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Such peals of thunder as rumbled at Lear,
To turn the smallest of table-beer,
A little whisper breathed into the ear
Will sour a temper as sour as varges."
In fact such very ill blood there grew,
From this private circulation of stories,
That the nearest neighbors the village through,
Look'd at each other as yellow and blue
As any electioneering crew
Wearing the colors of Whigs and Tories.
Ah! well the Poet said, in sooth,
That whispering tongues can poison Truth,-
Yea, like a dose of oxalic acid,
Wrench and convulse poor Peace, the placid,
And rack dear Love with internal fuel,
Like arsenic pastry, or what is as cruel,
Sugar of lead, that sweetens gruel,
At least such torments began to wring 'em
From the very morn
When that mischievous Horn
Caught the whisper of tongues in Tringham.
The Social Clubs dissolved in huffs,
And the Sons of Harmony came to cuffs,
While feuds arose, and family quarrels,
That discomposed the mechanics of morals,
For screws were loose between brother and brother,
While sisters fasten'd their nails on each other.
Such wrangles, and jangles, and miff, and tiff,
And spar, and jar—and breezes as stiff
As ever upset a friendship or skiff!
The plighted Lovers, who used to walk,
Refused to meet, and declined to talk;
And wish'd for two moons to reflect the sun,
That they mightn't look together on one;
While wedded affection ran so low,
That the oldest John Anderson snubbed his Jo-
And instead of the toddle adown the hill,
Hand in hand,
As the song has planned, Scratch'd her, penniless, out of his will !
In short, to describe what came to pass
In a true, though somewhat theatrical way, Instead of “Love in a Village”—alas !
The piece they perform'd was “ The Devil to Pay !"
However, as secrets are brought to light,
And mischief comes home like chickens at night;
And rivers are track'd throughout their course,
And forgeries traced to their proper source ;-
And the sow that ought
By the ear is caught,And the sin to the sinful door is brought; And the cat at last escapes from the bagAnd the saddle is placed on the proper nag ; And the fog blows off, and the key is foundAnd the faulty scent is pick'd out by the houndAnd the fact turns up like a worm from the groundAnd the matter gets wind to waft it about; And a hint goes abroad, and the murder is outAnd the riddle is guess'd--and the puzzle is knownSo the truth was sniff'd, and the Trumpet was blown !
"Tis a day in November-a day of fogBut the Tringham people are all agog;
Fathers, Mothers, and Mothers' Sons,-
With sticks, and staves, and swords, and guns,
As if in pursuit of a rabid dog ;
But their voices--raised to the highest pitch-
Declare that the game is “a Witch !-a Witch !”
Over the Green, and along by the George
Past the Stocks, and the Church, and the Forge,
And round the Pound, and skirting the Pond,
Till they come to the whitewash'd cottage beyond,
And there at the door they muster and cluster,
And thump, and kick, and bellow, and bluster-
Enough to put Old Nick in a fluster!
A noise, indeed, so loud and long,
And mix'd with expressions so very strong,
That supposing, according to popular fame,
" Wise Woman” and Witch to be the same,
No Hag with a broom would unwisely stop,
But up and away through the chimney-top;
Whereas, the moment they burst the door,
Planted fast on her sanded floor,
With her Trumpet up to her organ of hearing,
Lo and behold !—Dame Eleanor Spearing !
Oh! then arises the fearful shout-
Bawl’d and scream'd, and bandied about-
“Seize her !Drag the old Jezebel out!”
While the Beadle—the foremost of all the band,
Snatches the Horn from her trembling hand-
And after a pause of doubt and fear,
Puts it up to his sharpest ear.
“Now silence-silence-one and all !” For the Clerk is quoting from Holy Paul !
But before he rehearses
A couple of verses
The Beadle lets the Trumpet fall;
For instead of the words so pious and humble,
He hears a supernatural grumble.
Enough, enough! and more than enough;
Twenty impatient hands and rough,
By arm, and leg, and neck, and scruff,
Apron, 'kerchief, gown of stuff-
Cap, and pinter, sleeve, and cuff-
Are clutching the Witch wherever they can,
With the spite of Woman and fury of Man;
And then-but first they kill her cat,
And murder her dog on the very mat-
And crush the Infernal Trumpet flat;-
And then they hurry her through the door
She never, never, will enter more!
Away! away! down the dusty lane
They pull her, and haul her, with might and main;
And happy the hawbuck, Tom or Harry,
Dandy, or Sandy, Jerry, or Larry,
Who happens to get “a leg to carry!”
And happy the foot that can give her a kick,
And happy the hand that can find a brick-
And happy the fingers that hold a stick-
Knife to cut, or pin to prick-
And happy the Boy who can lend her a lick ;-
Nay, happy the Urchin-Charity-bred,
Who can shy very nigh to her wicked old head
Alas! to think how people's creeds
Are contradicted by people's deeds!
But though the wishes that Witches utter
Can play the most diabolical rigs-
Send styes in the eye—and measle the pigs-
Grease horses' heels—and spoil the butter;
Smut and mildew the corn on the stalk-
And turn new milk to water and chalk,-
Blight apples—and give the chickens the pip-
And cramp the stomach—and cripple the hip
And waste the body—and addle the eggs-
And give a baby bandy legs ;
Though in common belief a Witch's curse
Involves all these horrible things, and worse-
As ignorant bumpkins all profess,
No Bumpkin makes a poke the less
At the back or ribs of old Eleanor S.!
As if she were only a sack of barley ;
Or gives her credit for greater might
Than the Powers of Darkness confer at night
On that other old woman, the parish Charley!
Ay, now's the time for a Witch to call
On her Imps and Sucklings one and all-
Newes, Pyewacket, or Peck in the Crown
(As Matthew Hopkins has handed them down),
Dick, and Willet, and Sugar-and Sack,
Greedy Grizel, Jarmara the Black,
Vinegar Tom and the rest of the pack-
Ay, now's the nick for her friend Old Harry
To come " with his tail” like the bold Glengarry,
And drive her foes from their savage job
As a mad Black Bullock would scatter a mob;
But no such matter is down in the bond;
And spite of her cries that never cease,
But scare the ducks and astonish the geese,
The Dame is dragg’d to the fatal pond !
And now they come to the water's brim-
And in they bundle her-sink or swim;
Though it's twenty to one that the wretch must drown,
With twenty sticks to hold her down;
Including the help to the self-same end,
Which a travelling Pedlar stops to lend.
A Pedlar!-Yes !—The same !-the same !
Who sold the Horn to the drowning Dame!
And now is foremost amid the stir,
With a token only reveal'd to her;
A token that makes her shudder and shriek,
And point with her finger, and strive to speak-
But before she can utter the name of the Devil,
Her head under the water-level !
There are folks about town—to name no names-
Who much resemble that deafest of Dames;