The horse that carried Miss Kilmansegg,
And a better nether lifted leg,
Was a very rich bay, call’d Banker—
A horse of a breed and a mettle so rare,—
By Bullion out of an Ingot mare,—
That for action, the best of figures, and air,
It made many good judges hanker.
And when she took a ride in the Park,
Equestrian Lord, or pedestrian Clerk,
Was thrown in an amorous fever,
To see the Heiress how well she sat,
With her groom behind her, Bob or Nat,
In green, half smother’d with gold, and a hat
With more gold lace than beaver.
And then when Banker obtain’d a pat,
To see how he arch’d his neck at that!
He snorted with pride and pleasure!
Like the Steed in the fable so lofty and grand,
Who gave the poor Ass to understand
That he didn’t carry a bag of sand,
But a burden of golden treasure.
A load of treasure?—alas! alas!
Had her horse been fed upon English grass,
And shelter’d in Yorkshire spinneys,
Had he scour’d the sand with the Desert Ass,
Or where the American whinnies—
But a hunter from Erin’s turf and gorse,
A regular thoroughbred Irish horse,
Why, he ran away, as a matter of course,
With a girl worth her weight in guineas!
Mayhap ’tis the trick of such pamper’d nags
To shy at the sight of a beggar in rags,—
But away, like the bolt of a rabbit,—
Away went the horse in the madness of fright,
And away went the horsewoman mocking the sight—
Was yonder blue flash a flash of blue light,
Or only the skirt of her habit?
Away she flies, with the groom behind,—
It looks like a race of the Calmuck kind,
When Hymen himself is the starter,
And the Maid rides first in the fourfooted strife,
Riding, striding, as if for her life,
While the Lover rides after to catch him a wife,
Although it’s catching a Tartar.
But the Groom has lost his glittering hat!
Though he does not sigh and pull up for that—
Alas! his horse is a tit for Tat
To sell to a very low bidder—
His wind is ruin’d, his shoulder is sprung,
Things, though a horse be handsome and young,
A purchaser will consider.
But still flies the Heiress through stones and dust,
Oh, for a fall, if she must,
On the gentle lap of Flora!
But still, thank Heaven! she clings to her seat—
Away! away! she could ride a dead heat
With the Dead who ride so fast and fleet,
In the Ballad of Leonora!
Away she gallops!—it’s awful work!
It’s faster than Turpin’s ride to York,
On Bess that notable clipper!
She has circled the Ring!—she crosses the Park!
Mazeppa, although he was stripp’d so stark,
Mazeppa couldn’t outstrip her!
The fields seem running away with the folks!
The Elms are having a race for the Oaks
At a pace that all Jockeys disparages!
All, all is racing! the Serpentine
Seems rushing past like the “arrowy Rhine,”
The houses have got on a railway line,
And are off like the first-class carriages!
She’ll lose her life! she is losing her breath!
A cruel chase, she is chasing Death,
As female shriekings forewarn her:
And now—as gratis as blood of Guelph—
She clears that gate, which has clear’d itself
Since then, at Hyde Park Corner!
Alas! for the hope of the Kilmanseggs!
For her head, her brains, her body, and legs,
Her life’s not worth a copper!
A hundred hearts turn sick and chilly,
A hundred voices cry, “Stop her!”
And one old gentleman stares and stands,
Shakes his head and lifts his hands,
And says, “How very improper!”
On and on!—what a perilous run!
The iron rails seem all mingling in one,
To shut out the Green Park scenery!
And now the Cellar its dangers reveals,
She shudders—she shrieks—she’s doom’d, she feels,
To be torn by powers of horses and wheels,
Like a spinner by steam machinery!
Sick with horror she shuts her eyes,
But the very stones seem uttering cries,
As they did to that Persian daughter,
When she climb’d up the steep vociferous hill,
Her little silver flagon to fill
With the magical Golden Water!
“Batter her! shatter her!
Throw and scatter her!”
Shouts each stony-hearted chatterer!
“Dash at the heavy Dover!
Spill her! kill her! tear and tatter her!
Smash her! crash her!” (the stones didn’t flatter her!)
“Kick her brains out! let her blood spatter her!
Roll on her over and over!”
For so she gather’d the awful sense
Of the street in its past unmacadamized tense,
As the wild horse overran it,—
His four heels making the clatter of six,
Like a Devil’s tattoo, play’d with iron sticks
On a kettle-drum of granite!
On! still on! she’s dazzled with hints
Of oranges, ribbons, and color’d prints,
A Kaleidoscope jumble of shapes and tints,
And human faces all flashing,
Bright and brief as the sparks from the flints,
That the desperate hoof keeps dashing!
On and on! still frightfully fast!
Dover Street, Bond Street, all are past!
