[ocr errors][merged small]

The Pedlar was gone.

With the Horn's assistance, She heard his steps die away in the distance ; And then she heard the tick of the clock, The purring of puss, and the snoring of Shock; And she purposely dropped a pin that was little, And heard it fall as plain as a skittle !

'Twas a wonderful Horn, to be but just !
Nor meant to gather dust, must, and rust;
So in half a jiffy, or less than that,
In her scarlet cloak and her steeple-hat,
Like old Dame Ty but without her Cat,
The Gossip was hunting all Tringham thorough,
As if she meant to canvass the borough,

Trumpet in hand, or up to the cavity ;-
And, sure, had the horn been one of those
The wild Rhinoceros wears on his nose,

It couldn't have ripp'd up more depravity!

Depravity! mercy shield her ears!
'Twas plain enough that her village peers

In the ways of vice were no raw beginners;
For whenever she raised the tube to her drum,
Such sounds were transmitted as only come

From the very Brass Band of human sinners!
Ribald jest and blasphemous curse
(Bunyan never vented worse),
With all those weeds, not flowers, of speech
Which the Seven Dialecticians teach;
Filthy Conjunctions, and Dissolute Nouns,
And Particles pick'd from the kennels of towns,
With Irregular Verbs for irregular jobs,
Chiefly active in rows and mobs,
Picking Possessive Pronouns' fobs,

And Interjections as bad as a blight,
Or an Eastern blast, to the blood and the sight;
Fanciful phrases for crime and sin,
And smacking of vulgar lips where Gin,
Garlic, Tobacco, and offals go in-
A jargon so truly adapted, in fact,
To each thievish, obscene, and ferocious act,
So fit for the brute with the human shape,
Savage Baboon, or libidinous Ape,
From their ugly mouths it will certainly come
Should they ever get weary of shamming dumb'

Alas! for the voice of Virtue and Truth,
And the sweet little innocent prattle of youth !
The smallest urchin whose tongue could tang,
Shock'd the Dame with a volley of slang,
Fit for Fagin's juvenile gang;

While the charity chap,

With his muffin-cap,
His crimson coat, and his badge so garish,
Playing at dumps, or pitch in the hole,
Cursed his eyes, limbs, body, and soul,

As if they didn't belong to the Parish!

'Twas awful to hear, as she went along,
The wicked words of the popular song ;

Or supposing she listen'd—as gossips will-
At a door ajar, or a window agape,
To catch the sounds they allow'd to escape,

Those sounds belong'd to Depravity still !
The dark allusion, or bolder brag
Of the dexterous “ dodge,” and the lots of " swag,"
The plunder'd house—or the stolen nag-
The blazing rick, or the darker crime
That quench'd the spark before its time-
The wanton speech of the wife immoral-
The noise of drunken or deadly quarrel,
With savage menaces, which threaten’d the life,

Till the heart seem'd merely a strop " for the knife ;"
The human liver, no better than that
Which is sliced and thrown to an old woman's cat;

And the head, so useful for shaking and nodding, To be punch'd into holes, like “a shocking bad hat"

That is only fit to be punch'd into wadding!

In short, wherever she turn'd the horn,
To the highly bred, or the lowly born,
The working man who look'd over the hedge,
Or the mother nursing her infant pledge,

The sober Quaker, averse to quarrels,
Or the Governess pacing the village through,
With her twelve Young Ladies, two and two,
Looking, as such young ladies do,

Truss'd by Decorum and stuff?d with morals
Whether she listen’d to Hob or Bob,

Nob or Snob,

The Squire on his cob,
Or Trudge and his ass at a tinkering job,
To the Saint who expounded at“ Little Zion
Or the “Sinner who kept the Golden Lion”.
The man teetotally wean'd from liquor-
The Beadle, the Clerk, or the Reverend Vicar-
Nay, the very Pie in its cage of wicker-
She gather'd such meanings, double or single,

That like the bell

With muffins to sell,
Her ear was kept in a constant tingle !

But this was naught to the tales of shame,
The constant runnings of evil fame,
Foul, and dirty, and black as ink,
That her ancient cronies, with nod and wink,
Pour'd in her horn like slops in a sink :

While sitting in conclave, as gossips do,
With their Hyson or Howqua, black or green,
And not a little of feline spleen

Lapp'd up in “Catty packages,” too,

To give a zest to the sipping and supping ;
For still by some invisible tether,
Scandal and Tea are link'd together,

As surely as Scarification and Cupping ;
Yet never since Scandal drank Bohea-
Or sloe, or whatever it happen'd to be,

For some grocerly thieves

Turn over new leaves
Without much amending their lives or their tea-
No, never since cup was fillid or stirr'd
Were such vile and horrible anecdotes heard,
As blackend their neighbors, of either gender,
Especially that which is call'd the Tender,
But instead of the softness we fancy therewith,
As harden'd in vice as the vice of a smith.

Women! the wretches ! had soild and marr'd

Whatever to womanly nature belongs; For the marriage tie they had no regard, Nay, sped their mates to the sexton's yard

(Like Madame Laffarge, who with poisonous pinches

Kept cutting off her L by inches), And as for drinking, they drank so hard

That they drank their flat-irons, pokers, and tongs ! The men—they fought and gambled at fairs; And poach'd-and didn't respect grey hairsStole linen, money, plate, poultry, and corses; And broke in houses as well as horses ; Unfolded folds to kill their own mutton, And would their own mothers and wives for a button But not to repeat the deeds they did, Backsliding in spite of all moral skid, If all were true that fell from the tongue, There was not a villager, old or young, But deserved to be whipp’d, imprison’d, or hung, Or sent on those travels which nobody hurries To publish at Colburn's, or Longman's, or Murray's.

Meanwhile the Trumpet, con amore,
Transmitted each vile diabolical story ;
And gave the least whisper of slips and falls,
As that Gallery does in the Dome of St. Paul's,
Which, as all the world knows, by practice or print,
Is famous for making the most of a hint.

Not a murmur of shame,

Or buzz of blame,
Not a flying report that flew at a name,
Not a plausible gloss, or significant note,
Not a word in the scandalous circles afloat
Of a beam in the eye or diminutive mote,
But vortex-like that tube of tin
Suck'd the censorious particle in;

And, truth to tell, for as willing an organ
As ever listen’d to serpent's hiss,
Nor took the viperous sound amiss,

On the snaky head of an ancient Gorgon!

The Dame, it is true, would mutter “shocking !”
And give her head a sorrowful rocking,
And make a clucking with palate and tongue,
Like the call of Partlett to gather her young:
A sound, when human, that always proclaims
At least a thousand pities and shames,

But still the darker the tale of sin,
Like certain folks when calamities burst,
Who find a comfort in “ hearing the worst,”

The farther she poked the Trumpet in.
Nay, worse, whatever she heard, she spread

East and West, and North and South,
Like the ball which, according to Captain Z.
Went in at his ear, and came out at his mouth.

What wonder between the horn and the Dame, Such mischief was made wherever they came, That the Parish of Tringham was all in a flame!

For although it requires such loud discharges, PART II.


« VorigeDoorgaan »