licks a tyrant hand.
   The leal true cat they prize not, that if e’er compell’d to roam
   Still flies, when let out of the bag, precipitately home.

   They call me cruel.  Do I know if mouse or songbird feels?
   I only know they make me light and salutary meals:
   And if, as ’tis my nature to, ere I devour I tease ’em,
   Why should a low-bred gardener’s boy pursue me with a besom?

   Should china fall or chandeliers, or anything but stocks—
   Nay stocks, when they’re in flowerpots—the cat expects hard knocks:
   Should ever anything be missed—milk, coals, umbrellas, brandy—
   The cat’s pitch’d into with a boot or any thing that’s handy.

   “I remember, I remember,” how one night I “fleeted by,”
   And gain’d the blessed tiles and gazed into the cold clear sky.
   “I remember, I remember, how my little lovers came;”
   And there, beneath the crescent moon, play’d many a little game.

   They fought—by good St. Catharine, ’twas a fearsome sight to see
   The coal-black crest, the glowering orbs, of one gigantic He.
   Like bow by some tall bowman bent at Hastings or Poictiers,
   His huge back curved, till none observed a vestige of his ears:

   He stood, an ebon crescent, flouting that ivory moon;
   Then raised the pibroch of his race, the Song without a Tune;
   Gleam’d his white teeth, his mammoth tail waved darkly to and fro,
   As with one complex yell he burst, all claws, upon the foe.

   It thrills me now, that final Miaow—that weird unearthly din:
   Lone maidens heard it far away, and leap’d out of their skin.
   A potboy from his den o’erhead peep’d with a scared wan face;
   Then sent a random brickbat down, which knock’d me into space.

   Nine days I fell, or thereabouts: and, had we not nine lives,
   I wis I ne’er had seen again thy sausage-shop, St. Ives!
   Had I, as some cats have, nine tails, how gladly I would lick
   The hand, and person generally, of him who heaved that brick!

   For me they fill the milkbowl up, and cull the choice sardine:
   But ah! I nevermore shall be the cat I once have been!
   The memories of that fatal night they haunt me even now:
   In dreams I see that rampant He, and tremble at that Miaow.


      I KNOW not of what we ponder’d
         Or made pretty pretence to talk,
      As, her hand within mine, we wander’d
         Tow’rd the pool by the limetree walk,
   While the dew fell in showers from the passion flowers
      And the blush-rose bent on her stalk.

      I cannot recall her figure:
         Was it regal as Juno’s own?
      Or only a trifle bigger
         Than the elves who surround the throne
   Of the Faëry Queen, and are seen, I ween,
      By mortals in dreams alone?

      What her eyes were like, I know not:
         Perhaps they were blurr’d with tears;
      And perhaps in your skies there glow not
         (On the contrary) clearer spheres.
   No! as to her eyes I am just as wise
      As you or the cat, my dears.

      Her teeth, I presume, were “pearly”:
         But which was she, brunette or blonde?
      Her hair, was it quaintly curly,
         Or as straight as a beadle’s wand?
   That I fail’d to remark;—it was rather dark
      And shadowy round the pond.

      Then the hand that reposed so snugly
         In mine—was it plump or spare?
      Was the countenance fair or ugly?
         Nay, children, you have me there!
   _My_ eyes were p’raps blurr’d; and besides I’d heard
      That it’s horribly rude to stare.

      And I—was I brusque and surly?
         Or oppressively bland and fond?
      Was I partial to rising early?
         Or why did we twain abscond,
   All breakfastless too, from the public view
      To prowl by a misty pond?

      What pass’d, what was felt or spoken—
         Whether anything pass’d at all—
      And whether the heart was broken
         That beat under that shelt’ring shawl—
   (If shawl she had on, which I doubt)—has gone,
      Yes, gone from me past recall.

      Was I haply the lady’s suitor?
         Or her uncle?  I can’t make out—
      Ask your governess, dears, or tutor.
         For myself, I’m in hopeless doubt
   As to why we were there, who on earth we were,
      And what this is all about.


   THE auld wife sat at her ivied door,
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   A thing she had frequently done before;
      And her spectacles lay on her apron’d knees.

   The piper he piped on the hill-top high,
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   Till the cow said “I die,” and the goose ask’d “Why?”
      And the dog said nothing, but search’d for fleas.

   The farmer he strode through the square farmyard;
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   His last brew of ale was a trifle hard—
      The connexion of which with the plot one sees.

   The farmer’s daughter hath frank blue eyes;
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   She hears the rooks caw in the windy skies,
      As she sits at her lattice and shells her peas.

   The farmer’s daughter hath ripe red lips;
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   If you try to approach her, away she skips
      Over tables and chairs with apparent ease.

   The farmer’s daughter hath soft brown hair;
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   And I met with a ballad, I can’t say where,
      Which wholly consisted of lines like these.


   She sat with her hands ’neath her dimpled cheeks,
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   And spake not a word.  While a lady speaks
      There is hope, but she didn’t even sneeze.

   She sat, with her hands ’neath her crimson cheeks;
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   She gave up mending her father’s breeks,
      And let the cat roll in her new chemise.

   She sat, with her hands ’neath her burning cheeks,
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   And gazed at the piper for thirteen weeks;
      Then she follow’d him out o’er the misty leas.

   Her sheep follow’d her, as their tails did them.
      (_Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese_)
   And this song is consider’d a perfect gem,
      And as to the meaning, it’s what you please.


   MY Cherrystones!  I prize them,
      No tongue can tell how much!
   Each lady caller eyes them,
      And madly longs to touch!
   At eve I lift them down, I look
      Upon them, and I cry;
   Recalling how my Prince ‘partook’
      (Sweet word!) of cherry-pie!

   To me it was an Era
      In life, that Dejeuner!
   They ate, they sipp’d Madeira
      Much in the usual way.
   Many a soft item there would be,
      No doubt, upon the carte:
   But one made life a heaven to me:
      It was the cherry-tart.

   Lightly the spoonfuls enter’d
      That mouth on which the gaze
   Of ten fair girls was centred
      In rapturous amaze.
   Soon that august assemblage clear’d
      The dish; and—as they ate—
   The stones, all coyly, re-appear’d
      On each illustrious plate.

   And when His Royal Highness
      Withdrew to take the air,
   Waiving our natural shyness,
      We swoop’d upon his chair.
   Policemen at our garments clutch’d:
      We mock’d those feeble powers;
   And soon the treasures that had touch’d
      Exalted lips were ours!

