Playful Poems
by Henry Morley
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Then unto London I did me hie, Of all the land it beareth the prize. "Hot peascods!" one began to cry, "Strawberry ripe!" and "Cherries in the rise!" {82c} One bade me come near and buy some spice, Pepper and saffron they gan me bede, But for lack of Money I might not speed.

Then to the Cheap I began me drawn, Where much people I saw for to stand; One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn, Another he taketh me by the hand, "Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land!" I never was used to such things indeed, And wanting Money I might not speed.

Then went I forth by London Stone, Throughout all Can'wick Street. {83} Drapers much cloth me offered anon; Then comes me one cried, "Hot sheep's feet!" One cried, "Mackerel!" "Rushes green!" another gan greet; One bade me buy a hood to cover my head, But for want of Money I might not be sped,

Then I hied me into East Cheap; One cries "Ribs of beef," and many a pie; Pewter pots they clattered on a heap, There was harp, pipe, and minstrelsie. "Yea, by cock!" "Nay, by cock!" some began cry; Some sung of Jenkin and Julian for their meed, But for lack of Money I might not speed.

Then into Cornhill anon I yode, Where was much stolen gear among; I saw where hung mine owne hood That I had lost among the throng: To buy my own hood I thought it wrong; I knew it well as I did my Creed, But for lack of Money I could not speed.

The taverner took me by the sleeve, "Sir," saith he, "will you our wine assay?" I answered, "That cannot much me grieve, A penny can do no more than it may." I drank a pint, and for it I did pay. Yet soon ahungered from thence I yede, And wanting Money I could not speed.

Then hied I me to Billingsgate, And one cried, "Hoo! Go we hence!" I prayed a barge man, for God's sake, That he would spare me my expence. "Thou scrap'st not here," quoth he, "under two pence; I list not yet bestow any alms deed." Thus lacking Money I could not speed.

Then I conveyed me into Kent; For of the law would I meddle no more, Because no man to me took intent, I dight me to do as I did before. Now Jesus, that in Bethlehem was bore, Save London, and send true lawyers their meed! For whoso wants Money with them shall not speed.


First there shall stand an image in Poet-wise, saying these verses:-

O prudent folkes, taketh heed, And remembreth in your lives How this story doth proceed Of the husbands and their wives, Of their accord and their strives, With life or death which to darrain {85a} Is granted to these beastes twain.

Then shall be pourtrayed two beasts, one fat; another lean.

For this Bicorn of his nature Will none other manner food, But patient husbands his pasture, And Chichevache eat'th the women good; And both these beastes, by the Rood, Be fat or lean, it may not fail, Like lack or plenty of their vitail.

Of Chichevache and of Bicorn, {85b} Treateth wholly this matere, Whose story hath taught us beforn How these beastes both infere {85c} Have their pasture, as you shall hear, Of men and women in sentence Through suffrance or through impatience.

Then shall be pourtrayed a fat beast called Bicorn, of the country of Bicornis, and say these three verses following:-

"Of Bicornis I am Bicorn, Full fat and round here as I stand, And in marriage bound and sworn To Chichevache as her husband, Which will not eat on sea nor land But patient wives debonair, Which to their husbands be n't contraire

"Full scarce, God wot, is her vitail, Humble wives she finds so few, For always at the contre tail Their tongue clappeth and doth hew. Such meeke wives I beshrew, That neither can at bed ne board Their husbands not forbear one word.

"But my food and my cherishing, To tell plainly and not to vary, Is of such folks which, their living, Dare to their wives be not contrary, Ne from their lustes dare not vary, Nor with them hold no champarty, {86a} All such my stomach will defy." {86b}

Then shall be pourtrayed a company of men coming towards this beast Bicornis, and say these four ballads:-

"Fellows, take heed and ye may see How Bicorn casteth him to devour All humble men, both you and me, There is no gain may us succour; Wo be therefore in hall and bower To all those husbands which, their lives, Make mistresses of their wives.

"Who that so doth, this is the law, That this Bicorn will him oppress And devouren in his maw That of his wife makes his mistress; This will us bring in great distress, For we, for our humility, Of Bicorn shall devoured be.

"We standen plainly in such case, For they to us mistresses be; We may well sing and say, 'Alas, That we gave them the sovereigntie! For we ben thrall and they be free. Wherefore Bicorn, this cruel beast, Will us devouren at the least.

"But who that can be sovereign, And his wife teach and chastise, That she dare not a word gainsain Nor disobey in no manner wise, Of such a man I can devise He stands under protection From Bicornis jurisdiction."

Then shall there be a woman devoured in the mouth of Chichevache, crying to all wives, and say this verse:-

"O noble wives, be well ware, Take example now by me; Or else affirme well I dare Ye shall be dead, ye shall not flee; Be crabbed, void humilitie, Or Chichevache ne will not fail You for to swallow in his entrail."

Then shall there be pourtrayed a long-horned beast, slender and lean, with sharp teeth, and on her body nothing but skin and bone.

"Chichevache, this is my name, Hungry, meagre, slender, and lean, To show my body I have great shame, For hunger I feel so great teen; {88c} On me no fatness will be seen, Because that pasture I find none, Therefore I am but skin and bone.

"For my feeding in existence Is of women that be meek, And like Grisield in patience Or more their bounty for to eke; But I full long may go and seek Ere I can find a good repast, A morrow to break with my fast.

"I trow there be a dear year Of patient women now-a-days. Who grieveth them with word or cheer Let him beware of such assays; For it is more than thirty Mays That I have sought from lond to lond, But yet one Grisield ne'er I fond.

"I found but one in all my live, And she was dead ago full yore; For more pasture I will not strive Nor seeke for my food no more. Ne for vitail me to restore; Women ben woxen so prudent {88a} They will no more be patient."

Then shall be pourtrayed, after Chichevache, an old man with a baton on his back, menacing the beast for devouring of his wife.

"My wife, alas, devoured is, Most patient and most pesible! She never said to me amiss, Whom now hath slain this beast horrible! And for it is an impossible To find again e'er such a wife I will live sole all my life.

"For now of newe, for their prow, {88b} The wives of full high prudence Have of assent made their avow T' exile for ever patience, And cried wolfs-head obedience, To make Chichevache fail Of them to finde more vitail.

Now Chichevache may fast long And die for all her cruelty, Women have made themselves so strong For to outrage humility. O silly husbands, wo ben ye! Such as can have no patience Against your wives violence.

If that ye suffer, ye be but dead, Bicorn awaiteth you so sore; Eke of your wives go stand in dread, If ye gainsay them any more! And thus ye stand, and have done yore, Of life and death betwixt coveyne {89} Linked in a double chain.


Full oft I muse, and hes in thocht How this fals Warld is ay on flocht, Quhair no thing ferme is nor degest; {91a} {91d} And when I haif my mynd all socht, For to be blyth me think it best.

This warld ever dois flicht and wary, {91b} Fortoun sa fast hir quheill dois cary, Na tyme but turning can tak rest; {91e} For quhois fats change suld none be sary, For to be blyth me think it best.

Wald men considdir in mynd richt weill, Or Fortoun on him turn hir quheill, That erdly honour may nocht lest, His fall less panefull he suld feill; For to be blyth me think it best.

Quha with this warld dois warsill and stryfe, {91c} And dois his dayis in dolour dryfe, Thocht he in lordschip be possest, He levis bot ane wrechit lyfe: For to be blyth me think it best.

Off warldis gud and grit richess, Quhat fruct hes man but merriness? Thocht he this warld had eist and west, All wer povertie but glaidness: For to be blyth me think it best.

Quho suld for tynsall drowp or de, {92a} For thyng that is bot vanitie; Sen to the lyfe that evir dois lest, Heir is bot twynkling of an ee: For to be blyth me think it best.

Had I for warldis unkyndness In hairt tane ony heviness, Or fro my plesans bene opprest; I had bene deid lang syne dowtless: For to be blyth me think it best.

How evir this warld do change and vary, Lat us in hairt nevir moir be sary, But evir be reddy and addrest To pass out of this frawfull fary: {92b} For to be blyth me think it best.


Far in the country of Arden There woned a knight, hight Cassamen, {93d} As bold as Isenbras: Fell was he and eager bent In battle and in tournament As was good Sir Topas.

He had, as antique stories tell, A daughter cleped Dowsabell, A maiden fair and free. And for she was her fathers heir, Full well she was yconned the leir {93a} {93b} Of mickle courtesie.

The silk well couth she twist and twine, And make the fine marche pine, {93c} And with the needle work; And she couth help the priest to say His matins on a holiday, And sing a psalm in kirk.

She ware a frock of frolic green Might well become a maiden queen, Which seemly was to see; A hood to that so neat and fine, In colour like the columbine, Inwrought full featously.

