Rules and Regulations
A short direction
To avoid dejection,
On the state of the nation
To your station,
To friends and relations,
And deep reflection
You’ll avoid dejection.
Learn well your grammar,
And never stammer,
Write well and neatly,
And sing most sweetly,
Love early rising,
Go walk of six miles,
Have ready quick smiles,
With lightsome laughter,
Soft flowing after.
Drink tea, not coffee;
Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter.
Once more, don’t stutter.
Don’t waste your money,
Abstain from honey.
Shut doors behind you,
(Don’t slam them, mind you.)
Drink beer, not porter.
Don’t enter the water
Till to swim you are able.
Sit close to the table.
Take care of a candle.
Shut a door by the handle,
Don’t push with your shoulder
Until you are older.
Lose not a button.
Refuse cold mutton.
Starve your canaries.
Believe in fairies.
If you are able,
Don’t have a stable
With any mangers.
Be rude to strangers.
Why is it that Poetry has never yet been subjected to that process of Dilution which has proved so advantageous to her sister—art Music? The Diluter gives us first a few notes of some well—known Air, then a dozen bars of his own, then a few more notes of the Air, and so on alternately: thus saving the listener, if not from all risk of recognising the melody at all, at least from the too—exciting transports which it might produce in a more concentrated form. The process is termed “setting” by Composers, and any one, that has ever experienced the emotion of being unexpectedly set down in a heap of mortar, will recognise the truthfulness of this happy phrase.
For truly, just as the genuine Epicure lingers lovingly over a
morsel of supreme Venison —whose every fibre seems to murmur “Excelsior!” —yet swallows, ere returning to the toothsome dainty, great mouthfuls of oatmeal—porridge and winkles: and just as the perfect Connoisseur in Claret permits himself but one delicate sip, and then tosses off a pint or more of boarding—school beer: so also –
I NEVER loved a dear Gazelle—
NOR ANYTHING THAT COST ME MUCH:
HIGH PRICES PROFIT THOSE WHO SELL,
BUT WHY SHOULD I BE FOND OF SUCH?
To glad me with his soft black eye
MY SON COMES TROTTING HOME FROM SCHOOL;
HE’S HAD A FIGHT BUT CAN’T TELL WHY —
HE ALWAYS WAS A LITTLE FOOL!
But, when he came to know me well,
HE KICKED ME OUT, HER TESTY SIRE:
AND WHEN I STAINED MY HAIR, THAT BELLE
MIGHT NOTE THE CHANGE, AND THUS ADMIRE
And love me, it was sure to dye
A MUDDY GREEN OR STARING BLUE:
WHILST ONE MIGHT TRACE, WITH HALF AN EYE,
THE STILL TRIUMPHANT CARROT THROUGH.
A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear
Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;
Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?
“OH, when I was a little Ghost,
A merry time had we!
Each seated on his favourite post,
We chumped and chawed the buttered toast
They gave us for our tea.”
“That story is in print!” I cried.
“Don’t say it’s not, because
It’s known as well as Bradshaw’s Guide!”
(The Ghost uneasily replied
He hardly thought it was).
“It’s not in Nursery Rhymes? And yet
I almost think it is —
'Three little Ghosteses’ were set
‘On posteses,’ you know, and ate
Their ‘buttered toasteses.’
”I have the book; so if you doubt it —“
I turned to search the shelf.
”Don’t stir!" he cried. “We’ll do without it:
I now remember all about it;
I wrote the thing myself.
”It came out in a ‘Monthly,’ or
At least my agent said it did:
Some literary swell, who saw
It, thought it seemed adapted for
The Magazine he edited.
“My father was a Brownie, Sir;
My mother was a Fairy.
The notion had occurred to her,
The children would be happier,
If they were taught to vary.
”The notion soon became a craze;
And, when it once began, she
Brought us all out in different ways —
One was a Pixy, two were Fays,
Another was a Banshee;
“The Fetch and Kelpie went to school
And gave a lot of trouble;
Next came a Poltergeist and Ghoul,
And then two Trolls (which broke the rule),
A Goblin, and a Double —
”(If that’s a snuff—box on the shelf,"
He added with a yawn,
"I’ll take a pinch) —next came an Elf,
And then a Phantom (that’s myself),
And last, a Leprechaun.
“One day, some Spectres chanced to call,
Dressed in the usual white:
I stood and watched them in the hall,
And couldn’t make them out at all,
They seemed so strange a sight.