   One large one—at the moment
      It seem’d almost divine—
   Was got by that Miss Beaumont:
      And three, O three, are mine!
   Yes! the three stones that rest beneath
      Glass, on that plain deal shelf,
   Stranger, once dallied with the teeth
      Of Royalty itself.

   Let Parliament abolish
      Churches and States and Thrones:
   With reverent hand I’ll polish
      Still, still my Cherrystones!
   A clod—a piece of orange-peel
      An end of a cigar—
   Once trod on by a Princely heel,
      How beautiful they are!

   Years since, I climb’d Saint Michael
      His Mount:—you’ll all go there
   Of course, and those who like’ll
      Sit in Saint Michael’s Chair:
   For there I saw, within a frame,
      The pen—O heavens! the pen—
   With which a Duke had sign’d his name,
      And other gentlemen.

   “Great among geese,” I faltered,
      “Is she who grew that quill!”
   And, Deathless Bird, unalter’d
      Is mine opinion still.
   Yet sometimes, as I view my three
      Stones with a thoughtful brow,
   I think there possibly might be
      E’en greater geese than thou.


   ’TWAS ever thus from childhood’s hour!
      My fondest hopes would not decay:
   I never loved a tree or flower
      Which was the first to fade away!
   The garden, where I used to delve
      Short-frock’d, still yields me pinks in plenty:
   The peartree that I climb’d at twelve
      I see still blossoming, at twenty.

   I never nursed a dear gazelle;
      But I was given a parroquet—
   (How I did nurse him if unwell!)
      He’s imbecile, but lingers yet.
   He’s green, with an enchanting tuft;
      He melts me with his small black eye:
   He’d look inimitable stuff’d,
      And knows it—but he will not die!

   I had a kitten—I was rich
      In pets—but all too soon my kitten
   Became a full-sized cat, by which
      I’ve more than once been scratch’d and bitten.
   And when for sleep her limbs she curl’d
      One day beside her untouch’d plateful,
   And glided calmly from the world,
      I freely own that I was grateful.

   And then I bought a dog—a queen!
      Ah Tiny, dear departing pug!
   She lives, but she is past sixteen
      And scarce can crawl across the rug.
   I loved her beautiful and kind;
      Delighted in her pert Bow-wow:
   But now she snaps if you don’t mind;
      ’Twere lunacy to love her now.

   I used to think, should e’er mishap
      Betide my crumple visaged Ti,
   In shape of prowling thief, or trap,
      Or coarse bull-terrier—I should die.
   But ah! disasters have their use;
      And life might e’en be too sunshiny:
   Nor would I make myself a goose,
      If some big dog should swallow Tiny.


   FRIEND, there be they on whom mishap
      Or never or so rarely comes,
   That, when they think thereof, they snap
         Derisive thumbs:

   And there be they who lightly lose
      Their all, yet feel no aching void;
   Should aught annoy them, they refuse
         To be annoy’d:

   And fain would I be e’en as these!
      Life is with such all beer and skittles;
   They are not difficult to please
         About their victuals:

   The trout, the grouse, the early pea,
      By such, if there, are freely taken;
   If not, they munch with equal glee
         Their bit of bacon:

   And when they wax a little gay
      And chaff the public after luncheon,
   If they’re confronted with a stray
         Policeman’s truncheon,

   They gaze thereat with outstretch’d necks,
      And laughter which no threats can smother,
   And tell the horror-stricken X
         That he’s another.

   In snowtime if they cross a spot
      Where unsuspected boys have slid,
   They fall not down—though they would not
         Mind if they did:

   When the spring rosebud which they wear
      Breaks short and tumbles from its stem,
   No thought of being angry e’er
         Dawns upon them;

   Though ’twas Jemima’s hand that placed,
      (As well you ween) at evening’s hour,
   In the loved button-hole that chaste
         And cherish’d flower.

   And when they travel, if they find
      That they have left their pocket-compass
   Or Murray or thick boots behind,
         They raise no rumpus,

   But plod serenely on without:
      Knowing it’s better to endure
   The evil which beyond all doubt
         You cannot cure.

   When for that early train they’re late,
      They do not make their woes the text
   Of sermons in the Times, but wait
         On for the next;

   And jump inside, and only grin
      Should it appear that that dry wag,
   The guard, omitted to put in
         Their carpet-bag.


   O WHAT harper could worthily harp it,
      Mine Edward! this wide-stretching wold
   (Look out _wold_) with its wonderful carpet
      Of emerald, purple, and gold!
   Look well at it—also look sharp, it
         Is getting so cold.

   The purple is heather (_erica_);
      The yellow, gorse—call’d sometimes “whin.”
   Cruel boys on its prickles might spike a
      Green beetle as if on a pin.
   You may roll in it, if you would like a
         Few holes in your skin.

   You wouldn’t?  Then think of how kind you
      Should be to the insects who crave
   Your compassion—and then, look behind you
      At you barley-ears!  Don’t they look brave
   As they undulate—(_undulate_, mind you,
         From _unda_, _a wave_).

   The noise of those sheep-bells, how faint it
      Sounds here—(on account of our height)!
   And this hillock itself—who could paint it,
      With its changes of shadow and light?
   Is it not—(never, Eddy, say “ain’t it”)—
         A marvellous sight?

   Then yon desolate eerie morasses,
      The haunts of the snipe and the hern—
   (I shall question the two upper classes
      On _aquatiles_, when we return)—
   Why, I see on them absolute masses
         Of _filix_ or fern.

   How it interests e’en a beginner
      (Or _tiro_) like dear little Ned!
   Is he listening?  As I am a sinner
      He’s asleep—he is wagging his head.
   Wake up!  I’ll go home to my dinner,
         And you to your bed.

   The boundless ineffable prairie;
      The splendour of mountain and lake
   With their hues that seem ever to vary;
      The mighty pine-forests which shake
   In the wind, and in which the unwary
         May tread on a snake;

   And this wold with its heathery garment—
      Are themes undeniably great.
   But—although there is not any harm in’t—
      It’s perhaps little good to dilate
   On their charms to a dull little varmint
         Of seven or eight.


      WHY are ye wandering aye ’twixt porch and porch,
         Thou and thy fellow—when the pale stars fade
      At dawn, and when the glowworm lights her torch,
         O Beadle of the Burlington Arcade?
         —Who asketh why the Beautiful was made?
      A wan cloud drifting o’er the waste of blue,
         The thistledown that floats above the glade,
      The lilac-blooms of April—fair to view,
   And naught but fair are these; and such, I ween, are you.

