Who hath not met with home-made bread,
A heavy compound of putty and lead—
And home-made wines that rack the head,
And home-made liqueurs and waters?
Home-made pop that will not foam,
And home-made dishes that drive one from home,
Not to name each mess,
For the face or dress,
Home-made by the homely daughters?
Home-made physic that sickens the sick;
Thick for thin and thin for thick;—
In short each homogeneous trick
For poisoning domesticity?
And since our Parents, call’d the First,
A little family squabble nurst,
Of all our evils the worst of the worst
Is home-made infelicity.
There’s a Golden Bird that claps its wings,
And dances for joy on its perch, and sings
With a Persian exultation:
For the Sun is shining into the room,
And brightens up the carpet-bloom,
As if it were new, bran new, from the loom,
Or the lone Nun’s fabrication.
And thence the glorious radiance flames
On pictures in massy gilded frames—
Enshrining, however, no painted Dames,
But portraits of colts and fillies—
Pictures hanging on walls, which shine,
In spite of the bard’s familiar line,
With clusters of “Gilded lilies.”
And still the flooding sunlight shares
Its lustre with gilded sofas and chairs,
That shine as if freshly burnish’d—
And gilded tables, with glittering stocks
Of gilded china, and golden clocks,
Toy, and trinket, and musical box,
That Peace and Paris have furnish’d.
And lo! with the brightest gleam of all
The glowing sunbeam is seen to fall
On an object as rare as spendid—
The golden foot of the Golden Leg
Of the Countess—once Miss Kilmansegg—
But there all sunshine is ended.
Her cheek is pale, and her eye is dim,
And downward cast, yet not at the limb,
Once the centre of all speculation;
But downward dropping in comfort’s dearth,
As gloomy thoughts are drawn to the earth—
Whence human sorrows derive their birth—
By a moral gravitation.
Her golden hair is out of its braids,
And her sighs betray the gloomy shades
That her evil planet revolves in—
And tears are falling that catch a gleam
So bright as they drop in the sunny beam,
That tears of aqua regia they seem,
The water that gold dissolves in;
Yet, not in filial grief were shed
Those tears for a mother’s insanity;
Nor yet because her father was dead,
For the bowing Sir Jacob had bow’d his head
To Death—with his usual urbanity;
The waters that down her visage rill’d
Were drops of unrectified spirit distill’d
From the limbeck of Pride and Vanity.
Tears that fell alone and unchecked,
Without relief, and without respect,
Like the fabled pearls that the pigs neglect,
When pigs have that opportunity—
And of all the griefs that mortals share,
The one that seems the hardest to bear
Is the grief without community.
How bless’d the heart that has a friend
A sympathising ear to lend
To troubles too great to smother!
For as ale and porter, when flat, are restored
Till a sparkling bubbling head they afford,
So sorrow is cheer’d by being pour’d
From one vessel into another.
But a friend or gossip she had not one
To hear the vile deeds that the Count had done,
How night after night he rambled;
And how she had learn’d by sad degrees
That he drank, and smoked, and worse than these,
That he “swindled, intrigued, and gambled.”
How he kiss’d the maids, and sparr’d with John;
And came to bed with his garments on;
With other offences as heinous—
And brought strange gentlemen home to dine
That he said were in the Fancy Line,
And they fancied spirits instead of wine,
And call’d her lap-dog “Wenus.”
Of “Making a book” how he made a stir,
But never had written a line to her,
Once his idol and Cara Sposa:
And how he had storm’d, and treated her ill,
Because she refused to go down to a mill,
She didn’t know where, but remember’d still
That the Miller’s name was Mendoza.
How often he waked her up at night,
And oftener still by the morning light,
Reeling home from his haunts unlawful;
Singing songs that shouldn’t be sung,
Except by beggars and thieves unhung—
Or volleying oaths, that a foreign tongue
Made still more horrid and awful!
How oft, instead of otto rose,
With vulgar smells he offended her nose,
From gin, tobacco, and onion!
And then how wildly he used to stare!
And shake his fist at nothing, and swear,—
And pluck by the handful his shaggy hair,
Till he look’d like a study of Giant Despair
For a new Edition of Bunyan!
For dice will run the contrary way,
As well is known to all who play,
And cards will conspire as in treason:
And what with keeping a hunting-box,
Friends in flocks,
From London Docks,
Manton and Nock’s
Barrels and locks,
Shooting blue rocks,
Trainers and jocks,
Buskins and socks,
If he found himself short in funds and stocks,
These rhymes will furnish the reason!
His friends, indeed, were falling away—
Friends who insist on play or pay—
And he fear’d at no very distant day
To be cut by Lord and by cadger,
As one, who has gone, or is going, to smash,
For his checks no longer drew the cash,
Because, as his comrades explain’d in flash,
“He had overdrawn his badger.”
Gold, gold—alas! for the gold
Spent where souls are bought and sold,
In Vice’s Walpurgis revel!
Alas! for muffles, and bulldogs, and guns,
The leg that walks, and the leg that runs,
All real evils, though Fancy ones,
When they lead to debt, dishonor, and duns,
Nay, to death, and perchance the devil!
Alas! for the last of a Golden race!
Had she cried her wrongs in the market-place,
She had warrant for all her clamor—
For the worst of rogues, and brutes, and rakes,
Was breaking her heart by constant aches,
With as little remorse as the Pauper, who breaks
A flint with a parish hammer!