Thomas Hood.

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At which uncheck'd
All Christian hearts may kindle or keep warm.

Say, was it to my spirit's gain or loss,
One bright and balmy morning, as I went
From Liege's lovely environs to Ghent,
If hard by the wayside I found a cross,
That made me breathe a pray'r upon the spot -
While Nature of herself, as if to trace
The emblem's use, had trail'd around its base
The blue significant Forget-me-not?
Methought, the claims of Charity to urge
More forcibly, along with Faith and Hope,
The pious choice had pitched upon the verge
Of a delicious slope
Giving the eye much variegated scope; -
"Look round," it whisper'd, "on that prospect rare,
Those vales so verdant, and those hills so blue;
Enjoy the sunny world, so fresh, and fair,
But" - (how the simple legend pierced me thro'!)
"PRIEZ POUR LES MALHEUREUX."

With sweet kind natures, as in honey'd cells,
Religion lives, and feels herself at home;
But only on a formal visit dwells
Where wasps instead of bees have formed the comb.
Shun pride, O Rae! - whatever sort beside
You take in lieu, shun spiritual pride!
A pride there is of rank - a pride of birth,
A pride of learning, and a pride of purse,
A London pride - in short, there be on earth
A host of prides, some better and some worse;
But of all prides, since Lucifer's attaint,
The proudest swells a self-elected Saint.

To picture that cold pride so harsh and hard,
Fancy a peacock in a poultry yard.
Behold him in conceited circles sail,
Strutting and dancing, and now planted stiff,
In all his pomp of pageantry, as if
He felt "the eyes of Europe" on his tail!
As for the humble breed retain'd by man,
He scorns the whole domestic clan -
He bows, he bridles,
He wheels, he sidles,
At last, with stately dodgings, in a corner
He pens a simple russet hen, to scorn her
Full in the blaze of his resplendent fan!

"Look here," he cries (to give him words),
"Thou feather'd clay - thou scum of birds!"
Flirting the rustling plumage in her eyes, -
"Look here, thou vile predestined sinner,
Doom'd to be roasted for a dinner,
Behold those lovely variegated dyes!
These are the rainbow colors of the skies,
That Heav'n has shed upon me _con amore_ -
A Bird of Paradise? - a pretty story!
_I_ am that Saintly Fowl, thou paltry chick!
Look at my crown of glory!
Thou dingy, dirty, drabbled, draggled jill!"
And off goes Partlet, wriggling from a kick,
With bleeding scalp laid open by his bill!

That little simile exactly paints
How sinners are despised by saints.
By saints! - the Hypocrites that ope heav'n's door
Obsequious to the sinful man of riches -
But put the wicked, naked, barelegg'd poor
In parish stocks instead of breeches.

The Saints! - the Bigots that in public spout,
Spread phosphorus of zeal on scraps of fustian,
And go like walking "Lucifers" about
Mere living bundles of combustion.

The Saints! - the aping Fanatics that talk
All cant and rant, and rhapsodies high-flown -
That bid you baulk
A Sunday walk,
And shun God's work as you should shun your own.

The Saints! - the Formalists, the extra pious,
Who think the mortal husk can save the soul,
By trundling with a mere mechanic bias,
To church, just like a lignum-vitæ bowl!

The Saints! - the Pharisees, whose beadle stands
Beside a stern coercive kirk.
A piece of human mason-work,
Calling all sermons contrabands,
In that great Temple that's not made with hands!

Thrice blessed, rather, is the man, with whom
The gracious prodigality of nature,
The balm, the bliss, the beauty, and the bloom,
The bounteous providence in ev'ry feature,
Recall the good Creator to his creature,
Making all earth a fane, all heav'n its dome!
To _his_ tuned spirit the wild heather-bells
Ring Sabbath knells;
The jubilate of the soaring lark
Is chant of clerk;
For choir, the thrush and the gregarious linnet;
The sod's a cushion for his pious want;
And, consecrated by the heav'n within it,
The sky-blue pool, a font.
Each cloud-capped mountain is a holy altar;
An organ breathes in every grove;
And the full heart's a Psalter,
Rich in deep hymns of gratitude and love!

