’Twas morn—a most auspicious one!
From the Golden East, the Golden Sun
Came forth his glorious race to run,
Through clouds of most splendid tinges;
Clouds that lately slept in shade,
But now seem’d made
Of gold brocade,
With magnificent golden fringes.
Gold above, and gold below,
The earth reflected the golden glow,
From river, and hill, and valley;
Gilt by the golden light of morn,
The Thames—it look’d like the Golden Horn,
And the Barge, that carried coal or corn,
Like Cleopatra’s Galley!
Bright as clusters of Golden-rod,
Suburban poplars began to nod,
With extempore splendor furnish’d;
While London was bright with glittering clocks,
Golden dragons, and Golden cocks,
And above them all,
The dome of St. Paul,
With its Golden Cross and its Golden Ball,
Shone out as if newly burnished!
And lo! for Golden Hours and Joys,
Troops of glittering Golden Boys
Danced along with a jocund noise,
And their gilded emblems carried!
In short, ’twas the year’s most Golden Day,
By mortals call’d the First of May,
When Miss Kilmansegg,
Of the Golden Leg,
With a Golden Ring was married!
And thousands of children, women, and men,
Counted the clock from eight till ten,
From St. James’s sonorous steeple;
For next to that interesting job,
The hanging of Jack, or Bill, or Bob,
There’s nothing so draws a London mob
As the noosing of very rich people.
And a treat it was for the mob to behold
The Bridal Carriage that blazed with gold!
And the Footmen tall and the Coachman bold,
In liveries so resplendent—
Coats you wonder’d to see in place,
They seem’d so rich with golden lace,
That they might have been independent.
Coats, that made those menials proud
Gaze with scorn on the dingy crowd,
From their gilded elevations;
Not to forget that saucy lad
(Ostentation’s favorite cad);
The Page, who look’d, so splendidly clad,
Like a Page of the “Wealth of Nations.”
But the Coachman carried off the state,
With what was a Lancashire body of late
Turn’d into a Dresden Figure;
With a bridal Nosegay of early bloom,
About the size of a birchen broom,
And so huge a White Favor, had Gog been Groom
He need not have worn a bigger.
And then to see the Groom! the Count
With Foreign Orders to such an amount,
And whiskers so wild—nay, bestial;
He seem’d to have borrow’d the shaggy hair
As well as the Stars of the Polar Bear,
To make him look celestial!
And then—Great Jove!—the struggle, the crush,
The screams, the heaving, the awful rush,
The swearing, the tearing, and fighting,—
The hats and bonnets smash’d like an egg—
To catch a glimpse of the Golden Leg,
Which, between the steps and Miss Kilmansegg,
Was fully display’d in alighting!
From the Golden Ankle up to the Knee
There it was for the mob to see!
A shocking act had it chanced to be
A crooked leg or a skinny:
But although a magnificent veil she wore.
Such as never was seen before,
In case of blushes, she blush’d no more
Than George the First on a guinea!
Another step, and lo! she was launched!
All in white, as Brides are blanched,
With a wreath of most wonderful splendor—
Diamonds, and pearls, so rich in device,
That, according to calculation nice,
Her head was worth as royal a price
As the head of the Young Pretender.
Bravely she shone—and shone the more
As she sail’d through the crowd of squalid and poor,
Thief, beggar, and tatterdemalion—
Led by the Count, with his sloe-black eyes
Bright with triumph, and some surprise,
Like Anson on making sure of his prize
The famous Mexican Galleon!
Anon came Lady K., with her face
Quite made up to act with grace,
But she cut the performance shorter;
For instead of pacing stately and stiff,
At the stare of the vulgar she took a miff,
And ran, full speed, into Church, as if
To get married before her daughter.
But Sir Jacob walk’d more slowly, and bow’d
Eight and left to the gaping crowd,
Wherever a glance was seizable;
For Sir Jacob thought he bow’d like a Guelph,
And therefore bow’d to imp and elf,
And would gladly have made a bow to himself,
Had such a bow been feasible.
And last—and not the least of the sight,
Six “Handsome Fortunes,” all in white,
Came to help in the marriage rite,—
And rehearse their own hymeneals;
And then the bright procession to close,
They were followed by just as many Beaux
Quite fine enough for Ideals.
Glittering men, and splendid dames,
Thus they enter’d the porch of Saint James’,
Pursued by a thunder of laughter;
For the Beadle was forced to intervene,
For Jim the Crow, and his Mayday Queen,
With her gilded ladle, and Jack i’ the Green,
Would fain have follow’d after!
Beadle-like he hush’d the shouts;
But the temple was full “inside and out,”
And a buzz kept buzzing all round about
Like bees when the day is sunny—
A buzz universal that interfered
With the right that ought to have been revered,
As if the couple already were smear’d
With Wedlock’s treacle and honey!
