Fanny was younger once than she is now,
And prettier of course; I do not mean
To say that there are wrinkles on her brow;
Yet, to be candid, she is past eighteen---
Perhaps past twenty---but the girl is shy
About her age, and Heaven forbid that I
Should get myself in trouble by revealing
A secret of this sort; I have too long
Loved pretty women with a poet's feeling,
And when a boy, in day-dream and in song,
Have knelt me down and worshipped them: alas!
They never thanked me for't---but let that pass.
I've felt full many a heartache in my day,
At the mere rustling of a muslin gown,
And caught some dreadful colds, I blush to say,
While shivering in the shade of beauty's frown.
They say her smiles are sunbeams---it may be---
But never a sunbeam would she throw on me.
But Fanny's is an eye that you may gaze on
For half an hour, without the slightest harm;
E'en when she wore her smiling summer face on
There was but little danger, and the charm
That youth and wealth once gave, has bade farewell:
Hers is a sad, sad tale---'tis mine its woes to tell.
Her father kept, some fifteen years ago,
A retail dry-good shop in Chatham Street,
And nursed his little earnings, sure though slow,
Till, having mustered wherewithal to meet
The gaze of the great world, he breathed the air
Of Pearl Street---and "set up" in Hanover Square.
Money is power, 'tis said---I never tried;
I'm but a poet---and bank-notes to me
Are curiosities, as closely eyed,
Whene'er I get them, as a stone would be,
Tossed from the moon on Doctor Mitchill's 1 table,
Or classic brickbat from the tower of Babel.
But he I sing of well has known and felt
That money hath a power and a dominion;
For when in Chatham Street the good man dwelt,
No one would give a sous for his opinion.
And though his neighbors were extremely civil,
Yet, on the whole, they thought him---a poor devil.
A decent kind of person; one whose head
Was not of brains particularly full;
It was not known that he had ever said
Any thing worth repeating---'twas a dull,
Good, honest man---what Paulding's 1 muse would call
A "cabbage-head"---but he excelled them all
In that most noble of the sciences,
The art of making money; and he found
The zeal for quizzing him grew less and less,
As he grew richer; till upon the ground
Of Pearl Street, treading proudly in the might
And majesty of wealth, a sudden light
Flashed like the midnight lightning on the eyes
Of all who knew him: brilliant traits of mind,
And genius, clear, and countless as the dyes
Upon the peacock's plumage; taste refined,
Wisdom and wit, were his---perhaps much more---
'Twas strange they had not found it out before.
In this quick transformation, it is true
That cash had no small share; but there were still
Some other causes, which then gave a new
Impulse to head and heart, and joined to fill
His brain with knowledge; for there first he met
The editor of the New York Gazette---
The sapient Mr. Lang . The world of him
Knows much, yet not one-half so much as he
Knows of the world. Up to its very brim
The goblet of his mind is sparkling free
With lore and learning. Had proud Sheba's queen,
In all her bloom and beauty, but have seen
This modern Solomon, 1 the Israelite,
Earth's monarch as he was, had never won her.
He would have hanged himself for very spite,
And she, blessed woman, might have had the honor
Of some neat "paragraphs"---worth all the lays
That Judah's minstrel warbled in her praise.
Her star arose too soon; but that which swayed
Th' ascendant at our merchant's natal hour
Was bright with better destiny---its aid
Led him to pluck within the classic bower
Of bulletins, the blossoms of true knowledge,
And Lang supplied the loss of school and college.
For there he learned the news some minutes sooner
Than others could; and to distinguish well
The different signals, whether ship or schooner,
Hoisted at Staten Island; and to tell
The change of wind, and of his neighbor's fortunes,
And, best of all---he there learned self-importance.
Nor were these all the advantages derived
From change of scene; for near his domicil
He of the pair of polished lamps then lived,
And in my hero's promenades, at will,
Could he behold them burning---and their flame
Kindled within his breast the love of fame--- 1
And politics, and country; the pure glow
Of patriot ardor, and the consciousness
That talents such as his might well bestow
A lustre on the city; she would bless
His name; and that some service should be done her,
He pledged "life, fortune, and his sacred honor."
And when the sounds of music and of mirth,
Bursting from Fashion's groups assembled there,
Were heard, as round their lone plebeian hearth
Fanny and he were seated---he would dare
To whisper fondly that the time might come
When he and his could give as brilliant routs at home.
And oft would Fanny near that mansion linger,
When the cold winter moon was high in heaven,
And trace out, by the aid of Fancy's finger,
Cards for some future party, to be given
When she in turn should be a belle , and they
Had lived their little hour, and passed away.
There are some happy moments in this lone
And desolate world of ours, that well repay
The toil of struggling through it, and atone
For many a long, sad night and weary day.
They come upon the mind like some wild air
Of distant music, when we know not where,
Or whence, the sounds are brought from, and their power,
Though brief, is boundless. That far, future home,
Oft dreamed of, beckons near---its rose-wreathed bower,
And cloudless skies before us: we become
Changed on the instant---all gold leaf and gilding;
This is, in vulgar phrase, called "castle-building."
But these, like sunset clouds, fade soon; 'tis vain
To bid them linger longer, or to ask
On what day they intend to call again;
And, surely, 'twere a philosophic task,
Worthy a Mitchill, in his hours of leisure,
To find some means to summon them at pleasure.
There certainly are powers of doing this,
In some degree at least---for instance, drinking.
Champagne will bathe the heart a while in bliss,
And keep the head a little time from thinking
Of cares or creditors---the best wine in town
You'll get from Lynch 1 ---the cash must be paid down.
But if you are a bachelor, like me,
And spurn all chains, even though made of roses,
I'd recommend cigars---there is a free
And happy spirit, that, unseen, reposes
On the dim shadowy clouds that hover o'er you,
When smoking quietly with a warm fire before you.