      Yes, ye are beautiful.  The young street boys
         Joy in your beauty.  Are ye there to bar
      Their pathway to that paradise of toys,
         Ribbons and rings?  Who’ll blame ye if ye are?
         Surely no shrill and clattering crowd should mar
      The dim aisle’s stillness, where in noon’s mid-glow
         Trip fair-hair’d girls to boot-shop or bazaar;
      Where, at soft eve, serenely to and fro
   The sweet boy-graduates walk, nor deem the pastime slow.

      And O! forgive me, Beadles, if I paid
         Scant tribute to your worth, when first ye stood
      Before me robed in broadcloth and brocade
         And all the nameless grace of Beadlehood!
         I would not smile at ye—if smile I could
      Now as erewhile, ere I had learn’d to sigh:
         Ah, no!  I know ye beautiful and good,
      And evermore will pause as I pass by,
   And gaze, and gazing think, how base a thing am I.


   “O COME, O come,” the mother pray’d
      And hush’d her babe: “let me behold
   Once more thy stately form array’d
      Like autumn woods in green and gold!

   “I see thy brethren come and go;
      Thy peers in stature, and in hue
   Thy rivals.  Same like monarchs glow
      With richest purple: some are blue

   “As skies that tempt the swallow back;
      Or red as, seen o’er wintry seas,
   The star of storm; or barr’d with black
      And yellow, like the April bees.

   “Come they and go!  I heed not, I.
      Yet others hail their advent, cling
   All trustful to their side, and fly
      Safe in their gentle piloting

   “To happy homes on heath or hill,
      By park or river.  Still I wait
   And peer into the darkness: still
      Thou com’st not—I am desolate.

   “Hush! hark!  I see a towering form!
      From the dim distance slowly roll’d
   It rocks like lilies in a storm,
      And O, its hues are green and gold:

   “It comes, it comes!  Ah rest is sweet,
      And there is rest, my babe, for us!”
   She ceased, as at her very feet
      Stopp’d the St. John’s Wood omnibus.


   PLAY, play, while as yet it is day:
   While the sweet sunlight is warm on the brae!
   Hark to the lark singing lay upon lay,
   While the brown squirrel eats nuts on the spray
   And in the apple-leaves chatters the jay!
   Play, play, even as they!
   What though the cowslips ye pluck will decay,
   What though the grass will be presently hay?
   What though the noise that ye make should dismay
   Old Mrs. Clutterbuck over the way?
   Play, play, for your locks will grow gray;
   Even the marbles ye sport with are clay.

      Play, ay in the crowded highway:
   Was it not made for you?  Yea, my lad, yea.
   True that the babes you were bid to convey
   Home may fall out or be stolen or stray;
   True that the tip-cat you toss about may
   Strike an old gentleman, cause him to sway,
   Stumble, and p’raps be run o’er by a dray:
   Still why delay?  Play, my son, play!
   Barclay and Perkins, not you, have to pay.

      Play, play, your sonatas in A,
   Heedless of what your next neighbour may say!
   Dance and be gay as a faun or a fay,
   Sing like the lad in the boat on the bay;
   Sing, play—if your neighbours inveigh
   Feebly against you, they’re lunatics, eh?
   Bang, twang, clatter and clang,
   Strum, thrum, upon fiddle and drum;
   Neigh, bray, simply obey
   All your sweet impulses, stop not or stay!
   Rattle the “bones,” hit a tinbottom’d tray
   Hard with the fireshovel, hammer away!
   Is not your neighbour your natural prey?
   Should he confound you, it’s only in play.


   CANST thou love me, lady?
      I’ve not learn’d to woo:
   Thou art on the shady
      Side of sixty too.
   Still I love thee dearly!
      Thou hast lands and pelf:
   But I love thee merely
      Merely for thyself.

   Wilt thou love me, fairest?
      Though thou art not fair;
   And I think thou wearest
      Someone-else’s hair.
   Thou could’st love, though, dearly:
      And, as I am told,
   Thou art very nearly
      Worth thy weight, in gold.

   Dost thou love me, sweet one?
      Tell me that thou dost!
   Women fairly beat one,
      But I think thou must.
   Thou art loved so dearly:
      I am plain, but then
   Thou (to speak sincerely)
      Art as plain again.

   Love me, bashful fairy!
      I’ve an empty purse:
   And I’ve “moods,” which vary;
      Mostly for the worse.
   Still, I love thee dearly:
      Though I make (I feel)
   Love a little queerly,
      I’m as true as steel.

   Love me, swear to love me
      (As, you know, they do)
   By yon heaven above me
      And its changeless blue.
   Love me, lady, dearly,
      If you’ll be so good;
   Though I don’t see clearly
      On what ground you should.

   Love me—ah or love me
      Not, but be my bride!
   Do not simply shove me
      (So to speak) aside!
   P’raps it would be dearly
      Purchased at the price;
   But a hundred yearly
      Would be very nice.


   ’TIS but a box, of modest deal;
      Directed to no matter where:
   Yet down my cheek the teardrops steal—
   Yes, I am blubbering like a seal;
   For on it is this mute appeal,
         “_With care_.”

   I am a stern cold man, and range
      Apart: but those vague words “_With care_”
   Wake yearnings in me sweet as strange:
   Drawn from my moral Moated Grange,
   I feel I rather like the change
         Of air.

   Hast thou ne’er seen rough pointsmen spy
      Some simple English phrase—“_With care_”
   Or “_This side uppermost_”—and cry
   Like children?  No?  No more have I.
   Yet deem not him whose eyes are dry
         A bear.

   But ah! what treasure hides beneath
      That lid so much the worse for wear?
   A ring perhaps—a rosy wreath—
   A photograph by Vernon Heath—
   Some matron’s temporary teeth
         Or hair!

   Perhaps some seaman, in Peru
      Or Ind, hath stow’d herein a rare
   Cargo of birds’ eggs for his Sue;
   With many a vow that he’ll be true,
   And many a hint that she is too,
         Too fair.

   Perhaps—but wherefore vainly pry
      Into the page that’s folded there?
   I shall be better by and by:
   The porters, as I sit and sigh,
   Pass and repass—I wonder why
         They stare!


   I WATCH’D her as she stoop’d to pluck
      A wildflower in her hair to twine;
   And wish’d that it had been my luck
         To call her mine.

