The Baldwin Library
EVENINGS AT HOME
AUNT CHARLOTTE'S BOOKS FOR CHILDREN.
Uniform in Size, Price, and Appearance with "Aunt Charlotte's
Evenings at Home."
Eacr iprofuzel IHlustrateb, (ilt iges, price 6/-.
BY CHARLOTTE M. YONGE,
AUTHOR OF "THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE," &C., &C.
Stories of ENGLISH ....History for the Little Ones.
,, BIBLE..........History for the Little Ones.
,, FRENCH......History for the Little Ones.
,, ROMAN.........History for the Little Ones.
,, GERMAN.....History for the Little Ones.
GREEK ........History for the Little Ones.
,, AMERICAN History for the Little Ones.
A COMPLETE CATALOGUE OF MARCUS WARD & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS
SENT POST FREE ON APPLICATION.
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EVENINGS AT HOME
WITH THE POETS
A Collection of Poems for the Young, with Conversations,
arranged in Twenty-five Evenings
CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
AUTHOR OF "THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE," STORIES OF ENGLISH HISTORY,"
"STORIES OF BIBLE HISTORY," &C.
WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS, FROM DRAWINGS BY MRS. J. W. WHYMPER
MARCUS WARD & CO., 67, 68, CHANDOS STREET, W.C.
AND ROYAL ULSTER WORKS, BELFAST
AN endeavour has been made to render the
ensuing selection of Poetry for Children some-
what unlike the numerous collections already in print,
by in some degree classifying the subjects; and like-
wise, by adding such explanations, and, in some cases,
criticisms and notices of the authors and occasions
on which the verses were written, as may render them
more interesting to young readers. The conversa-
tional form has been adopted as best suited to the
variety of comments and elucidations that seemed to
be called for.
Old favourites and new have been brought together,
some very easy, others more advanced. Among
English living authors who have kindly given per-
mission for the use of their works, I have to thank
the Archbishop of Dublin, Professors Morley and
Miller, Mrs. Alexander, Dr. Bennett, Mr. F. W.
Bourdillon, Rev. Frederick Langbridge, Mr. Alling-
ham, Mr. Sabine Baring-Gould; also the author and
publishers of two charming poems in Little Folks,
and of another from the Magazine for the Young,
with other kind anonymous writers. Also the repre-
sentatives of Mrs. Barrett Browning, Rev. J. Keble,
and the Rev. H. Whitehead. Also Messrs. C.
Kegan Paul & Co., for the two poems from the
Lzfe of Mrs. Gilbert-" The Song of the Tea-kettle"
and "Crocuses," and the three poems-" Silent Bells
of Bottreau," Ringers of Lancell's Tower," Baptism
of the Peasant and the Prince," by Rev. R. Hawker;
Messrs. Rivingtons, for the poem, Baby to Daylight,"
by Rev. H. Lyte; Messrs. George Routledge & Sons,
for the poem, "Hide and Seek in a Manor-House ;"
Messrs. F. Warne & Co., for How the Bees Swarm,"
by Mrs. Gemmer; Messrs. Griffith & Farren, for
"Kitten Gossip," by Mr. Westwood; Messrs. A.
Strahan & Co., for "Where did you come from?"
by Dr. George Macdonald.
C. M. YONGE.
EVENING I.-THE GLOW-WORM, 9
,, II.-CATS AND KITTENS, 22
,, III.-WIND AND RAIN, $. 40
IV.-THE BUTTERFLY'S BALL, AND THE PEACOCK AT
,, V.-THE FOX, 74
,, VII.-KING ROBERT'S BOWL, 102
,, VIII.-THE FIRESIDE, 114
X.-ROBIN REDBREAST, 135
,, XI.-BELLS, 151
,, XII.-FROGS AND TOADS, 68
,, XIII.-THE BABY, 177
,, XIV.-BEARS, 188
--- ^--r- ------ ( ^^*__- ^^ _-
EVENING XVI.- BUTTERFLIES, 226
,, XVII.-LITTLE THINGS, 236
,, XVIII.-FAIRY LORE, 246
,, XIX.-SNAKES AND CROCODILES, 270
XX.-THE SPIDER, 281
XXI.-TEMPTATION AND FAITHFULNESS, 297
,, XXII.-A FEW FLOWERS, 313
,, XXIII.-THE POULTRY-YARD, 327
,, XXIV.-THE MAY-FLY, 335
,, XXV.-SHELLS, 350
THE BUTTERFLY'S BALL (p. 58), Frontisfiece.
THE GLOW-WORM, 20
THE CRICKET, 114
THE TOAD, .170
THE BUTTERFLY'S FUNERAL, .232
THE SPIDER, 286
THE MAY-FLY, 336
THE NAUTILUS, 350
Smnt halil tte'. qnnl.s at omn.
AUNT CHARLOTTE, ALICE, GRACE, EDMUND.
Alice. Aunt Charlotte, we have a scheme.
Aunt C. Let me hear it.
Alice. You have a delightful portfolio of drawings
of all sorts of things.
Grace. Cats and dogs, and crickets, and nautilus
Aunt C. Well, we need not have the whole cata-
logue, Gracie. What of them ?
Alice. I thought how nice it would be if we could
put together all the verses about each of them.
Suppose every evening we fixed on a picture, and
Io Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
brought all the verses we could hunt up about it in
the course of the day.
Edmund. What humbug !
Aunt C. I am not so sure of that, Edmund; I
think you would find that we were much amused by
Edmund. For instance, here's your first picture--a
glow-worm. What can any one find to say about a
Alice. Oh, Aunt Charlotte, do let me repeat the
verses you wrote for me when I was little.
DAME GLOW-WORM'S LAMP.
Oh! see that shining spark,
Bright gleaming in the dark;
Is it a tiny star,
Dropt from the heavens afar ?
Gem of the summer night,
Of purest emerald light!
Within her mossy nest,
In grey and russet drest,
Dame Glow-worm trims her light,
To lure her wandering knight.
Sir Glow-worm, clad in mail,
Borne on the summer gale,
With tiny lamp beneath,
Flies over hill and heath.
The Glow-worm. I
Wherever he may roam,
Her lamp will call him home.
Pattern of household mirth,
Lighting our home and hearth;
Pattern of homely love,
Caught from the Heaven above;
Pattern of that true Light
That makes our pathway bright.
Edmund. There! they show what nonsense it is.
Alice. Not a bit, Edmund. It is quite true, is it
not, Aunt, that the male glow-worms fly about and
don't shine, and the females shine, but have no wings ?
Aunt C. It is nearly true; but I have lately seen
it stated that male glow-worms have a very faint lamp
on the under side of their bodies, though I am not
sure that they always show them. At any rate, we
are not likely to find them out, for we usually see the
creatures as little beetles, which dash in on early
autumn evenings, attracted by our lamps and candles.
Edmund. Then this male is neither worm nor glow!
Aunt C. A very little glow. The animal is really
and truly classed as a beetle with a wingless female.
Alice. I am afraid that you are too scientific to
enjoy the verses that I have here, since they make the
12 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
glow-worm both masculine and a reptile-neither of
which it can be called.
Beneath the hedge, or near the stream,
A worm is known to stray;
That shows by night a lucid beam,
Which disappears by day.
Disputes have been, and still prevail,
From whence his rays proceed;
Some give that honour to his tail,
And others to his head.
But this is sure-the Hand of might,
That kindles up the skies,
Gives him a modicum of light
Proportioned to his size.
Perhaps indulgent Nature meant,
By such a lamp bestowed,
To bid the traveller as he went
Be careful where he trod.
Nor crush a worm, whose useful light
Might serve, however small,
To show a stumbling-stone by night,
And save him from a fall.
The Glow-worm. 13
Whate'er she meant, this truth divine
Is legible and plain,
'Tis power Almighty bids him shine,
Nor bids him shine in vain.
Ye proud and wealthy, let this theme
Teach humbler thoughts to you,
Since such a reptile has its gem,
And boasts its splendour too.
Aunt C. Cowper knew little of natural science, but
that was not needed to convey the great thought in
the last verses-the one thing in which all study
results-the Power that bids him shine."
Alice. Is there not another poem of Cowper's about
Aunt C. The fable of the nightingale and glow-
THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM.
A Nightingale that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
14 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off upon the ground
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the Glow-worm by his spark.
So, stooping down from hawthorn-top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The Worm, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus, quite eloquent-
"Did you admire my lamp," quoth he,
"As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song;
For 'twas the self-same Power divine
Taught you to sing and me to shine;
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night."
The songster heard his short oration,
And, warbling out his approbation,
Released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Edmund. I don't see much sense in that, by way of
fable! Pray, does it profess to have a moral, as they
call it ?
Alice. I suppose the moral is that we should respect
one another's endowments.
Aunt C. I believe there is thus much of fact in the
The Glow-worm. 15
fable, that wise men believe that the Glow-worm's
lovely green phosphorescent spark may have been
given her to scare away the birds that feed by night.
I cannot help thinking poor Cowper was a sort of
Glow-worm in his own way, though he little enjoyed
his own light. Do you know anything about him ?
Edmund. Didn't he keep hares, and go out of
his mind ?
Alice. What an odd jumble.
Edmund. Can you mend it ?
Alice. I know he was born in I730, and died in
1800, for I learnt that in my book of dates. I am
sure he wrote a great deal.
Grace. Something about his mother's picture.
Aunt C. It is a sad story. He lost both his father
and mother when a very little child, and that poem
describes his dim recollections of his happy child-
hood. He was sent to Westminster school, and being
very timid and delicate, was terribly bullied, and made
most miserable. He says that he was so much afraid
of the boy to whom he was fag, that he never raised
his eyes above his shoes, and did not know what his
face was like.
