Obedient now at their decree
Comes Comfrey Cardamom M.D.
Before the magic of his eye
Spleen, vapours, and blue devils fly;
And as he lists, with serious face,
To every lady’s piteous case
Mirth dimples on their cheeks the while
E’en Quickset’s softens to a smile.
Prescriptions — they have but to read them,
To find that they no longer need them,
Such pow’r they gain’d, such healing art,
From Phoebus’ ink and Cupid’s dart.
“But,” thought he, “should they soon recover,
My office may too soon be over;
Cupid, assisting the design,
Should bring at once their cure and mine.
Meanwhile my well-framed plan must tend
To flatter all, and none offend;
Slight toil, where vanity in wait
Lies ready to devour the bait;
Much harder is the task, I feel,
Affection’s fervour to conceal.”
The fails not to demand
Th’apothecary’s helping hand
The gods assist him search and find
A creature of a mongrel kind,
In mind and manner, voice and shape,
Something betwixt a man and ape;
With parrot fluency he dwell
On nervous symptoms, draughts, and quills —
His lables writ with fine crow quills
And phials tied with nicest care,
As spruce as Julep’s self appear;
He who more regards, what draughts may please
His patients’ taste than their disease,
And, whatsoever fat assail’d,
His medicines, not his bu’ness fail’d.
Besides, he thought himself a poet,
And more, he had the wit to show it:
Prescriptions oft in verse he dressed
To sparkle in the Attic Chest.
His was that courteous winning art
Sure passport to a female heart.
With such attractions, could he fail
O’er some sad spinster to prevail?
Ah no! for Cupid shot the dart
That rankled in Cassandra’s heart;
While Julep, tho’ not quite at ease,
Felt more than common wish to please.
So good a precedent obtain’d
The rest as easily was gain’d.
Poor honest Secretary Scratch
Quickly was added to the batch;
This simple creature’s heart, ’tis said,
Was of more value than his head,
But Cupid call’d his senses forth
To feel the sage Rebecca’s worth.
The chaplain was of loftier mind,
Yet pious, cheerful, tender, kind.
Oh how could Woodbine’s modest merit
Fix Lady Belle’s romantic spirit!
That spirit ever light and gay
That “fluttered” life’s best hours away,
And, to complete the motley set,
Compassion to her marmoset,
Now adds th’ accomplish’d Pirouette.
Poor Pirouette, his heels were light
As Merc’ry’s when prepared for flight,
He scorned the aid of sense or art
But jumped at once to Quickset’s heart.
Not Prudence’ sev’nfold fence avail’d,
Love won and resolution fail’d.
Sir Patrick McSinister came,
His heart for Sister Squib on flame,
But (in an Irishman no wonder)
He on Cassandra chanced to blunder,
Till jealous Julep’s ready cane
Politely set him right again.
Cupid oft struggled to control
The gentle Saccharissa’s soul;
The dart an easy passage found,
But started back, nor left a wound.
Her bosom like her lake remains,
All shocks receives, but none retains.
With science’ aegis for its guard
Fair Barbara’s breast his entrancce barr’d
Her non-conducting heart inspires
But never feels his powerful fires.
With many a fight the pass to win
He forced at last on Atom in.
Last Michael Mitre came, to prove
That fools can feel the force of love,
His vows to Barbara’s charms he paid,
But fix’d at last on Bella’s maid.
As water, saturate or salt,
(So Barbara, ladies, would have taught)
Still waits concretion to begin
But throw one other crystal in
Or let the air one moment act,
One aqueous particle abstract,
Or but inject a bit of string
To which the infant cubes may cling,
Swiftly it forms, like gath’ring ice,
And all is solid in a trice.
Or as a single grain can’t fail
To turn a well-adjusted scale,
So ready for a change were all
The nymphs and swains of Tabby Hall,
Tho’ all would follow, none would lead,
None would advance and none recede.
Comfrey with pharmaceutic cares
A philtre for them all prepares,
But Pallas, to delay the storm
Borrow’d for once Miss Botherum’s form,
Within the love-inciting juice
Hemlock’s strong antidote t’infuse.
Diana, jealous of the hour
That should destroy her tott’ring pow’r,
Removes the wreath of woodbine wove
Emblem of happy faithful love,
And by her icy fingers placed,
The cup the Agnus Castus graced.
Foiled in their scheme for Hermes’ aid
Phoebus and Cupid mournful pray’d.
He smiled, “Of these coy nymphs I know
That one was married long ago —
Her husband is a lawyer, I
Beneath his form will meet her eye,
And where a lawyer commes, Apollo
You know that mischief’s sure to follow.”
Expect not I can e’er make known
How Hermes looked in wig and gown,
Tho’ lawyers were his friends of old,
And once he took their part I’m told,
Waged his own war, in full costume
Struck in full court opponents dumb,
And Mars by him was overcome.
How does romantic Dovedale cease
To be th’ abode of joy and peace.
Strife, wrangling, jealousy, cabal
Fill ev’ry breast in Tabby Hall.
Jars that not Agnes’ self can still
Burst out, and menace greater ill.
At last, to still domestic war,
They for a lawyer all declare
And lo! see Anyside appear!
Sophia gazed, she thought she knew
A second glance, Ah! ’twas too true
“My husband! Oh!” she said no more
But fainting sank upon the floor.
