The moon—the moon, so silver and cold,
Her fickle temper has oft been told,
Now shady—now bright and sunny—
But of all the lunar things that change,
The one that shows most fickle and strange,
And takes the most eccentric range,
Is the moon—so call’d—of honey!
To some a full-grown orb reveal’d
As big and as round as Norval’s shield,
And as bright as a burner Bude-lighted;
To others as dull, and dingy, and damp,
As any oleaginous lamp,
Of the regular old parochial stamp,
In a London fog benighted.
To the loving, a bright and constant sphere,
That makes earth’s commonest things appear
All poetic, romantic, and tender:
Hanging with jewels a cabbage-stump,
And investing a common post, or a pump,
A currant-bush, or a gooseberry clump,
With a halo of dreamlike splendor.
A sphere such as shone from Italian skies,
In Juliet’s dear, dark, liquid eyes,
Tipping trees with its argent braveries—
And to couples not favor’d with Fortune’s boons
One of the most delightful of moons,
For it brightens their pewter platters and spoons
Like a silver service of Savory’s!
For all is bright, and beauteous, and clear,
And the meanest thing most precious and dear
When the magic of love is present:
Love, that lends a sweetness and grace
To the humblest spot and the plainest face—
That turns Wilderness Row into Paradise Place,
And Garlick Hill to Mount Pleasant!
Love that sweetens sugarless tea,
And makes contentment and joy agree
With the coarsest boarding and bedding:
Love, that no golden ties can attach,
But nestles under the humblest thatch,
And will fly away from an Emperor’s match
To dance at a Penny Wedding!
Oh, happy, happy, thrice happy state,
When such a bright Planet governs the fate
Of a pair of united lovers!
’Tis theirs, in spite of the Serpent’s hiss,
To enjoy the pure primeval kiss,
With as much of the old original bliss
As mortality ever recovers!
There’s strength in double joints, no doubt,
In double X Ale, and Dublin Stout,
That the single sorts know nothing about—
And a fist is strongest when doubled—
And double aqua-fortis, of course,
And double soda-water, perforce,
Are the strongest that ever bubbled!
There’s double beauty whenever a Swan
Swims on a Lake, with her double thereon;
And ask the gardener, Luke or John,
Of the beauty of double-blowing—
A double dahlia delights the eye;
And it’s far the loveliest sight in the sky
When a double rainbow is glowing!
There’s warmth in a pair of double soles;
As well as a double allowance of coals—
In a coat that is double-breasted—
In double windows and double doors;
And a double U wind is blest by scores
For its warmth to the tender-chested.
There’s a twofold sweetness in double pipes;
And a double barrel and double snipes
Give the sportsman a duplicate pleasure;
There’s double safety in double locks:
And double letters bring cash for the box:
And all the world knows that double knocks,
Are gentility’s double measure.
There’s a double sweetness in double rhymes,
And a double at Whist and a double Times
In profit are certainly double—
By doubling, the Hare contrives to escape;
And all seamen delight in a doubled Cape,
And a double-reef’d topsail in trouble.
There’s a double chuck at a double chin,
And of course there’s a double pleasure therein,
If the parties were brought to telling:
And however our Dennises take offence,
A double meaning shows double sense;
And if proverbs tell truth,
A double tooth
Is Wisdom’s adopted dwelling!
But double wisdom, and pleasure, and sense,
Beauty, respect, strength, comfort, and thence
Through whatever the list discovers,
They are all in the double blessedness summ’d,
Of what was formerly doubled-drumm’d,
The Marriage of two true Lovers!
Now the Kilmansegg Moon,—it must be told—
Though instead of silver it tipp’d with gold—
Shone rather wan, and distant, and cold,
And before its days were at thirty,
Such gloomy clouds began to collect,
With an ominous ring of ill effect,
As gave but too much cause to expect
Such weather as seamen call dirty!
And yet the moon was the “Young May Moon,”
And the scented hawthorn had blossom’d soon,
And the thrush and the blackbird were singing—
The snow-white lambs were skipping in play,
And the bee was humming a tune all day
To flowers, as welcome as flowers in May,
And the trout in the stream was springing!
But what were the hues of the blooming earth,
Its scents—its sounds—or the music and mirth
Of its furr’d or its feather’d creatures,
To a Pair in the world’s last sordid stage,
Who had never look’d into Nature’s page,
And had strange ideas of a Golden Age,
Without any Arcadian features?