Her features all as fresh above As is the grass that grows by Dove, And lithe as lass of Kent. Her skin as soft as Lemster wool, {94a} And white as snow on Peakish hull, {94b} Or swan that swims in Trent.

This maiden, in a morn betime, Went forth, when May was in the prime, To get sweet setiwall, {94c} The honeysuckle, the harlock, {94d} The lily and the lady-smock, {94k} To deck her summer-hall. {94e}

Thus, as she wandered here and there, And picked of the bloomy brere, She chanced to espy A shepherd sitting on a bank, Like chanticleer he crowed crank, {94f} And piped full merrily.

He learned his sheep as he him list, {94g} When he would whistle in his fist, To feed about him round, Whilst he full many a carol sang, Until the fields and meadows rang, And that the woods did sound.

In favour this same shepherd swain Was like the bedlam Tamburlaine Which held proud kings in awe. But meek as any lamb mought be, And innocent of ill as he Whom his lewd brother slaw.

This shepherd ware a sheep-gray cloke, Which was of the finest loke That could be cut with shear; His mittens were of bauzon's skin, {94h} His cockers were of cordiwin, {94i} {94j} His hood of minivere.

His awl and lingell in a thong; {95a} His tarbox on his broadbelt hung, His breech of Cointree blue. Full crisp and curled were his locks, His brows as white as Albion rocks, So like a lover true.

And piping still he spent the day So merry as the popinjay, Which liked Dowsabell, That would she ought, or would she nought, This lad would never from her thought, She in love-longing fell.

At length she tucked up her frock, White as the lily was her smock; She drew the shepherd nigh; But then the shepherd piped a good, That all the sheep forsook their food, To hear his melodie.

"Thy sheep," quoth she, "cannot be lean That have a jolly shepherd swain The which can pipe so well." "Yea, but," saith he, "their shepherd may, If piping thus he pine away In love of Dowsabell."

"Of love, fond boy, take then no keep," {95b} Quoth she; "Look well unto thy sheep, Lest they should hap to stray." Quoth he, "So had I done full well, Had I not seen fair Dowsabell Come forth to gather may."

With that she 'gan to vail her head, Her cheeks were like the roses red, But not a word she said. With that the shepherd 'gan to frown, He threw his pretty pipes adown, And on the ground him laid.

Saith she, "I may not stay till night And leave my summer-hall undight, And all for love of thee." "My cote," saith he, "nor yet my fold Shall neither sheep nor shepherd hold, Except thou favour me."

Saith she, "Yet liever were I dead Than I should [yield me to be wed], And all for love of men." Saith he, "Yet are you too unkind If in your heart you cannot find To love us now and then.

"And I to thee will be as kind As Colin was to Rosalind Of courtesy the flower." "Then will I be as true," quoth she, "As ever maiden yet might be Unto her paramour."

With that she bent her snow-white knee Down by the shepherd kneeled she, And him she sweetly kist. With that the shepherd whooped for joy. Quoth he, "There's never shepherd's boy That ever was so blist."


Old Chaucer doth of Topas tell, Mad Rabelais of Pantagruel, A later third of Dowsabel With such poor trifles playing; Others the like have laboured at, Some of this thing and some of that, And many of they knew not what, But what they may be saying.

Another sort there be, that will Be talking of the Fairies still, For never can they have their fill, As they were wedded to them; No tales of them their thirst can slake, So much delight therein they take, And some strange thing they fain would make, Knew they the way to do them.

Then since no Muse hath been so bold, Or of the later, or the old, Those elvish secrets to unfold, Which lie from others' reading; My active Muse to light shall bring The court of that proud Fairy King, And tell there of the revelling. Jove prosper my proceeding!

And thou, Nymphidia, gentle Fay, Which, meeting me upon the way, These secrets didst to me bewray, Which now I am in telling; My pretty, light, fantastic maid, I here invoke thee to my aid, That I may speak what thou hast said, In numbers smoothly swelling.

This palace standeth in the air, By necromancy placed there, That it no tempest needs to fear, Which way soe'er it blow it. And somewhat southward tow'rds the noon, Whence lies a way up to the moon, And thence the Fairy can as soon Pass to the earth below it.

The walls of spiders' legs are made Well mortised and finely laid; It was the master of his trade It curiously that builded; The windows of the eyes of cats, And for the roof, instead of slats, Is covered with the skins of bats, With moonshine that are gilded.

Hence Oberon him sport to make, Their rest when weary mortals take, And none but only fairies wake, Descendeth for his pleasure; And Mab, his merry Queen, by night Bestrides young folks that lie upright, (In elder times the mare that hight), Which plagues them out of measure.

Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes, Of little frisking elves and apes To earth do make their wanton scapes, As hope of pastime hastes them; Which maids think on the hearth they see When fires well-nigh consumed be, There dancing hays by two and three, {98} Just as their fancy casts them.

These make our girls their sluttery rue, By pinching them both black and blue, And put a penny in their shoe The house for cleanly sweeping; And in their courses make that round In meadows and in marshes found, Of them so called the Fairy Ground, Of which they have the keeping.

These when a child haps to be got Which after proves an idiot When folk perceive it thriveth not, The fault therein to smother, Some silly, doting, brainless calf That understands things by the half, Say that the Fairy left this oaf And took away the other.

But listen, and I shall you tell A chance in Faery that befell, Which certainly may please some well, In love and arms delighting, Of Oberon that jealous grew Of one of his own Fairy crew, Too well, he feared, his Queen that knew, His love but ill requiting.

Pigwiggin was this Fairy Knight, One wondrous gracious in the sight Of fair Queen Mab, which day and night He amorously observed; Which made King Oberon suspect His service took too good effect, His sauciness had often checkt, And could have wished him sterved.

Pigwiggin gladly would commend Some token to Queen Mab to send, If sea or land him aught could lend Were worthy of her wearing; At length this lover doth devise A bracelet made of emmets' eyes, A thing he thought that she would prize, No whit her state impairing.

And to the Queen a letter writes, Which he most curiously indites, Conjuring her by all the rites Of love, she would be pleased To meet him, her true servant, where They might, without suspect or fear, Themselves to one another clear And have their poor hearts eased.

At midnight, the appointed hour; "And for the Queen a fitting bower," Quoth he, "is that fair cowslip flower On Hient Hill that bloweth; {100} In all your train there's not a fay That ever went to gather may But she hath made it, in her way, The tallest there that groweth."

When by Tom Thumb, a Fairy Page, He sent it, and doth him engage By promise of a mighty wage It secretly to carry; Which done, the Queen her maids doth call, And bids them to be ready all: She would go see her summer hall, She could no longer tarry.

Her chariot ready straight is made, Each thing therein is fitting laid, That she by nothing might be stayed, For nought must be her letting; Four nimble gnats the horses were, Their harnesses of gossamere, Fly Cranion the charioteer Upon the coach-box getting.

Her chariot of a snail's fine shell, Which for the colours did excel, The fair Queen Mab becoming well, So lively was the limning; The seat the soft wool of the bee, The cover, gallantly to see, The wing of a pied butterfly; I trow 'twas simple trimming.

The wheels composed of cricket's bones, And daintily made for the nonce, For fear of rattling on the stones With thistle-down they shod it; For all her maidens much did fear If Oberon had chanced to hear That Mab his Queen should have been there, He would not have abode it.

She mounts her chariot with a trice, Nor would she stay, for no advice, Until her maids that were so nice To wait on her were fitted; But ran herself away alone, Which when they heard, there was not one But hasted after to be gone, As he had been diswitted.

Hop and Mop and Drop so clear, Pip and Trip and Skip that were To Mab, their sovereign, ever dear, Her special maids of honour; Fib and Tib and Pink and Pin, Tick and Quick and Jill and Jin, Tit and Nit and Wap and Win, The train that wait upon her.

Upon a grasshopper they got And, what with amble, what with trot, For hedge and ditch they spared not, But after her they hie them; A cobweb over them they throw, To shield the wind if it should blow, Themselves they wisely could bestow Lest any should espy them.

But let us leave Queen Mab awhile, Through many a gate, o'er many a stile, That now had gotten by this wile, Her dear Pigwiggin kissing; And tell how Oberon doth fare, Who grew as mad as any hare When he had sought each place with care, And found his Queen was missing.

By grisly Pluto he doth swear, He rent his clothes and tore his hair, And as he runneth here and there An acorn cup he greeteth, Which soon he taketh by the stalk, About his head he lets it walk, Nor doth he any creature balk, But lays on all he meeteth.

The Tuscan Poet doth advance, The frantic Paladin of France, And those more ancient do enhance Alcides in his fury, And others Aiax Telamon, But to this time there hath been none So Bedlam as our Oberon, Of which I dare assure ye.

