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SINGING FOR THE MILLION.–Thomas Hood.
Amongst the great inventions of this age,
Which every other century surpasses, Is one, just now the rage,
Called “singing for all classes,"
That is, for all the British millions,
Not to name Quintilians, –
That now, alas! have no more ear than asses,
To learn to warble like the birds in June,
In time and tune,
Correct as clocks, and musical as glasses !
In fact, a sort of plan,
Including gentleman as well as yokel,
Public or private man,
To call out a militia, -only vocal
Instead of local,
And not designed for military follies,
But keeping still within the civil border,
To form with mouths in open order,
And sing in volleys.
Whether this grand harmonic scheme
Will ever get beyond a dream,
And tend to British happiness and glory,
May be no, and may yes,
Is more than I pretend to guess ;
However, here's my story.
In one of those small, quiet streets,
Where business retreats,
To shun the daily bustle and the noise
The shoppy Strand enjoys,
But land, joint companies, and life insurance,
Find past endurance ---
In one of these back streets, to peace so dear,
The other day a ragged wight
Began to sing with all his might, “I have a silent sorrow here!”
Heard in that quiet place, Devoted to a still and studious race,
The noise was quite appalling;
To seek a fitting simile, and spin it,
Appropriate to his calling,
His voice had all Lablache’s body in it;
But oh! the scientific tone it lacked,
And was in fact
Only a forty-boatswain power of bawling!
'Twas said indeed for want of vocal nous,
The stage had banished him when he 'tempted it, For though his voice completely filled the house,
It also emptied it.
However, there he stood
Vociferous—a ragged don!
And with his iron pipes laid on,
A row to all the neighborhood.
In vain were sashes closed,
And doors, against the persevering Stentor; Though brick and glass and solid oak opposed,
The intruding voice would enter, Heedless of ceremonial or decorum, Den, office, parlor, study, and sanctorum; Where clients and attorneys, rogues and fools, Ladies, and masters who attend the schools, Clerks, agents all provided with their tools, Were sitting upon sofas, chairs, and stools, With shelves, pianos, tables, desks, before 'em,
How it did bore 'em!
Louder and louder still
The fellow sang with horrible good-will;
Curses, both loud and deep, his sole gratuities,
From scribes bewildered, making many a flaw
In deeds of law
They had to draw;
With dreadful incongruities
In posting ledgers, making up accounts
To large amounts,
Or casting up annuities,
Stunned by that voice so loud and hoarse,
Against whose overwhelming force
No invoice stood a chance, of course.
From room to room, from floor to floor,
From Number One to Twenty-four,
The nuisance bellowed; till, all patience lost,
Down came Miss Frost,
Expostulating at her open door:
Peace, monster, peace!
Where is the new police?
I vow I cannot work, or read, or pray,
Don't stand there bawling, fellow, don't!
You really send my serious thoughts astray,
Do-there's a dear, good man--do go away.”
Says he, “I won't!"
The spinster pulled her door to with a slam
That sounded like a wooden d-n;
For so some moral people, strictly loth
To swear in words, however up,
Will crash a curse in setting down a cup, Or through a door-post vent a banging oath; In fact, this sort of physical transgression
Is really no more difficult to trace,
Than in a given face
A ver y bad expression.
However, in she went,
Leaving the subject of her discontent
To Mr. Jones's clerk at Number Ten,
Who, throwing up the sash,
With accents rash
Thus hailed the most vociferous of men:
Come, come, I say, old fellow, stop your chant; I cannot write a sentence--no one can't!
So pack up your trumps,
And stir your stumps..
Says he, “I shan't !”
Down went the sash,
As if devoted to “eternal smash,”
Of acted imprecation)
While close at hand, uncomfortably near,
The independent voice, so loud and strong,
And clanging like a gong,
Roared out again the everlasting song,
“I have a silent sorrow here!” The thing was hard to stand,
The music-master could not stand it,
But rushing forth with fiddle-stick in hand,
As savage as a bandit,
Made up directly to the tattered man,
And thus in broken sentences began :-
But playing first a prelude of grimaces,
Twisting his features to the strangest shapes,
So that, to guess his subject from his faces,
He meant to give a lecture upon apes, -
You go away!