   Anon I heard her rate with mad
      Mad words her babe within its cot;
   And felt particularly glad
         That it had not.

   I knew (such subtle brains have men)
      That she was uttering what she shouldn’t;
   And thought that I would chide, and then
         I thought I wouldn’t:

   Who could have gazed upon that face,
      Those pouting coral lips, and chided?
   A Rhadamanthus, in my place,
         Had done as I did:

   For ire wherewith our bosoms glow
      Is chain’d there oft by Beauty’s spell;
   And, more than that, I did not know
         The widow well.

   So the harsh phrase pass’d unreproved.
      Still mute—(O brothers, was it sin?)—
   I drank, unutterably moved,
         Her beauty in:

   And to myself I murmur’d low,
      As on her upturn’d face and dress
   The moonlight fell, “Would she say No,
         By chance, or Yes?”

   She stood so calm, so like a ghost
      Betwixt me and that magic moon,
   That I already was almost
         A finish’d coon.

   But when she caught adroitly up
      And soothed with smiles her little daughter;
   And gave it, if I’m right, a sup
         Of barley-water;

   And, crooning still the strange sweet lore
      Which only mothers’ tongues can utter,
   Snow’d with deft hand the sugar o’er
         Its bread and butter;

   And kiss’d it clingingly—(Ah, why
      Don’t women do these things in private?)—
   I felt that if I lost her, I
         Should not survive it:

   And from my mouth the words nigh flew—
      The past, the future, I forgat ’em:
   “Oh! if you’d kiss me as you do
         That thankless atom!”

   But this thought came ere yet I spake,
      And froze the sentence on my lips:
   “They err, who marry wives that make
         Those little slips.”

   It came like some familiar rhyme,
      Some copy to my boyhood set;
   And that’s perhaps the reason I’m
         Unmarried yet.

   Would she have own’d how pleased she was,
      And told her love with widow’s pride?
   I never found out that, because
         I never tried.

   Be kind to babes and beasts and birds:
      Hearts may be hard, though lips are coral;
   And angry words are angry words:
         And that’s the moral.


   FOREVER; ’tis a single word!
      Our rude forefathers deem’d it two:
   Can you imagine so absurd
         A view?

   Forever!  What abysms of woe
      The word reveals, what frenzy, what
   Despair!  For ever (printed so)
         Did not.

   It looks, ah me! how trite and tame!
      It fails to sadden or appal
   Or solace—it is not the same
         At all.

   O thou to whom it first occurr’d
      To solder the disjoin’d, and dower
   Thy native language with a word
         Of power:

   We bless thee!  Whether far or near
      Thy dwelling, whether dark or fair
   Thy kingly brow, is neither here
         Nor there.

   But in men’s hearts shall be thy throne,
      While the great pulse of England beats:
   Thou coiner of a word unknown
         To Keats!

   And nevermore must printer do
      As men did long ago; but run
   “For” into “ever,” bidding two
         Be one.

   Forever! passion-fraught, it throws
      O’er the dim page a gloom, a glamour:
   It’s sweet, it’s strange; and I suppose
         It’s grammar.

   Forever!  ’Tis a single word!
      And yet our fathers deem’d it two:
   Nor am I confident they err’d;
         Are you?


   “UNDER the trees!”  Who but agrees
   That there is magic in words such as these?
   Promptly one sees shake in the breeze
   Stately lime-avenues haunted of bees:
   Where, looking far over buttercupp’d leas,
   Lads and “fair shes” (that is Byron, and he’s
   An authority) lie very much at their ease;
   Taking their teas, or their duck and green peas,
   Or, if they prefer it, their plain bread and cheese:
   Not objecting at all though it’s rather a squeeze
   And the glass is, I daresay, at 80 degrees.
   Some get up glees, and are mad about Ries
   And Sainton, and Tamberlik’s thrilling high Cs;
   Or if painters, hold forth upon Hunt and Maclise,
   And the tone and the breadth of that landscape of Lee’s;
   Or if learned, on nodes and the moon’s apogees,
   Or, if serious, on something of AKHB’s,
   Or the latest attempt to convert the Chaldees;
   Or in short about all things, from earthquakes to fleas.
   Some sit in twos or (less frequently) threes,
   With their innocent lambswool or book on their knees,
   And talk, and enact, any nonsense you please,
   As they gaze into eyes that are blue as the seas;
   And you hear an occasional “Harry, don’t tease”
   From the sweetest of lips in the softest of keys,
   And other remarks, which to me are Chinese.
   And fast the time flees; till a ladylike sneeze,
   Or a portly papa’s more elaborate wheeze,
   Makes Miss Tabitha seize on her brown muffatees,
   And announce as a fact that it’s going to freeze,
   And that young people ought to attend to their Ps
   And their Qs, and not court every form of disease:
   Then Tommy eats up the three last ratafias,
   And pretty Louise wraps her _robe de cerise_
   Round a bosom as tender as Widow Machree’s,
   And (in spite of the pleas of her lorn vis-a-vis)
   Goes to wrap up her uncle—a patient of Skey’s,
   Who is prone to catch chills, like all old Bengalese:—
   But at bedtime I trust he’ll remember to grease
   The bridge of his nose, and preserve his rupees
   From the premature clutch of his fond legatees;
   Or at least have no fees to pay any M. D.s
   For the cold his niece caught, sitting under the Trees.


   SHE laid it where the sunbeams fall
   Unscann’d upon the broken wall.
   Without a tear, without a groan,
   She laid it near a mighty stone,
   Which some rude swain had haply cast
   Thither in sport, long ages past,
   And Time with mosses had o’erlaid,
   And fenced with many a tall grassblade,
   And all about bid roses bloom
   And violets shed their soft perfume.
   There, in its cool and quiet bed,
   She set her burden down and fled:
   Nor flung, all eager to escape,
   One glance upon the perfect shape
   That lay, still warm and fresh and fair,
   But motionless and soundless there.

      No human eye had mark’d her pass
   Across the linden-shadow’d grass
   Ere yet the minster clock chimed seven:
   Only the innocent birds of heaven—
   The magpie, and the rook whose nest
   Swings as the elmtree waves his crest—
   And the lithe cricket, and the hoar
   And huge-limb’d hound that guards the door,
   Look’d on when, as a summer wind
   That, passing, leaves no trace behind,
   All unapparell’d, barefoot all,
   She ran to that old ruin’d wall,
   To leave upon the chill dank earth
   (For ah! she never knew its worth)
   ’Mid hemlock rank, and fern, and ling,
   And dews of night, that precious thing!

