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That dry within the hour would be the well of Hippocrene.



" Tell me, if on Parnassus' heights there grow a thousand *-™^

sheaves :
Or has Apollo's laurel bush yet borne ten hundred leaves ?

M



i



135



THE BOOK OF BALIABS.






Or if so many leaves were there, how long would they

sustain
The ravage and the glutton bite of such a locust train ?



" ]N"o ! get ye back into your dens, take counsel for the

night.
And choose me out two champions to meet in deadly

fight;
To-morrow's dawn shall see the lists marked out in Spital-

fields.
And he who wins shall have the bays, and he shall die

who yields ! "

Down went the window with a crash, — in silence and in

fear
Each ragged bard looked anxiously upon his neighbour

near;
Then up and spake young Tennyson — "Who's here that

fears for death ?
'T were better one of us should die, than England lose the

wreath!



" Let 's cast the lots among us now, which two shall fight

to-morrow ; —
Eor armour bright we '11 club our mite, and horses we can

borrow.



THE BOOK OF BALLADS






'Twere shame that bards of France should sneer, and

German Bichters too,
If none of British song might dare a deed of derring-do ! "



'^The lists of Love are mine," said Moore, ^'and not the
lists of Mars;"

Said Hunt, ^' I seek the jars of wine, but shun the com-
bat's jars ! "

'^I 'm old," quoth Samuel Eogers. — '' Faith," says Camp-
bell ''so am I ! "

'' And I 'm in holy orders, sir ! " quoth Tom of Ingoldsby.

" ^ow out upon ye, craven loons ! " cried Moxon, good at

need, —
'' Bide, if ye will, secure at home, and sleoj) while others

bleed.
I second Alfred's motion, boys, — let *s try the chance of

lot;
And monks shall sing, and bells shall ring, for him that

goes to pot."



Eight hundred minstrels slunk away — two hundred stayed

to draw, —
^N'ow Heaven protect the daring wight that pulls the

longest straw !




137



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



4y



'T is done I 't is done ! And ' who hath won r Keep

silence, one and all, —
The first is "William WordsAvorth hight, the second JN'ed

EitzbaU ! "



FYTTE THE SECOND.

Oh, bright and gay hath dawned the day on lordly Spital-

fields, —
How flash the rays with ardent blaze from polished helms

and shields !
On either side the chivalry of England throng the

green.
And in the middle balcony appears our gracious Queen.



With iron fists, to keep the lists, two valiant knights

appear.
The Marquis Hal of Waterford, and stout Sir Aubrey

Yere.
" What ho, there, herald, blow the trump ! Let 's see who

comes to claim ZEI

The butt of golden Xeres, and the Laureate's honoured



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



*



That instant dashed into the lists, all armed from head to

heel,
On courser brown, with vizor down, a warrior sheathed in

steel ;
Then said our Queen — '^ Was ever seen so stout a knight

and tall ?
His name — ^his race ? " — ^^ An 't please your grace, it is the

brave Fitzball.



" Oft in the Melodrama line his prowess hath been

shown.
And well throughout the Surrey side his thirst for blood is

known.
But see, the other champion comes ! " — Then rung the

startled air
With shouts of ^^ Wordsworth, Wordsworth, ho! the bard

of Hydal 's there."

And lo ! upon a little steed, unmeet for such a course,
Appeared the honoured veteran ; but weak seemed man

and horse.
Then shook their ears the sapient peers, — '' That joust will

soon be done :
My Lord of Brougham, I '11 back Fitzball, and give you

two to one ! "



139



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

''Done," quoth the Erougham, — "and done with you!"

'']N"ow, Minstrels, are you ready ? "
Exclaimed the Lord of "Waterford, — " You 'd better both

sit steady.
Blow, trumpets, blow the note of charge ! and forward to

the fight ! "
''Amen!" said good Sir Aubrey Yere ; "Saint Schism

defend the right ! "

As sweeps the blast against the mast when blows the

furious squall,
So started at the trumpet's sound the terrible Ktzball ;
His lance he bore his breast before, — Saint George protect

the just.
Or Wordsworth's hoary head must roll along the shameful

dust!