Diane scarce was more amazed
When on Calisto erst she gazed,
Scarce could such view her eyes inflame
As Quickset glanced upon the dame.
“How dared you, Ma’am,” she thus began,
While wonder thro’ her hearers ran,
“Our sacred Parthenon profane,
And mingle with our vestal train
That man, too — but in man ’tis true,
Deceit or perjury’s nothing new —
How durst he thus himself declare
A single man, and venture here,
Here where detection and disgrace
Just guerdon, stared him in the face.”
“Stop Spinster — not so fast proceed
But let his cause a lawyer plead.
For if you thus declaim, an action
Will lie for libel and detration
I frankly said, without design,
That no incumbrances were mine,
Nor thought to hear a lady own
That she believed a wife was one,
And, on my honor, gentle Miss,
I scarce remembered I had this,
For wearied with domestic strife,
Long since I parted with my wife
For wrangling I had ample room
Abroad, nor practice sought at home.
There wealth and fame rewarded me,
But here I fought without a fee.
My case thus fairly told in short,
I pray the judgment of the court.
But fair Prudentia, not to you
The judgment in this case is due
A jury, but our country’s laws
Should give their verdict on the cause,
But unanimity to gain,
’Mongst females, were an effort vain,
To Agnes therefore I appeal,
Her voice alone my doom shall seal.”
If some had been displeased before
Yet all were now offended more
Tired by this scandal on their sex,
Which might more quiet females vex,
As thunder rolls or Boreas blows,
So loud so strong their voices rose;
The gather’d lightnings of their eyes
At once the guilty wretch surprise,
Who, tho’ a god, began to fear
The fate of this impending war.
At length, the tumult to compose,
Sedate and calm St Agnes rose.
“My friends, awhile your wrath suspend
And to your Agnes’ words attend,
Who never more, perchance, may claim
Attention by a ruler’s name.
Roused from a blissful dream of love
In fancy’s gayest colours wove,
To weep o’er misery’s silent urn
For joys that never could return,
My hopes of future pleasure changed,
My friends departed or estranged,
Forbade to view the light of day,
And Earth’s unnumber’d charms survey,
Art’s pictured relics to explore,
Or muse on science’ treasur’d lore,
What could the busy world impart
To soothe or cheer my lonely heart?
I left its crowded scene and chose
This spot of beauty and repose.
I hoped, within this narrow bound
To draw a social circle round,
Like me from busier life retired
Whose minds a calmer scene required.
By no monastic fetters tied,
The victims of caprice and pride.
Where freedom should each joy improve
Unbound by any tie but love.
Alas! my friends, your ceaseless jars,
Dissembled griefs, or open wars,
Have proved the frailty of my scheme
And ended this Utopian dream.
I here dissolve this band, and all
Whose presence gladdened Tabby Hall
From all restraints and forms at ease,
May freely wander where they please.
May Heaven propitious bless their hours
Long strew their ev’ning path with flow’rs,
While I, in solitude and gloom,
Grope out my passage to the tomb,
And wait, till Heaven’s eternal light
Bursts in full splendor on its night.”
“Not so,” cried Cardamom, “not thine
In gloom and solitude to pine,
Turn to a faithful friend and prove
The happy path of mutual love.”
Agnes, with effort scarce suppressed
The pang that struggled in her breast,
“Once pierc’d by Cupid’s pow’r, the heart,”
She said, “is callous to his dart.
My mind can yet the form retain
Of him I ne’er shall see again,
Constant, while youth and sight were mine
And constant still, in life’s decline.”
Comfrey, who hung on every word,
And with ecstatic transport heard
Himself before himself preferr’d 1
No longer could his joy command,
But touched her with his myrtle wand,
While thus with fervency he pray’d,
“No Phoebus lend thy promis’d aid.”
As one awak’d from trance profound
Gazed Agnes on the scene around,
And scarcely knows if most to deem
The past or present hour a dream.
With timid joy she turns to trace
Her lover’s well-remember’d face,
While all the fire of love and joy
Now sparkled from her azure eye.
Too soon the shades of ev’ning fall
O’er the gay group of Tabby Hall,
And blithe the morning sun arose
That called them from their light repose.
In glad procession, side by side,
Each happy lover and his bride
In friendly converse join the train
That moved to Hymen’s sacred fane
Her favorite Scotia’s heathbells wild
And gowans yellow blossoms smil’d
Amid the rose and woodbine twined
That Agnes’ auburn locks confined,
As on they move, with sportive tread,
To Woodbine Lady Bella said,
“However rare the thing may be,
The lawyer here a proof might see
Of female unanimity.”
“Yes,” he replied, “and to my view
This brings a story pat as true;
A parish, long by strife perplex’d,
Each day some new discordance vex’d,
In vain their pious pastor strove
To teach the creed of Christian love
Till on one Sabbath, as he went
Again there discord to lament,
He found, on entering the church,
His flock had left him in the lurch.
“Umph!” he exclaimed, “this augurs well
And here, I trust, dissolves the spell,
At any rate, I’m pleas’d to see
The parish can for once agree.
But we the tale reverse today,
All throng to church, none stay away.”
“And let us hope,” his bride replies,
“One end from diff’rent means my rise
That harmony and peace restor’d
Were soon the pastor’s due reward,
And that their smiles may beam on all
The quondam guests of Tabby Hall.”
“Et sibi praeferri si gaudet” Ov. Met. Lib. 2 ↩