Sufficiently by stern necessitarians
Poor Nature, with her face begrimed by dust,
Is stoked, coked, smoked, and almost choked; but must
Religion have its own Utilitarians,
Labell'd with evangelical phylacteries,
To make the road to heav'n a railway trust,
And churches - that's the naked fact - mere factories?

Oh! simply open wide the Temple door,
And let the solemn, swelling, organ greet,
With _Voluntaries_ meet,
The willing advent of the rich and poor!
And while to God the loud Hosannas soar,
With rich vibrations from the vocal throng -
From quiet shades that to the woods belong,
And brooks with music of their own,
Voices may come to swell the choral song
With notes of praise they learned in musings lone.

How strange it is while on all vital questions,
That occupy the House and public mind,
We always meet with some humane suggestions
Of gentle measures of a healing kind,
Instead of harsh severity and vigor,
The Saint alone his preference retains
For bills of penalties and pains,
And marks his narrow code with legal rigor!
Why shun, as worthless of affiliation,
What men of all political persuasion
Extol - and even use upon occasion -
That Christian principle, Conciliation?
But possibly the men who make such fuss
With Sunday pippins and old Trots infirm,
Attach some other meaning to the term,
As thus:

One market morning, in my usual rambles,
Passing along Whitechapel's ancient shambles,
Where meat was hung in many a joint and quarter,
I had to halt awhile, like other folks,
To let a killing butcher coax
A score of lambs and fatted sheep to slaughter.
A sturdy man he looke'd to fell an ox,
Bull-fronted, ruddy, with a formal streak
Of well-greased hair down either cheek,
As if he dee-dash-dee'd some other flocks
Beside those woolly-headed stubborn blocks
That stood before him, in vexatious huddle -
Poor little lambs, with bleating wethers group'd,
While, now and then, a thirsty creature stoop'd
And meekly snuff'd, but did not taste the puddle.

Fierce bark'd the dog, and many a blow was dealt,
That loin, and chump, and scrag and saddle felt,
Yet still, that fatal step they all declined it, -
And shunn'd the tainted door as if they smelt
Onions, mint sauce, and lemon juice behind it.
At last there came a pause of brutal force,
The cur was silent, for his jaws were full
Of tangled locks of tarry wool,
The man had whoop'd and holloed till dead hoarse.
The time was ripe for mild expostulation,
And thus it stammer'd from a stander-by -
"Zounds! - my good fellow, - it quite makes me - why,
It really - my dear fellow - do just try Conciliation!"

Stringing his nerves like flint,
The sturdy butcher seized upon the hint, -
At least he seized upon the foremost wether, -
And hugg'd and lugg'd and tugg'd him neck and crop
Just _nolens volens_ thro' the open shop -
If tails come off he didn't care a feather, -
Then walking to the door and smiling grim,
He rubb'd his forehead and his sleeve together -
"There! - I have _con_ciliated him!"

Again - good-humoredly to end our quarrel -
(Good humor should prevail!)
I'll fit you with a tale,
Whereto is tied a moral.

Once on a time a certain English lass
Was seized with symptoms of such deep decline,
Cough, hectic flushes, ev'ry evil sign,
That, as their wont is at such desperate pass,
The Doctors gave her over - to an ass.

Accordingly, the grisly Shade to bilk,
Each morn the patient quaff'd a frothy bowl
Of asinine new milk,
Robbing a shaggy suckling of a foal
Which got proportionably spare and skinny -
Meanwhile the neighbors cried "Poor Mary Ann!
She can't get over it! she never can!"
When lo! to prove each prophet was a ninny
The one that died was the poor wet-nurse Jenny.