" "Who threw that calthrop r Seize the knave ! " Alas

the deed is done ;
Down went the steed, and o'er his head flew bright Apollo's

son.
"Undo his helmet! cut the lace! pour water on his

head!"
"It ain't no use at all, my lord; 'cos vy ? the covey's

dead ! "




^;s==i=^



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



Pi



Above him stood the Eydal bard — his face was full of woe, —
''N'ow there thou liest;, stiff and stark, who never feared

a foe :
.V braver knight, or more renowned in tourney and in hall,
^e'er brought the upper gallery down, than terrible Fitz-

ball ! "

They led our Wordsworth to the Queen — she crowned him
with the bays,

And wished him many happy years, and many quarter-
days,—-

And if you 'd have the story told by abler lips than mine,

You 've but to call at Eydal Mount, and taste the Laureate's



f




THE BOOK OF BALLADS.




€^t Unpl 'lonimtiBt.






BY THE HON. G-



The Queen, she kept higli festival in "Windsor's lordly hall,
And round her sat the gartered knights, and ermined

nobles all ;
There drank the valiant Wellington, there fed the wary

Peel,
And at the bottom of the board Prince Albert carved the

veal.



THE BOOK OP BALLADS.

" What, pantler, ho ! remove the cloth ! Ho ! cellarer, the

wine,
And bid the royal nurse bring in the hope of Brunswick's

line ! "
Then rose with one tumultuous shout the band of British

peers,
'' God bless her sacred Majesty ! Let 's see the little

dears!"

ISTow by Saint George, our patron saint, 't was a touching

sight to see
That iron warrior gently place the Princess on his

knee ;
To hear him hush her infant fears, and teach her how to

gape
With rosy mouth expectant for the raisin and the

grape !



t



They passed the wine, the sparkling wine — they filled the

goblets up,
Even Brougham, the cynic anchorite, smiled blandly on

the cup ;
And Lyndhurst, with a noble thirst, that nothing could

appease,
Proposed the immortal memory of King William on his '

knees.



5^¥



143



THE BOOK OP BALLADS.






'^ What Avant we here, my gracious liege," cried good Lord
Aberdeen,

'^ Save gladsome song and minstrelsy to flow our cups
between ?

I ask not now for Goulburn's voice or Knatchbull's
warbling lay,

But Where's the Poet Laureate to grace our board to-
day?"



Loud laughed the Knight of IS'etherby, and scornfully he

cried,
^^ Or art thou mad with wine. Lord Earl, or art thyself

beside ?
Eight hundred Bedlam bards have claimed the Laureate's

vacant crown.
And now like frantic Bacchanals run wild through London

town ! "



'^Now glory to our gracious Queen ! " a voice was heard

to cry.
And dark Macaulay stood before them all with frenzied

eye;
'^ Now glory to our gracious Queen, and all her glorious

race,
A boon, a boon, my sovran liege ! Give me the Laureate's

place !



'M



I4i



a^^-=:



THE BOOK OE BALLADS.



'^ 'T was I that sang the might of Eome, the glories of

Kavarre ;
And who could swell the fame so well of Britain's Isles

afar ?
The hero of a hundred fights — " Then Wellington up

sprung,
^^ Ho, silence in the ranks, I say! Sit down, and hold

your tongue.



'^ By heaven thou shalt not twist my name into a jingling

lay.
Or mimic in thy puny song the thunders of Assaye !
' T is hard that for thy lust of place in peace we cannot

dine.
IS^urse, take her Royal Highness here ! Sir Robert, pass the

wine !"



'' N'o laureate need we at our board ! " then spoke the Lord

of Yaux ;
'' Here's many a voice to charm the ear with minstrel

song, I know.



^^^^k^.



THE BOOK or BALLADS.



Even I myself — " Then rose the cry — "A song^ a song

from Erougham ! "
He sang, — and straightway found himself alone within the

room.





146



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.






'^t fo^x]i nf dJritt's tmnl



BY T M RE, ESQ.