Dear to the exile is his native land,
In memory's twilight beauty seen afar:
Dear to the broker is a note of hand,
Collaterally secured---the polar star
Is dear at midnight to the sailor's eyes,
And dear are Bristed's 1 volumes at "half price;"
But dearer far to me each fairy minute
Spent in that fond forgetfulness of grief;
There is an airy web of magic in it,
As in Othello's pocket-handkerchief,
Veiling the wrinkles on the brow of Sorrow,
The gathering gloom to-day, the thunder-cloud tomorrow.
And these are innocent thoughts---a man may sit
Upon a bright throne of his own creation:
Untortured by the ghastly sprites that flit
Around the many, whose exalted station
Has been attained by means 'twere pain to hint on,
Just for the rhyme's sake---instance Mr. Clinton.
He struggled hard, but not in vain, and breathes
The mountain-air at last; but there are others
Who strove, like him, to win the glittering wreaths
Of power, his early partisans and brothers,
That linger yet in dust from whence they sprung,
Unhonored and unpaid, though, luckily, unhung.
'Twas theirs to fill with gas the huge balloon
Of party; and they hoped, when it arose,
To soar like eagles in the blaze of noon,
Above the gaping crowd of friends and foes.
Alas! like Guillé's 1 car, it soared without them,
And left them with a mob to jeer and flout them.
Though Fanny's moonlight dreams were sweet as those
I've dwelt so long upon---they were more stable;
Hers were not "castles in the air" that rose
Based upon nothing; for her sire was able,
As well she knew, to "buy out" the one-half
Of Fashion's glittering train, that nightly quaff
Wine, wit, and wisdom, at a midnight rout,
From dandy coachmen, whose "exquisite" grin
And "ruffian" lounge flash brilliantly without,
Down to their brother dandies ranged within,
Gay as the Brussels carpeting they tread on,
And sapient as the oysters they are fed on.
And Rumor (she's a famous liar, yet
'Tis wonderful how easy we believe her)
Had whispered he was rich, and all he met
In Wall Street, nodded, smiled, and "tipped the beaver;"
All,---from Mr. Gelston 1 , the collector,
Down to the broker, and the bank director.
A few brief years passed over, and his rank
Among the worthies of that street was fixed;
He had become director of a bank,
And six insurance offices, and mixed
Familiarly, as one among his peers,
With grocers, dry-good merchants, auctioneers,
Brokers of all grades---stock and pawn---and Jews
Of all religions, who at noonday form,
On 'Change, that brotherhood the moral muse
Delights in, where the heart is pure and warm,
And each exerts his intellectual force
To cheat his neighbor---legally, of course.
And there he shone a planetary star,
Circled around by lesser orbs, whose beams
From his were borrowed. The simile is not far
From truth---for many bosom friends, it seems,
Did borrow of him, and sometimes forget
To pay---indeed, they have not paid him yet.
But these he deemed as trifles, when each mouth
Was open in his praise, and plaudits rose
Upon his willing ear, "like the sweet south
Upon a bank of violets," from those
Who knew his talents, virtues, and so forth;
That is---knew how much money he was worth.
Alas! poor human nature; had he been
But satisfied with this, his golden days
Their setting hour of darkness had not seen,
And he might still (in the mercantile phrase)
Be living "in good order and condition;"
But he was ruined by that jade Ambition,
"That last infirmity of noble minds,"
Whose spell, like whiskey, your true patriot liquor,
To politics the lofty heart inclines
Of all, from Clinton 11 down to the bill-sticker
Of a ward-meeting. She came slyly creeping
To his bedside, where he lay snug and sleeping.
Her brow was turbaned with a bucktail wreath,
A brooch of terrapin her bosom wore,
Tompkins's letter was just seen beneath
Her arm, and in her hand on high she bore
A National Advocate 11 ---Pell's polite Review 11
Lay at her feet---'twas pommelled black and blue.
She was in fashion's elegant undress,
Muffled from throat to ankle; and her hair
Was all " en papillotes ," each auburn trees
Prettily pinned apart. You well might swear
She was no beauty; yet, when "made up" ready
For visitors, 'twas quite another lady.
Since that wise pedant, Johnson, was in fashion,
Manners have changed as well as moons; and he
Would fret himself once more into a passion,
Should he return (which Heaven forbid!) and see
How strangely from his standard dictionary
The meaning of some words is made to vary.
For instance, an undress at present means
The wearing a pelisse, a shawl, or so;
Or any thing you please, in short, that screens
The face, and hides the form from top to toe;
Of power to brave a quizzing-glass, or storm---
'Tis worn in summer, when the weather's warm.
But a full dress is for a winter's night.
The most genteel is made of "woven air;"
That kind of classic cobweb, soft and light,
Which Lady Morgan's Ida used to wear.
And ladies, this aërial manner dressed in,
Look Eve-like, angel-like, and interesting.
But, Miss Ambition was, as I was saying,
" Déshabillée "---his bedside tripping near,
And, gently on his nose her fingers laying,
She roared out "Tammany!" in his frighted ear.
The potent word awoke him from his nap,
And then she vanished, whispering verbum sap .
The last words were beyond his comprehension,
For he had left off schooling, ere the Greek
Or Latin classics claimed his mind's attention:
Besides, he often had been heard to speak
Contemptuously of all that sort of knowledge,
Taught so profoundly in Columbia College.
We owe the ancients something. You have read
Their works, no doubt---at least in a translation;
Yet there was argument in what he said,
I scorn equivocation or evasion,
And own it must, in candor, be confessed
They were an ignorant set of men at best.
'Twas their misfortune to be born too soon
By centuries, and in the wrong place too;
They never saw a steamboat, or balloon,
Velocipede, or Quarterly Review;
Or wore a pair of Baehr's black satin breeches,
Or read an Almanac, or Clinton's Speeches. 11
In short, in every thing we far outshine them,---
Art, science, taste, and talent; and a stroll
Through this enlightened city would refine them
More than ten years' hard study of the whole
Their genius has produced of rich and rare---
God bless the Corporation and the Mayor!