And first encountering with a Wasp, He in his arms the fly doth clasp As though his breath he forth would grasp, Him for Pigwiggin taking: "Where is my wife, thou rogue?" quoth be; "Pigwiggin, she is come to thee; Restore her, or thou diest by me!" Whereat the poor Wasp quaking

Cries, "Oberon, great Fairy King, Content thee, I am no such thing: I am a Wasp, behold my sting!" At which the Fairy started; When soon away the Wasp doth go, Poor wretch, was never frighted so; He thought his wings were much too slow, O'erjoyed they so were parted.

He next upon a Glow-worm light, You must suppose it now was night, Which, for her hinder part was bright, He took to be a devil, And furiously doth her assail For carrying fire in her tail; He thrashed her rough coat with his flail; The mad King feared no evil.

"Oh!" quoth the Glow-worm, "hold thy hand, Thou puissant King of Fairy-land! Thy mighty strokes who may withstand? Hold, or of life despair I!" Together then herself doth roll, And tumbling down into a hole She seemed as black as any coal; Which vext away the Fairy.

From thence he ran into a hive: Amongst the bees he letteth drive, And down their combs begins to rive, All likely to have spoiled, Which with their wax his face besmeared, And with their honey daubed his beard: It would have made a man afeared To see how he was moiled.

A new adventure him betides; He met an Ant, which he bestrides, And post thereon away he rides, Which with his haste doth stumble; And came full over on her snout, Her heels so threw the dirt about, For she by no means could get out, But over him doth tumble.

And being in this piteous case, And all be-slurred head and face, On runs he in this wild-goose chase, As here and there he rambles; Half blind, against a mole-hill hit, And for a mountain taking it, For all he was out of his wit Yet to the top he scrambles.

And being gotten to the top, Yet there himself he could not stop, But down on th' other side doth chop, And to the foot came rumbling; So that the grubs, therein that bred, Hearing such turmoil over head, Thought surely they had all been dead; So fearful was the jumbling.

And falling down into a lake, Which him up to the neck doth take, His fury somewhat it doth slake; He calleth for a ferry; Where you may some recovery note; What was his club he made his boat, And in his oaken cup doth float, As safe as in a wherry.

Men talk of the adventures strange Of Don Quixoit, and of their change Through which he armed oft did range, Of Sancho Pancha's travel; But should a man tell every thing Done by this frantic Fairy King, And them in lofty numbers sing, It well his wits might gravel.

Scarce set on shore, but therewithal He meeteth Puck, which most men call Hobgoblin, and on him doth fall, With words from frenzy spoken: "Oh, oh," quoth Hob, "God save thy grace! Who drest thee in this piteous case? He thus that spoiled my sovereign's face, I would his neck were broken!"

This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt, Still walking like a ragged colt, And oft out of a bush doth bolt, Of purpose to deceive us; And leading us makes us to stray, Long winter's nights, out of the way; And when we stick in mire and clay, Hob doth with laughter leave us.

"Dear Puck," quoth he, "my wife is gone: As e'er thou lov'st King Oberon, Let everything but this alone, With vengeance and pursue her; Bring her to me alive or dead, Or that vile thief, Pigwiggin's head, That villain hath [my Queen misled]; He to this folly drew her."

Quoth Puck, "My liege, I'll never lin, But I will thorough thick and thin, Until at length I bring her in; My dearest lord, ne'er doubt it." Thorough brake, thorough briar, Thorough muck, thorough mire, Thorough water, thorough fire; And thus goes Puck about it.

This thing Nymphidia overheard, That on this mad king had a guard, Not doubting of a great reward, For first this business broaching; And through the air away doth go, Swift as an arrow from the bow, To let her sovereign Mab to know What peril was approaching.

The Queen, bound with Love's powerful charm, Sate with Pigwiggin arm in arm; Her merry maids, that thought no harm, About the room were skipping; A humble-bee, their minstrel, played Upon his hautboy, every maid Fit for this revel was arrayed, The hornpipe neatly tripping.

In comes Nymphidia, and doth cry, "My sovereign, for your safety fly, For there is danger but too nigh; I posted to forewarn you: The King hath sent Hobgoblin out, To seek you all the fields about, And of your safety you may doubt, If he but once discern you."

When, like an uproar in a town, Before them everything went down; Some tore a ruff, and some a gown, 'Gainst one another justling; They flew about like chaff i' th' wind; For haste some left their masks behind; Some could not stay their gloves to find; There never was such bustling.

Forth ran they, by a secret way, Into a brake that near them lay; Yet much they doubted there to stay, Lest Hob should hap to find them; He had a sharp and piercing sight, All one to him the day and night; And therefore were resolved, by flight, To leave this place behind them.

At length one chanced to find a nut, In th' end of which a hole was cut, Which lay upon a hazel root, There scattered by a squirrel Which out the kernel gotten had; When quoth this Fay, "Dear Queen, be glad; Let Oberon be ne'er so mad, I'll set you safe from peril.

"Come all into this nut," quoth she, "Come closely in; be ruled by me; Each one may here a chooser be, For room ye need not wrastle: Nor need ye be together heaped;" So one by one therein they crept, And lying down they soundly slept, And safe as in a castle.

Nymphidia, that this while doth watch, Perceived if Puck the Queen should catch That he should be her over-match, Of which she well bethought her; Found it must be some powerful charm, The Queen against him that must arm, Or surely he would do her harm, For throughly he had sought her.

And listening if she aught could hear, That her might hinder, or might fear; But finding still the coast was clear; Nor creature had descried her; Each circumstance and having scanned, She came thereby to understand, Puck would be with them out of hand; When to her charms she hied her.

And first her fern-seed doth bestow, The kernel of the mistletoe; And here and there as Puck should go, With terror to affright him, She night-shade strews to work him ill, Therewith her vervain and her dill, That hindreth witches of their will, Of purpose to despite him.

Then sprinkles she the juice of rue, That groweth underneath the yew; With nine drops of the midnight dew, From lunary distilling: The molewarp's brain mixed therewithal; {108a} And with the same the pismire's gall: For she in nothing short would fall, The Fairy was so willing.

Then thrice under a briar doth creep, Which at both ends was rooted deep, And over it three times she leap; Her magic much availing: Then on Proserpina doth call, And so upon her spell doth fall, Which here to you repeat I shall, Not in one tittle failing.

"By the croaking of a frog; By the howling of the dog; By the crying of the hog Against the storm arising; By the evening curfew bell, By the doleful dying knell, O let this my direful spell, Hob, hinder thy surprising!

"By the mandrake's dreadful groans; {108b} By the lubrican's sad moans; {108c} By the noise of dead men's bones In charnel-houses rattling; By the hissing of the snake, The rustling of the fire-drake, {108d} I charge thee thou this place forsake, Nor of Queen Mab be prattling!

"By the whirlwind's hollow sound, By the thunder's dreadful stound, Yells of spirits underground, I charge thee not to fear us; By the screech-owl's dismal note, By the black night-raven's throat, I charge thee, Hob, to tear thy coat With thorns, if thou come near us!"

Her spell thus spoke, she stept aside, And in a chink herself doth hide, To see thereof what would betide, For she doth only mind him: When presently she Puck espies, And well she marked his gloating eyes, How under every leaf he pries, In seeking still to find them.

But once the circle got within, The charms to work do straight begin, And he was caught as in a gin; For as he thus was busy, A pain he in his head-piece feels, Against a stubbed tree he reels, And up went poor Hobgoblin's heels, Alas! his brain was dizzy!

At length upon his feet he gets, Hobgoblin fumes, Hobgoblin frets; And as again he forward sets, And through the bushes scrambles, A stump doth trip him in his pace; Down comes poor Hob upon his face, And lamentably tore his case, Amongst the briars and brambles.

"A plague upon Queen Mab!" quoth he, "And all her maids where'er they be I think the devil guided me, To seek her so provoked!" Where stumbling at a piece of wood, He fell into a ditch of mud, Where to the very chin he stood, In danger to be choked.

Now worse than e'er he was before, Poor Puck doth yell, poor Puck doth roar, That waked Queen Mab, who doubted sore Some treason had been wrought her: Until Nymphidia told the Queen What she had done, what she had seen, Who then had well-near cracked her spleen With very extreme laughter.

But leave we Hob to clamber out, Queen Mab and all her Fairy rout, And come again to have a bout With Oberon yet madding: And with Pigwiggin now distraught, Who much was troubled in his thought, That he so long the Queen had sought, And through the fields was gadding.

And as he runs he still doth cry, "King Oberon, I thee defy, And dare thee here in arms to try, For my dear lady's honour: For that she is a Queen right good, In whose defence I'll shed my blood, And that thou in this jealous mood Hast laid this slander on her."

And quickly arms him for the field, A little cockle-shell his shield, Which he could very bravely wield; Yet could it not be pierced: His spear a bent both stiff and strong, And well-near of two inches long: The pile was of a horse-fly's tongue, Whose sharpness nought reversed.

