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Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling,
And all these meet at levees,
Dinners convivial and political—
Where small-talk dies in agonies-
Lunches and snacks so aldermanic
That one would furnish forth ten dinners,
Where reigns a Cretan-tongued panic,
Lest news-Russ, Dutch, or Alemannic-
Should make some losers, and some winners;—
At conversazioni, balls,
Conventicles, and drawing-rooms;
Courts of law, committees, calls
Of a morning, clubs, book-stalls,
Churches, masquerades, and tombs.
And this is Hell: and in this smother
'Tis a lie to say "God damns."
Where was Heaven's Attorney General
When they first gave out such flams?
Let there be an end of shams:
They are mines of poisonous mineral.
Statesmen damn themselves to be
Cursed; and lawyers damn their souls
To the auction of a fee;
God's sweet love in burning coals:
The rich are damned, beyond all cure,
Stripe on stripe with groan on groan:—
Sometimes the poor are damned indeed
To take-not means for being blessedBut Cobbett's snuff, revenge; that weed From which the worms that it doth feed Squeeze less than they before possessed:
And some few, like we know who,
To believe their minds are given
Thus,-as, in a town plague-stricken,
Must indifferently sicken;
As, when day begins to thicken,
None knows a pigeon from a crow,—
So good and bad, sane and mad;
The oppressor and the oppressed; Those who weep to see what others Smile to inflict upon their brothers; Lovers, haters, worst and best;
All are damned-They breathe an air,
Scoop palace-caverns vast, where Care
In throned state is ever dwelling.
Lo, Peter in Hell's Grosvenor Square,
A footman in the Devil's service! And the misjudging world would swear That every man in service there
To virtue would prefer vice.
But Peter, though now damned, was not
Which, ere it finds them, is not what
All things that Peter saw and felt
And so, the outward world uniting
To those who, meditation slighting,
Were moulded in a different frame.
And he scorned them, and they scorned him:
And he scorned all they did; and they
Did all that men of their own trim
Are wont to do to please their whim,
Such were his fellow-servants; thus
To bully out another's guilt.
He had a mind which was somehow
At once circumference and centre Of all he might or feel or know; Nothing went ever out, although Something did ever enter.
He had as much imagination
As a pint-pot; he never could Fancy another situation,
From which to dart his contemplation,
Than that wherein he stood.
Yet his was individual mind,
And new-created all he saw
Thus although unimaginative—
But from the first 'twas Peter's drift
Felt faint, and never dared uplift
The closest all-concealing tunic.
She laughed the while with an arch smile,
"Tis you are cold; for I, not coy,
Yield love for love, frank, warm, and true;
And Burns, a Scottish peasant boy-
"Bocca baciata non perde ventura,
Anzi rinnuova come fa la luna :—
So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words might cure a Male prude, like you, from what you now endure, a Low-tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna."
Then Peter rubbed his eyes severe,
And smoothed his spacious forehead down
And in his dream sate down.
The Devil was no uncommon creature;
A toad-like lump of limb and feature,
He was that heavy dull cold thing
Now he was quite the kind of wight
Round whom collect, at a fixed era,
Venison, turtle, hock, and claret
Good cheer, and those who come to share it
And best East Indian madeira.
It was his fancy to invite
Men of science, wit, and learning,