Obrazy na stronie


A LAY OF ANCIENT ROME. For this exquisite bit of humour, we are indebted to the Salem Herald, an American newspaper, where it appeared signed, “Edgar Allen.” Can it be the production of Edgar Allan Poe? if so, it forms a striking contrast to “The Raven.” Wilt hear how Marcus Curtius, that lawyer true and bold, Died bravely for his country in the brave days of old ? How by Justinian's Institutes and his green baize bag he

swore, That the only honest lawyer could live in Rome no more? Oh, none could be more honest, in life and death, than he Who cheated but the sexton, and saved the burial fee.

The lawyers in the Forum are squabbling loud and long,
To the wonder of their clients, confounding right and

wrong; Begowned, bewigged, bewildered, each judge the clamour

hears, And Justice, blind already, would fain have stopp'd her

ears. As now the wordy contest grew botter still and hotter, The desks, the books, the benches, began to quake and

totter; And they heard a sound like thunder, a horrid, dreary

sound, As though all the powers of evil danced the polka under

ground. The lawyers through their spectacles look'd with a stony

glare, And the crier stammer'd out, “O yes !" and whisper'd

through a prayer. Some of the judges fainted, and there for dead they lay; And the jury snatch'd their solidi, and fleetly ran away. And now-0 sight of wonder!—with a stifling smell of sulphEr, in the middle Forum, there gaped a hideous gulf: A gulf as black as midnight, or * best Japan,” I trow, And a voice came howling, hissing up, like a thousand

whirlwinds now: VOL. v.

" This gulf will close-no never! till in Rome the rarest

thing, The rarest and most wondrous, a sacrifice you bring." O! great was the lamenting when these fearful facts were

known, The mothers weep and wring their hands, the grandames

groan, “ Ochone;". And the little boys no longer their flying hoops pursue, Nor chaunt of “Ole Virginny," as they were wont to do.

And the men in moody silence pace slowly to and fro,
With pallid lip, and frowning brow, and countenance of

And the Fathers of the City—the Aldermen and Mayor-
Are met in solemn council, with a grave and puzzled air.
Then uprises Lucius Cimber, a grocer proud was he,
Who traded first with China, in Twankay and Bohea;
And in accents slow and solemn, thus the meeting he

advised “Let's try and fill the hole up with stones macadamised." And they listen'd to his counsel, and with shovel and with

spade, They adjourn'd unto the Forum, and aside their togas laid. And then all in their shirt-sleeves they work'd with might

and mainPatrician and Plebeian alike they work'd in vain. For though a thousand cart-loads into the gulf they threw, Instead of getting shallower it deep and deeper grew. And now a frenzied client who had lost his all that day, Seized “Selwyn's Nisi Prius” from the book-shelf where

it lay : And in the hole he dash'd it, with a howl of maniac glee, And wish'd all law and lawyers at the bottom of the sea. And, fired by his example, the crowd seized, one by one, On“ Chitty," and on “Starky," and on “Coke on Little


On Bacon's whole Abridgment, with tooth and nail they

fell, And where they wish'd those authors, 'twere not polite to


In vain the poor librarian, while tears ran down his cheek, Strove to bend them from their purposenot a word they'd

hear him speak. And the ven'rable Chief Justice, like Lord Mansfield at the

fire, Not caring to remonstrate, thought it prudent to retire. So they rifled all the library of ev'ry book they saw, Yet the gulf but yawned the wider for all that dose of


Then from that mix'd assembly a seedy-looking gent
(He pays not much for mending, who cannot pay his rent),
With an old coat all in tatters, and a hat without a brim,
Stalk'd proudly from the multitude, who, curious, gazed on


“ My name is Marcus Curtius! a Roman knight am I,-
And eke a learned counsellor, but, alas! I cannot lie !
I've gone upon the Circuit,-there came no briefs to me;
I ne'er address'd a jury, ne'er pocketed a fee.
Alas! mistaken parents, to bind me to the law !
I have no natural cunning to make or find a flaw.
He who'd sit upon a woolsack must be ne'er with conscience

cursed, And for wool to fill the cushion, he must take to fleecing

first. Then Lehold in me, O Romans! what the oracle demands, The thing in Rome that's rarest, a lawyer with clean hands. A truly honest lawyer, with a feeling tender soul, Which, witness this my garment–a tongue's in ev'ry hole. For the good of thee, my country, I die a true-blue Tory, For 'Dulce et decorum, est pro patria mori !'' He said, and on the lawyers he turn'd a kindling eye, As away on all sides slinking, not one dared make reply. Then smiling sad but calmly, he cried, “Good Charon,

bark! I'm too poor to pay the obolus for crossing in your bark; But I know that you will trust me; so now, my friends,

“good bye, I'll trouble not the coroner, a natural death I die; A natural death for Curtius, who might have been so

rich, But he was an honest lawyer, so he perish'd in a ditch.”

He said, and threw a summerset into that dreary vat-
Head-foremost, like a thunder-bolt down went the brimless

hat; Down went the brimless beaver full many a fathom deep, And the women took hysterics, and the men began to

weep. When they dash'd away the tear-drops, and look'd abroad

again, Where that gulf had late been yawning, there lay a level


And they rear'd a marble tombstone on the spot where he

had died, And, in letters carved and gilded, was inscribed on either


[ocr errors]

And with weeping and lamenting still is the story told,
How Curtius kick'd the bucket in the brave days of old.

By John C. PRINCE, the Artizan poet.

YOUNG genius walk'd out by the mountains and streams,
Entranced by the power of his own pleasant dreams,
Till the silent, the wayward, the wandering thing,
Found a plume that had fallen from a passing bird's wing:
Exulting and proud, like a boy at his play,
He bore the new prize to his dwelling away;
He gazed for awhile on its beauties, and then
He cut it, and shaped it, and call'd it a pen.

But its magical use he discover'd not yet,
Till he dipp'd its bright lips in a fountain of jet;
And, oh! what a glorious thing it became,
For it spoke to the world in a language of flame;
While its master wrote on like a being inspired,
Till the hearts of the millions were melted or fired;
It came as a boon and a blessing to men,
The peaceful, the pure, the victorious pen!

Young genius went forth on his rambles once more,
The vast sunless caverns of earth to explore;
He search'd the rude rock, and with rapture he found
A substance unknown, which he brought from the ground;
He fused it with fire, and rejoiced at the change,
As he moulded the ore into characters strange,
Till his thoughts and his efforts were crown'd with success,
For an engine uprose, and he call'd it the press.

The pen and the press, blest alliance ! combined
To soften the heart and enlighten the mind;
For that to the treasures of knowledge gave birth,
And this sent them forth to the ends of the earth;
Their battles for truth were triumphant indeed,
And the rod of the tyrant was snapp'd like a reed;
They were made to exalt us, to teach us, to bless,
Those invincible brothers, the pen and the press !


By Thomas BUCHANAN Read, a poet of America.
Sings a maiden by a river,

Sings and sighs alternately;
In my heart shall flow for ever,

Like a stream, her melody.
'Midst her hair of flaxen hue

Tend'rest buds and blossoms teem;
And her beauty glows as through

Hazy splendours of a dream.
Like her melody's rich bars,
Or a golden flood of stars,

« PoprzedniaDalej »