And puts him on a coat of mail, Which was made of a fish's scale, That when his foe should him assail, No point should be prevailing: His rapier was a hornet's sting, It was a very dangerous thing, For if he chanced to hurt the King, It would be long in healing.

His helmet was a beetle's head, Most horrible and full of dread, That able was to strike one dead, Yet did it well become him; And for a plume a horse's hair, Which, being tossed with the air, Had force to strike his foe with fear, And turn his weapon from him.

Himself he on an earwig set, Yet scarce he on his back could get, So oft and high he did curvet, Ere he himself could settle: He made him turn, and stop, and bound, To gallop, and to trot the round, He scarce could stand on any ground, He was so full of mettle.

When soon he met with Tomalin, One that a valiant knight had been, And to King Oberon of kin; Quoth he, "Thou manly Fairy, Tell Oberon I come prepared, Then bid him stand upon his guard; This hand his baseness shall reward, Let him be ne'er so wary.

"Say to him thus, that I defy His slanders and his infamy, And as a mortal enemy Do publicly proclaim him: Withal that if I had mine own, He should not wear the Fairy crown, But with a vengeance should come down, Nor we a king should name him."

This Tomalin could not abide, To hear his sovereign vilified; But to the Fairy Court him hied, (Full furiously he posted,) With everything Pigwiggin said: How title to the crown he laid, And in what arms he was arrayed, As how himself he boasted.

Twixt head and foot, from point to point, He told the arming of each joint, In every piece how neat and quoint, For Tomalin could do it: How fair he sat, how sure he rid, As of the courser he bestrid, How managed, and how well he did: The King which listened to it,

Quoth he, "Go, Tomalin, with speed, Provide me arms, provide my steed, And everything that I shall need; By thee I will be guided: To straight account call thou thy wit; See there be wanting not a whit, In everything see thou me fit, Just as my foe's provided."

Soon flew this news through Fairy-land, Which gave Queen Mab to understand The combat that was then in hand Betwixt those men so mighty: Which greatly she began to rue, Perceiving that all Fairy knew The first occasion from her grew Of these affairs so weighty.

Wherefore attended with her maids, Through fogs, and mists, and damps she wades, To Proserpine the Queen of Shades, To treat, that it would please her The cause into her hands to take, For ancient love and friendship's sake, And soon thereof an end to make, Which of much care would ease her.

A while there let we Mab alone, And come we to King Oberon, Who, armed to meet his foe, is gone, For proud Pigwiggin crying: Who sought the Fairy King as fast, And had so well his journeys cast, That he arrived at the last, His puissant foe espying.

Stout Tomalin came with the King, Tom Thumb doth on Pigwiggin bring, That perfect were in everything To single fights belonging: And therefore they themselves engage, To see them exercise their rage, With fair and comely equipage, Not one the other wronging.

So like in arms these champions were, As they had been a very pair, So that a man would almost swear, That either had been either; Their furious steeds began to neigh, That they were heard a mighty way; Their staves upon their rests they lay; Yet ere they flew together

Their seconds minister an oath, Which was indifferent to them both, That on their knightly faith and troth No magic them supplied; And sought them that they had no charms, Wherewith to work each other harms, But came with simple open arms To have their causes tried.

Together furiously they ran, That to the ground came horse and man; The blood out of their helmets span, So sharp were their encounters; And though they to the earth were thrown, Yet quickly they regained their own, Such nimbleness was never shown, They were two gallant mounters.

When in a second course again They forward came with might and main, Yet which had better of the twain, The seconds could not judge yet; Their shields were into pieces cleft, Their helmets from their heads were reft, And to defend them nothing left, These champions would not budge yet.

Away from them their staves they threw, Their cruel swords they quickly drew, And freshly they the fight renew, They every stroke redoubled: Which made Proserpina take heed, And make to them the greater speed, For fear lest they too much should bleed, Which wondrously her troubled.

When to th' infernal Styx she goes, She takes the fogs from thence that rose, And in a bag doth them enclose: When well she had them blended, She hies her then to Lethe spring, {114} A bottle and thereof doth bring, Wherewith she meant to work the thing Which only she intended.

Now Proserpine with Mab is gone, Unto the place where Oberon And proud Pigwiggin, one to one, Both to be slain were likely: And there themselves they closely hide, Because they would not be espied; For Proserpine meant to decide The matter very quickly.

And suddenly unties the poke, Which out of it sent such a smoke, As ready was them all to choke, So grievous was the pother; So that the knights each other lost, And stood as still as any post; Tom Thumb nor Tomalin could boast Themselves of any other.

But when the mist 'gan somewhat cease, Proserpina commandeth peace; And that a while they should release Each other of their peril: "Which here," quoth she, "I do proclaim To all in dreadful Pluto's name, That as ye will eschew his blame, You let me bear the quarrel:

"But here yourselves you must engage, Somewhat to cool your spleenish rage; Your grievous thirst and to assuage That first you drink this liquor, Which shall your understanding clear, As plainly shall to you appear; Those things from me that you shall hear, Conceiving much the quicker."

This Lethe water, you must know, The memory destroyeth so, That of our weal, or of our woe, Is all remembrance blotted; Of it nor can you ever think, For they no sooner took this drink, But nought into their brains could sink Of what had them besotted.

King Oberon forgotten had, That he for jealousy ran mad, But of his Queen was wondrous glad, And asked how they came thither: Pigwiggin likewise doth forget That he Queen Mab had ever met; Or that they were so hard beset, When they were found together.

Nor neither of them both had thought, That e'er they each had other sought, Much less that they a combat fought, But such a dream were lothing. Tom Thumb had got a little sup, And Tomalin scarce kissed the cup, Yet had their brains so sure locked up, That they remembered nothing.

Queen Mab and her light maids, the while, Amongst themselves do closely smile, To see the King caught with this wile, With one another jesting: And to the Fairy Court they went, With mickle joy and merriment, Which thing was done with good intent, And thus I left them feasting.


Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos; Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis. —MART., Epigr. xii. 84.


What dire offence from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I sing—This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due: This, even Belinda may vouchsafe to view: Slight is the subject, but not so the praise, If she inspire, and he approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel A well-bred lord to assault a gentle belle? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplored, Could make a gentle belle reject a lord? In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?

Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, And oped those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knocked the ground, And the pressed watch returned a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow pressed, Her guardian Sylph prolonged the balmy rest; 'Twas he had summoned to her silent bed The morning-dream that hovered o'er her head; A youth more glittering than a birth-night beau, (That even in slumber caused her cheek to glow) Seemed to her ear his winning lips to lay, And thus in whispers said, or seemed to say:

"Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air! If e'er one vision touched thy infant thought, Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by angel-powers, With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly flowers; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below. Some secret truths, from learned pride concealed, To maids alone and children are revealed: What though no credit doubting wits may give? The fair and innocent shall still believe. Know, then, unnumbered spirits round thee fly, The light militia of the lower sky: These, though unseen, are ever on the wing, Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring. Think what an equipage thou hast in air, And view with scorn two pages and a chair. As now your own, our beings were of old, And once enclosed in woman's beauteous mould; Thence, by a soft transition, we repair From earthly vehicles to these of air. Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled, That all her vanities at once are dead; Succeeding vanities she still regards, And though she plays no more, o'erlooks the cards. Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, And love of ombre, after death survive. For when the fair in all their pride expire, To their first elements their souls retire: The sprites of fiery termagants in flame Mount up, and take a Salamander's name. Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea. The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome, In search of mischief still on earth to roam, The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair, And sport and flutter in the fields of air.

"Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embraced: For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Assume what sexes and what shapes they please. What guards the purity of melting maids, In courtly balls and midnight masquerades, Safe from the treacherous friend, the daring spark, The glance by day, the whisper in the dark, When kind occasion prompts their warm desires, When music softens, and when dancing fires? 'Tis but their sylph, the wise celestials know, Though honour is the word with men below.

"Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face, For life predestined to the gnomes' embrace. These swell their prospects and exalt their pride, When offers are disdained, and love denied: Then gay ideas crowd the vacant brain, While peers, and dukes, and all their sweeping train, And garters, stars, and coronets appear, And in soft sounds, Your Grace salutes their ear. 'Tis these that early taint the female soul, Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll, Teach infant cheeks a hidden blush to know, And little hearts to flutter at a beau.

"Oft, when the world imagine women stray, The sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way, Through all the giddy circle they pursue, And old impertinence expel by new. What tender maid but must a victim fall To one man's treat, but for another's ball? When Florio speaks what virgin could withstand, If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand? With varying vanities, from every part, They shift the moving toyshop of their heart; Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword-knots strive, Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive. This erring mortal's levity may call; Oh, blind to truth! the sylphs contrive it all.

