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XXII. THE MODERN PUFFING SYSTEM.
FROM AN EPISTLE TO SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ.
UNLIKE those feeble gales of praise
Which critics blew in former days,
Our modern puffs are of a kind
That truly, really, "raise the wind;"
And since they 've fairly set in blowing,
We find them the best "trade-winds" going.
What steam is on the deep-and more
Is the vast power of Puff on shore;
Which jumps to glory's future tenses
Before the present even commences,
And makes "immortal" and "divine" of us
Before the world has read one line of us.
In old times, when the god of song
Drove his own two-horse team along,
Carrying inside a bard or two
Booked for posterity "all through,"
Their luggage, a few closed-packed rhymes
(Like yours, my friend, for after-times), -
So slow the pull to Fame's abode,
That folks oft slumbered on the road;
And Homer's self, sometimes, they say,
Took to his night-cap on the way.
But, now, how different is the story
With our new galloping sons of glory,
Who, scorning all such slack and slow time,
Dash to posterity in no time!
Raise but one general blast of Puff
To start your author that's enough!
In vain the critics, set to watch him,
Try at the starting-post to catch him:
He's off-the puffers carry it hollow —
The critics, if they please, may follow.
Ere they 've laid down their first positions,
He's fairly blown through six editions!
In vain doth Edinburgh dispense
Her blue-and-yellow pestilence
*An allusion to the Edinburgh Review, the Edinburgh edition of which has blue covers, backed with yellow,
PREACHING VERSUS PRACTICE.
(That plague so awful, in my time,
To young and touchy sons of rhyme);
The Quarterly, at three months' date,
To catch the Unread One, comes too late;
And nonsense, littered in a hurry,
Becomes" immortal," spite of Murray.*
XXIII. MY LITTLE COUSINS.
LAUGH on, fair cousins, for to you all life is joyous yet;
Your hearts have all things to pursue, and nothing to regret ;
And every flower to you is fair, and every month is May;
You've not been introduced to Care,-laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
Old Time will fling his clouds ere long upon those sunny eyes;
The voice, whose every word is song, will set itself to sighs;
Your quiet slumbers,hopes and fears will chase their rest away;
To-morrow you'll be shedding tears, laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
O, yes; if any truth is found in the dull schoolman's theme,
If Friendship is an empty sound, and Love an idle dream,
If Mirth, youth's playmate, feels fatigue too soon on life's long way,
At least he'll run with you a league, laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
Perhaps your eyes may grow more bright as childhood's hues depart;
You may be lovelier to the sight, and dearer to the heart;
You may be sinless still, and see this earth still green and gay;
But what you are you will not be, laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
O'er me have many winters crept, with less of grief than joy;
But I have learned, and toiled, and wept, I am no more a boy!
I've never had the gout, 't is true; my hair is hardly gray;
But now I can not laugh like you, - laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
I used to have as glad a face, as shadowless a brow;
I once could run as blithe a race as you are running now;
But never mind how I behave, - don't interrupt your play,
And, though I look so very grave, laugh on, laugh on, to-day!
XXIV. — PREACHING VERSUS PRACTICE.
A YOUNGSTER at school, more sedate than the rest,
Had once his integrity put to the test;
His comrades had plotted an orchard to rob,
And asked him to go and assist in the job.
He was shocked, sir, like you, and answered, “O, no!
What! rob our good neighbor? I pray you, don't go !
Besides, the man's poor, his orchard's his bread;
Then think of his children, for they must be fed."
*Murray, the publisher of the London Quarterly Review.
"You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
But apples we want, and apples we'll have:
If you will go with us, why, you 'll have a share;
If not, you shall have neither apple nor pear."
They spoke, and Tom pondered-"I see they will go :
Poor man! what a pity to injure him so!
Poor man! I would save him his fruit, if I could,
But my staying behind will now do him no good.
"If the matter depended alone upon me,
His apples might hang till they dropped from the tree;
But since they will take them, I think I'll go, too;
He will lose none by me, though I get a few."
His scruples thus silenced, Tom felt more at ease,
And went with his comrades the apples to seize ;
He blamed and protested, but joined in the plan;
He shared in the plunder, but pitied the man.