Yet Wedlock’s a very awful thing!
’Tis something like that feat in the ring,
Which requires good nerve to do it—
When one of a “Grand Equestrian Troop”
Makes a jump at a gilded hoop,
Not certain at all
Of what may befall
After his getting through it!
But the Count he felt the nervous work
No more than any polygamous Turk,
Or bold piratical skipper,
Who, during his buccaneering search,
Would as soon engage a hand in church
As a hand on board his clipper!
And how did the Bride perform her part?
Like any bride who is cold at heart.
Mere snow with the ice’s glitter;
What but a life of winter for her!
Bright but chilly, alive without stir,
So splendidly comfortless,—just like a Fir
When the frost is severe and bitter.
Such were the future man and wife!
Whose bale or bliss to the end of life
A few short words were to settle—
“Wilt thou have this woman?”
“I will”—and then,
“Wilt thou have this man?”
“I will,” and “Amen”—
And those Two were one Flesh, in the Angels’ ken,
Except one Leg—that was metal.
Then the names were sign’d—and kiss’d the kiss:
And the Bride, who came from her coach a Miss,
As a Countess walk’d to her carriage—
Whilst Hymen preen’d his plumes like a dove,
And Cupid flutter’d his wings above,
In the shape of a fly—as little a Love
As ever look’d in at a marriage!
Another crash—and away they dash’d,
And the gilded carriage and footmen flash’d
From the eyes of the gaping people—
Who turn’d to gaze at the toe-and-heel
Of the Golden Boys beginning a reel,
To the merry sound of a wedding peal
From St. James’s musical steeple.
Those wedding bells! those wedding bells!
How sweetly they sound in pastoral dells
From a tow’r in an ivy-green jacket!
But town-made joys how dearly they cost;
And after all are tumbled and tost,
Like a peal from a London steeple, and lost
In town-made riot and racket.
The wedding peal, how sweetly it peals
With grass or heather beneath our heels,—
For bells are Music’s laughter!—
But a London peal, well mingled, be sure,
With vulgar noises and voices impure,—
With a harsh and discordant overture
To the Harmony meant to come after!
But hence with Discord—perchance, too soon
To cloud the face of the honeymoon
With a dismal occultation!—
Whatever Fate’s concerted trick,
The Countess and Count, at the present nick,
Have a chicken, and not a crow, to pick
At a sumptuous Cold Collation.
A Breakfast—no unsubstantial mess,
But one in the style of Good Queen Bess,
Who,—hearty as hippocampus,—
Broke her fast with ale and beef,
Instead of toast and the Chinese leaf,
And—in lieu of anchovy—grampus.
A breakfast of fowl, and fish, and flesh,
Whatever was sweet, or salt, or fresh;
With wines the most rare and curious—
Wines, of the richest flavor and hue;
With fruits from the worlds both Old and New;
And fruits obtain’d before they were due
At a discount most usurious.
For wealthy palates there be, that scout
What is in season, for what is out,
And prefer all precocious savor:
For instance, early green peas, of the sort
That costs some four or five guineas a quart;
Where the Mint is the principal flavor.
And many a wealthy man was there,
Such as the wealthy City could spare,
To put in a portly appearance—
Men, whom their fathers had help’d to gild:
And men, who had had their fortunes to build
And—much to their credit—had richly fill’d
Their purses by pursy-verance.
Men, by popular rumor at least,
Not the last to enjoy a feast!
And truly they were not idle!
Luckier far than the chestnut tits,
Which, down at the door, stood champing their bits,
At a different sort of bridle.
For the time was come—and the whisker’d Count
Help’d his Bride in the carriage to mount,
And fain would the Muse deny it,
But the crowd, including two butchers in blue,
(The regular killing Whitechapel hue,)
Of her Precious Calf had as ample a view,
As if they had come to buy it!
Then away! away! with all the speed
That golden spurs can give to the steed,—
Both Yellow Boys and Guineas, indeed,
Concurr’d to urge the cattle—
Away they went, with favors white,
Yellow jackets, and panels bright,
And left the mob, like a mob at night,
Agape at the sound of a rattle.
Away! away! they rattled and roll’d,
The Count, and his Bride, and her Leg of Gold—
That faded charm to the charmer!
Away,—through old Brentford rang the din
Of wheels and heels, on their way to win
That hill, named after one of her kin,
The Hill of the Golden Farmer!
Gold, still gold—it flew like dust!
It tipp’d the post-boy, and paid the trust;
In each open palm it was freely thrust;
There was nothing but giving and taking!
And if gold could ensure the future hour,
What hopes attended that Bride to her bow’r,
But alas! even hearts with a four-horse pow’r
Of opulence end in breaking!