”I wondered what on earth they were,
That looked all head and sack;
But Mother told me not to stare,
And then she twitched me by the hair,
And punched me in the back.
“Since then I’ve often wished that I
Had been a Spectre born.
But what’s the use?” (He heaved a sigh.)
“THEY are the ghost—nobility,
And look on US with scorn.
”My phantom—life was soon begun:
When I was barely six,
I went out with an older one —
And just at first I thought it fun,
And learned a lot of tricks.
“I’ve haunted dungeons, castles, towers —
Wherever I was sent:
I’ve often sat and howled for hours,
Drenched to the skin with driving showers,
Upon a battlement.
”It’s quite old—fashioned now to groan
When you begin to speak:
This is the newest thing in tone —"
And here (it chilled me to the bone)
He gave an AWFUL squeak.
“Perhaps,” he added, “to YOUR ear
That sounds an easy thing?
Try it yourself, my little dear!
It took ME something like a year,
With constant practising.
”And when you’ve learned to squeak, my man,
And caught the double sob,
You’re pretty much where you began:
Just try and gibber if you can!
That’s something LIKE a job!
“I’VE tried it, and can only say
I’m sure you couldn’t do it, e—
ven if you practised night and day,
Unless you have a turn that way,
And natural ingenuity.
”Shakspeare I think it is who treats
Of Ghosts, in days of old,
Who ‘gibbered in the Roman streets,’
Dressed, if you recollect, in sheets —
They must have found it cold.
“I’ve often spent ten pounds on stuff,
In dressing as a Double;
But, though it answers as a puff,
It never has effect enough
To make it worth the trouble.
”Long bills soon quenched the little thirst
I had for being funny.
The setting—up is always worst:
Such heaps of things you want at first,
One must be made of money!
"For instance, take a Haunted Tower,
With skull, cross—bones, and sheet;
Blue lights to burn (say) two an hour,
Condensing lens of extra power,
And set of chains complete:
“What with the things you have to hire –
The fitting on the robe—
And testing all the coloured fire —
The outfit of itself would tire
The patience of a Job!
”And then they’re so fastidious,
The Haunted—House Committee:
I’ve often known them make a fuss
Because a Ghost was French, or Russ,
Or even from the City!
"Some dialects are objected to —
For one, the IRISH brogue is:
And then, for all you have to do,
One pound a week they offer you,
And find yourself in Bogies!
With saddest music all day long
She soothed her secret sorrow:
At night she sighed “I fear 'twas wrong
Such cheerful words to borrow.
Dearest, a sweeter, sadder song
I’ll sing to thee to—morrow.”
I thanked her, but I could not say
That I was glad to hear it:
I left the house at break of day,
And did not venture near it
Till time, I hoped, had worn away
Her grief, for nought could cheer it!
My dismal sister! Couldst thou know
The wretched home thou keepest!
Thy brother, drowned in daily woe,
Is thankful when thou sleepest;
For if I laugh, however low,
When thou’rt awake, thou weepest!
I took my sister t’other day
(Excuse the slang expression)
To Sadler’s Wells to see the play
In hopes the new impression
Might in her thoughts, from grave to gay
Effect some slight digression.
I asked three gay young dogs from town
To join us in our folly,
Whose mirth, I thought, might serve to drown
My sister’s melancholy:
The lively Jones, the sportive Brown,
And Robinson the jolly.
The maid announced the meal in tones
That I myself had taught her,
Meant to allay my sister’s moans
Like oil on troubled water:
I rushed to Jones, the lively Jones,
And begged him to escort her.
Vainly he strove, with ready wit,
To joke about the weather —
To ventilate the last 'ON DIT’ –
To quote the price of leather—
She groaned “Here I and Sorrow sit:
Let us lament together!”
I urged “You’re wasting time, you know:
Delay will spoil the venison.”
“My heart is wasted with my woe!
There is no rest —in Venice, on
The Bridge of Sighs!” she quoted low
From Byron and from Tennyson.
I need not tell of soup and fish
In solemn silence swallowed,
The sobs that ushered in each dish,
And its departure followed,
Nor yet my suicidal wish
To BE the cheese I hollowed.
Some desperate attempts were made
To start a conversation;
“Madam,” the sportive Brown essayed,
“Which kind of recreation,
Hunting or fishing, have you made
Your special occupation?”
