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A GENTLEWOMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
HE lived in Georgian era too.
Most women then, if bards be true,
Devout and acid.
But hers was neither fate. She came
Patience or Prudence,-what you will,
As those old musky scents that fill
Our grandams' pillows;
And for her youthful portrait take
Some long-waist child of Hudson's make,
Stiffly at ease beside a lake
With swans and willows.
I keep her later semblance placed
In shadowy sanguine stipple traced
A placid face, in which surprise
For her e'en Time grew debonair.
Had spared to touch the fair old face,
So left her beautiful. Her age
Was comely as her youth was sage,
And yet she once had been the rage;—
Indeed, affirmed by one or two,
Some spark at Bath (as sparks will do)
Which Urban printed.
I know she thought; I know she felt; Perchance could sum, I doubt she spelt, She knew as little of the Celt
As of the Saxon;
I know she played and sang, for yet
Her tastes were not refined as ours;
Her art was sampler-work design,
Her luxury was elder-wine,—
She loved that "purely."
She was renowned, traditions say,
For June conserves, for curds and whey,
She knew, for sprains, what bands to choose,
For freckles, and was learned in brews
Yet studied little.
She would read,
On Sundays, "Pearson on the Creed,"
Though, as I think, she could not heed
Seeing she chose for her retreat
The warm west-looking window-seat,
This, 'twixt ourselves. The dear old dame,
Is scarcely stirring;
Her plain-song piety preferred
Pure life to precept. If she erred,
She knew her faults. Her softest word
If she had loved, or if she kept
Some ancient memory green, or wept
I know not.
Within her cuff-box,
Only this I know,
At sixty-five she'd still her beau,
A lean French exile, lame and slow,
Younger than she, well-born and bred.
And daily dinners;
Starving, in fact, 'twixt want and pride;
He worshipped her, you may suppose. She gained him pupils, gave him clothes, Delighted in his dry bon-mots
And cackling laughter;
And when, at last, the long duet
Of conversation and picquet
Ceased with her death, of sheer regret
Dear Madam Placid! Others knew
Their loves are lost; but still we see
Bloom yearly with the almond tree
The Frenchman planted.