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A GENTLEMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
He lived in that past Georgian day,
When men were less inclined to say
That “ Time is Gold,” and overlay
With toil their pleasure ;
He held some land, and dwelt thereon,
Where, I forget,—the house is gone ;
His Christian name, I think, was John,-
His surname, Leisure.
Reynolds has painted him,-a face
Filled with a fine, old-fashioned grace,
Fresh-coloured, frank, with ne'er a trace
Of trouble shaded ;
The eyes are blue, the hair is drest
In plainest way,-one hand is prest
Deep in a flapped canary vest,
With buds brocaded.
He wears a brown old Brunswick coat,
With silver buttons,-round his throat,
A soft cravat ;-in all you note
An elder fashion,
A strangeness, which, to us who shine
In shapely hats,—whose coats combine
All harmonies of hue and line,
He lived so long ago, you see !
Men were untravelled then, but we,
Like Ariel, post o'er land and sea
With careless parting ;
He found it quite enough for him
To smoke his pipe in “ garden trim,”
And watch, about the fish tank's brim,
The swallows darting.
He liked the well-wheel's creaking tongue,-
He liked the thrush that stopped and sung, --
He liked the drone of flies among
His netted peaches;
He liked to watch the sunlight fall
Athwart his ivied orchard wall ;
Or pause to catch the cuckoo's call
Beyond the beeches.
His were the times of Paint and Patch,
And yet no Ranelagh could match
The sober doves that round his thatch
Spread tails and sidled ;
He liked their ruffling, puffed content, — For him their drowsy wheelings meant More than a Mall of Beaux that bent,
Or Belles that bridled.
Not that, in truth, when life began
He shunned the flutter of the fan;
He too had maybe "pinked his man
In Beauty's quarrel ;
But now his "fervent youth ” had flown
Where lost things go ; and he was grown
As staid and slow-paced as his own
Old hunter, Sorrel.
Yet still he loved the chase, and held
That no composer's score excelled
The merry horn, when Sweetlip swelled
Its jovial riot ;
But most his measured words of praise
Caressed the angler's easy ways, –
His idly meditative days,
His rustic diet.
Not that his “meditating ” rose
Beyond a sunny summer doze ;
He never troubled his repose
With fruitless prying;
But held, as law for high and low,
What God withholds no man can know,
And smiled away inquiry so,
We read-alas, how much we read!
The jumbled strifes of creed and creed
With endless controversies feed
Our groaning tables;
His books—and they sufficed him—were
Cotton's “ Montaigne,” “The Grave ” of Blair,
A “Walton”_much the worse for wear,
And “Æsop's Fables.”
One more,—"The Bible." Not that he
Had searched its page as deep as we;
No sophistries could make him see
Its slender credit;
It may be that he could not count
The sires and sons to Jesse's fount,-
He liked the “Sermon on the Mount,”
And more, he read it.
Once he had loved, but failed to wed,
A red-cheeked lass who long was dead;
His ways were far too slow, he said,
To quite forget her ;
And still when time had turned him gray, The earliest hawthorn buds in May Would find his lingering feet astray,
Where first he met her.
“ In Cælo Quies" heads the stone
On Leisure's grave,—now little known,
A tangle of wild-rose has grown
So thick across it ;
The “Benefactions” still declare
He left the clerk an elbow-chair,
And “12 Pence Yearly to Prepare
A Christmas Posset."
Lie softly, Leisure ! Doubtless you,
With too serene a conscience drew
Your easy breath, and slumbered through
The gravest issue;
But we, to whom our age allows
Scarce space to wipe our weary brows,
Look down upon your narrow house,
Old friend, and miss you !