"Of these am I, who thy protection claim, A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name. Late, as I ranged the crystal wilds of air, In the clear mirror of thy ruling star I saw, alas! some dread event impend, Ere to the main this morning sun descend, But heaven reveals not what, or how, or where: Warned by the sylph, oh pious maid, beware! This to disclose is all thy guardian can: Beware of all, but most beware of man!"

He said; when Shock, who thought she slept too long, Leaped up, and waked his mistress with his tongue. 'Twas then, Belinda, if report say true, Thy eyes first opened on a billet-doux; Wounds, charms, and ardours were no sooner read, But all the vision vanished from thy head.

And now, unveiled, the toilet stands displayed, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores, With head uncovered, the cosmetic powers. A heavenly image in the glass appears, To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears; The inferior priestess, at her altar's side, Trembling begins the sacred rites of pride. Unnumbered treasures ope at once, and here The various offerings of the world appear; From each she nicely culls with curious toil, And decks the goddess with the glittering spoil. This casket India's glowing gems unlocks, And all Arabia breathes from yonder box. The tortoise here and elephant unite, Transformed to combs, the speckled, and the white. Here files of pins extend their shining rows, Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux. Now awful beauty puts on all its arms; The fair each moment rises in her charms, Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace, And calls forth all the wonders of her face; Sees by degrees a purer blush arise, And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes. The busy sylphs surround their darling care, These set the head, and those divide the hair, Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown; And Betty's praised for labours not her own.


Not with more glories, in the ethereal plain, The sun first rises o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launched on the bosom of the silver Thames. Fair nymphs, and well-dressed youths around her shone, But every eye was fixed on her alone. On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore, Which Jews might kiss, and Infidels adore. Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose, Quick as her eyes, and as unfixed as those: Favours to none, to all she smiles extends; Oft she rejects, but never once offends. Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike, And, like the sun, they shine on all alike, Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride, Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide: If to her share some female errors fall, Look on her face, and you'll forget 'em all.

This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourished two locks, which graceful hung behind In equal curls, and well conspired to deck With shining ringlets the smooth ivory neck. Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in slender chains. With hairy springes we the birds betray, Slight lines of hair surprise the finny prey, Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare, And beauty draws us with a single hair.

Th' adventurous Baron the bright locks admired; He saw, he wished, and to the prize aspired. Resolved to win, he meditates the way, By force to ravish, or by fraud betray; For when success a lover's toil attends, Few ask, if fraud or force attained his ends.

For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implored Propitious heaven, and every power adored, But chiefly Love—to Love an altar built, Of twelve vast French romances, neatly gilt. There lay three garters, half a pair of gloves; And all the trophies of his former loves; With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre, And breathes three amorous sighs to raise the fire, Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize: The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer, The rest, the winds dispersed in empty air.

But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sunbeams trembling on the floating tides: While melting music steals upon the sky, And softened sounds along the waters die; Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gently play, Belinda smiled, and all the world was gay. All but the Sylph—with careful thoughts oppressed, Th' impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He summons straight his denizens of air; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair: Soft o'er the shrouds aerial whispers breathe, That seemed but zephyrs to the train beneath. Some to the sun their insect wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold; Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight, Their fluid bodies half dissolved in light, Loose to the wind their airy garments flew, Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew, Dipped in the richest tincture of the skies, Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes, While every beam new transient colours flings, Colours that change whene'er they wave their wings. Amid the circle, on the gilded mast, Superior by the head, was Ariel placed; His purple pinions opening to the sun, He raised his azure wand, and thus begun:

"Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear! Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Daemons, hear! Ye know the spheres and various tasks assigned By laws eternal to th' aerial kind. Some in the fields of purest aether play, And bask and whiten in the blaze of day. Some guide the course of wandering orbs on high, Or roll the planets through the boundless sky. Some less refined, beneath the moon's pale light Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night, Or suck the mists in grosser air below, Or dip their pinions in the painted bow, Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main, Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain. Others on earth o'er human race preside, Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide: Of these the chief the care of nations own, And guard with arms divine the British throne.

"Our humbler province is to tend the fair, Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care; To save the powder from too rude a gale, Nor let the imprisoned essences exhale; To draw fresh colours from the vernal flowers; To steal from rainbows ere they drop in showers A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs, Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs; Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow, To change a flounce or add a furbelow.

"This day black omens threat the brightest fair That e'er deserved a watchful spirit's care; Some dire disaster, or by force or slight; But what, or where, the fates have wrapt in night. Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law, Or some frail china jar receive a flaw; Or stain her honour or her new brocade; Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade; Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball; Or whether Heaven has doomed that Shock must fall, Haste, then, ye spirits! to your charge repair: The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care; The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign; And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine; Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favourite lock; Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.

"To fifty chosen sylphs, of special note, We trust th' important charge, the petticoat: Oft have we known that sevenfold fence to fail, Though stiff with hoops, and armed with ribs of whale; Form a strong line about the silver bound, And guard the wide circumference around.

"Whatever spirit, careless of his charge, His post neglects, or leaves the fair at large, Shall feel sharp vengeance soon o'ertake his sins, Be stopped in vials, or transfixed with pins; Or plunged in lakes of bitter washes lie, Or wedged whole ages in a bodkin's eye: Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain, While clogged he beats his silken wings in vain; Or alum styptics with contracting power Shrink his thin essence like a rivelled flower; Or, as Ixion fixed, the wretch shall feel The giddy motion of the whirling mill, In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow, And tremble at the sea that froths below!"

He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend; Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend; Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair; Some hang upon the pendants of her ear: With beating hearts the dire event they wait, Anxious and trembling, for the birth of Fate.


Close by those meads, for ever crowned with flowers, Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers, There stands a structure of majestic frame, Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its name. Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom Of foreign tyrants and of nymphs at home; Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey, Dost sometimes counsel take—and sometimes tea.

Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort, To taste awhile the pleasures of a court; In various talk the instructive hours they passed, Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last; One speaks the glory of the British Queen, And one describes a charming Indian screen; A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes; At every word a reputation dies. Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat, With singing, laughing, ogling, AND ALL THAT.

Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day, The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray; The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang that jurymen may dine; The merchant from the Exchange returns in peace, And the long labours of the toilet cease. Belinda now whom thirst of fame invites, Burns to encounter two adventurous knights, At Ombre singly to decide their doom; {125} And swells her breast with conquests yet to come. Straight the three bands prepare in arms to join, Each band the number of the sacred nine. Soon as she spreads her hand, the aerial guard Descend, and sit on each important card: First Ariel, perched upon a Matador, Then each, according to the rank they bore; For sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race, Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.

Behold, four Kings in majesty revered, With hoary whiskers and a forky beard; And four fair Queens whose hands sustain a flower, The expressive emblem of their softer power; Four Knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band, Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand; And particoloured troops, a shining train, Draw forth to combat on the velvet plain.

The skilful Nymph reviews her force with care: "Let Spades be trumps!" she said, and trumps they were.

Now move to war her sable Matadores, In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors. Spadillio first, unconquerable lord, Led off two captive trumps, and swept the board. As many more Manillio forced to yield, And marched a victor from the verdant field. Him Basto followed, but his fate more hard Gained but one trump and one plebeian card. With his broad sabre next, a chief in years, The hoary Majesty of Spades appears, Puts forth one manly leg, to sight revealed, The rest, his many-coloured robe concealed. The rebel Knave, who dares his prince engage, Proves the just victim of his royal rage. Even mighty Pam, that Kings and Queens o'erthrew {126} And mowed down armies in the fights of Lu, Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid, Falls undistinguished by the victor Spade!

Thus far both armies to Belinda yield; Now to the Baron fate inclines the field. His warlike Amazon her host invades, Th' imperial consort of the crown of Spades. The Club's black tyrant first her victim died, Spite of his haughty mien, and barbarous pride; What boots the regal circle on his head, His giant limbs, in state unwieldy spread; That long behind he trails his pompous robe, And, of all monarchs, only grasps the globe?

The Baron now his Diamonds pours apace; The embroidered King who shows but half his face, And his refulgent Queen, with powers combined Of broken troops an easy conquest find. Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen, With throngs promiscuous strow the level green. Thus when dispersed a routed army runs, Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons, With like confusion different nations fly, Of various habit, and of various dye, The pierced battalions disunited fall, In heaps on heaps; one fate o'erwhelms them all.

The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts, And wins (oh shameful chance!) the Queen of Hearts. At this, the blood the virgin's cheek forsook, A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look; She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill, Just in the jaws of ruin, and codille. And now (as oft in some distempered State) On one nice trick depends the general fate. An Ace of Hearts steps forth: the King unseen Lurked in her hand, and mourned his captive Queen: He springs to vengeance with an eager pace, And falls like thunder on the prostrate Ace. The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky; The walls, the woods, and long canals reply.

Oh thoughtless mortals, ever blind to fate, Too soon dejected, and too soon elate! Sudden, these honours shall be snatched away, And cursed for ever this victorious day.