16 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Edmund. He must have been a horrid little
Aunt C. Most likely he was of a nature quite unfit
for school, and these were rough times; but who knows
how much the thoughtless cruelty of that boy may
have had to do with his broken spirits ? He grew up
and studied the law, and was very happy with some
young cousins, with whom, he said, he spent his time
in giggling and making giggle. But when an office
was vacant, to which one of his relations was going to
appoint him, after an examination, he worked himself
up into such an agony that a terrible attack of disease
came on; and though he lived for many years
longer, he could never return to the business of life.
He was boarded with a clergyman at Huntingdon,
named Unwin; and when Mr. Unwin was killed by a
fall from his horse, his widow continued to take care
of Mr. Cowper. They lived first at Olney and then
at Weston, and there Cowper gardened, played with
his tame hares, wrote delightful letters, and, in especial,
wrote verses in a much more simple, natural style than
most of those who had gone before him. Properly
speaking, that first poem on the Glow-worm is his
The Glow-worm. 17
translation from a scholar named Vincent Bourne,
who wrote Latin verses.
Alice. You call him a Glow-worm because his was
a bright pure light in a dark place ?
Aunt C. Yes; in very evil times his voice was
always raised to uphold whatever was good, and that
in the midst of the utmost sadness of heart. Every-
thing seemed dark and hopeless to himself, and yet,
instead of grieving other people with his sorrows, he
always showed himself playful and cheerful, as long as
he had strength of mind or body to hold up against
his depression. But we must not leave off sorrowful,
and I have still another Glow-worm poem for you.
THE PILGRIM'S DREAM;
QR, THE STAR AND THE GLOW-WORM.
A pilgrim, when the sunny day
Had closed upon his weary way,
A lodging begged beneath a castle's roof;
But him the haughty warder spurned,
And from the gate the pilgrim turned,
To seek such covert as the field
Or heath-besprinkled copse might yield,
Or lofty wood, shower proof.
18 Auunt Charlottee's Poetry Book.
He paced along, and, pensively,
Halting beneath a shady tree,
Whose moss-grown root might serve for couch or
Fixed on a star his upward eye; [seat,
Then, from the tenant of the sky,
He turned, and watched with kindred look
A Glow-worm, in a dusky nook,
Apparent at his feet.
The murmur of a neighboring stream
Induced a soft and slumbrous dream-
A pregnant dream, within whose shadowy bounds
He recognized the earth-born Star,
And that which glittered from afar;
And (strange to witness!) from the frame
Of the ethereal orb, there came
Much did it taunt the humbler light,
That now, when day was fled, and night
Hushed the dark earth-fast closing weary eyes,
A very reptile could presume
To show her taper in the gloom,
As if in rivalship with one
Who sate a ruler in his throne
Erected in the skies.
The Glow-worm. 19
" Exalted Star !" the Worm replied,
"Abate this unbecoming pride,
Or with a less uneasy lustre shine.
Thou shrink'st as momently thy rays
Are mastered by the breaking haze;
While neither mist, nor thickest cloud
That shapes in heaven its murky shroud,
Hath power to injure mine.
" But not for this do I aspire
To match the spark of local fire,
That at my will burns on the dewy lawn,
With thy acknowledged glories-No!
Yet, thus upbraided, I may show
What favours do attend me here,
Till, like thyself, I disappear
Before the purple dawn."
When this in modish guise was said,
Across the welkin seemed to spread
A boding sound-for aught but sleep unfit!
Hills quaked-the rivers backward ran-
That Star, so proud of late, looked wan,
And reeled with visionary stir
In the blue depth, like Lucifer
Cast headlong to the pit!
20 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Fire raged, and when the spangled floor
Of ancient ether was no more,
New heavens succeeded, by the dream brought forth:
And all the happy souls that rode
Transfigured through that fresh abode,
Had heretofore, in humble trust,
Shone meekly 'mid their native dust,
The Glow-worms of the earth!
This knowledge, from an angel's voice
Proceeding, made the heart rejoice
Of him who slept upon the open lea;
Waking at morn, he murmured not,
And, till life's journey closed, the spot
Was to the pilgrim's soul endeared,
Where by that dream he had been cheered
Beneath the shady tree.
Edmund. There's the reptile again.
Alice. I don't think I quite understand it.
Edmund. What's the welkin ?
Alice. The sky-wolken in German. That's not
the difficulty to me. Was the star proud ?
Aunt C. I suppose so. The fable takes the star
as a thing temporal-proud of its exaltation, and
displeased to see any light like its own on earth. The
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The Glow-wvorm. 21
Glow-worm replies that at least her light is not liable
to be obscured by vapour and mist; though she dares
not compare herself to the star, still she will do her
best, till both shall disappear in the perfect day. Then
suddenly comes the end of all things, and the reward
of humility, when all the happy souls
Had heretofore in humble trust
Shone meekly through their native dust,
The Glow-worms of the earth.
Alice. That is like my favourite text, The path of
the just is the shining light, that shineth more and
more and more unto the perfect day."
Aunt C. The true lesson of the Glow-worm!
Alice. Please, Aunt Charlotte, set us some subject
to find verses for to-morrow.
Aunt C. Very well. THE CAT.
CATS AND KITTENS.
Ed. High diddle-diddle,
The cat and the fiddle
Alice. Hush, you horrible boy!
Ed. What! won't you have my poem ?
Aunt C. We should have too many of them. Cats
are too much the fashion in nursery rhymes to begin
on the stock; so we must be excused having Pussy
either in the well, or up the plum-tree, or even
rebuking her three kittens for losing their mittens.
Though we will hear Gracie's verses on the naughty
kittens, from my old book of copies of favourite verses,
the authors of which I cannot discover.
THE NAUGHTY KITTENS.
Two little kittens, one stormy night,
Began to quarrel and then to fight;
Cats and Kittens. 23
One had a mouse, and one had none-
This was the way the fight was begun.
I'11 have that mouse," said the bigger cat.
"You'll have that mouse ?-we'll see about that."
"I will have that mouse," said the oldest one.
You shan't have that mouse," said the little one.
I told you before 'twas a stormy night
When these two little kittens began to fight.
The old woman seized her sweeping broom,
And swept the two kittens right out of the room.
The ground was covered with frost and snow,
And the poor little kittens had nowhere to go.
So they laid themselves down on the mat at the door,
While the old woman finished her sweeping the floor;
And then they crept in, as quiet as mice,
All wet with the snow, and as cold as ice.
So they found it was better, that stormy night,
To lie down and sleep, than to quarrel and fight.
Alice. And don't you know, in that delightful book
of Mr. Westwood's, Berries and Blossoms-
Kitten, kitten, two months old,
Woolly snowball, lying snug
Curled up in the warmest fold
Of the warm hearth-rug,
Turn your downy head this way-
What is life ? Oh kitten, say.
24 Aunt Charlolle's Poetry Book.
Life," said the kitten, twitching her eyes,
And twitching her tail in a droll surprise-
Life ? Oh, it's racing over the floor,
Out of the window and in at the door,
Now on the chair-back, now on the table,
'Mid balls of cotton and skeins of silk,
And crumbs of sugar and jugs of milk,
All so cosy and comfortable.
It's patting the little dog's ears, and leaping
Round him and over him while he's sleeping,
Waking him up in a sore affright,
Then off and away like a flash of light,
Scouring and scampering out of sight.
Life ? Oh, it's rolling over and over
On the summer green turf and budding clover,
Chasing the shadows, as fast they run
Down the garden paths in the mid-day sun,
Prancing and gambolling, brave and bold,
Climbing the tree-stems, scratching the mould-
That's life," said the kitten two months old.
Kitten, kitten, come sit on my knee,
And lithe and listen, kitten, to me.
One by one, oh, one by one,
The shy, swift shadows sweep over the sun,
Daylight dieth, and kittenhood's done,
And kitten, oh! the rain and the wind,
For cathood cometh with careful mind,
Cats and Kzttens. 25
And grave cat duties follow behind.
Hark! there's a sound you cannot hear,
I '11 whisper its meaning in your ear-
(The kitten stared with her great green eyes,
And twitched her tail in a queer surprise)-
No more tit-bits, dainty and nice,
No more mischief and no more play,
But watching by night and sleeping by day,
Prowling wherever the foe doth lurk,
Very short commons and very sharp work;
And kitten, oh! the hail and the thunder,
That's a black cloud, but a blacker's under.
Hark !-but you '11 fall from my knee, I fear,
When I whisper that awful word in your ear-
(The kitten's heart beat with great pit-pats,
But her whiskers quivered, and from their sheath
Flashed out the sharp, white, pearly teeth)-
The scorn of dogs, but the terror of cats,
The cruellest foes and the fiercest fighters,
The sauciest thieves and the sharpest biters;
But, kitten, I see you've a stoutish heart,
So courage, and play an honest part.
Use well your paws, and strengthen your claws,
And sharpen your teeth, and stretch your jaws;
26 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Then woe to the tribe of pickers and stealers,
Nibblers and gnawers and evil dealers.
But now that you know life's not precisely
The thing your fancy pictured so nicely,
Off and away! race over the floor,
Out at the window and in at the door,
Roll on the turf and play in the sun,
Ere night-time cometh, and kittenhood's done.
Alice. I suppose it is an allegory of growing up.
Aunt C. You can have it in another aspect in the
"Kitten and Falling Leaves," at which you must
fancy Mr. Wordsworth looking, with his baby-daughter
Dora in his arms.
Alice. I know he was called a Lake poet, and lived
between 1770 and 1850, but that's all.
Aunt C. The name of Lake poets was given to the
three friends, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey,
and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, because they lived in
the Lake country in Westmoreland. Two of them
married sisters, and the whole lives of Wordsworth and
Southey were spent among those mountains. Words-
worth knew every rock and pass, loved every tree and
flower, and saw deep meanings in everything. He
Cats and Kittens. 27
delighted, too, in the homely, friendly people, and
talked and lived much with them. I told you that
Cowper made a great step in making poetry simple
and easy, and Wordsworth still more made it a
principle that the poetry should be in the thought, and
that the words had better be as plain and simple and
untwisted as possible.
