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And golden pippins -- the sterling kind
Of Hesperus — now so hard to find –
Made horticulture quite charming!
A lord of land, on his own estate
He lived at a very lively rate,
But his income would bear carousing;
Such acres he had of pasture and heath,
With herbage so rich from the ore beneath,
The very ewe's and lambkin's teeth
Were turned into gold by browsing.
He gave, without any extra thrift,
A flock of sheep for a birthday gift
To each son of his loins, or daughter :
And his debts — if debts he had —- at will
He liquidated by giving each bill
A dip in Pactolian water. 'T was said that even his pigs of lead, By crossing with some by Midas bred,
Made a perfect mine of his piggery. And as for cattle, one yearling bull Was worth all Smithfield-market full
Of the golden bulls of Pope Gregory. The high-bred horses within his stud, Like human creatures of birth and blood,
Had their golden cups and flagons : And as for the common husbandry nags, Their noses were tied in money-bags,
When they stopped with the carts and wagons. Moreover, he had a golden ass, Sometimes at stall, and sometimes at grass,
That was worth his own weight in money
And a golden hive, on a golden bank,
Where golden bees, by alchemical prank,
Gathered gold instead of honey.
Gold! and gold ! and gold without end !
He had gold to lay by, and gold to spend,
Gold to give, and gold to lend,
And reversions of gold in futuro.
In wealth the family revelled and rolled,
Himself and wife and sons so bold; —
And his daughters sang to their harps of gold
“O bella eta del oro !”
Such was the tale of the Kilmansegg kin
In golden text on a vellum skin,
Though certain people would wink and grin,
And declare the whole story a parable — That the ancestor rich was one Jacob Ghrimes, Who held a long lease, in prosperous times,
Of acres, pasture and arable.
That as money makes money, his golden bees Were the Five per Cents, or which you please,
When his cash was more than plenty — That the golden cups were racing affairs; And his daughters, who sang Italian airs,
Had their golden harps of Clementi.
That the golden ass, or golden bull,
Was English John, with his pockets full,
Then at war by land and water:
While beef, and mutton, and other meat,
Were almost as dear as money to eat,
And farmers reaped golden harvests of wheat
At the Lord knows what per quarter !
What different dooms our birthdays bring !
For instance, one little manikin thing
Survives to wear many a wrinkle ;
While death forbids another to wake,
And a son that it took nine moons to make
Expires without even a twinkle :
Into this world we come like ships,
Launched from the docks, and stocks, and slips,
For fortune fair or fatal;
And one little craft is cast away
In its very first trip in Babbicome Bay,
While another rides safe at Port Natal.
What different lots our stars accord !
This babe to be hailed and wooed as a lord !
And that to be shunned like a leper !
One, to the world's wine, honey, and corn,
Another, like Colchester native, born
To its vinegar, only, and pepper.
One is littered under a roof
Neither wind nor water proof, —
That's the prose of Love in a cottage, -
A puny, naked, shivering wretch,
The whole of whose birthright would not fetch,
Though Robins himself drew up the sketch,
The bid of "a mess of pottage.”
Born of Fortunatus's kin,
Another comes tenderly ushered in
To a prospect all bright and burnished :
No tenant he for life's back slums -
He comes to the world as a gentleman comes
To a lodging ready furnished.
And the other sex — the tender — the fair —
What wide reverses of fate are there !
Whilst Margaret, charmed by the Bulbul rare,
In a garden of Gul reposes,
Poor Peggy hawks nosegays from street to street
Till — think of that, who find life so sweet! -
She hates the smell of roses !
Not so with the infant Kilmansegg !
She was not born to steal or beg,
Or gather cresses in ditches;
To plait the straw, or bind the shoe,
Or sit all day to hem and sew,
As females must, and not a few —
To fill their insides with stitches !
She was not doomed, for bread to eat,
To be put to her hands as well as her feet -
To carry home linen from mangles —
Or heavy-hearted, and weary-limbed,
To dance on a rope in a jacket trimmed
With as many blows as spangles.
She was one of those who by Fortune’s boon
Are born, as they say, with a silver spoon
In her mouth, not a wooden ladle :
To speak according to poet's wont,
Plutus as sponsor stood at her font,
And Midas rocked the cradle.
At her first début she found her head
On a pillow of down, in a downy bed,
With a damask canopy over.
For although by the vulgar popular saw
All mothers are said to be in the straw,”
Some children are born in clover.
Her very first draught of vital air
It was not the common chameleon fare
Of plebeian lungs and noses, –
No — her earliest sniff
Of this world was a whiff Of the genuine Otto of Roses ! When she saw the light, it was no mere ray Of that light so common, so every-day,
That the sun each morning launches ; But six wax tapers dazzled her eyes, From a thing — a gooseberry-bush for size —
With a golden stem and branches.
She was born exactly at half-past two,
As witnessed a time-piece in or-molu
That stood on a marble table —
Showing at once the time of day,
And a team of Gildings running away
As fast as they were able,
With a golden god, with a golden star,
And a golden spear, in a golden car,
According to Grecian fable.
Like other babes, at her birth she cried ;
Which made a sensation far and wide,
Ay, for twenty miles around her ;
For though to the ear 't was nothing more
Than an infant's squall, it was really the roar
Of a fifty-thousand pounder!
It shook the next heir
In his library chair,
And made him cry “ Confound her!”
Of signs and omens there was no dearth,
Any more than at Owen Glendower's birth