In sculpture, we've a grace the Grecian master,
Blushing, had owned his purest model lacks;
We've Mr. Bogart in the best of plaster,
The Witch of Endor in the best of wax,
Besides the head of Franklin on the roof
Of Mr. Lang, both jest and weather-proof.
And on our City Hall a Justice stands;
A neater form was never made of board,
Holding majestically in her hands
A pair of steelyards and a wooden sword;
And looking down with complaisant civility---
Emblem of dignity and durability.
In painting, we have Trumbull's proud chef d'oeuvre ,
Blending in one the funny and the fine:
His "Independence" will endure forever,
And so will Mr. Allen's 11 lottery-sign;
And all that grace the Academy of Arts, 11
From Dr. Hosack's face to Bonaparte's.
In architecture, our unrivalled skill
Cullen's magnesian shop 11 has loudly spoken
To an admiring world; and better still
Is Gautier's fairy palace at Hoboken.
In music, we've the Euterpian Society, 11
And amateurs, a wonderful variety.
In physic, we have Francis and McNeven, 11
Famed for long heads, short lectures, and long bills;
And Quackenboss 11 and others, who from heaven
Were rained upon us in a shower of pills;
They'd beat the deathless Æsculapius hollow,
And make a starveling druggist of Apollo.
And who, that ever slumbered at the Forum, 11
But owns the first of orators we claim:
Cicero would have bowed the knee before 'em---
And for law eloquence, we've Doctor Graham. 11
Compared with him, their Justins and Quintilians
Had dwindled into second-rate civilians.
For purity and chastity of style,
There's Pell's preface, and puffs by Horne 11 and Waite.
For penetration deep, and learned toil,
And all that stamps an author truly great,
Have we not Bristed's ponderous tomes? a treasure
For any man of patience and of leisure.
Oxonian Bristed! many a foolscap page
He, in his time, hath written, and moreover
(What few will do in this degenerate age)
Hath read his own works, as you may discover
By counting his quotations from himself---
You'll find the books on any auction-shelf.
I beg Great Britain's pardon; 'tis not meant
To claim this Oxford scholar as our own;
That he was shipped off here to represent
Her literature among us, is well known;
And none could better fill the lofty station
Of Learning's envoy from the British nation.
We fondly hope that he will be respected
At home, and soon obtain a place or pension.
We should regret to see him live neglected,
Like Fearon, Ashe, and others we could mention;
Who paid us friendly visits to abuse
Our country, and find food for the reviews.
But to return.---The Heliconian waters
Are sparkling in their native fount no more,
And after years of wandering, the nine daughters
Of poetry have found upon our shore
A happier home, and on their sacred shrines
Glow in immortal ink, the polished lines
Of Woodworth, Doctor Farmer, Moses Scott--- 11
Names hallowed by their reader's sweetest smile;
And who that reads at all has read them not?
"That blind old man of Scio's rocky isle,"
Homer, was well enough; but would he ever
Have written, think ye, the Backwoodsman? never.
Alas! for Paulding---I regret to see
In such a stanza one whose giant powers,
Seen in their native element, will be
Known to a future age, the pride of ours.
There is none breathing that can better wield
The battle-axe of satire. On its field
The wreath he fought for he has bravely won,
Long be its laurel green around his brow!
It is too true, I'm somewhat fond of fun
And jesting; but for once I'm serious now.
Why is he sipping weak Castalian dews?
The muse has damned him---let him damn the muse.
But to return once more: the ancients fought
Some tolerable battles. Marathon
Is still a theme for high and holy thought,
And many a poet's lay. We linger on
The page that tells us of the brave and free,
And reverence thy name, unmatched Thermopylæ.
And there were spirited troops in other days---
The Roman legion and the Spartan band,
And Swartwout's gallant corps, the Iron Grays---
Soldiers who met their foemen hand to hand,
Or swore, at least, to meet them undismayed;
Yet what were these to General Laight's brigade 11
Of veterans? nursed in that Free School of glory,
The New York State Militia 11 . From Bellevue,
E'en to the Battery flag-staff, the proud story
Of their manoeuvres at the last review
Has rung; and Clinton's "order" told afar
He never led a better corps to war.
What, Egypt, was thy magic, to the tricks
Of Mr. Charles 11 , Judge Spencer 11 , or Van Buren?
The first with cards, the last in politics,
A conjuror's fame for years have been securing.
And who would now the Athenian dramas read,
When he can get "Wall Street," by Mr. Mead? 11
I might say much about our lettered men,
Those "grave and reverend seigniors," who compose
Our learned societies---but here my pen
Stops short; for they themselves, the rumor goes,
The exclusive privilege by patent claim,
Of trumpeting (as the phrase is) their own fame.
And, therefore, I am silent. It remains
To bless the hour the Corporation took it
Into their heads to give the rich in brains
The worn-out mansion of the poor in pocket,
Once "the old almshouse," now a school of wisdom,
Sacred to Scudder's shells and Dr. Griscom. 11
But whither am I wandering? The esteem
I bear "this fairy city of the heart,"
To me a dear enthusiastic theme,
Has forced me, all unconsciously, to part
Too long from him, the hero of my story.
Where was he?---waking from his dream of glory.
And she, the lady of his dream, had fled,
And left him somewhat puzzled and confused.
He understood, however, half she said;
And that is quite as much as we are used
To comprehend, or fancy worth repeating,
In speeches heard at any public meeting.
And the next evening found him at the Hall; 11
There he was welcomed by the cordial hand,
And met the warm and friendly grasp of all
Who take, like watchmen, there, their nightly stand,
A ring, as in a boxing-match, procuring,
To bet on Clinton, Tompkins, or Van Buren.