Ed. Sensible man!
Alice. I hope he was happier than poor Cowper.
Aunt C. He was as happy a man as ever lived,
always thinking noble and sweet thoughts, and pour-
ing them out in flowing words, feeling that he was
doing his work in helping people to trace God's hand
in everything, and loved and honoured by all. It was
thought a great thing to see that fine venerable old
man; so, though some of his verses are sometimes
laughed at and thought childish, and others may be
lengthy and tiresome, he has really done much for
English taste in poetry. These verses were written
when he was a comparatively young man. Let us
have them, Alice.
Alice. Only, first, what is a parachute ?
Aunt C. A thing somewhat like an umbrella,
28 A4iut Charlotte's Poetry Book.
unclosed but not fastened, open. It was taken up
in balloons to descend in, opening as it fell, so as to
break the shock.
THE KITTEN AND THE FALLING LEAVES.
See the kitten on the wall,
Sporting with the leaves that fall;
Withered leaves-one-two-and three,
From the lofty elder tree.
Through the calm and frosty air
Of this morning, bright and fair,
Eddying round and round, they sink
Softly, lowly; one might think,
From the motions that are made,
Every little leaf conveyed
Sylph or fairy hither tending,
To this lower world descending,
Each invisible and mute
In his wavering parachute.
But the kitten, how she starts,
Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts,
First at one, and then its fellow,
Just as light and just as yellow.
There are many now-now one,
Now they stop, and there are none.
What intenseness of desire
In her upturned eye of fire;
1- ----- ---------- ------- ------- ____________________ _____ ______
Cats and Kittens. 29
With a tiger-leap half way,
Now she meets the coming prey,
Lets it go as fast, and then
Has it in her power again.
Now she works with three or four,
Like an Indian conjuror.
Quick as he in feats of art,
Far beyond in joy of heart;
Were her antics played in th' eye
Of a thousand standers by,
Clapping hands, with shout and stare,
What would little Tabby care
For the plaudits of the crowd ?
Far too happy to be proud,
Over-wealthy in the treasure
Of her own exceeding pleasure.
Grace. How pretty! How like the kitten!
Aunt C. This is only a portion of the poem. You
would be less interested in the rest; but I am going
to read you the conclusion, where Wordsworth says he
wishes ever to
Keep the sprightly soul awake,
And have faculties to take,
Even from things by sorrow taught,
Matter for a jocund thought;
30 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Spite of care, and spite of grief,
To gambol with life's falling leaf!"
Alice. He hopes to go on finding the way to be
cheerful, even among what is sad, like the leaves in
Aunt C. The same thought was with his brother-
in-law, Southey, much later in life. Here are a few
verses I am very fond of, from a longer poem, sup-
posed to be an answer to Mrs. Southey, when she
thought her husband was writing verses livelier and
more nonsensical than suited his years.
Nay, mistress mine (I made reply),
The autumn hath its flowers,
Nor ever is the sky more gay
Than in its evening hours.
Our good old cat, Earl Tom le Magne,
Upon a warm spring day,
Even like a kitten at its sport,
Is sometimes seen to play.
That sense which held me back in youth
From all intemperate gladness,
That same good instinct bids me shun
Cats and Kittens. 31
Nor marvel you, if I prefer
On playful themes to sing;
The October grove hath brighter tints
Than summer or than spring.
For o'er the leaves, before they fall,
Such hues hath Nature thrown,
That the woods bear, in sunless days,
A sunshine of their own.
Alice. Tom le Magne, Tom the Great, like Charle-
magne. I like that.
Grace. But there's only one verse about a cat.
Aunt C. To console you, here is an account, written
by Cowper, of an adventure of his cat. It is written
in a sort of mock-heroic style-that is, playfully making
a great deal of a very little.
THE RETIRED CAT.
A Poet's Cat, sedate and grave
As poet well could wish to have,
Was much addicted to enquire
For nooks to which she might retire,
And where, secure as mouse in chink,
She might repose, or sit and think.
Sometimes ascending, debonair,
An apple tree, or lofty pear,
_____ __________ ---------
32 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Lodged with convenience in the fork,
She watched the gardener at his work:
Sometimes her ease and solace sought
In an old empty watering-pot;
There, nothing wanting save a fan
To seem some nymph in her sedan,
Apparell'd in exactest sort,
And ready to be borne to court.
But love of change it seems has place
Not only in our wiser race;
Cats also feel, as well as we,
That passion's force, and so did she.
Her climbing, she began to find,
Exposed her too much to the wind,
And the old utensil of tin
Was cold and comfortless within:
She therefore wished, instead of those,
Some place of more serene repose,
Where neither cold might come, nor air
Too rudely wanton with her hair,
And sought it in the likeliest mode
Within her master's snug abode.
A drawer, it chanced, at bottom lined
With linen of the softest kind,
A drawer impending o'er the rest,
Half open, in the topmost chest,
Of depth enough, and none to spare,
Invited her to slumber there.
Cats and Kittens. 33
Puss, with delight beyond expression,
Surveyed the scene and took possession.
Recumbent at her ease, ere long,
And lulled by her own hum-drum song,
She left the cares of life behind,
And slept as she would sleep her last;
When in came, housewifely inclined,
The chambermaid, and shut it fast;
By no malignity impelled,
But all unconscious whom it held.
Awakened by the shock, cried Puss,
"Was ever cat attended thus !
This open drawer was left, I see,
Merely to prove a nest for me;
For soon as I was well composed,
Then came the maid, and it was closed.
How smooth these kerchiefs, and how sweet!
Oh, what a delicate retreat.
I will resign myself to rest
Till Sol, declining in the west,
Shall call to supper, when, no doubt,
Susan will come and let me out."
The evening came, the sun descended,
And Puss remained still unattended.
The night roll'd tardily away-
With her, indeed, 'twas never day-
The sprightly morn her course renewed,
The evening grey again ensued,
34 Aunt Clarlotte's Poetry Book.
And Puss came into mind no more
Than if entombed the day before.
With hunger pinched, and pinched for room,
She now presaged approaching doom,
Nor slept a single wink, or purred,
Conscious of jeopardy incurred.
That night, by chance, the Poet, watching,
Heard an inexplicable scratching;
His noble heart went pit-a-pat,
And to himself he said, "What's that ?
He drew the curtain at his side,
And forth he peep'd, but nothing spied;
Yet by his ear directed, guessed
Something imprisoned in the chest,
And, doubtful what, with prudent care,
Resolved it should continue there.
At length a voice which well he knew-
A long and melancholy mew,
Saluting his poetic ears,
Consoled him and dispell'd his fears.
He left his bed, he trod the floor,
And 'gan in haste the drawers explore,
The lowest first, and without stop
The rest in order, to the top ;
For 'tis a truth well known to most,
That whatsoever thing is lost,
We seek it, ere it come to light,
In every cranny but the right.
i _____________ __ ______ _
Cats and Kittens. 35
-Forth skipp'd the Cat, not now replete,
As erst, with airy self-conceit,
Nor in her own fond apprehension
A theme for all the world's attention:
But modest, sober, cured of all
Her notions hyperbolical,
And wishing for a place of rest
Anything rather than a chest.
Then stepped the Poet into bed
With this reflection in his head :-
Beware of too sublime a sense
Of your own worth and consequence!
The man who dreams himself so great,
And his importance of such weight,
That all around, in all that's done,
Must move and act for him alone,
Will learn, in school of tribulation,
The folly of his expectation.
Ed. You may well say it is a great deal of a very
Aunt C. But it is very gracefully told.
Grace. And Puss must have looked delightful in
the watering-pot, though I can't think how she got in.
But what does debonair mean ?
36 Aunt Charlotle's Poetry Book.
Aunt C. Divide it into three French words, de bon
air. It means graceful.
Alice. Is there any other cat poem ?
Aunt C. Yes, an elegy on the death of a cat, who
was drowned at least 150 years ago.
Ed. Some woman wrote it.
Aunt C. No, it was a great scholar, Fellow of Pem-
broke College at Cambridge, Mr. Thomas Gray. The
cat belonged to Horace Walpole. He was the son of
the great Sir Robert Walpole, and lived at Straw-
berry Hill, a place which he had filled with curiosities
of all sorts; so that it was a show and a wonder to
his friends in London. He was fond of old and new
books, and liked to have learned, clever, and amusing
people about him. Gray was a very shy man, happier
in his rooms at Cambridge, or at home with his old
mother and aunt, than in the gay, talking world; but
he and Horace Walpole were old school and college
friends, and Walpole made Gray's poetry known. So
when the Persian cat at Strawberry Hill drowned
herself by trying to catch some gold-fish, these verses
were written by Gray.
Cats and Kittens. 37
ON THE DEATH OF A CAT.
'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the gulf below.
Her conscious tail her joy declared:
Her fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
The ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.
Still had she gazed; but, 'midst the tide,
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream :
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.
The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise ?
What Cat's averse to fish ?
38 Aunf Ch/arlorte's Poetry Book.
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant fate sat by and smiled.)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every wat'ry god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred,
Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard.
A favorite has no friend!
From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize,
Nor all, that glisters, gold.
Alice. I see what you mean; it is not nearly so
simple as the verses by Cowper or Wordsworth.
Ed. He makes a very odd description of the fish.
Angel forms indeed, and Tyrian hue! That is purple.
Alice. There are dark purple marks on the young
I -- --- ----------------
Cats and Kittens. 39
ones. Besides, he means that this is as the fish
appeared to poor Selima.
Ed. I supposed she emerged eight times because
she had nine lives; but why should she mew to watery
Aunt C. Because classical allusions were the taste
of the time.
Alice. Nereids are river nymphs.
