Our youth! our childhood! that spring of springs!
’Tis surely one of the blessedest things
That nature ever intended!
When the rich are wealthy beyond their wealth,
And the poor are rich in spirits and health,
And all with their lots contented!
There’s little Phelim, he sings like a thrush,
In the selfsame pair of patchwork plush,
With the selfsame empty pockets,
That tempted his daddy so often to cut
His throat, or jump in the water-butt—
But what cares Phelim? an empty nut
Would sooner bring tears to their sockets.
Give him a collar without a skirt,
(That’s the Irish linen for shirt)
And a slice of bread with a taste of dirt,
(That’s Poverty’s Irish butter)
And what does he lack to make him blest?
Some oyster-shells, or a sparrow’s nest,
A candle-end and a gutter.
But to leave the happy Phelim alone,
Gnawing, perchance, a marrowless bone,
For which no dog would quarrel—
Turn we to little Miss Kilmansegg,
Cutting her first little toothy-peg
With a fifty-guinea coral—
A peg upon which
About poor and rich
Reflection might hang a moral.
Born in wealth, and wealthily nursed,
Capp’d, papp’d, napp’d, and lapp’d from the first
On the knees of Prodigality,
Her childhood was one eternal round
Of the game of going on Tickler’s ground
Picking up gold—in reality.
With extempore carts she never play’d,
Or the odds and ends of a Tinker’s Trade,
Or little dirt pies and puddings made,
Like children happy and squalid;
The very puppet she had to pet,
Like a bait for the “Nix my Dolly” set,
Was a Dolly of gold—and solid!
Gold! and gold! ’twas the burden still!
To gain the Heiress’s early good-will
There was much corruption and bribery—
The yearly cost of her golden toys
Would have given half London’s Charity Boys
And Charity Girls the annual joys
Of a holiday dinner at Highbury.
Bon-bons she ate from the gilt cornet;
And gilded queens on St. Bartlemy’s day;
Till her fancy was tinged by her presents—
And first a Goldfinch excited her wish,
Then a spherical bowl with its Golden fish,
And then two Golden Pheasants.
Nay, once she squall’d and scream’d like wild—
And it shows how the bias we give to a child
Is a thing most weighty and solemn:—
But whence was wonder or blame to spring
If little Miss K.,—after such a swing—
Made a dust for the flaming gilded thing
On the top of the Fish Street column?