Copyright
Charles Lamb.

The life, letters, and writings of Charles Lamb (Volume 6) online

. (page 25 of 29)
Online LibraryCharles LambThe life, letters, and writings of Charles Lamb (Volume 6) → online text (page 25 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A body that's mute ?



4-30 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES.

Or who would fight
With a senseless sprite ?
Or think of troubling
An impenetrable old goblin,
That's dead and gone,
And stiff as stone,
To convince him with arguments pro and con,
As if some live logician,
Bred up at Merton ? —
Or Mr. Hazlitt, the metaphysician ? —
Hey, Mr. Ayrton 1
With all your rare tone.

For tell me how should an apparition
List to your call,
Though you talk'd for ever,

Ever so clever :
When his ear itself.
By which he must hear, or not hear at all,
Is laid on the shelf ?
'Or put the case
(For more grace),
It were a female spectre —
How could you expect her
To take much gust
In long speeches.
With her tongue as dry as dust,
In a sandy place.
Where no peaches,
Nor lemons, nor limes, nor oranges hang,
To drop on the drought of an arid harangue,
Or quench.
With their sweet drench,
The fiery pangs which the worms inflict,



SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES. 43!

With their endless nibblings,
Like quibblings,
Which the corpse may dislike, but can ne'er contradict ?
Hey, Mr. Ayrton !
With all your rare tone.

I am,

C. Lamb.
[I'jth May, 18:7.]



THE THREE GRAVES.



Close by the ever-burning brimstone beds

Where Bedloe, Oates, and Judas hide their heads,

I saw great Satan like a Sexton stand

With his intolerable spade in hand

Digging three graves. Of coffin shape they were.

For those who coffinless must enter there

With unblest rites. The shrouds were of that

cloth
Which Clotho weaveth in her blackest wrath :
The dismal tinct oppress'd the eye that dwelt
Upon it long, like darkness to be felt.
The pillows to these baleful beds were toads,
Large, living, livid, melancholy toads.



432 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES.

Whose softness shock'd. Worms of all monstrous

size
Crawl'd round ; and one, upcoil'd, which never dies.
A doleful bell, inculcating despair.
Was always ringing in the heavy air;
And all about the detestable pit

Strange headless ghosts, and quarter'd forms did flit ;
Rivers of blood from dripping traitors spilt,
By treachery slung from poverty to guilt.
I ask'd the fiend for whom those rites were meant ?
" These graves," quoth he, " when life's brief oil is

spent.
When the dark night comes, and they're sinking

bedwards,
I mean for Castles, Oliver, and Edwards."

R. ET R.



THE GODLIKE.



In one great man we view, with odds,

A parallel to all the gods.

Great Jove, that shook Heav'n with his brow

Could never match his princely bow.

In him a Bacchus we behold ;

Like Bacchus too he ne'er grows old.

Like Phoebus next, a flaming lover ;

And then he's Mercury all over.

A Vulcan for domestic strife,

He lamely lives without his wife.

And sure, unless our wits be dull,

Minerva-like, when moon was full.

He issued from paternal scull.



SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES. 433

ON A PROJECTED JOURNEY.



To gratify his people's wish

See G e at length prepare —

He's setting out for Hanover —
We've often wish'd him there.

R. ET R.



ON A LATE EMPIRIC OF '« BALMY" MEMORY.



His namesake, bbrn of Jewish breeder,
Knew " from the Hyssop to the Cedar;"
But he, unlike the Jewish leader,
scarce knew the Hyssop irom the Cedar.

R. ET R.



THE UNBELOVED.



Not a woman, child, or man in

All this isle, that loves thee, C ng.

Fools, whom gentle manners sway.

May incline to C gh,

Princes, who old ladies love,
Of the Doctor may approve,
Chancery lads do not abhor
Their chatty, childish Chancellor,
In Liverpool some virtues strike,
And little Van's beneath dislike.
Tho', if I were to be dead for 't,

I could never love thee, H 1:

(Every man must have his way)
Other grey adulterers may.

VOL. VI. 2 F



434 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES.

