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Where--on each magisterial nose In colours of the rainbow linger, Like sunset hues on Alpine snows, The printmarks of your thumb and finger.
Where he, the wisest of wild fowl, Bird of Jove's blue-eyed maid--the owl, That feather'd alderman, is heard Nightly, by poet's ear alone, To other eyes and ears unknown, Cheering your every look and word, And making, room and gallery through, The loud, applauding echoes peal, Of his "_ou peut on etre mieux Qu'au sein de sa famille_?"[A]
Oh for a herald's skill to rank Your t.i.tles in their due degrees!
At Singsing--at the Tradesmen's Bank, In Courts, Committees, Caucuses: At Albany, where those who knew The last year's secrets of the great, Call you the golden handle to The earthen Pitcher of the State.
(Poor Pitcher! that Van Buren ceases To want its service gives me pain, 'Twill break into as many pieces As Kitty's of Coleraine.) At Bellevue, on her banquet night, Where Burgundy and business meet, On others, at the heart's delight, The Pewter Mug in Frankfort-street; From Harlaem bridge to Whitehall dock, From Bloomingdale to Blackwell's Isles, Forming, including road and rock, A city of some twelve square miles, O'er street and alley, square and block, Towers, temples, telegraphs, and tiles, O'er wharves whose stone and timbers mock The ocean's and its navies' shock, O'er all the fleets that float before her O'er all their banners waving o'er her, Her sky and waters, earth and air-- You are lord, for who is her lord mayor?
Where is he? Echo answers, where And voices, like the sound of seas, Breathe in sad chorus, on the breeze, The Highland mourner's melody-- Oh HONE a rie! Oh HONE a rie!
The hymn o'er happy days departed, The hope that such again may be, When power was large and liberal-hearted, And wealth was hospitality.
One more request, and I am lost, If you its earnest prayer deny; It is, that you preserve the most Inviolable secrecy As to my plan. Our fourteen wards Contain some thirty-seven bards, Who, if my glorious theme were known, Would make it, thought and word, their own, My hopes and happiness destroy, And trample with a rival's joy Upon the grave of my renown.
My younger brothers in the art, Whose study is the human heart-- Minstrels, before whose spells have bow'd The learn'd, the lovely, and the proud, Ere their life's morning hours are gone-- Light hearts be theirs, the muse's boon, And may their suns blaze bright at noon, And set without a cloud.
HILLHOUSE, whose music, like his themes, Lifts earth to heaven--whose poet dreams Are pure and holy as the hymn Echoed from harps of seraphim, By bards that drank at Zion's fountains When glory, peace, and hope were hers, And beautiful upon her mountains The feet of angel messengers.
BRYANT, whose songs are thoughts that bless The heart, its teachers, and its joy, As mothers blend with their caress Lessons of truth and gentleness And virtue for the listening boy.
Spring's lovelier flowers for many a day Have blossom'd on his wandering way, Beings of beauty and decay, They slumber in their autumn tomb; But those that graced his own Green River, And wreathed the lattice of his home, Charm'd by his song from mortal doom, Bloom on, and will bloom on for ever.
And HALLECK--who has made thy roof, St. Tammany! oblivion-proof-- Thy beer ill.u.s.trious, and thee A belted knight of chivalry; And changed thy dome of painted bricks And porter casks and politics, Into a green Arcadian vale, With St*ph*n All*n for its lark, B*n B*il*y's voice its watch-dog's bark, And J*hn T*rg*e its nightingale.
These, and the other THIRTY-FOUR, Will live a thousand years or more-- If the world lasts so long. For me, I rhyme not for posterity, Though pleasant to my heirs might be The incense of its praise, When I, their ancestor, have gone, And paid the debt, the only one A poet ever pays.
But many are my years, and few Are left me ere night's holy dew, And sorrow's holier tears, will keep The gra.s.s green where in death I sleep And when that gra.s.s is green above me, And those who bless me now and love me Are sleeping by my side, Will it avail me aught that men Tell to the world with lip and pen That once I lived and died?