Ed. Fancy a Nereid, or a Dolphin either, in a china
Aunt C. Oh, you must not be too critical on what
was meant as a playful lamentation. You know the
story of the Dolphin that carried Arion to shore when
he was thrown overboard.
Alice. They are the prettiest, smoothest verses we
Aunt C. Gray was remarkable for the exceeding
polish he gave every line. We feel the habit even in
this playful piece, and far more in his grand ones.
Now, considering the moaning wind I hear, I am
afraid A RAINY DAY will be our most suitable subject
WIND AND RAIN.
Ed. I've got something jolly for you this time.
Aunt C. What! Edmund has condescended.
Alice. Oh, Aunt, we have been so glad to have to
hunt out our poems. It would have been such a long
dull day without!
Aunt C. You would have had to sing, like the clown
in "Twelfth Night"-
"When that I was, and a little tiny boy,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain;
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
A great while ago the world begun,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain ;
But that's all one, our play is done,
For the rain it raineth every day."
Wind and Rain. 41
Grace. What does it mean ?
Aunt C. I doubt whether the clown could tell you,
or Shakspere either.
Ed. Well, I know what mine means.
THE WIND IN A FROLIC.
The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, Now for a frolic, now for a leap,
Now for a madcap galloping chace,
I'll make a commotion in every place."
So it swept with a bustle right through a big town,
Creaking the signs, and scattering down
Shutters, and whisking with merciless squalls
Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a much lustier shout
As the apples and oranges trundled about;
And the urchins that stand, with their thievish eyes,
For ever on watch, ran off each with a prize.
Then away to the field it went, blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming;
It plucked by the tails the grave matronly cows,
And toss'd the colts' manes all about their brows;
Till, offended at such an unusual salute,
They all turned their backs, and stood silent and mute.
42 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
So on it went capering and playing its pranks,
Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks,
Puffing the birds as they sat on the spray,
Or the traveller grave on the king's highway;
It was not too nice to hustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.
'Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor's wig or the gentleman's cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gaily, Now,
You sturdy old oaks, I'11 make you bow."
And it made them bow without more ado,
As it crack'd their great branches through and through;
Then it rushed like a monster o'er cottage and farm,
Striking the dwellers with sudden alarm,
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
There were dames with their kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps.
The turkeys they gabbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd.
There was rearing of ladders, and logs laying on
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone;
But the wind had swept on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy who panted and struggled in vain,
For it toss'd him and twirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool, and his shoes in the mud.
Wind and Rain. 43
Then away went the wind in its holiday glee,
And now it was far on the billowy sea,
And the lordly ships felt its staggering blow,
And the little boats darted to and fro.
But lo! it was night, and it sank to rest
On the sea-bird's rock in the gleaming west,
Laughing to think, in its fearful fun,
How little of mischief it had done !
Aunt C. Thank you, Edmund. How much
William Howitt must have enjoyed writing that!
Alice. Who was he ?
Aunt C. A kindly Quaker gentleman, very fond
of country life. I do not think there were many
events in his history, and he died so recently that it
has not been written; but if I remember the news-
paper statement aright, he and his brother died the
same day--one in England and one abroad. He
wrote several books on country life, and one called
The Boy's Country Book is most diverting, and
professes to give his own adventures when a lad
living on a large farm. But I have another set of
verses here, for Gracie, showing what the wind can
44 Aunt Charlotte's Poelry Book.
do. They were written by Mr. Keble, when a young
Alice. The author of The Cihristian Year ?
Aunt C. Yes. He was a great lover of children,
though he never had any of his own, and was especially
fond of his nephew and nieces. Now, before anyone
knew of him as a great and good man and poet, he
was with some of these children at his father's house
at Fairford, in Gloucestershire. There is a rookery
round the field, and the Wind in a frolic seems to
have done much damage to the rooks' nests. He is
himself the Uncle John of the poem, which he seems
to have written to show the children that "'tis an ill
wind that blows nobody good."
There was a young Rook, and he lodged in a nook
Of Grandpapa's tallest elm-tree;
There came a strong wind, not at all to his mind,
All out of the north-west countree.
With a shrill piping sound this wind whistled round,
The boughs they all danced high and low;
Rock, rock went the nest where the birds were at rest,
Till over and over they go.
Wind and Rain. 45
Uncle John, walking round, saw the Rook on the ground,
And smooth'd it, and wished to revive;
Ann, Robert, and Hill, they all tried their skill,
In vain-the poor Rook would not live.
And if, in your fun, round the orchard you run,
You really would wonder to see
How sticks, moss, and feather are strewn by the weather
Beneath each old racketting tree.
'Tis a very bad wind, as in proverbs we find,
The wind that blows nobody good;
I have read it in books, yet sure the young Rooks
Would deny it to-day if they could.
They sure would deny, but they cannot well try;
Their cawing they have not yet learned ;
And 'tis just as well not, for a fancy I've got
How the wind to some use may be turned.
Do you see Martha Hunt, how she bears all the brunt
Of the chilly, damp, blustering day;
How gladly she picks all the littering sticks,
Her kettle will soon boil away.
How snug she will sit by the fire and knit,
While Daniel her fortune will praise;
The wind roars away; Master Wind," they will say,
"We thank you for this pretty blaze."
46 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Then, spite of the Rooks, what we read in the books
Is true, and the storm has done good;
It seems hard, I own, when the nests get o'erthrown,
But Daniel and Martha get wood.
Grace. The lady in the verses Alice found for me
did not think of that when she was cross with the rain.
A lady a party of pleasure made,
And she planned her scheme full well;
And early and late this party filled
The head of the demoiselle.
It rained all day, and it rained all night,
It rained when the morning broke,
It rained when the maiden went to sleep,
And it rained when she awoke.
Peevish and fretful the maiden grew
When the hour of noon was gone;
But the merry clouds knew nothing of that,
And the rain went pouring on.
The weather has got no business with us,
And we have none with the weather;
And temper and weather are different things,
But they always go together.
Wind and Rain. 47
Oh, anger and beauty, my lady dear,
Will never agree to share
The little white forehead that lifts its arch
Through the parting of thy hair.
The mists are strewn all over the hills,
And the valleys are ringing with floods,
And the heavy drops on the flat, broad leaves
Are making strange sounds in the woods.
Angels are round thee, and Heaven above,
And thy soul is alive within;
Shall a rainy day and a cloudy sky
Make a Christian heart to sin ?
Oh, wait for the sunset's dusky gold,
On the side of your mountain glen,
And seek the lone seat where the foxgloves grow,
And weep for thy folly then.
F. W. FABER.
Aunt C. I think she would catch a very bad cold
out on that wet seat. But it is a very wise lesson.
Alice. I hope I shall remember it the next wet day.
Aunt C. It is by Frederick William Faber, written
in his earlier days, long before the hymns by which he
is best known, the beautiful Pilgrims of the Night,"
and "0 Paradise."
Alice. Here is a very doleful one of Longfellow's.
48 Aunt Charlotte's Poe/ry Book.
THE RAINY DAY.
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Grace. He begins as if he needed a scolding as
much as the other lady who could not have her picnic!
Ed. And he does not end much better!
Alice. No; he does not make the best of it.
Aunt C. I cannot tell you much about Mr. Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, as, happily, he is still alive.
He is an American, as no doubt Alice knows, and all
Wind and Rain. 49
he writes is thoughtful and earnest. You have another
much more cheerful rainy day of his, Alice, decidedly
making the best of it.
RAIN IN SUMMER.
How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs!
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!
Across the window pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!
The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.
50 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Engulphs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.
In the country on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!
In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke-encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapours that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
From this rest in the furrow after toil,
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man's spoken word.
I _- ~ *~~ ~-- "----- -*-***------_---- ____
Wind and Rain. 51
Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.
These, and far more than these,
The poet sees!
He can behold
Walking the fenceless fields of air,
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him roll'd
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.
He can behold
That have not yet been wholly told-
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
52 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers underground;
And sees them when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colours seven,
Climbing up once more to heaven
Opposite the setting sun.
Thus the seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear.
In the perpetual round of strange
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth,
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
Turning for evermore
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.
Grace. Who is Aquarius ?
Aunt C. The Water-bearer-the constellation or
cluster of stars where the sun is in the rainy spring
months, so that he is the emblem of beneficent
showers. Can my little Gracie tell what the bridge of
colours seven means ?
Wind and Rain. 53
Alice. Mounting up to heaven, Gracie, when the sun
comes out after rain.
Grace. Oh! the Rainbow! How pretty that is!
Aunt C. Now you shall see what people get by
straggling out on wet days. Here is Cowper's
description of a walk he took, or tried to take, with
Mrs. Unwin, in the winter of 1782.
THE DISTRESSED TRAVELLERS;
LABOUR IN VAIN.
I sing of a journey to Clifton
We would have performed if we could,
Without cart or barrow to lift on
Poor Mary and me through the mud.
Stuck in the mud,
Oh, it is pretty to wade through a flood.
So away we went, slipping and sliding,
Hop, hop, la' mode de deux frogs;
'Tis near as good walking as riding
When ladies are dress'd in their clogs.
Wheels, no doubt,
Go briskly about,
But they clatter and rattle, and make such a rout.
54 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
She. Well, now, I protest it is charming,
How finely the weather improves!
That cloud, though, is rather alarming-
How slowly and stately it moves!
He. Pshaw! never mind,
'Tis not in the wind,
We are travelling south, and shall leave it behind.
She. I am glad we are come for an airing,
For folks may be pounded and penn'd
Until they grow rusty, not caring
To stir half-a-mile to an end.
The longer we stay,
The longer we may,
'Tis a folly to think about weather or way.
But now I begin to be frighted ;
If I fall, what a way I should roll!
I am glad that the bridge was indicted-
Stop! stop! I am sunk in a hole.
He. Nay! never care,
'Tis a common affair,
You'll not be the first that has set a foot there.