But thou, unamiable object, —
Dear to neither prince, nor subject ; —
Veriest, meanest scab, for pelf
Fast'ning on the skin of Guelph,
Thou, thou must, surely, loathe thyself.

R. ET R.



EPIGRAM.

WRITTEN IN THE LAST REIGN.



Ye Politicians, let me, pray.

Why thus with woe and care rent r

This is the worst that you can say.

Some wind has blown the wig away.

And left the hair apparent.

R. ET R.

SONNET TO MATTHEW WOOD, ESQ.,

ALDERMAN AND M.P.



Hold on thy course uncheck'd, heroic Wood !
Regardless what the player's son may prate,
Saint Stephens' fool, the Zany of Debate —
Who nothing generous ever understood.
London's twice Praetor ! scorn the fool-born jest —
The stage's scum, the refuse of the players —
Stale topics against Magistrates and Mayors-
City and Country both thy worth attest.
Bid him leave off his shallow Eton wit,
More fit to sooth the superficial ear
Of drunken Pitt, and that pickpocket Peer,
When at their sottish orgies they did sit.
Hatching mad counsels from inflated vein,
Till England, and the nations, reeled with pain.

R. ET R.



SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES. 435



SONG FOR THE C N.



TUNE : — " Roy's wife of Aldivalloch."

Roi's wife of Brunswick Oels !
Rot's wife of Brunswick Oels !
Wot you how she came to him,
While he supinely dreamt of no ills ?
Vow! but she is a canty Queen,
And well can she scare each royal orgie. —
To us she ever must be dear,
Though she's for ever cut by Georgie. —
Roi's wife, &c. Dm capo.

R. ET R,



LINES.

SUGGESTED BY A SIGHT OF WALTHAM CROSS.



Point still the spots, to hallow'd wedlock dear.
Where rested on its solemn way the bier,
That bore the bones of Edward's Elinor
To mix with Royal dust at Westminster. —
Far different rites did thee to dust consign,
Duke Brunswick's daughter, princely Caroline.
A hurried funeral, and a banish'd grave,
High-minded wife ! were all that thou couldst have.
Grieve not, great ghost, nor count in death thy losses;
Thou in thy life-time had'st thy share of crosses.

2 F 2



436 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECKS.

SAINT CRISPIN TO MR. GIFFORD.



All unadvised and in an evil hour,
Lured by aspiring thoughts, my son, you daft
The lowly labours of the " Gentle Craft "
For lowly toils, which blood and spirits sour.
All things, dear pledge, are not in all men's power;
The wiser sort of shrub affects the ground ;
The sweet contents of mind is oftener found
In cobbler's parlour than in critic's bower.
The sorest work is what doth cross the grain ;
And better to this hour you had been plying
The obsequious awl, with well-wax'd finger flying.
Than ceaseless thus to till a thankless vem :
Still teasing muses, which are still denying
Making a stretching-leather of your brain.
St. Crispin's Eve.



NONSENSE VERSES.



Lazy-bones, lazy-bones, wake up, and peep !

The cat's in the cupboard, your mother's asleep.

There you sit snoring, forgetting her ills ;

Who is to give her her Bolus and Pills ?

Twenty fine Angels must come into town,

All for to help you to make your new gown :

Dainty AERIAL Spinsters, and Singers;

Aren't you ashamed to employ such white fingers ?

Delicate hands, unaccustom'd to reels.

To set 'em a working a poor body's wheels ?



SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES. 437

Why they came down is to me all a riddle,

And left HALLELUJAH broke off in the middle ;

Jove's Court, and the Presence angelical, cut —

To eke out the work of a lazy young slut.

Angel-duck, Angel-duck, winged, and silly,

Pouring a watering-pot over a lily,

Gardener gratuitous, careless of pelf,

Leave her to water her lily herself.

Or to neglect it to death if she chuse it :

Remember the loss is her own, if she lose it.



TO THE EDITOR.