      And there it might have lain forlorn
   From morn till eve, from eve to morn:
   But that, by some wild impulse led,
   The mother, ere she turn’d and fled,
   One moment stood erect and high;
   Then pour’d into the silent sky
   A cry so jubilant, so strange,
   That Alice—as she strove to range
   Her rebel ringlets at her glass—
   Sprang up and gazed across the grass;
   Shook back those curls so fair to see,
   Clapp’d her soft hands in childish glee;
   And shriek’d—her sweet face all aglow,
      Her very limbs with rapture shaking—
   “My hen has laid an egg, I know;
      “And only hear the noise she’s making!”


   I KNOW not if in others’ eyes
      She seem’d almost divine;
   But far beyond a doubt it lies
      That she did not in mine.

   Each common stone on which she trod
      I did not deem a pearl:
   Nay it is not a little odd
      How I abhorr’d that girl.

   We met at balls and picnics oft,
      Or on a drawingroom stair;
   My aunt invariably cough’d
      To warn me she was there:

   At croquet I was bid remark
      How queenly was her pose,
   As with stern glee she drew the dark
      Blue ball beneath her toes,

   And made the Red fly many a foot:
      Then calmly she would stoop,
   Smiling an angel smile, to put
      A partner through his hoop.

   At archery I was made observe
      That others aim’d more near.
   But none so tenderly could curve
      The elbow round the ear:

   Or if we rode, perhaps she _did_
      Pull sharply at the curb;
   But then the way in which she slid
      From horseback was superb!

   She’d throw off odes, again, whose flow
      And fire were more than Sapphic;
   Her voice was sweet, and very low;
      Her singing quite seraphic:

   She _was_ a seraph, lacking wings.
      That much I freely own.
   But, it is one of those queer things
      Whose cause is all unknown—

   (Such are the wasp, the household fly,
      The shapes that crawl and curl
   By men called centipedes)—that I
      Simply abhorred that girl.

                                  * * *

   No doubt some mystery underlies
      All things which are and which are not:
   And ’tis the function of the Wise
      Not to expound to us what is what,

   But let his consciousness play round
      The matter, and at ease evolve
   The problem, shallow or profound,
      Which our poor wits have fail’d to solve,

   Then tell us blandly we are fools;
      Whereof we were aware before:
   That truth they taught us at the schools,
      And p’raps (who knows?) a little more.

   —But why did we two disagree?
      Our tastes, it may be, did not dovetail:
   All I know is, we ne’er shall be
      Hero and heroine of a love-tale.


   O MEMORY! that which I gave thee
      To guard in thy garner yestreen—
   Little deeming thou e’er could’st behave thee
      Thus basely—hath gone from thee clean!
   Gone, fled, as ere autumn is ended
      The yellow leaves flee from the oak—
   I have lost it for ever, my splendid
         Original joke.

   What was it?  I know I was brushing
      My hair when the notion occurred:
   I know that I felt myself blushing
      As I thought, “How supremely absurd!
   “How they’ll hammer on floor and on table
      “As its drollery dawns on them—how
   They will quote it”—I wish I were able
         To quote it just now.

   I had thought to lead up conversation
      To the subject—it’s easily done—
   Then let off, as an airy creation
      Of the moment, that masterly pun.
   Let it off, with a flash like a rocket’s;
      In the midst of a dazzled conclave,
   Where I sat, with my hands in my pockets,
         The only one grave.

   I had fancied young Titterton’s chuckles,
      And old Bottleby’s hearty guffaws
   As he drove at my ribs with his knuckles,
      His mode of expressing applause:
   While Jean Bottleby—queenly Miss Janet—
      Drew her handkerchief hastily out,
   In fits at my slyness—what can it
         Have all been about?

   I know ’twas the happiest, quaintest
      Combination of pathos and fun:
   But I’ve got no idea—the faintest—
      Of what was the actual pun.
   I think it was somehow connected
      With something I’d recently read—
   Or heard—or perhaps recollected
         On going to bed.

   What _had_ I been reading?  The _Standard_:
      “Double Bigamy;” “Speech of the Mayor.”
   And later—eh? yes!  I meandered
      Through some chapters of Vanity Fair.
   How it fuses the grave with the festive!
      Yet e’en there, there is nothing so fine—
   So playfully, subtly suggestive—
         As that joke of mine.

   Did it hinge upon “parting asunder?”
      No, I don’t part my hair with my brush.
   Was the point of it “hair?”  Now I wonder!
      Stop a bit—I shall think of it—hush!
   There’s _hare_, a wild animal—Stuff!
      It was something a deal more recondite:
   Of that I am certain enough;
         And of nothing beyond it.

   Hair—_locks_!  There are probably many
      Good things to be said about those.
   Give me time—that’s the best guess of any—
      “Lock” has several meanings, one knows.
   Iron locks—_iron-gray locks_—a “deadlock”—
      That would set up an everyday wit:
   Then of course there’s the obvious “wedlock;”
         But that wasn’t it.

   No! mine was a joke for the ages;
      Full of intricate meaning and pith;
   A feast for your scholars and sages—
      How it would have rejoiced Sidney Smith!
   ’Tis such thoughts that ennoble a mortal;
      And, singing him out from the herd,
   Fling wide immortality’s portal—
         But what was the word?

   Ah me! ’tis a bootless endeavour.
      As the flight of a bird of the air
   Is the flight of a joke—you will never
      See the same one again, you may swear.
   ’Twas my firstborn, and O how I prized it!
      My darling, my treasure, my own!
   This brain and none other devised it—
         And now it has flown.


      WHEN the young Augustus Edward
      Has reluctantly gone bedward
   (He’s the urchin I am privileged to teach),
      From my left-hand waistcoat pocket
      I extract a batter’d locket
   And I commune with it, walking on the beach.

      I had often yearn’d for something
      That would love me, e’en a dumb thing;
   But such happiness seem’d always out of reach:
      Little boys are off like arrows
      With their little spades and barrows,
   When they see me bearing down upon the beach;

      And although I’m rather handsome,
      Tiny babes, when I would dance ’em
   On my arm, set up so horrible a screech
      That I pitch them to their nurses
      With (I fear me) mutter’d curses,
   And resume my lucubrations on the beach.

      And the rabbits won’t come nigh me,
      And the gulls observe and fly me,
   And I doubt, upon my honour, if a leech
      Would stick on me as on others,
      And I know if I had brothers
   They would cut me when we met upon the beach.