She. Let me breathe now a little, and ponder
On what it were better to do;
Wind and Rain. 55
That terrible lane I see yonder
I think we shall never get through.
He. So think I,
We never shall know if we never shall try.
She. But should we get there, how shall we get home ?
What a terrible deal of bad road we have past,
Slipping and sliding, and if we should come
To a difficult stile, I am ruined at last-
Oh, this lane!
Now it is plain
That struggling and striving is labour in vain.
He. Stick fast there, while I go and look.
She. Don't go away, for fear I should fall!
He. I have examined it every nook,
And what you have here is a sample of all.
Come, wheel round,
The dirt we have found
Would be an estate at a farthing a pound!
Alice. Fun a hundred years old, or nearly so, and
quite fresh still !
Aunt C. Here, too, is a poem by Mr. Bourdillon,
defending the much-abused east wind, and showing
that it is by no means a wind that blows nobody good.
56 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
THE EAST WIND.
An Angel I come, at the bidding of God,
But I leave no bowers of the Blest,
With flowers that follow me strewing the sod,
As the bountiful winds of the west.
Rather a sword in my hand I bring,
And a blast in my terrible breath,
To slay the warm life of the infant Spring
With a chill from the presence of Death.
The bare trees shiver, the budded sigh
For their first-born, never to blow,
While they linger unclad, as the spring goes by,
Till a thin late greenery grow.
The primrose face, and the violet,
Hide from my cold keen kiss;
And the butterfly droops, and would fain lie yet
In his late-left chrysalis.
Yet kindly the forward flowers I keep,
Lest untimely their day be done;
And the blue bright heaven my broad wings sweep
Of the clouds that grudge them the sun.
And merrily, merrily, over the sea,
The sailor to port I bring;
And cheerily, cheerily, over the lea,
In the ploughman's ears I sing.
WVind and Rain. 57
And the earth's warm heart, that was softened with
And saddened with days of rain, [snows,
I rouse from her weeping and dreaming of woes,
And brace her to bearing again.
Yet little of favour I find of men,
Or love of the flowers I love,
For I linger not to drowse in the glen,
Nor to dream in the shadowy grove.
And in vain I woo in the flowery wood;
Yet never I bow to despair;
But I break away, as a brave heart should,
From the places that scorn my care.
And out and away to the bare bleak downs
I rush, and the open sky,
My only lover that never frowns,
As the wild winds whistle by.
F. W. BOURDILLON.
THE BUTTERFLY'S BALL, & THE PEACOCK AT HOME.
Alice. You never proposed any subject for to-night,
Aunt C. Let us look into the portfolio, and see
what drawing comes first to hand.
Alice. Guests assembling for the Butterfly's ball."
Oh, I know that.
Grace. Please say it, Alice.
Alice. I will; but first, Auntie, did anyone write it
who is worth knowing about ?
Aunt C. Yes, certainly; Mr. Roscoe was a dis-
tinguished writer some eighty years ago. He was a
market-gardener's son at Liverpool, and, as a lad, used
to work in the potato fields with his father, but he
read as much as he could, and was very fond of
poetry. He thought that if he were a bookseller he
The Butterfly's Ball. 59
should be able to read as much as he chose, and he
served in a shop for a month; but he found handling
books did not mean reading them, so he became an
attorney's clerk, and, while in that situation, he and
some other youths managed, by getting up early in
the morning, to find time to learn Greek, Latin,
French, and Italian. He became a lawyer, but he was
such an admirable and elegant scholar in modern
languages, and wrote and thought so clearly, that he
lived chiefly by authorship. His books on Italian
history are especially noted, and he was also a great
botanist. He died in the year 1831, at seventy-eight
years old. I suppose he wrote these pretty fanciful
verses to amuse his children.
THE BUTTERFLY'S BALL.
Come, take up your hats, and away let us haste
To the Butterfly's ball and the Grasshopper's feast;
The trumpeter Gadfly has summon'd the crew,
And the revels are now only waiting for you.
On the smooth shaven grass, by the side of the wood,
Beneath a broad oak that for ages has stood,
See the children of earth, and the tenants of air,
For an evening's amusement together repair.
60 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
And there came the Beetle, so blind and so black,
Who carried the Emmet, his friend, on his back;
And there was the Gnat, and the Dragon-fly too,
With all their relations, green, orange, and blue.
And there came the Moth in his plumage of down,
And the Hornet in jacket of yellow and brown,
Who with him the Wasp, his companion, did bring,
But they promised that evening to lay by their sting.
And the sly little Dormouse crept out of his hole,
And led to the feast his blind brother, the Mole;
And the Snail, with his horns peeping out of his shell,
Came from a great distance, the length of an ell.
A mushroom their table, and on it was laid
A water-dock leaf, which a table-cloth made;
The viands were various, to each of their taste,
And the Bee brought his honey to sweeten the feast.
There, close on his haunches, so solemn and wise,
The Frog from a corner looked up to the skies;
And the Squirrel, well pleased such diversions to see,
Sat cracking his nuts overhead in a tree.
Then out came the Spider, with fingers so fine,
To show his dexterity on the tight line;
From one branch to another his cobwebs he slung,
Then as quick as an arrow he darted along.
Te Butterfly's Ball. 61
With step so majestic, the Snail did advance,
And promised the gazers a minuet to dance;
But they all laugh'd so loud that he pulled in his head,
And went in his own little chamber to bed.
Then as evening gave way to the shadows of night,
The watchman, the Glow-worm, came out with his light.
Then home let us hasten while yet we can see,
For no watchman is waiting for you and for me.
Ed. What business had the Frog and Snail and
Dormouse there ?
Grace. And Moles aren't blind. Papa showed me
two bright little eyes down under their fur.
Alice. I don't suppose Mr. Roscoe meant it for a
lesson in natural history. And it is just the way a
Spider does hang at the end of his thread, spreading
out his legs, which have really little claws at the
Grace. But what is a minuet ?
Aunt C. A very grand and stately dance, which
was performed by one couple before the whole
assembly, the gentleman with his hat in his hand.
Alice. Did you ever see it, Aunt ?
___--- --_-- --____________
62 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Aunt C. Only so far as that I learnt a few steps of
it. It was thought to give young ladies a good
deportment. Here is a sort of rival poem to the
Butterfly, written by a lady, Mrs. Dorset, not long
after. She has been much more careful to let her
Peacock only invite the bird community.
THE PEACOCK AT HOME.
The Butterfly's ball, and the Grasshopper's feasts,
Excited the spleen of the birds and the beasts.
For their mirth and good cheer, of the Bee was the theme,
And the Gnat blew his horn as he danced in the beam.
'Twas hummed by the Beetle, 'twas buzzed by the Fly,
And sung by the myriads that sport neathh the sky.
The quadrupeds listened with sullen displeasure,
But 1he tenants of air were enraged beyond measure.
The Peacock displayed his bright plumes to the sun,
And, addressing his mates, thus indignant begun :-
"Shall we, like domestic, inelegant fowls,
As unpolished as Geese, and as stupid as Owls,
Sit tamely at home humdrum with our spouses,
While Crickets and Butterflies open their houses ?
Shall such mean little creatures pretend to the fashion ?
Cousin Turkey-cock, well may you be in a passion.
If I suffer such insolent airs to prevail,
May Juno pluck out all the eyes in my tail.
So a feast I will give, and my taste I '11 display,
And send out my cards for Saint Valentine's day."
The Butterfly's Ball. 63
-e -- \
This determined, six fleet carrier Pigeons went out
To invite all the birds to Sir Argus's rout.
The nest-loving Turtle-dove sent an excuse,
Dame Partlet was sitting, and good Mrs. Goose;
The Turkey, poor soul, was confined to the rip,
For all her young brood had just failed with the pip;
And the Partridge was asked, but a neighbour hard by
Had engaged a snug party to meet in a pie;
The Wheat-ear declined, recollecting her cousins
Last year to a feast were invited by dozens,
But alas! they returned not, and she had no taste
To appear in a costume of vine leaves and paste.
The Woodcock preferred her lone haunt on the moor,
And the traveller Swallow was still on his tour.
The Cuckoo, who should have been one of the guests,
Was rambling on visits to other birds' nests.
But the rest all accepted the kind invitation,
And much bustle it caused in the plumed creation.
Such ruffling of feathers, such preening of coats,
Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats,
Such polishing bills, and such oiling of pinions,
Had never been known in the biped dominions.
The Tailor-bird offered to make up new clothes
For all the young birdlings who wished to be beaux.
He made for the Robin a doublet of red,
And a new velvet cap for the Goldfinch's head.
He added a plume to the Wren's golden crest,
And spangled with silver the Guinea-fowl's breast;
64 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
While the Halcyon bent o'er the streamlet to view,
How pretty she looked in her boddice of blue!
Thus adorned, they set out for the Peacock's abode
With the Guide Indicator, who show'd them the road.
From all points of the compass came birds of all feather,
And the Parrot can tell who and who were together.
There came Lord Cassowary and General Flamingo,
And Don Paraquito, escaped from Domingo.
From his high rock-built eyrie the Eagle came forth,
And the Duchess of Ptarmigan flew from the north.
The Grebe and the Eider-duck came up by water
With the Swan, who brought out the young Cygnet, her
From his woodland abode came the Pheasant to meet
Two kindred, arrived by the last India fleet.
The one like a Nabob, in habit most splendid,
Where gold with each hue of the rainbow was blended.
In silver and black, like a fair pensive maid
Who mourns for her love, was the other arrayed.
The Chough came from Cornwall, and brought up his wife;
The Grouse travelled south from his lairdship in Fife;
The Bunting forsook her soft nest in the reeds;
And the Widow-bird came, though she still wore her weeds;
Sir John Heron of the lakes strutted in a grand pas,
But no card had been sent to the pilfering Daw,
As the Peacock kept up his progenitors' quarrel,
Which .Esop relates about cast-off apparel-
For birds are like men in their contests together,
And in questions of right will dispute for a feather.