'Twas a propitious moment; for a while
The waves of party were at rest. Upon
Each complacent brow was gay good-humor's smile:
And there was much of wit, and jest, and pun,
And high amid the circle, in great glee,
Sat Croaker's old acquaintance, John Targee.
His jokes excelled the rest, and oft he sang
Songs, patriotic, as in duty bound.
He had a little of the "nasal twang
Heard at conventicle;" but yet you found
In him a dash of purity and brightness,
That spoke the man of taste and of politeness.
For he had been, it seems, the bosom friend
Of England's prettiest bard, Anacreon Moore.
They met, when he, the bard, came here to lend
His mirth and music to this favorite shore;
For, as the proverb saith, "birds of a feather
Instinctively will flock and fly together."
The winds that wave thy cedar-boughs are breathing,
"Lake of the Dismal Swamp!" that poet's name;
And the spray-showers their noonday halos wreathing
Around "Cohoes," are brightened by his fame.
And bright its sunbeam o'er St. Lawrence smiles,
Her million lilies, and her thousand isles.
We hear his music in her oarmen's lay,
And where her church-bells "toll the evening chime;"
Yet when to him the grateful heart would pay
Its homage, now, and in all coming time,
Up springs a doubtful question whether we
Owe it to Tara's minstrel or Targee.
Together oft they wandered---many a spot
Now consecrated, as the minstrel's theme,
By words of beauty ne'er to be forgot,
Their mutual feet have trod; and when the stream
Of thought and feeling flowed in mutual speech,
'Twere vain to tell how much each taught to each.
But, from the following song, it would appear
That he of Erin from the sachem took
The model of his "Bower of Bendemeer,"
One of the sweetest airs in Lalla Rookh;
'Tis to be hoped that, in his next edition,
This, the original, will find admission:
There's a barrel of porter at Tammany Hall,
And the bucktails are swigging it all the night long;
In the time of my boyhood 'twas pleasant to call
For a seat and cigar, 'mid the jovial throng.
That beer and those bucktails I never forget;
But oft, when alone, and unnoticed by all,
I think, is the porter-cask foaming there yet?
Are the bucktails still swigging at Tammany Hall?
No! the porter was out long before it was stale,
But some blossoms on many a nose brightly shone,
And the speeches inspired by the fumes of the ale,
Had the fragrance of porter when porter was gone.
How much Cozzens will draw of such beer ere he dies,
Is a question of moment to me and to all;
For still dear to my soul, as 'twas then to my eyes,
Is that barrel of porter at Tammany Hall.
There's a bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream,
And the nightingale sings round it all the night long;
In the time of my childhood 'twas like a sweet dream
To sit in the roses and hear the bird's song.
That bower and its music I never forget;
But oft, when alone, in the bloom of the year,
I think, is the nightingale singing there yet?
Are the roses still bright by the calm Bendemeer?
No! the roses soon withered that hung o'er the wave,
But some blossoms were gathered when freshly they shone;
And a dew was distilled from their flowers, that gave
All the fragrance of summer when summer was gone.
Thus memory draws from delight ere it dies,
An essence that breathes of it many a year;
Thus bright to my soul, as 'twas then to my eyes,
Is that bower on the banks of the calm Bendemeer.
For many months my hero ne'er neglected
To take his ramble there, and soon found out,
In much less time than one could have expected,
What 'twas they all were quarrelling about.
He learned the party countersigns by rote,
And when to clap his hands, and how to vote.
He learned that Clinton became Governor
Somehow by chance, when we were all asleep;
That he had neither sense, nor talent, nor
Any good quality, and would not keep
His place an hour after the next election---
So powerful was the voice of disaffection:
That he was a mere puppet made to play
A thousand tricks, while Spencer touched the springs---
Spencer, the mighty Warwick of his day,
"That setter up and puller down of kings,"
Aided by Miller 11 , Pell, and Doctor Graham,
And other men of equal worth and fame:
And that he'd set the people at defiance,
By placing knaves and fools in public stations;
And that his works in literature and science
Were but a schoolboy's web of misquotations;
And that he quoted from the devil even---
"Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven."
To these authentic facts each bucktail swore;
But Clinton's friends averred, in contradiction,
They were but fables, told by Mr. Noah,
Who had a privilege to deal in fiction,
Because he'd written travels, and a melo-
Drama; and was, withal, a pleasant fellow.
And they declared that Tompkins was no better
Than he should be; that he had borrowed money,
And paid it---not in cash---but with a letter;
And, though some trifling service he had done, he
Still wanted spirit, energy, and fire;
And was disliked by---Mr. McIntyre. 11
In short, each one with whom in conversation
He joined, contrived to give him different views
Of men and measures; and the information
Which he obtained, but aided to confuse
His brain. At best, 'twas never very clear;
And now 'twas turned with politics and beer.
And he was puffed, and flattered, and caressed
By all, till he sincerely thought that Nature
Had formed him for an alderman at least---
Perhaps, a member of the Legislature;
And that he had the talents, ten times over,
Of Henry Meigs, or Peter H. Wendover. 11
The man was mad, 'tis plain, and merits pity,
Or he had never dared, in such a tone,
To speak of two great persons, whom the city
With pride and pleasure points to as her own---
Men wise in council, brilliant in debate,
"The expectancy and rose of the fair state."
The one---for a pure style and classic manner,
Is---Mr. Sachem Mooney far before;
The other, in his speech about the banner,
Spell-bound his audience until they swore
That such a speech was never heard till then,
And never would be---till he spoke again.
Though 'twas presumptuous in this friend of ours
To think of rivalling these, I must allow
That still the man had talents; and the powers
Of his capacious intellect were now
Improved by foreign travel, and by reading,
And at the Hall he'd learned, of course, good-breeding.