O! THE old, old clock, of the household stock,
Was the brightest thing and neatest;
Its hands, though old, had a touch of gold,
And its chime rang still the sweetest.
'T was a monitor, too, though its words were few,
Yet they lived, though nations altered;
And its voice, still strong, warned old and young,
When the voice of friendship faltered!
"Tick, tick," it said; "quick, quick, to bed,-
For ten I've given warning;
Up, up, and go, or else you know
You'll never rise soon in the morning!
A friendly voice was that old, old clock,
As it stood in the corner smiling,
And blessed the time with a merry chime,
The wintry hours beguiling;
But a cross old voice was that tiresome clock,
As it called at daybreak boldly,
When the dawn looked gray o'er the misty way,
And the early air blew coldly.
"Tick, tick," it said; "quick out of bed, For five I've given warning;
You'll never have health, you'll never get wealth,
Unless you 're up soon in the morning."
PART X.-LYRICAL AND NARRATIVE PIECES.
YONDER is a little drum, hanging on the wall;
Dusty wreaths and tattered flags round about it fall.
A shepherd youth on Cheviot's hills watched the sheep whose skin
A cunning workman wrought, and gave the little drum its din:
And happy was the shepherd-boy whilst tending of his fold,
Nor thought he there was in the world a spot like Cheviot's wold.
And so it was for many a day; but change with time will come;
And he― (alas for him the day!)- he heard the little drum.
Follow," said the drummer-boy, "would you live in story! For he who strikes a foeman down wins a wreath of glory." “Rub-a-dub! and rub-a-dub!"* the drummer beats away The shepherd lets his bleating flock on Cheviot wildly stray. On Egypt's arid wastes of sand the shepherd now is lying; Around him many a parching tongue for "water" faintly crying: O, that he were on Cheviot's hills, with velvet verdure spread, Or lying 'mid the blooming heath where oft he made his bed! Or could he drink of those sweet rills that trickle to its vales, Or breathe once more the balminess of Cheviot's mountain gales! At length upon his wearied eyes the mists of slumber come, And he is in his home again-till wakened by the drum! "Take arms! take arms!" his leader cries; "the hated foeman's nigh!"
Guns loudly roar, steel clanks on steel, and thousands fall to die. The shepherd's blood makes red the sand: "O! water - give
My voice might reach a friendly ear-but for that little drum!"
'Mid moaning men, and dying men, the drummer kept his way, And many a one by "glory" lured did curse the drum that day. "Rub-a-dub! and rub-a-dub!" the drummer beat aloudThe shepherd died! and, ere the morn, the hot sand was his shroud. And this is "glory"?—Yes; and still will man the tempter follow, Nor learn that glory, like its drum, is but a sound—and hollow. ANON. (altered).
*The speaker may here imitate the action of a drummer.
THE midnight hour was drawing on;
Hushed in repose lay Babylon.
But in the palace of the king
The herd of courtiers shout and sing:
There, in his royal banquet-hall,
Belshazzar holds high festival.
The servants sit in glittering rows,
The beakers are drained, the red wine flows;
The beakers clash, and the servants sing,—
A pleasing sound to the moody king.
The king's cheeks flush, and his wild eyes shine;
His spirit waxes bold with wine;
Until, by maddening passion stung,
He blasphemes God with impious tongue;
And his proud heart swells as he wildly raves,
'Mid shouts of applause from his fawning slaves.
He spoke the word, and his eyes flashed flame!
The ready servant went and came;
Vessels of massy gold he bore,
Jehovah's temple's plundered store.
And, seizing a consecrated cup,
The king, in his fury, fills it
He fills, and hastily drains it dry,
From his foaming lips leaps forth the cry, "Jehovah! at thee my scorn I fling!
I am Belshazzar, Babylon's king!"
Yet scarce had the impious words been said, When the king's heart shrank with a secret dread: Suddenly died the shout and yell
A death-like hush on the tumult fell.
And, lo on the wall, as they gazed aghast,
What seemed like a human hand went past,
And wrote and wrote, in sight of all,
Letters of fire upon the wall!
The king sat still, with a stōny look, -
His trembling knees with terror shook:
The menial throng nor spoke nor stirred;
Fear froze their blood, no sound was heard!
The Magians came; but none of all
Could read the writing on the wall.