The Butterfly's Ball. 65
The Peacock imperial, the pride of his race,
Received all his guests with an infinite grace-
Waved high his blue neck, and his train he displayed,
Embroidered with gold, and with emeralds inlaid.
Then, with all the gay troop, to the shrubbery repaired,
Where the musical birds had a concert prepared.
A holly-bush formed the orchestra, and in it
Sat the Blackbird, the Thrush, the Lark, and the Linnet.
A Bullfinch, a captive, enslaved from the nest,
Now escaped from his cage, and with liberty blest,
In a sweet mellow tone joined the lessons of art
With the accents of nature which flowed from his heart.
The Canary, a much-admired foreign musician,
Condescended to sing to the fowls of condition ;
While the Nightingale warbled and quavered so fine,
That they all clapp'd their wings and pronounced it divine.
The Skylark in ecstacy sang from a cloud,
And Chanticleer crowd, and the Yaffil laughed loud.
The dancing began when the singing was over;
A Dotterel opened the ball with the Plover;
Baron Stork in a waltz was allowed to excel,
With his beautiful partner, the fair Demoiselle;
And a newly-fledged Gosling, so spruce and genteel,
A minuet swam with young Mr. Teal;
A London-bred Sparrow, a pert forward cit,
Danced a reel with Miss Wagtail and little Tom Tit;
And the Sieur Guillemot next performed apas seul,
While the elderly bipeds were playing a pool.
66 Aiunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
The Dowager Lady Toucan first cut in
With old Dr. Buzzard and Admiral Penguin.
From Ivy-bush Tower came Dame Owlet the wise,
And Counsellor Crossbill sat by to advise.
Some birds past their prime, o'er whose heads it was fated
Should St. Valentine's pass, and yet be unmated,
Look'd on, and remarked that the prudent and sage
Were quite overlooked in this frivolous age;
When birds scarce penfeathered were brought to a rout,
Forward chits from the egg-shell but newly come out-
That in their youthful days they ne'er witnessed such frisking,
And how wrong in the Goldfinch to flirt with the Siskin.
So thought Lady Macaw, and her friend, Cockatoo,
And the Raven foretold that no good would ensue.
They censur'd the Bantam for strutting and crowing
In those vile pantaloons, which he fancied looked knowing.
And a want of decorum caused many demurs
Against the Game Chicken for coming in spurs.
Old Alderman Corm'rant, for supper impatient,
At the eating-room door for an hour had been stationed;
Till a Magpie at length, the banquet announcing,
Gave the signal at length for clamouring and pouncing.
At the well-furnished board all were eager to perch,
But the little Miss Creepers were left in the lurch.
Description must fail, and the pen is unable
To describe all the dainties that covered the table.
Each delicate viand that taste could denote,
Wasps d la sauce piquante, and flies en compete;
The Buzttefly's Ball. 67
Worms and frogs en friture for the web-footed fowl,
And a barbecued mouse was prepared for the Owl.
Nuts, grain, fruit, and fish, to regale every palate,
And groundsel and chickweed served up in salad.
The Razor-bill carved for the famishing group,
And the Spoon-bill obligingly ladled the soup.
So they filled all their crops with the dainties before 'em,
And the tables were cleared with the utmost decorum.
When they gaily had caroll'd till peep of the dawn,
The Lark gently hinted 'twas time to begone;
And his clarion, so shrill, gave the company warning
That Chanticleer scented the gales of the morning.
So they chirped in full chorus a friendly adieu,
And with hearts quite as light as the plumage that grew
On their merry-thought bosoms, away they all flew.
Then long live the Peacock, in splendour unmatched,
Whose ball shall be talked of by birds yet unhatched;
His praise let the Trumpeter loudly proclaim,
And the Goose lend her quill to transmit it to fame.
Grace. Oh, do read it over again, Auntie; there
was so much that I did not understand.
Alice. Nor I.
Aunt C. Very well. Stop me when you are puzzled.
Grace. What does it mean about Juno pulling out
68 A unt Charlo//e's Poetry Book.
Ed. Why, Argus was a fellow with a hundred eyes.
Ed. In mythology I mean. Juno-she was the
Queen Goddess-set him to watch a cow, who was
really a transformed lady. He let himself be beguiled,
went to sleep, and the cow was lost, which put Juno
in such a rage that she pulled out all his eyes, and put
them in her peacock's tail.
Grace. That is why it calls him Sir Argus.
Aunt C. Pavo Argus is really his proper name.
Alice. What is the rip ?
Aunt C. A local word for the basket-work coop.
Ed. And what's this about the Wheatear ?
Aunt C. Poor little Wheatears! they are caught in
traps on the Sussex downs, and eaten. They used to
be a fashionable dish at Brighton, served up in vine
leaves and paste.
Grace. The Tailor-bird does not really make any
Ed. No, you little goose! It only sews leaves
together for its nest. I may as well tell you-for
I am sure you do not know-that the Halcyon is the
The Butterfly's Ball. 69
Aunt C. Remind me at the end, and I will read
you a legend about the Halcyon.
Alice. Then the two Pheasants are the gorgeous
Gold Pheasant-beautiful creature-and the still hand-
somer Silver one, with its pencilled feathers and scarlet
patch to its eye.
Ed. Widow-birds ought to be Whydah birds,
I believe, from Whydah in Africa. I have seen one
in a cage. It grows a long black tail, and then loses
it, and for a time looks like a sparrow, then like a
magpie, in shape.
Alice. I am not sure who the Guide Indicator is.
Aunt C. The Indicator or Honey-bird of Africa.
It cannot get at the honey in the wild bees' nests in
hollow trees for itself, but it flies before any person it
sees in the wood till it has brought them to the place.
Then it flutters about while the nest is being taken,
and it is sure to get dead bees, larvae, and droppings
of honey enough to make up for its trouble.
Alice. What a marvellous instinct! I see no
difficulty now till we come to the Yaffil.
Ed. That's what the farming men call the great
green Woodpecker. It is just like the noise it makes.
70 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Alice. I am not sure of the Dotterel.
Aunt C. It is a wading bird, with a white crescent
on its breast. It is well paired with the Plover;
but it strikes me that Mrs. Dorset would not have
meant our modern waltz, for in the old illustrations
Baron Stork and the graceful Demoiselle Crane
are standing far apart, each on one leg. Sieur
Guillemot must have been put in for his French name,
since he is a sea-bird with great web-feet, which he
Grace. A barbecued mouse"-what is that ?
Aunt C. Split down the middle, opened out, and
broiled. It is said to come from the French barbe a
Grace. Beard to tail! How droll.
Aunt C. But you have passed a curious little bit
of costume marking the date. The Bantam's feathered
legs are, you see, compared to pantaloons-trousers
which were being brought in by smart young men-
the regulation, sober-minded costume being what is
only to be seen now in court dress or on footmen.
Alice. One more question; who is the Trumpeter?
Aunt C. A South American, with a wonderful
The Butterfly's Bait. 71
trumpet in his throat, which can be heard for
Alice. It is very clever and amusing, and I remem-
ber now having heard many lines used as proverbs,
For birds are like men in their contests together,
And in questions of right will dispute for a feather.
Grace. But were you not going to tell us the story
of the Kingfisher ?
Aunt C. I was going to read you a fragment which
Professor Anstice translated from the Latin poet Ovid.
An old husband and wife, named Ceyx and Halcyone,
had been, according to the old story, long wandering
about in search of their children, till Ceyx fell into the
river. Then we hear of his wife-
Tossed by the waves, the corpse drew nigh,
The well-known form that met her eye
Confirmed her wild alarms.
Tis he," she cried; she smote her breast,
She tore her tresses and her vest,
She spread her trembling arms.
"Thus has my love his promise kept,"
She cried. Upon a bank she leapt,
That there the waters checked.
72 A4iunt Charlotte's Poelry Book.
'Twas built the stormy waves to tire,
And by sustaining all their ire,
The harbour to protect.
As frantic on the bank she springs,
Wondrous to tell, a pair of wings
From out her shoulders rise.
On novel pinions borne along,
With darting movement, plaintive song,
Above the wave she flies.
And when the lady tried to speak,
There issued from her slender beak
A melancholy strain.
And loth a last embrace to miss,
On Ceyx' lips to print a kiss,
That beak essayed in vain.
Some thought that Ceyx raised his head
To meet that kiss, while others said
'Twas but the waves in motion.
But time the infidels refuted,
For Ceyx, by the gods recruited,
Became a god of ocean.
Marked with his consort to a feather,
And these so linked in love together
Are still a wedded pair.
The Butterfly's Ball. 73
The billows where they hung their nest,
For seven long days of winter rest,
The Halcyons' home to spare.
Ovid, translated by Prof. ANSTICE.
Grace. Turned into Kingfishers!
Aunt C. So said and sung the ancients.
Alice. I knew Halcyon days were very fine ones,
but I did not know that it was supposed to be then
that the Kingfishers built their nests.
Ed. This has been a more amusing evening.
But I should like a good, spirited, jolly thing, with
some fun and life in it.
Aunt C. I will try to please you next time.
Grace. Aunt Charlotte, you never told us who
was Dame Partlet, who could not come to the Pea-
Ed. Why, of course, an old hen.
Grace. Why is she called Partlet ?
Aunt C. I cannot tell you why; but I know that
her ancestresses have borne that name these five
hundred years, at least.
Ed. How can you know, Aunt ?
Aunt C. On the authority of a certain old gentle-
man, who amused great princes, knights, and warriors
in the days of King Edward III.
Alice. Do you mean Chaucer ?
Aunt C. Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English
The Fox. 75
Ed. What can he have to say about cocks and hens ?