To aggravate the case,
There were but two grown donkeys in the place;
And most unluckily for Eve's sick daughter,
The other long ear'd creature was a male,
Who never in his life had given a pail
Of milk, or even chalk and water.
No matter: at the usual hour of eight
Down trots a donkey to the wicket-gate,
With Mister Simon Gubbins on his back, -
"Your sarvant, Miss", - a worry spring-like day, -
Bad time for hasses tho'! good lack! good lack!
Jenny be dead, Miss, - but I've brought ye Jack,
He doesn't give no milk - but he can bray.

So runs the story,
And, in vain self-glory,
Some Saints would sneer at Gubbins for his blindness -
But what the better are their pious saws
To ailing souls, than dry hee-haws,
Without the milk of human kindness?




TO MY DAUGHTER[16]

ON HER BIRTHDAY.

[Footnote 16: Written at Ostend in September 1839.]


Dear Fanny! nine long years ago,
While yet the morning sun was low,
And rosy with the Eastern glow
The landscape smiled -
Whilst lowed the newly-waken'd herds -
Sweet as the early song of birds,
I heard those first, delightful words,
"Thou hast a Child!"

Along with that uprising dew
Tears glisten'd in my eyes, though few,
To hail a dawning quite as new
To me, as Time:
It was not sorrow - not annoy -
But like a happy maid, though coy,
With grief-like welcome even Joy
Forestalls its prime.

So mayst thou live, dear! many years,
In all the bliss that life endears,
Not without smiles, nor yet from tears
Too strictly kept:
When first thy infant littleness
I folded in my fond caress,
The greatest proof of happiness
Was this - I wept.




MISS KILMANSEGG AND HER PRECIOUS LEG.[17]

[Footnote 17: Originally published by instalments in Colburn's _New
Monthly Magazine_ in 1840 and 1841, as one of a proposed series to be
entitled "Rhymes for the Times."]


A GOLDEN LEGEND.

"What is here?
Gold! yellow, glittering, precious gold?"
_Timon of Athens_.




HER PEDIGREE.


I.

To trace the Kilmansegg pedigree
To the very root of the family tree
Were a task as rash as ridiculous:
Through antediluvian mists as thick
As London fog such a line to pick
Were enough, in truth, to puzzle old Nick,
Not to name Sir Harris Nicolas.


II.

It wouldn't require much verbal strain
To trace the Kill-man, perchance, to Cain;
But, waiving all such digressions,
Suffice it, according to family lore,
A Patriarch Kilmansegg lived of yore,
Who was famed for his great possessions.


III.

Tradition said he feather'd his nest
Through an Agricultural Interest
In the Golden Age of Farming;
When golden eggs were laid by the geese,
And Colehian sheep wore a golden fleece,
And golden pippins - the sterling kind
Of Hesperus - now so hard to find -
Made Horticulture quite charming!


IV.

A Lord of Land, on his own estate,
He lived at a very lively rate,
But his income would bear carousing;
Such acres he had of pastures and heath,
With herbage so rich from the ore beneath,
The very ewe's and lambkin's teeth
Were turn'd into gold by browsing.


V.

He gave, without any extra thrift,
A flock of sheep for a birthday gift
To each son of his loins, or daughter:
And his debts - if debts he had - at will
He liquidated by giving each bill
A dip in Pactolian water.


VI.

'Twas said that even his pigs of lead,
By crossing with some by Midas bred,
Made a perfect mine of his piggery.
And as for cattle, one yearling bull
Was worth all Smithfield-market full
Of the Golden Bulls of Pope Gregory.


VII.

The high-bred horses within his stud,
Like human creatures of birth and blood,
Had their Golden Cups and flagons:
And as for the common husbandry nags,
Their noses were tied in money-bags,
When they stopp'd with the carts and wagons.


VIII.

Moreover, he had a Golden Ass,
Sometimes at stall, and sometimes at grass,
That was worth his own weight in money
And a golden hive, on a Golden Bank,
Where golden bees, by alchemical prank,
Gather'd gold instead of honey.


IX.

Gold! and gold! and gold without end!
He had gold to lay by, and gold to spend,
Gold to give, and gold to lend,
And reversions of gold _in futuro._
In wealth the family revell'd and roll'd,
Himself and wife and sons so bold; -
And his daughters sang to their harps of gold
"O bella eta del'oro!"


