The Editor of the Legends of Lampidosa has been anticipated by a Brother Antiquarian in his communications to the Attic Chest. As M. Laboree has sent a Tale which should have been the third in the series promised by the Editor, the 4th and last is now enclosed. The “Saxon” and the “Swede” show some resemblance to the “Englishman” and the “Jew” in shape and feature, but none in language and manners to justify the charge of plagiarism. Moral philosophers of more than agree that knaves are only parodies of honest men.
Positive House, March 14th
Tales of Four Nations
4. The Jew
Down the Green Dragon’s darkest stair
Slow comes a lonely lanthorn’s glare
Bright as a firefly o’er a swamp
It glides thro’ cellars drear and damp
’Midst countless casks with iron bound
And binns with hoary saw-dust crown’d
Hid in the hollow lap of earth—
Dark fountains of celestial mirth!
Now thro’ the vast cylindric throng
An awful stranger stalks along —
His sable beard with rev’rend grace
Floats around the margin of his face,
Like worsted fringe on yellow chintz,
While thro’ his shaggy brow he squints
With red and lurking eye-balls, seeming
Two glow-worms in a thicket gleaming,
Before him, with capacious sides,
The Lord of the Green-Dragon glides!
His face, by purple Bacchus sign’d,
Burns like a flame in crystal shrin’d,
Or like a chymist’s window bright
With azure and vermilion light.
First speaks the Jew—“To one alone
The mighty talisman is known
Which from a cask without a flaw
Pure white, and racy red can draw:
As thou has sworn to burn thy bill,
Landlord! for thee I shew my skill —
For thee alone!—and all I ask
Is here to view thy eldest cask.”
“Deep in the hollow of yon cave
Known to no vile revenue-slave,
Unwatered stands my oldest pipe
From rich Oporto—rough and ripe;
Worthy to make a monarch frisk, sir!
Or wet immortal Blucher’s whisker;
The Duke whose deeds astound the Gauls
For purer nectar never calls —
And they (the sons of Glory reckon’d)
The ninety-fifth and forty-second,
Who drank twelve casks a day of wine
Had only wanted one of mine.
Such nectar as my binns supply
Man, while he drinks, can never die!”
He said — with cabalistic hand
The Jew that holy cask has scann’d:
Thrice from a phial’s liquid stores
Ammonia’s potent salt he pours
And mingles (in a mystic glass hid)
Sulphurous oil with nitrous acid
Then spoke triumphant—“All is done
Well, by the faith of Abraham’s son!
But that thou may’st thy treasure see
Two holes must in this hogshead be —
White sparkling Port from one shall flow
The other shall pure red bestow.
Here fix thy thumb—with now with care
Thy left-hand thumb lodge firmly there —
Wait but an instant while I go
To bring two goblets down below
Then may’st thou own how much a Jew
To serve a Yorkshireman can do.”
Thro’ the arch’d cellar’s gloom profound
The Rabbi’s parting footsteps sound —
While the red minister of wines
Thus musing, on his cask reclines
And breathes the anxious thought which brings
Food to the fancy whence it springs.
“’Tis true by those who patents seek
Much money can be lost —
And coward souls in vain may speak
Of what a sum they cost:
But here is one who vows to make
Both red and white Port, for my sake,
Dwell in one cask, uncross’d;
And he is one who would not dare
To waste the wine that ripens there!
“Howe’er it prove, all vintners know
Art has a pow’r divine;
To water honest wine may grow
And water change to wine:
Since we who live to make men merry
Turn white to red, and Port to Sherry
By secrets in our line;
Sure wine may be both red and white
Like lovely cheeks by candle-light.
“When Ladies frown and love is blind
Ladies and Love give trouble
But when the bottle’s balm they find
Both swains and dame see double:
If then, while bowls are full and bright
All men enjoy a twofold sight
And call old care a bubble,
Why should not wine have double hue
And landlord’s bills be double too?”
Still in the cask he rests his thumbs
He listens, but no Rabbi comes:
Yet yonder gleams a lamp—it pours
Red light among his cellar-stores —
He stiffens with affright—his eyes
Behold his wife before him rise!
“Robin, awake!—what, always here?
Always thy eldest hogshead near?
On taverns rear’d, in cellars nursed
Nor ale nor wine can quench thy thirst!
See, numskull, how much Port is spilt!
Gone are my cups of silver gilt,
While you sit dozing, deaf and dumb,
Making a spigot of your thumb!”
There is a sound in Robin’s sigh,
A wildfire in his flashing eye —
Dire was her blow—that blow to pay
He draws his captive thumbs away —
Forth o’er the ample cellar’s floor
Streams the rich pipe’s nectareous store —
“The Jew has cheated me!” he sigh’d —
Clung to his empty cask, and cried!