Mr. Editor, — The riddling lines which 1 send you,
were written upon a young lady, who from her
diverting sportiveness in childhood, was named by
her friends The Ape. When the verses were written
L. M. had outgrown the title — but not the memory of
it — being in her teens, and consequently past child-
tricks. They are an endeavour to express that per-
plexity which one feels at any alteration, even
supposed for the better, in a beloved object ; with a
little oblique grudging at Time, who cannot bestow
new graces without taking away some portion of the
older ones, which we can ill miss.



438 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES.



THE APE.



An Ape is but a trivial beast,

Men count it light and vain ;
But I would let them have their tnoughts,

To have my Ape again.
To love a beast in any sort,

Is no great sign of grace ;
But I have loved a flouting Ape's

'Bove any lady's face.
I have known the power of two lair eyes,

In smile or else in glance,
And how (for I a lover was)

They make the spirits dance ;
But I would give two hundred smiles,

Of them that fairest be.
For one look of my staring Ape

That used to stare on me.
This beast, this Ape, it had a face —

If face it might be styl'd —
Sometimes it was a staring Ape,

Sometimes a beauteous child.
A Negro flat — a Pagod squat,

Cast in a Chinese mould —
And then it was a cherub's face,

Made of the beaten gold!
But Time, that's meddling, meddling still,

And always altering things —
And what's already at the best

To alteration brings.



SATIRICAL AIvU HUMOROUS PIECES. 439

That turns the sweetest buds to flow'rs,

And drops and changes toys,
That breaks up dreams and parts old friends.

And still commutes our joys —
Has changed away my Ape at last,

And in its place conveyed,
Thinking therewith to cheat my sight,

A fresh and blooming maid 1
And fair to sight is she — and still

Each day doth sightlier grow,
Upon the ruins of the Ape,

My ancient playfellow I
The tale of Sphinx, and Theban jests

I true in me perceive ;
I suffer riddles ; death from dark

iEnigmas I receive.
Whilst a hid being I pursue,

That lurks in a new shape,
My darling in herself I miss,

And, in my ape. The Ape.
1806.



"ONE DIP."



Much speech obscures the sense ; the soul of wit
Is brevity : our tale one proof of it.
Poor Balbulils, a stammering invalid.
Consults the doctors, and by them is bid
To try sea-bathing, with this special heed,
" One diD was all his malady did need ;



440 SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS PIECES.

More than that one his certain death would be."

Now who so nervous or so shook as he,

For Balbulus had never dipped before.

Two well-known dippers at the Broadstairs' shore,

Stout sturdy churls have stript him to the skin ;

And naked, cold, and shivering plunge him in.

Soon he emerges with scarce breath to say,

" I'm to be dip-dip-dipt -." " We know it," they

Reply. Expostulation seemed in vain,

And over ears they souse him in again ;

And up again he rises ; his words trip.

And falter as before. Still " dip-dip-dip " —

And in again he goes with furious plunge,

Once more to rise ; when with a desperate lunge

At length he bolts these words out, "only once!"

The villains crave his pardon. Had the dunce

But aimed at these bare words the rogues had found

him ;
But striving to be prolix, they have drowned him.

H Y.



( 441



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A

WIFE.

WITH THE WHOLE PROCESS OF

HIS COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE,

AND WHO DANCED AT THE WEDDING.

BY

AN EYE WITNESS.



Dedication. — ^To delicate bosoms, that have sighed over the Lo'Vti
of the Angels, this Poem is with tenderest regard consecrated. It can
be no offence to you, dear Ladies, that the author has endeavoured to
extend the dominion of your darhng passion ; to «how Love trium-
phant in places, to w^hich his advent has been never yet suspected. H
our CeciUa drevy an Angel down, another may have leave to attract a
Spirit upwards ; which, I am sure, was the most desperate adventure
of the two. Wonder not at the inferior condition of the agent; for,
if King Cophetua wooed a Beggar Maid, a greater king need not scorn
to confess the attractions of a fair Tailor's daughter. The more dis-
proportionate the rank, the more signal is the glory of your sex. Like
that of Hecate, a triple empire is now confessed your own. Nor
Heaven, nor Earth, nor deepest tracts of Erebus, as Milton hath it,
have power to resist your sway. I congratulate your last victory. You
have fairly made an Honest Man of the Old One ; and, if your con-
quest is late, the success must be salutary. The new Benedict has
employment enough on his hands to desist from dabbling with the
affairs of poor mortals ; he may fairly leave human nature to herself;
and we may sleep for one while at least secure from the attacks of this
hitherto restless Old Bachelor. It remains to be seen whether the
world will be much benefited by the change in his condition.