He had read the newspapers with great attention,
Advertisements and all; and Riley's book 11
Of travels---valued for its rich invention;
And Day and Turner's Price Current; and took
The Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews;
And also Colonel Pell's; and to amuse
His leisure hours with classic tale and story,
Longworth's Directory, and Mead's Wall Street,
And Mr. Delaplaine's Repository; 11
And Mitchill's scientific works complete,
With other standard books of modern days,
Lay on his table, covered with green baize.
His travels had extended to Bath races;
And Bloomingdale and Bergen he had seen,
And Harlem Heights; and many other places,
By sea and land, had visited; and been,
In a steamboat of the Vice-President's,
To Staten Island once---for fifty cents. 11
And he had dined, by special invitation,
On turtle, with "the party" at Hoboken;
And thanked them for his card in an oration,
Declared to be the shortest ever spoken.
And he had strolled one day o'er Weehawk hill:
A day worth all the rest---he recollects it still. 11
Weehawken!---In thy mountain scenery yet,
All we adore of Nature, in her wild
And frolic hour of infancy, is met;
And never has a summer's morning smiled
Upon a lovelier scene, than the full eye
Of the enthusiast revels on---when high
Amid thy forest solitudes, he climbs
O'er crags, that proudly tower above the deep,
And knows that sense of danger which sublimes
The breathless moment---when his daring step
Is on the verge of the cliff, and he can hear
The low dash of the wave with startled ear---
Like the death-music of his coming doom.
And clings to the green turf with desperate force,
As the heart clings to life; and when resume
The currents in his veins their wonted course,
There lingers a deep feeling---like the moan
Of wearied ocean, when the storm is gone.
In such an hour he turns, and on his view,
Ocean, and earth, and heaven, burst before him;
Clouds slumbering at his feet, and the clear blue
Of summer's sky in beauty bending o'er him---
The city bright below; and far away,
Sparkling in golden light, his own romantic bay.
Tall spire, and glittering roof, and battlement,
And banners floating in the sunny air;
And white sails o'er the calm blue waters bent,
Green isle, and circling shore, are blended there
In wild reality. When life is old,
And many a scene forgot, the heart will hold
Its memory of this; nor lives there one
Whose infant breath was drawn, or boyhood's days
Of happiness were passed beneath that sun,
That in his manhood's prime can calmly gaze
Upon that bay, or on that mountain stand,
Nor feel the prouder of his native land.
"This may be poetry, for aught I know,"
Said an old, worthy friend of mine, while leaning
Over my shoulders as I wrote; "although
I can't exactly comprehend its meaning.
For my part, I have long been a petitioner
To Mr. John McComb, the Street Commissioner---
"That he would think of Weehawk, and would lay it
Handsomely out in avenue and square;
Then tax the land and make its owners pay it
(As is the usual plan pursued elsewhere);
Blow up the rocks, and sell the wood for fuel---
'Twould save us many a dollar, and a duel."
"The devil take you and John McComb," said I;
"Lang, in its praise, has penned one paragraph,
And promised me another. I defy,
With such assistance, yours and the world's laugh;
And half believe that Paulding, on this theme,
Might be a poet---strange as it may seem."
For even our traveller felt, when home returning
From that day's tour, as on the deck he stood,
The fire of poetry within him burning;
"Albeit unused to the rhyming mood;"
And with a pencil on his knee he wrote
The following flaming lines
TO THE HORSEBOAT.
Away---o'er the wave to the home we are seeking,
Bark of my hope! ere the evening be gone;
There's a wild, wild note in the curlew's shrieking;
There's a whisper of death in the wind's low moan.
Though blue and bright are the heavens above me,
And the stars are asleep on the quiet sea;
And hearts I love, and hearts that love me,
Are beating beside me merrily:
Yet, far in the west, where the day's faded roses,
Touched by the moonbeam, are withering fast;
Where the half-seen spirit of twilight reposes,
Hymning the dirge of the hours that are past---
There, where the ocean-wave sparkles at meeting
(As sunset dreams tell us) the kiss of the sky,
On his dim, dark cloud is the infant storm sitting,
And beneath the horizon his lightnings are nigh.
Another hour---and the death-word is given,
Another hour---and his lightnings are here;
Speed! speed thee, my bark; ere the breeze of even
Is lost in the tempest, our home will be near.
Then away o'er the wave, while thy pennant is streaming
In the shadowy light, like a shooting-star;
Be swift as the thought of the wanderer, dreaming,
In a stranger land, of his fireside afar.
And while memory lingers I'll fondly believe thee
A being with life and its best feelings warm;
And freely the wild song of gratitude weave thee,
Blessed spirit! that bore me and mine from the storm.
But where is Fanny? She has long been thrown
Where cheeks and roses wither---in the shade.
The age of chivalry, you know, is gone;
And although, as I once before have said,
I love a pretty face to adoration,
Yet, still, I must preserve my reputation,
As a true dandy of the modern schools.
One hates to be old-fashioned; it would be
A violation of the latest rules,
To treat the sex with too much courtesy.
'Tis not to worship beauty, as she glows
In all her diamond lustre, that the beaux
Of these enlightened days at evening crowd,
Where Fashion welcomes in her rooms of light
That "dignified obedience; that proud
Submission," which, in times of yore, the knight
Gave to his "ladye-love," is now a scandal,
And practised only by your Goth and Vandal.
To lounge in graceful attitudes---be stared
Upon, the while, by every fair one's eye,
And stare one's self, in turn: to be prepared
To dart upon the trays, as swiftly by
The dexterous Simon 11 bears them, and to take
One's share at least of coffee, cream, and cake,
Is now to be "the ton." The pouting lip,
And sad, upbraiding eye of the poor girl,
Who hardly of joy's cup one drop can sip,
Ere in the wild confusion, and the whirl,
And tumult of the hour, its bubbles vanish,
Must now be disregarded. One must banish
Those antiquated feelings, that belong
To feudal manners and a barbarous age.
