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WITH AN ILLUSTRATION BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
GRANDPAPA'S STORY—THE WITCHES FROLIC.
[Scene, the “ Snuggery” at Tappington.-Grandpapa in a high-backed, canc.
bottomed elbow.chair of carved walnut-tree,dozing ; his nose at an angle of forly.five degrees,—his thumbs slowly perform the rotatory motion described by lexicographers as “ twiddling.”—The “ Hope of the family ” astride on a walking-stick, with burnt-cork moustachios, and a pheasant's tail pinned in his cap, solaceth himself with martial music.-Roused by a strain of surpassing dissonance, Grandpa pa loquitur.]
Come hither, come hither, my little boy, Ned!
Come hither unto my knee-
I cannot away with that horrible din,
That sixpenny drum, and that trumpet of tin.
Oh, better to wander frank and free
Through the Fair of good Saint Bartlemy,
Than list to such awful minstrelsie.
Now lay, little Ned, those nuisances by,
And I'll rede ye a lay of Grammarye. (Grandpapa riseth, yawneth like the crater of an extinct volcano, proceedeth slowly to the window, and apostrophizeth the Abbey in the distance.]
I love thy tower, Grey Ruin,
Ijoy thy form to see,
Though rest of all,
Cell, cloister, and hall,
Nothing is left save a tottering wall,
That, awfully grand and darky dull,
Threaten'd to fall and demolish
As, ages ago, I wander'd along
Careless thy grass-grown courts among,
In sky-blue jacket and trowsers laced,
The latter uncommonly short in the waist.
Thou art dearer to me, thou Ruin grey,
Than the Squire's verandah over the way,
And fairer, I ween,
The ivy sheen
That thy mouldering turret binds,
Than the Alderman's house about half a mile off,
With the green Venetian blinds.
Full many a tale would my Grandam tell,
In many a bygone day,
Of darksome decds, which of old befell
In thee, thou Ruin
And I the readiest ear would lend,
And stare like frighten'd pig ;
While my Grandfather's hair would have stood up an end,
Had he not worn a wig.
One tale I remember of mickle dread-
Now lithe and listen, my little boy, Ned!
Thou mayest have read, my little boy Ned,
Though thy mother thine idlesse blames,
In Doctor Goldsmith's history book,
Of a gentleman called King James,
In quilted doublet, and great breeches,
Who held in abhorrence tobacco and witches.
Well,-in King James's golden days,
For the days were golden then,-
They could not be less, for good Queen Bess
Had died aged threescore and ten,
And her days, we know,
Were all of them so ; While the Court poets sung, and the Court gallants swore, That the days were as golden still as before.
Some people, tis true, a troublesome few,
Who historical points would unsettle,
Have lately thrown out a sort of a doubt
Of the genuine ring of the metal ;
But who can believe to a monarch so wise
People would dare to tell a parcel of lies?
-Well, then, in good King James's days,
Golden or not does not matter a jot,
Yon ruin a sort of a roof had got ;
For, though repairs lacking, its walls had been cracking
Since Harry the Eighth sent its friars a-packing.
Though joist and floors,
And windows and doors,
Had all disappear'd, yet pillars by scores
Remain'd, and still propp'd up a ceiling or two ;
While the belfry was almost as good as new ;
You are not to suppose matters look'd just so
In the Ruin some two hundred years ago.
Just in that farthermost angle, where
You see the remains of a winding stair,
One turret especially high in air
Uprear'd its tall gaunt form.
As if defying the power of Fate, or
The hand of Time the Innovator ;"
And though to the pitless storm
Its weaker brethren all around
Bowing, in ruin had strew'd the ground,
Alone it stood, while its fellows lay strew'd,
Like a four-bottle man in a company “ screw'd,"
Not firm on his legs, but by no means subdued.
One night—twas in Sixteen hundred and six-
I like when I can, Ned, the date to fix,
The month was May.
Though I can't well say
At this distance of time the particular day-
But oh ! that night, that horrible night!
Folks ever afterwards said with affright
That they never had seen such a terrible sight,
The Sun had gone down fiery red,
And if that evening he laid his head
In Thetis's lap beneath the seas,
He must have scalded the goddess's knees.