X.

Such was the tale of the Kilmansegg Kin,
In golden text on a vellum skin,
Though certain people would wink and grin,
And declare the whole story a parable -
That the Ancestor rich was one Jacob Ghrimes,
Who held a long lease, in prosperous times,
Of acres, pasture and arable.


XI.

That as money makes money, his golden bees
Were the Five per Cents, or which you please,
When his cash was more than plenty -
That the golden cups were racing affairs;
And his daughters, who sang Italian airs,
Had their golden harps of Clementi.


XII.

That the Golden Ass, or Golden Bull,
Was English John, with his pockets full,
Then at war by land and water:
While beef, and mutton, and other meat,
Were almost as dear as money to eat,
And farmers reaped Golden Harvests of wheat
At the Lord knows what per quarter!


XIII.

What different dooms our birthdays bring!
For instance, one little manikin thing
Survives to wear many a wrinkle;
While Death forbids another to wake,
And a son that it took nine moons to make
Expires without even a twinkle!


XIV.

Into this world we come like ships,
Launch'd from the docks, and stocks, and slips,
For fortune fair or fatal;
And one little craft is cast away
In its very first trip in Babbicome Bay,
While another rides safe at Port Natal.


XV.

What different lots our stars accord!
This babe to be hail'd and woo'd as a Lord!
And that to be shun'd like a leper!
One, to the world's wine, honey, and corn,
Another, like Colchester native, born
To its vinegar, only, and pepper.


XVI.

One is litter'd under a roof
Neither wind nor water proof -
That's the prose of Love in a Cottage -
A puny, naked, shivering wretch,
The whole of whose birthright would not fetch,
Though Robins himself drew up the sketch,
The bid of "a mess of pottage."


XVII.

Born of Fortunatus's kin
Another comes tenderly ushered in
To a prospect all bright and burnish'd:
No tenant he for life's back slums -
He comes to the world, as a gentleman comes
To a lodging ready furnish'd.


XVIII.

And the other sex - the tender - the fair -
What wide reverses of fate are there!
Whilst Margaret, charm'd by the Bulbul rare,
In a garden of Gul reposes -
Poor Peggy hawks nosegays from street to street
Till - think of that, who find life so sweet! -
She hates the smell of roses!


XIX.

Not so with the infant Kilmansegg!
She was not born to steal or beg,
Or gather cresses in ditches;
To plait the straw, or bind the shoe,
Or sit all day to hem and sew,
As females must - and not a few -
To fill their insides with stitches!


XX.

She was not doom'd, for bread to eat,
To be put to her hands as well as her feet -
To carry home linen from mangles -
Or heavy-hearted, and weary-limb'd,
To dance on a rope in a jacket trimm'd
With as many blows as spangles.


XXI.

She was one of those who by Fortune's boon
Are born, as they say, with a silver spoon
In her mouth, not a wooden ladle:
To speak according to poet's wont,
Plutus as sponsor stood at her font,
And Midas rocked the cradle.


XXII.

At her first _début_ she found her head
On a pillow of down, in a downy bed,
With a damask canopy over.
For although, by the vulgar popular saw,
All mothers are said to be "in the straw,"
Some children are born in clover.


XXIII.

Her very first draught of vital air,
It was not the common chameleon fare
Of plebeian lungs and noses, -
No - her earliest sniff
Of this world was a whiff
Of the genuine Otto of Roses!


XXIV.

When she saw the light, it was no mere ray
Of that light so common - so everyday -
That the sun each morning launches -
But six wax tapers dazzled her eyes,
From a thing - a gooseberry bush for size -
With a golden stem and branches.


XXV.

She was born exactly at half-past two,
As witness'd a timepiece in ormolu
That stood on a marble table -
Showing at once the time of day,
And a team of _Gildings_ running away
As fast as they were able,
With a golden God, with a golden Star,
And a golden Spear, in a golden Car,
According to Grecian fable.


XXVI.