<^[W Oh, weep for the hours, when the little blind boy

Wove round me the spells of his Paphian bower ;
When I dipp'd my light wings in the nectar of joy,

And soar'd in the sunshine, the moth of the hour !
From beauty to beauty, I pass'd like the wind ;

JS'ow fondled the lily, now toy'd with the rose ;
And the fair, that at morn had enchanted my mind,

Was forsook for another ere evening's close.



... I sighed not for honour, I cared no^ for fame,

I'K While Pleasure sat by me, and Lov^ was my guest ;

They twined a fresh wreath for each day as it came,
And the bosom of Beauty still pillow 'd my rest :
And the harp of my country — neglected it slept —

In hall or by greenwood unheard were its songs

From Love's Sybarite dreams I aroused me, and swept

Its chords to the tale of her glories and wrongs.



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

But weep for the hour ! — Life's summer is past,

And the snow of its winter lies cold on my brow ;
And my soul, as it shrinks from each stroke of the blast.

Cannot turn to a iire that glows inwardly now.
'^o, its ashes are dead — and, alas ! Love or Song

1^0 charm to Life's lengthening shadows can lend,
Like a cup of old wine, rich, mellow, and strong.

And a seat by the fire tete-d-tete with a friend.







THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



f-




I



1



(SllB lottriiitB.



'^1



i



Who would not be

The Laureate bold,
With his butt of sheriy
To keep him merry,
And nothing to do but to pocket his gold :



149






THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



'T is I would be the Laureate bold !
When the days are hot, and the sun is strong,
I ! I'd lounge in the gateway all the day long,

With her Majesty's footmen in crimson and gold.
I 'd care not a pin for the waiting-lord ;
But I 'd lie on my back on the smooth green sward,
With a straw in my mouth, and an open vest.
And the cool wind blowing upon my breast.
And I 'd vacantly stare at the clear blue sky,
And watch the clouds as listless as I,

Lazily, lazily !
And I 'd pick the moss and daisies white,
And chew their stalks with a nibbling bite ;
And I 'd let my fancies roam abroad
In search of a hint for a birth-day ode,

Crazily, Crazily !



Oh, that would be the life for me.
With plenty to get, and nothing to do.
But to deck a pet poodle with ribbons of blue,
And whistle all day to the Queen's cockatoo.

Trance- somely, trance -somely.
Then the chambermaids, that clean the rooms,
Would come to the windows and rest on their brooms.



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

With their saucy caps and their crisped hair,
And they 'd toss their heads in the fragrant air^
And say to each other — ^^ Just look down there,
At the nice young man, so tidy and small,
Who is paid for writing on nothing at all,
Handsomely, handsomeh^ ! "



They would pelt me with matches and sweet pastilles.
And crumpled up balls of the royal bills,
Giggling and laughing, and screaming with fun,
As they 'd see me start, with a leap and a run,
From the broad of my back to the points of my toes,
When a pellet of paper hit my nose,

Teazingly, sneezingly.
Then I 'd fling them bunches of garden flowers,
And hyacinths plucked from the Castle bowers ;
And I 'd challenge them all to come down to me.
And I 'd kiss them all till they kissed me.

Laughingly, laughingly.



Oh, would not that be a merry life,

Apart from care, and apart from strife.

With the Laureate's wine, and the Laureate's pay,

And no deductions at quarter-day ?



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



K



Oh, that would be the post for me !
With plenty to get and nothing to do
But to deck a pet poodle with ribbons of blue^
And whistle a tune to the Queen's cockatoo,
And scribble of verses remarkably few,
And at evening empty a bottle or two,
Quaffingly, quaifingly !



%'



'T is I would be

The Laureate bold,
With my butt of sherry
To keep me merry,
And nothing to do but to pocket my gold !



] J




152



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



I






a Jllihiglft 3llBMtiitimi,

BY SIR E B L .

Fill me once more the foaming pewter up !

Another board of oysters, ladye mine !
To-night Lucullus with himself shall sup.