He left behind him a lurid track
Of blood-red light upon clouds so black,
That Warren and Hunt, with the whole of their crew,
Could scarcely have given them a darker hue.
There came a shrill and whistling sound,
Above, beneath, beside, and around,
Yet leaf ne'er moved on tree !
So that some people thought old Beelzebub must
Have been lock'd out of doors, and was blowing the dust
From the pipe of his street-door key. And then a hollow moaning blast Came sounding more dismally still than the last, And the lightning flash’d, and the thunder growl'd, And louder and louder the tempest howl d, And the rain came down in such sheets as would stagger a Bard for a simile short of Niagara.
Rob Gilpin “was a citizen;"
But, though of some “renown,"
Of no great“ credit” in his own,
Or any other town.
He was a wild and roving lad,
For ever in the alehouse boozing,
Or romping, which is quite as bad,
With female friends of his own choosing.
And Rob this very day had made,
Not dreaming such a storm was brewing,
An assignation with Miss Slade,-
Their trysting-place this same grey Ruin.
But Gertrude Slade became afraid,
And to keep her appointment unwilling,
When she spied the rain on her window-pane
In drops as big as a shilling ;
She put off her hat and her mantle again,-
“ He'll never expect me in all this rain!"
But little he-recks of the fears of the sex,
Or that maiden false to her tryst could be.
He had stood there a good half hour
Ere yet commenced that perilous shower,
Alone by the trysting-tree.
Robin looks east, Robin looks west,
But he sees not her whom he loves best;
Robin looks up, and Robin looks down,
But no one comes from the neighbouring town.
The storm came at last, loud roard the blast,
And the shades of evening fell thick and fast ;
The tempest grew, and the straggling yew,
His leafy umbrella, was wet through and through.
Rob was half dead with cold and with fright,
When he spies in the ruins a twinkling light-
A hop, two skips, and a jump, and straight
Rob stands within that postern gate.
And there were gossips sitting there,
By one, by two, by three :
Two were an old, ill-favour'd pair ;
But the third was young, and passing fair,
With laughing eyes and with coal-black hair,
A daintie quean was she.
Rob would have given his ears to sip
But a single salute from her cherry lip.
As they sat in that old and haunted room,
In each one's hand was a huge birch broom,
On each one's head was a steeple-crown'd hat,
On each one's knee was a coal-black cat ;
Each had a kirtle of Lincoln green-
It was, I trow, a fearsome scene.
“Now riddle me, riddle me right, Madge Gray,
What foot unhallow'd wends this way?
Goody Price, Goody Price, now areed me aright,
Who roams the old ruins this drearysome night in
Then up and spake that sousie quean,
And she spake both loud and clear: " Oh, be it for weal or be it for woe, Enter friend, or enter foe,
Rob Gilpin is welcome here !
"Now tread we a measure ! a hall! a half ! Now tread we a measure," quoth she
The heart of Robin
Beat thick and throbbing“Roving Rob, tread a measure with me ?” “ Aye, lassie !" quoth Rob, as her hand he gripes • Though Satan himself were blowing the pipes!"
Now around they go, and around, and around,
With hop-skip-and-jump, and frolicksome bound,
Such sailing and gliding,
Such sinking and sliding,
Such losty curvetting,
And grand pirouetting ;
Ned, you would swear that Monsieur Albert
And Mies Taglioni were capering there!
And oh! such awful music !--ne'er
Fell sounds so uncanny on mortal ear.
There were the tones of a dying man's groans,
Mix'd with the rattling of dead men's bones:
Had you heard the shrieks, and the squeals, and the squeaks,
You'd not have forgotten the sound for weeks.
And around, and around, and around they go,
Heel to heel, and toe to toe,
Prance and caper, curvet and wheel,
Toe to toe and heel to heel.
“ Tis merry, tis merry, Cummers, I trow,
To dance thus beneath the nightshade bough!"-
Goody Price, Goody Price, now riddle me right,
Where may we sup this frolicksome night ?" —
“Mine Host of the Dragon hath mutton and veal!
The Squire hath partridge, and widgeon and teal;
But old Sir Thopas hath daintier cheer,
A pasty made of good red deer,