Like other babes, at her birth she cried;
Which made a sensation far and wide -
Ay, for twenty miles around her:
For though to the ear 'twas nothing more
Than an infant's squall, it was really the roar
Of a Fifty-thousand Pounder!
It shook the next heir
In his library chair,
And made him cry, "Confound her!"


XXVII.

Of signs and omens there was no dearth,
Any more than at Owen Glendower's birth,
Or the advent of other great people
Two bullocks dropp'd dead,
As if knock'd on the head,
And barrels of stout
And ale ran about,
And the village bells such a peal rang out,
That they crack'd the village steeple.


XXVIII.

In no time at all, like mushroom spawn,
Tables sprang up all over the lawn;
Not furnish'd scantly or shabbily,
But on scale as vast
As that huge repast,
With its loads and cargoes
Of drink and botargoes,
At the Birth of the Babe in Rabelais.


XXIX.

Hundreds of men were turn'd into beasts,
Like the guests at Circe's horrible feasts,
By the magic of ale and cider:
And each country lass, and each country lad
Began to caper and dance like mad,
And ev'n some old ones appear'd to have had
A bite from the Naples Spider.


XXX.

Then as night came on,
It had scared King John
Who considered such signs not risible,
To have seen the maroons,
And the whirling moons,
And the serpents of flame,
And wheels of the same,
That according to some were "whizzable."


XXXI.

Oh, happy Hope of the Kilmanseggs!
Thrice happy in head, and body, and legs,
That her parents had such full pockets!
For had she been born of Want and Thrift,
For care and nursing all adrift,
It's ten to one she had had to make shift
With rickets instead of rockets!


XXXII.

And how was the precious baby drest?
In a robe of the East, with lace of the West,
Like one of Croesus's issue -
Her best bibs were made
Of rich gold brocade,
And the others of silver tissue.


XXXIII.

And when the baby inclined to nap,
She was lull'd on a Gros de Naples lap,
By a nurse in a modish Paris cap,
Of notions so exalted,
She drank nothing lower than Curaçoa
Maraschino, or pink Noyau,
And on principle never malted.


XXXIV.

From a golden boat, with a golden spoon,
The babe was fed night, morning, and noon;
And altho' the tale seems fabulous,
'Tis said her tops and bottoms were gilt,
Like the oats in that Stable-yard Palace built
For the horse of Heliogabalus.


XXXV.

And when she took to squall and kick -
For pain will wring, and pins will prick,
E'en the wealthiest nabob's daughter -
They gave her no vulgar Dalby or gin,
But a liquor with leaf of gold therein,
Videlicet, - Dantzic Water.


XXXVI.

In short she was born, and bred, and nurst,
And drest in the best from the very first,
To please the genteelest censor -
And then, as soon as strength would allow,
Was vaccinated, as babes are now,
With virus ta'en from the best-bred cow
Of Lord Althorpe's - now Earl Spencer.



HER CHRISTENING.


XXXVII.

Though Shakspeare asks us, "What's in a name?"
(As if cognomens were much the same),
There's really a very great scope in it.
A name? - why, wasn't there Doctor Dodd,
That servant at once of Mammon and God,
Who found four thousand pounds and odd,
A prison - a cart - and a rope in it?


XXXVIII.

A name? - if the party had a voice,
What mortal would be a Bugg by choice?
As a Hogg, a Grubb, or a Chubb rejoice?
Or any such nauseous blazon?
Not to mention many a vulgar name,
That would make a door-plate blush for shame,
If door-plates were not so brazen!


XXXIX.

A name? - it has more than nominal worth,
And belongs to good or bad luck at birth -
As dames of a certain degree know.
In spite of his Page's hat and hose,
His Page's jacket, and buttons in rows,
Bob only sounds like a page in prose
Till turn'd into Rupertino.


XL.

Now to christen the infant Kilmansegg,
For days and days it was quite a plague,
To hunt the list in the Lexicon:
And scores were tried, like coin, by the ring,
Ere names were found just the proper thing
For a minor rich as a Mexican.