      So at last I bought this trinket.
      For (although I love to think it)
   ’Twasn’t _given_ me, with a pretty little speech:
      No!  I bought it of a pedlar,
      Brown and wizen’d as a medlar,
   Who was hawking odds and ends about the beach.

      But I’ve managed, very nearly,
      To believe that I was dearly
   Loved by Somebody, who (blushing like a peach)
      Flung it o’er me saying, “Wear it
      For my sake”—and I declare, it
   Seldom strikes me that I bought it on the beach.

      I can see myself revealing
      Unsuspected depths of feeling,
   As, in tones that half upbraid and half beseech,
      I aver with what delight I
      Would give anything—my right eye—
   For a souvenir of our stroll upon the beach.

      O! that eye that never glisten’d
      And that voice to which I’ve listen’d
   But in fancy, how I dote upon them each!
      How regardless what o’clock it
      Is, I pore upon that locket
   Which does not contain her portrait, on the beach!

      As if something were inside it
      I laboriously hide it,
   And a rather pretty sermon you might preach
      Upon Fantasy, selecting
      For your “instance” the affecting
   Tale of me and my proceedings on the beach.

      I depict her, ah, how charming!
      I portray myself alarming
   Herby swearing I would “mount the deadly breach,”
      Or engage in any scrimmage
      For a glimpse of her sweet image,
   Or her shadow, or her footprint on the beach.

      And I’m ever ever seeing
      My imaginary Being,
   And I’d rather that my marrowbones should bleach
      In the winds, than that a cruel
      Fate should snatch from me the jewel
   Which I bought for one and sixpence on the beach.


   IN moss-prankt dells which the sunbeams flatter
      (And heaven it knoweth what that may mean:
   Meaning, however, is no great matter)
      Where woods are a-tremble, with rifts atween;

   Thro’ God’s own heather we wonn’d together,
      I and my Willie (O love my love):
   I need hardly remark it was glorious weather,
      And flitterbats waver’d alow, above:

   Boats were curtseying, rising, bowing,
      (Boats in that climate are so polite),
   And sands were a ribbon of green endowing,
      And O the sundazzle on bark and bight!

   Thro’ the rare red heather we danced together,
      (O love my Willie!) and smelt for flowers:
   I must mention again it was gorgeous weather,
      Rhymes are so scarce in this world of ours:—

   By rises that flush’d with their purple favours,
      Thro’ becks that brattled o’er grasses sheen,
   We walked and waded, we two young shavers,
      Thanking our stars we were both so green.

   We journeyed in parallels, I and Willie,
      In fortunate parallels!  Butterflies,
   Hid in weltering shadows of daffodilly
      Or marjoram, kept making peacock eyes:

   Songbirds darted about, some inky
      As coal, some snowy (I ween) as curds;
   Or rosy as pinks, or as roses pinky—
      They reck of no eerie To-come, those birds!

   But they skim over bents which the midstream washes,
      Or hang in the lift ’neath a white cloud’s hem;
   They need no parasols, no goloshes;
      And good Mrs. Trimmer she feedeth them.

   Then we thrid God’s cowslips (as erst His heather)
      That endowed the wan grass with their golden blooms;
   And snapt—(it was perfectly charming weather)—
      Our fingers at Fate and her goddess-glooms:

   And Willie ’gan sing (O, his notes were fluty;
      Wafts fluttered them out to the white-wing’d sea)—
   Something made up of rhymes that have done much duty,
      Rhymes (better to put it) of “ancientry:”

   Bowers of flowers encounter’d showers
      In William’s carol—(O love my Willie!)
   Then he bade sorrow borrow from blithe to-morrow
      I quite forget what—say a daffodilly:

   A nest in a hollow, “with buds to follow,”
      I think occurred next in his nimble strain;
   And clay that was “kneaden” of course in Eden—
      A rhyme most novel, I do maintain:

   Mists, bones, the singer himself, love-stories,
      And all least furlable things got “furled;”
   Not with any design to conceal their “glories,”
      But simply and solely to rhyme with “world.”

                                  * * *

   O if billows and pillows and hours and flowers,
      And all the brave rhymes of an elder day,
   Could be furled together, this genial weather,
      And carted, or carried on “wafts” away,
   Nor ever again trotted out—ah me!
   How much fewer volumes of verse there’d be!


   YOU see this pebble-stone?  It’s a thing I bought
   Of a bit of a chit of a boy i’ the mid o’ the day—
   I like to dock the smaller parts-o’-speech,
   As we curtail the already cur-tail’d cur
   (You catch the paronomasia, play ’po’ words?)
   Did, rather, i’ the pre-Landseerian days.
   Well, to my muttons.  I purchased the concern,
   And clapt it i’ my poke, having given for same
   By way o’ chop, swop, barter or exchange—
   ‘Chop’ was my snickering dandiprat’s own term—
   One shilling and fourpence, current coin o’ the realm.
   O-n-e one and f-o-u-r four
   Pence, one and fourpence—you are with me, sir?—
   What hour it skills not: ten or eleven o’ the clock,
   One day (and what a roaring day it was
   Go shop or sight-see—bar a spit o’ rain!)
   In February, eighteen sixty nine,
   Alexandrina Victoria, Fidei
   Hm—hm—how runs the jargon? being on throne.

      Such, sir, are all the facts, succinctly put,
   The basis or substratum—what you will—
   Of the impending eighty thousand lines.
   “Not much in ’em either,” quoth perhaps simple Hodge.
   But there’s a superstructure.  Wait a bit.