Time was---when woman "poured her soul" in song,
That all was hushed around. 'Tis now "the rage"
To deem a song, like bugle-tones in battle,
A signal-note, that bids each tongue's artillery rattle.
And, therefore, I have made Miss Fanny wait
My leisure. She had changed, as you will see, as
Much as her worthy sire, and made as great
Proficiency in taste and high ideas.
The careless smile of other days was gone,
And every gesture spoke " qu'en dira-t-on ?"
She long had known that in her father's coffers,
And also to his credit in the banks,
There was some cash; and therefore all the offers
Made her, by gentlemen of the middle ranks,
Of heart and hand, had spurned, as far beneath
One whose high destiny it was to breathe,
Ere long, the air of Broadway or Park Place,
And reign a fairy queen in fairy land;
Display in the gay dance her form of grace,
Or touch with rounded arm and gloveless hand,
Harp or piano.---Madame Catilani
Forgot awhile, and every eye on Fanny.
And in anticipation of that hour,
Her star of hope, her paradise of thought,
She'd had as many masters as the power
Of riches could bestow; and had been taught
The thousand nameless graces that adorn
The daughters of the wealthy and high-born.
She had been noticed at some public places
(The Battery, and the balls of Mr. Whale 11 ),
For hers was one of those attractive faces,
That when you gaze upon them, never fail
To bid you look again; there was a beam,
A lustre in her eye, that oft would seem
A little like effrontery; and yet
The lady meant no harm; her only aim
Was but to be admired by all she met,
And the free homage of the heart to claim;
And if she showed too plainly this intention,
Others have done the same---'twas not of her invention.
She shone at every concert; where are bought
Tickets by all who wish them, for a dollar;
She patronized the Theatre, and thought
That Wallack looked extremely well in Rolla;
She fell in love, as all the ladies do,
With Mr. Simpson---talked as loudly, too, 11
As any beauty of the highest grade,
To the gay circle in the box beside her;
And when the pit---half vexed and half afraid,
With looks of smothered indignation eyed her,
She calmly met their gaze, and stood before 'em,
Smiling at vulgar taste and mock decorum.
And though by no means a bas bleu , she had
For literature a most becoming passion;
Had skimmed the latest novels, good and bad,
And read the Croakers 11 , when they were in fashion;
And Dr. Chalmers' sermons of a Sunday;
And Woodworth's Cabinet 11 , and the new Salmagundi. 11
She was among the first and warmest patrons
Of Griscom's conversaziones , where
In rainbow groups, our bright-eyed maids and matrons,
On science bent, assemble; to prepare
Themselves for acting well, in life, their part
As wives and mothers. There she learned by heart
Words, to the witches in Macbeth unknown.
Hydraulics, hydrostatics , and pneumatics ,
Dioptrics, optics, katoptrics, carbon,
Chlorine , and iodine , and aërostatics ;
Also,---why frogs, for want of air, expire;
And how to set the Tappan Sea on fire!
In all the modern languages she was
Exceedingly well-versed; and had devoted,
To their attainment, far more time than has,
By the best teachers, lately been allotted;
For she had taken lessons, twice a week,
For a full month in each; and she could speak
French and Italian, equally as well
As Chinese, Portuguese, or German; and,
What is still more surprising, she could spell
Most of our longest English words off-hand;
Was quite familiar in Low Dutch and Spanish,
And thought of studying modern Greek and Danish.
She sang divinely; and in "Love's young dream"
And "Fanny dearest," and "The soldier's bride;"
And every song, whose dear delightful theme,
Is "Love, still love," had oft till midnight tried
Her finest, loftiest "pigeon-wings" of sound,
Waking the very watchmen far around.
For her pure taste in dress, I can appeal to
Madame Bouquet, and Monsieur Pardessus; 11
She was, in short, a woman you might kneel to,
If kneeling were in fashion; or if you
Were wearied of your duns and single life,
And wanted a few thousands and a wife.
"There was a suond of revelry by night;"
Broadway was thronged with coaches, and within
A mansion of the best of brick, the bright
And eloquent eyes of beauty bade begin
The dance; and music's tones swelled wild and high,
And hearts and heels kept tune in tremulous ecstasy.
For many a week, the note of preparation
Had sounded through all circles far and near;
And some five hundred cards of invitation
Bade beau and belle in full costume appear;
There was a most magnificent variety,
All quite select, and of the first society.
That is to say---the rich and the well-bred,
The arbiters of fashion and gentility,
In different grades of splendor, from the head
Down to the very toe of our nobility:
Ladies, remarkable for handsome eyes
Or handsome fortunes---learned men, and wise
Statesmen, and officers of the militia---
In short, the "first society"---a phrase,
Which you may understand as best may fit you;
Besides the blackest fiddlers of those days,
Placed like their sire, Timotheus, on high,
With horsehair fiddle-bows and teeth of ivory.
The carpets were rolled up the day before,
And, with a breath, two rooms became but one,
Like man and wife---and, on the polished floor,
Chalk in the artists' plastic hand had done
All that chalk could do---in young Eden's bowers
They seemed to tread, and their feet pressed on flowers.
And when the thousand lights of spermaceti
Streamed like a shower of sunbeams---and free tresses
Wild as the heads that waved them---and a pretty
Collection of the latest Paris dresses
Wandered about the room like things divine,
It was, as I was told, extremely fine.
The love of fun, fine faces, and good eating,
Brought many who were tired of self and home;
And some were there in the high hope of meeting
The lady of their bosom's love---and some
To study that deep science, how to please,
And manners in high life, and high-souled courtesies.
And he, the hero of the night was there,
In breeches of light drab, and coat of blue.