Into two parts my head you split;
My fiddle cannot hear himself a bit,
When I do play,-
You have no business in a place so still !
Can you not come another day?”
Says he, “I will."
“No-no-you scream and bawl!
You must not come at all!
You have no right, by rights, to beg,-
You have not one off leg;
You ought to work,-you have not some complaint;
You are not cripple in your back or bones,-
Your voice is strong enough to break some stones.”
Says he, “ It ain't.”
“I say you ought to labor!
You are in a young case,
You have not sixty years upon your face,
To come and beg your neighbor,
And discompose his music with a noise
More worse than twenty boys !
Look what a street it is for quiet,-
No cart to make a riot,
No coach, no horses, no postillion:
If you will sing, I say, it is not just
To sing so loud."
Says he, “I must!
I'm singing for the million!”
KIT CARSON'S RIDE.-JOAQUIN MILLER
Run? Now you bet you; I rather guess so.
But he's blind as a badger. Whoa, Paché, boy, whoa.
No, you wouldn't think so to look at his eyes,
But he is badger blind, and it happened this wise :-
We lay low in the grass on the broad plain levels,
Old Revels and I, and my stolen brown bride.
" Forty full miles if a foot to ride,
Forty full miles if a foot, and the devils
Of red Camanches are hot on the track
When once they strike it. Let the sun go down
Soon, very soon,” muttered bearded old Revels
As he peered at the sun, lying low on his back,
Holding fast to his lasso ; then he jerked at his steed,
And sprang to his feet, and glanced swiftly around,
And then dropped, as if shot, with his ear to the ground,
Then again to his feet and to me, to my bride,
While his eyes were like fire, his face like a shroud,
His form like a king, and his beard like a cloud,
And his voice loud and shrill, as if blown from a reed,-
* Pull, pull in your lassos, and bridle to steed,
And speed, if ever for life you would speed;
And ride for your lives, for your lives you must ride,
For the plain is aflame, the prairie on fire,
And feet of wild horses hard flying before
I hear like a sea breaking high on the shore;
While the buffalo come like the surge of the sea,
Driven far by the flame, driving fast on us three
As a hurricane comes, crushing palms in his ire."
We drew in the lassos, seized saddle and rein,
Threw them on, sinched them on, sinched them over again,
And again drew the girth, cast aside the macheer,
Cut away tapidaros, loosed the sash from its fold,
Cast aside the catenas red and spangled with gold,
And gold-mounted Colt's, true companions for years,
Cast the red silk serapes to the wind in a breath,
And so bared to the skin sprang all haste to the horse,
As bare as when born, as when new from the hand
Of God, without word, or one word of command,
Turned head to the Brazos in a red race with death,
Turned head to the Brazos with a breath in the hair
Blowing hot from a king leaving death in his course;
Turned head to the Brazos with a sound in the air
Like the rush of an army, and a flash in the eye
Of a red wall of fire reaching up to the sky,
Stretching fierce in pursuit of a black rolling sea,
Rushing fast upon us as the wind sweeping free
And afar from the desert, bearing death and despair.
Not a word, not a wail from a lip was let fall,
Not a kiss from my bride, not a look or low call
Of love-note or courage, but on o'er the plain
So steady and still, leaning low to the mane,
With the heel to the flank and the hand to the rein,
Rode we on, rode we three, rode we gray nose and nose,
Reaching long, breathing loud, like a creviced wind blows,
Yet we broke not a whisper, we breathed not a prayer,
There was work to be done, there was death in the air,
And the chance was as one to a thousand for all.
Gray nose to gray nose and each steady mustang
Stretched neck and stretched nerve till the hollow earth rang
And the foam from the flank and the croup and the neck
Flew around like the spray on a storm-driven deck.
Twenty miles! thirty miles:-a dim distant speck-