   Mark first the rationale of the thing:
   Hear logic rivel and levigate the deed.
   That shilling—and for matter o’ that, the pence—
   I had o’ course upo’ me—wi’ me say—
   (_Mecum’s_ the Latin, make a note o’ that)
   When I popp’d pen i’ stand, scratch’d ear, wiped snout,
   (Let everybody wipe his own himself)
   Sniff’d—tch!—at snuffbox; tumbled up, he-heed,
   Haw-haw’d (not hee-haw’d, that’s another guess thing:)
   Then fumbled at, and stumbled out of, door,
   I shoved the timber ope wi’ my omoplat;
   And _in vestibulo_, i’ the lobby to-wit,
   (Iacobi Facciolati’s rendering, sir,)
   Donn’d galligaskins, antigropeloes,
   And so forth; and, complete with hat and gloves,
   One on and one a-dangle i’ my hand,
   And ombrifuge (Lord love you!), case o’ rain,
   I flopp’d forth, ’sbuddikins! on my own ten toes,
   (I do assure you there be ten of them),
   And went clump-clumping up hill and down dale
   To find myself o’ the sudden i’ front o’ the boy.
   Put case I hadn’t ’em on me, could I ha’ bought
   This sort-o’-kind-o’-what-you-might-call toy,
   This pebble-thing, o’ the boy-thing?  Q. E. D.
   That’s proven without aid from mumping Pope,
   Sleek porporate or bloated Cardinal.
   (Isn’t it, old Fatchaps?  You’re in Euclid now.)
   So, having the shilling—having i’ fact a lot—
   And pence and halfpence, ever so many o’ them,
   I purchased, as I think I said before,
   The pebble (_lapis_, _lapidis_, _-di_, _-dem_, _-de_—
   What nouns ’crease short i’ the genitive, Fatchaps, eh?)
   O’ the boy, a bare-legg’d beggarly son of a gun,
   For one-and-fourpence.  Here we are again.

      Now Law steps in, bigwigg’d, voluminous-jaw’d;
   Investigates and re-investigates.
   Was the transaction illegal?  Law shakes head.
   Perpend, sir, all the bearings of the case.

      At first the coin was mine, the chattel his.
   But now (by virtue of the said exchange
   And barter) _vice versa_ all the coin,
   _Per juris operationem_, vests
   I’ the boy and his assigns till ding o’ doom;
   (_In sæcula sæculo-o-o-orum_;
   I think I hear the Abate mouth out that.)
   To have and hold the same to him and them . . .
   _Confer_ some idiot on Conveyancing.
   Whereas the pebble and every part thereof,
   And all that appertaineth thereunto,
   _Quodcunque pertinet ad eam rem_,
   (I fancy, sir, my Latin’s rather pat)
   Or shall, will, may, might, can, could, would or should,
   (_Subaudi cætera_—clap we to the close—
   For what’s the good of law in a case o’ the kind)
   Is mine to all intents and purposes.
   This settled, I resume the thread o’ the tale.

      Now for a touch o’ the vendor’s quality.
   He says a gen’lman bought a pebble of him,
   (This pebble i’ sooth, sir, which I hold i’ my hand)—
   And paid for’t, _like_ a gen’lman, on the nail.
   “Did I o’ercharge him a ha’penny?  Devil a bit.
   Fiddlepin’s end!  Got out, you blazing ass!
   Gabble o’ the goose.  Don’t bugaboo-baby _me_!
   Go double or quits?  Yah! tittup! what’s the odds?”
      There’s the transaction view’d i’ the vendor’s light.

      Next ask that dumpled hag, stood snuffling by,
   With her three frowsy blowsy brats o’ babes,
   The scum o’ the kennel, cream o’ the filth-heap—Faugh!
   Aie, aie, aie, aie! oτοτοτοτοτoĩ,
   (’Stead which we blurt out Hoighty toighty now)—
   And the baker and candlestickmaker, and Jack and Gill,
   Blear’d Goody this and queasy Gaffer that.
   Ask the schoolmaster.  Take schoolmaster first.

      He saw a gentleman purchase of a lad
   A stone, and pay for it _rite_, on the square,
   And carry it off _per saltum_, jauntily,
   _Propria quæ maribus_, gentleman’s property now
   (Agreeably to the law explain’d above),
   _In proprium usum_, for his private ends.
   The boy he chuck’d a brown i’ the air, and bit
   I’ the face the shilling: heaved a thumping stone
   At a lean hen that ran cluck clucking by,
   (And hit her, dead as nail i’ post o’ door,)
   Then _abiit_—what’s the Ciceronian phrase?—
   _Excessit_, _evasit_, _erupit_—off slogs boy;
   Off like bird, _avi similis_—(you observed
   The dative?  Pretty i’ the Mantuan!)—_Anglice_
   Off in three flea skips.  _Hactenus_, so far,
   So good, _tam bene_.  _Bene_, _satis_, _male_—,
   Where was I with my trope ’bout one in a quag?
   I did once hitch the syntax into verse:
   _Verbum personale_, a verb personal,
   _Concordat_—ay, “agrees,” old Fatchaps—_cum_
   _Nominativo_, with its nominative,
   _Genere_, i’ point o’ gender, _numero_,
   O’ number, _et persona_, and person.  _Ut_,
   Instance: _Sol ruit_, down flops sun, _et_ and,
   _Montes umbrantur_, out flounce mountains.  Pah!
   Excuse me, sir, I think I’m going mad.
   You see the trick on’t though, and can yourself
   Continue the discourse _ad libitum_.
   It takes up about eighty thousand lines,
   A thing imagination boggles at:
   And might, odds-bobs, sir! in judicious hands,
   Extend from here to Mesopotamy.



                                                        _Cambridge_, 1857.

1.  Mention any occasions on which it is specified that the Fat Boy was
_not_ asleep; and that (1) Mr. Pickwick and (2) Mr. Weller, senr., ran.
Deduce from expressions used on one occasion Mr. Pickwick’s maximum of

2.  Translate into coherent English, adding a note wherever a word, a
construction, or an allusion, requires it:

“Go on, Jemmy—like black-eyed Susan—all in the Downs”—“Smart chap that
cabman—handled his fives well—but if I’d been your friend in the green
jemmy—punch his head—pig’s whisper—pieman, too.”

Elucidate the expression, “the Spanish Traveller,” and the “narcotic

3.  Who were Mr. Staple, Goodwin, Mr. Brooks, Villam, Mrs. Bunkin, “old
Nobs,” “cast-iron head,” “young Bantam?”

4.  What operation was performed on Tom Smart’s chair?  Who little thinks
that in which pocket, of what garment, in where, he has left what,
entreating him to return to whom, with how many what, and all how big?

5.  Give, approximately, the height of Mr. Dubbley; and, accurately, the
Christian names of Mr. Grummer, Mrs. Raddle, and the fat Boy; also the
surname of the Zephyr.

6.  “Mr. Weller’s knowledge of London was extensive and peculiar.”
Illustrate this by a reference to the facts.

7.  Describe the Rebellion which had irritated Mr. Nupkins on the day of
Mr. Pickwick’s arrest?

8.  Give in full Samuel Weller’s first compliment to Mary, and his
father’s critique upon the same young lady.  What church was on the
valentine that first attracted Mr. Samuel’s eye in the shop?