Taste was conspicuous in his powdered hair,
And in his frequent jeux de mots , that drew
Peals of applauses from the listeners round,
Who were delighted---as in duty bound.
'Twas Fanny's father---Fanny near him stood,
Her power, resistless---and her wish, command;
And Hope's young promises were all made good;
"She reigned a fairy queen in fairy land;"
Her dream of infancy a dream no more,
And then how beautiful the dress she wore!
Ambition with her sire had kept her word.
He had the rose, no matter for its thorn,
And he seemed happy as a summer bird,
Careering on wet wing to meet the morn.
Some said there was a cloud upon his brow;
It might be---but we'll not discuss that now.
I left him making rhymes while crossing o'er
The broad and perilous wave of the North River.
He bade adieu, when safely on the shore,
To poetry---and, as he thought, forever.
That night his dream (if after-deeds make known
Our plans in sleep) was an enchanting one.
He woke, in strength, like Samson from his slumber,
And walked Broadway, enraptured the next day;
Purchased a house there---I've forgot the number---
And signed a mortgage and a bond, for pay.
Gave, in the slang phrase, Pearl Street the go-by,
And cut, for several months, St. Tammany.
Bond, mortgage, title-deeds, and all completed,
He bought a coach and half a dozen horses
(The bill's at Lawrence's 11 ---not yet receipted---
You'll find the amount upon his list of losses),
Then filled his rooms with servants, and whatever
Is necessary for a "genteel liver."
This last removal fixed him: every stain
Was blotted from his "household coat," and he
Now "showed the world he was a gentleman,"
And, what is better, could afford to be;
His step was loftier than it was of old,
His laugh less frequent, and his manner told
What lovers call "unutterable things"---
That sort of dignity was in his mien
Which awes the gazer into ice, and brings
To recollection some great man we've seen,
The Governor, perchance, whose eye and frown,
'Twas shrewdly guessed, would knock Judge Skinner down. 11
And for "Resources," both of purse and head,
He was a subject worthy Bristed's pen;
Believed devoutly all his flatterers said,
And deemed himself a Croesus among men;
Spread to the liberal air his silken sails,
And lavished guineas like a Prince of Wales. 11
He mingled now with those within whose veins
The blood ran pure---the magnates of the land---
Hailed them as his companions and his friends,
And lent them money and his note of hand.
In every institution, whose proud aim
Is public good alone, he soon became
A man of consequence and notoriety;
His name, with the addition of esquire,
Stood high upon the list of each society,
Whose zeal and watchfulness the sacred fire
Of science, agriculture, art, and learning,
Keep on our country's altars bright and burning.
At Eastburn's Rooms he met, at two each day,
With men of taste and judgment like his own,
And played "first fiddle" in that orchestra
Of literary worthies---and the tone
Of his mind's music by the listeners caught,
Is traced among them still in language and in thought. 11
He once made the Lyceum a choice present
Of muscle-shells picked up at Rockaway;
And Mitchill gave a classical and pleasant
Discourse about them in the streets that day,
Naming the shells, and hard to put in verse 'twas
"Testaceous coverings of bivalve molluscas."
He was a trustee of a Savings Bank,
And lectured soundly every evil-doer,
Gave dinners daily to wealth, power, and rank,
And sixpence every Sunday to the poor;
He was a wit, in the pun-making line---
Past fifty years of age, and five feet nine.
But as he trod to grandeur's pinnacle,
With eagle eye and step that never faltered,
The busy tongue of scandal dared to tell
That cash was scarce with him, and credit altered;
And while he stood the envy of beholders,
The Bank Directors grinned, and shrugged their shoulders.
And when these, the Lord Burleighs of the minute,
Shake their sage heads, and look demure and holy,
Depend upon it there is something in it;
For whether born of wisdom or of folly,
Suspicion is a being whose fell power
Blights every thing it touches, fruit and flower.
Some friends (they were his creditors) once hinted
About retrenchment and a day of doom;
He thanked them, as no doubt they kindly meant it,
And made this speech when they had left the room:
"Of all the curses upon mortals sent,
One's creditors are the most impudent;
"Now I am one who knows what he is doing,
And suits exactly to his means his ends;
How can a man be in the path to ruin,
When all the brokers are his bosom friends?
Yet, on my hopes, and those of my dear daughter,
These rascals throw a bucket of cold water!
"They'd wrinkle with deep cares the prettiest face,
Pour gall and wormwood in the sweetest cup,
Poison the very wells of life---and place
Whitechapel needles, with their sharp points up,
Even in the softest feather bed that e'er
Was manufactured by upholsterer."
This said---he journeyed "at his own sweet will,"
Like one of Wordsworth's rivers, calmly on;
But yet, at times, Reflection, "in her still
Small voice," would whisper, something must be done;
He asked advice of Fanny, and the maid
Promptly and duteously lent her aid.
She told him, with that readiness of mind
And quickness of perception which belong
Exclusively to gentle womankind,
That to submit to slanderers was wrong,
And the best plan to silence and admonish them,
Would be to give "a party"---and astonish them.
The hint was taken---and the party given;
And Fanny, as I said some pages since,
Was there in power and loveliness that even,
And he, her sire, demeaned him like a prince,
And all was joy---it looked a festival,
Where pain might smooth his brow, and grief her smiles recall.
But Fortune, like some others of her sex,
Delights in tantalizing and tormenting;
One day we feed upon their smiles---the next
Is spent in swearing, sorrowing, and repenting.
(If in the last four lines the author lies,
He's always ready to apologize.)
Eve never walked in Paradise more pure
Than on that morn when Satan played the devil,
With her and all her race. A love-sick wooer
Ne'er asked a kinder maiden, or more civil,
Than Cleopatra was to Antony
The day she left him on the Ionian sea.