And what were joys of the pastoral kind
To a Bride—town-made—with a heart and a mind
With simplicity ever at battle?
A bride of an ostentatious race,
Who, thrown in the Golden Farmer’s place,
Would have trimm’d her shepherds with golden lace,
And gilt the horns of her cattle.
She could not please the pigs with her whim,
And the sheep wouldn’t cast their eyes at a limb
For which she had been such a martyr:
The deer in the park, and the colts at grass,
And the cows unheeded let it pass;
And the ass on the common was such an ass,
That he wouldn’t have swopp’d
The thistle he cropp’d
For her Leg, including the Garter!
She hated lanes and she hated fields—
She hated all that the country yields—
And barely knew turnips from clover;
She hated walking in any shape,
And a country stile was an awkward scrape,
Without the bribe of a mob to gape
At the Leg in clambering over!
O blessed nature, “O rus! O rus!”
Who cannot sigh for the country thus,
Absorb’d in a wordly torpor—
Who does not yearn for its meadow-sweet breath,
Untainted by care, and crime, and death,
And to stand sometimes upon grass or heath—
That soul, spite of gold, is a pauper!
But to hail the pearly advent of morn,
And relish the odor fresh from the thorn,
She was far too pamper’d a madam—
Or to joy in the daylight waxing strong,
While, after ages of sorrow and wrong,
The scorn of the proud, the misrule of the strong,
And all the woes that to man belong,
The Lark still carols the selfsame song
That he did to the uncurst Adam!
The Lark! she had given all Leipzig’s flocks
For a Vauxhall tune in a musical box;
And as for the birds in the thicket,
Thrush or ousel in leafy niche,
The linnet or finch, she was far too rich
To care for a Morning Concert, to which
She was welcome without any ticket.
Gold, still gold, her standard of old,
All pastoral joys were tried by gold,
Or by fancies golden and crural—
Till ere she had pass’d one week unblest,
As her agricultural Uncle’s guest,
Her mind was made up, and fully imprest,
That felicity could not be rural!
And the Count?—to the snow-white lambs at play,
And all the scents and the sights of May,
And the birds that warbled their passion,
His ears and dark eyes, and decided nose,
Were as deaf and as blind and as dull as those
That overlook the Bouquet de Rose,
The Huile Antique,
The Parfum Unique,
In a Barber’s Temple of Fashion.
To tell, indeed, the true extent
Of his rural bias, so far it went
As to covet estates in ring fences—
And for rural lore he had learn’d in town
That the country was green, turn’d up with brown,
And garnish’d with trees that a man might cut down
Instead of his own expenses.
And yet had that fault been his only one,
The Pair might have had few quarrels or none,
For their tastes thus far were in common;
But faults he had that a haughty bride
With a Golden Leg could hardly abide—
Faults that would even have roused the pride
Of a far less metalsome woman!
It was early days indeed for a wife,
In the very spring of her married life,
To be chill’d by its wintry weather—
But instead of sitting as Love-Birds do,
On Hymen’s turtles that bill and coo—
Enjoying their “moon and honey for two,”
They were scarcely seen together!
In vain she sat with her Precious Leg
A little exposed, à la Kilmansegg,
And roll’d her eyes in their sockets!
He left her in spite of her tender regards,
And those loving murmurs described by bards,
For the rattling of dice and the shuffling of cards,
And the poking of balls into pockets!
Moreover he loved the deepest stake
And the heaviest bets the players would make;
And he drank—the reverse of sparely,—
And he used strange curses that made her fret;
And when he play’d with herself at piquet,
She found, to her cost,
For she always lost,
That the Count did not count quite fairly.
And then came dark mistrust and doubt,
Gather’d by worming his secrets out,
And slips in his conversations—
Fears, which all her peace destroy’d,
That his title was null—his coffers were void—
And his French Château was in Spain, or enjoy’d
The most airy of situations.
But still his heart—if he had such a part—
She—only she—might possess his heart,
And hold his affections in fetters—
Alas! that hope, like a crazy ship,
Was forced its anchor and cable to slip
When, seduced by her fears, she took a dip
In his private papers and letters.
Letters that told of dangerous leagues;
And notes that hinted as many intrigues
As the Count’s in the “Barber of Seville”—
In short such mysteries came to light,
That the Countess-Bride, on the thirtieth night,
Woke and started up in affright,
And kick’d and scream’d with all her might,
And finally fainted away outright,
For she dreamt she had married the Devil!