9.  Describe the common Profeel-machine.

10.  State the component parts of dog’s nose; and simplify the expression
“taking a grinder.”

11.  On finding his principal in the pound, Mr. Weller and the
town-beadle varied directly.  Show that the latter was ultimately
eliminated, and state the number of rounds in the square which is not

12.  “Any think for air and exercise; as the wery old donkey observed ven
they yoke him up from his deathbed to carry ten gen’lmen to Greenwich in
a tax-cart.”  Illustrate this by stating any remark recorded in the
Pickwick Papers to have been made by a (previously) dumb animal, with the
circumstances under which he made it.

13.  What kind of cigars did Mr. Ben Allen chiefly smoke, and where did
he knock and take naps alternately, under the impression that it was his

14.  What was the ordinary occupation of Mr. Sawyer’s boy? whence did Mr.
Allen derive the idea that there was a special destiny between Mr. S. and

15.  Describe Weller’s Method of “gently indicating his presence” to the
young lady in the garden; and the Form of Salutation usual among the
coachmen of the period.

16.  State any incidents you know in the career of Tom Martin, butcher,
previous to his incarceration.

17.  Give Weller’s Theories for the extraction of Mr. Pickwick from the
Fleet.  Where was his wife’s will found?

18.  How did the old lady make a memorandum, and of what, at whist?  Show
that there were at least three times as many fiddles as harps in
Muggleton at the time of the ball at Manor Farm.

19.  What is a red-faced Nixon?

20.  Write down the chorus to each verse of Mr. S. Weller’s song, and a
sketch of the mottle-faced man’s excursus on it.  Is there any ground for
conjecturing that he (Sam) had more brothers than one?

21.  How many lumps of sugar went into the Shepherd’s liquor as a rule?
and is any exception recorded?

22.  What seal was on Mr. Winkle’s letter to his father?  What
penitential attitude did he assume before Mr. Pickwick?

23.  “She’s a swelling visibly.”  When did the same phenomenon occur
again, and what fluid caused the pressure on the body in the latter case?

24.  How did Mr. Weller, senior, define the Funds, and what view did he
take of Reduced Consols? in what terms is his elastic force described,
when he assaulted Mr. Stiggins at the meeting?  Write down the name of
the meeting?

25.  “Πςοβατογνώμων: a good judge of cattle; hence, a good judge of
character.”  Note on Æsch.  Ag.—Illustrate the theory involved by a
remark of the parent Weller.

26.  Give some account of the word “fanteeg,” and hazard any conjecture
explanatory of the expression “My Prooshan Blue,” applied by Mr. Samuel
to Mr. Tony Weller.

27.  In developing to P. M. his views of a proposition, what assumption
did Mr. Pickwick feel justified in making?

28.  Deduce from a remark of Mr. Weller, junior, the price per mile of
cabs at the period.

29.  What do you know of the hotel next the Bull at Rochester?

30.  Who, besides Mr. Pickwick, is recorded to have worn gaiters?


1.  See Chapters IV., VIII., XXVIII., LIV.

(1), IV., XXX. (twice), XXXIX.

(2), LVI.

2.  Two of Jingle’s speeches are here quoted, the first being in Chapter
III., and the second in Chapter II.  For “Spanish traveller” see Chapter
III., and for “narcotic bedstead” see Chapter XLI.  “Go on, Jemmy,” is
Mr. Jingle’s adjuration to the actor whom he has previously designated
“Dismal Jemmy,” urging the commencement of the ‘Stroller’s Tale.’  “Like
black-eyed Susan—all in the Downs” has the double application to the
stroller’s melancholy and the first line of Gay’s song of ‘Black-eyed
Susan’—“All in the Downs the fleet was moored.”  “Handled his fives well”
of course refers to the “sparring” of the cabman who wanted to fight Mr.
Pickwick.  “Friend in the green jemmy” refers to Mr. Winkle, who, we are
told in Chapter I., “wore a new green shooting-coat,” &c.  “Pig’s
whisper” is slang for a very brief space of time.  Bartlett says the
Americans have “pig’s whistle” the same signification.

3.  See Chapters VII., XVIII., XIX., XXII., XXXIV., XXXVII., XXXVI.,

4.  See two several parts of ‘The Bagman’s Story’ in Chapter XIV.

5.  See Chapters XXIV., XXV., XLVI., VIII,, XLI.

6.  See Chapter XX.

7.  See Chapter XXIV.

8.  See Chapters XXV., LVI., XXXIII.

9.  See Chapter XXXIII.

10.  See Chapters XXXIII. and XXXI.

11.  See the end of Chapter XIX.

12.  Illustrations will be found severally in Chapters XXXIII., XXXV.,

13.  See Chapters XXX. and XXXII.

14.  See two separate passages in Chapter XXXVIII.

15.  See Chapters XXXIX. and XLIII.

16.  See Chapter XLII.

17.  See Chapters XLIII., XLV., LV.

18.  See Chapters VI. and XXVIII.

19.  See Chapter XLIII.  “You’ve been a prophesyin’ away very fine like a
red-faced Nixon as the sixpenny books gives picters on.” The allusion is
to Robert Nixon, the Cheshire prophet.  See _Notes and Queries_, first
series, vol. viii., pp. 257 and 326; and fourth series, vol. xi., pp. 171
and 265.  Nixon’s prophecies have been frequently published in the form
of chapbooks, and were probably current at the time with a
highly-coloured portrait.

20.  The first requisition may be complied with by reference to Chapter
XLIII.  The following is answered in Chapter X.

21.  See Chapters XLV. and LII.

22.  See Chapters L. and XLVII.

23.  See Chapters XXXIII. and XLV.

24.  The first two questions are answered in Chapters LII. and LV.  The
next is answered at the end of Chapter XXXIII.; where also is the
information lastly required.

25.  The illustration required is in Chapter LV.

26.  See Chapters XXXVIII. and XXXIII.  “_Fanteeg_, a worry or bustle.
Also, ill-humour.—_Various Dialects_.”—HALLIWELL.  “Prooshan blue”
probably refers to the colour of dress-coats.  “Which gentleman of your
party wears a bright blue dress-coat?” enquires The Boots, in ‘Pickwick,’
Chapter II.  Thus Sam Weller’s “Prooshan Blue” is a finely-dressed fellow
of the Pickwick-Weller period.

27.  See Chapter XXIV.

28.  See the opening of Chapter XXII.

29.  See Chapter II.

30.  See Chapter XX.

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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.