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Seeing she chose for her retreat
The warm west-looking window-seat,
Where, if you chanced to raise your feet.
You slumbered soundly.
This, 'twixt ourselves. The dear old dame,
In truth, was not so much to blame ;
The excellent divine I name
Is scarcely stirring;
Her plain-song piety preferred
Pure life to precept. If she erred,
She knew her faults. Her softest word
Was for the erring.
If she had loved, or if she kept
Some ancient memory green, or wept
Over the shoulder-knot that slept
Within her cuff-box,
I know not. Only this I know,
At sixty-five she'd still her beau,
A lean French exile, lame and slow,
With monstrous snuff-box.
Younger than she, well-born and bred.
She'd found him in St. Giles', half dead
Of teaching French for nightly bed
And daily dinners;
Starving, in fact, 'twixt want and pride;
And so, henceforth, you always spied
His rusty "pigeon-wings" beside
Her Mechlin pinners.
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
He died soon after.
Dear Madam Placid! Others knew
Your worth as well as he, and threw
Their flowers upon your coffin too,
I take for granted.
Their loves are lost; but still we see
Your kind and gracious memory
Bloom yearly with the almond tree
The Frenchman planted.
THE BALLAD OF "BEAU BROCADE."
"Hark! I hear the sound of coaches!" BEGGAR'S OPERA.
EVENTEEN hundred and thirty-nine :-
That was the date of this tale of mine.
First great GEORGE was buried and gone;
GEORGE the Second was plodding on.
LONDON then, as the "Guides" aver,
Shared its glories with Westminster ;
And people of rank, to correct their "tone,"
Went out of town to Marybone.
Those were the days of the War with Spain,
PORTO-BELLO would soon be ta'en;
WHITEFIELD preached to the colliers grim,
Bishops in lawn sleeves preached at him;
WALPOLE talked of "a man and his price ";
Nobody's virtue was over-nice :-
Those, in fine, were the brave days when
Coaches were stopped by ... Highwaymen !
And of all the knights of the gentle trade
Nobody bolder than "BEAU BROCADE."
This they knew on the whole way down;
Best,-maybe,-at the "Oak and Crown."
(For timorous cits on their pilgrimage
Would "club" for a "Guard" to ride the stage;
And the Guard that rode on more than one
Was the Host of this hostel's sister's son.)
Open we here on a March-day fine,
Under the oak with the hanging sign.
There was Barber DICK with his basin by;
Cobbler JOE with the patch on his eye;
Portly product of Beef and Beer,
JOHN the host, he was standing near.
Straining and creaking, with wheels awry,
Lumbering came the "Plymouth Fly" ;—
Lumbering up from Bagshot Heath,
Guard in the basket armed to the teeth;
Passengers heavily armed inside;
Not the less surely the coach had been tried!
Tried!-but a couple of miles away,
By a well-dressed man !—in the open day!
Tried successfully, never a doubt,—
Pockets of passengers all turned out!
Cloak-bags rifled, and cushions ripped,—
Even an Ensign's wallet stripped!
Even a Methodist hosier's wife
Offered the choice of her Money or Life!
Highwayman's manners no less polite,
Hoped that their coppers (returned) were right ;—
Sorry to find the company poor,
Hoped next time they 'd travel with more ;-
Plucked them all at his ease, in short:-
Such was the "Plymouth Fly's" report.