But—yes—no—yes!—they’re down at last!
The Furies and Fates have found them!
Down they go with sparkle and crash,
Like a Bark that’s struck by the lightning flash—
There’s a shriek—and a sob—
And the dense dark mob
Like a billow closes around them!
* * * * *
“She’s stirring! she’s living, by Nemesis!”
Gold, still gold! on counter and shelf!
Golden dishes as plenty as delf;
Miss Kilmansegg’s coming again to herself
On an opulent Goldsmith’s premises!
Gold! fine gold!—both yellow and red,
Beaten, and molten—polish’d, and dead—
To see the gold with profusion spread
In all forms of its manufacture!
But what avails gold to Miss Kilmansegg,
When the femoral bone of her dexter log
Has met with a compound fracture?
Gold may soothe Adversity’s smart;
Nay, help to bind up a broken heart;
But to try it on any other part
Were as certain a disappointment,
As if one should rub the dish and plate,
Taken out of a Staffordshire crate—
In the hope of a Golden Service of State—
With Singleton’s “Golden Ointment.”
“As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined,”
Is an adage often recall’d to mind,
Referring to juvenile bias:
And never so well is the verity seen,
As when to the weak, warp’d side we lean,
While Life’s tempests and hurricanes try us.
Even thus with Miss K. and her broken limb:
By a very, very remarkable whim,
She show’d her early tuition:
While the buds of character came into blow
With a certain tinge that served to show
The nursery culture long ago,
As the graft is known by fruition!
For the King’s Physician, who nursed the case,
His verdict gave with an awful face,
And three others concurr’d to egg it;
That the Patient to give old Death the slip,
Like the Pope, instead of a personal trip,
Must send her Leg as a Legate.
The limb was doom’d—it couldn’t be saved!
And like other people the patient behaved,
Nay, bravely that cruel parting braved,
Which makes some persons so falter,
They rather would part, without a groan,
With the flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone,
They obtain’d at St. George’s altar.
But when it came to fitting the stump
With a proxy limb—then flatly and plump
She spoke, in the spirit olden;
She couldn’t—she shouldn’t—she wouldn’t have wood!
Nor a leg of cork, if she never stood,
And she swore an oath, or something as good,
The proxy limb should be golden!
A wooden leg! what, a sort of peg,
For your common Jockeys and Jennies!
No, no, her mother might worry and plague—
Weep, go down on her knees, and beg,
But nothing would move Miss Kilmansegg!
She could—she would have a Golden Leg,
If it cost ten thousand guineas!
Wood indeed, in Forest or Park,
With its sylvan honors and feudal bark,
Is an aristocratic article:
But split and sawn, and hack’d about town,
Serving all needs of pauper or clown,
Trod on! stagger’d on! Wood cut down
Is vulgar—fibre and particle!
And Cork!—when the noble Cork Tree shades
A lovely group of Castilian maids,
’Tis a thing for a song or sonnet!—
But cork, as it stops the bottle of gin,
Or bungs the beer—the small beer—in,
It pierced her heart like a corking-pin,
To think of standing upon it!
A Leg of Gold—solid gold throughout,
Nothing else, whether slim or stout,
Should ever support her, God willing!
She must—she could—she would have her whim,
Her father, she turn’d a deaf ear to him—
He might kill her—she didn’t mind killing!
He was welcome to cut off her other limb—
He might cut her all off with a shilling!
All other promised gifts were in vain.
Golden Girdle, or Golden Chain,
She writhed with impatience more than pain,
And utter’d “pshaws!” and “pishes!”
But a Leg of Gold as she lay in bed,
It danced before her—it ran in her head!
It jump’d with her dearest wishes!
“Gold—gold—gold! Oh, let it be gold!”
Asleep or awake that tale she told,
And when she grew delirious:
Till her parents resolved to grant her wish,
If they melted down plate, and goblet, and dish,
The case was getting so serious.
So a Leg was made in a comely mould,
Of gold, fine virgin glittering gold,
As solid as man could make it—
Solid in foot, and calf, and shank,
A prodigious sum of money it sank;
In fact ’twas a Branch of the family Bank,
And no easy matter to break it.
All sterling metal—not half-and-half,
The Goldsmith’s mark was stamp’d on the calf—
’Twas pure as from Mexican barter!
And to make it more costly, just over the knee,
Where another ligature used to be,
Was a circle of jewels, worth shillings to see,
A new-fangled Badge of the Garter!
’Twas a splendid, brilliant, beautiful Leg,
Fit for the Court of Scander-Beg,
That Precious Leg of Miss Kilmansegg!
For, thanks to parental bounty,
Secure from Mortification’s touch,
She stood on a Member that cost as much
As a Member for all the County!