These mute inglorious Miltons are divine ;

And as I here in slippered ease recline,
Quaffing of Perkin's Entire my fill,
I sigh not for the hnnph of Aganippe's rill.

A nobler inspiration fires my brain.

Caught from Old England's fine time-hallowed drink ;

I snatch the pot again and yet again.

And as the foaming fluids shrink and shrink.
Fill me once more, I say, up to the brink !

This makes strong hearts — strong heads attest its charm —

This nerves the might that sleeps in Britain's brawny arm !

But these remarks are neither here nor there.

Where was I ? Oh, I see — old Southey 's dead !
They '11 want some bard to fill the vacant chair.

And drain the annual butt — and oh, what head

More fit with laurel to be garlanded



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



"iiy



Than this, which, curled in many a fragrant coil.
Breathes of Castalia's streams, and best Macassar oil ?



I know a grace is seated on my brow,

Like young Apollo's with his golden beams ;

There should Apollo's bays be budding now : —
And in my flashing eyes the radiance beams
That marks the poet in his waking dreams,

When as his fancies cluster thick and thicker.

He feels the trance divine of poesy and liquor.

They throng around me now, those things of air,
That from my fancy took their being's stamp :

There Pelham sits and twirls his glossy hair.
There Clifford leads his pals upon the tramp ;
Their pale Zanoni, bending o'er his lamp.

Roams through the starry wilderness of thought.

Where all is everything, and everything is nought.



Yes, I am he, who sung how Aram won
The gentle ear of pensive Madeline !

How love and murder hand in hand may run.
Cemented by philosophy serene,
And kisses bless the spot where gore has been !

Who breathed the melting sentiment of crime.

And for the assassin waked a sympathy sublime !



f



THE BOOK or BALLADS.



I



Yes, I am he, who on the novel shed

Obscure philosophy's enchanting light !

Until the public, wildered as they read,

Eelieved they saw that which was not in sight-
Of course 't was not for me to set them right ;

Eor in my nether heart convinced I am,

Philosophy's as good as any other bam.



j^ovels three-volumed I shall write no more —
Somehow or other now they will not sell ;

And to invent new passions is a bore —
I find the Magazines pay quite as well.
Translating 's simple, too, as I can tell,

"Who 've hawked at Schiller on his lyric throne,

And given the astonished bard a meaning all my own.



Moore, Campbell, Wordsworth, their best days are grassed ;
Battered and broken are their early lyres.

liogers, a pleasant memory of the past,

Warmed his young hands at Smithfield's martyr fires.
And, worth a plum, nor bays nor butt desires.

But these are things would suit me to the letter.

For though this Stout is good, old Sherry's greatly
better.




155



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

A fico for your small poetic ravers,

Your Hunts, your Tennysons, your Milnes, and these !

Shall they compete mth him who wrote ^^Maltravers,"
Prologue to " Alice or the Mysteries r "
No ! Even now my glance prophetic sees

My own high brow girt with the bays about.

What ho, within there, ho ! another pint of Stout I



I



^J




Slvuf/ More Stout If



M'







THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



,!f



?i!-niitgnmBn(.



1 from.



1^



Like one who, waking from a troublous dream,

Pursues with force his meditative theme ;

Cahn as the ocean in its halcyon still,

Calm as the sunlight sleeping on the hill ;

Calm as at Ephesus great Paul was seen

To rend his robes in agonies serene ;

Calm as the love that radiant Luther bore

To all that lived behind him, and before ;

Calm as meek Calvin, when, with holy smile.

He sang the mass around Servetus' pile, —

So once again I snatch this harp of mine,

To breathe rich incense from a mystic shrine.

[N'ot now to whisper to the ambient air

The sounds of Satan's Universal Prayer;

Not now to sing, in sweet domestic strife

That woman reigns the Angel of our life ;

But to proclaim the wish, with pious art,

Which thrills through Britain's universal heart, —

That on this brow, with native honours graced.

The Laureate's chaplet should at length be placed !



m'



157






THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



7



I..



