Treasure Island

Winthrop Mackworth Praed

(1802 - 1839 / England)

Everyday Characters IV - My Partner


'There is, perhaps, no subject of more universal interest in the whole range of natural knowledge, than that of the unceasing fluctuations which take place in the atmosphere in which we are immersed.'
-- British Almanack.

At Cheltenham, where one drinks one's fill
Of folly and cold water,
I danced last year my first quadrille
With old Sir Geoffrey's daughter.
Her cheek with summer's rose might vie,
When summer's rose is newest;
Her eyes were blue as autumn's sky,
When autumn's sky is bluest;
And well my heart might deem her one
Of life's most precious flowers,
For half her thoughts were of its sun,
And half were of its showers.
I spoke of Novels: -- 'Vivian Grey'
Was positively charming,
And 'Almacks' infinitely gay,
And 'Frankenstein' alarming;
I said 'De Vere' was chastely told,
Thought well of 'Herbert Lacy,'
Called Mr. Banim's sketches 'bold,'
And Lady Morgan's 'racy;'
I vowed that last new thing of Hook's
Was vastly entertaining:
And Laura said -- 'I doat on books,
Because it's always raining!'

I talked of Music's gorgeous fane;
I raved about Rossini,
Hoped Ronzi would come back again,
And criticised Pacini;
I wished the chorus-singers dumb,
The trumpets more pacific,
And eulogised Brocard's à plomb,
And voted Paul 'terrific!'
What cared she for Medea's pride,
Or Desdemona's sorrow?
'Alas!' my beauteous listener sighed,
'We must have rain to-morrow!'

I told her tales of other lands;
Of ever-boiling fountains,
Of poisonous lakes and barren sands,
Vast forests, trackless mountains:
I painted bright Italian skies,
I lauded Persian roses,
Coined similes for Spanish eyes,
And jests for Indian noses:
I laughed at Lisbon's love of mass,
Vienna's dread of treason:
And Laura asked me -- where the glass
Stood, at Madrid, last season.

I broached whate'er had gone its rounds,
The week before, of scandal;
What made Sir Luke lay down his hounds,
And Jane take up her Handel;
Why Julia walked upon the heath,
With the pale moon above her;
Where Flora lost her false front teeth,
And Anne her falser lover;
How Lord de B. and Mrs. L.
Had crossed the sea together:
My shuddering partner cried 'O Ciel!
How could they, -- in such weather?'

Was she a Blue? -- I put my trust
In strata, petals, gases;
A boudoir-pedant? I discussed
The toga and the fasces:
A Cockney-Muse? I mouthed a deal
Of folly from Endymion;
A saint? I praised the pious zeal
Of Messrs. Way and Simeon;
A politician? -- it was vain
To quote the morning paper;
The horrid phantoms came again,
Rain, Hail, and Snow, and Vapour.

Flat Flattery was my only chance:
I acted deep devotion,
Found magic in her every glance,
Grace in her every motion;
I wasted all a stripling's lore,
Prayer, passion, folly, feeling;
And wildly looked upon the floor,
And wildly on the ceiling.
I envied gloves upon her arm
And shawls upon her shoulder;
And, when my worship was most warm, --
She -- 'never found it colder.'

I don't object to wealth or land;
And she will have the giving
Of an extremely pretty hand,
Some thousands, and a living.
She makes silk purses, broiders stools,
Sings sweetly, dances finely,
Paints screens, subscribes to Sunday-schools,
And sits a horse divinely.
But to be linked for life to her! --
The desperate man who tried it
Might marry a Barometer
And hang himself beside it!

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010
Edited: Saturday, May 07, 2011

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