XLI.

Then cards were sent, the presence to beg
Of all the kin of Kilmansegg,
White, yellow, and brown relations:
Brothers, Wardens of City Halls,
And Uncles - rich as three Golden Balls
From taking pledges of nations.


XLII.

Nephews, whom Fortune seem'd to bewitch,
Rising in life like rockets -
Nieces, whose dowries knew no hitch -
Aunts, as certain of dying rich
As candles in golden sockets -
Cousins German and Cousins' sons,
All thriving and opulent - some had tons
Of Kentish hops in their pockets!


XLIII.

For money had stuck to the race through life
(As it did to the bushel when cash so rife
Posed Ali Baba's brother's wife) -
And down to the Cousins and Coz-lings,
The fortunate brood of the Kilmanseggs,
As if they had come out of golden eggs,
Were all as wealthy as "Goslings."


XLIV.

It would fill a Court Gazette to name
What East and West End people came
To the rite of Christianity:
The lofty Lord, and the titled Dame,
All di'monds, plumes, and urbanity:
His Lordship the May'r with his golden chain,
And two Gold Sticks, and the Sheriffs twain,
Nine foreign Counts, and other great men
With their orders and stars, to help "M. or N."
To renounce all pomp and vanity.


XLV.

To paint the maternal Kilmansegg
The pen of an Eastern Poet would beg,
And need an elaborate sonnet;
How she sparkled with gems whenever she stirr'd,
And her head niddle-noddled at every word,
And seem'd so happy, a Paradise Bird
Had nidificated upon it.


XLVI.

And Sir Jacob the Father strutted and bow'd,
And smiled to himself, and laugh'd aloud,
To think of his heiress and daughter -
And then in his pockets he made a grope,
And then, in the fulness of joy and hope,
Seem'd washing his hands with invisible soap
In imperceptible water.


XLVII.

He had roll'd in money like pigs in mud.
Till it scem'd to have entered into his blood
By some occult projection:
And his cheeks instead of a healthy hue,
As yellow as any guinea grew,
Making the common phrase seem true,
About a rich complexion.


XLVIII.

And now came the nurse, and during a pause,
Her dead-leaf satin would fitly cause
A very autumnal rustle -
So full of figure, so full of fuss,
As she carried about the babe to buss,
She seem'd to be nothing but bustle.


XLIX.

A wealthy Nabob was Godpapa,
And an Indian Begum was Godmamma,
Whose jewels a Queen might covet -
And the Priest was a Vicar, and Dean withal
Of that Temple we see with a Golden Ball,
And a Golden Cross above it.


L.

The Font was a bowl of American gold,
Won by Raleigh in days of old,
In spite of Spanish bravado;
And the Book of Pray'r was so overrun
With gilt devices, it shone in the sun
Like a copy - a presentation one -
Of Humboldt's "El Dorada."


LI.

Gold! and gold! and nothing but gold!
The same auriferous shine behold
Wherever the eye could settle!
On the walls - the sideboard - the ceiling-sky -
On the gorgeous footmen standing by,
In coats to delight a miner's eye
With seams of the precious metal.


LII.

Gold! and gold! and besides the gold,
The very robe of the infant told
A tale of wealth in every fold,
It lapp'd her like a vapor!
So fine! so thin! the mind at a loss
Could compare it to nothing except a cross
Of cobweb with bank-note paper.


LIII.

Then her pearls - 'twas a perfect sight, forsooth,
To see them, like "the dew of her youth,"
In such a plentiful sprinkle.
Meanwhile, the Vicar read through the form,
And gave her another, not overwarm,
That made her little eyes twinkle.


LIV.

Then the babe was cross'd and bless'd amain!
But instead of the Kate, or Ann, or Jane,
Which the humbler female endorses -
Instead of one name, as some people prefix,
Kilmansegg went at the tails of six,
Like a carriage of state with its horses.


LV.

Oh, then the kisses she got and hugs!
The golden mugs and the golden jugs
That lent fresh rays to the midges!



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