442 SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.



FART THE FIRST,



I.

The Devil was sick and queasy of late,

And his sleep and his appetite fail'd him ;
His ears they hung down, and his tail it was clapp'd
Between his poor hoofs, like a dog that's been rapp'd —
None knew what the devil ail'd him.

II.

He tumbled and toss'd on his mattress o' nights,

That was fit for a fiend's disportal ;
For 'twas made of the finest of thistles and thorn,
Which Alecto herself had gather'd in scorn

Of the best down beds that are mortal.

III.

His giantly chest in earthquakes heaved,

With groanings corresponding :
And mincing and few were the words he spoke,
While a sigh, like some delicate whirlwind, broke

From a heart that seem'd desponding.

IV.

Now the Devil an Old Wife had for his Dam,

I think none e'er was older :
Her years — old Parr's were nothing to them ;
And a chicken to her was Methusalem,

You'd say, could you behold her.



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE. 443

V.

She remember'd Chaos a little child,

Strumming upon hand organs ;
At the birth of Old Night a gossip she sat,
The ancientest there, and was godmother at

The christening of the Gorgons.

VI.

Her bones peep'd through a rhinoceros' skin,

Like a mummy's through its cerement ;
But she had a mother's heart, and guess'd
What pinch'd her son ; whom she thus address'd
In terms that bespoke endearment : —

VII.

" What ails my Nicky, my Darling Imp,

My Lucifer bright, my Beelze ?
My Pig, my Pug-with-a-curly-tail,
You are not well. Can a mother fail

To see *hat which all Hell see ! "

" O Mother dear, I am dying, I fear;

Prepare the yew, and the willow,
And the cypress black : for I get no ease
By day or by night for the cursed fleas,

That skip about my pillow."

IX.

" Your pillow is clean, and your pillow-beer.

For I wash'd 'em in Styx last night, son.
And your blankets both, and dried them upon
The brimstony banks of Acheron —

It is not the fleas that bite, son."



444 SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.

X.

"01 perish of cold these bitter sharp nights.

The damp like an ague ferrets ;
The ice and the frost hath shot into the bone;
And I care not greatly to sleep alone

O' nights — for the fear of Spirits."

XI.

'• The weather is warm, my own sweet boy,

And the nights are close and stifling ;
And for fearing of Spirits, you cowardly Elf —
Have you quite forgot you're a Spirit yourself?
Come, come, I see you are trifling.

XII.

I wish my Nicky is not in love "



" O mother, you have nick't it "

And he turn'd his head aside with a blush —
Not red hot pokers, or crimson plush.

Could half so deep have prick'd it.

XIII.

" These twenty thousand good years or more,''

Quoth he, " on this burning shingle
I have led a lonesome Bachelor's life.
Nor known the comfort of babe or wife —

'Tis a long time to live single."

XIV.

Quoth she, " If a wife is all you want,

I shall quickly dance at your wedding.
I am dry nurse, you know, to the Female Ghosts " — -
And she call'd up her charge, and they came in hosts
To do the old Beldam's bidding :



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE. 445

XV.

All who in their lives had been servants of sin-—

Adulteress, Wench, Virago —
And Murd'resses old that had pointed the knife
Against a husband's or father's life,

Each one a She lago.

XVI.

First Jezebel came — no need of paint,

Or dressing, to make her charming ;
For the blood of the old prophetical race
Had heighten'd the natural flush of her face

To a pitch 'bove rouge or carmine.

XVII.

Semiramis there low tender'd herself,

With all Babel for a dowry :
With Helen, the flower and the bane of Greece —
And bloody Medea next offer'd her fleece,

That was of Hell the Houri.

XVIII.