^\)



Fear not, ye maids, who love to hear me speak ;
Let no desponding tears dedim your cheek !
Ko gust of envy, no malicious scorn,
Hath this poor heart of mine with frenzy torn.
There are who move so far above the great.
Their very look disarms the glance of hate ;
Their thoughts, more rich than emerald or gold,
Enwrap them like the prophet's mantle's fold.
Fear not for me, nor think that this our age.
Blind though it be, hath yet no Archimage.
I, who have bathed in bright Castalia's tide,
By classic Isis and more classic Clyde ;
I, who have handled, in my lofty strain,
All things divine, and many things profane ;
I, who have trod where seraphs fear to tread ;
I, who on mountain — honey dew have fed ;
1, who undaunted broke the mystic seal.
And left no page for prophets to reveal ;
I, who in shade portentous Dante threw ;
I who have done what Milton dared not do,— -
I fear no rival for the vacant throne ;
Ko mortal thunder shall eclipse my own !



9



Let dark Macaulay chaunt his Roman lays,
Let Monckton Milnes go maunder for the bays.



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

Let Simmons call on great J^apoleon's shade,
Let Lytton Bulwer seek liis Aram's aid,
Let Wordsworth ask for help from Peter Bell,
Let Campbell carol Copenhagen's knell.
Let Delta warble through his Delphic groves.
Let Elliot shout for pork and penny loaves, —
I care not, I ! resolved to stand or fall ;
One down, another on, I '11 smash them all !



Back, ye profane ! this hand alone hath power
To pluck the laurel from its sacred bower ;
This brow alone is privileged to wear
The ancient wreath o'er hyacinthine hair ;
These lips alone may quaff the sparkling wine,
And make its mortal juice once more divine.
Back, ye profane ! And thou, fair queen, rejoice :
A nation's praise shall consecrate thy choice.
Thus, then, I kneel where Spenser knelt before,
On the same spot, perchance, of Windsor's floor;
And take, while awe-struck millions round me stand,
The hallowed wreath from great Victoria's hand.



li



159



£^^^^^^



A']



I



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



^ DBEtji nf, Iprr,



[Why has Satan's own Laureate never given to the world his marvellous
threnody on " The Death of Space ? " Who knows where the hays might have
fallen, had he forwarded that mystic manuscript to the Home Office ? If un-
wonted modesty withholds it from the public eye, the public will pardon the
boldness that tears from blushing obscurity the following fragments of this
unique poem.]



Eteknity shall raise her funeral pile

In the vast dungeon of the extinguish' d sky,

And, clothed in dim barbaric splendour, smile,
And murmur shouts of elegiac joy.

While those that dwell beyond the realms of space,
And those that people all that dreary void.

When old Time's endless heir hath run his race,
Shall live for aye, enjoying and enjoy'd.



m



And 'mid the agony of unsullied bliss,

Her Demogorgon's doom shall Sin bewail.

The undying serpent at the spheres shall hiss.
And lash the empyrean with his tail.






m



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



«



And Hell, inflated with supernal wrath,
Shall open wide her thunder-bolted jaws,

And shout into the dull cold ear of Death,

That he must pay his debt to Nature's laws.

And when the King of Terrors breathes his last,

Infinity shall creep into her shell.
Cause and effect shall from their thrones be cast.

And end their strife with suicidal yell.

While from their ashes, burnt with pomp of Kings
'Mid incense floating to the evanished skies,

[N'onentity, on circumambient wings.
An everlasting Phoenix shall arise.



i




161




littk SnljE ml tliB Mi /rinr.



FYTTE THE FIRST.



The deer may leap within the glade ;

The fawns may follow free —
Por Eobin is dead, and his bones are laid

Beneath the greenwood tree.




:z-^^m



.s^



-SSrfate.^^



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.






f



And broken are his merry, merry men,

That goodly companie ;
There 's some have ta'en the northern road

With Jem of ]N"etherbee.



