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He held some thousand acres of good ground,
To which his weapon formed his strongest claim; His legal title was sometimes unsound
And he was wedded to a matchless dame, The fair and chaste Godiva — whom alone He seemed to love, of all that was his own.
Well might he love her ;-in that shape of lightness,
All woman's choicest beauties were combined ; Her long dark locks set off her bosom's whiteness,
In its calm heavings, warm, and chaste, and kind. Her deep blue eyes shone with peculiar brightness,
When through them flashed the sunbeams of her mind, When swiftly sparkled joys, or hopes, or fears, Or sorrow bathed them in delicious tears.
Her's was the face we look on once and love,
Her voice was music's echo— like the strain Of our own land, heard, when afar we rove,
With a deep sense of pleasure, mixed with pain: And those who once had heard it, vainly strove
To lose its echoes lingering in the brain : As for her figure—if you once had met it, Believe me, sirs, you never could forget it.
She was the idol of her native land,
The comforter and friend of its distress;
Felt for the woes of others not the less.
Forbore to curse him for her loveliness.
It chanced, A. D. eight hundred and eighteen,
(I love to be correct in my chronology, And all the tables which by chance I've seen
Concur in this date. When I was in college, I Conducted once the famous Magazine,
The Etonian's predecessor. This apology
Will serve, I hope, among all folks discerning, * For my correctness—both in taste and learning).
It chanced, A. D. eight hundred and eighteen,
'T was a bad season : rain, and blight, and frost
Wheat-barley-oats—and turnips, all were crost.
There's no computing what that year they lost :
Leofric's table suffered: he was ever
(As Earls are sometimes) an enormous glutton.
He was a perfect Colleger at mutton.
A decent leg or shoulder could be put on;
There was a sad deficiency in greens,
Parsnips and carrots nowhere could be found,
The turnips were frost-bitten and unsound.
To pay their rents:--the Earl looked grim, and frowned;
Whether this plan was likely to succeed,
Is more than I can possibly divine ;
A patient dying of a deep decline.
•“ If any member refuse to pay a fine imposed by the Club, the fine shall be doubled.”-Rules of the Harrow Cricket Club, 1818. I recommend the same measure to the adoption of his Majesty of Clubs.
The poor petitioned in this utmost need;
Alas! they found it was in vain to whineThe hungry Earl refused to hear a word; (We know petitions are sometimes absurd). “He grieved," he said, “but 't was n't his look out,
If all his serfs and vassals starved together; The year
had been a rainy one, no doubt, But what of that?- he didn't make the weather. They should have minded what they were about,
And not have sent such mutton—'t was like leather. In short, unless they paid in their arrears, He 'd beat their houses down about their ears."
Then fell despair upon them :- home they went
With wild and gloomy aspects, and sat down Each by his desolate hearth; some, weeping, leant
Their heads on their clasped hands; throughout the town Went female shrieks and wailings; all content,
Domestic joy, and peace, and hope were flown ;
Gazed, as he entered, on his frenzied eye,
Her own forebodings of deep misery,
Used all her loved caresses cheeringly;
And then she spoke of their long mutual love,
Their youthful vows, and lately plighted troth,And then she said that there was One above
Who had protected—would protect them both. Remorse might yet the Earl's stern nature move,
Herself,” she added, “to despair was loth.” But when she found her arts were vain, she crept Into his bosom-hid her face and wept.
It was a night of horror and despair !
Mothers were shrieking in distraction wild, And fathers, with a fixed unconscious glare,
Gazed on the wan cheeks of each starving child ! A few were kneeling, wrapt in fervent prayer,
And these alone, in their devotion, smiled; While he, the author of an earldom's woeSlept upon fair Godiva's breast of snow!
Alas! Godiva, that a heart like thine
Should by so stern a tyrant's head be prest !
Feeling a strange oppression at his chest;
Which one would fancy, must have made him rest. Whether 't was conscience, or an indigestion, Produced this night-mare, still remains a question.
Godiva was awake--she had not slept
For sad reflections on her country's woes, And bitter floods of anguish had she wept,
Her grief was far too burning for repose: As down her cheeks the tears in silence crept,
At last they trickled to her husband's nose; Who in plain terms (he seldom used to flatter), Demanded “what the devil was the matter."
Her tears fell faster, but she answered not,
In vain at first she strove her voice to find; The courteous Saxon thought his wife had got
The toothache, and grew wonderfully kind. But when Godiva gently told him what
So much afflicted not her teeth -- but mind, He scratched his head, and stared like one confounded, Never was man so perfectly astounded!
He could not form, for his part, the least notion
Of what appeared so singular a whim, He'd always fancied that his wife's devotion,
Thoughts, passions, wishes centred all in him,
Much was he puzzled by this strange emotion,
How was it possible a dame so slim,
’T was just what mathematics are to me, A science which the longer I revolve,
The surer am I we shall ne'er agree: And so I very prudently resolve
To give it up, and stick to poetry, Which is, in fact, extremely pretty sport, And I 'm inclined to fancy quite my forte!
My Simpson's Euclid, you 're a cursed bore,
Although, no doubt, a treasure in your way, And those who doat on science may explore
Your problems — with what appetite they may.
Therefore, my Simpson's Euclid, I must say
One writes, and blots, and reads 'em o'er and o'er, And, every time one reads 'em, can't help spying
A thousand beauties unobserved before;
Reviewers make some rhymesters rather sore;
'T was a sad pity that 't was in the night, Because, had it but happened in the day,
Her weeping beauty had prevailed outright: Even then she charmed her husband's rage away,
And nearly gained her purpose — though not quite; For, after all her eloquent persuasion, He tried to cheat her by a mean evasion.