No: if a garland for my brow Is growing, let me have it now, While I'm alive to wear it; And if, in whispering my name, There's music in the voice of fame Like Garcia's, let me hear it!
The Christmas holydays are nigh, Therefore, till Newyear's Eve, good-by, Then _revenons a nos moutons_, Yourself and aldermen--meanwhile, Look o'er this letter with a smile; And keep the secret of its song As faithfully, but not as long, As you have guarded from the eyes Of editorial Paul Prys, And other meddling, murmuring claimants, Those Eleusinian mysteries, The city's cash receipts and payments.
Yours ever, T. C.
[A] A favourite French air. In English, "where can one be more happy than in the bosom of one's family?"
W*LT*R B*WNE, ESQ.,
MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF APPOINTMENT OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK, AT ALBANY, 1821.
"Stand not upon the order of your going.
But go at once."
"I cannot but remember such things were, And were most precious to me."
We do not blame you, W*lt*r B*wne, For a variety of reasons; You're now the talk of half the town, A man of talent and renown, And will be for perhaps two seasons.
That face of yours has magic in it; Its smile transports us in a minute To wealth and pleasure's sunny bowers; And there is terror in its frown, Which, like a mower's scythe, cuts down Our city's loveliest flowers.
We therefore do not blame you, sir, Whate'er our cause of grief may be; And cause enough we have to "stir The very stones to mutiny."
You've driven from the cash and cares Of office, heedless of our prayers, Men who have been for many a year To us and to our purses dear, And will be to our heirs for ever, Our tears, thanks to the snow and rain, Have swell'd the brook in Maiden-lane Into a mountain river; And when you visit us again, Leaning at Tammany on your cane, Like warrior on his battle blade, You'll mourn the havoc you have made.
There is a silence and a sadness Within the marble mansion now; Some have wild eyes that threaten madness, Some think of "kicking up a row."
Judge M*ll*r will not yet believe That you have ventured to bereave The city and its hall of him: He has in his own fine way stated, "The fact must be substantiated,"
Before he'll move a single limb.
He deems it cursed hard to yield The laurel won in every field Through sixteen years of party war, And to be seen at noon no more, Enjoying at his office door The luxury of a tenth segar.
Judge Warner says that, when he's gone, You'll miss the true Dogberry breed; And Christian swears that you have done A most UN-Christian deed.
How could you have the heart to strike From place the peerless Pierre Van Wyck?
And the twin colonels, Haines and Pell, Squire Fessenden, and Sheriff Bell; M*rr*ll, a justice and a wise one, And Ned M'Laughlin the exciseman; The two health officers, believers In Clinton and contagious fevers; The keeper of the city's treasures, The sealer of her weights and measures, The harbour-master, her best bower Cable in party's stormy hour; Ten auctioneers, three bank directors, And Mott and Duffy, the inspectors Of whiskey and of flour?
It was but yesterday they stood All (ex-officio) great and good.
But by the tomahawk struck down Of party and of W*lt*r B*wne, Where are they now? With shapes of air, The caravan of things that were, Journeying to their nameless home, Like Mecca's pilgrims from her tomb; With the lost Pleiad; with the wars Of Agamemnon's ancestors; With their own years of joy and grief, Spring's bud, and autumn's faded leaf; With birds that round their cradles flew; With winds that in their boyhood blew; With last night's dream and last night's dew.
Yes, they are gone; alas! each one of them; Departed--every mother's son of them.
Yet often, at the close of day, When thoughts are wing'd and wandering, they Come with the memory of the past, Like sunset clouds along the mind, Reflecting, as they're flitting fast In their wild hues of shade and light, All that was beautiful and bright In golden moments left behind.
TO * * * * *.