Clytemnestra, with Joan of Naples, put in ;

Cleopatra, by Antony quicken'd ;
Jocasta, that married where she should not,
Came hand in hand with the Daughters of Lot ^

'Till the Devil was fairly sicken'd.

XIX.

For the Devil himself, a dev'l as he is,

Disapproves unequal matches.
" O Mother," he cried, " despatch them hence '
No Spirit — I speak it without offence —

Shall have me in her hatches."



44^ SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.

XX.

With a wave of her wand they all were gone!

And now came out the slaughter :
" Tis none of these that can serve my turn ;
For a wife of flesh and blood I burn —

I'm in love with a Tailor's Daughter.

XXI.

'Tis she must heal the wounds that she madCj.

'Tis she must be my physician.
O parent mild, stand not my foe " —
For his mother had whisper'd something low

About *' matching beneath his condition." —

XXII.

" And then we must get paternal consent,

Or an unblest match may vex ye " —
" Her father is dead : I fetch'd him away,
In the midst of his goose, last Michaelmas Day-
He died of an apoplexy.

XXIII.

His daughter is fair, and an only heir —

With her I long to tether —
He has left her his hell, and all that he had ;
The estates are contiguous, and I shall be mad,

'Till we lay our two Hells together."

XXIV.

*' But how do you know the fair maid's mind .-""-

Quoth he, " Her loss was but recent ;
And I could not speak my mind you know.
Just when I was fetching her father below —
It would have been hardly decent.



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.
XXV.

But a leer from her eye, where Cupids lie,

Of love gave proof apparent ;
And, from something she dropp'd, I shrewdly ween'd,
In her heart she judged, that a living Fiend

Was better than a dead Parent.

XXVI.

But the time is short ; and suitors may come.

While I stand here reporting ;
Then make your son a bit of a Beau,
And give me your blessing, before I go

To the other world a courting."

xxvii.
*' But what will you do with your horns, my son ?

And that tail — fair maids will mock it " —
*• My tail I will dock — and as for the horn,
Like husbands above I think no scorn

To carry it in my pocket."

XXVIII.

** But what will you do with your feet, my son ?''

" Here are stockings fairly woven :
My hoofs I will hide in silken hose ;
And cinnamon-sweet are my pettitoes —

Because, you know, they are cloven.''

XXIX.

■*' Then take a blessing, my darling son,"

Quoth she, and kiss'd him civil —
Then his neckcloth she tied ; and when he was diCRt
From top to toe in his Sunday's best,

He appear'd a comely devil.



44^ SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.

XXX.

So his leave he took: — but how he fared

In his courtship — barring failures —
In a Second Part you shall read it soon,
In a bran new song, to be sung to the tune
Of the " Devil among the Tailors."



THE SECOND PART:



CONTAINING



THE COURTSHIP, AND THE WEDDING.



I.

Who is She that by night from her balcony looks
On a garden, where cabbage is springing ?

'Tis the Tailor's fair Lass, that we told of above ;

She muses by moonlight on her True Love ;
So sharp is Cupid's stinging.

II.

She has caught a glimpse of the Prince of the Air

In his Luciferian splendour.
And away with coyness and maiden reserve ! —
For none but the Devil her turn will serve,

Her sorrows else will end her.



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE. 449

III.

She saw when he fetch'd her father away,

And the sight no whit did shake her;
For the Devil may sure with his own make free —
And " it saves besides," quoth merrily she,

*' The expense of an Undertaker —

IV.

Then come, my Satan, my darling Sin,

Return to my arms, my Hell Beau ;
My Prince of Darkness, my crow-black Dove " —
And she scarce had spoke, when her own True Love

Was kneeling at her elbow 1

V.

But she wist not at first that this was He,
That had raised such a boiling passion :

For his old costume he had laid aside,

And was come to court a mortal bride
In a coat-and-waistcoat fashion.

VI.

She miss'd his large horns, and she miss'd his fair tail,

That had hung so retrospective ;
And his raven plumes, and some other marks
Regarding his feet, that had left their sparks

In a mind but too susceptive:

VII.

And she held it scorn that a mortal born

Should the Prince of Spirits rival,
To clamber at midnight her garden fence —
For she knew not else by what pretence

To account for his arrival.