Her lips curved downwards instantly,
As if of india—rubber.
“Hounds IN FULL CRY I like,” said she:
(Oh how I longed to snub her!)
“Of fish, a whale’s the one for me,
IT IS SO FULL OF BLUBBER!”
The night’s performance was “King John.”
“It’s dull,” she wept, “and so—so!”
Awhile I let her tears flow on,
She said they soothed her woe so!
At length the curtain rose upon
In vain we roared; in vain we tried
To rouse her into laughter:
Her pensive glances wandered wide
From orchestra to rafter —
“TIER UPON TIER!” she said, and sighed;
And silence followed after.
I’ll tell thee everything I can;
There’s little to relate,
I saw an aged, aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
‘Who are you, aged man?’ I said.
‘And how is it you live?’
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.
He said, ‘I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat;
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,’ he said,
‘Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread
A trifle, if you please.’
But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, ‘Come, tell me how you live!’
And thumped him on the head.
His accents mild took up the tale;
He said, 'I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze;
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowland’s Macassar Oil
Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.’
But I was thinking of a way
To feed one’s self on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue,
‘Come, tell me how you live,’ I cried,
‘And what it is you do!’
He said, 'I hunt for haddocks’ eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine,
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.
‘I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of hansom-cabs.
And that’s the way’ (he gave a wink)
‘By which I get my wealth
And very gladly will I drink
Your honor’s noble health.’
I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I thanked him much for telling me
The way he got his wealth,
But chiefly for his wish that he
Might drink my noble health.
And now, if e’er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe,
Or if I drop upon my toe
A very heavy weight,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo
That summer evening long ago,
A-sitting on a gate.
I have a horse– a ryghte good horse –
Ne doe Y envye those
Who scoure ye playne yn headye course
Tyll soddayne on theyre nose
They lyghte wyth unexpected force
Yt ys– a horse of clothes.
I have a saddel– “Say’st thou soe?
Wyth styrruppes, Knyghte, to boote?”
I sayde not that —I answere “Noe” —
Yt lacketh such, I woote:
Yt ys a mutton—saddel, loe!
Parte of ye fleecye brute.
I have a bytte– a ryghte good bytte –
As shall bee seene yn tyme.
Ye jawe of horse yt wyll not fytte;
Yts use ys more sublyme.
Fayre Syr, how deemest thou of yt?
Yt ys —thys bytte of rhyme.
‘You are old, father William,’ the young man said,
‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?’
‘In my youth,’ father William replied to his son,
‘I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.’
‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back—somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?’
‘In my youth,’ said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
‘I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment– one shilling the box –
Allow me to sell you a couple.’
‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?’
‘In my youth,’ said his father, ‘I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.’
‘You are old,’ said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?’
‘I have answered three questions, and that is enough,’
Said his father; 'don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!’
‘That is not said right,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Not quite right, I’m afraid,' said Alice timidly;
‘some of the words have got altered.’
‘It is wrong from beginning to end,’
said the Caterpillar decidedly, and
there was silence for some minutes.
There was a young lady of station
‘I love man’ was her sole exclamation
But when men cried, 'You flatter’
She replied, 'Oh! no matter
Isle of Man is the true explanation’
I love the stillness of the wood:
I love the music of the rill:
I love to couch in pensive mood
Upon some silent hill.
Scarce heard, beneath you arching trees,
The silver-crested ripples pass;
And, like a mimic brook, the breeze
Whispers among the grass.
Here from the world I win release,
Nor scorn of men, nor footstep rude,
Break in to mar the holy peace
Of this great solitude.
Here may the silent tears I weep
Lull the vexed spirit into rest,
As infants sob themselves to sleep
Upon a mother’s breast.
But when the bitter hour is gone,
And the keen throbbing pangs are still,
Oh, sweetest then to couch alone
Upon some silent hill!
To live in joys that once have been,
To put the cold world out of sight,
And deck life’s drear and barren scene
With hues of rainbow-light.
For what to man the gift of breath,
If sorrow be his lot below;
If all the day that ends in death
Be dark with clouds of woe?
Shall the poor transport of an hour
Repay long years of sore distress —
The fragrance of a lonely flower
Make glad the wilderness?
Ye golden hours of Life’s young spring,
Of innocence, of love and truth!
Bright, beyond all imagining,
Thou fairy-dream of youth!
I’d give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life’s decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer-day.