The best and bravest of the band
"With Derby !N'ed are gone ;

But Earlie Gray and Charlie Wood,
They staid with Little John.



jN^ow Little John was an outlaw proud,

A prouder ye never saw ;
Through ^N'ottingham and Leicester shires

He thought his word was law,
And he strutted through the greenwood wide,

Like a pestilent jack-daw.



He swore that none, but with leave of him,
Should set foot on the turf so free :

And he thought to spread his cutter's rule.
All over the south countrie.

^' There 's never a knave in the land," he said,
^' Eut shall pay his toll to me ! "



w

Mi



c^yj



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

And Charlie Wood was a taxman good

As ever stepped the ground,
He levied mail, like a sturdy thief,

Prom all the yeomen round.
*'!N'ay, stand ! " quoth he, *^ thou shalt pay to me.

Seven pence from every pound ! "



IN'ow word has come to Little John,

As he lay upon the grass,
That a Friar red was in merry Sherwood

Without his leave to pass.



}



*' Come hither, come hither, my little foot-page !

Ben Hawes, come tell to me,
What manner of man is this burly frere

Who walks the wood so free? "

" My master good ! " the little page said,

'' His name I wot not well.
But he wears on his head a hat so red.

With a monstrous scallop-shell.



'



" He says he is Prior of Copmanshurst,

And Bishop of London town,
And he comes with a rope from oiu' father the Pope

To put the outlaws down.



m



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.



*^ I saw him ride but yester-tide
"With his jolly chaplains three ;

And he swears that he has an open pass
From Jem of IS'etherbee ! "



%



J?



Little John has ta'en an arrow so broad,
And broke it o'er his knee ;

'^ ^N'ow I may never strike doe again,
But this wrong avenged shall be !



I



'' And has he dared, this greasy frere,
To trespass in my bound,

]N'or asked for leave from Little John
To range with hawk and hound r

'^ And has he dared to take a pass

From Jem of JS'etherbee,
Forgetting that the Sherwood shaws

Pertain of right to me ?



'' were he but a simple man
And not a slip-shod frere !

I 'd hang him up by his own waist-rope
Above yon tangled brere.



THE EOOK OF BALLADS.

*^ did he come alone from Jem

And not from our father the Pope,

I 'd bring him in to Copmanshurst,
With the noose of a hempen rope !

" But since he has come from our father the Pope,

And sailed across the sea,
And since he has power to bind and loose,

His life is safe for me ;
But a heavy penance he shall do

Beneath the greenwood tree ! "

"0 tarry yet," quoth Charlie Wood,

^^ tarry, master mine !
It 's ill to shear a yearling hog,

Or twist the wool of swine !



" It 's ill to make a bonny silk purse
From the ear of a bristly boar ;

It's ill to provoke a shaveling's curse.
When the way lies him before.

^ ' I ' ve walked the forest for twenty years.

In wet weather and dry,
And never stopped a good fellawe

Who had no coin to buy.



M



" What boots it to search a beggarman's bags

When no silver groat he has ?
So, master mine, I rede you well,

E'en let the Friar pass ! "



^^JS'ow cease thy prate," quoth Little John,

^^ Thou japest but in vain ;
An he have not a groat within his pouch

We may find a silver chain.

'^ But were he as bare as a new-flayed buck.

As truly he may be.
He shall not tread the Sherwood shaws

Without the leave of me ! "



Little John has taken his arrows and bow.
His sword and buckler strong.

And lifted up his quarter- stafl*,
Was full three cloth yards long.



And he has left his merry men
At the trysting-tree behind.

And gone into the gay greenwood.
This burly frere to find.




167



THE BOOK OF BALLADS.

O'er holt and hill, thro' brake and brere

He took his way alone —
[^Tow, Lordlings, list and you shall hear

This geste of Little John.



FYTTE THE SECOND.



'T is merry, 't is merry in gay greenwood,
When the little birds are singing,

When the buck is belling in the fern

And the hare from the thicket springing !



'T is merry to hear the waters clear
As they splash in the pebbly fall ;

And the ouzel whistling to his mate
As he lights on the stones so small.


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Online LibraryTheodore MartinThe book of ballads → online text (page 5 of 9)