Dear ***, I am writing, not _to_ you, but _at_ you, For the feet of you tourists have no resting-place; But wherever with this the mail-pigeon may catch you, May she find you with gayety's smile on your face; Whether chasing a snipe at the Falls of Cohoes, Or chased by the snakes upon Anthony's Nose; Whether wandering, at Catskill, from Hotel to Clove, Making sketches, or speeches, puns, poems, or love; Or in old Saratoga's unknown fountain-land, Threading groves of enchantment, half bushes, half sand; Whether dancing on Sundays, at Lebanon Springs, With those Madame Hutins of religion, the Shakers; Or, on Tuesdays, with maidens who seek wedding rings At b.a.l.l.ston, as taught by mammas and match-makers; Whether sailing St. Lawrence, with unbroken neck, From her thousand green isles to her castled Quebec; Or sketching Niagara, pencil on knee (The giant of waters, our country's pet lion), Or dipp'd at Long Branch, in the real salt sea, With a cork for a dolphin, a c.o.c.kney Arion; Whether roaming earth, ocean, or even the air, Like Dan O'Rourke's eagle--good luck to you there.
For myself, as you'll see by the date of my letter, I'm in town, but of that fact the least said the better; For 'tis vain to deny (though the city o'erflows With well-dressed men and women, whom n.o.body knows) That one rarely sees persons whose nod is an honour, A lady with fashion's own impress upon her; Or a gentleman bless'd with the courage to say, Like Morris (the Prince Regent's friend, in his day), "Let others in sweet shady solitudes dwell, Oh! give me the sweet shady side of Pall Mall."
Apropos--our friend A. chanced this morning to meet The accomplish'd Miss B. as he pa.s.s'd Contoit's Garden, Both in town in July!--he cross'd over the street, And she enter'd the rouge-shop of Mrs. St. Martin.
Resolved not to look at another known face, Through Leonard and Church streets she walked to Park Place, And he turn'd from Broadway into Catharine-lane, And coursed, to avoid her, through alley and by-street, Till they met, as the devil would have it, again, Face to face, near the pump at the corner of Dey-st.
Yet, as most of "The Fashion" are journeying now, With the brown hues of summer on cheek and on brow, The few "_gens comme il faut_" who are lingering here, Are, like fruits out of season, more welcome and dear.
Like "the last rose of summer, left blooming alone,"
Or the last snows of winter, pure ice of _haut ton_, Unmelted, undimm'd by the sun's brightest ray, And, like diamonds, making night's darkness seem day.
One meets them in groups, that Canova might fancy, At our new lounge at evening, the _Opera Francais_, In nines like the Muses, in threes like the Graces, Green spots in a desert of commonplace faces.
The Queen, Mrs. Adams, goes there sweetly dress'd In a beautiful bonnet, all golden and flowery: While the King, Mr. Bonaparte, smiles on Celeste, Heloise, and Hutin, from his box at the Bowery.
For news, Parry still the North Sea is exploring, And the Grand Turk has taken, they say, the Acropolis, And we, in Swamp Place, have discover'd, in boring, A mineral spring to refine the metropolis.
The day we discover'd it was, by-the-way, In the life of the c.o.c.kneys, a glorious day.
For we all had been taught, by tradition and reading, That to gain what admits us to levees of kings, The gentleness, courtesy, grace of high breeding, The only sure way was to "visit the Springs."
So the whole city visited Swamp Spring _en ma.s.se_, From attorney to sweep, from physician to paviour, To drink of cold water at sixpence a gla.s.s, And learn true politeness and genteel behaviour.
Though the crowd was immense till the hour of departure, No gentleman's feelings were hurt in the rush, Save a grocer's, who lost his proof-gla.s.s and bung-starter, And a chimney sweep's, robb'd of his sc.r.a.per and brush.
They linger'd till sunset and twilight had come, Then, wearied in limb, but much polish'd in manners, The sovereign people moved gracefully home, In the beauty and pride of "an army with banners."
As to politics--Adams and Clinton yet live, And reign, we presume, as we never have miss'd 'em, And woollens and Webster continue to thrive Under something they call the American System.
If you're anxious to know what the country is doing, Whether ruin'd already or going to ruin, And who her next president will be, please heaven, Read the letters of Jackson, the speeches of Clay, All the party newspapers, three columns a day, And Blunt's Annual Register, year 'twenty-seven.