Miss Kilmansegg took off her leg,
And laid it down like a cribbage-peg,
For the Rout was done and the riot:
The Square was hush’d; not a sound was heard;
The sky was gray, and no creature stirr’d,
Except one little precocious bird,
That chirp’d—and then was quiet.
So still without,—so still within;—
It had been a sin
To drop a pin—
So intense is silence after a din,
It seem’d like Death’s rehearsal!
To stir the air no eddy came;
And the taper burnt with as still a flame,
As to flicker had been a burning shame,
In a calm so universal.
The time for sleep had come at last;
And there was the bed, so soft, so vast,
Quite a field of Bedfordshire clover;
Softer, cooler, and calmer, no doubt,
From the piece of work just ravell’d out,
For one of the pleasures of having a rout
Is the pleasure of having it over.
No sordid pallet, or truckle mean,
Of straw, and rug, and tatters unclean;
But a splendid, gilded, carved machine,
That was fit for a Royal Chamber.
On the top was a gorgeous golden wreath;
And the damask curtains hung beneath,
Like clouds of crimson and amber;
Curtains, held up by two little plump things,
With golden bodies and golden wings,—
Mere fins for such solidities—
Two cupids, in short,
Of the regular sort,
But the housemaid call’d them “Cupidities.”
No patchwork quilt, all seams and scars,
But velvet, powder’d with golden stars,
A fit mantle for Night-Commanders!
And the pillow, as white as snow undimm’d
And as cool as the pool that the breeze has skimmed,
Was cased in the finest cambric, and trimm’d
With the costliest lace of Flanders.
And the bed—of the Eider’s softest down,
’Twas a place to revel, to smother, to drown
In a bliss inferr’d by the Poet;
For if Ignorance be indeed a bliss,
What blessed ignorance equals this,
To sleep—and not to know it?
Oh bed! oh bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head;
But a place that to name would be ill-bred,
To the head with a wakeful trouble—
’Tis held by such a different lease!
To one, a place of comfort and peace,
All stuff’d with the down of stubble geese,
To another with only the stubble!
To one, a perfect Halcyon nest,
All calm, and balm, and quiet, and rest,
And soft as the fur of the cony—
To another, so restless for body and head,
That the bed seems borrow’d from Nettlebed,
And the pillow from Stratford the Stony!
To the happy, a first-class carriage of ease,
To the Land of Nod, or where you please;
But alas! for the watchers and weepers,
Who turn, and turn, and turn again,
But turn, and turn, and turn in vain,
With an anxious brain,
And thoughts in a train
That does not run upon sleepers!
Wide awake as the mousing owl,
Night-hawk, or other nocturnal fowl,—
But more profitless vigils keeping,—
Wide awake in the dark they stare,
Filling with phantoms the vacant air,
As if that Crookback’d Tyrant Care
Had plotted to kill them sleeping.
And oh! when the blessed diurnal light
Is quench’d by the providential night,
To render our slumber more certain!
Pity, pity the wretches that weep,
For they must be wretched, who cannot sleep
When God himself draws the curtain!
The careful Betty the pillow beats,
And airs the blankets, and smooths the sheets,
And gives the mattress a shaking—
But vainly Betty performs her part,
If a ruffled head and a rumpled heart,
As well as the couch want making.
There’s Morbid, all bile, and verjuice, and nerves,
Where other people would make preserves,
He turns his fruits into pickles:
Jealous, envious, and fretful by day,
At night, to his own sharp fancies a prey,
He lies like a hedgehog roll’d up the wrong way,
Tormenting himself with his prickles.
But a child—that bids the world good night
In downright earnest and cuts it quite—
A Cherub no Art can copy,—
’Tis a perfect picture to see him lie
As if he had supp’d on a dormouse pie,
(An ancient classical dish, by the bye)
With a sauce of syrup of poppy.
Oh, bed! bed! bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head,
Whether lofty or low its condition!
But instead of putting our plagues on shelves,
In our blankets how often we toss ourselves,
Or are toss’d by such allegorical elves
As Pride, Hate, Greed, and Ambition!
The independent Miss Kilmansegg
Took off her independent Leg
And laid it beneath her pillow,
And then on the bed her frame she cast,
The time for repose had come at last,
But long, long, after the storm is past
Rolls the turbid, turbulent billow.
No part she had in vulgar cares
That belong to common household affairs—
Nocturnal annoyances such as theirs,
Who lie with a shrewd surmising,
That while they are couchant (a bitter cup!)
Their bread and butter are getting up,
And the coals, confound them, are rising.
No fear she had her sleep to postpone,
Like the crippled Widow who weeps alone,
And cannot make a doze her own,
For the dread that mayhap on the morrow,
The true and Christian reading to baulk,
A broker will take up her bed and walk,
By way of curing her sorrow.
No cause like these she had to bewail:
But the breath of applause had blown a gale,
And winds from that quarter seldom fail
To cause some human commotion;
But whenever such breezes coincide
With the very spring-tide
Of human pride,
There’s no such swell on the ocean!
Peace, and ease, and slumber lost,
She turn’d, and roll’d, and tumbled and toss’d,
With a tumult that would not settle.
A common case, indeed, with such
As have too little, or think too much,
Of the precious and glittering metal.
Gold!—she saw at her golden foot
The Peer whose tree had an olden root,
The Proud, the Great, the Learned to boot,
The handsome, the gay, and the witty—
The Man of Science—of Arms—of Art,
The man who deals but at Pleasure’s mart,
And the man who deals in the City.
Gold, still gold—and true to the mould!
In the very scheme of her dream it told;
For, by magical transmutation,
From her Leg through her body it seem’d to go,
Till, gold above, and gold below.
She was gold, all gold, from her little gold toe
To her organ of Veneration!
And still she retain’d through Fancy’s art
The Golden Bow, and the Golden Dart,
With which she had play’d a Goddess’s part
In her recent glorification:
And still, like one of the selfsame brood,
On a Plinth of the selfsame metal she stood
For the whole world’s adoration.
And hymns and incense around her roll’d,
From Golden Harps and Censers of Gold,—
For Fancy in dreams is as uncontroll’d
As a horse without a bridle:
What wonder, then, from all checks exempt,
If, inspired by the Golden Leg, she dreamt
She was turn’d to a Golden Idol?