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The tavern-hours of mighty wits—
Thine elders and thy betters..

Hours, when the Poet's words and looks
Had yet their native glow :
Nor yet the fear of little books

Had made him talk for show;
But, all his vast heart sherris-warmed,
He flashed his random speeches;
Ere days, that deal in ana, swarmed
His literary leeches.

So mix forever with the past,
Like all good things on earth!

For should I prize thee, couldst thou last,
At half thy real worth?

I hold it good, good things should pass:
With time I will not quarrel:

It is but yonder empty glass

That makes me maudlin-moral.

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Head-waiter of the chop-house here,
To which I most resort,

I too must part: I hold thee dear
For this good pint of port.

For this, thou shalt from all things suck
Marrow of mirth and laughter;

And, wheresoe'er thou move, good luck Shall fling her old shoe after.

But thou wilt never move from hence.
The sphere thy fate allots:

Thy latter days increased with pence
Go down among the pots:
Thou battenest by the greasy gleam
In haunts of hungry sinners,
Old boxes, larded with the steam
Of thirty thousand dinners.

We fret, we fume, would shift our skins,
Would quarrel with our lot;
Thy care is, under polished tins,
To serve the hot-and-hot;
To come and go, and come again,
Returning like the pewit,
And watched by silent gentlemen,
That trifle with the cruet.

Live long, ere from thy topmost head
The thick-set hazel dies;

Long, ere the hateful crow shall tread
The corners of thine eyes;
Live long, nor feel in head or chest
Our changeful equinoxes,

Till mellow Death, like some late guest,
Shall call thee from the boxes.

But when he calls, and thou shalt cease pace the gritted floor,


And, laying down an unctuous lease
Of life, shalt earn no more:

No carved cross-bones, the types of Death,
Shall show thee past to Heaven;
But carved cross-pipes, and, underneath,
A pint-pot, neatly graven.


It was the time when lilies blow,
And clouds are highest up in air,
Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
To give his cousin, Lady Clare.

I trow they did not part in scorn:
Lovers long-betrothed were they:
They two will wed the morrow morn;
God's blessing on the day!

"He does not love me for my birth,
Nor for my lands so broad and fair;
He loves me for my own true worth,
And that is well," said Lady Clare.

In there came old Alice the nurse,

Said, "Who was this that went from thee?" "It was my cousin," said Lady Clare, "To-morrow he weds with me."

"O God be thanked!" said Alice the nurse, "That all comes round so just and fair: Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands, And you are not the Lady Clare."

"Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, my nurse?"

Said Lady Clare, "that ye speak so wild?" "As God's above," said Alice the nurse,

"I speak the truth: you are my child."

"The old Earl's daughter died at my breast;
I speak the truth as I live by bread!
I buried her like my own sweet child,
And put my child in her stead."

"Falsely, falsely have ye done,

O mother,” she said, "if this be true, To keep the best man under the sun. So many years from his due."

"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret for your life,
And all you have will be Lord Ronald's,
When you are man and wife.”

"If I'm a beggar born," she said,
"I will speak out, for I dare not lie.
Pull off, pull off the brooch of gold,
And fling the diamond necklace by."

"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret all ye can."
She said "Not so: but I will know
If there be any faith in man."

"Nay now, what faith?" said Alice the nurse, "The man will cleave unto his right." "And he shall have it," the lady replied,


Though I should die to-night.”

"Yet give one kiss to your mother dear!
Alas, my child, I sinned for thee."
"O mother, mother, mother," she said,
"So strange it seems to me.

"Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear,
My mother dear, if this be so,
And lay your hand upon my head,
And bless me, mother, ere I go."

She clad herself in a russet gown,
She was no longer Lady Clare:
She went by dale, and she went by down,
With a single rose in her hair.

The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
Leapt up from where she lay,
Dropt her head in the maiden's hand,
And followed her all the way.

Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower:
"O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
Why come you drest like a village maid,
That are the flower of the earth?"

"If I come drest like a village maid,
I am but as my fortunes are:
I am a beggar born," she said,
"And not the Lady Clare."

"Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"For I am yours in word and deed.
Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"Your riddle is hard to read."

O and proudly stood she up!

Her heart within her did not fail : She looked into Lord Ronald's eyes, And told him all her nurse's tale.

He laughed a laugh of merry scorn:

He turned and kissed her where she stood:

"If you are not the heiress born,

And I," said he, "the next in blood

"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
We two will wed to-morrow morn,
And you shall still be Lady Clare."


In her ear he whispers gayly,
"If my heart by signs can tell,
Maiden, I have watched thee daily,
And I think thou lov'st me well."
She replies, in accents fainter,
"There is none I love like thee."
He is but a landscape-painter,
And a village maiden she.
He to lips, that fondly falter,
Presses his without reproof;
Leads her to the village altar,
And they leave her father's roof.
"I can make no marriage present;
Little can I give my wife.

VOL. I. 16

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