For lo, the board with cups and spoons is crowned, The berries crackle, and the mill turns round; On shining altars of Japan they raise The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze: From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide, While China's earth receives the smoking tide: At once they gratify their scent and taste, And frequent cups prolong the rich repast. Straight hover round the Fair her airy band; Some, as she sipped, the fuming liquor fanned, Some o'er her lap their careful plumes displayed, Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. Coffee (which makes the politician wise, And see through all things with his half-shut eyes) Sent up in vapours to the Baron's brain New stratagems the radiant Lock to gain. Ah cease, rash youth! desist ere 'tis too late, Fear the just Gods, and think of Scylla's fate! Changed to a bird, and sent to flit in air, She dearly pays for Nisus' injured hair!

But when to mischief mortals bend their will, How soon they find fit instruments of ill! Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting grace A two-edged weapon from her shining case: So ladies in romance assist their knight, Present the spear, and arm him for the fight. He takes the gift with reverence, and extends The little engine on his fingers' ends; This just behind Belinda's neck he spread, As o'er the fragrant steams she bends her head. Swift to the lock a thousand sprites repair, A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair; And thrice they twitched the diamond in her ear; Thrice she looked back, and thrice the foe drew near. Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought The close recesses of the virgin's thought; As on the nosegay in her breast reclined, He watched the ideas rising in her mind, Sudden he viewed, in spite of all her art, An earthly lover lurking at her heart. Amazed, confused, he found his power expired, Resigned to fate, and with a sigh retired.

The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide, To inclose the lock; now joins it, to divide. Even then, before the fatal engine closed, A wretched sylph too fondly interposed; Fate urged the shears, and cut the sylph in twain (But airy substance soon unites again), The meeting points the sacred hair dissever From the fair head, for ever, and for ever!

Then flashed the living lightning from her eyes, And screams of horror rend the affrighted skies. Not louder shrieks to pitying heaven are cast, When husbands or when lapdogs breathe their last; Or when rich china vessels fallen from high, In glittering dust and painted fragments lie!

"Let wreaths of triumph now my temples twine," The victor cried, "the glorious prize is mine! While fish in streams, or birds delight in air, Or in a coach-and-six the British fair, As long as Atalantis shall be read, {129} Or the small pillow grace a lady's bed, While visits shall be paid on solemn days, When numerous wax-lights in bright order blaze, While nymphs take treats, or assignations give, So long my honour, name, and praise shall live! What time would spare, from steel receives its date, And monuments, like men, submit to fate! Steel could the labour of the gods destroy, And strike to dust th' imperial towers of Troy; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should feel The conquering force of unresisting steel?


But anxious cares the pensive nymph oppressed, And secret passions laboured in her breast. Not youthful kings in battle seized alive, Not scornful virgins who their charms survive, Not ardent lovers robbed of all their bliss, Not ancient ladies when refused a kiss, Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die, Not Cynthia when her manteau's pinned awry, E'er felt such rage, resentment, and despair, As thou, sad virgin! for thy ravished hair.

For that sad moment when the sylphs withdrew. And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew, Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite, As ever sullied the fair face of light, Down to the central earth, his proper scene, Repaired to search the gloomy cave of Spleen.

Swift on his sooty pinions flits the gnome, And in a vapour reached the dismal dome. No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows, The dreaded east is all the wind that blows. Here in a grotto, sheltered close from air, And screened in shades from day's detested glare, She sighs for ever on her pensive bed, Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head. {130}

Two handmaids wait the throne: alike in place, But differing far in figure and in face. Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid, Her wrinkled form in black and white arrayed; With store of prayers, for mornings, nights, and noons, Her hand is filled; her bosom with lampoons.

There Affectation, with a sickly mien, Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen, Practised to lisp, and hang the head aside, Faints into airs, and languishes with pride, On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe, Wrapped in a gown, for sickness, and for show. The fair ones feel such maladies as these, When each new night-dress gives a new disease. A constant vapour o'er the palace flies; Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise; Dreadful as hermit's dreams in haunted shades, Or bright as visions of expiring maids. Now glaring fiends, and snakes on rolling spires, Pale spectres, gaping tombs, and purple fires: Now lakes of liquid gold, Elysian scenes, And crystal domes and angels in machines.

Unnumbered throngs on every side are seen, Of bodies changed to various forms by Spleen. Here living tea-pots stand, one arm held out, One bent; the handle this, and that the spout: A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod walks; Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pie talks; Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works, And maids turned bottles call aloud for corks.

Safe past the Gnome, through this fantastic band, A branch of healing spleenwort in his hand. Then thus addressed the power: "Hail, wayward Queen! Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen: Parent of vapours and of female wit, Who give the hysteric, or poetic fit, On various tempers act by various ways, Make some take physic, others scribble plays; Who cause the proud their visits to delay, And send the godly in a pet to pray. A nymph there is, that all thy power disdains, And thousands more in equal mirth maintains. But oh! if e'er thy gnome could spoil a grace, Or raise a pimple on a beauteous face, Like citron-waters matrons' cheeks inflame, Or change complexions at a losing game; If e'er with airy horns I planted heads, Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds, Or caused suspicion when no soul was rude, Or discomposed the head-dress of a prude, Or e'er to costive lapdog gave disease, Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease: Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin, That single act gives half the world the spleen."

The Goddess with a discontented air Seems to reject him, though she grants his prayer. A wondrous bag with both her hands she binds, Like that where once Ulysses held the winds; There she collects the force of female lungs, Sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues. A vial next she fills with fainting fears, Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears. The gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away, Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to day.

Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found, Her eyes dejected and her hair unbound. Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent, And all the Furies issued at the vent. Belinda burns with more than mortal ire, And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire. "O wretched maid!" she spread her hands, and cried, (While Hampton's echoes, "Wretched maid!" replied) "Was it for this you took such constant care The bodkin, comb, and essence to prepare? For this your locks in paper durance bound, For this with torturing irons wreathed around? For this with fillets strained your tender head, And bravely bore the double loads of lead? Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair, While the fops envy, and the ladies stare! Honour forbid! at whose unrivalled shrine Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign. Methinks already I your tears survey, Already hear the horrid things they say, Already see you a degraded toast, And all your honour in a whisper lost! How shall I, then, your helpless fame defend? 'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend! And shall this prize, the inestimable prize, Exposed through crystal to the gazing eyes, And heightened by the diamond's circling rays, On that rapacious hand for ever blaze? Sooner shall grass in Hyde Park Circus grow, And wits take lodgings in the sound of Bow; Sooner let earth, air, sea, to chaos fall, Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!"

She said; then raging to Sir Plume repairs, And bids her beau demand the precious hairs: (Sir Plume of amber snuff-box justly vain, And the nice conduct of a clouded cane) With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face, He first the snuff-box opened, then the case, And thus broke out—"My Lord, why what the devil? Zounds! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil! Plague on't! 'tis past a jest—nay prithee, pox! Give her the hair"—he spoke, and rapped his box.

"It grieves me much" (replied the Peer again) "Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain. But by this lock, this sacred lock, I swear, (Which never more shall join its parted hair; Which never more its honours shall renew, Clipped from the lovely head where late it grew) That while my nostrils draw the vital air, This hand, which won it, shall for ever wear." He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread The long-contended honours of her head.

But Umbriel, hateful gnome! forbears not so; He breaks the vial whence the sorrows flow. Then see! the nymph in beauteous grief appears, Her eyes half-languishing, half-drowned in tears; On her heaved bosom hung her drooping head, Which, with a sigh, she raised; and thus she said:

"For ever cursed be this detested day, Which snatched my best, my favourite curl away! Happy! ah, ten times happy had I been, If Hampton Court these eyes had never seen! Yet am not I the first mistaken maid, By love of courts to numerous ills betrayed. Oh had I rather unadmired remained In some lone isle, or distant Northern land, Where the gilt chariot never marks the way, Where none learn ombre, none e'er taste Bohea; There kept my charms concealed from mortal eye, Like roses that in deserts bloom and die! What moved my mind with youthful lords to roam? Oh had I stayed, and said my prayers at home! 'Twas this, the morning omens seemed to tell, Thrice from my trembling hand the patch-box fell; The tottering china shook without a wind, Nay, Poll sat mute, and Shock was most unkind! A sylph, too, warned me of the threats of fate, In mystic visions, now believed too late! See the poor remnants of these slighted hairs! My hands shall rend what even thy rapine spares: These in two sable ringlets taught to break, Once gave new beauties to the snowy neck; The sister-lock now sits uncouth, alone, And in its fellow's fate foresees its own; Uncurled it hangs, the fatal shears demands, And tempts once more thy sacrilegious hands. Oh hadst thou, cruel! been content to seize Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these!"


