Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
The Lay of the Love-Lorn
By William Edmondstoune Aytoun (1813–1865) and Sir Theodore Martin (1816–1909)
 
(Parody on Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall”)

From “Bon Gaultier Ballads”

COMRADES, you may pass the rosy. With permission of the chair,
I shall leave you for a little, for I’d like to take the air.
 
Whether ’twas the sauce at dinner, or that glass of ginger-beer,
Or these strong cheroots, I know not, but I feel a little queer.
 
Let me go. Now, Chuckster, blow me, ’pon my soul, this is too bad!        5
When you want me, ask the waiter, he knows where I’m to be had!
 
Whew! This is a great relief now! Let me but undo my stock;
Resting here beneath the porch, my nerves will steady like a rock.
 
In my ears I hear the singing of a lot of favourite tunes—
Bless my heart, how very odd! Why, surely there’s a brace of moons!        10
 
See—the stars! How bright they twinkle, winking with a frosty glare,
Like my faithless cousin Amy when she drove me to despair.
 
Oh, my cousin, spider-hearted! Oh, my Amy! No, confound it!
I must wear the mournful willow—all around my hat I’ve bound it.
 
Falser than the Bank of Fancy, frailer than a shilling glove,        15
Puppet to a father’s anger, minion to a nabob’s love!
 
Is it well to wish thee happy? Having known me, could you ever
Stoop to marry half a heart, and little more than half a liver?
 
Happy! Damme! Thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
Changing from the best of china to the commonest of clay.        20
 
As the husband is, the wife is. He is stomach-plagued and old,
And his curry soups will make thy cheek the colour of his gold.
 
When his feeble love is sated, he will hold thee surely then
Something lower than his hookah, something less than his cayenne.
 
What is this? His eyes are pinky. Was’t the claret? Oh, no, no—        25
Bless your soul, it was the salmon—salmon always makes him so.
 
Take him to thy dainty chamber, soothe him with thy lightest fancies,
He will understand thee, won’t he—pay thee with a lover’s glances?
 
Louder than the loudest trumpet, harsh as harshest ophicleide,
Nasal respirations answer the endearments of his bride.        30
 
Sweet response, delightful music! Gaze upon thy noble charge
Till the spirit fill thy bosom that inspired the meek Lafarge.
 
Better thou wert dead before me, better, better that I stood
Looking on thy murdered body, like the injured Daniel Good!
 
Better thou and I were lying, cold and limber-stiff and dead,        35
With a pan of burning charcoal underneath our nuptial bed!
 
Cursed be the Bank of England’s notes, that tempt the soul to sin!
Cursed be the want of acres—doubly cursed the want of tin!
 
Cursed be the marriage contract, that enslaved thy soul to greed!
Cursed be the sallow lawyer, that prepared and drew the deed!        40
 
Cursed be his foul apprentice, who the loathsome fees did earn!
Cursed be the clerk and parson—cursed be the whole concern!
 
Oh, ’tis well that I should bluster; much I’m like to make of that.
Better comfort have I found in singing “All Around My Hat.”
 
But that song, so wildly plaintive, palls upon my British ears.        45
’Twill not do to pine for ever: I am getting up in years.
 
Can’t I turn the honest penny, scribbling for the weekly press,
And in writing Sunday libels drown my private wretchedness?
 
Oh, to feel the wild pulsation that in manhood’s dawn I knew,
When my days were all before me, and my years were twenty-two;        50
 
When I smoked my independent pipe along the Quadrant wide,
With the many larks of London flaring up on every side;
 
When I went the pace so wildly, caring little what might come,
Coffee-milling care and sorrow, with a nose-adapted thumb;
 
Felt the exquisite enjoyment, tossing nightly off, oh, heavens!        55
Brandy at the Cider Cellars, kidneys smoking-hot at Evans’;
 
Or in the Adelphi sitting, half in rapture, half in tears,
Saw the glorious melodrama conjure up the shades of years—
 
Saw Jack Sheppard, noble stripling, act his wondrous feats again,
Snapping Newgate’s bars of iron, like an infant’s daisy chain;        60
 
Might was right, and all the terrors which had held the world in awe
Were despised and prigging prospered, spite of Laurie, spite of law.
 
In such scenes as these I triumphed, ere my passion’s edge was rusted,
And my cousin’s cold refusal left me very much disgusted!
 
Since, my heart is sore and withered, and I do not care a curse        65
Whether worse shall be the better, or the better be the worse.
 
Hark! my merry comrades call me, bawling for another jorum;
They would mock me in derision, should I thus appear before ’em.
 
Womankind no more shall vex me, such, at least, as go arrayed
In the most expensive satins, and the newest silk brocade.        70
 
I’ll to Afric, lion-haunted, where the giant forest yields
Rarer robes and finer tissue than are sold at Spitalfields.
 
Or to burst all chains of habit, flinging habit’s self aside,
I shall walk the tangled jungle in mankind’s primeval pride;
 
Feeding on the luscious berries and the rich casava root,        75
Lots of dates and lots of guavas, clusters of forbidden fruit.
 
Never comes the trader thither, never o’er the purple main
Sounds the oath of British commerce, or the accents of Cockaigne.
 
There, methinks, would be enjoyment, where no envious rule prevents;
Sink the steamboats! Cuss the railways! Rot, oh, rot the Three per Cents!        80
 
There the passions, cramped no longer, shall have space to breathe, my cousin!
I will take some savage woman—nay, I’ll take at least a dozen.
 
There I’ll rear my young mulattoes, as no Bond Street brats are reared:
They shall dive for alligators, catch the wild goats by the beard,
 
Whistle to the cockatoos, and mock the hairy-faced baboon,        85
Worship mighty Mumbo Jumbo, in the mountains of the Moon.
 
I myself, in far Timbuctoo, leopard’s blood will daily quaff,
Ride a-tiger-hunting, mounted on a thorough-bred giraffe.
 
Fiercely shall I shout the war-whoop, as some sullen stream he crosses,
Startling from their noon-day slumbers iron-bound rhinoceroses.        90
 
Fool! Again, the dream, the fancy! But I know my words are mad,
For I hold the gray barbarian lower than the Christian cad.
 
I, the swell, the city dandy! I to seek such horrid places,
I to haunt with squalid Negroes, blubber-lips, and monkey faces!
 
I to wed with Coromantees! I, who managed—very near—        95
To secure the heart and fortune of the widow Shillibeer!
 
Stuff and nonsense! Let me never fling a single chance away.
Maids ere now, I know, have loved me, and another maiden may.
 
Morning Post (The Times won’t trust me), help me, as I know you can;
I will pen an advertisement—that’s a never-failing plan:        100
 
“WANTED—By a bard in wedlock, some young interesting woman.
Looks are not so much an object, if the shiners be forthcoming!
 
“Hymen’s chains, the advertiser vows, shall be but silken fetters.
Please address to A. T., Chelsea. N. B.—You must pay the letters.”
 
That’s the sort of thing to do it. Now I’ll go and taste the balmy.        105
Rest thee with thy yellow nabob, spider-hearted cousin Amy!
 
 
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