VOL. VI. 2 G



45° SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.

VIII.

"What thief art thou," quoth she, '♦ in the dark

That stumblest here presumptuous ?
Some Irish Adventurer I take you to be —
A Foreigner, from your garb I see,

Which besides is not over-sumptuous."

DC.

Then Satan, awhile dissembling his rank,

A piece of amorous fun tries :
Quoth he, " I'm a Netherlander born ;
Fair Virgin, receive not my suit with scorn ;

I'm a Prince in the Low Countries —

X.

Though I travel incog. From the Land of Fog

And Mist I am come to proffer
My crown and my sceptre to lay at your feet ;
It is not every day in the week you may meet.

Fair Maid, with a Prince's offer,"

XI.

" Your crown and your sceptre I like full well,

They tempt a poor maiden's pride. Sir ;
But your lands and possessions — excuse if I'm rude-
Are too far in a Northerly latitude
For me to become your Bride, Sir.

XII.

In that aguish clime I should catch my death,

Being but a raw new comer " —
Quoth he, ** We have plenty of fuel stout ;
And the fires, which I kindle, never go out

In Winter, nor yet in Summer.



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE. 45 1

XIII.

I am Prince of Hell, and Lord Paramount

Over Monarchs there abiding.
My Groom of the Stables is Nimrod old ;
And Nebuchadnezzar my stirrups must hold.

When I go out a riding.

XIV.

To spare your blushes, and maiden fears,

I resorted to these inventions —
But, Imposture, begone ; and avaunt, Disguise i" —
And the Devil began to swell and rise

To his own diabolic dimensions.

XV.

Twin horns from his forehead shot up to the moon,

Like a branching stag in Arden ;
Dusk wings through his shoulders with eagle's strength
Push'd out ; and his train lay floundering in length

An acre beyond the garden. —

XVI.

To tender hearts I have framed my lay —

Judge ye, all love-sick Maidens,
When the virgin saw in the soft moonlight,
In his proper proportions, her own true knight,

If she needed long persuadings.

XVII.

Yet a maidenly modesty kept her back.

As her sex's art had taught her :
For " the biggest Fortunes," quoth she, " in the

land —
Are not worthy" — then blush'd — "of your Highne.«s's
hand —
Much less a poor Tailor's daughter.

2 G 2



452 SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE.

XVIII.

There's the two Miss Crockfords are single still.

For whom great suitors hunger;
And their Father's hell is much larger than mine *' —
Quoth the Devil, " I've no such ambitious design,

For their Dad is an old Fishmonger ;

XIX.

And I cannot endure the smell of fish —

I have taken an anti-bias
To their livers, especially since the day
That the Angel smoked my cousin away

From the chaste spouse of Tobias.

XX.

Had my amorous kinsman much longer staid,

The perfume would have seal'd his obit ;
For he had a nicer nose than the wench.
Who cared not a pin for the smother and stench,
In the arms of the Son of Tobit."

XXI.

** I have read it," quoth she, " in Apocryphal Writ'—

And the Devil stoop'd down, and kiss'd her ;
Not Jove himself, when he courted in flame,
On Semele's lips, the love-scorch'd Dame,
Impress'd such a burning blister.

XXII.

The fire through her bones and her vitals shot —

" O, I yield, my winsome marrow —
I am thine for life " — and black thunders roll'd —
And she sank in his arms through the garden mould,

With the speed of a red-hot arrow.



SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFR. 453

XXIII.

Merrily, merrily, ring the bells

From each Pandemonian steeple ;
For the Devil hath gotten his beautiful Bride,
And a Wedding Dinner he will provide,

To feast all kinds of people.

XXIV.

Fat bulls of Bashan are roasted whole,

Of the breed that ran at David ;
With the flesh of goats, on the sinister side,
That shall stand apart, when the world is tried ;

Fit meat for souls unsaved !

XXV.

The fowl from the spit were the Harpies' brood.

Which the bard sang near Cremona,



Online LibraryCharles LambThe life, letters, and writings of Charles Lamb (Volume 6) → online text (page 25 of 29)