She said: the pitying audience melt in tears. But Fate and Jove had stopped the Baron's ears. In vain Thalestris with reproach assails, For who can move when fair Belinda fails? Not half so fixed the Trojan could remain, While Anna begged and Dido raged in vain. Then grave Clarissa graceful waved her fan; Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began:

"Say why are beauties praised and honoured most, The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast? Why decked with all that land and sea afford, Why angels called, and angel-like adored? Why round our coaches crowd the white-gloved beaux, Why bows the side-box from its inmost rows; How vain are all these glories, all our pains, Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains: That men may say, when we the front-box grace: 'Behold the first in virtue as in face!' Oh! if to dance all night, and dress all day, Charmed the smallpox, or chased old age away, Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce, Or who would learn one earthly thing of use? To patch, nay ogle, might become a saint, Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint. But since, alas! frail beauty must decay; Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to grey; Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade, And she who scorns a man, must die a maid; What then remains but well our power to use, And keep good-humour still whate'er we lose? And trust me, dear! good-humour can prevail, When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail. Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul."

So spoke the dame, but no applause ensued; Belinda frowned, Thalestris called her Prude. "To arms, to arms!" the fierce virago cries, And swift as lightning to the combat flies. All side in parties, and begin the attack; Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack; Heroes' and heroines' shouts confusedly rise, And bass and treble voices strike the skies. No common weapons in their hands are found, Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.

So when bold Homer makes the gods engage, And heavenly breasts with human passions rage; 'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms; And all Olympus rings with loud alarms: Jove's thunder roars, heaven trembles all around, Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound, Earth shakes her nodding towers, the ground gives way, And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!

Triumphant Umbriel on a sconce's height Clapped his glad wings, and sate to view the fight; Propped on their bodkin spears, the sprites survey The growing combat, or assist the fray.

While through the press enraged Thalestris flies, And scatters death around from both her eyes, A beau and witling perished in the throng, One died in metaphor, and one in song.

"O cruel nymph! a living death I bear," Cried Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair. A mournful glance Sir Fopling upwards cast, "Those eyes are made so killing"—was his last. Thus on Maeander's flowery margin lies The expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.

When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down, Chloe stepped in, and killed him with a frown; She smiled to see the doughty hero slain, But, at her smile, the beau revived again.

Now Jove suspends his golden scales in air, Weighs the men's wits against the ladies' hair; The doubtful beam long nods from side to side; At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.

See, fierce Belinda on the Baron flies, With more than usual lightning in her eyes: Nor feared the chief the unequal fight to try, Who sought no more than on his foe to die. But this bold lord with manly strength endued, She with one finger and a thumb subdued: Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew, A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw; The gnomes direct, to every atom just, The pungent grains of titillating dust. Sudden, with starting tears each eye o'erflows, And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.

"Now meet thy fate," incensed Belinda cried, And drew a deadly bodkin from her side. (The same, his ancient personage to deck, Her great-great-grandsire wore about his neck, In three seal-rings; which after, melted down, Formed a vast buckle for his widow's gown; Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew, The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew; Then in a bodkin graced her mother's hairs, Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears).

"Boast not my fall," he cried, "insulting foe! Thou by some other shalt be laid as low, Nor think to die dejects my lofty mind: All that I dread is leaving you behind! Rather than so, ah! let me still survive, And burn in Cupid's flames—but burn alive."

"Restore the lock!" she cries; and all around "Restore the lock!" the vaulted roofs rebound. Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain Roared for the handkerchief that caused his pain. But see how oft ambitious aims are crossed, And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost! The lock, obtained with guilt, and kept with pain, In every place is sought, but sought in vain: With such a prize no mortal must be blest, So Heaven decrees: with Heaven who can contest?

Some thought it mounted to the lunar sphere, Since all things lost on earth are treasured there, There heroes' wits are kept in ponderous vases, And beaux' in snuff-boxes and tweezer-cases. There broken vows and death-bed alms are found, And lovers' hearts with ends of riband bound, The courtiers promises, and sick man's prayers, The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs, Cages for gnats, and chains to yoke a flea, Dried butterflies and tomes of casuistry.

But trust the Muse—she saw it upward rise, Though marked by none but quick, poetic eyes: (So Rome's great founder to the heavens withdrew, To Proculus alone confessed in view) A sudden star, it shot through liquid air, And drew behind a radiant trail of hair. Not Berenice's locks first rose so bright, The heavens bespangling with dishevelled light. The sylphs behold it kindling as it flies, And pleased pursue its progress through the skies.

This the beau-monde shall from the Mall survey, And hail with music its propitious ray. This the blest lover shall for Venus take, And send up vows from Rosamonda's lake. This Partridge soon shall view in cloudless skies, {137} When next he looks through Galileo's eyes; And hence the egregious wizard shall foredoom The fate of Louis, and the fall of Rome.

Then cease, bright nymph! to mourn thy ravished hair, Which adds new glory to the shining sphere! Not all the tresses that fair head can boast, Shall draw such envy as the lock you lost. For, after all the murders of your eye, When, after millions slain, yourself shall die: When those fair suns shall set, as set they must, And all those tresses shall be laid in dust, This lock the Muse shall consecrate to fame, And 'midst the stars inscribe Belinda's name.



John Gilpin was a citizen Of credit and renown, A train-band captain eke was he Of famous London town.

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear, "Though wedded we have been These twice ten tedious years, yet we No holiday have seen.

"To-morrow is our wedding-day, And we will then repair Unto the Bell at Edmonton, All in a chaise and pair.

"My sister, and my sister's child, Myself, and children three, Will fill the chaise; so you must ride On horseback after we."

He soon replied, "I do admire Of womankind but one, And you are she, my dearest dear, Therefore it shall be done.

"I am a linen-draper bold, As all the world doth know, And my good friend the calender Will lend his horse to go."

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said: And for that wine is dear, We will be furnished with our own, Which is both bright and clear."

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife; O'erjoyed was he to find, That though on pleasure she was bent, She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought, But yet was not allowed To drive up to the door, lest all Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stayed, Where they did all get in; Six precious souls, and all agog To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the wheels, Were never folk so glad, The stones did rattle underneath, As if Cheapside were mad.

John Gilpin at his horse's side Seized fast the flowing mane, And up he got, in haste to ride, But soon came down again;

For saddle-tree scarce reached had he, His journey to begin, When, turning round his head, he saw Three customers come in.

So down he came; for loss of time, Although it grieved him sore, Yet loss of pence, full well he knew, Would trouble him much more.

'Twas long before the customers Were suited to their mind, When Betty screaming came downstairs, "The wine is left behind!"

"Good lack!" quoth he—"yet bring it me, My leathern belt likewise, In which I bear my trusty sword, When I do exercise."

Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul!) Had two stone bottles found, To hold the liquor that she loved, And keep it safe and sound.

Each bottle had a curling ear, Through which the belt he drew, And hung a bottle on each side, To make his balance true.

Then over all, that he might be Equipped from top to toe, His long red cloak, well brushed and neat, He manfully did throw.

Now see him mounted once again Upon his nimble steed, Full slowly pacing o'er the stones, With caution and good heed.

But finding soon a smoother road Beneath his well-shod feet, The snorting beast began to trot, Which galled him in his seat.

So, "Fair and softly," John he cried, But John he cried in vain; That trot became a gallop soon, In spite of curb and rein.

So stooping down, as needs he must Who cannot sit upright, He grasped the mane with both his hands, And eke with all his might.

His horse, who never in that sort Had handled been before, What thing upon his back had got Did wonder more and more.

Away went Gilpin, neck or nought; Away went hat and wig; He little dreamt, when he set out, Of running such a rig.

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly, Like streamer long and gay, Till, loop and button failing both, At last it flew away.

Then might all people well discern The bottles he had slung; A bottle swinging at each side, As hath been said or sung.

The dogs did bark, the children screamed, Up flew the windows all; And every soul cried out, "Well done!" As loud as he could bawl.

Away went Gilpin—who but he? His fame soon spread around; "He carries weight!" "He rides a race!" "'Tis for a thousand pound!"

And still, as fast as he drew near, 'Twas wonderful to view, How in a trice the turnpike-men Their gates wide open threw.

And now, as he went bowing down His reeking head full low, The bottles twain behind his back Were shattered at a blow.

Down ran the wine into the road, Most piteous to be seen, Which made his horse's flanks to smoke As they had basted been.

But still be seemed to carry weight, With leathern girdle braced; For all might see the bottle-necks Still dangling at his waist.

Thus all through merry Islington These gambols he did play, Until he came unto the Wash Of Edmonton so gay;

And there he threw the Wash about On both sides of the way, Just like unto a trundling mop, Or a wild goose at play.

At Edmonton his loving wife From the balcony spied Her tender husband, wondering much To see how he did ride.

"Stop, stop, John Gilpin!—Here's the house!" They all at once did cry; "The dinner waits, and we are tired;" Said Gilpin—"So am I!"