Aunt C. You shall hear, if you will bring me the
volume of Chaucer from the lower shelf.
Ed. What funny-looking stuff it is.
Aunt C. It will sound less strange to you as I read
it. I must tell you that Chaucer's chief poem is his
"Canterbury Pilgrimage," where he describes a whole
company of people of all kinds and ranks, who have
met on the way to pay their devotions at the shrine of
St. Thomas of Canterbury.
Grace. The Archbishop whom Henry II.'s men
Aunt C. The same. His tomb was a great place
of pilgrimage till the Reformation, and Chaucer de-
scribes a large number of people, who, having come
together on the way, beguile the journey by telling
one another stories. There was a Prioress among
them, a very delicate and dainty person; and her chap-
lain-or, as Chaucer calls him, the Nun's priest-tells
the tale, of which I am going to read you some portions,
leaving out what would not interest you, nor be easily
"* The spelling and some words are modernised.
76 Aunlt Charlotte's Poelry Book.
CHANTICLEAR AND PARTLET.
A poor widow, some deal stoopen in age,
Was whilom dwelling in narrow cottage
Beside a grove standing in a dale.
This widow which I tell of in my tale,
Since that day in which she was a wife,
In patience led a full simple life.
Alice. Are you really not changing the words ?
Aunt C. So far not at all, except to alter thilk into
that. Well, the live-stock of this widow and her
daughters two were three large sows, three kine, and
eke a sheep that hight Mace (hight means named,
A yard she had enclosed all about
With sticks and a dry ditch without,
In which she had a cock named Chanticlear,
In all the land of crowing n'ar his peer.
His voice was merrier than the merry organ
On Mass days that is in the churches gone.
Well sickerer was his crowing in his lodge
Than is a clock, or any abbey orloge.
Alice. That means that he kept time better than
any clock. How delightful!
Aunt C. Now for the description of him. I wonder
how he would figure in a poultry show.
The Fox. 77
His comb was redder than the fine corall,
Embattled, as it were a castle wall;
His bill was black, and as the jet it shone,
Like azure were his legges and his toen;
His nails whiter than the lily flower,
And like the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cock had in his governance
Seven hens for to do all his pleasance,
Of which the fairest hued in the throat,
Was cleped faire Demoiselle Pertelote.
Fairest hud--that is, "fairest coloured." Cleped is
"is called." Well, I must leave out Chanticlear's
warning dream, and Pertelote's very learned comment,
and go on to tell you how he flew into the yard,
And eke his hennes all,
And with a chuck he 'gan them for to call,
For he had found a corn lay in the yard;
Right he was, he was no more afeared.
He looketh as it were a grim lion,
And on his toes he runneth up and down.
Him deigned not to set his feet to ground,
He chucketh when he hath a corn found,
And to him runnan then his wives all.
Thus royal as a prince is in his hall,
Leave I this Chanticlear in his pasture,
And after with I tell his venture.
78 Aunt Charlotte's Poe/ry Book.
An old col-fox full of sly iniquity,
That in the grove had wonned years three,
By high imagination forecast,
The same night throughout the hedges brast,
Into the yard where Chanticlear the fair
Was wont, and eke his wives to repair,
And in a bed of wortes still he lay,
Till it was passed under of the day.
Ed. Oh there are some words there.
Aunt C. A col-fox is a dog-fox. You know a
Scottish sheep-dog is a collie.
Alice. The worts are vegetables, such as the poor
widow had. But what is under of the day ?
Aunt C. Three o'clock. Well-
Fair in the sand, to barthe her merrily,
Lieth Pertelot, and all her sisters lay
Against the sun, and Chanticlear, so free,
Sing merrier than the mermaid in the sea.
For Phisiologus sayeth sickerly,
How that they singen well and merrily;
And so befel that as he cast his eye,
Among the wortes, on a butterfly,
He was 'ware of this fox that lay full low.
Nothing ne list him then for to "crow,
But cried, Cok, cok," and up he start,
As man who was affrayed in his heart.
Then Chanticlear, when first he did him spy,
The Fox. 79
He would have fled, but that the Fox anon
Cried, Gentle Sir, alas! what would ye done ?
Be ye afraid of me that am your friend ?
Now, certes, I were worse than any fiend
If I to you would harm or villanie.
I am not come your council to espy;
But trowely the cause of my coming
Was only for to hearken how ye sing.
Save you, I never heard man so sing
As did your father in the morwening;
Certes it was of heart all that he sung,
And for to make his noise the more strong,
He would so pain him that, with both his eyen,
He must wink so loud he would crien,
And stand upon his tip-toes therewithall,
And stretchen forth his neck long and small.
Now sing then, Sire, for Saint Charity-
Let see, can ye your father counterfeit ?"
Then Chanticlear his wings 'gan to beat;
As man that could not his treason espy,
So was he ravished with his flattery.
Then Chanticlear stood high upon his toes,
Stretching his neck, and held his eyen close,
And 'gan to crowen louder for the nonce;
And Dan Russel, the fox, start up at once,
And by the throat he seized Chanticlear,
And on his back toward the wood him bare!
80 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Ed. Unhappy Chanticlear.
Alice. But that is not all.
Aunt C. By no means. The hens made an uproar
which is compared to that of all the unfortunate ladies
mentioned in ancient history, and this brought out the
"sely widow and her daughters two, with their men, the
maid Malkin, with distaff in her hand, the dogs, Col,
Talbot, and Gerland, and even the hogs and cow and
calf, making more noise than Jack Straw and all his
company." The cock upon the fox's back heard them,
and observed that if he were in the place of the fox,
with such a prey, in spite of all these pursuers,
"I will him eat in faith, and that anon."
The Fox answered, "In faith it shall be done."
And as he spake the word, all suddenly
The cock flew from his mouth delivery,
And high upon a tree he flew anon!
Ed. Ha ha! Chanticlear had learnt his game, and
made him open his mouth.
Aunt C. Yes; and though the Fox assured him that
he had been carried out with no wicked intent, Chanti-
clear had grown too wise to be beguiled again.
Alice. Who is Phisiologus ?
The Fox. 81
Aunt C. A general name for physiologists, or men
learned in natural history, who seem to have answered
for it that mermaids sing sweetly.
Ed. Why is the Fox called Dan Russel ?
Aunt C. Russel, from his colour rousse; Dan, like
the Spanish Don, short for Dominus, Lord.
Grace. How droll to think of those old knights and
people in armour caring for stories of cocks and hens.
Alice. And it is exactly the same notion as in the
old fable of the Fox and the Crow. Do let us have
that next, Aunt.
THE FOX AND THE CROW.
The Fox and the Crow,
In prose, I well know,
Many good little girls can rehearse;
Perhaps it will tell
Pretty nearly as well
If we try the same fable in verse.
In a dairy a Crow,
Having ventured to go
Some food for her young ones to seek,
Flew up in the trees
With a fine piece of cheese,
Which she joyfully held in her beak.
82 Aunt Ciharlotte's Poetry Book.
A Fox, who lived by,
To the tree saw her fly,
And to share in the prize made a vow;
For, having just dined,
He for cheese felt inclined,
So he went and sat under the bough.
She was cunning, he knew,
But so was he too,
And with flattery adopted his plan;
For he knew if she'd speak
It must fall from her beak,
So he, bowing politely, began-
"'Tis a very fine day"
(Not a word did she say),
"The wind, I believe, ma'am, is south;
A fine harvest for peas"-
He then looked at the cheese,
But the Crow did not open her mouth.
Sly Reynard, not tired,
Her plumage admired-
"How charming! how brilliant its hue!
The voice must be fine
Of a bird so divine-
Ah! let me just hear it, pray do ?
T/e Fox. 83
"(Believe me, I long
To hear a sweet song"-
The silly crow foolishly tries.
She scarce gave one squall,
When the cheese she let fall,
And the Fox ran away with the prize.
ANN OR JANE TAYLOR.
Aunt C. Dear old Original Poems! My copy came
down from a former generation. They have come
fresh and fresh to one set of children after another,
now, for seventy years-for the first edition was
published in I810. Before that, there was scarcely
any poetry easy enough for children, except some
of Cowper's pieces, and they were made to learn
very beautiful passages which they could not under-
Alice. We are very much obliged to whoever it was
that wrote those charming old verses.
Aunt C. It was one of two sisters-Ann and Jane
Taylor, who belonged to a large and happy family, the
children of an engraver of prints, living at Ongar, in
Essex. One of them, Ann, who lived to a great age,
wrote her recollections, and a delightful picture she
gives of the family habits. Some interesting book was
84 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
read aloud at meals, and then the daughters went to
help their father at his work of line-engraving in a large
airy room. They had time for their own pursuits too,
and among them was this of writing verses for young
people. Ann married a Mr. Gilbert, and spent the
rest of her life at Nottingham, where she died at a
great age in 1860. Jane died in 1822. You must
read about them some day in Mrs. Gilbert's Memoirs,
or in The Family Pen, where their nephew tells
the full history.
Ed. There's a better story still in my Greek history
book. The fox did some good there.
Aunt C. Ah! the ballad of Aristomenes in Dr.
Neale's Stories from Heathen Mythology. Pray let us
hear it, Edmund.
Ed. You must know that this fellow's people-the
Messenians, weren't they ?-had been beaten by the
Spartans in a great battle, and all the dead men, fifty
of them, had been thrown into a pit, and he among
them. However, he really was not hurt a bit, only
The Fox. 85
ARISTOMENES AND THE FOX.
A health to all good comrades, now listen while I sing
A song of Aristomenes, Messene's hero king; [distrest,
How Sparta far and wide he vexed, and Sparta's sons
Till mothers frightened with his name the infant at the breast.
To-day he was at Pylos-to Pylos went the foe, [low."
And fast and furious came the scouts with "Phaerae is laid
To Phaeras Lacedmmon's chiefs went hurrying as they might;
At Eira Aristomenes is resting from the fight.