The serpent---loveliest in his coilèd ring,
With eye that charms, and beauty that outvies
The tints of the rainbow---bears upon his sting
The deadliest venom. Ere the dolphin dies
Its hues are brightest. Like an infant's breath
Are tropic winds before the voice of death
Is heard upon the waters, summoning
The midnight earthquake from its sleep of years
To do its task of woe. The clouds that fling
The lightning, brighten ere the bolt appears;
The pantings of the warrior's heart are proud
Upon that battle morn whose night-dews wet his shroud;
The son is loveliest as he sinks to rest;
The leaves of autumn smile when fading fast;
The swan's last song is sweetest---and the best
Of Meigs's speeches, doubtless, was his last.
And thus the happiest scene, in these my rhymes,
Closed with a crash, and ushered in---hard times.
St. Paul's tolled one---and fifteen minutes after
Down came, by accident, a chandelier;
The mansion tottered from the floor to rafter!
Up rose the cry of agony and fear!
And there was shrieking, screaming, bustling, fluttering,
Beyond the power of writing or of uttering.
The company departed, and neglected
To say good-by---the father stormed and swore---
The fiddlers grinned---the daughter looked dejected---
The flowers had vanished from the polished floor,
And both betook them to their sleepless beds,
With hearts and prospects broken, but no heads.
The desolate relief of free complaining
Came with the morn, and with it came bad weather;
The wind was east-northeast, and it was raining
Throughout that day, which, take it altogether,
Was one whose memory clings to us through life,
Just like a suit in Chancery, or a wife.
That evening, with a most important face
And dreadful knock, and tidings still more dreadful,
A notary came---sad things had taken place;
My hero had forgot to "do the needful;"
A note (amount not stated), with his name on't,
Was left unpaid---in short, he had "stopped payment."
I hate your tragedies, both long and short ones
(Except Tom Thumb, and Juan's Pantomime);
And stories woven of sorrows and misfortunes
Are bad enough in prose, and worse in rhyme:
Mine, therefore, must be brief. Under protest
His notes remain---the wise can guess the rest.
For two whole days they were the common talk;
The party, and the failure, and all that,
The theme of loungers in their morning walk,
Porter-house reasoning, and tea-table chat.
The third, some newer wonder came to blot them,
And on the fourth, the "meddling world" forgot them.
Anxious, however, something to discover,
I passed their house---the shutters were all closed;
The song of knocker and of bell was over;
Upon the steps two chimney-sweeps reposed;
And on the door my dazzled eyebeam met
These cabalistic words---"This house to let."
They live now, like chameleons, upon air
And hope, and such cold, unsubstantial dishes;
That they removed, is clear, but when or where
None knew. The curious reader, if he wishes,
May ask them, but in vain. Where grandeur dwells,
The marble dome---the popular rumor tells;
But of the dwelling of the proud and poor,
From their own lips the world will never know
When better days are gone---it is secure
Beyond all other mysteries here below,
Except, perhaps, a maiden lady's age,
When past the noonday of life's pilgrimage.
Fanny! 'twas with her name my song began;
'Tis proper and polite her name should end it;
If, in my story of her woes, or plan
Or moral can be traced, 'twas not intended;
And if I've wronged her, I can only tell her
I'm sorry for it---so is my bookseller.
I met her yesterday---her eyes were wet---
She faintly smiled, and said she had been reading
The Treasurer's Report in the Gazette,
McIntyre's speech, and Campbell's "Love lies bleeding;"
She had a shawl on, 'twas not a Cashmere one,
And, if it cost five dollars, 'twas a dear one.
Her father sent to Albany 11 a prayer
For office, told how Fortune had abused him,
And modestly requested to be Mayor---
The Council very civilly refused him;
Because, however much they might desire it,
The "public good," it seems, did not require it.
Some evenings since, he took a lonely stroll
Along Broadway, scene of past joys and evils;
He felt that withering bitterness of soul,
Quaintly denominated the "blue devils;"
And thought of Bonaparte and Belisarius,
Pompey, and Colonel Burr, 11 and Caius Marius,
And envying the loud playfulness and mirth
Of those who passed him, gay in youth and hope,
He took at Jupiter a shilling's worth
Of gazing, through the showman's telescope;
Sounds as of far-off bells came on his ears---
He fancied 'twas the music of the spheres.
He was mistaken, it was no such thing,
'Twas Yankee Doodle played by Scudder's band:
He muttered, as he lingered listening,
Something of freedom and our happy land;
Then sketched, as to his home he hurried fast,
This sentimental song---his saddest, and his last:
Young thoughts have music in them, love
And happiness their theme;
And music wanders in the wind
That lulls a morning dream.
And there are angel-voices heard,
In childhood's frolic hours,
When life is but an April day
Of sunshine and of showers.
There's music in the forest-leaves
When summer winds are there,
And in the laugh of forest girls
That braid their sunny hair.
The first wild-bird that drinks the dew,
From violets of the spring,
Has music in his song, and in
The fluttering of his wing.
There's music in the dash of waves
When the swift bark cleaves their foam;
There's music heard upon her deck,
The mariner's song of home,
When moon and star beams smiling meet
At midnight on the sea---
And there is music---once a week---
In Scudder's balcony.
But the music of young thoughts too soon
Is faint, and dies away,
And from our morning dreams we wake
To curse the coming day.
And childhood's frolic hours are brief,
And oft in after-years
Their memory comes to chill the heart,
And dim the eye with tears.
To-day the forest-leaves are green,
They'll wither on the morrow,
And the maiden's laugh be changed ere long
To the widow's wail of sorrow.
Come with the winter snows, and ask,
Where are the forest birds?
The answer is a silent one,
More eloquent than words.
The moonlight music of the waves
In storms is heard no more,
When the living lightning mocks the wreck
At midnight on the shore;
And the mariner's song of home has ceased,
His corse is on the sea---
And music ceases when it rains
In Scudder's balcony.