I had forgotten-but must not forget-
An orator, the latest of the session,
Who had deliver'd well a very set

Smooth speech, his first and maidenly transgression
Upon debate: the papers echoed yet

With this début, which made a strong impression, And rank'd with what is every day display'd"The best first speech that ever yet was made."


Proud of his "Hear hims!" proud too of his vote,
And lost virginity of oratory,

Proud of his learning (just enough to quote),

He revell'd in his Ciceronian glory :

With memory excellent to get by rote,

With wit to hatch a pun or tell a story,

Graced with some merit and with more effrontery,
"His country's pride," he came down to the country.


There also were two wits by acclamation,

Longbow from Ireland, Strongbow from the Tweed, Both lawyers, and both men of education;

But Strongbow's wit was of more polish'd breed: Longbow was rich in an imagination

As beautiful and bounding as a steed,

But sometimes stumbling over a potatoe,—

While Strongbow's best things might have come from Cato.


Strongbow was like a new-tuned harpsichord;

But Longbow wild as an Æolian harp,

With which the winds of heaven can claim accord,
And make a music, whether flat or sharp.

Of Strongbow's talk you would not change a word;
At Longbow's phrases you might sometimes carp:
Both wits-one born so, and the other bred,
This by his heart—his rival by his head.


If all these seem a heterogeneous mass,
To be assembled at a country-seat,
Yet think a specimen of every class

Is better than a humdrum tête-à-tête.

The days of comedy are gone, alas!

When Congreve's fool could vie with Molière's béle: Society is smoothed to that excess,

That manners hardly differ more than dress.


Our ridicules are kept in the back-ground,
Ridiculous enough, but also dull;
Professions too are no more to be found
Professional; and there is nought to cull
Of folly's fruit; for though your fools abound,
They're barren and not worth the pains to pull.
Society is now one polish'd horde,

Form'd of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.


But from being farmers, we turn gleaners, gleaning
The scanty but right well thresh'd ears of truth;
And, gentle reader! when you gather meaning,
You may be Boaz, and I-modest Ruth.
Further I'd quote, but Scripture, intervening,
Forbids. A great impression in my youth
Was made by Mrs. Adams, where she cries
"That Scriptures out of church are blasphemies.”7


But when we can, we glean in this vile age
Of chaff, although our gleanings be not grist.
I must not quite omit the talking sage,

Kit-Cat, the famous conversationist,

Who, in his common-place book, had a page

Prepared each morn for evenings. "List, oh list !”"Alas, poor ghost!"-What unexpected woes Await those who have studied their bons-mots!


Firstly, they must allure the conversation
By many windings to their clever clinch;
And secondly, must let slip no occasion,
Nor bate (abate) their hearers of an inch,
But take an ell--and make a great sensation,
If possible; and thirdly, never flinch
When some smart talker puts them to the test,
But seize the last word, which no doubt 's the best.


Lord Henry and his lady were the hosts;

The party we have touch'd on were the guests:
Their table was a board to tempt even ghosts
To pass the Styx for more substantial feasts.
I will not dwell upon ragouts or roasts,
Albeit all human history attests

That happiness for man—the hungry sinner !-
Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.


Witness the lands which "flow'd with milk and honey," Held out unto the hungry Israelites :

To this we 've added since the love of money,

The only sort of pleasure which requites.

Youth fades, and leaves our days no longer sunny;
We tire of mistresses and parasites;

But oh, ambrosial cash! ah! who would lose thee?
When we no more can use, or e'en abuse thee!


The gentlemen got up betimes to shoot,

Or hunt; the young, because they like the sportThe first thing boys like after play and fruit:

The middle-aged, to make the day more short; For ennui is a growth of English root,

Though nameless in our language; we retort The fact for words, and let the French translate That awful yawn which sleep cannot abate.


The elderly walk'd through the library,

And tumbled books, or criticised the pictures,
Or saunter'd through the gardens piteously,
And made upon the hot-house several strictures,
Or rode a nag which trotted not too high,

Or on the morning papers read their lectures,
Or on the watch their longing eyes would fix,
Longing, at sixty, for the hour of six.


But none were géné: the great hour of union
Was rung by dinner's knell; till then all were
Masters of their own time-or in communion,
Or solitary, as they chose to bear

The hours, which how to pass is but to few known,
Each rose up at his own, and had to spare
What time he chose for dress, and broke his fast
Where, when, and how he chose for that repast.


The ladies-some rouged, some a little pale--
Met the morn as they might. If fine, they rode,
Or walk'd; if foul, they read, or told a tale,

Sung, or rehearsed the last dance from abroad;
Discuss'd the fashion which might next prevail,

And settled bonnets by the newest code;
Or cramm'd twelve sheets into one little letter,
To make each correspondent a new debtor.


For some had absent lovers, all had friends.
The earth has nothing like a she-epistle,
And hardly heaven—because it never ends.
I love the mystery of a female missal,
Which, like a creed, ne'er says all it intends,
But full of cunning as Ulysses' whistle,
When he allured poor Dolon :-you had better
Take care what you reply to such a letter.


Then there were billiards, cards too, but no dice;
Save in the clubs no man of honour plays;—
Boats when 't was water, skaiting when 't was ice,
And the hard frosts destroy'd the scenting days:
And angling too, that solitary vice,

Whatever Isaac Walton sings or says:

The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet
Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it.


With evening came the banquet and the wine;
The conversazione; the duet,
Attuned by voices more or less divine


(My heart or head aches with the memory yet).
The four Miss Rawbolds in a glee would shine;
But the two youngest loved more to be set
Down to the harp-because to music's charms
They added graceful necks, white hands and arms.


Sometimes a dance (though rarely on field-days,
For then the gentlemen were rather tired)
Display'd some sylph-like figures in its maze :

Then there was small-talk ready when required;
Flirtation-but decorous; the mere praise

Of charms that should or should not be admired;
The hunters fought their fox-hunt o'er again,
And then retreated soberly-at ten.


The politicians, in a nook apart,

Discuss'd the world, and settled all the spheres,
The wits watch'd every loop-hole for their art,
To introduce a bon mot, head and ears;
Small is the rest of those who would be smart,

A moment's good thing may have cost them years
Before they find an hour to introduce it,

And then, even then, some bore may make them lose it.


But all was gentle and aristocratic

In this our party; polish'd, smooth, and cold, As Phidian forms cut out of marble Attic.

There now are no Squire Westerns, as of old; And our Sophias are not so emphatic,

But fair as then, or fairer to behold.

We 've no accomplish'd blackguards, like Tom Jones, But gentlemen in stays, as stiff as stones.


They separated at an early hour;

That is, ere midnight-which is London's noon:
But in the country ladies seek their bower
A little earlier than the waning moon.
Peace to the slumbers of each folded flower-

May the rose call back its true colours soon!
Good hours of fair cheeks are the fairest tinters,
And lower the price of rouge—at least some winters.

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