But yet his horse was not a whit Inclined to tarry there! For why?—his owner had a house Full ten miles off, at Ware.

So like an arrow swift he flew, Shot by an archer strong; So did he fly—which brings me to The middle of my song.

Away went Gilpin, out of breath, And sore against his will, Till at his friend the calender's His horse at last stood still.

The calender, amazed to see His neighbour in such trim, Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate, And thus accosted him:

"What news? what news? your tidings tell! Tell me you must and shall - Say why bareheaded you are come, Or why you come at all?"

Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit, And loved a timely joke; And thus unto the calender In merry guise he spoke:

"I came because your horse would come, And, if I well forbode, My hat and wig will soon be here - They are upon the road."

The calender, right glad to find His friend in merry pin, Returned him not a single word, But to the house went in;

Whence straight he came with hat and wig; A wig that flowed behind, A hat not much the worse for wear, Each comely in its kind.

He held them up, and in his turn Thus showed his ready wit, "My head is twice as big as yours, They therefore needs must fit.

"But let me scrape the dirt away That hangs upon your face; And stop and eat, for well you may Be in a hungry case."

Said John, "It is my wedding-day, And all the world would stare, If wife should dine at Edmonton, And I should dine at Ware."

So turning to his horse, he said, "I am in haste to dine; 'Twas for your pleasure you came here, You shall go back for mine."

Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boast! For which he paid full dear; For, while he spake, a braying ass Did sing most loud and clear;

Whereat his horse did snort, as he Had heard a lion roar, And galloped off with all his might, As he had done before.

Away went Gilpin, and away Went Gilpin's hat and wig: He lost them sooner than at first; For why?—they were too big.

Now Mistress Gilpin, when she saw Her husband posting down Into the country far away, She pulled out half-a-crown;

And thus unto the youth she said That drove them to the Bell, "This shall be yours, when you bring back My husband safe and well."

The youth did ride, and soon did meet John coming back amain: Whom in a trice he tried to stop, By catching at his rein;

But not performing what he meant, And gladly would have done, The frighted steed he frighted more And made him faster run.

Away went Gilpin, and away Went postboy at his heels, The postboy's horse right glad to miss The lumbering of the wheels.

Six gentlemen upon the road, Thus seeing Gilpin fly, With postboy scampering in the rear, They raised the hue and cry:

"Stop thief! stop thief!—a highwayman!" Not one of them was mute; And all and each that passed that way Did join in the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again Flew open in short space; The toll-men thinking, as before, That Gilpin rode a race.

And so he did, and won it too, For he got first to town; Nor stopped till where he had got up He did again get down.

Now let us sing, Long live the king! And Gilpin, long live he! And when he next doth ride abroad May I be there to see!



"Of brownyis and of bogilis full is this buke." —GAWIN DOUGLAS.

When chapman billies leave the street, {147a} And drouthy neibors neibors meet, {147b} As market days are wearin' late, And folk begin to tak the gate; {147h} While we sit bousing at the nappy, And gettin' fou and unco' happy, {147c} We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles, {147d} That lie between us and our hame, Whare sits our sulky sullen dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses For honest men and bonny lasses.)

O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice! She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum, {147e} A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; {147f} That frae November till October, Ae market day thou wasna sober; That ilka melder, wi' the miller {147g} {147i} Thou sat as lang as thou hadst siller; That every naig was ca'd a shoe on, The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday, Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday. {148f} She prophesied that, late or soon, Thou wouldst be found deep drowned in Doon! Or catched wi' warlocks i' the mirk, {148a} By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet {148b} To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthened, sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale:- Ae market night, Tam had got planted unco right. Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, {148c} Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely; {148d} And at his elbow, Souter Johnny, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither - They had been fou for weeks thegither! The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter, And aye the ale was growing better: The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious; The Souter tauld his queerest stories, The landlord's laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle - Tam didna mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drowned himsel among the nappy! {148e} As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure, The minutes winged their way wi' pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious!

But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed! Or like the snowfall in the river, A moment white—then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form, Evanishing amid the storm. Nae man can tether time or tide; The hour approaches, Tam maun ride; That hour, o' night's black arch the keystane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in As never poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as 'twad blown its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed; Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed: That night, a child might understand The deil had business on his hand.

Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg, A better never lifted leg, Tam skelpit on through dub and mire, {149a} Despising wind, and rain, and fire; Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet, Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet; Whiles glowering round wi' prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry. By this time he was 'cross the foord, Whare in the snow the chapman smoored, {149b} And past the birks and meikle stane Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane: And through the whins, and by the cairn Whare hunters fand the murdered bairn; And near the thorn, aboon the well, Where Mungo's mither hanged hersel'. Before him Doon pours a' his floods; The doubling storm roars through the woods; The lightnings flash frae pole to pole; Near and more near the thunders roll; When glimmering through the groaning trees, Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze; Through ilka bore the beams were glancing, {150h} And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst mak us scorn! Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil: Wi' usquebae, we'll face the devil! - The swats sae reamed in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle. {150a} But Maggie stood right sair astonished, Till, by the heel and hand admonished, She ventured forward on the light; And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight! Warlocks and witches in a dance; Nae cotillon brent-new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, Put life and mettle i' their heels: At winnock-bunker, i' the east, {150b} There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast, A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, {150c} To gie them music was his charge; He screwed the pipes, and gart them skirl, {150d} Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. {150e} Coffins stood round, like open presses, That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses; And by some devilish cantrip slight {150f} Each in its cauld hand held a light, - By which heroic Tam was able To note upon the haly table, A murderer's banes in gibbet airns; Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns; A thief, new-cutted frae a rape, Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; {150g} Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red-rusted: Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted; A garter, which a babe had strangled; A knife, a father's throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o' life bereft, The grey hairs yet stack to the heft: Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu', Which even to name wad be unlawfu'.

As Tammie glowered, amazed and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious: The piper loud and louder blew, The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reeled, they set, they crossed, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, {151a} And linket at it in her sark. {151h} {151b}

Now Tam! O Tam! had they been queans, A' plump and strappin' in their teens, Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, {151c} Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linnen! Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair, I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies, For ae blink o' the bonny burdies!

But withered beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags, wad spean a foal, {151d} {151j} Lowpin' and flingin' on a cummock, {151e} I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

But Tam kenned what was what fu' brawlie, "There was ae winsome wench and walie," {151i} That night enlisted in the core, (Lang after kenned on Carrick shore; For mony a beast to dead she shot, And perished mony a bonny boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bere, And kept the country-side in fear.) Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn, {151f} That, while a lassie, she had worn, In longitude though sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie.

Ah! little kenn'd thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, {151g} Wi' twa pund Scots ('twas a' her riches), Wad ever graced a dance o' witches! But here my Muse her wing maun cour, Sic flights are far beyond her power; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was, and strang,) And how Tam stood like ane bewitched, And thought his very een enriched; Even Satan glowered, and fidged fu' fain, And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main: {152a} Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a'thegither, {152b} And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!" And in an instant a' was dark: And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied. As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, {152c} When plundering herds assail their byke; {152d} As open pussie's mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' mony an eldritch screech and hollow. {152e}

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'lt get thy fairin'! In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'! Kate soon will be a woefu' woman! Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the keystane of the brig; There at them thou thy tail may toss, A running stream they darena cross; But ere the keystane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake! For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle; {152f} But little wist she Maggie's mettle - Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain grey tail: The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man and mother's son, take heed: Whane'er to drink you are inclined, Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, Think! ye may buy the joys owre dear - Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.



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

Down went my helm—close reefed—the tack held freely in my hand - With ballast snug—I put about, and scudded for the land; Loud hissed the sea beneath her lee—my little boat flew fast, But faster still the rushing storm came borne upon the blast.

Lord! what a roaring hurricane beset the straining sail! What furious sleet, with level drift, and fierce assaults of hail! What darksome caverns yawned before! what jagged steeps behind! Like battle-steeds, with foamy manes, wild tossing in the wind, Each after each sank down astern, exhausted in the chase, But where it sank another rose and galloped in its place; As black as night—they turned to white, and cast against the cloud A snowy sheet, as if each surge upturned a sailor's shroud:- Still flew my boat; alas! alas! her course was nearly run! Behold yon fatal billow rise—ten billows heaped in one! With fearful speed the dreary mass came rolling, rolling fast, As if the scooping sea contained one only wave at last; Still on it came, with horrid roar, a swift pursuing grave; It seemed as though some cloud had turned its hugeness to a wave! Its briny sleet began to beat beforehand in my face - I felt the rearward keel begin to climb its swelling base! I saw its alpine hoary head impending over mine! Another pulse—and down it rushed—an avalanche of brine! Brief pause had I on God to cry, or think of wife and home; The waters closed—and when I shrieked, I shrieked below the foam! Beyond that rush I have no hint of any after-deed - For I was tossing on the waste, as senseless as a weed.

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