He marched to fair Amycle, and took the silent town;
He marched to Stenyclarus, and won him great renown;
How vainly then Tyrtaeus sang, let that Boar's Pillar tell,
When Lacedaemon's cowards fled, and all her bravest fell.
Then out went Sparta's horse and foot, and out went Sparta's
As craftily and cunningly as the wolf on the roebuck springs;
They turned Messene's flank by night, and at the break of
They forced her Aristomenes to halt and stand at bay.
They have taken Aristomenes, their bravest bind him fast,
And him and all his comrades into Ceadas they cast;
A dark and noisome pit was that, full fifty fathoms deep,
And all were dashed to pieces save their chieftain from the
86 Aunnt CharlottI's Poetry Book.
Three days, three nights, expecting death, Messene's hero lay,
Till to the pit, the fourth grey morn, a fox hath found his
"Oh ho," quoth Aristomenes, as he turned his head about,
"Where'er a fox can get him in, a man may get him out."
Fast hath he seized him by the tail, and followed where he
As through many a rocky cranny his winding course he bent.
The kings of Sparta thought him dead, until there came a
"Aristomenes is leading Messene's thousands out !"
Ed. (reads) The Elephant.
It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The first approached the Elephant,
And, happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl-
"Bless me! it seems the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
____ ___ ___ ___ ___ __~_ ____-___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ i
88 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
The second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp ?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear !"
The third approached the animal,
And, happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Then boldly up and spake--
"I see," quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a snake !"
Thefourth stretched out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee;
"What most this wondering beast is like,
Is mighty plain," quoth he-
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree !"
The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said, E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most,
Deny the fact who can-
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan !"
The sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope-
"I see," cried he, the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
JOHN GODFREY SAXE.
Now I call that fun!
Alice. Where did you get it from ?
Ed. Out of a book of extracts. The name to it is
John Godfrey Saxe.
Aunt C. I believe he was an American writer; but
I know no more about him than about Merrick, the
author of a more old-fashioned fable, teaching the like
Oft has it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
Who begs you'd pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.
90 Aunt Charlotte's Poetry Book.
Two travellers, of such a cast-
As o'er Arabia's wilds they passed,
And on their way, in friendly chat,
Now talk'd of this, and then of that-
Discoursed awhile, 'mongst other matter,
Of the Chameleon's form and nature.
"A stranger animal," cries one,
"Sure never lived beneath the sun!
A lizard's body, lean and long,
A fish's head, a serpent's tongue,
Its tooth with triple claw disjoined;
And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! and then its hue-
Who ever saw so fine a blue !"
Hold there !" the other quick replies,
"'Tis green-I saw it with these eyes,
As late with open mouth it lay,
And warm'd it in the sunny ray;
Stretch'd at its ease, the beast I view'd,
And saw it eat the air for food."
"I've seen it, sir, as well as you,
And must again affirm it blue;
At leisure I the beast surveyed,
Extended in the cooling shade."
"'Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye."-
"Green !" cries the other in a fury;
"Why, sir-d' ye think I've lost my eyes ?"
"'Twere no great loss," the friend replies;
For, if they always serve you thus,
You 'll find 'em but of little use !"
So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows;
When luckily came by a third:
To him the question they referred;
And begg'd he'd tell 'em if he knew
Whether the thing was green or blue.
Sirs," cries the umpire, "cease your pother;
The creature's neither one nor t' other.
I caught the animal last night,
And view'd it o'er by candle-light;
I marked it well-'twas black as jet-
You stare-but, sirs, I've got it yet,
And can produce it."-" Pray, sir, do:
I'11 lay my life the thing is blue."
"And I'11 be sworn, that when you've seen
The reptile, you'11 pronounce him green."
"i Well then, at once to end the doubt,"
Replies the man, "I '11 turn him out;
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I '11 eat him."
He said; then full before their sight
Produced the beast, and lo !-'twas white.
Ed. But do Chameleons turn blue, and green, and
all manner of colours ?
Aunt C. In point of fact, I believe they only change
92 Aunt Charlolte's Poetry Booh.
through different tints of olive, but the meaning is the
Alice. That it is absurd to be positive!
Aunt C. Rather that there are many aspects to
everything, and that our being quite right does not
prove everybody else to be wrong.
Alice. I see. We may only see a part, or else
things may affect us quite differently from others.
Ed. One man's meat is another's poison.
Alice. Let Gracie say her fable from Old Friends
in a New Dress, Aunt. Its moral is much the same.
THE OWL AND THE EAGLE.
An Owl from out a hollow tree
One afternoon was peeping;
It was about half after three,
His usual time for sleeping.
'Twas summer, and the sun shone bright;
Says he, "I can't help thinking
This is a most unpleasant sight,
I can't look up for winking.
"It spoils the beauty of the scene,
It dazzles all about it,
And certainly the world had been
Much prettier without it.
No staring flowers would then be here,
All gaudy and perfumy,
But day would just like night appear
Quite beautiful and gloomy."
An Eagle cried, You silly bird,
By selfish folly blinded!
Was e'er such wretched nonsense heard,
O dull and narrow-minded ?
The sun bids millions daily rise
To pleasure, health, and duty;
While you have not the sense to prize
Its value or its beauty.
If you, poor thoughtless thing! again
Should venture your opinion,
And dare of blessings to complain
In Nature's wide dominion,
"Make not your dulness a pretence
For wishing to destroy them,
But seek for gratitude and sense,
And power to enjoy them."
Old Friends in a New Dress.
Aunt C. Yes, the Owl has no notion of the ruin it
would be to others if all the world accommodated itself
to his tastes. Here is one of the famous fables by
94 Aunt Ch/arlotte's Poetry Book.
John Gay-who was a wit in Queen Anne's time-
showing in what a different point of view our per-
formances may be taken. Southwark fair was, I
should tell you, in the years shortly after 1700, a great
place for tumblers, jugglers, rope-dancers, and so on.
THE TWO MONKEYS.
Two Monkeys went to Southwark fair,
No critics had a sourer air;
They forced their way through draggled folks,
Who gaped to catch Jack Pudding's jokes,
Then took their tickets for the show,
And got, by chance, the foremost row.
To see their grave observing face
Provoked a laugh around the place.
"Brother," says Pug, and turned his head,
"The rabble's monstrously ill bred."
Now through the booth loud hisses ran,
Nor ended till the show began.
The tumbler whirls the flip-flap round,
With sommersets he shakes the ground;
The cord beneath the dancer springs,
Aloft in air the vaulter swings,
Distorted now, now prone depends,
Now through his twisted arms ascends;
The crowd, in wonder and delight,
With clapping hands, applaud the sight.
With smiles, quoth Pug, If pranks like these
The giant apes of reason please,
How must they wonder at our arts-
They must adore us for our parts.
High on the twig I've seen you cling,
Play, twist, and turn in airy ring.
How can those clumsy things, like me,
Fly with a bound from tree to tree ?
But yet by this applause we find
These emulators of our kind
Discern our worth, our parts regard,
Who our mean mimicks thus reward."
"Brother," his grinning mate replies,
"In this I grant that man is wise:
While good example they pursue,
We must allow some praise is due;
But when they strain beyond their guide,
I laugh to scorn the mimic pride;
For how fantastic is the sight
To meet men always bolt upright,
Because we sometimes walk on two,
I hate the imitating crew!
Alice. I see; the Monkeys thought all the rope-
dancing was a bad imitation of themselves.
Ed. And that people carried it too far when they
walked upright always, because Monkeys do so some-
times. Well done, Monkeys!
96 Aunt Charlolle's Poetry Book.
Aunt C. When we inquire too closely what is
thought of us, we sometimes make the same kind of
Alice. Please, Aunt Charlotte, let us have "The
Little Fir-Tree," that you translated from the
German, for I think that shows, not only how silly it
is to wish for change, but also how one cannot think
of all the inconveniences at once till we try.
THE LITTLE FIR-TREE.
Once on a time, in the depths of the wood,
A Fir-tree, both young and pretty, stood.
Now a Fir-tree has leaves long, sharp, and slender,
While other trees' leaves are broad and tender;
And it put this little tree in a passion
To find that its dress was not in the fashion.
"Ah me !" it cried, "it is quite beyond bearing
That when all my comrades fine foliage are wearing,
Only needles and pins should ever be mine-
No wonder that my very name should be Pine.
Oh! would that a fairy would come in the night,
And alter my leaves to gold, shining bright."
In the morning, when woke the little tree,
Magnificent were its leaves to see.
"Hurrah!" it cried, "behold me-behold
What tree in the wood can show leaves of gold ?
King Oak himself for such glories may sigh."
Alas! late in the evening a pedlar came by;
He gathered each one of the leaves so rare,
And the poor little tree found its branches quite bare.
Its condition would make your very heart bleed;
"Alas!" it moaned, "this is cruel indeed.
If such covetous pedlars this way will pass,
I had rather my leaves were of glittering glass."
When the little tree awoke in the morning,
Leaves of crystal glass each bough were adorning.
" Hurrah !" cried the tree, this is very good,
I am finer than all the trees in the wood."
But there came some rude and tempestuous weather,
Which knocked all the boughs and branches together,
Until all the brilliant foliage of glass
Lay in shattered fragments upon the grass.
"Ah !" it sighed, I should have reflected a little
That leaves of glass are apt to be brittle.
On the morrow, I'11 only wish to be seen
In the general fashion, with broad leaves of green."
It fell asleep, feeling both sad and forlorn,
But when it awoke on a sunshiny morn,
It tossed its boughs in triumph aloft,
Clad in handsome leaves, broad, smooth, and soft.
But that evening a goat, in want of a supper,
Brows'd off all the leaves both under and upper.
"What matters it then," said the poor little fellow,
"If the hue of my leaves be blue, scarlet, or yellow ?